HardCopy Issue 61

Issue 61 – Winter 2013

Editorial Intro – Matt Nicholson

There are two distinct sides to the computer industry. On one side sit the hardware manufacturers. For them, each unit produced costs money to make and money to ship, and the industry operates in much the same way as that of the car or the TV. For the past decade, particularly since Apple adopted the Intel architecture, there has been little to distinguish one manufacturer’s product from another, which means a greater reliance on brand awareness. However competition is fierce and it is difficult for one brand to dominate the market for long. Apple only succeeded in doing so by firmly establishing itself early on as a supplier of luxury goods at premium prices.

On the other side are two industries that have benefited from hitherto unprecedented economies of scale, namely those involved in software and the silicon chip. Developing something like an Intel i7 Core processor or a modern operating system is extremely costly. Against that the cost of creating a copy, or even millions of copies, is insignificant – and the more copies you create, the thinner that initial investment gets spread.

This is why Windows dominates the desktop, as once a certain threshold is reached, competition becomes all but impossible. For Microsoft the threshold was reached in 1990 with the launch of Windows 3.0. On that date, any chance of an alternative succeeding on the desktop died.


It’s important to realise that Windows did not get into this position because it was the best on offer. There were plenty who felt, with considerable justification, that the Apple Mac offered something better, or that Linux was both cheaper and more stable. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that both the software industry and the customer benefited hugely from having a single platform dominate the market. For application developers it meant being able to reach most of their customers with a single release: for customers it meant being able to share files with most of their friends and colleagues without worrying format incompatibilities.

Of course everything changed when mobile devices became viable. Apple transformed the market with first the iPhone and then the iPad. Microsoft struggled with Windows Mobile for a while, only to return later with Windows Phone which now seems to be tied fairly firmly to Nokia hardware.

And then of course there’s Android, an open source operating system owned by Google. According to a recent IDC survey, Android was running on over 70 per cent of the smartphones sold in the final three months of 2012. Apple iOS accounted for 21 per cent, down from 23 per cent the previous year, while Windows Phone and Windows Mobile accounted for just 2.6 per cent, although this was an improvement on the 1.5 per cent achieved the year before. So is Android going to become the Windows of the mobile market?

Articles for this issue

Inside Data 61

Published: November 1, 2013 | Author: Graham Keitch

Graham Keitch explains how multi-tenancy support works for Microsoft and Oracle databases.

Creative collaboration

Published: November 1, 2013 | Author: Mary Branscombe

Adobe’s Creative Cloud for teams brings new features to help designers and developers work together.

Build tools

Published: November 1, 2013 | Author: Tim Anderson

Builds are an important part of the development process. Tim Anderson checks out the options open to users of Microsoft Visual Studio.

Under the bonnet

Published: November 1, 2013 | Author: Rob Macdonald

Taking a professional approach to software maintenance is good for staff and good for business, as Rob Macdonald explains.

The phone business

Published: November 1, 2013 | Author: Simon Bisson

Simon Bisson checks out the new business opportunities open to developers working with Windows Phone 8.

Network health check

Published: November 1, 2013 | Author: Kay Ewbank

In these days of virtual machines and mobile devices, monitoring your network becomes even more important.

Straight talking

Published: November 1, 2013 | Author: Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson wonders if Microsoft has done enough with Windows 8.1, and checks out Embarcadero’s approach to the Android platform.

And another thing 61

Published: November 1, 2013 | Author: Jon Honeyball

Jon Honeyball has still to be convinced when it comes to Windows 8.1 and Windows RT.

Short Cuts 61

Published: November 1, 2013 | Author: Paul Stephens

Paul Stephens takes a sideways look at the world of IT.