The Secret of Google X

Sergey“All politics is local,” said House Speaker Tipp O’Neill, meaning that every politician has to consider the effect that his or her positions will have on voters. What makes perfect sense on a national stage might be a disaster back in the district, where the actual voters live. And so it is, too, with big companies, where local impact is sometimes more important than national or international. Sometimes, in fact, companies can be completely re-routed solely to please or affect a single executive. I believe we are seeing precisely that right now at Google concerning Google X.

Google X is that division of the search giant responsible for self-driving cars, Google Glass, and […]

The Secret of iOS 7

airplay1The Innovator’s Dilemma, a 1997 book by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, made the point that successful companies can lose their way when they pay too much attention to legacy products and not enough attention to new stuff. They are making so much money they either don’t see a competitor rising up or are too complacent to feel threatened. In either case the incumbent generally loses and the upstart (usually one of many) generally wins. The best way for successful companies to avoid this problem is by inventing the future before their competitors do.

We see this pattern over and over in high tech. Remember Lotus? Remember Word Perfect? Remember Borland? And it’s not just in software. […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 14 — Counter-Reformation

os2warpACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

COUNTER-REFORMATION

In Prudhoe Bay, in the oilfields of Alaska’s North Slope, the sun goes down sometime in late November and doesn’t appear again until January, and even then the days are so short that you can celebrate sunrise, high noon, and sunset all with the same cup of coffee. The whole day looks like that sliver of white at the base of your thumbnail.

It’s cold in Prudhoe Bay in the wintertime, colder than I can say or you would believe—so cold that the folks who work for the oil companies start their cars around October and leave them running twenty-four hours a day clear through […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 12 — On the Beach

tropicthunderGiven The Startup Channel this chapter on startups is very important. We also cover shareware and I want to point out that Buttonware founder Jim Knopf asked me to respect his pseudonym “Jim Button.” Who was I to argue with that? 

ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER TWELVE

ON THE BEACH

America’s advantage in the PC business doesn’t come from our education system, from our fluoridated water, or, Lord knows, from our tax structure. And it doesn’t come from some innate ability we have to run big companies with thousands of employees and billions in sales. The main thing America has had going for it is the high-tech start-up, and, […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 11 — Font Wars

john-warnock-steve-jobsClearly, given the recent battle between Flash and HTML5, things changed later in life between John Warnock and Steve Jobs. There’s a story I’d like to understand better. Meanwhile, back in the early 1990s….

ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER ELEVEN

FONT WARS

Of the 5 billion people in the world, there are only four who I’m pretty sure have stayed consistently on the good side of Steve Jobs. Three of them—Bill Atkinson, Rich Page, and Bud Tribble—all worked with Jobs at Apple Computer. Atkinson and Tribble are code gods, and Page is a hardware god. Page and Tribble left Apple with Jobs in 1985 to found NeXT Inc., their […]