Accidental Empires, Chapter 15 — Future Computing

minority-reportThere is so much wrong and yet a lot that’s right in this chapter, which was the last one in the original hardcover edition. I don’t know whether to be embarrassed by it or proud. How does computing today compare with my predictions from 1992? 

ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

FUTURE COMPUTING

Remember Pogo? Pogo was Doonesbury in a swamp, the first political cartoon good enough to make it off the editorial page and into the high-rent district next to the horoscope. Pogo was a ‘possum who looked as if he was dressed for a Harvard class reunion and who acted as the moral conscience for the first […]

Steve Ballmer’s Dilemma

Napier & Son was the most successful British manufacturer of aircraft engines in the 1920s and 30s with their 12-cylinder Napier Lion powering 163 different types of aircraft between 1918 and 1935. Over that 17 year period the Lion grew from 450 to 1350 horsepower and was, for awhile, the most powerful aircraft, boat, and car engine in the world, holding world speed records in all three venues at the same time. And then the Napier Lion was suddenly gone — a lesson from which Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer could benefit if he and his company don’t repeat it.

Napier perfected their Lion engine over those 17 years, improving it in every way until it was the […]

Kindle Fire HD hurts Microsoft more than Apple

After yesterday’s Kindle Fire HD announcements from Amazon, a reader reminded me of a prediction I made at the start of the year: “If Apple gives up its position of industry leadership in 2012 the only company capable of assuming that role is Amazon.com.” I stand by those words — Amazon is really bringing the fight to Apple — but the most important part is “if Apple gives up its position” which it clearly hasn’t, at least not yet. The real loser here, in fact, is not Apple but Microsoft.

I could be wrong about this but I don’t recall any pundits (me included) predicting that Amazon would yesterday introduce a larger format tablet, […]

Life after the personal computer

A reader pointed out to me this week that the personal computer is well over 30 years old — a number that has real consequence if you are familiar with my work. He remembered I predicted in 1992 that PCs as we knew them would be dead by now. I was obviously a little off in my timing. But only a little off. PCs are still doomed and their end will come quicker than you think.

Here’s what I wrote in my book Accidental Empires in 1992:

It takes society thirty years, more or less, to absorb a new information technology into daily life. It took about that long to turn movable type into books in the […]

Facebook IPO defies Cringely (would you like that in BOLD?)

Proving once again that I am an idiot, Facebook went public this morning with neither a whimper nor a bang. Back in January I predicted that Facebook godhead Mark Zuckerberg would implode during the company road show and the social media giant would back into becoming public simply by buying another company that’s already traded. From recent stories it looks like Zuckerberg did implode (blowing-off investors, hiding in the bathroom, etc.) but it didn’t matter: the deal was sealed long before any of that happened.

What’s next for Facebook of course, is fulfilling its promise as a public company. I still don’t think the company will ever […]