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Microsoft Will 'Die and Disappear' in Next Few Years: Futurist

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Ex-British Telecom CTO Peter Cochrane says divergence, not convergence, is the future of IT.

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Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS holds a 14.9% share and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android holds a 75% share. Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry platform shrank to 4.3% for the third quarter, down from a 9.5% share for the third quarter last year, according to IDC. IDC said shipments of Android-based smartphones grew 91.5% in the third quarter to a record 136 million units. Google's free mobile OS nearly doubled the third-quarter growth rate for the rest of the industry.

Replacing the operating system-based model, said Cochrane, will be a new app-based model that allows users to interface with any screen in the world through tiny access devices, or even cybernetic implants. Cochrane also predicts divergence in the cloud, with clouds "going live and being populated only for as long as they are required." Current reliance on device-hosted applications is holding back the move to more agile computing, he said.

Microsoft clearly has a legacy operations business to support, now and in the near-term future, since most cloud servers run on Windows. Even so, the migration to cloud computing, an estimated $14 billion industry in its own right according to IDC, could be a turning point for the industry. Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said in a research note that the cloud could represent "the tip of the iceberg...an important deflationary force for traditional packaged applications services."

With about $50 billion in cash or equivalents, Microsoft has the means to reinvent itself and develop applications beyond the stable opensource platform model it has built. Even if Cochrane's predictions are correct, in the end, Microsoft has the means to transform itself as Fuji (PINK:FUJIY) is trying to do as it migrates away from the dying photography industry. Alternatively, it could truly "die and disappear" like Kodak.

See also: On This Date $1.4 Trillion in US Assets Will Lose Their 'Risk-Free' Status
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