Don’t Panic, But We’ve Passed Peak Apple. And Google. And Facebook.

Don’t Panic, But We’ve Passed Peak Apple. And Google. And Facebook.

After the dot-com crash in 2001, the tech world needed a few years to regroup. But starting around 2004, the year Facebook was founded and Google went public, the winds of innovation in consumer- and business-facing technology began to pick up again. In 2007 or so, they reached hurricane speed, and minus a short lull for the Great Recession, we’ve been buffeted by continuous change ever since, with the biggest advances coming in the overlapping areas of mobile, social, and cloud computing.

But for all its power, this storm was initiated by a surprisingly small group of players. Just three companies—Google, Apple, and Facebook—generated most of the new ideas (at least the mainstream ones) and most of the business momentum. (If I had more room and time, I’d work Amazon into the argument, but as a technology company, it ranks well behind the other three.) It’s been this way for almost a decade now, meaning it’s becoming harder and harder to imagine change coming from any other source.

That’s why journalists hang on every word from Larry Page, Tim Cook, or Mark Zuckerberg, and it’s why there’s perennial hand-wringing in the media about whether the Next Big Thing from Google, Apple, or Facebook—be it Google Glass, or the seventh iteration of iOS, or a new Android home screen populated by chat heads—is really as big as the Last Big Thing. Any sign that the giants might be faltering sends psychological shock waves through the whole high-tech culture, from venture investors to startup employees to eager technology consumers.

Well, at the risk of making myself into a pariah around Silicon Valley, I have a prediction to make. The storm has just about run its course. We have passed peak Apple, peak Google, and peak Facebook.

By which I mean: Apple will never again come out with a product as transformative as the iPhone. Google will never build anything more useful than its existing search engine, and it will never discover another business model as lucrative as search-based advertising. And Facebook may keep growing until every person on Earth with a computing device is a member, but it won’t ever be anything more than a place we share photos and links.

In sum, the next major advances in technology—the ones that will power the next cycle of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and the nation’s other tech hubs—will have to come from somebody else. To switch metaphors, the car is already out of gas; we just think there’s still forward progress, because we haven’t coasted to a stop quite yet. But we will. Chances are we’ll locate another gas station eventually—we always do. But before that happens, we may spend some time stuck by the roadside with the hood up, as we did in 2001-2004.

I’ll explain the thinking behind this prediction in a second. But first, let me be clear: I don’t think the petering out of the Google-Apple-Facebook triumvirate is cause for panic. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. No one should be allowed to lead for too long, or they get lazy and selfish. And a healthy innovation ecosystem needs a broader base than the one we have now. (That’s why I’ve been on the record rooting for Microsoft in the mobile wars.)

A situation in which power is spread between three companies was a big improvement over previous eras of computing, when a single company tended to dominate (for decades it was IBM, then it was Microsoft). In the next era, we may see something more like a true republic of technology, with no single company or group of companies possessing enough power to push others around and set the whole agenda for growth, the way Apple and Google have done in the mobile business with iOS and Android. That would be a good thing.

Now to the core of my argument. Here are three reasons why it’s a bad bet to expect any more game-changing innovations from Google, Apple, or Facebook.

1. Regression to the mean. Compared to the other companies in their cohorts, Apple, Google, and Facebook are all extreme outliers—the richest of the rich. They are the 1 percent; they’ve performed several standard deviations above the mean. Plain old statistics dictates that performance this good is usually followed by a dropoff in the direction of mediocrity.

You don’t reach this level of success by coming up with just a single earthshaking innovation—it usually takes two or more. Let’s spell it out. Google’s two fundamental innovations—now long behind it—were 1) if you look at the Web as a network of trust, defined mainly by links, you can use math to surface the best content, and 2) if you put related ads next to that content, people will click on them.

Facebook’s innovations were 1) if you make it super-easy for people to post photos and status updates to their feeds or timelines, it will give their friends a convenient way to feel like they’re staying in touch, creating a network that grows virally, and 2) if you make your identity system into a platform—something resembling single sign-on for the whole Web—you’ll have endless fuel for the feed.

Apple’s innovations were 1) if you pay attention to style, design, and ease of use, you can build computers that people will love, because they make work feel a little bit like play, and 2) if you marry this design sensibility with wireless technology and digital content like music, movies, TV shows, books, and games, it’s like putting a match to a pile of paint-soaked rags; you get a true mobile-computing explosion.

The chances that any of these companies (or indeed any given company) will come up with a third, equally earthshaking insight in the future are low. We have a tendency to assume that preternaturally lucky people are preternaturally smart, and that their luck will continue, but those are errors built into … Next Page »

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The Author

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy.

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  • Steve Ardire

    @wroush very nice post and love reference to Kuhn and The Structure of Scientific Revolutions with concept of “Paradigm Shift” was my fav book in college

    Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/aug/19/thomas-kuhn-structure-scientific-revolutions

    Kuhn forced us to ask questions about truth, justification, and conceptual discovery and his framework lead to a kind of cognitive relativism: “truth” is relative to a set of extra-rational conventions of conceptual scheme and interpretation of data.

    Paradigms are not subject to testing or justification; in fact, empirical procedures are embedded within paradigms. Paradigms are in some ways incommensurable — Kuhn alluded to gestalt psychology to capture the idea that a paradigm structures our perceptions of the world.

    There are always anomalies, phenomena that that the paradigm cannot account for or that even contradict it. Anomalies are often ignored, but if they accumulate they may trigger a revolution in which scientists abandon the old paradigm for a new one.

    • Aczents

      Google’s success product Adwords still has no options for responsive design (other than forced picking another format). A technique that the whole world is using for all those mobile devices with different screen sizes. Downfall has began for Google.

  • William

    > the next major advances in technology—the ones that will power the next
    cycle of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and the nation’s other tech
    hubs

    …brings to mind the famous New York-centric New Yorker cover. But the rest of the world exists. Now that we’ve created a global infrastructure, it’s time to look to celebrate global innovation. For all its track record of innovation and investment the US has created for its tech businesses some interesting competitive disadvantages: high noise levels of spam and marketing, erosion of trust and degraded value of personal data, laws like Patriot Act and FISAAA which justifiably piss non-USians off, programs like PRISM which seriously undermine the credibility of the companies affected, the dead hand and zombie brain of an out of control military-industrial complex.

    This otherwise excellent article itself shows an insouciant arrogant introspection. “The nation’s other tech hubs”? If trust is the key ingredient for next-generation innovation take off the blinkers and stand by to look further afield.

  • Jim Philips

    I agree with most of what is said here. But I think Google is bringing about a convergence of services that is, in itself, a major innovation. Google Now is the beginning of that. I’m just beginning to tap into what you can do with it. It gives an utterly different meaning to search.

    • Daolte

      I actually think this also could be a problem. Will people want to hand over all of their information and services to just one company? Silicon Valley and other big tech giants haven’t been angels with your data, and it could backfire on them. The next shift could be how consumers want to share their data.

  • BLA

    Your reasoning sir, is that of an idiot. First of all, from a commercial perspective, it’d be insane to play all the cards as quickly as possible. You complaint that Apple’s latest innovation is from 2010. It’s not even 3 years past that and the device in question hasn’t even reached tipping point.

    Secondly, you completely ignore all the engineering innovation happening (perhaps because you know little about engineering yourself?): the engineering on the MacPro is absolutely astounding! Likewise, Google has achieved tremendous breakthroughs in AI, relevance and distributed computing. All of it tucked away behind a search box. Amazon, which you don’t qualify as innovative, created the whole cloud computing thing. You may not care about it but let me tell you something: every single major web service out there builds on top of what they achieved.

    These companies are just setting themselves up to blow your mind. Only a blind person can’t see that.

  • caruso81

    Great article, the bloviating of a few of the commentators here, notwithstanding.

    The “big thing” about which you speak will not be wearable computing, or some other way to respond to the false, overstated, media-created demand for social computing. No, it will be something boring and nerdy: batteries.

    Not batteries that take us from 6 hours to 12 hours. The guy/company who gives us the two week or two month power cell wins. And I’m not talking about “breakthroughs” that come across my tech feed once a week about someone in a lab at MIT. I’m talking about real, marketable, repeatable technology that is so important that it has to be in every computer, large and small. The entity that makes this happen will do so by exploding the current paradigm and inventing something completely different (sorry Apple) That is what Google, Apple, Facebook did.

  • pinouchon

    After seing “recents developments in deep learning” now powering google image (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vShMxxqtDDs) and project loom (http://www.google.com/loon/), this article didn’t make any sense. Google has too many bright people now.

  • manofsteel_2.0

    Reading this article was a waste of time. He just wrote everything that popped in his mind, without any validating source / study to cite. For instance, he first says Google has peaked, blah blah and later ignores some experiments they are doing claiming that they are not currently helping their revenue… Well that’s how innovation happens – you think big and not just immediate future.

    Also, the writer thinks Amazon is well behind Facebook in technology. Really? Ever heard of AWS? EC2? He really has no idea.

  • Kristi Heim

    This is a well done, thought provoking article. Silicon Valley will no doubt produce future Googles, Apples and Facebooks with its powerful combination of talent and resources. However, I have to agree with William about the need to look further afield. Technology innovation is no longer the exclusive domain of the U.S. I predict that China, despite all of its inherent limitations on innovation, will actually produce game-changing technology. Companies such as Alibaba (Taobao), Tencent and Qihoo 360 are already doing so. To the extent companies based in SV or other parts of the U.S. can take advantage of this new reality, the challenge of IP notwithstanding, they will be more competitive. On this front, Microsoft seems to be doing better than others.

  • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I’d like to add three points in response to all the conversation here and on Slashdot and Hacker News.

    1. I’d love to be proved wrong. Please, Google, Apple, and Facebook — show us you’re not out of tricks! We’re waiting. But my main point is, we don’t need to hold our breath while we wait. Other smart people, probably people we haven’t even heard of yet, will come along with more big ideas.

    2. I agree with the commenters who say that Google is the most likely of the three to find a way out of the innovator’s dilemma. AdWords is such an enormous revenue machine that they can afford to fund a lot of experiments, like Project Loon. At the same time, Google has made itself into a kind of alternative university, with a pretty large “faculty” of employee and non-employee geniuses like Kurzweil, Thrun, Cerf, etc. So, it’s not like I’m going to stop writing about R&D at Google. But I have a bias toward smaller, younger startups, and I think it’s justified.

    3. Here’s why Amazon ranks fourth on my list of world-changing tech companies of the last decade, behind Google, Apple, and Facebook. Yes, it brought the world public cloud computing, but it did so in the form of a service (EC2, S3, and the other components of AWS) rather than as a set of tools or products that anyone could buy or adapt. In other words, its cloud provides the brute computing force behind lots of innovative services, but at bottom it’s just a utility. Amazon’s real genius is in super-efficient logistics and distribution, for both the physical goods in its warehouses and the digital goods you can buy through the Kindle platform. That’s important for commerce, but it’s not the kind of shift that opens up room for lots of follow-on technology innovation.

    • kgelner

      If you think money can help buy you out of the innovators dilemma then what about Apple? They have even MORE money *and* revenue than Google does!

      If you understood just what was going to happen around the iOS7 launch, you would see that Apple has shown us they are far from out of tricks. And that totally ignores the Mac Pro which has the very same effect!

    • Walt French

      Methinks you badly confuse imagination/invention/transformation.

      I don’t think that anybody would dispute that the iPhone dramatically defined what personal computing was. It showed what a brand new, approachable device could be. But it’ll probably be the imitators, especially Google, who put the tool into the hands of a few billion people around the globe, thereby actually transforming business and communications. And it’s the cellphone carriers, plodding systematically along with “sustaining” developments, that make it all possible.

      So Google, merely by trying to keep profiting from selling advertising, and not being original thinkers in this regard at all, gets my vote for the transformative activity. Apple, which may well have some more tricks up its sleeve such as even more portable (wearable) computers and making both cars and televisions appendages of the internet, is likely to kick off some more transformations — whether they, Google, Tata, Samsung or somebody else who actually put the transformation into high gear.

      I’ll also note that when you talk about disruptive technology, you’re necessarily talking about things that don’t exist yet. But your forecasting methods seem best suited to straight-line extrapolations, and sound like simple extensions of today’s status quo. You’ll have to try a bit harder if you want to be taken seriously in saying that simple extrapolations of the present show no difference from simple extrapolations.

  • Justin

    Cool title, but nothing innovative happening in this article either. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, or because I’m reading less news from news companies, but fewer and fewer people seem to be saying anything worthwhile these days.

    • MNJAM

      Both. Being older, it’s more likely that you heard this or that, and we are living in a profoundly uncreative and boring age.

  • Mayson

    Apple ][, Macintosh, iMac, OS X, iPod, iPhone, iPad: quite a string of major innovations, over decades. Unlikely to have ended, yet. Google’s cars and balloons have the potential of massively changing a lot of things. Facebook, meh.

    • craigvn

      You know, none of the Apple products you mention was the first of it’s kind on the market. Apples innovation lies in their ability to identify the next big thing, why other companies have not yet succeeded and adapt it to make it more market friendly.

      • Mayson

        “You know, none of the Apple products you mention was the first of it’s kind on the market.” So what? They were all light-years ahead of anything else available at the time. Skating to where the puck is going to be, time after time, is a really remarkable feat. Name another company that does it as consistently.

  • Alex

    I guess there is some truth in the article. However something very big is missing: Even the most promising startups have a problem which is called time-to-market. They are somewhat forced to show their product early up possibly unfinished to gain market-share. This in turn means money to fund the actual project. The only other way out to acquire money is that a huge company (like google, facebook or apple) will buy them and fund their research. And even the greatest ideas need an enormous amount of marketing that startups often cannot afford.

    As an example: Apple didn’t reinvent itself with the iMac and Steve Jobs return. Apple bought a little company called NeXT in ’96 and rebranded NeXTStep. This is the origin of what others know as Mac OS X.

    People also tend to forget that Apple when it was smaller wasn’t doing any ground breaking stuff in years. Soon after 96 they started to show people the iMac with their new operating system. I think about 5 years later the iPod landed and it took another 5 years for the iPhone to land. It’s just media attention that makes us think that nothing is going on in Cupertino, and that they will fail ultimately.

  • pablow

    The few giant tech companies have almost beaten their innovation to a pulp and now too focused

    in blindness to even try to see the next big thing ready to blindside their silo in deep pockets…

    The next big thing will be the dNA of sound the big bang of sound ! as the world has revolvered

    its six shooter in almost too many pretty pictures .This new discovery will be like thunder after

    a bolt of well discharged lightening …most people will not readily understand the scope of what

    i am talking about ,but in time will be transformed in this newest equation .

    This is by no means a mere theory ,its here to stay like the myth of the presence of ufos clearing our cluttered minds to accept good and lasting change …paul m sykes….. (vr3dsound )

  • Jay

    Google built the self driving car. That’s going to have an impact that’s easily as large as their search engine revolution.

  • http://slyck.com/ zbeast

    Apple and Google didn’t come up with something new.
    they both fixed something that was wrong with existing products.
    Apple, phones sucked, they were hard to use, expensive to own. (blackberry),
    and had features and functions that were designed by moron’s. (Telcos).
    Apple came along with a low cost, (calling fees were cut for voice, text and data). With features like visual visual voice mail. The day I got my first iphone.. I pulled my old moto razr out of my pocket tossed it on the ground and stomped it till it literally caught fire when the battery shorted.
    Phones were a major problem and apple saw an opportunity and fixed it.
    ipods, I don’t know but if you were like me.. I don’t like tape players, I also don’t like the Idea of taking with me 100′s of dollars in cd’s and leaving them in my car..
    Where they can melt and be stolen.. Once again apple didn’t invent the mp3 player, what they did do is perfected it. the cut the cost of buying music and then gave you something were you can carry and play your entire music collection.
    No more playing the same 10cd’s over and over again.

    Google: they didn’t invent search but they perfected it
    If you can remember back to what search engines that were around back then.
    most were crappy “portals” or didn’t index a lot or Just were hard to use. @Home, WebCrawler. AOL search, Infoseek, AltaVista, Yahoo.
    or were slow or looked like someones unfinished coding project.
    Worse yet, they wanted to pay for search or they covered the UI with ton’s of ad’s or just returned nothing but paid content on the first 2 pages.
    Google fixed all that, it was fast, uncluttered, returned relevant content with minimum effort.
    they won the search wars by not trying to force crap you didn’t want to see in search results and being more accurate.

    So what’s the next product we use every day that sucks?
    It’s not tv, tv sucks because the content on it sucks.. sticking a better ui on it won’t fix the fact that 99% of everything that’s on is crap..
    I think that tv has already been improved by torrents, DVR and the HTPC.
    I don’t need to see live tv.. cord cutting is a better way to watch tv.

    Both Google and Apple have and are creating massive data centers.
    Maybe it’s the “Cloud”… do you really want all your work in the cloud on other people servers… with the NSA and other hackers creeping around.
    Sure I like products like G-Mail. but I treat it with limited trust..
    for secure data and email I host my own mail server.

    Maybe it’s the self driving car… well only if the car can become this automated pet… were it can take me to work and it by itself can wonder off and find it’s own free parking and with a cellphone call it can come back and pick me up and take me home. then on weekends I can drive my old manual high performance car.

    In the end, we really don’t need all this crap. We buy it so we can use the tech to make more money so we can buy more crap and maybe have some fun while doing it.

  • WommRomm

    That actually makes a lot of sense dude. Wow.

    http://www.AnonGots.tk

  • kgelner

    If you do not think iOS is as transformative as the original iPhone, you were not paying close enough attention to what just happened.

    The original iPhone transformed phones into smartphones. iOS7 transforms the interface into virtually real components that seem present in the world.

    It doesn’t matter if a company has 10 or 100,000k employees. What matters is that a small group within the company is allowed to dream and bring those dreams to fruition. As long as that remains true large steps can still come from a company, it’s not a fixed rule that company size hampers innovation (though it is often true).

  • kerton

    So hold on, 3 years ago Apple released the iPad, and I’m supposed to assume they aren’t capable of disrupting the market again??

    You could’ve said the same about Apple before the iPhone.

    Do me a favour. Better Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter there are going to be some major paradigm shifts, new product releases etc. The fact we’ve been in a global recession for the last 5 years isn’t lost on people either.

    Get a grip man. You’re no soothsayer.

    • MNJAM

      Second (or third etc) one in is always the success.

  • badqat

    So stock price indicates which company is in the best position? Really? Please do explain how that works in reality.

  • Fenix

    Some good comments here and a thought provoking article. However, there’s a major flaw in this analysis and it’s based on being a consummate fanboy of products. There are many forms of innovation and a new product is often the only noticeable innovation. Innovation is also in the form of a venture’s process, position, etc. and through a scale of incremental to radical. These companies are moving their resources to maintain their marketshare of the target customer. Hence, the new “soccer mom” demographic will buy the iPhone, the techie tweaker will likely opt for Android, etc.

    The important issue is maintaining a competitive advantage of a stratgey through price leadership, differentiated, or niche to your target customer and to do this better than your competition. In fact, the conclusion of the article has merit, but the real reason paradigm shifting products will not continually appear from one company is that continuous paradigm innovation is not a sustainable business model. Likely some unknown tech firm will create a thin glass that can imprint circuitry and a display that creates a future iPhone and Apple is credited for the innovative product. You see they are innovating their position in the marketplace to bring future products to their target clients and have a higher probability than most.

    My prediction is we will likely see these companies viewed as bringing innovation to the market, because they know how to reach their target better than others. In fact, the article’s identification of the two areas of innovation are just the most successful product launches of their corporate strategy. I’ll bet there’s at least one more killer product from Apple or Google… Facebook probably not.

  • http://www.zurker.com/berzurker headhopper

    Awesome article.

  • paleoguy1

    Are there not other tech companies that have been game changers that are equally as large, dynamic and influential in silicon valley besides this triumvirate? ORACLE come immediately to mind, there are no doubt other MAJOR players that would be equals…

    • http://www.siteup.ro/international/ Vladi

      Oracle might be a big tech company, but not a game changer. There’s a difference

      • paleoguy1

        WOW!! Not a game changer? Clearly you have no idea the extraordinary impact of very large OLAP and OLTP databases have made.

        The ONLY companies that may have claim to a higher position in a list of most influential are IBM, microsoft, sun, Xerox parc and cisco.

        Oracle changed the way businesses do business in a dramatic fashion.

        • http://www.siteup.ro/international/ Vladi

          By a business for a business. A game changer is the company up front that changes your day to day life.

          Yes, OLTP database is great. But it’s a tool. It allows others to do something faster, better etc and allows them to actually be game-changers.

          I mean, Apple would have never made the game-changer that the iPhone was, if there wasn’t another company that developed efficient processors (both energy and thermal efficient)

          What I am trying to say, is that it seems that the definition of game-changer is different between us.

  • andreasma

    Next cycle of innovation is already here: bitcoin

    • http://www.siteup.ro/international/ Vladi

      That’s not quite innovation. That a digital thing of doing what is currently available. It’s also not that interesting/safe/attractive to many.

  • Rand

    Sophomoric.

  • MNJAM

    Plagiarism will never get old. E.g. this article, which is a rehash of Cope’s law, first published in 1896. Google it.

    • http://www.siteup.ro/international/ Vladi

      There are countries where you can be quite active in plagiarism and be prime-minister. So yhea…

  • Mark Johnson

    sadly i think bitcoin will be crushed by anti money laundering rules in the near future.

  • http://www.greetings4u.net/ Special Comment

    How can we say that we have passed the peak of these companies?

    They have enough financial power to make another big impact in tech world and many researches are going on.

    Say ‘Google glass’.

    It is not a game changer as it is now. But the concept behind Google glass (Augmented Reality) may change the path of our tech world to another direction.

    After some years we might not be using touch mobiles. Instead, we would be using Holographic Mobile Devices.

  • David Allen

    you sir have a lack of imagination

  • gw.g

    Making technology myself, and follwing it’s developments for 35 years now, I totally agree !

    It is some kind of natural law, that leaders of today must turn out to be losers someday. The reason definitely is limited awareness of the world outside of successful systems we got accustomed to. IBM stayed in the market – one of the few cps, who managed to re-invent themselves. How about DEC, Data General, Xerox, Nixdorf, who were setting trends in the 70s and 80s, like Apple and Google do now ?

    May this article help some ‘followers’ of technology to see that there is real life outside of their hype, or – still better – ‘technologic fundamentalism’ ! …

    • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

      Thanks gw.g — you’ve captured my point precisely.

      • APai

        then I dont get your point rooting for microsoft. they have nothing unique in windows phone. they are boxed, they are into stopping standards, they have been actively inhibiting innovation. and you want them to succeed ? i don’t get it

  • Farmer Paul

    And they said 64K was the maximum memory that a computer could use. Unfortunately you are not old enough to realize that whenever you say can’t someone within those companies will….

  • Paul

    Bill Joy always told people at Sun : Innovation will happen elsewhere. That was in 1998. This article is nothing new … as most of the stuff in IT these days.

  • Ixraellee

    ‘Don’t let people rule for too long else they become lazy and selfish’ well said, if only they can keep on the omnipresent monopoly out of selfishness, but their laziness would definitely stymie their ‘avarice’. The World is in a state of continous evolution which is affirmative of the fact that ‘the beautiful ones are not yet born’

  • bespoked

    Many thanks for yet another great, thought-provoking article Mr. Roush.
    And, kudos to all who have written in with their thoughtful responses.
    And here’s a raspberry to all of you who seem to think it’s okay to be insulting and disrespectful in your comments.

  • Comedy Pizza

    Apple and Google are always stretching in order to develop new technology. Google just came out with Afterlife – http://goo.gl/1XcRO and Apple has somehting for the home medical market – http://goo.gl/2KxWL . Soon, Yahoo is going to jump into expanding it’s reach as well. We’re becoming less and less human!

  • kommentz

    I’m actually quite surprised you’ve been following Tech for as long as you say. I have followed it like a fiend since about 1990 and if there are two things I’ve learned is 1. Never say never and 2. You cannot predict when the next big, life-changing thing will happen or wont. You have zero idea what might be up Apple’s R&D top-secret departments or Google’s, or Xerox/Parc or Alcatel or some kid in a garage in Siberia. I don’t even include Facebook in this ‘innovation’ discussion – they simply pushed the boundaries of scalability and html. I say quit your day job.

    • ikkf

      I agree with you that Apple may have more tricks up its sleeve, but I think the author’s main point is that we should assume the well is dry. Anything the giants come up with at this point will be a nice bonus.

      • Sent

        We’ll see what you have to say after driverless cars and quantum computing are on your doorstep in the next decade.

        • Guest

          Lol….. Who knows, next thing they will make holograms……

    • APai

      spot on. fb/ google themselves came out of nowhere against established competition to sweep the market.

  • jeanneburns

    Excellent article Wade. I have heard this “one great idea per company” argument going back to the formation of Fairchild.I like your perspective and appreciate the way you have built this case on present day giants. It should give great hope for future innovations and opportunities. Your writing is refreshing because you tell this story and build a logical argument around it. It reminds me of blogs by Don Dodge, AVC and Paul Graham. Thanks for the great insight!

    • JT

      Parasite

    • Bris Vegas

      Nearly every major pharmaceutical company has one blockbuster drug that provides the vast majority of revenue and profits.

  • David Malek

    IBM’s Watson could be the next big paradigm shift. We are inundated with “data” in these days, but getting the right “information” we need from this massive flood, is something that even Google does not deliver right now. If Watson’s technology gets inexpensive enough to be available on your mobile device, that would be a huge deal and that, comes not from a startup, but from a big player.

  • Donald McIntyre

    The biggest innovator now is the NSA. It is finally accomplishing the “big data” vision. By gathering all information from all sources (your Facebook, Google searches, your phone calls, your image walking in the street with street cameras, your emails, etc.) and putting everything under your profile we have the best identity system ever. This can not only be used for spying. That is a significant myopia by the government. They should use it for regular street crime control, polotical control, commerce, influencing governments around the world.

    • APai

      “They should use it for regular street crime control, polotical control, commerce, influencing governments around the world.”
      they say its for controlling terrorists, but end up doing the rest – controlling political outfits, other governments, selling out to MNCs, basically the most effective oligarchy.

  • Tj707

    I soured, now I know the three are an arm of the government.

  • Shojib Ashrafi Na Ashrafi

    Thank you for your insight. I have always wondered how a loose cannon like Mark Latham was made leader and now it is explained, the old payback.
    What small minded people, hate makes of us all.
    And as for Latham, here was a man who called George W. the worst president ever ( he was right there) and then knocked people over in the stampede to shake his hand.
    Obviously a man of no substance which explains his weathervane approach to policies.
    However, as a political commentator I find Mark both refreshing and entertaining. A candid breath of fresh air who, because of his perceived ill-treatment by the ALP, is even-handed in his commentary, unlike the hacks like Kroger, Reith and Costello who just read from the prayer book and spout propoganda, thus dismissing their own credibility of argument.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharepirate2011 Pirates SharePirate

    so thats why many small websites like http://sharepirate.com/ is appearing like mushrooms to cope up with the changes and make something for others, its about entertainment and accessibility after all…

  • JW

    Yawn…That Amazon is not front and center in your line up of innovators for shifting the planet into online buyers is surprising. They have successfully created an ecosystem of products and services where a user can search(even before going to google), buy almost anything(2 day Prime), view HUGE amounts of media(on Amazons hardware and cloud services), create servies and experiences that others can interact with(EC2/AWS), learn about products(extensive crowdsourced reviews), oh, and encourage people to buy again and keep repeating the behavior without users ever needing to really leave amazon’s products and services. Seems like a multibillion dollar innovation to me. You have a point that smaller companies can organize and align quickly, ignore bureaucracy, and push innovation out the door ahead of most large companies, but it is foolish to think that the companies you mentioned can’t kick out a few more solid innovations in the next decade to come.

    • APai

      perhaps he’s obsessed with the consumer side of things – and yet he missed something that’s so obvious. too many holes in the articles. him rooting for microsoft for the mobile phone is ridiculous. there’s a reason people are tired of windows, they’d have picked the surface or windows phone. the only reason windows phone had ANY success is because former nokia fans bought it for the nokia phone. little else

    • Bris Vegas

      Amazon is a rehash of Sears Roebuck. The difference is that Amazon has never made a profit and never will.

  • Joy

    Wrong about google. A self-driving car is a major paradigm shift. It is an outlier you have dismissed too casually.

    • Sent

      Agreed. There are many irons in the fire by Google, like Fiber, and cloud based operations for corporations.

      Sorry, Mr. Roush, but your article is borderline rubbish by omitting these things and saying Google’s peak was its search engine.

  • Patsy

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22976409

    one growing use for fb that you forgot to mention, politics!

  • Leo Staley

    Well, Google recently released the most useful thing I’ve encountered in years with their revamped gmail inbox. I wept. I actually wept. then again, it’s something I’ve been working on a solution to for quite some time.

  • fred

    I think it goes a lot further than that. You mention Kuhn’s paradigm shift of revolutionary science. We have entered an age of Meta-modernism fuelled by social networking. Discourse is taking place universally via satellite.
    It is a dialectical discourse, as in Plato and Metaxy.

    So, regardless of what is next technology wise, a cultural movement is taking place via these networks. They have done way more than connecting friends, they connect enemies too.
    Friends enemies hates and loves rich and poor etc. It’s a very dialectic thesis and antithesis, the interesting part will be synthesis during all this revolutionary change.

  • antipolitician

    What about Ubuntu? A growing user base of 20 million, clean, fresh, almost virus and malware free, and the operating system is better than anything Microsoft has produced in a long time. It encourages change with the GPL license, it does everything and more than Windows and only a few more backward companies are still refusing to recognise the growing interest like Tom Tom. I can do almost everything in Ubuntu and I have a dual boot system with Ubuntu and Windows 8, I spend the majority of my computer time using Ubuntu and finding it far more pleasing than Windows. It is fun, it is relatively easy (with a bit of effort and help from the forums), and best of all it is a free of charge complete operating system with mostly free software. In one month I have experienced 8 crashes in Windows 8, usually at the start up, and ZERO in Ubuntu which I use far more. Technology hasn’t stood still, it has altered direction for those who want to look and not be blinded by the hype of the big companies who have serious flaws and design errors and want to put out bloated, expensive software, in the just for profit category.

  • James Patrick McMillan

    Just regarding the first two sentances… The only reason there was a dot com crash is because of the hyperbole created around Y2K and deservedly so, perhaps, for Microsoft? If an application needs to have a 32 or 64 bit field or a multilingual database, we surpassed that a long time ago. Has anyone ever mentioned this?

    So… Technologies stocks are suffering because of fear, but we are in the technology age. So… Stop the boring history lesson, it is a rehash of a rehash of a bad idea. Must we revisit fear at the beginning of the article? As if fear will guide us through to the end? Technology advances as well as people and services. It’s kinda boring to read the first two sentences and that’s all the further I got. The presuppositions are whateverisms, just like Y2K and the rest of the article, under these suppositions, can’t be that good? Can it?

  • http://sharexone.com/ Muhammad Umair

    wow thats great more on http://sharexone.com/

  • APai

    you want microsoft to come into the phone wars ? they are the worst of all things on the mobile space. other than the fancy pants squares, they have nothing on offer. typography that confuses more than delights ? we simply do not need another walkover by the former desktop giant.
    microsoft hasnt changed one bit, and its no wonder the same distrust carries over to their mobile offering. they are better in the hell hole that they find themselves.

    want a third OS that’s fresh ? – try anything else than windows phone.