Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Will the Tiger finally break Windows?

PC’s have long dominated the computer market, however, that could change. I think we are seeing early warning signs that this dominance is beginning to erode. First, it’s easy to spot the market dominance of the iPod, white earbuds have invaded cities across the world. Newsweek has a cover story on the iPod, with an accompanying photo of Steve Jobs holding the newest version of the yet-to-be-released music player. iPod currently has a 50 percent market share, according to Jobs (iTunes has a 70 percent share in the U.S.). As more and more people buy into the iPod and iTunes, they are also going to buy into the brand. I’ve heard a lot of stories of people who purchased Mac’s in the last year to go along with their iPods. With a simple device like and iPod, Apple is able to penetrate the market and build brand awareness and loyalty. “It’s as Apple as anything Apple has ever done,” Jobs states in the article. They have created a product that sucks people into the vortex of Apple, with all its high-art design and catchy commercials. Once they are in, there is a question to whether they will be able to escape, or even be interested in doing so. One of my theories is that most iPod users are college students, or at least twenty-somethings (I have no data to back this up, so please prove me right or wrong). From my own experience in college, many of these iPod users purchased theirs after they had entered college. What that means is that they had already bought a new computer (or their parents had bought one for them). I would also assume that most students go through one computer in their four years at college (though this too could be absolutely wrong). With all that in mind, what will happen when it is time for these iPod users to buy computers of their own? After they’ve graduated and the PC they bought before freshman year is obsolete who are they going to choose, Mac or PC? If this is correct, we could see a seismic shift in computer sales in the next two-to-three years.

It is not just the iPod’s dominance that’s contributing to this change, however. Just last week it was announced that IE had lost 1 percent of its market share over the last month due to security concerns. While this loss resulted in Internet Explorer moving from 95.7 percent of the market to 94.7 percent, it also marked the first time IE was below 95 percent share since June 2002. Since Microsoft and PC are so interchangeable, I believe the damage of people moving to browsers such as Mozilla cuts much deeper than people realize. If users can abandon Internet Explorer, the backbone of Windows XP, why can’t they abandon Windows altogether? The browser has become the most important and most used piece of software on a computer for most people. “It takes a lot to get someone to change their browser. It’s been years since anyone has been willing to do this in significant numbers,” Geoff Johnston, an analyst for WebSideStory explained in the PC World article titled “Mozilla Gains on IE.â€?

Is a new age upon us? Are we about to see Mac’s tip to the mainstream? Microsoft has been stagnant the last few years (not that innovation, per se, was ever really their specialty). A recent memo from Steve Ballamer, a Chief Executive at Microsoft highlighted this point. “In spite of spending more than $4 billion per year on research and development, Microsoft can’t seem to beat its rap: It’s a follower, not a leader. After all, it was Google that reinvented Internet search with its breakthrough technology and Apple (AAPL ) that led the music industry into the Digital Age,â€? Steve Hamm writes in BusinessWeek. Both Apple and Microsoft are set to launch new OS versions in the next two years. Apple’s OS X v10.4 Tiger will do battle against Microsoft’s Windows codenamed “Longhorn.â€? If Microsoft doesn’t do something impressive soon, we could see a bloody battle with Tiger standing on top of Mount Rainier roaring in its dominance.

July 18, 2004