Fourth Age of Computing

David Beisel writes:

I would put forth that the “fourth age of computing” … is going on a different platform – a mobile-based one – and from this perspective, Google has anything but a dominant position. While the vision of many in the industry is for “one web” in which “the same information and services available to users irrespective of the device they are using,” the road towards this point will be a long and winding (uncertain) one. There are too many interested constituents in the value chain with real power (like the domestic carriers and handset manufacturers) for the battle for dominance over mobile applications to be already won by the likes of Google.

2006 and 2007 Trends

Sramana Mitra writes:

An instinctive human need to connect and share has blossomed into a full force social-networking boom on the internet. This aligns well with the pre-teens, teens, and twens becoming almost fully online in America. These, coupled with the bandwidth and technology developments in online video, are creating rampant online activity. User-generated content has emerged to become a mainstream phenomenon, now.

Almost a billion new consumers will enter the global marketplace in the next decade as economic growth in emerging markets pushes them beyond the threshold level of $5,000 in annual household incomea point when people generally begin to spend on discretionary goods. From now to 2015, the consumers spending power in emerging economies will increase from $4 trillion to more than $9 trillionnearly the current spending power of Western Europe. Much of this consumer spending will include technology – from bandwidth to electronic gadgets – sending the unit sales in semiconductors through the roof.

Looking forward to 2007, I would like to see Education and Poverty become two sexy trends, in the same vein as Green has become hot.

TECH TALK: 2007 Tech Trends: 1. Google as Environment

As we look ahead to 2007, what are the key tech trends internationally and in India? We will look at five key global trends in technology. Next week, we will look at five India-centric trends.

The search and advertising game is over. Google has won. And it is now consolidating its position across other categories. The power which IBM and Microsoft once had is now Googles to savour. Google is not the competition it is the environment (as Rich Skrenta wrote recently). It has the potential to redefine computing for the Internet era, just as IBM and Microsoft did for the mainframe and desktop eras. Its core business of advertising via AdWords and AdSense generates enough cash for it to invest in new areas just like Microsofts Windows-Office combination did.

As Rich Skrenta puts it:

Google is the start page for the Internet

The net isn’t a directed graph. It’s not a tree. It’s a single point labeled G connected to 10 billion destination pages.

If the Internet were a monolithic product, say the work of some alternate-future AT&T that hadn’t been broken up, then you’d turn it on and it would have a start page. From there you’d be able to reach all of the destination services, however many there were.

Well, that’s how the net has organized itself after all.

From this position, Google derives immense and amazing power. And they make money, but not only for themselves. Google makes advertisers money. Google makes publishers money. Google drives multi-billion dollar industries profiting from Google SEM/SEO.

Most businesses on the net get 70% of their traffic from Google. These business are not competitors with Google, they are its partners, and have an interest in driving Google’s success. Google has made partners of us all.

Google’s next step: owning the rest of the page views on the net

Just as Microsoft used their platform monopoly to push into vertical apps, expect Google to continue to push into lucrative destination verticals — shopping searches, finance, photos, mail, social media, etc. They are being haphazard about this now but will likely refine their thinking and execution over time. It’s actually not inconceivable that they could eventually own all of the destination page views too. Crazy as it sounds, it’s conceivable that they could actually end up owning the entire net, or most of what counts.

The interregnum between the end of the PC era and the rise of the online world has concluded, and Google is the new king of forward market growth in computing and software technology. Major companies will succeed by working within the framework of Google’s industry dominance, and smaller players will operate in niches or in service to the giant.

Competitors cannot compete by trying to take on Google in search. While they can be incrementally better search approaches, they are not going to create the big winner of tomorrow. They have to look at the next platform after the desktop and the Internet. That is going to be the mobile. I believe that the mobile is not going to be about search and ads. What are going to be the killer apps on the mobile platform, and which Google will not easily look at because it could cannibalise its search business? Therein lies the answer to the next Google.

Tomorrow: Mobile Everything

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