Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
– Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”
What a two weeks it’s been! First Google buys Motorola Mobility. Hello, Android infighting! Hello, Google TV on Moto settop boxes! Hello, HTC and Samsung considering how their own mobile OSes – or HP’s – might fare in the U.S. market. And Hello, the exact midpoint of a huge era of change in our world.
But, then! Then HP goes and dumps webOS hardware support and threatens to exit the hardware business entirely. What? Just a year after buying Palm for $1.2 Billion, what? Okay, sure.
Then Steve Jobs steps down. This was the least surprising, most expected, and still somehow most shocking of all three events. Apple without Steve would be like a company based on mythology as a company without its origin story. Except maybe not, more on that in a moment. But for as much as we all knew Steve was sick and nobody lives forever, it was still an after hours, NASDAQ-halting shock to the system to learn that he’d officially given up the title of CEO to Tim Cook.
And so here we are. Tablets are selling like hotcakes so long as they’re made by Apple. All Android devices will get fair play from Google, even the ones made by the company Larry and Sergey just bought. And HP is/isn’t getting entirely out of the hardware business and remaking themselves as an enterprise-only shop. All of these things are true, at least for the moment.
Six years ago smartphones were the exclusive realm of the stylus-wielding, belt holster-holstering crowd. Now only nerds don’t have pinch-to-zoom in their pockets. Six years ago only the cutting edge rebels amongst us worked from home. Now more than half the people I deal with email me back from a dining room chair more often than from a desk chair. Six years ago Apple’s market capitalization was $31.36 Billion USD. Now it’s $355.61 B. And six years ago Motorola’s RAZR pretty much ruled the roost when it came to cool cell phones on US carriers. Now Google owns Moto’s mobile business. Bought ’em out with cold hard cash.
What happens next? Tech companies fight over TV. TV companies scramble to remake themselves like print and music publishing companies are already doing. And so it goes. Beyond that? I’m not so sure. Either Facebook and Twitter own the world and are about to take search away from Google or social media’s just a fad, if an expensive-to-investors one at that. Cell phones are here to stay, but what about tablets? And what in the world is Ashton Kutcher up to, anyway?
Six years from now it’ll be 2017. Anyone got a prediction to make?