Exactly three years ago today — Oct. 13, 2004 — ZDNet computer journalist David Berlind took a break from probing his own ass with his own head and published a truly insightful and prophetic article titled “Is Apple on the way out?” See it here.
Now look. David is one of the smartest journalists ever unleashed upon our industry. I know because he’s told Katie and Steve Dowling this a bunch of times. I mean he’s right up there with former NASA technologist Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols of eWeek (shown here with his life partner) who chairs the highly esteemed Internet Press Guild (see scary member photos here) and likes to point out that he “has been using and writing about technology and business since the late ’80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.” (See his self-effacing bio here.)
According to Katie, David Berlind is a few notches above SJVN on the IQ pole, if only because of his Zennstromesque eyewear, which adds at least five points, maybe ten. Berlind’s premise in 2004 was this: Look at how fast Linux has taken over the server market, and won’t it do the same on the desktop? And won’t Apple be the one that gets hurt the most? Ahem. Ahem. Look. We knew this was stupid when he wrote it. But we said nothing. We just let it slide, and I put it on my iCal for today so that I could check in and see where we’d find ourselves three years hence.
Some of the best quotes:
“The target for desktop Linux is simple: OS X. All desktop Linux must do is aspire to be what OS X is. If it can do that, it will not only upset the `Applecart,’ it will also give desktop Windows a serious run as well.”
“It’s about what happens when desktop Linux reaches that point where it provides an experience that meets or beats the one that that sets the standard for *ix-based desktop operating systems: OS X. When it does — and I don’t doubt that it will — Apple will be in a real pickle because of the hardware ‘problem’. Users will have significantly more hardware options for running desktop Linux and the likelihood that they’ll find something to meet their needs in terms of cost and form factor will be excellent. There will no doubt be companies that make systems that look every bit and run every bit like a PowerBook (or whatever Apple is selling at the time). They just won’t be PowerBooks and will cost significantly less.”
“To not have faith in Microsoft is one thing. To not have faith in the highly motivated open-source movement and all those behind it (Red Hat, SuSE, Sun, etc.) to bring desktop Linux up to speed is misguided. They’re the underdog. Never underestimate the underdog.”
Well, it’s been three years. I’m not sure what to say. Maybe we should wait another hundred years and see if his prediction comes true. Meanwhile, how about this? Siooma, freetard. (Photo: A.S. Rash, LinuxWatch.)
Footnote: For what it’s worth, by early this year, Linux held a commanding 12% share of the server market while Windows had 38% and was growing faster than Linux, despite being on a bigger base — news which SJVN reported under the headline, “Linux server market share keeps growing.” No guff. See his fair and balanced coverage here. Even if you look at more recent figures, you’ll see that as of Q2 of this year Windows had gained 4 points of revenue share over the past year, while Linux had gained 1 point, and Linux server revenues were $1.8 billion versus $5.0 billion for Windows. (As SJVN might have headlined it: “Linux World Domination Continues.”) Both Linux and Windows were growing at about 19% rate, though Windows was doing this off a larger base. Do some math and you can figure out that the total server market in Q2 was up about $800 million from a year ago while Linux server revenues were up about $300 million in the same time period. Windows grew $800 million. Make of that what you will, but let’s just say that even when we extrapolate out from what Linux has done in the server market, we’re not crapping our pants about the desktop.