This is the most exciting CES ever

At this year’s CES two unthinkable things happened:

  1. The abandonment of Windows exclusivity by practically all of Microsoft’s OEM customers.
  2. The abandonment of Intel exclusivity by Microsoft for the next generation of Windows.

Many of Microsoft’s customers chose to use an OS product from Microsoft’s arch enemy. Some chose to roll their own. Microsoft, in turn, chose to port its OS to an architecture from Intel’s arch enemy.

These actions confirm the end of the PC era. Although most people would characterize the era as exemplified by a particular form factor or market, for me the definition of that era is the way the value chain was structured and hence how profits were captured.

That era was marked by the condensation of profits around two companies, Intel and Microsoft, with the simultaneous evaporation of profits from all other participants in the value chain.

To achieve this, Microsoft maintained a monopoly on the distribution of operating systems and Intel maintained a monopoly as the single supplier of chip architectures for that operating system.

These monopolies are both over. And they both ended at the same time. And it happened this week.

Who says CES is boring this year?

  • addicted

    Here's the fun part…

    The new era will be a condensation of profits to 1 company, Google (and possibly ARM, but I don't think Intel is just going to sit by).

    Everyone else will just be running for scraps. Motorola, Samsung, Indie devs, and the like don't realize it, but Apple is the one protecting their interests, by actually maintaining value in their products. Especially SW devs. Google is consistently destroying any value people may find in a SW product, which poses a huge problem for developers in the future.

    • anon

      Amen to that. Too bad too few people can see Google for what it is

      • asymco

        This is even more astonishing if you think about it. If Google were to capture the profits in the post-PC era and if out of $23.6B of revenue in 2009, all but $760M of it was derived from advertising then the entire industry (computer software and hardware) amounts to not much more than a way to harvest viewer impressions.

      • anon

        an apt summarization.

      • David

        No really. In my now sixteen years as a professional software developer, I've never worked on any ad-supported software.

        Software development, the entire computer industry is vast, far more vast than what is seemingly being understood.

      • asymco

        In the mainframe era software used to be made as a means to sell hardware. It was Microsoft who pioneered the idea of a software company. That was a radical idea in 1977.

        Apple now makes software as a means to sell hardware.

        Google makes software as a means to sell its user.

      • David

        I don't disagree with any of that. But those are only three(big) companies. There is a thriving custom software market that has nothing to do with hardware sales or viewer impressions.

      • And Microsoft understand it and sue HTC and Motorola with patent lawsuit and MS said Android is not free with patent infringment:

        The chain of profit value is changing.

      • Sandeep

        motorola has sued microsoft back, HTC is of course the sitting duck, because they don't have any patents to fall back on. I am sure microsoft would be rather unhappy if their future revenue source includes mainly revenues from patent trolling.

      • Sandeep

        what about the community developed or open source software like eclipse, Idea, python, ruby on rails etc ? have you never used any of those ?

      • David

        Perhaps not the entire industry, games for example. I tend to work on custom software for companies, telecom, security, local govt, that sort of thing. No free software alternatives there.

        I would submit that it isn't that the industry is a way to harvest eyeballs but instead a different way to pay for development., a subsidy if you will, a means of exchange, in this case, inexpensive or free software for some of your attention.

      • OpenMind

        I wouldn't call those custom works as software companies. They are more or less service companies. The works are labor-intensive, install based are small, life cycle are long. They don't have significant impact on how mass market behave. Those custom systems are means to help sale of hardware/softwares. Without mass market, they have no reason to exist.

      • Sandeep

        Infosys and Wipro and TCS come to mind, they write such kind of software.

      • David

        There is a world of difference between a "service" company that cleans homes and one that writes software. No offense, but what you call it is irrelevant. I've worked on projects that had anywhere from dozens to thousands of users. And those are the projects I've worked on.

        Companies purchased our software and there was no advertising involved.

        We haven't even gotten into driver development. Or games? Or power grids software. Or security software.

        However, you've made my point. The development that I've built my career on wasn't to sell hardware or software. Trust me, I was there. The customers had a problem and we proposed software and hardware that solved that problem. I *wrote* the software that when on the hardware we suggested and we were NOT a hardware shop.

        All of the computer industry is not to sell people's attention. That statement is simply nonsense.

      • dchu220

        I think they are talking more about consumer side software. Corporate and government software will always require a lot of customization and needs to be private.

      • Sandeep

        not neccesary, success of salesforce a public cloud CRM software provider proves otherwise.

      • WaltFrench

        And people wonder why Google search increasingly seems to find aggregators, scrapers and similar ilk. Google not only doesn't care about bloggers' attempts to build community or connections; it's against their interest to direct you to original sources that build consistent interests and themes.

      • dchu220

        Honestly, I think it's because any system based on an algorithm can be gamed. You have people who don't care about content or customers working their butts off to get their sites to the too of the search listings in the name of CPM.

        Algorithms were the rage a couple years ago. People thought math could automate everything. Unfortunately that's far from the truth. Everything has it's strengths and weaknesses.

      • Sandeep

        any system can be gamed, but the algorithm can be changed/tweaked to fight against the spammers. It is not only spammers who are working their butt off. It is dynamic. Spammy content is automatically deindexed by google, although a few fall through the cracks now and then giving the self-appointed important technical bloggers and google haters an opportunity to vent something about how google is not perfect. When was google perfect in the first place ? it never was and it never claimed to be, even now google tells search is a tough problem.

      • dchu220

        In the same way you like to vent about how Apple is not perfect.

        By the way. I never criticized Google in this comment so please don't respond to my comment as if I did so.

      • Sandeep

        but your criticism is due to articles by Vivek Wadhwa a good for nothing bloke, by the developer of instagram(who writes etc. I who are a bunch of self important tech bloggers. By the way I never said Google was perfect either.

      • dchu220

        What criticism? All I said was Algorithms can be gamed and that Google wasn't purposefully pushing bloggers from the top of search.

        By the way. The writer of is Marco Arment and he developed InstaPaper, not instagram. InstaPaper is a fantastic app.

        Sandeep. You really don't know how to stay on topic do you?

      • Sandeep

        ok big deal typo, but he is a big Apple supporter, obviously he is going to criticize Google, just think about it, internet forums are running around with the usual annual notion that google is filled with spam just based on three articles, one by Marco, one by Anil Dash and one by Anil Wadhwa(who used that article as a plug to promote blekko), just because 3 people have had some issues, it is not going to matter much to the billion plus google search users.
        Ok in any case, I am pretty happy google has android to promote the openweb, none of the others have as much motivation to improve openweb(yahoo, but yahoo is now a dud, led a cost cutting CEO). It its telling that Apple IPhone which is better than android phones in almost all respects , has a slower browser than android browser, like almost pushing users to user native apps instead of the browser

      • Sandeep

        you are right in a way, android is not a mobile OS per se, it is now in TVs and will very soon appear in other appliances/devices upto and including laptops/ereader/desktop computers etc
        And google is an advertising company, just the same way as Apple is just a hardware company and CNN is a advertising company. Hardware has always and will always be a commodity, people buy devices like mobiles/computers and today phones for the software that is inside, not for the glitzy high-end hardware specs.

      • dchu220

        I think you might be pigeon-holing these companies. It might be more accurate to call Google a web services company that makes money through advertising. Apple is a software company that makes money by selling hardware.

        It's true that the hardware manufacturing has been comoditized, but the end product doesn't have to be. In order for something to be commoditized, a consumer must be able to easily switch as in this bushel of corn is no different from that bushel. Through software, companies can still differentiate their products.

      • Sandeep

        I am not pigeonholing apple or google or CNN. There was a stupid article in that states that android's only goal is to increase advertising revenues and so does not have the same inclination to improve android like what Apple has with iOS which is patently false. Sure google makes money from advertising, but that is the revenue proposition only, people don't visit google to look at ads, they visit google to search, for emailing, for looking at youtube videos etc. And google developed android to have a safe place for all their web services and to give the web a good chance to fight against the app phenomenon(Apple was pushing apps and relegating web) and of course to undercut microsoft.

      • dchu220

        What's wrong with the App phenomenon? I like apps. If a user likes using apps more, shouldn't someone make an app?

      • Sandeep

        open web under the control of nobody is preferable to an appstore tightly controlled by a corporate entity, we have been there once with PC model where the Application platform was pretty much tightly controlled by microsoft and it lead to devolution and stunted the growth of computing until of course the browser became important and we had evolution once more with google, facebook, twitter and various other companies. Web is the most important platform ever, it is the greatest equalizer ever invented by man. Remember last year when Apple blocked Google voice from its appstore, it was basically using its market power to squelch competition in a manner reminiscent of Microsoft in its heydays. If it can do this to google, Apple can do it to anybody. Anyhow it is a good thing for everybody that, Apple seems to relaxed its conditions a lot this year.

      • dchu220

        So how do you rationalize Google's push to regulate the mobile internet?

      • Sandeep

        google is not proposing to regulate internet over wireless providers discriminating one company over another, their proposal is to regulate one type of traffic over another say VoIP traffic over video traffic . So if Verizon allocates more pipe to VoIP rather than video traffic, all companies operating VoIP services will be treated equally.

      • dchu220

        I don't disagree with Googles position.

        But you cannot preach about the open web and the flip flop when Google tries to regulate it, no matter what the regulation is. If "the web is the most important platform ever", and nobody should have control over it, then you are contradicting yourself by saying it's okay for Google to push for greater restrictions.

      • Sandeep

        google does not control wireless internet, it is verizon and AT&T the duopoly companies with no competition who want to charge separately for different companies. This seems like a reasonable compromise, the other way is of course to fight it out endlessly and spend endless lobbying power/money with government and thus waste precious time. Yes Google is making compromises with the tyrannical verizon and AT&T, but by and large they have still stuck to their old position of trying as much as possible in this 'imperfect' world to be pro net-neutral.

      • dchu220

        Ahhh… You see how you flip flopped again. There is really no point in arguing with you because you refuse to listen but I do find this entertaining.

      • Sandeep

        you didn't get me, I did say Google is making compromises, I am not hiding it. It is after all a matter of degrees, Google like Apple is a for-profit corporation and is answerable to its shareholders, but despite all that it entails, it has still tried to protect the vast majority of consumers, just think if Google does not make a compromise, the operators probably will not push android as hard as they do RIM, WP7 and iOS and these companies have no motivation to push the openweb and the world will fragment into multiple appstores, and the computing industry will start resembling the automobile industry with no thriving common platform like HTML5, with a bunch of distinctly siloed companies and that would be really really boring, I mean auto companies have not really made a green car running on hydrogen fuels or other green stuff right(which is hugely important for the entire world to combat peak oil, climate change)
        It would have been so easy for google to simply cave into carriers and paid money to carriers to give preference to its sites, but then openweb will die and with that search will die too, as search depends on a thriving openweb(lot of quality content which google indexes and makes available through search, sites get more traffic due to it and improve the content and make money through ads and so on and so forth a virtuous cycle, even youtube videos, blogs tie-in with this as it generates content to feed the monster that is google search), so a compromise is the best way forward for google and openweb and the consumers.

      • dchu220

        You like companies that push the open web forward. That is fine.

        But it doesn't mean that every other company is 'evil' or 'stupid' or 'a glorified gadget maker'.

      • Sandeep

        but that is what apple fanbois call google just a glorified advertising company and microsoft fanbois call google an adware company tracking and spying on users 🙂

      • Narayanan

        Wow, there you go again- ".. RIM, WP7 and iOS companies were not pushing open web … and no thriving platform like HTML5…"

        Maybe you are not aware that it was primarily Apple that was pushing for open standards including HTML5 and webkit and trying to move the web away from closed days under IE/Adobe.

        In fact Apple would have achieved the open web faster if Google had decided to screw it up for its own business gains by giving Flash breathing room again.

      • Sandeep

        continued… over all companies responsible for video traffic. The important point is in this example all vOIP companies will be treated equally, no discrimination. So Rebtel will be treated on equal footing with skype no discrimination.

      • Sandeep

        they are not proposing regulating the internet company wise in the sense company A will not be preferred over Company B for all kinds of traffic, they are proposing regulating the internet by discriminating one kind of traffic over another, for eg VoIP over video, If VoIP is given more pipes, all companies providing VoIP will be treated equally.

      • Sandeep

        what I mean is I like google pushing the concept of web by owning a platform like android. It is like taking the future into their own hands rather than depending on others.

      • dchu220

        I'm confused. I thought Android, iOS, Blackberry and PalmOS all used the same browser engine. i.e. WebKit.

      • Sevket Zaimoglu

        How many apps can you install on an iPhone or iPad? 10? 100? 1000? The App paradigm is all about locking up the user to a single source of information. For example, CNN, Time and Engadget all have their own websites as well as their apps. If you are using the web interface and searching for "CES news" you are more likely to visit "other" sites than if you were using the apps installed on your smartphone or tablet.

      • dchu220

        But Sevket. That's not your decision to make. That's the individual users. If they don't like the experience, then they wouldn't use the app.

      • Sandeep

        yep and the web will win over the short-term app phenomenon due to two things
        1) the web content is easily accessible via google or bing or other search engines like blekko and of course the links shared on twitter/facebook/stumbleupon etc.
        2) the web is essentially glued together by hyperlinks, so when you visit a nytime webpage, more often than not you click on some of the links on that page and browse the other pages and so on and so forth and stumble upon new information which would have never been possible without the web. That is what makes the web so powerful to everybody.

        And of course a person can install 1000 apps as you said and forget about most of them, remembering only the most important ones, just like how we forget most of the stuff in browser bookmarks all the time.

      • Sandeep

        it is like saying cnn is only interested in plastering their pages with ads, since their revenues comes from ads and they don't care that much about journalists or reporting writing good articles. So very very wrong, and why do such poorly researched and poorly analyzed articles get this sort of prominence on the internet forums is beyond me

      • davel

        I do not understand this.

        I get that Android is a response to Apple so they are not dependent on them.

        I do not get how Android allows Google to control mobile advertising. What allows them to control the advertising is the free apps that Google provides that uses their search and ad platforms. Just because you use Android does not mean you use Google search and ad.

      • Sandeep

        Android was at first a response to Blackberry and Windows Mobile, it wasn't at first a response to Apple, although that changed in 2009 when Apple started blocking google apps.

    • r00tabega

      You don't make much sense here.

      The experiment that is Android isn't complete, and may not succeed in dethroning Apple or killing RIM/Nokia. It seems to have succeeded (so far) in completely destroying anything Microsoft has to offer.

      Google also doesn't profit directly (much) from Android.

      • This is prediction, if Android is "complete" it would be wrap-up text. RIM/Nokia are already dead. Google first need to get high ground, and users lock-in(just like MS decade ago), then they will charge everyone for their apps.

    • ChuckO

      I think you mean concentration of profits? Either way I think Apple is the concentrator not Google. The reason that's good is Apple doesn't want or need to be all things to all people where ads can be displayed. Job's like to keep things small and managable.

      • Sandeep

        right 🙂 apple does not want ads, so they have iAds. Ultimately companies have to be judged on factors like profits per employee, operating margins, free cash flow generation. I guess Google is doing rather well on all three fronts, though they are a bit below Apple in cash flow generation no doubt thanks to the opaque phone subsidy model which allows Apple to overcharge consumers and operators 🙂

    • kwyjibo

      It won't be a condensation to ARM. There are way, way more ARM chips than Intel chips, yet ARM only capture a tiny slice of that due to their licensing business. It allows ARM partners to capture a lot too.

      Everyone else won't be running for "scraps", unless you believe that the empires that Dell and HP built up in the PC era are also "scraps".

      HTC has just had another great quarter –

      • I'm willing to call the Dell empire scraps. Doesn't Apple also take it a disproportionate share of PC profits as well?

      • kwyjibo

        "Doesn't Apple also take it a disproportionate share of PC profits as well?"

        Depends if you think the age of the PC only started when the iPod halo kicked in. Think where Apple were when PC was king. HTC might not be the next Apple, but they'd love to be the next HP.

        That's not scrap, far from it.

      • Sandeep

        PC profits go to Microsoft, not the hardware OEMs

      • …unless you're Apple.

      • Sandeep

        microsoft makes more profit from PCs(windows licensing+office licensing+exchange franchise which essentially runs on windows) than Apple does from Macs(that includes hardware + software).

      • When we're talking PC in this context, we're including Apple in PC. The end of the PC era is also the end of the Mac era and Apple makes more profit per PC than anyone including Microsoft via licensing.

      • Sandeep

        can you give me the break up, I am pretty sure that office + windows + exchange makes more money than macs(hardware + software)
        I am talking of Mac platform v/s windows platform, Not artificially pigeon holing into hardware or software or whatever else etc.

      • airmanchairman

        Possibly the correct term, and not artificial, is microcomputers. "IBM-compatible" used to correctly describe what you now "pigeon-hole", ironically, as PC, in the good old days before that giant quit the market completely.

        And I believe @aegisdesign is talking about profit per microcomputer sold, rather than total revenue or profit from all machines sold by every OEM partner. Apple's astonishing success in this sector is simply being hidden by the gargantuan sales of the "halo-maker" iDevices.

      • Sandeep

        in fact as of today, microsoft still generates more net income than Apple even in the age of idevices.

    • JulesLt

      I'm not sure Google will stick with the free model – it's no coincidence that they've started pushing legitimate sources for music at the same time as they introduced a music store; similarly with books – and they must be eyeing the billions in App Store revenue.

      They may have put millions into evangelising 'free' and anti-copyright lobbying, but they are still a business.

      • A business that doesn't depend in any way upon traditional content for its revenue.

        That they would somehow transform and embrace old content industries is remarkable. If they do, I mean.

      • dchu220

        Google has historically leveraged Safe Harbor Laws (You can't be sued for copyright infringement if you don't know that it's in your database) as much as possible.

        They are being forced to work with old content because of the new markets they are trying to enter. But all these content partners are legitimately hesitant to work with them.

      • Sandeep

        google depends on user generated content like keywords, youtube videos, blogs etc for its revenues, sure they might get into the paid content distribution business, but that will never generate the sort of profits that user-generated content does for google. Google will get into it, so that they can remain closer to the consumers and the brand value, perception value of google remains high in consumers minds.

      • dchu220

        What sort of profits has YouTube generated? I think it's still half a billion dollars in the negative.

        From what I know, Google doesn't make a lot of money from display advertising. They are more than happy to break even in that department as long as it keeps incumbents from entering the market. 90% of their profits (not revenues) are still generated from search.

      • Sandeep

        so looking at narrow angle of profits/revenues eh ? what sort of profit does itunes generate for Apple ? is it material to the top/line bottom/line of Apple?
        as far as display advertising goes, they are building a world class real time bidding platform matching buyers and sellers which has never been done before by other companies. Which is very very tough for others to emulate because they have bought a lot of 'strategic' companies like doubleclick, invitemedia etc and of course a ton of R&D, leaving microsoft once again too late in that field although they have the money, motivation and resources plus of course they have the ever increasing youtube display advertising
        Youtube is strategically important to google and the world. I mean just think about it, there is no limit to the number of videos one can upload, so google is utilizing its immense power in platform scaling to reach a position where others can't go, it is the ultimate market advantage even microsoft struggles with platform scaling on such a scale and it is important to the world, because no other company can offer it, giving a end-users a very strong/motivated partner in Google to continue doing it.
        Revenues are already flowing in via ads and systems like content-ID will only increase the value of ads. And of course google is going to try to utilize youtube brand power to try to promote premium content like movies and youtube is going to take a shot at becoming a live broadcast medium like a regular television

      • airmanchairman

        What a mass of contradictions!

        Except of course if what your saying, breathlessly, is that YouTube is as strategic to Google's overall strategy and market model as iTunes is to Apple's.

        In which case I bow and humbly agree…

    • Sandeep

      software products revenue model will move from the cumbersome and opaque one-time purchase/licensing and/or support to seamless and frictionless SaaS model and/or ad-supported model and/or in-app payment model. Ever heard of Salesforce, Google apps for business or Zynga (pioneers in in-app payments) etc, that will be the future of software, not buying it off the shelf or buying it for a one-time fee, both of those are dead.

      Yes I get it Apple is the apple-eye of developers, they are doing it for the goodness of developers, they are the shining knights out to defend naive and innocent developers and content holders and consumers from the evil forces of Google led by the anti-christ and conniving Schmidt, the company with disdain for consumers, developers, copyright holders, governments(China), authorities(refusing to give streetview data), with spammy search results with just 10 blue links, the company with no belief in privacy. Man this sounds like a cartoon script. Google making money is a sin, Apple making money is for the good of developers,consumers and content holders and of course the society. Google communist, Apple capitalist ha ha. Looks like someone wants to move from a world dominated by Microsoft to a world dominated by Apple.

      • airmanchairman

        Yes, I get your point, I really do, about Apple vs Google, that the categorization is too black and white.

        But a part of me will never FORGET the graceless, treacherous and hotch-potch manner in which Google, one moment most favoured partner of a nascent Apple (even to the point of drawing anti-competitive queries from FTC and others) with its CEO sitting in on their most hidden future plans, suddenly dived into every single market Apple participates in with competitive offerings (count them if you will – online bookstore, online music store, smartphone handset, smartphone OS, smartphone apps, smartphone app store, TV set-top box, and more).

        Then you have the sensational results of the decrypted hard drives seized by Law Enforcement in Korea revealing private texts, emails, passwords and Lord knows what else..

        Add to that some of the most bizarre, contradictory and downright sinister remarks from their corporate brains:

        – “We don’t have a plan to beat Apple, that’s not how we operate,”
        – “If you've something you don’t want anyone to know maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place”
        – “I ACTUALLY think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions, they want Google to tell them what they should be doing next"
        – “Streetview the cars we drive only once, you can just move, right?”
        – “We are willing to get (FaceBook data) one way or another, with or without a deal.”

        Some food for thought, lest we FORGET, that's all I'm saying here. Nothing evil (?), but, but….

    • Kristian

      "(and possibly ARM, but I don't think Intel is just going to sit by). "

      Apple is behind the ARM and VERY STRONGLY. Apple is the driving force behind the ARM since the beginning. ACORN & APPLE & VLSI started the ARM and then other companies joined in. Without Apple ARM would not exist.

      • You keep posting this Kristian and you're still wrong. Apple does not own a significant stake in ARM. They sold pretty much everything in the 1990s.

  • The end of the Wintel hegemony is at hand. Assuming Windows on ARM makes a difference. Assuming the market embraces Linux, Android, Chrome, etc.

  • Well said !

    Wintel is changing to WARM
    and various other attempts to compete with Apple and Google.

    But, overall, this CES does seem very boring!

  • This doesn’t confirm the end of the PC era. This confirms that the market dominance that Intel and MS enjoyed is beginning to loosen from their grip. Strong alternatives exist and are able to innovate and outpace the two 800lb Gorillas. We will still have PC’s, just a better variety of them.

    • simon

      "We will still have PC's, just a better variety of them."

      I believe that's is precisely what Asymco meant by "the end of the PC era" since PCs are usually defined as WinTel machines.

    • davel

      I think this is the end of PC's. At least the end of the era.

      The iPhone signaled the era of real mobile computing.

      Microsoft's announcement of ditching Intel is a seminal moment.

      I am not saying the pc's will cease to exist. Just like mainframes are still around pc's will be around for a long time. But with the arrival of the cloud ( which does not mean Google ) and the arrival of truly usable powerful mobile devices – that by the way are not tied to Intel or Microsoft's ecosystems – is the end of an era.

      Thanks Horace for announcing this. You are right. In a few years it will be common wisdom.

    • dchu220

      Good analogies so far. Can i put my own 2 cents in?

      It marks the end of the PC as a growth engine. All companies who have their fates tied to the PC should be reevaluating their position.

  • r00tabega

    This is the result, IMHO, of Android completely destroying the remnants of WinMo (WP7 looks like it's not quite successful… technically sound, like WebOS, but not selling much).

    My prediction: Integrated model rises (RIM will be modestly successful with their Playbook, regaining street cred), and the component model (Google/Microsoft/Nokia) will continue to have lower and lower ASPs… which doesn't hurt Google much, but will really hurt Microsoft and Nokia as well as the handset manufacturers.

    • Sandeep

      integrated model apart from Apple is dying, RIM will die by 2011 or early 2012 only residual momentum is keeping it alive, Nokia is dead(same as RIM, residual momentum), WebOS never took off, I predict a somewhat strong comeback from MS WP7 to become no. 3. Between no.1 and no.2 can't say

    • WaltFrench

      @r00tabega, everything I see from RIM about the Playbook is worrisome. When RIM puts out a Playbook video that shows how well it runs Flash YouTubes and games *right within* your Facebook page, I think, yeah, every CEO in the country will want his staff to have that… NOT!

      Their bastion of success, where others will want to leverage sunk costs in RIM technologies, is Corporate IT. Their smartphones are at the very low end of the modern devices: slow CPUs, low-rez screens and small RAM allocations. The phones are competitive ONLY because RIM utterly owns firms' mobile email.

      The Playbook, unfortunately, does NOT do email without being tethered to a phone. It does not and will not run apps that run on BlackBerrys. As of today, the development environment for corporate functions is a joke, as Enterprise IT shops are NOT going to adopt Flash as their core development technology; the native dev kit is somewhere in the indefinite future. There is essentially zero leverage from RIM's goodwill with current customers.

      Unsurprisingly, this very corporate-savvy firm is desperately aiming its promos at tech-savvy individuals. But the *very* nice Playbook hardware is NOT a selling point for most consumers; the iPad shows you don't need gizmahertz or bigabytes to have a very enjoyable tablet, but you DO need consumers to know and love your ability to put together a credible package. But RIM has almost NO credibility in the consumer space — if anything, people know BlackBerrys as extremely limited email machines that investment bankers use. In the REAL consumer space, it has zero app store experience, zero media library, zero marketing presence and an imploding sales position that will NOT allow massive introduction ad campaigns.

      Assuming Apple does not bother to throw unneeded CPU capability at iPad2, RIM will have some bragging rights as a great piece of hardware and a solid OS when it gets introduced. But as soon as people realize that it is essentially a Chrome tablet (nothing besides a good browser), I don't see what'll sustain it when Android and especially Apple offer well-thought-out and defined packages.

      • r00tabega

        I'll add to your list of things that RIM doesn't have, which may complicate Playbook sales: a native retail channel to push their products.

        I wouldn't put much faith in Android 3, however, even the fandroids are complaining about how Google's honeycomb promo videos show horrible color and design choices, and it's unclear how Google will handle all the fragmentation and layers (Motoblur, SenseUI) that exist on top of Android, not to mention the fact that carriers and manufacturers are very very slow releasing updates.

        If they drop their stupid idea of requiring a tethered BB for email/calendar, I think the device should be a modest success.

  • scott

    Sounds like Apple threw chum in the water.

  • addicted is right, Google is setting the expectation that software should be free. Software takes a lot of work to develop. In the meantime Google makes money by selling apps and putting ads in your face through this software.

    Google as a monopoly is scarier than Microsoft, because Google would not just be a monopoly, it also knows A LOT about you. But what they are doing is genius: Give away the software, which very few companies have the resources and know-how to develop. Let the hardware guys compete by making virtually indistinguishable hardware which gives them no option to compete by means other than lowering margins (like the PC industry).

    • Sandeep

      quit scare-mongering, google has no chance of achieving PC like dominance

  • Microsoft ported Windows to architectures other than x86 in the past (Windows NT for Alpha and PowerPC, specifically). People were super excited and it ended up not going anywhere.

    A lot of things are different today, I know, but I wouldn't take it as a fact that the ARM port of Windows is going to be successful.

    • Marcos El Malo

      Well, a big difference is that Alpha and PowerPC never made a dent in the mass market. They were both specialized hardware for workstations. Neither platform was an essential component to MS strategy or success.

      ARM architecture, otoh, is already very popular in the mass market. MS needs WARM to succeed and will throw a lot of engineering and marketing resources behind it. Still, you do have a point that this success is not a given.

      • RattyUK

        "ARM architecture, otoh, is already very popular in the mass market. "

        On systems that don't use Windows. Adding Windows to the mix at sometime in the future doesn't really bring anything to the party, other than allowing Microsoft to shout "me-too, me-too".

      • Not quite true. WindowsNT on PowerPC was supposed to run on the Apple/IBM/Motorola derived Common Hardware Reference Platform of which some of the late 90s Macs were also based on as well as Moto's PowerPC Mac clones, Power Computing's Mac clone, IBM's RS6000 replacement and smaller manufacturers like PIOS and Be's BeBOX.

        That was the case right up until Jobs came back to Apple and refused to licence MacOS 8 to the clone makers. Microsoft then killed PowerPC support in NT4.

        Because of that barely anyone other than Apple continued with PowerPC which meant that IBM and Motorola stopped making decent PowerPC chips for Apple and Apple eventually had to shift to Intel. It defines 'boneheaded' in my book. Jobs effectively killed off PowerPC in computers including damaging Macs for a few years.

        PowerPC of course lives on in Xbox, PS3, Wii and embedded use making quite a dent on the mass market.

    • asymco

      Fair point. The port of what became NT to the Alpha chip was part of the deal Microsoft did to get the litigation over VMS IP settled. 1988 was a different time and Microsoft had a different motivation.

      Of course WINARM may not amount to much more than a press release but the signal it sends is unambiguous.

      • WaltFrench

        I wonder if this isn't the advance warning that we can soon expect to see Office — and, of course, Microsoft cloud services for it — on Android, iOS, RIM and uhhh oh yeah, WinPhone7.

  • cjackson

    Since both of these developments have to do with building tablets, and the tablet market was virtually created by the iPad, does that mean we can credit the iPad with ending the PC era?

    • Mkastyro


    • Sandeep


  • Pingback: Thursday links: double alpha vision Abnormal Returns()

  • Bob Shaw

    Many of the product announcements at CES are not followed up with release of the actual product in the marketplace. Sometimes the announcements are just signals of a possible strategic intent to various stakeholders. We have to wait for the rubber to hit the road before we can be sure that the WinTel monopoly has truly ended.

  • davel

    Microsoft needs to hit mobile in a big way. So far they have missed the boat. I am not sure if they can provide a compelling argument for vendors to use them. Making games that leverages their franchise is a good start.

    • liverdonor

      Actually not really "…missed the boat…" so much as "…jumped ship in mid-channel." They _had_ a decent competitor to RIM, and they blew it big time to go haring off after Apple's leavings. I'm sure they'll have moderate success with Phone7, but nothing like they would have had with "a phone device that runs with all those enterprise-grade office suites and servers." For some reason, they always treated Mobile as the red-headed stepchild instead of integrating it fully. IMHO, big mistake.

    • r00tabega

      For close to 10 years… I remember seeing an OQO winmobile phone from at least 2002, and I'm sure they had a few years before that where they targeted the market as a "must dominate".

      So in your analogy, they've missed the boat repeatedly for that long… that's a pretty horrible track record, especially for the largest and most profitable software company in the world.

  • Mozz

    Wintel is dead and Apple and Google are the culprits.
    Google took us from the desktop to the cloud.
    Apple redefined personal computing…its mobile, much more personal and far simpler.

  • csllds

    So we go back do 1990? Where we have 10 different personal computer makers that do their best to remain incompatible?

    • chris

      You obviously don't remember 1990. Apple was by that time the one personal computer maker that wasn't just another "me too" Microsoft vendor.

      • We also had Commodore Amiga, Atari, Acorn. On the OS front we had Digital Research still around, IBM with OS/2 and various UNIX platforms such as Sun, SGI, DG…

        I'm sure there were endless others I've forgotten. Those were good times when we had so much diversity.

    • Sandeep

      HTML5, webkit browser are the new cross platform standards

  • now if we can just get Adobe to port their Creative Suit over to Linux, we'll have something.

  • Ben

    So that pretty much confirms that Microsoft thinks when it comes to tablet PC Windows 7 is not the problem, Intel is the problem….

    They'll just push Windows 7 on ARM touch screen and call it a day.

    • Ben

      "ARM Plus touch screen"

    • Coops

      Looks like Intel think MS is the problem, given their investment in MeeGo as a platform that would take full advantage of Atom processor features.

  • ARJWright

    I went back to this post by Steven Frank:

    It was written around the time of the iPad announcement, putting it with this piece here just kinda makes you get the giggles (if you saw it coming) and the shakes (if you didn't).

    • asymco

      A few other good ones (from a year ago) here:

      • ARJWright

        Ah, yes. I remember these well; wrote a few things similar based on a few of these around that time too. Nice collection of them here. Thanks for pointing them out to me.

    • Michael Lee

      That article was a very good read.

  • Microsoft already has OS working on ARM: WinCE with .NET on it. They have experience with touch: Surface. I think, now, they are looking at options to run native x86 applications in ARM in sort of virtual machine.

    • davel


      why do you want to start with the premise that you want to start with a performance penalty and all the associated bugs?

    • kizedek

      "They have experience with touch: Surface."

      Oh? I thought the Surface showed their experience with motion tracking through the use of multiple video cameras. Hence the demos showing them dragging cups around the table with little trails of light following them around (how touching). The "touch" element, where you point to stuff and interact with it, is therefore very inelegant indeed compared to iOS.

      Sounds like their BAT (Surface) is aKin ('scuse the pun) to their Kinect — loads of motion sensors and stuff. I still don't know what Kinect is exactly, but here's something I just found in a search:
      "Crack open your Nintendo Wii sensor bar and you’ll find hardly any hardware at all, but the same can not be said for the Kinect: it’s crammed full of interesting hardware, from web cams to infrared sensors to microphones to fans and motors."

      Amazing how the iPod Touch, as slim as all get out, contains several motion sensors and a gyroscope — in addition to great touch surface, processors, cameras, memory, battery, etc. …and programmers are writing interactive motion sensor apps and scanning apps for the video camera.

    • asymco

      This just in: Surface price has dropped to $7500!

      • Sandeep

        mocking microsoft why? is it personal ? you have Apple shares ?

  • Joker56k

    Another telling factoid. Microsoft gave a keynote and NO ONE CARED! If fact the MS friendly press (zd) is calling for the end of a Microsoft Keynote at CES.

  • CarQ En

    Kind Sir,

    Your Rule #2 seems to state you will attribute your source for all data. I've been searching your articles but I can't see you doing that. Where are these figures coming from? Is it that you attribute it in the first article you mention it but don't afterwards?

    • asymco

      I appreciate your checking. Which data, specifically, lacks attribution?

  • Confirms the beginning of the end of the Wintel monopoly.

  • Mbzastava

    You are all looking at this too closely.

    "Although most people would characterize the era as exemplified by a particular form factor or market"

    And most people would be 100% correct about the former: This is a form factor shift, and it has been in the works heavily for the last 3 years (exemplified by smartphone popularity)

    Everyone knows the goal: Get your PC in the palm of your hand.

    Notice the PC did not go anywhere, except from your desk or carrying case, into your hand or pocket. This article is worrying more about the economics of how and who will bring us the next wave of pocket PCs. Completely forgetting the point, that it doesn't really matter…

    to think that anything has changed drastically in the evolution of personal computing, or that it happened this week alone at CES, is laughable at best.

    • dchu220

      I don't think most people consider smart phones a PC. PCs are general purpose devices. These smartphone OSes we are seeing now are very much more limited in what they can do.

    • asymco

      The how and who will bring this matters to some because some have made investments on the who and the how. Predicting the future is relatively easy. The reward only comes from knowing who, how and when.

  • Rick

    Windows everywhere, -> and no where.

  • Awesome 🙂

  • Marcos El Malo

    Hey, did anyone check out or read the live blogs on Samsung's keynote?

    From what I read it was amazingly surreal. It looks to me like a branding campaign as there wasn't a lot of focus on individual products (and the gadget geeks are furious at this). Not so much a rebranding as giving the brand a big push forward, trying to differentiate itself from the pack of competitors. Once I got over my WTF reaction, I thought it was a gutsy keynote, and I look forward to how Samsung follows up with interest.

    • dchu220

      Samsung has been super aggressive lately. I see their Ads every where in Taiwan. (the other day there was an iPad commercial on TV and right after it Samsung had a Galaxy Tab commercial). I even saw their Ads in South Africa. I haven't been in the US for a while, but I imagine it's the same thing.

    • asymco

      What Samsung is doing with its Human Digitalism is explained here:

  • What happens to PC gaming then? Who is going to supply the kind of machines it takes to run WoW and Call of Duty?

    • Kizedek

      I think that's the point. Anyone can suppy such machines now. When the value equation changes and the market opens up, then open standards can come into play. The focus of development will go to OpenGL etc., instead of to proprietary systems like DirectX or whatever.

      The "kinds of machines it takes" will be much broader thanks to less collusion between Intel and MS. It's not for nothing that Apple supporters say MS has held back tech advancements for decades. Apple has always been about power efficiency and doing more per clock cycle and elegant solutions, instead of throwing raw ower at something and blaming hardware for not adding enough MHz quickly enough.

      When Apple switched to Intel, Ortellini came on stage and said they were happy that they had a partner who was interested in innovation and let them move into new directions. Since then, Apple has received and used more of the newer chips than other computer makers.

      When Apple starts developing its own SoC's and starts looking to ARM or NVidia for a lot of stuff, then Intel knows it better act fast. MS is forced to make an announcement like this and say they are going to get Windows on more systems, because Intel can't afford to sit around and cater to the desktop PC Market by adding MHz to its cheap chips like it did for the Pentium up through the P4. Intel has to innovate or die; it will lose to small nimble shops like PA Semi.

      Having open standards really does level the playing field for everyone. Everyone can participate, because the standardisation is not on one monopolistic way of doing things, using one product — standardisation is on the protocols and core technologies, the way to get there together is much more open (using the idea of Open properly). innovative ideas win out, so the consumer wins out.

      Game companies will win out too, because porting to other platforms will be a viable option when the concerns over ability of anything but DirectX being able to run their games are finally diminished. All platforms will be in the same boat, and heavy games will be like any other software that is ported around now, because the underpinnings you are worried about will be there for everyone — OpenGL or similar, new chip designs, new SoC's and other advancements, SSDs, whatever.

      • dchu220

        Kizedek, you are a developer right?

        Can OpenGL handle the graphics needed for games like WOW? I've seen the demos from Epic on the iPhone, but they are still hamstrung by the hardware. Once the hardware catches up, will we able to see games like WOW on the iPad or Android?

      • Kizedek

        No, I'm not. I just read a lot and try to put things together.

        I'm saying that 500 dollar graphics cards and raw MHz and fifty dollar games shouldn't have to be the answer any longer. Things seemed to be going one direction only, throwing higher specs and costs at it in order to drive "development". That's the MS way, no real innovation is possible. The presumption has been that that is the only way forward in any industry MS touches.

        If the MS and Intel union is shaken up, then who knows what kind of incentive and viability that will allow other chip and SoC designers to push specs for something like OpenGL, etc. Software and OS optimisations and power savings and innovative chip design could now come into their own.

        All I'm saying is that since things are now already changing so rapidly (finally), then surely it will change for the better for serious gaming, too. The potential is already there to do some pretty cool things on iOS as a couple of the developers like Epic are pushing for it.

      • dchu220

        thanks for the reply

      • anon

        Just as a sidenote WoW is already available on OS X, which definitely doesn't have an up-to-date implementation of OpenGL (2.0 last I heard. The standard is up to 4.1 which should bring feature-parity with DirectX 11)

        The problem with OpenGL is (anecdotally) more about poor (buggy) drivers and lagging implementations.

      • dchu220

        Thanks anon. That's probably where software/hardware integration helps a lot.

  • Pingback: Lesenswerte Artikel 7. Januar 2011()

  • Pingback: CES 2011: PC is dead?, 2 monopolies might be over : paweł jurczyński stream()

  • Sandeep

    of the three you mentioned only facebook is a major threat if they execute correctly and google drops the ball. Google has shown no signs of dropping the ball yet like yahoo did when they failed to compete against microsoft by building the sort of 'internet based' platform that google is doing now, maybe yahoo was deadly scared of microsoft who knows ?. Twitter is a joke and will be eaten by tumblr and quora which will then be eaten by the next phenomenon like instagram and so on.
    Think of apps like browser bookmarks mainly. People save stuff in browser bookmarks all the time, that has not stoped them searching on google.

  • As an old-timer on Windows, I remember Windows NT running on MIPS and Alpha servers, so I don’t see this as abandoning the Windows exclusivity, more a return to Windows’ cross-platform stance. However, I agree that it is tremendously interesting to see this on consumer devices, and I will watch what happens with interest.

  • dchu220

    Have you heard of Twitter?

  • dchu220

    "Apple is just a hardware company"

    That sounds like pigeon-holing = Taking an view that is too narrow,

    • Sandeep

      I was being sarcastic dude to anon 🙂 I know Apple is not a hardware company, nor is google or CNN an advertising company

  • Pingback: The Technoverse Blog | Android on Archos: Annoyances |()

  • Kristian

    And we have to remember that Apple is behind the ARM Holdings. Toni Saggonaghi always complaints that Apple does not do dividend. He is just a big mouth from nowhere. Apple uses their war chest like no one has ever seen before. Checkmate is what I call it. Though Horace also has to remember that Apple does not need to own the companies to own them. Nvidia is a good example. They produce huge amount of graphic cards, but 2/3 of their revenue comes from the Apple. Who do you think they listen? 😉 Apple is like the hydrogen bomb of the computer world and in the good way.

    • As far as I'm aware, Apple holds only a few percent in ARM still unless you know otherwise Kristian?

  • Kristian

    "1. The abandonment of Windows exclusivity by practically all of Microsoft’s OEM customers."

    That is BTW very easy one. Microsoft has backstabbed every single OEM that they have/had including Intel (especially now). There is not a single OEM manufacturer who trusts the Microsoft anymore. ('PlayForSure' is a good example)

  • brian

    Intel hasn't had exclusivity with Microsoft for years… Ever hear of a little company called AMD???

    The PC is not dead – maybe consumers don't have much use for the full PC form factor anymore, but business/enterprise/government will continue to use the PC in its more-or-less-current incarnation for many years to come. Have you ever tried working with a spreadsheet or doing data entry on a tablet?

    Microsoft is trying to get its software onto more platforms than just servers/desktops/laptops, and the only other platforms out there are tablets and SOC devices. BUT, since these devices don't run an x86 architecture, current Windows software won't work on them. That's right – x86 software will have to be re-written to run on ARM Windows.

    And who, besides AMD, is realistically going to compete with Intel in the desktop/server/laptop CPU market?

  • Pingback: Touch the ARM: P.C. Legacy | Not (Quite) Blank | Ethan Moore's Whiteboard()

  • Pingback: Bits und so #230 (Mac App Store) | Bits und so()

  • Pingback: Today’s Twitter updates (2011-01-12) | josh is gross()

  • Pingback: Wintel: Le Divorce | Monday Note()

  • Pingback: The Fall of Wintel and the Rise of Armdroid | iTAX – tax news()

  • IGnatius T Foobar

    I for one welcome the post-PC era. Microsoft has single-handedly held the entire industry back by a decade or more. In a connected world, the fat client PC with big bloated Office applications loaded on it has always been the rotary phone of computing.

  • avdspm

    great thoughts, but don't underestimate the power or wealth behind intel and microsoft. they're not going anywhere.

  • If Apple continues to treat customers like transactions after the sale, Apple may find itself undone in the next five years as smarter kids adopt platforms that give them more flexibility and choice. The idea that is remains difficult to own an Apple mobile device without a Windows or OS X based machine is evidence Apple is thinking profit from each segment of a captive supply chain. That kind of monopolistic thinking is exactly what brought WinTel to where it is today. Engineer a customer experience is very different from understanding a customer base. One cannot, engineer a customer base.

  • Pingback: Have Wintel and PCs Run Their Course? | PHP World()

  • And here I thought you were going to say it's because of all the 3D TVs.

  • Pingback: Wintel is dead, long live ARMdroid –

  • Krishnam

    Guess MS is working on WP7 and will drastically improve in the coming future. I also assume that WP7's main aim is not to dominate the world mobile market but it wants to make WP7 compatible with its own services / SW like OFFICE, WINDOWS OS and so on… which it is offering to its customers.

    May be if some one wants to get out of the Android and iOS clutter they will go for MS and its products.

    Just a thought.

  • Pingback: RCimT: Some stuff I missed while I was down and out « Lousy Canuck()

  • Pingback: The Next Disruptive Wave for CAD Applications? |

  • Pingback: The end of the PC era - Tilted Forum Project Discussion Community()

  • Pingback: The end of the PC era | 100% free()