Inflection Point

Over at his weekly column for PBS, Bob Cringely has written about four developments that he feels will have a major impact on the way that technology will develop over time.

 

Yahoo!’s new music service is seen by Cringely as a statement of intent to push forward music by subscription and defeat all current players. Indeed, its 6.99 USD subcription rate hand an immediate effect on Wall Street, adversely affecting the share prices of Apple, Napster and Real Networks.

 

Microsoft’s forthcoming XBox 360 was seen as a statement of intent against some of its closest PC partners (Dell, HP etc) by providing a home computing device that can surf the web, pick up mail, do VoIP, potentially provide a platform for video on demand and play games. Given that the margins are so tight in the PC industry anyway and Dell is the only one that consistently makes money selling Windows PCs this could proved to be very interesting.

 

Cringely, returned to an area of previous speculation on Apple providing a film by download model similar to the iTMS model.

 

Finally he speculated that Google’s Web Accelerator was an audious land grab that would shake the industry to its foundations. Speeding up web pages would mean that every ISP and web page creator would be a content provider or customer for Google. That the service would turn PCs into thin-clients lengthening the useful life of the home PC and reducing sales. Further that it would be a staggering tour-de-force of technology. What surprised me about the Google part of his article is that Cringely thought an improvement of only double what consumers have now would be enough to shift the balance of power. In his book Accidential Empires and similar works by other authors, a 10x factor is usually required to differentate the killer products from the ‘better mouse traps’. I guess time will tell.