The OS Opportunity – Long Gone

Every now and then we hear the Web is the new OS. But is it big enough, fast enough, smart enough?

To the extent that you can make do with a MacBook, Google Docs, and Twitter while sipping late in a hip geeky cafe, yes, your Use Cases are covered. Their list is still growing.

Assuming for the sake of the argument that the Web will indeed render the Operating System irrelevant, why talking the PC manufacturers into ditching Microsoft and building their own shit?

Extrapolating the (questionable so far) success of the cute little darling Litl, which is a utility gadget for browsing the web while shaving (screenshot #3 at the homepage), the writer at Daring Fireball says:

If a small startup can build the Litl, why couldn’t a big company like Dell or Sony? People today still love HP calculators made 30 or even 40 years ago. Has HP made anything this decade that anyone will remember fondly even five years from now? Inkjet printers?

If Palm can create WebOS for pocket-sized computers — replete with an email client, calendaring app, web browser, and SDK — why couldn’t these companies make something equivalent for full-size computers?

Indeed, the very same companies who grew big in the PC ecosystem precisely because it is an ecosystem built on ONE platform – Windows – should now abandon it and create their own, each of them?

That reminds be of the bizarre decision of Samsung to develop their own smartphone OS, Bada, and put it side-to-side with their Android offering. That Google pulled it off with Android is only a testament to the messy state of mobile operating systems, not a challenge to do the same on PCs.

It boils down to this:

  1. Either PC OS is irrelevant and Web will overtake everything, rendering billions of dollars invested in creating a brand new OS a wasted investment, or
  2. The desktop still matters, in which case good luck creating the partner infrastructure Microsoft has been building for the past 25 years or so.

Either way you are screwed. The OS wars are being re-fought on mobiles but there is no undoing the past quarter century of PC history.

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