A few weeks ago, I started telling friends my wild and crazy prediction that Apple will own a majority share of the personal computer market within three years. Apple's biggest weakness is in their vertical monopoly over their own hardware. OSX is fabulous, but their hardware is crap, let's face it. You simply have to figure the cost of Apple Care into any Mac purchase because you can count on some sort of hardware problem.
Despite this -- and who's to say Apple won't change its tune regarding hardware? -- Apple's star is definitely rising, while Microsoft's is in a self-inflicted crash and burn.
Paul Graham, in is post, "Microsoft is Dead," has the quote of the month:
Microsoft's biggest weakness is that they still don't realize how much they suck.
The same could be said for a number of companies. Graham recognizes that a number of folks will scoff at these assertions.
Half the readers will say that Microsoft is still an enormously profitable company, and that I should be more careful about drawing conclusions based on what a few people think in our insular little "Web 2.0" bubble. The other half, the younger half, will complain that this is old news.
Graham still succumbs to the notion that all "applications will live on the web—not just email, but everything, right up to Photoshop." Such black-and-white thinking may provide a poetic flourish, or add drama to pronouncements on the future, but my own sense is that the general public is going to start noticing the pound of privacy flesh web companies, like Paul Graham's employer, demand for the convenience of the services they offer.
The desktop is not dead, but it is changing. So is the web (duh), and just as desktop übercompany Microsoft is feeling the heat for their business practices and strategic decisions, we might see the same thing happening to the übercompanies of the web before too long.