Charlie Stross's Grand Unified Theory of Everything

By  |  Friday, April 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm

This has been an unusually eventful week in the tech world. Let’s see, we’ve had…

Steve Jobs’ thoughts on Flash

HP’s Palm acquistion

HP’s rumored termination of its Windows 7 slate

Microsoft’s confirmed termination of its Courtier concept tablet

The Gizmodo and Apple saga

Apple’s announcement of its WWDC event (and specifically the lack of awards for Mac apps)

Blogger Charlie Stross does a remarkable job of tying everything together in this post–which says that Jobs’ aversion to Flash is really about Apple, and the rest of the computer industry, facing a life-or-death struggle over the next few years as PCs get even more commoditized and even more of our digital lives move online. Apple, Stross says, is trying to reinvent itself from a manufacturer of Macs into a gatekeeper and provider of services, and it’s trying to do it while it still has time.

One striking, subtle point about Jobs’s memo: He says “Flash was created during the PC era…” In other words, he’s saying we’re no longer in the PC era. Stross says that “the PC revolution is almost coming to an end,” which seems like as good a way to describe where we are as any.

You can quibble with bits and pieces of Stross’s overarching analysis–or the whole damn thing if you want–but it’s incredibly thought provoking. Having grown up in Boston in the 1980s, where Route 128 was lined with wildly successful minicomputer companies which no longer exist, I’m certainly not discounting the possibility that PCs will cease to exist sooner than we expect, and that none of the huge companies that make them is guaranteed an afterlife.


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Alex Howard Says:

    Thanks for the pointer. Only one quibble: calling Charlie Stross a “blogger” comes across as a bit reductive. He’s one of the best scifi novelists of his generation, in this writer’s humble opinion.

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    Sorry, I know of Stross’s fiction–to me, “blogger” is a badge of honor. 🙂


  3. Ediedi Says:

    Sounds a bit star-trekish. PCs as we know them will not be replaced by ‘mobile revolutionary devices’ until these can achieve the same processing power of a computer. That is, a long way from now.

  4. Tom B Says:

    “That is, a long way from now.”

    In dog years, people years, or internet years?

    It seems to me, Apple is the ONLY company with a top-to-bottom, all-encompassing mobile strategy.