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The End of the PC Era and Apple's Plan To Survive 549

Hugh Pickens writes "Charlie Stross has written a very interesting essay, ostensibly about the 'real reason why Steve Jobs hates Flash,' but really about how Jobs is betting Apple's future on an all-or-nothing push into a new market as Moore's law tapers off and the personal computer industry craters and turns into a profitability wasteland. Stross says that Apple is trying desperately to force the growth of a new ecosystem — one that rivals the 26-year-old Macintosh environment — to maturity in five years flat — the time scale in which they expect the cloud computing revolution to flatten the existing PC industry and turn PC manufacturers into suppliers of commodity equipment assembled on a shoestring budget with negligible profit. 'Any threat to the growth of the app store software platform is going to be resisted, vigorously, at this stage,' writes Stross. 'And he really does not want cross-platform apps that might divert attention and energy away from his application ecosystem.' The long-term goal is to support the long-term migration of Apple from being a hardware company with a software arm into being a cloud computing company with a hardware subsidiary. 'This is why there's a stench of panic hanging over Silicon Valley. This is why Apple have turned into paranoid security Nazis, why HP have just ditched Microsoft from a forthcoming major platform and splurged a billion-plus on buying up a near-failure; it's why everyone is terrified of Google,' writes Stross. 'The PC revolution is almost coming to an end, and everyone's trying to work out a strategy for surviving the aftermath.'"
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The End of the PC Era and Apple's Plan To Survive

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  • Moore's law (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @03:34PM (#32048244) Journal

    Moore's law is tapering off? I've heard about the impending end of Moore's law for at least the past 10 years, but they keep on going. What evidence is there that Moore's law is tapering off? Wikipedia cites Intel in 2008 as predicting Moore's law to continue until 2029. Not an unbiased source, but I think we'd see the end coming if it was to come in the next 10 years.

  • Re:Moore's law (Score:4, Informative)

    by Infiniti2000 ( 1720222 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @03:44PM (#32048390)

    What evidence is there that Moore's law is tapering off?

    None. It's called Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt (FUD []) and is a standard marketing strategy, albeit an unethical one.

  • by zr-rifle ( 677585 ) <zedr@[ ] ['zed' in gap]> on Friday April 30, 2010 @03:55PM (#32048532) Homepage
    I thought Apple's grudge against Flash was all about free Flash applications competing with it's own commercial apps from the App Store. Want your lame "fart button"? Just browse to and have a field day for *free*; it's faster than a micro-transaction and less painful, especially when you have to justify to your spouse all those micro-purchases making a macro-dent on your income.

    No Flash, no cool little applications on your Phone for free... your only source for a quick fix is the App Store.
  • I remember it (Score:5, Informative)

    by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @04:04PM (#32048662) Journal

    I remember how much time and money was spent updating software and hardware to deal with it. I remember that despite that there were still glitches.

  • by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @04:36PM (#32049216) Homepage

    Last I checked every MMORPG runs on PC, with a few on MACs also, but I can't think of a single MMORPG that works on consoles.

    The MMORPG genre is pretty damn big at this point. Since you blog this stuff, why do you think that MMORPG's have not moved to include consoles?

    Uh...just to name a few:

    Phantasy Star Online for Dreamcast []

    EverQuest Online Adventures on PS2 []

    Final Fantasy XI on PS2 []

    Phantasy Star Universe on PS2 and 360 []

    Age of Conan coming to 360 []

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Friday April 30, 2010 @04:59PM (#32049580) Homepage Journal

    The Y2K bug was a real issue, and it was fixed do to ahrd work and money.

    No, airplanes weren't going to fall out of the sky. I did witness the spectacular failure of several financial systems I was involved with in 1997.

    At the time it was estimated that if it happens in production on new years eve, the system would need to be shut down, data fixed by comparing it to previous back-ups, and the ode fixed, then tested that brought online and then some people would still be off because they might have deposited money between the last back up and the failure. So 1m- 3 YEARS before people could get their money. What do you think would have happened?

  • by Peter Trepan ( 572016 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:09PM (#32049756)

    Whoever this fucktard is

    He is a top-tier science fiction author with Hugo and Locus awards, including a nomination this year. Before that, he was a programmer and tech journalist with a monthly column on Linux.

  • Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS (Score:3, Informative)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:48PM (#32050294) Homepage
    I'm an old school Mac user. I switched to Windows when it became clear (after trying the first 4 versions of OS X) that Apple no longer gave half-a-shit about usability.

    Huh, interesting, OS X is the only thing that I think Apple has done extraordinarily right.
  • Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS (Score:3, Informative)

    by wish bot ( 265150 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:54PM (#32050366)

    This is interesting. Most Mac owners I know are poor uni students, or were poor uni students. Most of them simply went without things that other people take for granted - cars, nice apartments, holidays, etc, and often made a small income from their machine - dj's, print designers, sound designers, etc.

    Most of them see their machines as a hard working tool that suits their needs, not a fashion accessory. They sacrifice a few things to make that purchase, because that tool is more important to them than a holiday.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:04PM (#32051102)

    I didn't say there wasn't still a gap, I said the gap has been significantly reduced.

    I haven't looked at the numbers closely, but I suspect the gap hasn't been reduced at all. ATI's new Evergreen is kicking out a trillion SP FLOPS and now has full IEEE double precision as well. After ignoring graphics for years, OpenCL has caught my fancy. I once hoped that IBM would kick out an upgraded version of Cell with fast IEEE double precision, but their unholy alliance with Sony proved to be quite the fiasco.

    What has greatly changed is the relevance of the gap. When you're a student living in a 300 sq ft apartment, 600 sq ft is a screaming upgrade. Later in life, the upgrade from 2500 sq ft to 5000 sq ft has a narrower appeal. Good if your favorite game in life is playing indoor hide and seek with your grand-toddlers or you're a world class model train builder.

    The people who are happy enough with the tower PC they already have are not going away. Like Jobs predicts, it's not a sector capable of supporting the high living Apple desires. Everyone's creative energy is going to be poured into finding the bisection point between mobile and cloud. Everyone with aspirations for high living is piling into this sector. It won't be cheap. HP is going to congress to ask for a $50/month levy for virtual ink on every user of cloud computing services.

    On the other side of the coin, the boring old sector will fade from mind a lot faster than it will fade from reality. I predict large PCs will fade away about as quickly as large SUVs in America. If you look at the dealerships, you might come to one conclusion. But then look on the road around you. Sit in your Smart Car in heavy traffic some day and count the number of bumpers at eye level before declaring dinosaurs extinct.

    After writing such a nice screed about Flash, Jobs won't have any difficulty understanding why Google might wish to undermine H.264 with V8.

    The interesting thing about the computer industry these days is that control points have less to do with de facto product monopolies, and a lot more to do with physical embodiment. Running a huge data center, the pendulum swings toward the ability to maintain trade secrets, and I suspect there's some of that in the closed device mobile sector.

    In this new world, the incumbent monopolists have an alternative to circling the waggons and supporting each other's misbegotten prominence. Steve's essay is an excellent rendering of the king is dead, long live the king.

  • Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS (Score:3, Informative)

    by ajlisows ( 768780 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @08:20PM (#32052000)

    I have never owned a Mac. I rarely end up having a chance to mess around with them but last year two people with 12" Aluminum Powerbooks had hardware failures. I do a lot of side jobs fixing broken laptops so I've taken apart my fair share of various PC laptops. I told them I could probably help them. Both just needed the Power-In board replaced.

    I was stunned by how well put together the Mac laptops felt compared to the average HP/Toshiba/Dell. Even the higher end Tecra line and the like seem like toys in comparison. I seriously considered buying a Mac Laptop after taking those two machines apart.

  • by Lars T. ( 470328 ) <Lars.Traeger@goo ... Ncom minus berry> on Friday April 30, 2010 @08:23PM (#32052036) Journal

    The PC is fine. What's coming to an end is Apple's desktop era, because Apple really isn't in anything for the long run.

    That's why they sold only 1.147 millionen desktops last quarter, compared to a staggering 818 thousand same quarter last year.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"