Health

The end of ages

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanApr 26, 2010 1:48 PM

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Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has a post up, The Age Of Facebook. Facebook having superseded Google having superseded Microsoft. Unstated that Microsoft superseded IBM as a firm which defines an age through reach, power and influence. Two thoughts that come to mind: 1) It seems that each "age" has been shorter than the previous. IBM was computing for decades. Microsoft probably ten years or so depending on how you define it (I put the second derivate maximum at 1995). Google's real ascent seems to date to around 2000, but its monopolistic plateau of the mindshare didn't seem to last for very long as Facebook was already generating a lot of buzz by 2007 (the same principle operates across human history, the civilization of Pharaonic Egypt spanned 2,000 years, the same length as from Augustus to our own time!) 2) It also seems that the extent of a definite age of ascendancy for a particular firm is more muddled now, as creative destruction and innovation allow for many domains of excellence and supremacy, as well as the resurrection of bygone brands. Consider the revival of Apple's fortunes. And if we are on the verge of the Age of Facebook does anyone believe that Google's brand will collapse? Arrington notes that Microsoft is perceived to be passed its peak, but it has many years left of its cash cow products, perhaps at least another decade. IBM has reemerged as a software services company. And so on. On a relative scale Arrington's argument seems to have some merit, but secure domination doesn't seem to be what it used to be (also, one might need to distinguish between buzz and influence, and concrete metrics).

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