mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Monday, December 13, 2004

A comp sci prof who doesn't get it...

As most people know, IBM has sold it's PC division to a Chinese company. Mad Anthony is slightly disappointed, because he will no longer get to make ThinkPoop jokes. Seriously, though, it does seem like a loss of face for IBM, and they do make some of the better laptops in the business, and they can no longer sell complete solutions - servers/software/consulting/pc's - but there isn't a lot of money in selling hardware.

But OpinionJournal is running an article by a comp sci professor at Yale who thinks it was a bad idea. Which is a legitimate argument, but his reasons are all wrong. He thinks that there are lots of things that PC's should be able to do that IBM could have done if they kept the PC division. His examples in the article are "transparent information sharing" - syncing your data from multiple machines - and an email summary.

But both of these applications are, well, applications. They are software, not hardware. Aside from his "special email key", there is nothing that can't be done with any platform. This isn't the kind of stuff that is done by hardware manufacturers, it's the stuff done by software and networking companies. (The "transparent information sharing" sounds a lot like Novell iFolder).

Sure, you could make them tied to the hardware - but why would you want to? IBM can still do these things, and they can sell them to everyone instead of just the 15% of the market that they had for PC's. It's easier to get people to adopt stuff that's open as opposed to proprietary (for hardware based "information awareness" to work, you would have to have IBM's everywhere - home, work, school, laptop, ect). That's why Microsoft has more impact on PC and networking than anyone, despite never having made a single PC. Apple has shown that you can make a very good machine by intertwining the hardware and software, but you won't sell a whole lot of machines.

It amazes me how many intellegent computer science professors don't understand how the computer industry actually works.

Edit: Welcome Carnival of the Capitalists readers. Consider perusing my site some more, and if you really like it and have a blog, consider adding it to your blogroll.


At 12:18 PM, Blogger David Foster said...

My first reaction was the same as yours, but...perhaps the keyboard/mouse interface is not the ultimate, and future advances in useability will need something different. In any event, David Gelernter is a very smart guy with very broad interests, and I feel sure that he *does* understand how the industry works in terms of the hardware/software value chain.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger mad anthony said...

He may well be an intelligent guy, but his article doesn't give any explanation why a company needs to be in the business of selling hardware in order deliver the ideas he mentions in his article. If he does some brilliant software/hardware convergance idea, he doesn't communicate it very well.


Post a Comment

<< Home