Rob Enderle

About the Author Rob Enderle


Tech Buzz

Silicon Valley’s Corrupt Underbelly: It’s Far Worse Than We Thought

After addressing the topic of sexual harassment and misconduct in Silicon Valley last month, I finally got my hands on a copy of Brotopia, an eye-opening new book, and a lot of executives should be happy I did not pursue my career in law enforcement. Otherwise I would be working my butt off to get them off the streets behind bars. Everyone connected to tech should read this book.

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Tech Buzz

Intel’s Fake 5G Olympic Hail Mary

If there ever were a time when perception Trumped reality, this would be it. So much of what we see these days that looks real just isn’t. I can connect a lot of this back to Steve Jobs, who was the master at this in the tech world. However, I’m worried that too many people don’t realize that there were several times Steve missed jail by the skin of his teeth, largely because he did amazing work under pressure.

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IDG Contributor Network: The future of Windows-as-a-Service

We are undergoing a lot of technology changes at the moment.  3D printers, autonomous cars, package- and even people-carrying drones, industrial and personal robots, and mixed reality which promises to blur the lines between what is real and what is digital are all coming at warp speeds.

One of the more interesting moves is being made by Microsoft [Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author], as they shift to a cloud model for both application and operating system delivery and access.  We knew this was coming when Satya Nadella took over for Steve Ballmer as CEO. As the champion for the cloud at Microsoft, he was all-in. 

The firm’s initial move last year was to step away from the traditional upgrade cycle and deliver product updates with new features several times a year, rather than semi-annually or later. This month they announced that, for enterprises, they would still provide extended support the old way for firms that couldn’t be on that aggressive cycle, and a blending of their Software-as-a-Service offerings, which now includes Office 365, Windows 10, Security and Enterprise Mobility

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Amazon’s Soaring Healthcare Ambition: The Promise and the Problem

Healthcare is a mess in the United States. Consumers pay more and get less than in most other developed countries. Strong comprehensive healthcare is unaffordable for most without substantial help, which is why putting the burden on the government really does not work. If people cannot afford something, individually aggregating it under what amounts to a tax is not really any better.

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The Ironic Weirdness of Apple and Intel vs. Qualcomm

I am not remotely religious, but recently it has become harder and harder to ignore that things have become incredibly ironic of late — as if a divine being with control over the world decided to prank us. For example, take President Trump. During the campaign, everything he made fun of others for doing — including drinking water badly, playing too much golf, slacking off and slurring words — he has done himself, in glorious living color.

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IDG Contributor Network: Target, education: Windows S vs MacOS vs Chrome

[Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author]

This is a fascinating fight largely because the Education market, while not lucrative by any stretch of the imagination, is critical to assuring the future for any operating system.  People prefer what they have learned on and firms wishing to employ them find that not having their system of choice reduces significantly that firm’s choice of top talent.  The rarer your skill set the more likely it is the company will accept and embrace your platform choice.  Apple was initially one of the most aggressive in education; but Microsoft displaced them over the last two decades.  More recently, Google’s Chrome has been making impressive inroads into the segment over the last 5 years.  To a considerable extent, Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s latest and best attempt to stop any bleeding.   

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Tech Buzz

The One Man Who Could Save Intel

Do boards think CEO is a throwaway job? Considering that boards used to have a ton of ex-CEOs on them, and given the historic bad choices that have badly hurt or destroyed companies, you’d think someone would have developed a decent process to pick a good CEO. You’d think that firms at least would learn from their mistakes. Intel now seems to have the second bad CEO since founder Andy Grove left.

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IDG Contributor Network: CES 2018: Microsoft’s broad near-term vision of our very different technology future

[Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.]

I got to sit down with Microsoft prior to the start of CES to talk about the broad future visions they’ve been sharing with folks all week.  As you would expect, given this is CES, focus was on personal technology.  This was separate from Surface or any other tightly focused effort and it was more Windows centric as well.  The near-term future of personal technology strategy from Microsoft is broken down into the following areas:

Lots of choice

This has always been a keystone of the Microsoft strategy in the 1980s/90s and why they so easily rolled over Apple and Sun last century.  They had the advantage of leverage because they had lots of hardware licensees while Apple and Sun had to go it alone.  (Strangely this strategy didn’t work with Smartphones but that was largely because Microsoft didn’t capture the developers like they did initially with Windows). 

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CES 2018: Spare Human Bodies, a $54K HTC Simulator and Intel’s People-Chopping Cuisinart

OK, I hate CES. It really is a horrible event, largely because of the timing — and particularly this year, Las Vegas making it a nightmare to get around — but man did they have cool stuff at the show. Among presentation highlights were Nvidia showcasing a whopping 65-inch gaming monitor TV. Lowlights included Intel showcasing a human-carrying drone as something out of a horror movie.

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The End of Silicon Valley

A recent article on the institutionalized sexual exploitation going on in tech companies is eye-opening. It comes on top of the realization that social media companies like Facebook are destroying the U.S., and former Facebook executives have been dissociating themselves from the company. Further, news recently broke of a big, industry-wide security problem.

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IDG Contributor Network: With an AI back end, could we create an anti-abuse OS?

This is going to seem like a huge stretch, but hear me out, because I think operating systems could become a far more powerful tool to help us moderate our own behavior than they now are.

The reason I’m starting with the OS – and it could be any OS – is that it is pervasive, and it is largely within our control.  Currently, much of the monitoring that surrounds us is designed to prove wrongdoing or capture information that could be used against us.  But what if the OS had the capability to warn out about things that would do us harm?

We’ve now build in virus protection into the OS, something that seemed impossible a decade or so back. Why couldn’t we use something like a modified key logger to provide behavior protection and flag everything from abuse to extreme depression?

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Tech Buzz

Who’s More Dangerous – the Sexual Predator or the Enabler?

There are three groups of people involved in sexual harassment: the victims; the perpetrators; and those who cover up or enable the perpetrators. Historically, we have put more pressure on the victims — either forcing them to shut up to protect their jobs and careers, or forcing them out of their jobs, which was totally wrong. There’s been a recent move to focus on the perpetrators/predators.

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Ready Player One and the Troubled Future of VR

One of the issues with virtual reality is that expectations have been overset massively with TV shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, which promised an artificial reality indistinguishable from reality. VR failed. It didn’t have to — there is a pattern to bringing out successful technology that is repeatable. You create a complete experience regardless of cost, then cost-reduce it.

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What Amazon’s Abuse of Power Foreshadows for 2018

Given how many big names have fallen over the last few weeks due to sexual misconduct, abuse and harassment, you’d think I’d name 2017 as the year of power abuse. However, while I know a lot of folks think the issue is dying down, I don’t see that at all. There are entire industries that have yet to be hit by this, and Congress hasn’t even finished cleaning house or putting in place rules to prevent this activity.

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The Tech Wars of 2018

We are coming up to the end of the year, and it’s a good time to look forward. Stepping outside of politics and the obvious war between the Democrats, Republicans and common sense, there is the war between Amazon and Google, which likely will redefine the growth of digital assistants. There’s also the war between Intel and Qualcomm in the personal computing arena.

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IDG Contributor Network: The critical path to success for the Always Connected PC

I’m a believer in the concept of the Always Connected PC largely because it fits very well into the way I work. I prefer a desktop system when I’m at home and even build my own systems. But when I’m on the road, I mostly write, browse the web and consume content. The reduction in performance for this platform doesn’t bother me as a result because I need the thing to be light, have long battery life and be something I can be proud of.

This Always Connected PC is a huge joint initiative by both Qualcomm and Microsoft (disclosure, both are clients of the author), but often efforts like this are defined by what they don’t do well as opposed to what they do well. The real promise of the Always Connected PC is its ability to be a true 2-in-1 and not what we have had in this class up till now – good laptops that suck as a tablet. This is potentially the first product that could be a good laptop and a good tablet but, to get there, it needs a couple of things. 

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Tech Buzz

The Return of Industrial Espionage and the Building New Wave of Scandals

As powerful men drop like flies due to their inability to resist abusing their authority, it’s clear that the problem is widespread. Similarly, it’s likely that we’ll find the problem of alleged industrial espionage is not limited to Uber. You see, when people misuse authority — and the sexual harassment problem is a massive misuse of authority — folks typically don’t just misuse it in one area.

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IDG Contributor Network: Windows on ARM and the future of PCs as a Service

This month, the initial battle will begin on what will be an historic war for the next generation of PCs.  Initially it will be fought on laptops but – much like smartphones drifted to tablets, and much of the initial wave of AI-driven, home-based digital assistants – this war may eventually encompass all PCs.

If this were just a war between processors, the X86 folks would likely win easily, both because Windows has decades of tuning on X86 and it is the entrenched part. But this isn’t about processors. This is about whether the computing will be done on the desktop or in the cloud.

In short this is a war between the modem and the processor…or yet another attempt to turn the PC into more of large smartphone.

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IDG Contributor Network: Microsoft Surface Book 2: the best product that never should have existed

The Surface product line is fascinating in that it resulted, much like the Microsoft phone and Zune, from a problem that the firm was having that should have been resolved another way.  But, unlike those other two products, the Surface products have been surprisingly successful — while both the Zune and Microsoft Phone are showcase examples of why those that supply parts shouldn’t sell solutions in the same space. 

Now the problem in all three cases was that Microsoft was upset that the OEMs couldn’t compete with Apple, that Microsoft believed it could do a better job, and that Microsoft was wrong in the first two instances because they couldn’t.  So, I’d like to look at two things, why this generally doesn’t work, and why Surface (and later Hololens) uniquely worked while Zune and the Microsoft Phone were massively expensive failures. 

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BlackBerry: The Most Important Mobile Company of the Future?

If you are like many, when you saw this headline you likely were surprised BlackBerry was still around. As BlackBerry phones left the market, the company fell out of sight. However, behind the scenes it has been moving into industries like automotive. Also, it remains the leading vendor providing mobile security to our politicians, military personnel and major corporations.

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IDG Contributor Network: The big unspoken problem with digital assistants

AI-driven digital assistants are fast becoming our way to interfacing with everything.  We largely had them in our phones first, then in our homes, but they are coming in our cars, and they are appearing in our offices.   Each of these AI virtual assistants is learning with increasing efficiency what we like, what we want, how to anticipate our needs, and, eventually, how to best make us happy.  But the big unspoken problem emerging is that each of these things is largely an entirely separate system with virtually no sharing of common information or consistency of experience. 

Let’s talk about why that is a problem.  

We are complex but consistent

Having separate interfaces for every machine we worked with made sense before we had intelligence in these systems.  Having the same controls for a blender as you’d have for a tank would have created problems in both the kitchen and the battlefield (though I can imagine a bender targeting a male demographic that might have sold rather well if it had a cannon and trigger).  

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IDG Contributor Network: Surface Pro with LTE: changing a mindset

This week Microsoft [Disclosure:  Microsoft is a client of the author] announced the date for shipping their Surface Pro with LTE Advanced.   This is an important foundational product for their coming Windows on Snapdragon offering because it will set the market for a laptop that is always connected, a capability that has been in market for over a decade but largely without broad adoption.  Even though we have had pervasive data connections with our phones for over a decade we still think of PCs more as hard wired devices that may not always be connected.  To assure the success of the ARM version of Windows Microsoft needs to build up advocacy for that capability because if the ARM laptops are reviewed like an x86 laptop they’ll be panned.   They have to be seen, much like the iPad initially was, not as a crippled product but as an offering with unique advantages.   This isn’t going to be easy and this new Surface Pro with LTE Advanced will need to plow the field. 

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Fake News: Amazon Wants a Key to Your House

I’m getting tired of headlines that present something you might want to do as something you’d have to be crazy to do. Last week was a case in point: Headline after headline shouted out that Amazon wanted to get a key to your house. The initial reaction was hell no — but the reality is far more nuanced. You see, there are a lot of folks who live in places where their front entrance isn’t secure.

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IDG Contributor Network: What’s wrong with PCs as a Service

(Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.)

One of the fascinating things about the technology market is how it goes in circles and not only forgets the past but misses the point. For instance, let’s take the recent mega trend: PCs as a Service, or as we’ll call it, “PaaS.” Most think this is brand new, but it is in fact an attempt to return to what we had with the mainframe. An appliance on our desk and like it was back then the hardware is, and should be, largely transparent and, I expect, as these services mature they hardware will change dramatically and alternatives like Windows on ARM will start to look more attractive.

What is also interesting is that just about the time the last large mainframe/terminal implementations were being yanked out by their roots, IT started demanding desktop computing as a service again. This was back in the 1990s, and now about two whopping decades later, major OEMs are putting programs together to make it happen and reinventing the wheel to make it happen.  

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Fighting Off the Harvey Weinsteins of the World Through Technology

Harvey Weinstein just went from most powerful man in Hollywood to punching bag — and while he deserved this, perhaps greater attention should go toward taking aggressive measures to prevent future Weinsteins — and there will be future Weinsteins. We need to stop acting surprised when this stuff comes out and instead take stronger steps to prevent this kind of thing in the future.

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IDG Contributor Network: Windows Mobile RIP – or how Steve Ballmer committed avoidable career suicide

One of the ironic things this century on technology is CEOs from many tech firms tried and failed to move their PC efforts to Smartphones and lost their jobs.  In some cases, more than one CEO at the same company lost their job only to find their successors killed the programs and did just fine.  This was especially true of Microsoft (Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author) where Ballmer’s mobile failure seemed to be the straw that caused his friend Bill Gates to can him, his successor, Satya Nadella, just effectively killed the program and not only isn’t he at risk, it just seemed to be the right thing to do.  

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