Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is the Sony Walkman like NASA's Space Shuttle?

Early 1980s Sony Walkman WM-2 with its plastic...Image via WikipediaI love technology! One of the reasons I love technology is that it is constantly changing, improving and generally make life better and certainly more interesting. I've been lucky enough to witness some of the great technological advancement in history. Cool thing about technology is that every generation can say the same thing. From the invention of fire and the wheel to microcomputers and space travel, technology is a wonder to its generation. Some technologies stay around for a short time while other linger for decades
Space Shuttle Atlantis takes flight on the STS...Image via Wikipedia
Two technologies that have been around for 30 years are being retired in the next few weeks. The Sony Cassette Walkman, first introduced in Japan in 1979 and sold 3,000 units in the first month. It is amazing to me that this product is still around given the popularity of MP3 players. Even though the iPod has been around for 9 years, the cassette technology was still being manufactured by Sony. The other technology that is retiring is the space shuttle Discovery, set for its 39th and last flight on November 1st. Discovery, the oldest shuttle in NASA's fleet, and first launched in 1981. Not only is this the end of Discovery but also marks the second to last flight of the entire space shuttle program. The last flight will be made by Atlantis in late February of 2011.

Both technologies were introduced three decades ago, have changed the way we work, play and opened up our world to new adventures either by allowing us to carry music with us or by seeing the world from a different perspective. We have moved so far forward since the 80's to embrace new technologies but the Sony Walkman and the space shuttle will forever be pop culture items of technology just as the "brick" cell phone. I think it would be fitting if the Walkman was taken on board Discovery's last flight and released into space. A fitting end to two great technological icons of our time.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Microsoft Does Not Have its Head in the Clouds

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBaseJust the other day, I posted my thoughts about Microsoft's second entry into the cell phone market, and how its impending failure will cost CEO Steve Balmer his job. I also wrote that I felt MS was not an innovator. Today, I read a couple of news reports to further my beliefs about MS.

The first report was a press release from MS about the "retirement" of Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie. (Chief Software Architect was actually Bill Gates title before he stepped away from MS). Ray Ozzie, one of the developers of Lotus Notes (and don't hold that against him) was responsible for MS development of cloud computing. The other news item related to this story was one I came across in Businessweek. "According to some of the technology portfolio managers whose mutual funds drew the highest scores from Bloomberg Rankings as of September 2010, the hot theme in technology is cloud computing

So here we have MS "retiring" his CSA who is responsible for cloud computing developmental, and not replacing him, and, on the other hand, cloud computing becoming a hot commodity. Once again, MS is falling behind in technology, not being an innovator and become more of a distance follower. 

Ozzie's departure is the latest in a long list of executive house clearing. Microsoft announced the resignation of entertainment chief Robbie Bach in May, and Office division head Stephen Elop in September to become CEO of Nokia. In 1999 and 2000, it lost Paul Maritz, who had been a top executive, Brad Silverberg, who led development of Windows 95 and Internet Explorer; as well as Nathan Myhrvold, the company’s chief technology officer. 

en: Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. Camera: N...Image via Wikipedia
With all those brainiacs gone, who's left to take the blame, Mr. Balmer?
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

From DOS 1.0 to Windows 7 - Nothing's Changed

There is very little doubt that Microsoft has played a big part in the computer revolution. While Apple software and hardware has always been proprietary, MS was willing to sell its operating system to any manufacturer making an IBM-compatible computers thus attaining a huge market share. The market share lead to users naturally adapting software products that interfaced very well with DOS and then Windows which lead to MS Office becoming the de facto standard office productivity tool.

The problem with MS is that they are not innovators. From their beginning, DOS 1.0 was not a Bill Gates creation. He bought the rights to an operating systems called QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Seattle Computer Products and adapted it to IBM's specifications. MS Office products have been dominant but other office tools pre-date them. The word processing program WordPrect was available in 1980 (MS Word in 1983) and the spreadsheet Lotus 1-2-3 was released in 1983 while MS Excel first surfaced in 1987. Just the power and reach of Microsoft's operating systems has caused these other tools to virtually disappear. The early  Windows products were thought of by many to have a similar look and feel as the Apple operating system of the same time.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 11: A person holds a new Wi...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeThis lack of innovation is now evident in MS attempt to enter the cell phone market. After Blackberry and Apple has taken over the market, here comes MS trying to do for cell phone what they did for microcomputers. It was not surprising that there first attempt failed. They are not the only player in the market and they do not know how to deal in an area where they do not have a virtual monopoly. After the failure of Vista and the success of Windows 7, they are trying to carry that success to the cell phone market. With Blackberry and the iPhone deeply entrenched, I believe that their second attempt to produce a cell phone will fail again.

They are in a market place where they do not know how to play the game - a market place that calls for innovation and that is crowded with non-MS products. The failure of the first cell phone caused MS CEO to lose his bonus - the failure of the Windows 7 cell phone will cause him to lose his job.
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