Ray Ozzie talks a good game but there isnt anyone in the world with Bill Gates clout and it may take that to catch this wave, given they wont have as much time this decade. (It is moving faster and Google is substantially more powerful than Netscape ever was). As it was in 1995, however, this remains Microsofts market to lose, just like it was IBMs two decades ago.
Linux is way out of position for this but many of the cloud services will run on it and Google is likely to use Linux as part of their solution. Intel also is exploring this for their MID (Mobile Internet Device), but the issue remains that youd have to create an Apple-like experience and no one seems to want to put that level of work into something that someone else could easily copy. It is clear, if Google does this, it may have Linux as a starting point but wont look or feel like Linux, in any way, when it comes out (itll probably be an even bigger departure than the MacOS is from UNIX).
It is clear that, with the iPhone, Apple is thinking about a major change in the OS. And were they to transition this concept to the PC as kind of a super iPhone the result would be revolutionary.
Apple is exploring the backend with their SDK handling process for the iPhone, which could be transitioned to a future Apple PC platform as well, and Apple already has most of their own core applications. As a result I think that Apple is, either intentionally or by accident (the iPod was really an accident), the best positioned right now for this new world.
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Im just messing with the major players but HP is in the hunt for this solution as well. They company has products from smart TVs to the widest selection of thin client computers to close this gap.
We may not even make the move this decade as sync solutions like those from Sharpcast, and virtualization solutions like the Mojo Pack give us something that is good enough. And there is nothing preventing a true breakthrough coming in (other than really long odds) from left field and surprising everyone.
I think there is a reasonable chance, given some of Ray Ozzies statements, that Microsoft is figuring this out and may ramp up before Google or Apple can complete their offerings and, given they are entrenched, Microsoft doesnt necessarily have to be first. So Id give them the edge but I would have given IBM the edge in the 80s and look how that turned out. And who would have figured that IBM would be entirely out of the IBM PC business two decades later?
We are on the forefront of massive change, my friends, and the recession is likely to make it happen very fast once someone, or something, pulls the trigger.