A new era of IT consolidation?

by Dirk Knemeyer

I don't use the moniker "IT" very often, typically only to talk about the internal stuff at my company that has to do with computing technology in the vaguest way. Under "IT" falls our hardware and software that runs the gamut of business technology: computers, phones, Internet connection, printers, other peripherals...everything. However, with the recent wave of unexpected and in many cases surprising mergers, it appears we may start talking more about giant "IT" conglomerates that seem to be in any and every technology related to computing and communication.

Read More

Topics: apple, hardware, microsoft, it, Analysis, Blog, intel, google, software, hp

Apple's real iPhone vulnerability

by Dirk Knemeyer

Today the Droid X was released, Android's latest salvo in the smartphone wars.

Read More

Topics: apple, iphone, android, Analysis, Blog, google

Google App Inventor: an interesting little app

by Dirk Knemeyer

Unveiled yesterday, Google App Inventor aspires to provide everyday people - extensively tested with sixth graders - to easily build their own Android apps using a relatively simple WYSIWYG editor. The interaction model appears based on LEGO toys, taking different, interchangeable pieces and snapping them together to create a complete app. The New York Times exclusively introduced the service on Sunday night.

There has been considerable fallout and speculation from this latest product launch by Google. We've talked about Google extensively here, both from the standpoint of being the now and future computing superpower as well as their open philosophy to Android development in stark contrast to Apple's closed model. Many touts in the media see the Google App Inventor as a potentially "killer app" that could be the difference-maker in the mobile arms race between Google and Apple. Others are more measured but still believe Google App Inventor will have a major impact. I think both of these assessments are quite exaggerated. What Google has created is a tool that is akin to Microsoft Publisher in the 1990's, a piece of software that takes a task reserved for a skilled technical elite - in their case, publishing periodicals; in today's case, designing mobile apps - and allows even unsophisticated users to produce something with the potential to be usable, if not respectable.

Read More

Topics: apple, Analysis, Blog, app design, google, mobile

Open vs. Closed: A tale of idealists vs. realists

by Dirk Knemeyer

Today Adobe launched an aggressive ad campaign skewering Apple’s “closed” philosophy. Retaliation for Apple’s muscling Adobe’s Flash technology off their mobile operating system, Adobe is choosing to take a “high ground” argument by ignoring their specific exclusion and focusing instead on the closed ecosystem Apple prefers.

This is hardly the beginning of the “open vs. closed” debate and certainly not the end. In fact, Adobe’s strategy is precisely calculated to take advantage of the fact that many proponents of the open approach are passionate, even zealous advocates of openness while those who prefer closed largely do so as a personal lifestyle choice and not as part of a conscious philosophical choice. Thus Adobe is betting that stoking the flames of open systems and frameworks will raise a larger argument and objection to the Apple approach and, in the process, perhaps help them outflank their present antagonist.

Read More

Topics: apple, app+store, adobe, Analysis, Blog, google

Facebook’s ascension reflects general ignorance of the web today

by Dirk Knemeyer

For the week ending March 13, 2010, and for the first time in its spectacular ascendancy, Facebook became the most visited site on the Internet. Already, analysts and experts are hailing this as a momentous event, one that validates the power of social networking in the rapidly evolving universe of the World Wide Web. There’s just one problem: the premise is simply false.

Dusting off the history of the recent past, almost exactly two-and-a-half-years ago, Google passed MySpace to become the most visited site on the Internet – and has held that position until last week. Yes, that’s right: MySpace, the once-meteoric and now-languishing social network that went from Internet sensation to, in the eyes of marketers, the social network for less affluent and educated demographics, fairly recently held the lofty moniker “most visited site.” So this symbolic achievement of Facebook harkens less to any real milestone moment in the history of social networking on the Internet, and more to the hyperbolic crowning of a flavor of the month.

Read More

Topics: facebook, yahoo, myspace, web+traffic, Ideas, Blog, google

The Rise of Google, Part III: A decade of leadership awaits

by Dirk Knemeyer

At the dawn of this new decade, Google sits comfortably atop the computing industry (see Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for my take on how they got there). Dominant in search – still the killer app of the Internet, with all due respect to social networking – Google has a variety of other essential and emerging products that put them at the very pinnacle of software. Still not satisfied, Google has officially moved into the deep end of the pool with their recent consumer hardware products and are clearly positioning themselves for a three team race between themselves, Microsoft, and Apple for leadership in the broader and more emerging category of digital lifestyle experiences.

Where does Google go from here? Unlike Apple and Microsoft, whose apexes are almost certainly in the past, Google’s peak has yet to come. While they may still face as many failures as they do successes – can they truly become the dominant player in mobile computing hardware? Highly unlikely! – they are well-positioned to be the industry’s sacred cow in the decade ahead. This may be traced to a number of reasons that speak to the very heart of why businesses succeed and fail:

  1. Brand. Apple may still reek cool, but the cold, hard truth is Steve Jobs is getting older and so is Apple’s core group of brand passionates. In fact, the other night I was watching a television program on the most loyal Apple devotees. It was hardly a glamorous collection. Now in their 50’s or older, most of them reflected an out-of-time-and-place hippie fanaticism. Relics of another age, they represent the backbone of people who lifted Apple to glorious heights in the 1980s and kept the fires burning during the lean 1990s.On the other hand, Google’s core fan base is made up of people who came of age during the Internet Era. They can’t imagine a world without easy and frequent Internet access and see mobile computing devices as logical, even natural, manifestations of modern technology. While Apple’s wonderful products of the last decade have brought countless new fanatics into their brand umbrella, the company still carries the leg iron of the multi-coloured Apple logo and the zeitgeist of the parents and grandparents of tomorrow’s consumers. People want to see themselves reflected in the companies, products, and services they choose. For the young, for the people who see now and tomorrow as “their time,” Google, not Apple (and certainly not Microsoft!) is the sexy choice.
  2. Product. Google is the Internet; the Internet is Google. Beneath the many devices that rule our lives is the software that collectively comprises the Internet. Thanks to it’s dominance in search – which is how most people decide what is important to them – Google is the primary driver of that software. To be clear, search will become less and less important as the other software gets smarter. In fact one could argue that the peak of search has already passed. Yet in the process of dominating search Google has smartly embedded themselves into what seems like every possible nook and cranny of Internet services. There would be an Internet without Google, but can any of us really imagine what that Internet would be?We would search from monolithic web portals. “Web mail” as an email platform would follow an archaic page refresh model – notice that Microsoft and Yahoo to name two still haven’t gotten it right! There would not be a large and meaningful company attempting to literally redefine what a computing operating system in the Internet age should be. There would not be viable, free, online alternatives to simple business productivity software such as Microsoft Office. In these and dozens of other cases, Google has pushed the standards and even limits of what can and should be done by, with, and for the Internet. In the process it has woven itself into the fabric of the very Internet and become the one company that, just maybe, the Internet literally cannot do without.
Read More

Topics: apple, microsoft, predictive, Analysis, Blog, google

The Rise of Google, Part II: From start-up to superpower

by Dirk Knemeyer

With apologies to Apple and Microsoft, Google is the most important company in computing. Their rise over the past decade has been meteoric: from a struggling start-up operating out of a small office in downtown Palo Alto, California to today representing the present and future of computing. To call this ascension improbable is a gross understatement. After all, this is a company Yahoo! declined to purchase for a song, yet today could buy and sell Yahoo! many times over without breaking a sweat. It begs the question: how did it happen?

Read More

Topics: Analysis, Blog, google

The Rise of Google, Part I: A history lesson

by Dirk Knemeyer

This is part one of a three-part series that will detail Google’s rise to becoming the dominant company in the computing industry. Part one will review the history of IBM and Microsoft, Google’s predecessors in this position; part two will take a close look at the last decade in computing and particularly at Google’s; and part three will look into the future and help you understand what’s to come for Google and the rest of the industry.

Depending on which gushing analyst you listen to, Google’s release last week of the Nexus One “superphone” is going to change the computing industry. Some are pointing to the phone itself and the fact that Google is now officially a hardware company. Others are pointing to the Google ecommerce store and approach to selling the phone and calling that the true harbinger of future dominance. Wrapped up in much of this excitement is a sense of surprise, as if Google’s doing these things wasn’t something that—at the very least—should be seen as a predictable result of Google’s expanded impact in the industry over the past decade. This very short-sighted breathlessness makes me wonder if the people who are telling us what to think really know what they are talking about.

Read More

Topics: apple, ibm, microsoft, Analysis, Blog, google