Changes

Usually, the month of August is a quiet one as far as news are concerned. Not this year. In a few short weeks, Google buys Motorola (the mobile division), HP goes out of the hardware business (and axes its WebOS products), and, last but certainly not least, Steve Jobs resigns from his position as Apple CEO.

So I guess I should indulge in a post about those.

In chronological order :

The Google deal. People can argue all day long on whether it’s a blunder or a master coup, I remain very curious as to how Google can “integrate” a hardware company with such a different culture. Even if the plans are to let it run independently, this is not going to be straightforward.

HP’s strategy change : apparently, they’re trying to “pull an IBM”, and turn themselves into a pure software/service company. OK, good for them, IBM’s got one more direct competitor. I hope they’ll licence WebOS and still actually try to do something with it.

Finally, Steve. More telling than anything is that the news of his resignation have all but eclipsed both of the other items. It got front page on even French newspapers. Dozens of homages, timelines and anecdotes about him have been posted. I have to say I actually feel sad about it, for two reasons : I admire the guy as he’s been the only “bad ass” CEO in IT, and the Apple saga is quite unique in this industry. As such, I can’t see him go without feeling regrets about it.

There’s another reason, however. May be it’s me getting old, but I feel the IT industry has gone pretty dull in the past 10 years, except for one thing : Apple. Back in 97-98, when Jobs went back to Cupertino (and people didn’t care so much at the time), what was really exciting was the rise of Linux and free software. Years before that, it was Amiga vs. Atari ST. Oh, and the BeBox was fun for a short while. OK, the advent of Internet for all and the World Wide Web was pretty exciting too. But nowadays, what ? Linux failed to reach its promise as a credible alternative to Windows, OS X achieved that instead. Smartphones have gone from ugly, button-laden bricks to slick pieces of glass and metal thanks to the iPhone, and tablets are becoming ubiquitous, thanks to the iPad. Without Apple, we’d have Windows, an ever-growing bunch of Linux distribs, Palm Treos and thick fat laptops. Apple is the only company that successfully challenges the overall boring uniformity and makes things interesting and fun. And they also raise the quality bar quite a few notches in doing so. Should they stop doing that, I can’t see any replacement.