technology industry highlights: a tale of three competitive amigos
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
December 25-31, 2007; issue 948
High Tech Office column
The 2007 High Tech Office edition was in many ways a tale of three
companies engaged in a complex dance for your attention.
year, Apple just seemed to roll from triumph to triumph, with strong
laptop and desktop models – and growing sales to home and small
business markets – and a successful operating system upgrade to OS X
The company continued to dominate the music player
market with its iPods and had the product release of the year with its
iPhone (still not available in Canada).
Bringing its batting
average down below 1,000: 2007’s Apple TV seemed to be a product
without much of a reason to exist. (Look for an upgrade early in 2008.)
iWork 08 software suite gained a spreadsheet, but is not about to
replace Microsoft Office on most Mac user’s desktops. And Macintosh
sales to large enterprises grew in 2007, but only by an estimated 1%.
remained the software giant we’ve all learned to live with if not love,
but 2007 was a difficult year for the company. It started off the year
with simultaneous upgrades of Windows (to Vista) and Office (to 2007),
but found customer reactions that were at best a yawn. Big business
started to move to Office 2007 as part of the normal purchasing cycle,
but so far has generally resisted moving to Windows Vista, and few home
or small business customers found Microsoft’s call to upgrade
The company’s consumer hardware fared better. In
particular, the Xbox 360 game system was well regarded, though sales
were lower than the surprise winner in this category- Nintendo’s Wii.
And late in 2007, an upgrade to Microsoft’s Zume MP3 player got strong
reviews and surprising sales, though it remains far from challenging
the iPod’s dominance.
All year, it seemed that Microsoft was
looking over its shoulder at Google, hoping to find a way to transform
its business model to one that, like Google, was built on ad sales.
Microsoft’s online services have thus far been lacklustre.
is the third of the companies that defined technology in 2007. It
continued to push beyond its search-engine dominance with scattergun
releases of software and services, some of which – G-mail, Google
Earth, among others – gained wide acceptance. Others, such as its
online application suite, have been slower to gain critical mass. Too
many Google services, like its PicasaWeb photo-sharing service, seem to
simply duplicate what is already widely available elsewhere. While
Google’s critics have hoped that the company would lose focus by trying
to do too much in too many areas, there’s no evidence of that as yet.
concerns took a relative back seat in 2007, despite evidence that the
Storm infection was being used by criminal elements, harnessing the
power of networks of tens of millions of “zombie” computers. By some
estimates, spam accounted for up to 95% of all e-mail, but end-users
generally saw little of it, as reasonably effective spam filtering kept
it out of their in-boxes.
Mobile was big in 2007, but Canadians
were slow to adopt mobile data services, with the high cost of Canadian
mobile data plans drawing criticism from sources like RIM, makers of
the popular Blackberry devices. Late in the year, there was a glimmer
of hope as Bell Mobility débuted a $7/month data plan (with selected
hardware). We’ll see if this trend brings changes in 2008.
2007 was the year when so-called Web 2.0 became commonplace, when
Facebook was the tool used by the so-called Group of Seven to organize
their takeover of Vancouver’s COPE, for instance. Just to put it into
perspective, though, by some accounts, blogging – a key feature of Web
2.0 – turned 10 years old this year. Even in the High Tech Office,
change can take longer than we realize. •