Will Apple survive?
By Roger Born

Pay attention.

I am about to accurately predict the next twenty-five years of computing.

So take notes, because I am not only going to do the predicting, I will also show you how to do the same thing. How, you say? Easy. Just be a student of history and half way pay attention to how things work.

First, how things work.

Someone in a workshop or garage builds Something Wonderful, which will change how we live in the world. This is a New Product, and a new Paradigm in the world, which "Everyone Should Have."

He markets his invention, raising money somehow, and is quite successful.

Two hundred Competitors spring up overnight.

One of those competitors is in a better position to take advantage of the market, and he becomes so successful that his business becomes a Monopoly in the new industry.

His product is not as good or as reliable as the Inventor's version of the New Product, so he cheats and does Mean Things, squashing his competition.

His company is investigated by the Government on a number of issues, with the intent to break up his Monopoly.

Nothing comes of this investigation. After all, he employs lots of people, lots of money changes hands, the Economy is good, and they all pay lots of taxes. His monopoly increases.

The original Inventor, not choosing to market his New Product competitively, loses Market Share, has his company marginalized, and/or is fired.

All the other Competitors merge, go out of business, or are bought up by the Monopoly.

The Market becomes Saturated. This means that only a third of the population bought the New Product to begin with, and all the rest are hanging back, resisting the new Invention.

The Infrastructure to support the New Product is not yet in place, so the rest of the people cannot yet take advantage of the New Product anyway.

Stocks plunge. People predict that this is THE END of the New Product, gloom and doom, etc. This is a phase that will pass.

More Competitors go out of business until just the Big Four are left in the Market.

Time passes. The Infrastructure is now in place, so business picks up. Enough time has passed so that everyone trusts the New Product, so now Everyone Has the New Product. Everything is good.

Then there is a Depression, a War, or a Plague, but the New Product endures, becoming an integral part of the Furniture of Civilization.

OK. Now you know HOW THINGS WORK. To make sure, just apply it to any of the Eighty Year Invention Cycles of the last Five Hundred Years, from the Renaissance to the Present.

Lets take the AUTOMOBILE as an excellent example.

Henry Ford, just one out of a hundred thousand other "Inventors In Their Garages," comes up with the New Product That Will Change The World (the Model T).

He gets funding, builds his business, also re-inventing the Assemble Line. His New Product (the Model T) is HOT. Everyone wants one. He publicly states that he wants to make the Car inexpensive, "so everyone can own one." Obviously he is a genius, and has other geniuses working with him.

Two hundred Competitors spring up overnight. Everyone Builds Cars. There is no Standard Interface, that is, how the person interacts with the Car. Throttles are on the floor, or on the dash, or on the steering column. Brakes and steering are also different on each Brand. Some use hand brakes. Some use brake peddles. Steering is done with a wheel or a tiller.

One of those competitors (Bill durant, the founder of General Motors) is in a better position to take advantage of the market, and he becomes so successful that his business becomes a Monopoly in the new industry. This Monopoly is the one which creates the Standard Interface, making everyone build cars the same way, with throttle and brake peddles on the floor, and signals on the steering wheel.

His products are not as good or reliable as the Inventor's version of the New Product (the Model T), so he cheats and does Mean Things, squashing his competition. (Bill also tried to buy Ford Motors at one time!)

His company is investigated by the Government on a number of issues, with the intent to break up his Monopoly.

Nothing significant comes of this investigation. After all, he employs lots of people, lots of money changes hands, the Economy is good, and they all pay lots of taxes. His Monopoly increases.

The original Inventor, Henry Ford, not choosing to market the Model T competitively, loses Market Share, has his company marginalized, and he is kicked upstairs by the Board.

All the other Competitors merge, go out of business, or are bought up by the Monopoly, General Motors.

The Market for Cars is Saturated. This means that only a third of the population bought the Automobile to begin with, and the rest are hanging back resisting the new fangled Invention.

The Infrastructure (paved roads and Interstate Highways) to support the Automobile is not yet in place, so the rest of the people cannot take advantage of the New Product yet.

Stocks plunge. People predict that this is THE END of the Car, gloom and doom, etc This was just a minor phase in the Market at that time.

More Competitors go out of business until there are just the Big Four left in the Market: GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Studebaker. {Now, after all these years, there are just two! Guess which is the more stable and successful on the world market? GM or Ford? Right! Ford Motors! - Now apply this to computers...}

Time Passes. The Infrastructure of highways is now in place, so business picks up. Enough time has passed so that everyone trusts the Car, and so now Everyone Owns A Car.

Then there was a Depression and World War II, but the Automobile endures, becoming an integral part of the Furniture of American Civilization.

So now you see HOW THINGS WORK. It accurately describes the Automobile, doesn't it?

You can also apply this to the Industrial Revolution in Europe, The Invention of the Automated Loom, the Printing Press, the Steam Engine, the Gin Mill, the Petroleum Industry, Electricity, Radio, Television, the Record Player, the Motion Picture Industry, the Telephone, and also now with Personal Computers, Computer Chips, Wireless and Broadband LAN, PDAs, and Computer Peripherals.

If you know the history of all of these older New Products, then predict for me how the Personal Computer Market will pan out.

(What, you say? Ford wasn't the first to build an automobile? Right! It was a Mr. Olds who built the first. But that is OK, Steve Jobs didn't invent the first PC either. It was Xerox, with their Documenter, which inspired Steve, but he was the first to sell a commercial model of the PC, just like old Henry Ford was the first to successfully sell the Model A)

You see the future now don't you? Microsoft is probably not going to be punished too harshly for its crimes against Humanity. The only Competitors left standing in a few years are going to be Micro$oft, IBM, Apple, and Sony. (No? Then you pick which Four will survive.) The present Slump will end once Broadband becomes reality, and enough time has passed for everyone else to want to own a PC.

Everyone else building PCs in the Market will go belly up, be bought out, or merge themselves into Oblivion. The "Next To Go" will likely be Gateway, Hewlett Packard, and Compaq Computers.

Soon there will be only one standard OS and Application Set, which will be sold by those left standing. Yeah, there will be minor differences, but essentially everything will work the same. This is as it should be. Steve Jobs knows this, which is why he is pushing all us Mac people into a NEXTstep/Unix OS for the Mac, called OS X. This is the only way Mac will survive the next decade.

And Apple will survive. Most likely in a few more decades, Apple will be the leading manufacturer of computers in the world, if it follows history.

Once the Wireless and Broadband LAN Infrastructure is in place, the PC market will pick up and everybody else will buy computers. Remember, only a third of the population really plays with personal computers now. It is not for everyone, and not everyone thinks that they must own one yet. Give it time.

So now that you can prognosticate the future, where are you going to put your money?

Betting on the major players in the Personal Computer Business, or the Computer CHIP Business, or the Wireless and Broadband Market is probably smart.

That is, IF you can accurately pick who the major players are going to be.

Good Luck! Don't lose your shirt!

Roger Born

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