Cloud Leaves Some Tech Giants Seeking a Silver Lining
By QUENTIN HARDY June 30, 2012
JUNE 2012 may well go down as the month that the tech world entered a new era.
On June 11, Apple showed its next operating system for iPhones and iPads. It offered maps and speech recognition, plus music and movies on iTunes, all tied via the Internet to Apple's "cloud" of servers.
A week later, Microsoft, known better for software, demonstrated the Surface tablet, its answer to the iPad. The Surface interacts with both the Web and Microsoft's cloud, called Windows Azure. And, last Wednesday, Google introduced its newest cloud-connected phone and tablet, as well as a media player called Nexus Q. The player works with the devices, the Internet and the Google cloud.
Remarkably fast, a multibillion-dollar industry is moving away from personal computers made mostly with Microsoft Windows software and Intel semiconductor chips. The combined revenue from these largely so-called Wintel desktops and laptops last year was about $70 billion at Dell and Hewlett-Packard. But these companies played virtually no part in the June shows from Apple, Microsoft and Google.
Asked what part it hoped to play in the cloud-dominated future, Dell declined to comment. An H.P. spokesman said in a statement that his company had computer servers and software in "eight of 10 of the world's most trafficked sites, four out of five of the world's largest search engines, the three most popular social media properties in the U.S." He said nothing about PCs.
The tech future also poses challenges for Intel, which has been diversifying. Its chips are now in Apple computers and a host of other devices. Intel still has a significant place in the market, but often with lower-margin chips, and increased competition. Another chip company, Nvidia, got a shout from Google's stage.
We are seeing a new business ecosystem with all sorts of mobile and cloud-connected devices. Each is a powerful computer, with connections to a nearly infinite amount of data storage and processing in the cloud.