The 4th Paradigm

Today, the New York Times reported that Apple Computer had surpassed Microsoft as the world’s most valuable technology company with Wall Street valuing Apple at $222.12 billion and Microsoft at $219.18 billion. 

The Times report extolled the magnitude of the turnaround of Apple, from a once floundering company to its current position.  Perhaps more important to note, however, is the deftness at which Apple changed its business model to affect technology paradigms.

We wrote about the transition of technology paradigms, four years ago, in the white paper, “Transitioning to a Mobile Work Environment.”  Therein, we described the transition from the Mainframe Computer to the Mini, or Midrange Computer, then to the Personal Computer.  The 4th paradigm, which Apple helped usher in, is the Internet Appliance.  Each new paradigm has been smaller and less expensive, has introduced new uses for technology, has had higher unit volumes, and has been capable of more dispersed networking.  The Mainframe was for the company, the Mini was for the department and the PC was for each employee.  The Internet Appliance paradigm has extended from the employee to a lifestyle focus.  We predicted, four years ago, that people would use multiple internet appliances.  Apple has the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iPad, for example.

The New York Times identified Apple’s new rival as Google, with the battle-ground being internet applications, not device-specific applications.  The outcome of this interesting dual is uncertain as technical and political issues play out. What is certain is that we are now firmly entrenched in the 4th paradigm and Apple has led the way.

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