Look to the cloud
Too soon to tell
Best Argument: Too soon to tell
Cause of death: existential crisis
Innovation in the PC and printer space died of an existential crisis. Outside of some specific verticals, it no longer needed to live. This isn't to say that the market is dead, but rather already has efficient, small, inexpensive, fast computers (whether laptop or desktop) and resource-saving printers that meet the needs of most buyers. There is plenty of money to be made selling commodity hardware; HP's recent consolidation of PC and printer units is just another validation of this commodity approach. After all, how much marketing do you need to convince businesses to buy inexpensive PCs and printers?
Where things get interesting is in the cloud. HP's move, much like the shifts we've seen at Dell and IBM, is an attempt to leverage all of that commodity hardware to connect buyers to value-added services. The innovation is here, and, long-term, so is the real money.
Incentives to innovate
The funny thing about innovation is you never really see it coming. The PC and printer markets have become commoditized, but the innovation isn't dead. Multiple outcomes are possible because there's still a lot of money to be made in emerging markets for both PCs and printers. That reality will drive incentives to innovate. It's too early to write off PC and printer innovation.
PCs and printers still vital
I would love to tell you that this was a difficult decision, but it really wasn’t. As much as I enjoy Chris’s argument, I believe he thinks of things as they ought to be as opposed to the reality. Both PCs and printers are just as vital as they’ve ever been and will continue to evolve to meet the changing demands of the market -- which is arguably the essence of innovation.
In contrast to Chris’s idealism, Larry is reliably pragmatic; and in this particular case he did a nice job of reminding us that the “funny thing about innovation is you never really see it coming.” In other words, we don’t know what we don’t know. He’s right. It’s just way too soon to declare an end to PC and printer innovation.
Clearly most of this audience agrees that it’s too soon to tell if PC and printer innovation is gone and I would venture that it’s unlikely as well, at least in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, to those of you who agree with Chris, I say keep dreaming. That is after all the fountainhead of big thinking which almost always leads to, you guessed it, innovation.