The year so far in tech!

It has been a while since I last blogged and this is apparently in keeping with trends – bloggers seem to drop off at an alarming rate. Recent trends and a research paper by the Pew Research Centre indicate that blogging has declined among a few segments. More so because people probably feel that the medium is too word heavy perhaps writing long meaningful sentences etc and somehow to feel pressurized to be meaningful. Social media has taken up the slack and people like to let out perhaps small tweet bursts! But even then most tweets they say are pretty meaningless anyway and are designated as ‘pointless babble’ so yeah no help there and we just need to perhaps revisit the medium to let loose some thoughts!!

 

It has been a long time indeed and my favorite space – technology has seen some interesting changes, moves, counter moves, trends etc by the many players that exist there!! One of the key developments I think was the Apple vs. Adobe fracas – a battle to choose the better tool for video. Apple felt it was not Adobe’s Flash but the new standard HTML 5. Steve Jobs weighed in on the issue in April and some commentators have stated that the arguments were disingenuous and it is just Jobs way of taking and keeping control over the user experience. Which may not be such a bad thing since Apple sold so many iPads (without Adobe and Flash in them) and iPhone 4 and gave everyone from Adobe to Nokia and RIM some pretty sleepless times. Latest reports on this battle seems to indicate the thought that Jobs may have been right and there are issues with Flash and Google’s latest mobile OS – Android has been facing some of the problems working with the platform that is prone to crashes and is a resource hog. The developers however were not too happy since they liked the code once and run anywhere approach for their apps. Apples insistence that everything be coded specific to the device to take advantage of all that it has got makes for more work and sometimes not the best work since there are not that many people – or rather that many skilled people that can code on Apple’s platform X Code. However it looks like Apple won this round – Flash does seem to have problems – and developers develop on where the money is and currently in the mobile apps space – that is with Apple.

There were some interesting buys in the large corporate IT space and the latest was Mc Afee a vendor for anti virus and internet security being gobbled up by Intel – a chip maker. Everyone opined on what this means – but the best explanation is perhaps that Intel wants to get into the security business and needs to be in the security business. Ask any CTO, CIO – what is it that keeps them up at nights and most people will say Security and Intel wanted in on that which might make for safer computers. The security landscape in the last few years has changed drastically enough for vendors to wake up and take some decisions
in terms of where they want to go with security on their products. Intel has declared that Mc Afee will function as an independent subsidiary and that may well be a good thing but in the longer term the integration of the technology will be what will make this a sure shot success and something that consumers and enterprises will look to.

Acquisitions were everywhere and HP raised the ante in the stack game with strategic buys of 3 COM and Palm. They now have servers, networks, mobile OS (but no CEO!) and now compete directly with Cisco who has expanded into blade servers and storage with Acadia a joint venture with EMC. Cisco is positioned for global dominance of course and has been for a while now so no stopping them anyway!! Their acquisition in the video space with Tandberg and Flip seem really interesting to watch as they seem to be going with the video will be the new traffic driver philosophy. But then Cisco does more or less everything these
days, whether it is security with Scansafe, mobile, unified communications, WAN optimization and teleconferencing and all of this to sell more routers remember!

Somewhere along the line Facebook – something always seemed like juvenile pass time – became the biggest web site on the world, an alternate internet in itself in a way. It also has amazing ‘stickiness’ the amount of people who stay on the site. Not surprisingly they are also the ones fighting for the next increment in the LAN – the 100 Gigabit Ethernetand say what they really need terabit Ethernet.There was even speculation that they would be looking at ARM for their new datacenter at Pineville, Oregon but this was denied as a rumor which probably saved a lot of people at Intel and AMD an heart attack or two!

Oracle’s purchase of Solaris has also dealt the open source business a bit of an heartache and one of the first things that Oracle has done is go after Google on patent infringement for developing a new mobile stack called Dalvik that they claimed infringed on their Java patents (that they got after buying Sun) and the case went to court. Not content Orace also caused the Open Solaris Governing Board to also quit since they have no plans to stay open any longer. But then Oracle had already shown that they were going to be different and there was going to be changes n the way things were being done. One of the first victims was the channel partner’s of Sun who had to now become partners of Oracle and they were taken through coals and even today across the world – the channel is on tenterhooks. But then Oracle and Lary Ellision and the way they work the world always has been different from most other people. Some say that they are now becoming the new Microsoft – so what has happened to the old Micrsoft – maybe they became benign and all? Among things Oracle also got sued by the US Department of Justice thanks to some whistleblowers telling them that they have been overcharged on the GSA deals. The investigation is on but if true it confirms the old thought that vendors if they can the will gouge on price – even the American government with whom they have a written agreement to provide at the lowest prices. Oracle’s litigious ways with the patents that it has got access through the purchase of Sun reminds me of SCO (once upon a time the Santa Clara Organization) and its shenanigans in the American courts with its patents on Unix and though we all know what that came to – this one will be some thing interesting to watch.

 

Microsoft the other big daddy – or rather the original big daddy of the IT business has had an interesting year in several ways. Their consumer facing products like the cell phone and one that they released – the Kin – came short tremendously. In other businesses they kept their lead and moved to the cloud to take on the challenges of Google with on demand licensing and availability of their core productivity suite available as a service. This August marks 15 years since their launch of Win95, at that time a big move up in the OS sweepstakes. But who would have guessed or projected that 15 years later the OS battle ground would look so different with access to information now being from multiple internet connected devices – most of which have no to a rudimentary role for Microsoft to play. In the Internet world – it is rarely about being first but more about being better. Any one recall Lycos or Altavista or for that matter the Rio Noman MP3 player? There is really nothing called a first mover advantage here – it is all about the user interface, the experience and that is always the magic sauce that puts it all together. Friendster, MySpace and 6degrees were possibly one of the earliest on the social networking scene – where are they now? Tablet computing or at least the Microsoft vision of what that means has also been around for a long time now – it never struck anyone to remove the stylus and make it tactile totally and today we have the iPad that has sold more than all tablets ever made and that too in a fairly short time.

 

Technology they say is a hard mistress and to be ahead the word clichéd as it may sound has always been innovation and vision. A lot of people make smart phones and those that do – make many models. Apple makes one model and yet beats them all. It gives customers virtually no choice and believes perhaps in the old adage – my way or the highway and yet manages to get as many customers as it does and has hordes of more or less rabid fans. There are many explanations  – a strong control of the user
experience some say right from the unpacking for the product – a tight integration others say, innovation others say. The point though and what I think is that they have learnt from their mistakes and decided to stay ahead. That and as a wise man once said – make a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door!

 

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About Soumya
A technology enthusiast, forever enamored by all that it hath wrought and of course here is an attempt at making sense of it all and perhaps simplifying it!

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