Herb Sutter on the Cyclic Nature of the Computer Industry

Herb Sutter of Microsoft has written an insightful post about the cyclic nature of the computer industry, entitled “The Pit and the Pendulum“. In it, he talks about the natural tension in the industry between what he calls the Center and the Edge, and what Craig Mundie (as quoted in the article) calls Personal Computing and Centralized Computing. I think Craig’s terms are a bit more straightforward in that they show his true motivation for discussing the issue: a desire to ensure that the PC (and thus Microsoft) remains relevant.

I also liked his timeline comparing technology trends with eras on the geological timeline (with one caveat: I think he showed some major bias by saying Flash was somehow several generations behind Silverlight, given the latter is a blatant imitator of the former). While I think his chart shows an important point, I think the discussion around it leaves off one important part of the trend: even though the pendulum does in fact swing back and forth, those who owned the technologies of a given era generally did not resume their market and/or technology leadership when the pendulum finally swings back in their direction. This is a lesson that all companies would do well to remember.

~ by Andrew Shebanow on 02Aug07.

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