20 Dec 2005: the year of the comeback
The last column of the year is an invitation for reflection, and this one is no different. These last 12 months have seen a resurgence of the technology market and we’ll no doubt look back on 2005 and pronounce it the year the Internet economy got back on its feet. In the overall scheme of things, the previous four years were a standing eight count, not the death blow that so many lamented. Sure, it stung like hell and a lot was lost on bad bets, but IP-based businesses were only down, not out.
Call it Web 2.0 if you must, but the Internet is the Cinderella Man of the tech economy and it’s back and swinging. As we look back over 2005, it will be remembered as the year that…
• Computing became social. From business applications to online journaling, the industry has embraced the power of communities. We saw the first signs of social computing emerge a few years ago. Six Apart and Friendster and their ilk set the stage in the consumer sector, while some of the early approaches to spam blocking (think Cloudmark) demonstrated that computer users, working in groups, could tackle significant problems. Social computing came of age this year as elements of social networking and collaboration find their way into an increasing number of consumer and enterprise technology platforms.
• After nearly a decade in which the building blocks and experiments were put in place, Microsoft finally recognized that service-based software is the future. In a now much publicized set of memos, Bill Gates acknowledged that Microsoft applications would need to include data services offerings in order to stay relevant. The hosted model is mainstream and Microsoft is playing catch up.
• Open source took its legitimate place in the enterprise computing suite. The industry is well past the misconception that open source means free and unsupported and has embraced open source as a distribution model. Open source is also further evidence of the social computing movement, where a network of developers contribute to the improvement of applications.
• Google replaced Microsoft as the organization to be most revered, possibly feared, and hopefully acquired by. In the hundreds of startup slide decks I see each year, Google is now the elephant to watch out for and nary a word is said about Microsoft, which may indicate that it has become more of a dinosaur than an elephant.
These are a few of the big ideas visible from my vantage point. As you look back over 2005, what do you see? I’m taking a break from column writing the next couple of weeks, so I look forward to reading your thoughts, comments and additions.
Have a safe and happy holiday season and I’ll see you again in the New Year.
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