I suppose I can't help myself - I'm on a plane with nothing better to do, so I decided to read Jonathan Schwartz' latest screed. He actually makes a number of good points about the PC industry's direction - it likely is moving more and more in the same kind of direction as phones, set tops boxes (etc.) - consumers may well go for subscription plans. There's the small issue of there being no local competition (in my area, I can get Comcast for network access. Or, if I don't like that, I can get... Comcast). That's something of an issue in his vision, but it's likely not a permanent issue.
So anyway, I was rolling along through his article, being somewhat amazed at the concept of Schwartz managing to makes sense - when I stumbled into this paragraph:
So what's happening to the PC industry? It's moving from the old world, in which one buys a PC and cares a great deal about its comparitive hardware features (does it have a DVD player?), to one in which the hardware is nearly identical, and the value's moved to services available through the device. Over the network. Battery life matters more than processor speed. Size of display more than disk. Access to Yahoo! Personals matters more than all of the above.
Umm, no. Clearly, he's not been out and about looking at the sales of things like Half-Life2 recently, or at the kinds of system requirements needed. Here's a hint - you won't be placing the multiple gigabytes of graphics that come with the game on a remote server anytime soon. Network play? Of course! Heck, that's been huge since Starcraft, and it's only getting bigger. In the consumer space, games are driving the industry. I know plenty of people who've either bought a new system or done serious upgrades just to be able to run a new game (like Half-Life2).
Which is not to say that laptops, chat, and downloadable phone games aren't big - they are. But they aren't the only thing going on by a longshot. And sure, as he says - handset sales are exploding. But... an awful lot of that is trade up (how many phones have you had in the last 3 years? I've had about 7). Try typing on a cell phone sometime, for instance - if you need to do serious work, it's not going to be happening on a cell phone. What's going on here isn't the artificial divide that Schwartz would like to believe exists - there are very few people who choose to have a cell phone instead of a laptop. Most of them are choosing both.
Schwartz is still pining for the Network Computer. It's arrived already, and it's called the cell phone. Sadly for Jonathan Schwartz, that really doesn't help move SPARC servers much.