May 26, 2010, 1:56 PM — "The iPod Killer"
"The Blackberry killer"
"The iPhone killer"
It's almost a requirement these days. If you have <established product> and a <new competitor> shows up, then <new competitor> is now the <established product> "killer". Some days, I think the entire computer news field does nothing but watch "Highlander" over and over again, mindlessly repeating the mantra "there can be only one".
So, up until recently, the iPhone was the Blackberry killer, or the Windows Mobile killer. Then the iPad was the Tablet PC killer. Now Android is the everything killer and by next year, the only computers anyone will be using will be Android-based.
This entire line of thinking is, to be succinct, baloney. It is more specifically baloney propagated by a (globally) small group of geeks and tech pundits who, in moves that would make the D.C. spinmeisters viridian with jealousy, pump every single new release and device as The Chosen One Which Will Replace All That Went Before.
First, this is mostly based on one occurrence: Microsoft's utter domination, in terms of market share, of the PC client and server segment, with some secondary support from the iPod marketshare. Both of these were matters of being not the first to market, but the first to come up with a product that fit people's needs better than anything else in those markets. Coincidently, both products, (Windows and the iPod) have a history of being hammered by pundits. Luckily for Apple and Microsoft, as it turns out, once you get out of the Silly Valley tech bubble, no one cares what pundits think.
If you look at anything else, even say, computer hardware sales, you don't see a single entity with that kind of market share. In fact, once you get outside of iPods and Windows, the only times you do see it are in specific vertical market segments. But even then, it's not common. Yet, in spite of the data, people want there to be only one, and in many cases, they want there to be only one, even as they're railing against the 'one' that exists now.
I see, over and over, Mac fans wanting Mac OS X to "destroy" Windows and have Apple get that 90% market share. Because somehow, that would be completely better than Microsoft having that market share. As near as I can tell, this is based on "ABM" or Anyone But Microsoft. Or lately, Anyone But Apple As Long As It's Google. Evidently, having the cell phone market/web services/email/DNS/whatever Google is doing today be completely controlled by a single corporate entity is only bad if that entity is Apple.
If Google controls it all, it'll be a magical paradise of free everything, paid for by the kind lads at Google. We'll never want again. Unicorns for all.
Of course, the fact that Google is just as adept at twisting the truth as Apple/Microsoft/IBM when they need to seems to not register. Or, that unless you're forking a lot of money over to Google, you get no support, and in fact, no way to even find out why they shut you out of a service you relied on. But, because they pay lip service to "open", that's okay. And people accuse Mac users of drinking the Flavor-Aid.
First let's get over this idea that any $BIGCORP is inherently "good". They are amoral entities required by law, in the U.S., to make money, without breaking the law. Even if they have pithy slogans about not being evil, that does not make them good. Neutral is not evil, nor is it good. Google is no more your friend than Microsoft, Apple, or IBM.
Second, and even more important, this highlanderism has to stop. There can most certainly be more than one. In fact, there should be more than one, because you know what you get when there's only one? A jumpsuit. Something that mostly does what you need, but never quite fits right or feels right or looks right. If the only phone available was an iPhone, it'd be a jumpsuit. Same thing for the Android phones, Windows Mobile, you name it. I know people that adored the Razr when it came out. Me, hated it. Didn't do what I needed. Sure, I could have got by with it, but I didn't have to. Instead, I got something that really fit my needs well, and was far happier for it.
That's the biggest benefit of not having "there can be only one" be the way things work: Everyone gets what they need. Once you stop obsessing about market share, and viewing a 30% share as a failure, you start to see what the real benefit of competition is: Niches and needs being filled correctly. Not some insane race to the bottom with regard to profitability, or the endless quest to maximize feature counts regardless of customer base need. The benefit is that everyone's needs can be met, correctly, in a way that works for them.
The funny thing is, once you get outside of the TechPundit Bubble, that's how things work in the real world. Normal people, (read: not geeks or tech pundits) don't care about market share. They don't buy anything based on niche dominance, outside of coincidence. They buy based on needs, wants, and sometimes, vanity. It's only the tech press that breathless pours over any and all marketshare research, no matter how poorly done, looking to see who they can crown the new "King of <tech product>".
So the next time you start to read an article insinuating their can be only one, stop. Find something else to read, because life is too short to waste on tripe like that.