Monday, July 22, 2024
Text Size

Predictions for 2003

It’s traditional for industry analysts to end the old year or start the new one with some predictions of what’s likely to lie ahead.  It’s a tradition that’s too tempting to pass up.  So here are some thoughts about 2003.  Save them and you can check them out in a year and see how good our crystal ball might be.


  1. Mergers And Acquisitions
    We expect more – many more – mergers and acquisitions, especially in the software and services industries.  This is basically a case of “the price is right.”  There are just enough companies making money that the bargains out there are going to become part of someone else’s portfolio.  Ordinarily, I take a dim view of computer industry acquisitions – the track record hasn’t been great – but if the buyer is solid and the selection is careful, with good management of the integration process, some of these should work.
    We’d expect IBM to do some more buying to finish filling out its software portfolio and we think Microsoft may not have really gotten started yet.  Sun could be another candidate for buying software – if they can find the cash. 

    Of course, that won’t keep a few companies at the end of the feeding (and the common sense) chain from making the last few acquisitions from the bottom of the barrel.


  2. Bankruptcies And Abrupt Endings 


    A few companies are ending their useful lives.  It may be the case that their business models are obsolete (but they didn’t notice that in time), or their executives are worn out, or simply that they’ve failed themselves or their customers too many times.  We expect to see at least a few more bankruptcies, break-ups, and sell-offs (in whole or in part) this year, both among the computer hardware and software firms, and also among related high tech companies (telecom et al).  
    We need to get done with flushing out the rest of failures so we can start back up the road to the future.  I had Xerox on this list for a while but I’ve taken them off; good management seems to have rescued them.  On the other hand, CA could be a candidate for some long division.  


  3. Linux Becomes A Corporate Standard 
    We suspect that this is close to a done deal.  Every major software vendor except Microsoft now has a Linux strategy – and so does every major hardware vendor, even Sun. 

    The corporates have become sufficiently value conscious that they’re interested in the savings Linux represents – not just the savings on buying operating systems – which is such a small part of the TCO that it could easily get lost in corporate budgets, but rather bigger issues like the total cost of software, including purchased middleware and applications and custom development, and the difference in support costs in proprietary versus open software models.
    The jury is still out as to whether or not there is a consumer market for Linux (except in embedded systems, where we’d be willing to bet there already is one – we just don’t know how to count it up).  Between Lindows, Wal-Mart, and the new interest in the Linux distribution community to find a Linux Desktop offering (and application software) that users will love, we may yet find a market.


  4. Wireless Mobility – Is It Soup Yet?
    We’d all love to be able to use portable devices without trying to figure out (1) when will they run out of juice and (2) how can I get an Internet connection. 

    This year may be when it all starts to come together.  Better batteries and better power management means we’re starting to get devices that are nearing reasonable life cycles (we’re aiming for an 8-hour day between recharges).  More wireless access (and better pricing) is making easy Internet access a reality.
    What I really want to see is the ability to simply keep using my mobile device – PDA, combo PDA/phone, tablet PC, whatever – as I move within my work and personal environments – office, street, car, airport, plane, hotel, meetings, home – without worrying about anything but USING the information I want – keeping a connection will be assumed.  Let me know when it’s ready.
  5. New Interfaces  
    I’ve gotten bored waiting for a reliable voice interface.  There are good voice interfaces to some things – and less reliable ones for others.  The trouble is they vary widely and I want them to all be just the same in both how they work and how well they work.  The voice interface people need to talk to Sony about the standards for consumer technology.
On the other hand, I see a new graphical user interface for organizing my information proposed about once a day.  So far, most of them aren’t very useful.  Folks, I’m not going to rework everything I’ve got, use two different systems, or use an interface that thinks differently than I do. 

And by the way, researchers, very few human beings store their information (or think about it) in chronological order.  We tend to think about things in categories, projects, companies, teams or clients.  But keep thinking about the problem.  We can’t manage all that information manually, so we need some help – it’s just got to actually be helpful.

That’s a good place to stop.  New technology – or the commercialization of newish technology – is nice, but only if it does a better job – in the eyes of the prospective buyer – than the current options.  Keep that in mind when you’re looking at all the shiny new stuff that will appear this year and trying to decide which ones will make the grade.

*Reprinted with permission from Amy Wohl’s Opinions. Further copying, without permission of the copyright holder, is explicitly forbidden.