Saturday, January 07, 2006

The PC story is taking a full U-Turn

I was lucky to read (rather listen to) two books back to back which basically told the story of the Computer industry during the days of the PC revolution from two angles:

Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround

This is an excellent business book, which I think is a must read for management students. The book narrates an unbeleivable turnaround, which is not what I intend to cover in this post. I would cover the turnaround in a future post.

What interested me most in this story was how IBM looks at the PC. It is true that IBM lost the PC battle. But it is not the full story. IBM could have made more money out of the PC, had it seen its true potential. But in reality, the PC did not fit the IBM portfolio at all. It took even IBM a long time to figure that out. Many view selling off its PC division to Lenovo as a disgrace, but IBM is very clear it is part of a long term strategy and looks at this sale as selling off a losing proposition.

Essentially, the game is all about 'Point of View' (PoV) about what a company sees as an industry's future. In the early 90s, IBM and Microsoft both took a PoV about the PC and its future. Bill took the right view and played his cards right, and ended up becoming the richest human being. But IBM during its turnaround took a PoV that the PC as a concept will not last long and the world at some point would have to depend on 'Servers' and 'Middleware', which were IBM's core competencies.

Now, as the world gets shaped around Web 2.0 and a host of handheld devices, the end of the PC revolution looks imminent, IBM is ready to regain its leadership position with its On Demand and other consulting services portfolio alongside its core server products. It is to be seen who wins the PoV gamble this time around.

Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy

I read this book just after the IBM one and it was interesting to observe the power of Bill Gates' PC evangelism. The message in the book to corporates is simple : The IT revolution is here to stay, everyone of your employees will have instant access to information through inter-connected networks. So better get on-board by buying a PC or be left behind.

Bill Gates uses the term 'PC' atleast a thousand times in the book, not leaving any room for the reader to think of any other form of technology solution to their problems.

Definitely a good read five years ago. But, today it looks like reading old news. But was really surprised to notice every one of his predictions coming true.

The next two years are going to be crucial for both IBM and MSFT. Microsoft Vista release is going to be a huge bet for the future of the PC.

1 comment:

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