Subject: Re: Competition by internal expertise for F/OSS vendors
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2008 12:42:07 +0900

I should say I am definitely talking FUD, here.  I'm fearful,
uncertain, and doubtful---not making predictions about what will
likely come to pass.  I personally would like to try to push against
the trend that I perceive.

Russ Nelson writes:
 > Stephen J. Turnbull writes:
 >  > I think it's pretty likely that the next generation of phones (the
 >  > ones that come with the mind-killer of TV) are going to kill
 >  > personal computers as we know them pretty much dead.  You take your
 >  > phone home, you put it into its cradle, it provides the brains and
 >  > connectivity that drive the keyboard and TV^H^Hmonitor on the desk.
 > 
 > I'm MUCH less confident of that.  Anything portable is going to have
 > less resources than anything stationary (just like fiber optic cable
 > has more bandwidth than anything using a radio).

Sure.  But what I mean by "as we know them" is "as the least common
denominator of computing equipment".  We aficionados will still be
able to get personal computers, but prices will rise/not fall so fast
as demand and economies of scale decline.  The grandmas and kids who
today use PCs will not see the point in the very near future, and will
choose more practical (and substantially more limited) platforms.

My colleagues who teach the "information resources" courses for
freshman here in Japan say that in the last two years there has been a
sharp decline in the number of freshman who know how to use Excel (or
anything like it), and even a slight decline in the number who come in
knowing how to use email and Word.  Of course, the number who know how
to browse the web and send mail and text on their Blackberrys and
iPhones has seen explosive growth.  The researchers I know in
computer-aided learning (a small, probably biased, sample) have
basically abandoned the PC as a platform because they don't expect it
to be as available and familiar to the students as smart phones.

 >  > the absolute disaster that Sharp turned the Zaurus into,
 > 
 > Sharp's fault, not the platform's fault.

You style your blog "the angry economist", so you know we need to look
at whether Sharp was following common incentives, or ignoring them.  I
fear that Sharp's behavior was consistent with the incentives it was
facing.