Paradigm shifts in technology usually leave the incumbent leaders behind. Why? Because the leaders are so focused on maintaining their market share leadership they ignore the new wave.
IBM was once the most dominant computer technology company in the world. IBM didn't lose its dominance because someone came along and built a better mainframe computer. They lost it because the market moved down to simpler, less expensive, mini-computers from companies like Digital Equipment, Sun, and Data General.
The min-computer companies had a great run, but they lost their dominant position because the market once again moved down to simpler, less expensive, Personal Computers. New leaders emerged like Compaq and Microsoft. PC leaders dominated the 1980's and 90's. Another paradigm shift is happening right now. The market is moving away from PCs to... you guessed it... simpler, less expensive, solutions available in Cloud Computing.
Paradigm shifts take 5 to 10 years to complete. Just like all past paradigm shifts, the new technology always looks inferior, less powerful, fewer features, and from a business perspective, much smaller revenues and lower margins.
The move to Cloud Computing has been underway for several years now. Virtually every software application and service you use everyday is now hosted in the cloud...not a piece of software on your personal computer. No news there. But, which companies will be left behind in this move to the Cloud? Who are the new leaders that will emerge? Take a look at the market leaders for PCs and client server software. Ask yourself, are they making decisive moves into cloud computing? If not, you probably know how the story is going to end.
The release of the Google Chrome OS Notebook got me thinking about paradigm shifts. This is a big, radical, departure from the PC paradigm. There is no complex, confusing, Operating System. The Chrome browser is the OS.
PCs have become complex and difficult to use. With PCs you need to be your own System Administrator and Tech Support person. People are looking for a simpler, less expensive alternative.
The paradigm shift to Cloud Computing is bringing with it new and easier ways to access those applications. Things like smart phones, iPads, tablets, and Netbooks like the Chrome OS Notebook. The Operating System has become irrelevant. The browser is now our interface. This is a huge change.
I am excited about the Chrome OS Notebook for three reasons; instant on, always connected, and hassle free. In contrast, PCs take forever to boot up, connect to the network, get the browser loaded, and get to my web site of choice. The Chrome OS is up and running in less than 10 seconds.
The thing that really makes the Chrome OS Notebook viable is the always connected model. It has built in WiFi and 3G wireless built in so it is always connected anywhere your cell phone works. This is something PCs have a hard time doing in a simple reliable way. It can be done, but you would need a separate modem or USB connector, or you would need to configure your cell phone to serve as a WiFi hotspot and link your PC to it. Chrome OS with Verizon 3G makes this automatic.
Lastly, but maybe most importantly, the Chrome OS Notebook is hassle free. There is no Operating System to manage, no hard disk to manage or back up, no virus or malware issues, etc. Most PC users don't want to deal with this crap...but they have no choice because that is the way PCs work. The Chrome OS changes everything.
The Chrome Cr-48 Notebook is just test hardware. The actual production laptops will be available to consumers mid 2011. There will be several laptop manufacturers, and several variations and feature sets. It is too early to pick winners, but the direction to simpler, less expensive, laptops is pretty clear. It is an idea whose time has come. It is not a better PC, it is a whole new way of doing things. That is a paradigm shift.
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