Monday, March 19, 2007

I Cannot (Effectively) Argue With Someone Who Lives In An Entirely Different Universe

What I have learned from Mark Anderson's response (in the comments) to my mocking jab is that the discourse communities of Silicon Valley insiders and those of us who just live on the web are apparently entirely separate. Indeed, judging by his post, they've got their own internet, too.

For example, in explaining his prediction/concept of the "CheapPC," he writes:

AMD refers directly to the category as WorldPC.

Perhaps they do, or they did, but the word doesn't appear on their website, so I'll have to take his word for it. Perhaps Mark is referring to the now-discontinued PIC? Just to confuse things further, in 2001, he called the iPaq a "WorldPC," but those don't use AMD chips, anymore at least. Anyhow, I'll happily give him credit for popularizing the term "CheapPC" in spoken and printed discourse in Silicon Valley, since I have no way of proving otherwise.

Mark also writes:

Microsoft uses the term "CarryAlong" on its website trumpeting the new UMPC, a direct lift from my work.

Well, maybe they did, or maybe they do on the Secret Silicon Valley Insiders Internet, but they don't on the prole internet anymore, nor does it appear anywhere on the version of I've got.

What I find amusing about these predictions is that the common thread seems to be not very successful or popular products. The PIC is dead; the iPaq is alive but never became a hit. The UMPC's don't seem to be flying off the shelves, even though the product category should be well established, based on this quote of Mark's from 2001:

The last couple of months have seen a number of new products that look increasingly like a CarryAlongPC, a concept design we've been talking about in these pages for several years now. Since they seem to be hitting the streets at last, it seemed time to point them out as they passed by.

The big failure however, the one I actually care about quite a bit, is the failure of the Inkwell PC to materialize. You thought it was just around the corner in 2001:

Remember when I told you a few months back that Apple had just been the first out with a version of the SNS Inkwell computer? (I just love moments like these.) Let's let SteveJ tell it:

"We had a great education quarter, with significant YTY growth, and a great iBook quarter, shipping over 182,000 of our new wildly popular consumer and education notebooks."

SNSers have now watched two new SNS-inspired designs take off: the Inkwell, and the WorldPC (Compaq iPaq). They aren't perfect, but they're hitting their intended markets.


...we all like those big numbers (of potential Inkwell orders), which is the right place to start. And, as I noted last week, we like them even better when they are scheduled to come online pretty fast: not necessarily over ten years, but maybe over five.

Now, Apple has sold a few iBooks and MacBooks over the years to schools, to be sure, but we haven't seen the kind of mass adoption you've hoped for in an "Inkwell" computer. The cost hasn't come down enough; the battery life hasn't lengthened enough; the durability hasn't increased enough. In the six subsequent years, nobody has seriously tried to market a laptop in the US that's genuinely designed for the requirements of schools. That prediction of a five year time frame isn't looking so good

But enough picking on past predictions. That's too easy. Now that I have Mark's attention, I do have a substantive concern. Where is the Project Inkwell specification? eSchool News says it was "released" in November. Apparently that "release" was only to the alternate universe Mark inhabits, because on the internet I live in, it does not exist. I would love to know why it has not been released to the public, because it makes it kind of difficult to either constructively critique or advocate for something that is a secret.

Also, Mark, where you live is Willow a vampire?

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