what does microsoft face in 10 years?

April 13, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | 3 Comments

I have a cousin with whom I am very close. She’s a 20-something junior in college and about six months ago we decided to stay in touch more often. So, being a late 30-something guy, I naturally started sending her emails. I was disappointed. Weeks went by with no reply.  I decided to send her a text message. She responded in about 45 seconds.

When we finally did connect for a live conversation, I found that she (and presumably her friends) check email about once every week or two. 90% or more of her communication is now tied to three things: Text Messaging, Facebook, and MySpace. Her using email feels roughly akin to my using a fax machine about 15 years ago… you *could* do it, but why would you?

This summer I’m going to start teaching my kids (elementary age and younger) basic word processing and spreadsheet usage. We travel a lot, throughout the year, to see family and friends; so the kids will often do their school work in part while we’re away from home. Everywhere we go, people have a computer. Everywhere we go, those computers are connected to the Internet. Few run Office at home now that pirating it is more difficult, but everyone can get to Google Apps. Hmmm. Guess what I’ll be training them on?

So, the operating system is becoming the textbook definition of a commodity (I just need to get online), Outlook is a pure “business” application to today’s college students (if they know the name at all), elementary kids like mine are learning “office-like” skills on free tools like OpenOffice and Google Apps, and cell phones are getting ever more functional. What will this mean for Microsoft? Only time will tell, but when you look at it through the eyes of future generations, it will create some interesting conditions for a very-long-time incumbent.

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