There are a number of ways to say the obvious, but sometimes something becomes so obvious it gets ignored. Here’s my example:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
In other words, we can learn much from history, so over the years the phrase has been modified a bit, but still contains the wisdom needed to map out the future.
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Back up a few thousand years and the basic modes of transportation were limited to walking, riding a horse or camel, or for even longer distances, a boat. Fast forward a few hundred years and horse drawn wagons moved people and their belongings over great distances on land. The industrial revolution brought about the steam engine and trains. In each case, an emerging transportation industry overlapped and overtook a previous transportation industry.
Yes, we still have shoes, horses, boats, and trains, but those who ran the train industry completely forgot what industry they were really in and missed owning the automobile industry when it swept across the world. Why?
Those industry leaders thought they were in the train business when they were really in the transportation industry, and didn’t pay attention to the revolution growing around their business.
It’s the same thing here in the 21st century. Traditional Windows PC manufacturers thought they were in the PC business and didn’t understand the mobile computer industry growing around them. Apple saw it. Google saw it. Samsung saw it. Microsoft, Dell, HP, et al, completely missed the mobile device revolution and are suffering because of that lapse in judgement.
What needs to be understood is that an iPhone (or pretty much any modern smartphone) really is a computer. It’s a phone. It runs apps. It’s connected to the internet. It has a digital camera. It’s electronic. But no matter how you slice and dice it, an iPhone and its brethren are computers; perhaps even more of a personal computer than a Mac or Windows PC.
The PC industry has been overshadowed to dwarfed by the mobile computer industry. About the only change to PCs to combat the mobile challenge in recent years is thinner, smaller, lighter notebooks with touch screens; so called hybrid tablet-notebook computers. Even Apple has ignored the notebook touch screen revolution and perhaps with good reason. Most PC touch screens don’t get used much; certainly far less than an iPad or tablet, and remain mostly useless without a real keyboard.
Executives at PC manufacturers thought they were in the PC business when they were really in the computer industry, so they didn’t recognize the threat to their businesses.
Remember, prior to the iPhone, Palm’s head honcho dismissed PC makers (Apple) getting into the industry and Microsoft’s CEO laughed at the iPhone when it was launched.
Palm’s Ed Colligan:
We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.
Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer:
Would I trade 96% of the market for 4% of the market? I want to have products that appeal to everybody. Now we’ll get a chance to go through this again in phones and music players. There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.
Both executives didn’t know what industry they were really in. They were running trains, and didn’t recognize the transportation revolution occurring around them.
Today, Palm is a footnote in the industry’s history and Microsoft has less than 2-percent or 3-percent of the smartphone industry.
Who’s laughing now?