5by5 | The Critical Path #49: Fly me to the Moon

Horace takes another look at the aviation industry and asks whatever happened to air taxis. Then we go back to the manufacturing miracle of WWII in order to ask what might be the limits to growth. That helps us describe the “top down” opportunity for iOS and mobile computing in general looking at the overall mobile phone market. Finally Dan asks what are the qualifications needed for an analyst to perform wide-ranging reviews of industries.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #49: Fly me to the Moon.

See also: Headroom (tweet).

  • professortom


    There are two books I think you would be interested in. One is James May’s 20th Century ( and the other is Yesterday, we were in America (

    The former is a look at the various technologies that came of age in the 20th Century and how that has had an impact on the course of history, humanity, etc. Specifically, May talks about Concord the airliner and the airplane noting that while the airline was a failure, the airplane was not and was in fact vital to the progress of aviation.

    Yesterday is the story of Alcock and Brown’s historic trans-Atlantic flight: how they came to pair up, how they almost didn’t claim the title of being first to fly across the Atlantic and their memoirs of the historic event.

  • mortjac

    I would love to hear you discuss the World Bank report numbers! Their assumption of 9B subs by 2015 in a 7.5B population is for me quite overwhelming. More on

    • Indeed, this will be a watershed event. If and when connections outnumber the world’s population the consequences are difficult to calculate.

  • Karthik

    Horace…what about geography vs. iOS possession? By penetration rate, I presume you are only talking from iOS pt of view. Not penetration by geography as there are quite a few populous countries with minimum iOS penetration…

    • Karthik

      correction…there are quite a few populous countries with very minimal iOS penetration…

    • I spoke about this issue during the previous episode when I mentioned Tim Cook’s answers to cracking the “India code”. iOS coverage correlates with 3G penetration and with availability of data service plans.

  • Opher

    Horace – you mentioned speed is a problem due to sonic boom over land problem. However, this is technologically possible to solve – i.e. eliminating the sonic boom.
    There is a theory that has been around since the 1970s of how to quiet down sonic booms but I guess due to the lack of competitiveness in the field no one advanced it for 40 years. Only lately has it been tested and verified by Nasa and very slow work started happening on the matter. I imagine if this industry was in a heated competitive and innovative phase companies would have quickly followed this path 40 years ago.
    Also contributing to the lack of development is the failure of the Concord – since it’s design was flawed (limited range did not allow long flights over oceans, sonic boom did not allow flights over land, which limited to market to NY-Paris, NY-London and a 1-2 other options). The Concord’s failure made everyone loose appetite, and the airplane manufacturing industry consolidation did not help much either, by reducing competitive pressure and reducing the willingness to take risks.

    Here is the first test plane that verified the sonic boom quieting theory –

    and more about future Nasa plans –

  • Wow. That was all over the map. WWII to the airline industry (how many of us have wondered why is this so broke?) to disruption as a lens to view history. Not your easiest listen, but still well worth the time and I appreciate the ambition.

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