Monday, November 19, 2012

Windows 8, end of an era?

Now let me ask you, what do consumers want when it comes to technology? I’d suggest that they want new gadgets (devices) and apps. I would also suggest to you that most apps are simply the front end onto larger online “services”. So, I would contend that consumers want devices and services.

 

I’ll bet that if I now ask you what Microsoft does you won’t know. Impossible I hear you say. They do software is your reply. Are you sure? Really sure? If you visit the Microsoft homepage and have a look at what the name of the tab says I think you’ll be surprised.

 

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It says Devices and Services, right there on the homepage.

 

Would it be fair to say that Microsoft is now aiming itself squarely at the consumer who wants devices and services rather than software? I would think so and nothing confirms that to me more than Windows 8.

 

I would also contend that Windows 8 signifies something else significant. It signifies the end of the IT Professional age. Look at the landscape today, most major providers (Apple, Google via Android and now Microsoft) are all providing a very similar technology platform. Sure there are some minor differences but basically it is all about devices and services. They are beginning to look the same both in their hardware and software. Doesn’t this indicate the final phase in the consumerization of technology? Doesn’t this mean there is less room for the traditional IT Professional?

 

Technology has become mainstream. Just about everyone has a smart phone, most are replacing their PC with tablets. Don’t believe me? This article spells out the Dell suffered a 47% drop in profit and pointedly:

 

Revenue from PCs, which still account for about half of Dell's sales, declined 19% from a year ago to $6.6 billion. The biggest drop was in sales to consumers, which fell 23% to $2.5 billion.

 

PCs are in the thick of an industry-wide decline as customers increasingly turn to tablets or smartphones. In the third quarter, world-wide shipments of PCs plunged more than 8% from a year earlier, according to research firm IDC. Dell's shipments fell 14% in the quarter, IDC said.

 

Many bemoan the loss of the Start button in Windows 8 but I reckon many, many more will welcome the new ‘touch friendly’ interface with open arms. Like it or not it is simply the way the world is going and that world is being driven by the consumer who simply sees technology as part of the landscape. For example, consumers don’t care whether they are running ice cream sandwich or jellybean on their Android phone, they just want to access the services they want on the device of their choice. Simple. They want nice icons they can tap with their fingers.

 

The IT Professional age was characterized by a knowledge few who understood how to twist the knobs to make technology work. That need is becoming no more. Most people can work it out for themselves or can find it using a search engine. To me Windows 8 is recognition from the final big player in the market that the world has changed, technology is a utility and they now need to focus on a different audience. All that means that traditional SMB IT Professional ‘PC generalist’ is fast becoming an extinct species.