Gates came to Stanford this week to ’share his vision’ of all things tech, and how that will change the world, and how it should change the world. Given that I’m spending a significant amount of time in a building that bears his name and using urinals his money paid for, and that he’s currently the world’s richest person (excluding monarchs and dictators and all those good people) I thought I should hear him talk. Apparently so did the rest of the campus. It was a packed house.
Bill had some good stuff to say… He has a great perspective on where the tech industry’s came from in the last 30 years – the schism between hardware and software, primarily. And how revolutionary the idea of a ‘personal computer’ was. His vision of where computing is going was much more corporate and business centric than others I’ve heard recently. Video conferencing, distance learning, increasing worker productivity. Heh, and he still believes in the tablet pc… the “replacement for paper” as he put it. Cute Bill…. it’s a laptop – with a rotating touchscreen. Revolutionary! I can only dream of what’s next.
Bill, the reality is:
- The home PC has evolved into an internet terminal. That’s it. Heavy word processing, gaming – no. We do that at work, or we do it on a specialized console.
- You don’t need a desktop or a laptop to use an internet terminal. You need a phone.
- The cell phone already has over 50% global market penetration. The PC, as we know it, will never come close to this.
- In the next 5 years, we will see mainstream phones quickly take over the feature set that currently compels the average consumer to blow 2k on a new desktop or laptop.
- In 10 years, you’ll get home, insert your phone into a dock next to your 48″ LCD, sit down with your wireless keyboard, and check your email and geek out. You wil not have a desktop machine, or laptop, or tablet PC, or anything with more computing resources than necessary to a) retrieve information from a remote server and b) display it.
- In 10 years, your phone won’t be running windows. And Microsoft will still be building huge In-The-Box software for an increasingly smaller and smaller market of the largest and slowest companies around.
Bill took some questions, but most of them were leading questions about philanthropy… thinly veiled questions of the form “Problem X has caused 20 million billion puppies to die. What are you doing to fix it? oh, by the way, I’m from the Fix Problem X Foundation.” I’m of the opinion that while philanthropy does have vital short-term benefits, any long term solution we find to our global-scale problems will be devised from and implemented in the currently dominate democratic/capitalistic model that has proven to suck less than any other idea thus far.
The dude on the left is the President of Stanford University, who I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to, and not say that he came off as a total tool, even though he did. How can you be a tool if you’re already The Man? Chicken and the egg v2: what came first – the tool or The Man?