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Soundbyte 74: And it's still the wild west…

17 december 2012


My soundbytes always start with the song, and before selecting one I usually end up browsing the net, listening to lots of different songs and more often than not, going from association to association. This time, that lead me to a remarkable song covered by a great singer, Chris Cornell (lead singer of Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog and solo artist). The song, Billy Jean, by Michael Jackson, was completely transformed from its original, pop song, into an acoustic version that is both simple and beautiful. I suggest you just listen to it while reading on.

Looking back: Predictions for 2012

Exactly a year ago, in one of the last soundbytes of 2011, I reviewed the year and did some predictions for 2012. It’s always fun to look back and see where I was right and wrong, and what trends I completely missed. So let’s recap…

My first prediction was about Flash and Silverlight disappearing from the web, and Oracle giving up JavaFX. Whilst the latter has not happened, they pretty much dismissed it as a plugin technology for the browser, and Java and Silverlight usage on major websites has dropped below 1% anyway. Flash still is used in about 20% but, as you will understand after this soundbyte, its use will probably be reduced rapidly as well. In the browser, the combination of HTML5 and JavaScript is pretty much the only viable option for the future, the main question now being what languages and libraries to use with JavaScript.

My advice to all: learn JavaScript next year, and if you’re looking for a UI technology? Take a look at AngularJS.

Next up, I predicted Java 8 was not going to be released this year. That turned out to be true. On top of that, Oracle announced that one of the key new features, introducing modularity through Project Jigsaw, was moved to Java 9. I also predicted OSGi becoming the de facto standard for all application servers, making Project Jigsaw less and less relevant.

Here I think we are spot on with our Amdatu project, which gives us powerful building blocks for applications. We should really leverage that next year and there are lots of interesting developments around it that we will announce soon!

Also I predicted that Apple was going to announce they no longer supported the MacPro and all server related technologies. Whilst there were no announcements, and there are actually some indications about upcoming MacPro releases, the MacPro has remained in its “Don’t buy” state at MacRumours all year. I also said Apple was going to look hard at new markets now that Android is rapidly pushing them out of the mobile and tablet markets. Again, I was probably a bit premature, but data indicates some big movement there and Apple stock prices have been dropping since September now.

Then, the battle for the largest screen in the home, the TV. Major players are still ramping up. It’s a tough market to conquer because of complex content licensing and lots of big old-school companies still having a strangle hold on the content. Still, investments in this market are huge, and we are seeing a lot of new developments around second screen applications that attempt to make viewers more active whilst offering advertisers new channels that circumvent the big cable companies.

I was probably dead wrong about Paul Verhoeven’s Entertainment Experience. At least, I have personally not seen it creating a wave of new film productions being sold on-line. Oops!

Finally, I predicted the rise of Google Dart, taking over the Java world, on the desktop with Chome and the Native Client (NaCl) and on the phone with Android 6.0 (yeah, we only got to 4.2 this year) and in the cloud with Google cloud services. Dart is at M1 though, it’s looking very promising, can be compiled to JavaScript to make it instantly usable on all browsers and platforms and is easy enough to get into for developers that know C#, Java or a similar OO language.

Looking back: Luminis Technologies

Over the course of the year, a lot changed within Luminis Technologies. We’ve been working feverishly on both the Amdatu platform, together with our friends from GX Software, and on PulseOn, a system that delivers personalised learning to classrooms. Also, we have been talking about Amdatu on many national and international conferences, something that we intend to do even more next year and back it up with trainings and a couple of books.

As the year started, we had just gone through some transitions, starting with a fresh new team of three: Paul, Jan Willem and me. It never ceased to amazed me how much we achieved with such a small team. During the year, we extended the team with Maurice and Tran, both of which had been doing assignments at Luminis during their studies, and were so enthusiastic about the way we work together at Luminis that they decided to join us. Earlier this month we welcomed Jago, another experienced developer, to the team. The good news does not end there, as early next year, two more people will be joining us: Sander and Bram. We’re looking forward to working with them.

That means we’re ready for the next year, which will no doubt be an all new and exciting roller coaster ride! We are ready for it, motivated to make great software!

Looking ahead: Explaining the title of the soundbyte

Usually, the title of a soundbyte becomes obvious quite quickly, but we’re already nearing the end and you probably still don’t have a clue why I chose it. It’s actually a quote from a rather large presentation that summarises a lot of trends, backing them up with data. Whilst hard to summarise all of them in a few lines, the slides show that we are on the brink of some fundamental changes in the way IT works and influences our daily lives. I have reproduced the whole deck below and I really would like to advise all of you to look at it! Some examples that should get you thinking:

  • If you look at operating system shipments for all personal computing platforms, Windows has dropped from 90% just five years ago to 35% at the end of this year. iOS is at 20% (up from a little over 5%). Android, which had no market share at all back then, is now at 45%, gaining about 20% in the last year alone.
  • World wide, about 2.4 billion people use the internet. Usage in China alone has doubled in the last 4 years and they now have over twice the number of people connected compared to the US. Mobile usage is growing even faster.
  • When Apple released the iPod years ago, they started a new trend and rapidly they sold many devices. When they released the iPhone, adoption went about an order of magnitude faster. The iPad then again grew 3x as fast and now Android phone adoption again dwarfs that number by growing 6x as fast again, shipping about 550 million handsets in the first 4 years.

2012 KPCB Internet Trends Year-End Update from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

These are just a few figures, the presentation goes on to cover subjects like the topics we tend to cover when talking about Interprise and hints at some of the fundamental changes that will happen in the upcoming years. So the title is basically a quote from one of these slides: we are still in the wild west days of the internet, and we need to stay in touch with those changes. That same slide goes on to say that face book’s 1B+ users now upload an average of over 300 million photos per day. That is big data, and it is up to find ways to process that.

We should not just start thinking out of the box… we should start realising that pretty soon, there will be no more box!

Looking ahead: Predictions for 2013

Windows 8 will struggle to get any substantial market share. The main reason is that it proves to be too hard to create low-cost devices that run it (smartphone and tablet). Also, the biggest reason for a lot of people to use Windows is Office, and I fear Microsoft might be killing its last unique selling point by offering Office for Android and iOS.

Apple’s market share in mobile and tablets will continue to decrease. Apple probably won’t loose much of its market share, but by continuing to position its products as high end, it will never be able to sustain more than about a 10% worldwide marketshare. It’s current decline in stock price might be the first indication of that (shareholders always want more).

That leaves Android, which, in my opinion, will become the dominant player in the market. It takes that position over from WinTel and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence. The parallels are striking, if you ask me. There is a single company providing the operating system. This operating system is open enough for others to enhance and build upon. Then, there are multiple hardware vendors that are all innovating around this platform, rapidly advancing the hardware and driving down prices.

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