You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘trends’ tag.
This article on Mindtouch.com, written by Mark Fidelman, is being retweeted and reposted in countless places around the open-source virtuasphere. In short, the article shows loosely the opinions that are, if not the most important, at least the loudest.
While there is some value in knowing this figure, I believe it is important to understand what the author is actually measuring, and I believe he chose his words most carefully. These are not necessarily the trend-setters, nor are they the voices we must listen to in order to understand what is going on in open source and how it affects our lives and our jobs, though some of them certainly are. These are the people whose words are being discussed most, and considering that we (humans in general) are actually just simians with clothes who tend to follow leaders blindly, that means that even if the voices we hear from these people are filled with lies or ineptitude, they still will affect us in one way or another.
I believe that the reason Mr. Fidelman did the research and wrote on this subject, and the reason so many people including myself are discussing it and promoting it, is that despite the overt libertarian insistence in our industry for egalitarianism and flat hierarchies, we are indeed still simians with an innate need for leadership. I believe it is important to recognize that and roll with it. For example, I have been a manager of both projects and people, a solo consultant, a captive employee, an author, a freelancer, and a few other types of employee. I have learned through hard knocks that I am not an executive-style leader, nor would I want to be. However, I am also not a blind follower—I question things, and I’m not afraid to bring up issues in meetings even if it means exposing my own ignorance. I subconsciously tend to listen to leaders with the same philosophy and discount those with different philosophies.
Different people listen to different leaders, and even interpret the same things differently, so it is really impossible to say whose voices are actually the most powerful in terms of affecting industry. But Mr. Fidelman has brought a very good point to the fore—there are leaders out there worth listening to, and it is part of your job to go out and find them. By reading his article, considering it, arguing about who should be on the list, and researching leaders you haven’t heard of before, you are helping yourself to fit into the natural hierarchy and also helping open source.
Normally I think Andreas Constantinou is one of the smartest guys in mobile computing today. He knows the business inside out. His latest post, though, has me wondering: The Wintel future for mobile: a wakeup call for network operators hits on about seven of eight cylinders for me.
The premise of the article actually belies the title. Andreas is not saying that Intel (or MS, for heaven’s sake) plan to dominate the mobile world. Rather, he predicts that Android, along with Qualcomm’s parallel chipsets (and those from Mediatek to some extent, though I think TI might be a contender as well), is providing the same kind of disruptive force in the mobile marketplace that the Windows/x86 combination did in the 1980s for desktop computing. He states that this should be a wakeup call for network operators, who currently control 70% of the money surrounding mobile computing as a whole.
I certainly agree that the current state of affairs for the cellular business worldwide should indeed be a wakeup call for network operators, and frankly I am just loving the sight of these huge corporations starting to topple—I think that both developers and end users can only benefit from this. However, in my mind this sea change is not necessarily because of a Wintel-like disruptive influence, though that is there.
The issue is that these network operators who have controlled the game up to this point by charging for minutes and kilobytes are now seeing their service become obsolete. I propose that this is due as much to the disruptive influence of the iPhone as to the staggering innovations in hardware and software—the important difference is in the business model and in the expectations of the end consumer, not advances in technology. Technology has always changed fast and in disruptive ways, and will continue to do so. For mobile right now, it is the changes in business models which are disrupting the old guard, and which will eventually dismantle it in much the same way that GNU software upended the previously highly-profitable development tools business, in the same way that blade servers and server farms took down massive centralized servers, and in the same way that cheap cluster computing thoroughly dismantled the supercomputer industry. The consumers of those products found better, cheaper ways to get what they needed, despite any changes in the technology. Heck, clusters were originally built with used parts, optimizing for both cost and performance despite advances in technology.
It is not hardware or software that drives these trends, but rather the market’s insistence—and by that I mean the insistence of actual human beings in the marketplace—on being treated fairly, for two reasons: (1) they recognize that alternatives are possible; and (2) they either source those alternatives, or supply them. If it weren’t Android and Qualcomm this year, next year it might be MeeGo and… who knows, maybe homebuilt phones with Beagle Boards or Gumstix. Pandora’s box continues to provide disruptive tech, and that provides opportunities, but it requires humans to take advantage of those opportunities.
PS. Andreas still is the smartest guy in mobile. 🙂