Why I have this blog
I have had my blog for almost ten years. It is mostly read by my Facebook friends. I started it as a way to share some of my thoughts about technology, especially its history, or political and policy issues. My tech posts seem to get more views, which is not so surprising since that is where my expertise and experience lies.
I have been working with computers since 1966 and had a pretty successful career in that industry which ended more than ten years ago. I like to joke that I am the “former Avram Miller” but when it comes to Tech there is a lot of truth to that statement. As Vice President of Business Development at Intel and the Co-Founder of Intel Capital, I was fortunate to have a pretty influential role in the development of today’s internet. While I am not that active in the industry these days, I do like to stay current, and fortunately still have access to a lot of key participants. My advice is actually occasionally sought, although sadly, not by my former company Intel, even thought I have offered to help on several occasions.
The Future History of Technology
When I was active, I was pretty good at figuring out what was going to happen in the future. Of course, I was not perfect but I was good enough to make billions of dollars for Intel. In those days, I was sometimes referred to as a “visionary.” My joke was “ A visionary is just a dreamer with a PR department.” Actually, that was true. Never the less, I became interested in how one could predict the future of technology with some degree of accuracy. My approach was intuitive. Which means I did not really know why I knew things. But, just because you do not know why you know things does not mean that you do not know them. That was pretty hard to explain in the concrete/analytical environment of Intel, so I just used to make things up to justify my position. After I made made my first billion or so for Intel, I no longer had to do that.
For the last several years, I have been thinking about the post PC era and its leadership. Intel and Microsoft ruled (with an Iron Hand) the PC era. Google, Apple and Facebook are the leaders of the Post PC era. I have been aware of Google since it was created. I was on the Alta Vista Board of Directors when Google got started. One of my good friends was a first investor and board member of Google. My history with Apple goes back to 1981 when I had dinner with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They were both 25 years old and I was 35. Later, In 1983I became president of Franklin Computer, a company that was sued and destroyed by Apple/Steve Jobs. We both let that go after I joined Intel and I even met with him at his home once. For many years when I was at Intel, I was part of the executive committee that met with the senior staff of Microsoft quarterly. Today, my connections with Google, Apple and Facebook are not very significant or active. But that does not keep me from thinking about what is going on and what will happen.
The post that blew up my stats on Word Press
So I wrote a post that was really about how vulnerable Google is. If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you will know that I don’t think much of Google. I don’t like Facebook that much either, but am slowly gaining more respect for the company. I like how Zuckerberg is using his inflated currency (stock) to buy the companies that would end up being the next next thing. Apple amazes me. It proves that there can be life after death and I am now waiting for the third comingof Steve Jobs. Although he was not one of my favorite people, I cannot argue with his results. However, I believe that Apple has some serious challenges ahead.
For sometime I have been thinking that Google is very exposed. They make most of their money from search. While they have been trying to expanded beyond search, their efforts are mediocre at best. Frankly, I think the company is mediocre but it thinks it is not. That is dangerous. I always say the key to success in technology is 1) being lucky and 2) not mistaking your luck for being smart. Google thinks it was smart. Facebook thinks it was lucky. Apple is something else again and I can’t even articulate what that is other to say it is a cross between Italian style and German discipline which was run by a genius dictator. I am not sure about the guy that is running it now. I hope he is able to channel Steve.
So why did I write the post?
So I wrote this blog post to express my views on Google’s weakness. Yes, I might have some information about this and I might not. But for sure, much of what I wrote was just a “story,” a fantasy set in the future, and I said as much. I wanted the reader to use their imagination. I don’t think I wrote anything that was not really plausible. If you don’t think that there is any merit to what I wrote, then ask yourself “what is Apple’s strategy in Search?.” Why would Apple not go after something that plays such a fundamental role in the internet economy?
So my buddy in California, Bob Cringely, reads my blog post on Apple’s Search project (written while I was in South Africa last week) and posts about it here on his blog, which has a lot more readers than I have. Please read his post. Also the 90 or so comments are worth reading and are typical of what I have seen on many other the other sites that carried the “story”. He did not speak to me about my post. I have no issue with what he wrote. Then his post and my post go viral. The first day, I get about ten times as many hits as I would get on my best day. Then it starts slowing down so I know it is not going to become that big. But it does get picked up by lots of other internet tech blogs and some newspapers. Mostly it is just copied and pasted into someone else’s blog/site. Pretty soon, they are writing that I made a bunch of claims even though I made it pretty clear that parts or all of the story were made up. Then, I start being contacted by a few real reporters who are actually trying to do a credible job. But I guess most of them are tying to find out what I really know and who my sources are. Good luck with that!
Feedback on my post
I got a lot of comments on this post and most are thoughtful. Some agree with things I said and some disagree. That makes me happy because people are thinking. But there are a lot of comments on the other blogs. I can’t read them all because there are maybe 50 sites that have repurposed what Bob Cringley said and most of the bloggers never bothered to read what I wrote in the first place. I learned a lot through this experience.
The points I was trying to make in my post where 1) Google is very vulnerable to someone like Apple entering the search business 2) Google does a mediocre job at doing almost anything, including search, so it was not be hard for Apple to do a better job and, 3) there is always a technology breakthrough and someone out there (maybe in Israel) that will do to Google what Google did to other early search companies like Alta Vista, or Yahoo. I stand by all that.
It was also interesting to observe how polarized the commenters are. Some love Apple and some love Google. There are the people that got fixated on the name that might be the name Apple will use for Search – “Found.” For instance, iFound. And then there are the Star Wars people who refer to Found-ation.
It is interesting to me that many people that commented never bothered to read what I wrote or even do a simple search about me using Google. I had no idea that so many thousands of people would read my post and many more thousands would read the posts of people that read my post. Had I known, I would have written the same thing. But then again, this has not played all the way out.
Do a search on “avram miller” Apple and you will see many blogs about my blog. You might enjoy reading the comments.
I will revisit all this in the second half of 2015, when Apple announces Found, if they do. Just use Found to find my comments.
Yours is the best description I have EVER read about Apple: “…a cross between Italian style and German discipline which was run by a genius dictator.”
I guess the problem with internet is that everyone can easily make their opinion public and few bother putting some intelligence to it.
One thing I am still curious about….why 2015 for the launch?
I guess you will have to ask Steve Jobs that.
It’s EASY to Answer Your Question, Because Google’s Contract with Apple as Search Engine Expires in 2015.
What about Amazon? They have the skill, the horse power, and a “genius dictator” too, (just not the style). They also live and die by search, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to expand beyond their store. Imagine what A9 might be working on.
Best reading on the inter webs in ages! Thanks Avram. From one intuitive to another . . . . . RS
I really enjoyed your article – as you say, it makes you think. Just one thing – the Foundation people aren’t Star Wars fans, they are Isaac Asimov fans. Asimov wrote a series of books about a group of people initially led by one Hari Seldon, who used psychological, historical and mathematical techniques to predict the future of societies. He identified what crises his Foundation would encounter after his death and left advice in the form of video recordings behind, which were played automatically in times of crisis.
The echo with your Steve Jobs story is resounding, not least because Steve Jobs would make a very credible Hari Seldon.
Thank Victor for your comment and for your correction. I am surprised that others did not find it earlier.
They did find it earlier, Abram. They were all talking about it at Cringely’s post regarding your original story.
Also I typed your name as Avram but my damn autocorrect from the future changed your name on me and I didn’t notice until I had hit ‘post comment’.