Mobile, Scale & Winner-take-most Thinking
Great tweet by @benedictEvans, as usual:
@BenedictEvans: We have no precedent to understand ecosystem scale effects when the smaller ecosystem has 6/700m users, and at least half of the activity
This is exactly right, and I think an overwhelming theme of the times. People say “it’s playing out exactly like Mac v PC” or “it’s nothing like that”.
The truth is, like a lot of things, it’s different, but the same. It’s the same in the sense that an OS paired with a ton of different manufacturers around the world and an openish software layer has become dominant in global market share, and that the lower volume player (Apple) is perceived widely as the superior user experience. (IMHO with significant merit.)
It’s different in the sense that in the US, where many important developers live and work, it’s close to 50/50. More importantly, it’s different in that the minority ecosystem of IOS has hundreds of millions of users, and they’re all spending money.
We’re used to thinking about tech as winner takes all because the minority players are all sub scale.
With billions of users in the market, it is not clear at all that winner-takes-all or even winner-takes-most will be true at all.
It seems pretty clear to me that at this point Apple has conclusively proved that the traditional thinking no longer applies.
Microsoft & Minecraft
Sometimes 140 characters isn’t quite enough to have a nuanced back & forth.
A few minutes ago I tweeted that the more I think about it, the more I think that Microsoft buying Minecraft is an incredible, incredible (and surprising) move by Satya Nadella that is very very long range in thinking.
I got some pushback in my Twitter stream that says Microsoft doesn’t need another game franchise, has a strong Xbox line, etc etc.
But here’s the thing: Minecraft is less like Halo, and a lot more like Lego. It’s not a game, any more than Lego is just a toy. It’s cultural, and foundational.
When I talk with just about any techie maker that I know today, then can remember back to when they first started playing around with how things work, with how to make their own new things. People in my generation can remember, vividly, when they started playing D&D and how they built those worlds. How they set up their little Lego guys in all sorts of scenarios. And what computer they typed (copied, generally) their first program into. The generation after mine remembers that, but built on the web & Netscape. The newest generation can tell you about their first mobile app building experience.
So here’s the thing: the next generation of makers — 5 or 10 years down the road — they’re all building worlds in Minecraft today. Just look around. Watch what the most interesting kids around are getting obsessed about. Take a look at what they’re building, and the levels of complexity they’re grappling with before they even really can grok what they’re making.
And Microsoft buying Minecraft — and, hopefully, investing in Minecraft in a way that also lets it stay independent and vibrant — says, very clearly, that Microsoft wants to stand, again, with the makers.
Lots of reasons to be skeptical, cynical, pessimistic, or whatever. And anyone who knows me or my background knows that I’ve been very skeptical of, if not combative with, Microsoft through most of my career.
But with this move, Microsoft is saying they are with the makers — the next generation — and that’s a smart, wondrous, and optimistic start to Satya’s leadership there, seems to me.