David Kirkpatrick of Fortune looks ahead:
The future market-share battle in computers for individuals will hardly be confined to Dell, HP, and Lenovo, numbers one through three in todays PC market as conventionally defined. Those giants will face steady and creative competition from a list of companies that will include Apple, Nokia, PalmOne, Sony, and possibly Microsoft itself. This will become a business of hits, fads, design, and brand. Thats why, in a message to employees about the Lenovo deal, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano explained that PCs were entering a phase for which IBM, with its focus on the enterprise, was unsuited. “The PC business is rapidly taking on characteristics of the home and consumer electronics industry,” he said.
I expect Lenovo to be aggressive in migrating the PC platform toward new opportunities. It has already forayed, for instance, into the cellphone business, one area Dell and HP have thus far avoided…China is a hotbed of mobile technology usemore so than the U.S. A company centered there may have advantages a U.S. company would not. Ideas will likely emerge rapidly in China about new kinds of “personal computers.”
Intel and AMD are poised to deliver massive processor power improvements. And the ability to maintain a full-time wireless broadband connection grows ever easier and cheaper. In three to five years we will be able to build tools as different from todays state-of-the-art PC as the iPod is from the rack of 500 CDs it replaces.
I recently spoke to Microsoft research chief Rick Rashid, who noted, with appropriate awe, that a terabyte of storage now costs about $500. Thats enough space to hold every conversation you will ever have from birth to death, or 2000 photographs taken every day of that life, Rashid said. He admitted nobody really knows what such newfound capabilities really mean. Get ready for the life recorder, probably coming soon. It would contain every event from your entire lifeprobably in video if you want it.