Silicon Valley conquers Hollywood 2013 — Setting the scene

winter-is-comingI wrote here nearly a year ago that there would be no more annual lists of predictions and I’m sticking to that. I’m trying to retire, remember? The ads are gone, you might notice, and with them my income. But I’m not out the door quite yet and have time for a series of columns on what I think will be an important trend in 2013 — the battle for Hollywood and home entertainment.

The players here, with some of them coming and some of them going, are Amazon and Apple and Cisco and Google and Intel and Microsoft and maybe a few more. The battleground comes down to platforms and content and will, by 2015 […]

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 […]

On Win8 launch day a look back at Steve Ballmer, circa 2001

Today was a big day for Microsoft, with the Windows 8 and tablet launches, and potentially a very big day, too, for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. It had better be, because some pundits think Win8 is Ballmer’s last hurrah, that he’ll be forced to step down if the new operating system isn’t a big success. That might be true, though I have a hard time imagining who would replace Ballmer at this point and how the company would change as a result. I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement — heck, I’m among those who have called for Ballmer to go — I’m just not sure what would be any better. More on that in a future column.

Today, rather than look to the […]

Steve Jobs came within a song of going to the Moon

This week marks a year since the death of Steve Jobs — a year that has changed my life in many ways with at least two of those ways yet to be announced. The anniversary seems to be an excuse for anyone with a byline who knew or even bumped into Steve to throw out a reminiscence or two and I’m not immune to that disease. So here’s the story of when I tried to get Steve and Apple to back my Moon Shot.

Longtime readers will remember that I’ve been trying since 2007 to mount a private unmanned mission to the Moon, though five years in it feels sometimes like I could have walked there […]

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, […]