What Did You Change Your Mind About in 2007?

Slashdot runs an excellent discussion on the topic of “What Did You Change Your Mind About in 2007?“.  If you want to learn more about what people on the Web had changed their minds in 2007, try this Google search – plenty more there.

What did I change my mind about in 2007?  Short answer: Google.  Continue reading for the long version.

Here is my simplified view of how IT industry evolves. Please, remember that it is very subjective and simplified before you start throwing stones my way.

  • IT industry evolves constantly, but in stages.  Or periods.   Each stage has a pretty clear beginning and end.
  • Research and development happens all over the IT industry all the time, but there is, at any stage, one area which is more important than others.
  • There are many cool companies and individuals working in all areas of IT industry all the time, but at any stage of evolution, there is one company which leads the way.  Such company, of course, leads the way via being the best in the most important IT area of the stage.
  • When IT industry evolves to the next stage, the area changes, and so does the company.  No company had led the IT industry for two stages at a time.  Neither did any company came back to the leading position after it left it.

Let’s see it in examples, shall we?  I promise, I won’t go too deep or too far into the history.

Let’s start with hardware.  There was a time when the power of computing was realized and a sudden need for lots and lots of hardware appeared. Many companies contributed a lot, and there was plenty of competition, but IBM was at the top.  They were the leader of that stage.  You can still hear “IBM compatible” once in a while. It used to mean a lot.

Then came the era of software.  Microsoft took the leadership from IBM and rained for a long time.   At certain times they were so far ahead that nobody even came close.  They are still pretty important with 80-something percent of the desktop market, most widely used web browser, and tight relationships with many large companies.  However, they aren’t leading the IT industry anymore.  They are not defining the future.

Then there was a brief era of Open Source.  It was so brief that not many even noticed it.  However it was still important.  And it had its own leader – Red Hat.  Red Hat hired people from all the most important software projects on the Web – Linux kernel, Apache, Mozilla, Gnome, Python, OpenOffice.org, and many more.  For many people “Linux” and “Red Hat” were synonyms.  And that didn’t come easy.  But now, that stage is gone.

Web was the next stage.  And how do you think ruled it?  You guessed it right – Google.   Google lead the IT industry in cutting the rough edges of the Web, and making it the useful tool of any computer user.  It still does.

Now.  That’s how I saw the evolution of the IT industry until very recently.  Until the end of 2007.  Then, I changed my mind about it.  Why?  How?  Here are the answers.

In 2007 it became clear that the next stage of the evolution of IT industry is starting up – mobile computing.  Yes, we had laptops and mobile phones for years now, but it wasn’t the same.  We entering a new stage, one that we haven’t seen before.  Extremely powerful devices with 3D graphics, vast amounts of memory, multimedia functionality,  and GPS will become a norm shortly.  That will once again change how we communicate, research, and have fun.

Now, according to my own view of how things work, it was the time for a new leader to appear.  A bright company that would lead us into mobile computing.  One that would change how we understand things.  But …. I could see no such company on the horizon.

In the meantime, mobile phone manufacturers are making more and more phones.  Phones are getting more brains and power, but they are still the same old phones that we are all used to.  Was I so mistaken in my view of the world?  Maybe.

Then comes Apple iPhone.  That’s a blast in the mobile world.  And Apple is back.  Will they lead the new stage? No, I don’t think so.  They are too old for this and they have lost their chance long time ago.  Plus, the iPhone isn’t changing any perspectives.  It’s not very innovative or anything.  All of its functionality was available in form or another for a few years already.  It just doesn’t qualify for the leadership.

Also, we hear plenty of rumors about a mobile phone from Google – gPhone.  People were saying that it will even utilize the same headset as the iPhone did.  Those news were a disappointment.  The way I saw them, on one hand, Google realized that mobile computing is coming and wants to participate in it.  But on the other, with just another phone – it won’t lead the stage.  So, it seemed, after all, my picture of the world was somewhat correct. All we had to do is wait for the  new leader to emerge.

And than comes out Android.  Boom!

Android – the open source platform from top to bottom.  Tools and documentation for software developers.  $10,000,000 USD allocated for prizes to developers of the most innovative applications.  Open Handset Alliance with about 30 members from all parts of the mobile computing world.  Powerful and slick hardware prototypes. Linux-based operating system.  Java-based application stack. Wow!

Is Android one of the major happenings?  Yes.  Does it have enough to change our perception of the mobile computing?  Yes.  Will the company that came up with this whole Android thing lead us the next stage of IT industry evolution? Yes, of course.

There is only problem.  Google came up with Android.  And Google has already been the leader of one stage.  And there is no question about Android being from another stage, the stage of mobile computing.  So. What is happening here?

That’s where I had to change my mind.  The same company can indeed lead more than one stage of the evolution.  It’s far from easy. It’s in fact so hard that it’s almost impossible.  Most failed at it before.  But Google can.  It proved to be young, smart, and flexible even now that it has grown a few thousand employees larger, and a few years more corporate.  And that is truly amazing.

Up there, where I said in my short answer that I changed my mind about Google, I wasn’t completely true.  Although I did have to change my mind about Google, it wasn’t the biggest change.  The major change was in my view and understanding of how IT industry evolves.  And that is on the scale of learning that the Earth is round after being afraid for centuries of falling off the edge of it.  You know, the solar system vs. three elephants on top of three wales holding the world.  That sort of change…

3 thoughts on “What Did You Change Your Mind About in 2007?”

  1. wow

    excellent really insightful article…

    Android includes a set of core libraries that provides most of the functionality available in the core libraries of the Java programming language.

    ~ what is android?

    looks like they already have a huge developer base to begin with

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