Granted, it is hard to top the result of the U.S. Presidential Election where we ended up with the first true political outsider as a President in my lifetime. Bu in the tech segment we had a number of changes that alone would have stood out as massive, but collectively are nearly beyond imagination. As we enjoy our eggnog and try to hide from our intoxicated relatives this week, let’s look back on the big changes of 2016.
Dell started the year as the biggest private technology company in the market and, following the “go big or go home” goal that, apparently, Michael Dell took as a battle cry, it ended up merged with EMC and now is a massive technology company and still private. It was impossible to take Dell private, just like it was impossible for a private company like Dell to acquire EMC and take it private. One wonders what impossible thing Michael Dell will do in 2017. Apparently, he is channeling the Queen in Alice in Wonderland who believed in six impossible things before breakfast. Oh crap…
BlackBerry went from a hardware company to a Software and Services Company. This had been tried by both Sun Microsystems and HP catastrophically over the last several years and was thought to be impossible, but John Chen apparently missed that meeting and pulled it off. Now the company is positioning to dominate autonomous cars.
Qualcomm and Microsoft
Qualcomm got Microsoft to port Windows to their Snapdragon 835 platform in the first move off of X86 since the 1990s. This effectively breaks the WinTel alliance that has stood for decades and allows in a class of hardware that will be even thinner and have longer battery life than we have ever seen before, oh, and that will always be connected. This may result in the laptop you’ve always dreamed of owning with smartphone-like battery life and a super light carry weight.
Amazon vs. Apple: Apple lost?!?
Recall that Microsoft tried to beat Apple with the Zune and failed badly. Well, in 2016, Amazon showcased how this was done by creating the Amazon Echo (currently sold out) as basically the combination of an iPod with Siri, beating Apple to the punch. Now, the hottest music device in the market isn’t an iPod, but an Amazon Echo. Good lesson here on how to take a market from a company like Apple: get to where they should have gone first.
Microsoft vs. Apple
Microsoft emerged as a formidable hardware player first with the Surface Book then with the Surface Studio. The Surface book made the MacBook Air look old, and the Surface Studio made the iMac line look positively ancient. Beating Apple in hardware is hard for a PC OEM, but for Microsoft, a software company, to do it should have been impossible. And we are now up to five impossible things accomplished in 2016.
NVIDIA Dominated as a Computer Maker
NVIDIA, once known almost exclusively for graphics, ended 2016 as the fastest growing company at scale in tech and is dominant in Autonomous Vehicles with its Drive PX 2 platform. Basically a brain in a box, this forward-looking device contains all the processing power of a supercomputer and the only small portable AI at scale in the market. NVIDIA effectively built a car brain and I still don’t think the company fully grasps the power of what it has created. Creating a universal machine brain is pretty damned impossible as well.
EHaung decided to bypass self-driving cars as just too limiting and jumped to people-carrying drones. While not as impressive as the people carrying dragons in Game of Thrones, they appear to be a ton more comfortable. Testing in Nevada at the moment, these flying Drones should make it so those unused heliports on the tops of many buildings actually get use. It is like they looked at Uber and said, “What wimps, why drive when you can FLY!!”
Wrapping Up: That is at least six impossible Things
I think if we add having a non-politician elected president, we get a grand total of eight impossible things that happened in 2016…and that’s pretty amazing. That is only one less impossible thing than Alice’s Red Queen thought up before breakfast. But 2017 is looking equally impossible, and next week we’ll talk about the amazing things we are expecting to see at CES. Until then, try to think of nine impossible things before breakfast, just so you are prepared for the amazing things we will likely see in 2017. Hope you have a great Holiday!
President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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