Mark Zuckerberg’s Pact with the Devil

This is a column about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, but it starts with an old story about Intel and Monsanto from my book Accidental Empires. Stick with me here and you’ll soon understand why…

There was a time in the early 1980s when Intel suffered terrible quality problems. It was building microprocessors and other parts by the millions and by the millions these parts tested bad. The problem was caused by dust, the major enemy of computer chip makers.

Semiconductor companies fight dust by building their components in expensive clean rooms. Intel had plenty of clean rooms, but it still had a big dust problem, so the engineers cleverly decided […]

After switching to ARM, expect Apple to buy TSMC, too

Readers have been asking me to comment on Apple’s decision, announced at last week’s World Wide Developers’ Conference, to start switching to Apple-designed ARM processors for its Macintosh computers. I usually don’t like to do second-day (or, in the case, second-week) stories unless I can add something new to the discussion. Oddly, I usually can and that’s the case here, where Apple’s move to ARM has a big-picture strategy component that is absolutely vital to the company’s continued success. It also doesn’t seem to be covered yet anywhere but here.

Forget all the talk about Apple moving to ARM because the chips are better than Intel’s or consume […]

Jeff Bezos Can’t Lose

Big technology companies have been recently coming under increased scrutiny from federal regulators. Several tech companies are reportedly under investigation, but this column is only about Amazon, which seems to be in regulatory crosshairs in part because President Trump doesn’t like Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns one of Trump’s least-favorite newspapers, the Washington Post. Ironically, Trump’s goal of breaking-up Amazon would only make Jeff Bezos at least $35 billion richer.

It’s simple: Amazon is worth a lot more in pieces than it is as a single company.

Bezos is no fool, so he knows […]

My first two predictions for 2020 — IBM and Trump

For 20+ years I’ve been writing predictions every January and I guess I’m doing another set now. But this time will be different for several reasons. For one, January is almost over, so it will slough over into February. For another, I always start by going back to the year before and grading my previous year’s predictions. I’m the only guy in this business who does that. But this year I am going to bury the score a bit because I need to start with a prediction or two simply because both are immediate and really can’t wait.  So I’ll do the scoring on Monday, but today I have two 2020 predictions to […]

2019 Prediction #1 — Apple under Tim Cook emulates GE under Jack Welch

People — well, investors and financial analysts — seem to worry a lot about Apple. They tend to see Apple as either wonderful or terrible, bound for further greatness or doomed. What Apple actually is is huge — a super tanker of a company. And, like a super tanker, it’s hard to quickly change Apple’s direction or to make it go appreciably faster or slower. Those who see Apple as doomed, especially, should remember they are worrying about the most profitable enterprise in the modern history of business. Those who see Apple as immortal should remember that’s impossible.

The worry about Apple in 2019 seems to be that the smart phone market […]