IT news traditionally goes in cycles. During July and August there is nothing and during December you can’t find any sod to comment on anything. But the last 12 months have been like a hot July and no one is doing anything.
In the 1980s and 90s there was always something happening in the IT industry, new breakthroughs, spats between suppliers. The security industry was great to report as Dr Solomon slugged it out with McAfee.
No one reported storage. Face it, sticking data on hard-drives was pretty dull. Making data centres was just like concentrating all the dullness of all the wet Sundays in Norfolk for the last 30 years in one place.
A PR trying to peddle press releases on printer ribbons had more of a chance, but that was only one and she was very nice.
Over the last year there has been only one company that has been worth reporting and that has been Apple. In comparison with the rest of the industry it has been doing stuff. It has repackaged some old Microsoft ideas and run with them and done better than Redmond.
But from a news perspective it has also been doing what the IT industry is famous for. It has produced shonky goods that don’t work, annoyed customers, spied on people, and sued partners. All great stories. They also do reporters the favour of never giving us a comment which means that we can go to town on a story.
What has Microsoft been doing? Er, it is being a little nicer to open sourcers, it has a rational approach to security, its former chairman is giving his money to the poor, it is making a reasonable amout of money. Windows 7 is sadly ok and does not crash nearly enough for the media to be interested. Though there is that Nokia business.
The other industry bad-boy Intel has paid its anti-trust fine and if it is doing evil it is covering its tracks better.
The only time IBM does anything these days is when its supercomputer wins a game show.
Super giant Google does evil, but pretty much in the style of an American sit-com where the evil is always minor, probably accidental and sorted out with a red-faced apology afterwards.
In the good old days it was all like a cross between a Victorian melodrama and French Farce. Bill Gates was a Dr Evil undermining the fall of rivals as Ballmer bellowed in the background. Drunken debauchery was the status quo and quiet interviews turned into slanging matches.
HP CEO Mark Hurd did his best. Mysteriously resigning for having dinner with a soft porn star who later accuses him of sexual harassment was good copy. Of course it was weakened by the fact he didn’t actually do anything, but HP’s overreaction to someone at its outfit doing something interesting for a change was good for a couple of weeks.
To make sure no one ever did anything that interesting at HP ever again, they hired SAP Leo “Action Man” Apotheker. SAP has never been famous for doing anything news worthy and hardly ever gets reported.
For a while we had Larry Ellison having a good shout at HP over Hurd’s sacking, and then attempting to make Apotheker interesting by implying that he was evil enough to steal Oracle secrets was not so bad.
Next to Apple, the only thing that the industry was talking about was Cloud based technology.
Everyone knows that this is basically storage in drag.
Some poor press officer at her wits end told a hack that the dull story she was talking about was not storage, but Cloud, and someone fell for it.
Now every company has plans for something in the cloud, but at the end of the day they are talking about grey boxes. How many times can you write a yarn about how much electricity a box saves? There are reports doing the rounds about Apple buying a domain called iCloud.
The industry is slipping. If it is not careful, IT magazines will be like reading Plastic Extrusions Weekly, only without the interesting crossword.