The more things change

The more things change

Summary: 134 students, 83 smart phones, 8 laptops - 3 of them macs. Sorry guys, but the PC just isn't cool anymore. It's back to the future: the 1980s in this case, this time with different bad guys and better answers.


Things change - even in IT - and history, it seems, is resetting an old scene.

There's a new phenomenon on campus: an easy majority of students have abandoned laptops and now carry only a smartphone. I imagine that many still use wintel or macs in labs, libraries, or at home to do things like writing term papers - but the new symbol of coolness is an iDevice or clone, not a Dell, or other PC.

In business the handheld is morphing - it's been at least 25 years since companies like Fed Ex pioneered the dedicated, radio based, handheld (and, yes, I know the US DOD had cart mounted "handhelds" in the 60s, but this is about the true handheld: small enough, light enough, and useful enough for a floor walker's use at Walmart). Specifically, it's becoming more flexible and more ubiquitous as better back office software combines with things like replaceable keyboards and downloadable customer specific code and configuration capabilities to bring this technology to much smaller operations.

Meanwhile what are the big IT suppliers doing? Oracle is building the appliance backend to all this - and the smartphone is creating huge new campus opportunities for Sun Ray- but they're about the only big player with a clear strategic direction.

Great Debate

Will Google Glass face adoption challenges due to privacy concerns?

Will Google Glass face adoption challenges due to privacy concerns?

Everyone seems to have an opinion about Google's ground-breaking product.

Microsoft has its new Office and Windows 7 out - and the latter's both a decent successor to XP and a big success, but sales seem almost entirely limited to people who already had MS commitments: people in their 30s and 40s, not people in universities or just entering the workforce. Worse, they're repeated their own earlier mistake by hanging Windows 7 branding on their iClone and then guaranteeing that incompatibilities will develop by not sticking to Intel.

Meanwhile, Dell is apparently sitting things out while hoping its numbers will magically improve; HP has this weird dance going on with SAP - supplier of the software whose implementation nearly killed HP - and is so distracted by board level feuds, claims, and counter-claims that it couldn't line up behind a new product direction even if it could find one; and IBM, having beaten Sun via the financial markets, is waiting for the next Vax before transitioning to cell - and may be surprised when Oracle's Sun division provides one in rather less than the eight years it took last time.

Basically where we're at seems pretty simple: IBM is betting on the clock staying stopped; Dell and HP are on auto-pilot, Microsoft thinks the past predicts the future - and should soon be shipping Grecian Formula with its products :) - Apple's consumer focused strategy is working well and driving business adoption of its own down market competitors; google's commitment to free software and open standards is driving Android to early dominance among low end products; and the whole field of back-end to handheld integration for small to mid range business seems set to explode.

Forget the brand names and think big picture, big structure, and we've seen this situation before: at the beginning of the Reagan era when Unix reigned and IBM launched the PC as its forward line of defense for the mainframe. Back then, Apple and Unix lost; this time? IBM doesn't have the clout; the PC is passe; the new stuff, everything from hardware to OS and storage advances, is nearly all Unix; and November's American elections could trigger the end of the Pelosi recession -thus unleashing tremendous new demand for cheap, effective, IT infrastructure.

So what's the bottom line on all this? Blind, glowing, optimism because significant political change in the U.S. should drive an immediate jump in demand for more of whatever people have installed - and then trigger the kind of system wide infrastructure overhaul we saw in the eighties and nineties.


Topics: Dell, Software, Oracle, Operating Systems, Open Source, Mobility, Microsoft, IBM, Hardware, Windows

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  • Gee Rudy who would have guessed

    When the recession is ebbing away people will buy more.
    Your acumen is on the economy is way ahead.
    Thanx for letting us know.

    Also looking forward to all the Sun ray that I'll see deployed shortly.
    • Well, it is not just that people will buy more as the recession fades away

      it is WHAT they will buy. Windows and Office are not going to be on the top of the list anymore.
      • Incorrect, DonnieBoy

        Windows and Office are on the top of that list, as sales figures clearly show.

        You may want to say otherwise, but it does not change the facts.
        Tim Cook
      • RE: The more things change


        Hey Donnie, what are you doing here? Getting sick of trolling the WP7 blogs?

        Yep Rudy, the only people who fell and will fall into the trap of going to Win 7 are the > 90% of the world who use Windows, the rest are the fringe users (I'm presume you are using "Cool" to be a synonym with stupid) like Apple, the hobbyists who use Linux and the then there's the small amount of people who actually took your advice and used Sun. I'm sure both of them are still happy.

        If the PC is passe, what the hell does tha make Sun? Neolithic?

        Oh and prepare for more depressing news - WP7 is going to be on those smartphones. Tell me when is Sun making a phone? Oh that's right, they don't really exist anymore.

        Schadenfreude. I know it's wrong, but it's a guilty pleasure.
      • RE: The more things change


        Sorry, DonnieBoy, but you are living in a dream world. What is the best selling PC's at Best Buy, excepting the iPad which isn't really a PC? TOSHIBA PC'S!
        So, stop with the LIE that Linux or OSX are EVER going to be for anyone but the 'more money than brains' people.

  • Some things never change.

    Paul Murphy's rambling, obscurantist, pseudo-intellectual screeds, for example.
    Lester Young
    • This was one of Murphy's best. The world has changed. Win32 is not cool

      anymore. MS Office is not cool anymore.
      • True

        Exciting times for all but the MCSES, who sees their relevancy disappearing.
        Richard Flude
  • Yep...

    What matters is "cool".
    • Well, actually it does. Even in the enterprise, people do not want to look

      stupid. They want iPhones and they want iMacs.
      • That is what would be known as "an idiotic statement"

        DonnieBoy. The enterprise is about "what works", which is why Windows remains quite dominant, as"cool" does not get you much for very long.

        And Mr. Murphy has long been shown to really not understand the subjects he blogs about.

        Sorry for the disapointment DonnieBoy, but you to are very lonely "peas in a pod", as you humans would state it.
        Tim Cook
    • Cool is out


      The baby boomers elevated the word "cool" into normal parlance. I can't think of a better word to describe something pleasing. Of course today's "kids" can't either, so they go the "other way" and use the wost word - sick. From the generation that brought you untucked shirts, piercings, tramp stamps, and pants pulled down to show your underwear comes the word "sick". And these "people" don't use computers any more? Wow, who wooda guessed?
      Roger Ramjet
  • Given the success of iPhone and Android, and that iPhone has turned into a

    cultural icon, and now the iPad a smashing success, the word HAS changed. Student would not want to be caught dead with an HP laptop running Windows 7. And, they will not want to be seen with Windows Phone 7 either.

    The question is, how can Google make an entrance here? Google has the brand power of Apple, but, they will likely continue to stay out of hardware and focus on the OS branding. It will be VERY interesting to see what kinds of hardware that ChromeOS ends up on.
    • It will probably be as close to Intel's' Moblin UI


      So far, of all the Netbook UIs I have seen and used Ubuntu Netbook Edition and Moblin are major players.

      Regretfully, Moblin is rpm-based. They should switch to deb--fast.
      Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • And maybe

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz

        that Linux that follows the disastrous UNIX forking "tradition" should just curl up and die.
        Roger Ramjet
  • Just rolled out a new Urgent Care department--all thin client.


    Thin client might not matter to you, but it does for me and any other HIPAA-compliant Health Care concern.

    So heed Murph's remarks about SunRay. Thin is in.

    Security is in.
    Eliminating break/fix (moving parts replaced with solid state) is in.

    Moving Apps into the data center is in. (run over thin client and central management reduces cost)

    Deja Vu all over again (circa 1970 mainframe)? No. It's just guided by good old fashion 'common sense' driving ways to curb expense, that's what.

    SunRay is in.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: The more things change

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      So the secret is out DTS - I'm guessing a call center. Rudy's favorite place and what he imagines all computer users are in.

      Thank god we have universal health care here.

      Hope you got the Sun security patches, would seem to be rather critical in your call center or are you talking about what they use in the outsourced ones?

      Oh and I was there in the 70s managing those behemoths. I escaped, you obviously didn't or your DNA hadn't combined yet.
      • Clever banter. Not smart.

        @tonymcs@... Name a system that doesn't have patches. Do you have a point?
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
  • way too locked in by the telcos

    the 'new' way might as well be cable in the 80's. the telco's have far too much input into what appears on your phone, and Idevice. No real chance to program the phone, since you have to jail break it to make the crap go away.

    linux for the cell phone, I hope so. Sunrays, well, Irays?

    lets face it the Ipad IS the new sunray.
    sparkle farkle
  • The Pelosi recession?

    Did you really have to resort to political crankonomics in a column about IT change? And isn't "cheap, effective, IT infrastructure" always in demand, regardless of the party in power or the state of the economy?