From Charles Stross’ blog. I agree that the PC is fast becoming a commodity – this time for real, and even for laptops. I’m thinking about replacing my MacBook Pro, and asking if I really want to spend $1700 when I could get equivalent hardware from HP for $500 less. (Answer: Yes. I value my time!) His speculation on what comes next is provocative – he seems to think Apple has a better shot at making the shift than anyone else.
The App Store and the iTunes Store have taught Steve Jobs that ownership of the sales channel is vital. Even if he’s reduced to giving the machines away, as long as he can charge rent for access to data or apps he’s got a business model. He can also maintain quality whatever that is, exclude malware, and beat off rivals. A well-cultivated app store is actually a customer draw. It’s also a powerful tool for promoting the operating system the apps run on. Operating system, hardware platform, and apps define an ecosystem.Apple are trying desperately to force the growth of a new ecosystem — one that rivals the 26-year-old Macintosh environment — to maturity in five years flat. That’s the time scale in which they expect the cloud computing revolution to flatten the existing PC industry. Unless they can turn themselves into an entirely different kind of corporation by 2015 Apple is doomed to the same irrelevance as the rest of the PC industry — interchangable suppliers of commodity equipment assembled on a shoestring budget with negligable profit……
Here’s his conclusion.
This is why there’s a stench of panic hanging over silicon valley. this is why Apple have turned into paranoid security Nazis, why HP have just ditched Microsoft from a forthcoming major platform and splurged a billion-plus on buying up a near-failure; it’s why everyone is terrified of Google:
The PC revolution is almost coming to an end, and everyone’s trying to work out a strategy for surviving the aftermath.