Andreessen predicts free PCs

Giving away browsers has turned his head...

Marc Andreessen of Netscape (who didn't invent browsers, despite the many claims that he did in the US media -- by Bloomberg most recently) has been going on again about how PCs will soon be free. He takes as his model the evolution of cell phones. He also predicted the "death of the consumer software industry" but his vision of most software being free via the Internet is perhaps a little clouded by being beaten up by Microsoft. He lamented that there was "no new software taking advantage of the next generation of microprocessors". Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School, also speaking at George Gilder's Telecosm conference recently, predicted that the Palm III was a dirsruptive technology, and drew analogies with the PC in the 1980s replacing minicomputers. He could be right -- except that the disruptive technology seems more likely to come from the Symbian-Psion stable, the Palm being the stalking horse. Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch has been saying in a recent report that the industry is moving away from PCs as the driver of the industry. The shift will be from general-purpose computing to specialised computing, apparently -- a bit like NCs, perhaps. Merrill Lynch also see the future of the semiconductor industry moving from PC-centric chips to chips powering communication devices. Appliances will be the next hardware sector to show strong growth, it suggests. Dell and Intel didn't get a mention, presumably because the report is looking at megatrends rather than such unsexy things as growth. ®

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