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Month January 2012

[Sponsor] Scrivener

Scrivener calls itself a “content-generation tool”. That’s an interesting definition for a job to be done. The process of writing is not a linear flow of text composition. It’s often based on research, reference, fact checking, linking (citation), etc. It’s then a lot of re-organizing, re-defining and editing.

Most software is only fired up after much of the hard work is completed.

Scrivener lets you compose and structure long and difficult documents based on material from multiple sources. Adopted by novelists, screenwriters, journalists, lawyers and academics alike, the program allows users to split the editor and view documents, PDF files, multimedia and other research materials next to each other.

A virtual corkboard and outliner help with structuring or providing an overview of the draft. Collate, read and edit related text without affecting its place in the whole using Scrivener’s Collections feature. Close out the world in Full Screen mode. And when you’re finished, export to e-readers or the most popular word processing programs for submission.

If I’d be writing a book, this is what I’d use.

Available for Mac OS X and Windows at Literature and Latte.

5by5 | The Critical Path #22: Asymconf

The motivation behind Asymconf and an archaeological expedition into the ancient history of personal computing.

5by5 | The Critical Path #22: Asymconf.

I had a huge headache while doing this.

Introducing Asymconf

Asymconf is the Asymco experience. Live.

Attendees will be treated to an engaging, participatory experience. Using the case method, you will be guided through four probing questions pertinent in modern market analysis.

  1. What is disruption and how can it be harnessed? The case of mobile computing.
  2. What are the jobs that the entertainment industry is hired to do? The case of Hollywood.
  3. Is Wall Street more than good enough? The case of financial over-service.
  4. What are the limits of education? The case of learning and the theater.

If you would like to take part, please register your interest here.

—Horace Dediu & Indrek Vainu

 

The conditions for survival and prosperity

Yesterday’s post described the history of personal computing platforms over the past 37 years. It showed a distinct shifting of “eras” between traditional personal computing and the emergent mobile computing represented by device-based platforms.

Underlying these lives (and deaths) of platforms were the growth (and decline) of fortunes of companies and people. I hoped that by observing these patterns insight could be gained into the conditions for success or failure.

The following graph shows the companies which were predominant (in the top five ranking by shipments[1]) during each year of the industry’s history and the volumes they were able to obtain during that period. I also added Nokia and RIM as examples of the challengers coming from mobile devices.

It’s a difficult graph to interpret.

[Updated] The rise and fall of personal computing

Thanks to Jeremy Reimer I was able to create the following view into the history of computer platforms.

I  added data from the smartphone industry, Apple and updated the PC industry figures with those from Gartner. Note the log scale.

The same information is available as an animation in the following video (Music by Nora Tagle):

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h-C6u4yLj4

Apple as top personal computer vendor

“Yes. I think it’s possible if you integrate tablets”

– Meg Whitman, HP CEO in response to the question of whether Apple could overtake HP in computer sales in 2012.

via HP CEO Meg Whitman Admits Apple Could Surpass HP in 2012 | MacTrast.

However, according to Gartner, HP shipped 14.7 million PCs in the last quarter. While we don’t have the total global figure for Apple, my estimates are 5.2 million Macs and 14.7 million iPads, for a total of 19.9 million computers in the same period.

There might be an error in both Gartner’s and my numbers, but the gap of over five million in Apple’s favor is unlikely to disappear.

The history of shipments from these vendors  is shown below.

The market shares are also shown here:

I included the market shares thee years ago, and the rankings with the iPad excluded.[1] Apple went from 3.42% share at the end of 2008 to 5.6% share today excluding the iPad or 17.6% including the iPad. HP went from 19.3% in 2008 to 16% today or 13% if iPad is included.

Apple is ahead of schedule on their taking[2] the top spot in terms of units.

Notes:

  1. Although vendors other than Apple also sell tablets, their totals are unpublished and I am not aware of any estimates so. If anyone has seen estimates I would be happy to amend the data.
  2. Throughout the history of the industry, Apple never held the top spot.   The Apple II peaked at 15.8% in 1984 and the Mac at 12% in 1992.

Is the iPad a PC?

Gartner published its estimates for “PC” shipments during the fourth quarter. As I’ve done in the past, I combined their estimates with known shipments from Apple and separated Apple’s performance from the Windows-based market.

I also take into consideration the iPad as a potential competitor for computing purchases. Apple will report fourth quarter results including Mac and iPad shipments in less than two weeks but I am using my own estimates until then.

Here is how the platforms grew over the last few quarters (all figures are global):

The Gartner data implies

[Sponsor] HelpSpot & Open Source Help Desk List

“Openness” has become a politicized word. It’s been pulled in multiple directions and diluted into near meaninglessness. However, open source is a crucial foundation to much of computing today. It’s like reinforcing bar (rebar) in a building–mostly invisible but providing the necessary structural strength.

Like rebar’s however, open source is typically the least glamorous part of software and often powers the lower levels of a software stack making it easy to ignore. The other non-glamorous but essential part of the software industry is support and the “Help Desk”. Without this service, consumers would simply stop consuming.

So with this in mind, I’m grateful to HelpSpot for sponsoring Asymco this week.   Six years ago they created Open Source Help Desk List to assist companies looking for an open source help desk software solution. It’s been very successful, serving as an invaluable tool for thousands of companies.

They hope it can help you as well.

If you’d prefer a professionally developed and supported help desk application, then give them a look: HelpSpot: Help Desk Software

P.S. Check out the newest project they’re working on, the PHP framework Laravel.

5by5 | The Critical Path #21: Negative Costs

Continuing their discussion of the creative side of Hollywood accounting, Dan and Horace take a look at the way income from movies is distributed and why no movies ever make money. The observations sharpen focus on the over-arching influence distribution has on the creative process.

5by5 | The Critical Path #21: Negative Costs.

 The following chart is a visualization designed to accompany the podcast:

Compensation based on “Net income” depends on there being a surplus rather than deficit. The problem is that the Fees and claims on income increase as they are defined as a percent of total income so the goal of break-even is a moving target.

The Negative Costs are approximated by the production costs as discussed and visualized in the previous podcast here.

Enter, Prise

Historically, Apple’s sales to business and government buyers of personal computers have been, in a word, minuscule. To put a number on it, Forrester published data where the estimated value of those sales in 2007 were 2.8%. A figure lower than Apple’s overall market share of PCs in that time frame.

Things did not improve much in the years following. The following chart shows the split between Windows and Mac OS X for the value of enterprise computers sold in 2007 through 2009.

Apple’s share of value went from 2.8% to 3.7%, an increase of 1 point of share, but one which in real terms was not very valuable because the overall market declined due to recession. Revenues for Apple were basically flat at around $2 billion each year as shown in the second chart.

However, the situation changed very rapidly in the last two years.