Thursday, June 10, 2010

Revenge of the Mainframe, Part Deux

The biggest news of the week is Apple’s market cap surpassing Microsoft’s. I’m not impressed.

It’s “Big News” only in how it signals the ebb and flow of companies. A while back, accused of monopolistic practices, AT&T sought a consent decree from the FTC by jettisoning the 5 baby-bells. AT&T kept the long distance business, and got rid of the messy ‘last-mile’. The thinking at the time was that all action was going to be in the long distance business; after all it was the only profitable part of Ma-Bell’s.

Long distance is now a commodity, and the last mile of cabling, a conduit for broadband, is where all the action is (for now). If only those smart AT&T executives can call a mulligan…

Cloud computing is changing the value of assets and brands in the technology space, its creating new winners, new losers and many opportunities for new entrant to occupy new niches in the ecosystem. And it surely is changing what matters:

  • Intel’s competitive advantage is no longer the IA-32/64 architecture; it’s their manufacturing capabilities that count.
  • Windows is no longer Microsoft’s competitive advantage, it fact it’s now irrelevant. Servers migrating to the cloud as services, Office morphing into Office Live, and Xbox Live will drive future growth. More than any other player, Microsoft needs to reinvent itself. And quick.
  • Apple is no longer a technology company, it’s a design shop. Think Gucci with restrictive EULA (hey lady you cannot take this bag to Walmart! And no, you cannot keep your pink LCP in it either).
  • Google is now the leading force in Cloud Computer. But is poised to become the most hated company on earth. Replacing Microsoft, which replaced IBM, which replaced…. Ironic that Google’s motto is “do no evil”.
  • Most blood will be spilled in the mobile market where competition will drive innovation, while eroding margins. It will be fun to watch.
The good news is that new landscape will be more forgiving: No more zero-sum games played in a Thunderdome-like environment. And that is a good thing for the industry.

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