I’m not here

I’m not here. Wherever here is these days. For me, here is as much an idea and a goal as a place. Therefore, here is not quite here for me right now. No place you can see really is. It is largely because of that you have not seen the regular updates in this place I would prefer. I’m not here.

Where am I? As David Foster Wallace used to say, I’m deep into something long. Which was his way of describing where here is for a writer who is writing a book. That is where I am. I’m deep into something long. Furthermore, I’m into something that questions the very heart of how I approach places such as this. Other places as well. Because of these questions, I’m increasingly uncertain as to what belongs where. I am even beginning to wonder if much of this belongs anywhere at all.

When I was a teenager I took a summer long creative writing course. One of the many, many lessons I learned there that stick with me today is this: For a writer, some things come out fully formed. Other things come out a sentence or a word at a time. That you may have a sentence, or even a single word, that you know is great and belongs somewhere but does not quite fit anywhere yet. Stick it aside, the instructor said. It may be days or weeks or years but you will know when it comes to you. That word might be the missing piece of a paragraph. That sentence might be the beginning of a whole book. Or, perhaps, that sentence or word belongs on the sticky note you scribbled it on and stuck aside to remind you that even not having a place is a place in itself.

I feel very much in that place. I feel like so many of those words and sentences I should have stuck aside in a special place just for me I have instead blown into the ether-wind that is Twitter, etc. and now they are in places I can’t find them. I wonder what great paragraphs they might have made or great books they might have spawned. I try to console myself with the idea that someone else’s place is a place as well and perhaps these things might do some good there. Sometimes such consolation works. Far too often not. Which is all the more reason I am not there as much as I used to be. When I am it is at odd hours and quick bursts and unsure intention. I’m just not there anymore. It does not belong to me.

This place is all mine. It even has my name on it. Yet, I’m no longer sure what this place should be for me. This place was a place for me to stick those words and sentences and paragraphs until where they fit was revealed. And now that they live on in that place, as a book, I’m not sure what this place should now contain. I’m not sure what it represents. I’m not sure what this place is and should be.

Frankly, I’m not going to figure it out right now. All I know is that I’m not here. This place is not with where I am and I’m not where this place is. It is mine. I can rip it down and rebuild it should I so choose. Certainly, some of the broader thinking I have been doing around the deep long thing will help with such choices. But I also don’t have to do anything right now. Not choosing is a choice in itself. Perhaps, like those words and sentences and paragraphs that are placeless, perhaps the place for here will be revealed. I have time.

I am deep into that long thing and the deeper I get the less I have to share elsewhere. Only one of my online sites is getting any attention, and that is only because it’s message is similarly aligned with the long thing. Yet even that alignment is still not enough for it not to feel as much a distraction from where here is for me as anywhere else. I rest in the idea that that site at least does not take my head too far out of the game and that maybe a word or sentence I put there might be part of something I just have not seen yet. Perhaps the long thing.

As for this place and most others, if you are wondering where I am, now you know. I’m not here.

Disruptive

You should know by now that I normally do not get into much “news” around here. Especially when it’s not specifically Mac news. There are a ton of great Mac news sites out there and I leave that job up to them. That said, Chairman Gruber linked to a highly fascinating Wall Street Journal Liveblog of today’s Hewlett Packard conference call today. Specifically, he called out this particular statement:

“The tablet effect is real, and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations,” Apotheker says, explaining the movement of consumers from PCs to tablets as one of the problems with the PC division. So H-P is exploring options for its unit that “may include separation through spinoff or other transactions.”

So, as it turns out, HP is getting out of the PC business because of “the tablet effect”. Whereby “tablet” he means “iPad” because, as we all know, there really is no tablet market, there is only an iPad market. So, the only tablet that could have created such an effect is the iPad.

Wait, did you catch that?

The iPad is causing such disruption in the PC business that HP, a company fundamental to the creation of the personal computer itself, is getting out of the PC business.

Wow. Just wow.

And, if you think other PC makers are not also feeling the pain of the tablet eff… oh heck, let’s just call it what it is, the iPad replacing the very idea of the affordable personal computer in the mind of the average consumer, then you are fooling yourself. I mean, Michael Dell may be laughing it up in public but I can promise you he is crapping his pants in the office and crying in the boardroom. I mean, at this point they are not even in the race that HP is giving up.

So, here is where I would like anyone who disagrees with me to feel free to mark this post and then throw it in my face if it turns out I am wrong. Got it bookmarked? Good. Consider this an open letter…

Dear Anyone Else Who Thinks They Have A Chance In The iPad Market,

You don’t. The iPad is the fire that sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Apple zigged and you guys are still trying to figure out what a zag is. It’s sad really, to see companies that were once at the top of the NASDAQ stumble around digging for pocket change in your high-end sofa cushions.

It is time to stop looking and, like HP, face a simple truth – you can’t win playing the iPad game. Because it is not the tablet game. It is the iPad game. And you can’t make those. You can’t even manage to make something as good as those, at least not at that price. Apple has the channel locked up price wise. Tim Cook saw to that. You will never be able to build at the same cost they do and produce anything even close. And let’s just skip the whole integrated end-to-end platform discussion because you guys are just not built that way.

Oh, Google, sit down and shut the eff up because I’m talking to you too. You are the company that names your beta builds after candy, ice cream, and sugared cereals. Apple names their betas after things that will eat your things along with the tasty human wrapper that eats that crap. Do you honestly think anyone can take you seriously?

Where was I?

OK, are we agreed? You are going to stop trying to make iPads right? Good. So, come a little closer, I’m going to give you a secret. You might want to sit down for this one. I’ll try to explain it simply…

Change. The. Game.

Apple did not beat you with the iPad. They beat you with the iPad market. A market they created out of the ashes of burning netbooks, low cost laptops, and PCs that no one really liked or wanted in the first place. There simply was no other option at the time available for them to buy otherwise. Apple created that option.

Just like the iPad created a whole option, and thus, new market (the one you keep calling the “tablet market”), the only way to compete is not to get into that market but to create a whole new one. One that will suck the life out of the iPad market. Something so disruptive, so mind blowing, so magical that, like the iPad, people will form lines around the block for months to get it.

Create. A. New. Option.

Make the iPad as irrelevant as the iPad seems to be doing to the consumer PC.

Huh? What? You want ME to tell you what that is? What do I look like? Fake Steve Jobs?

That’s YOUR job. That’s what you should have been doing… Oh, i don’t know… 10 years ago. Around the same time Steve was dreaming up the iPad.

Microsoft, you still have some great talent left around. Your R+D department is still one of the most respected in the industry. Do something with that. Grab a few Kinects and see what else you can do with that stuff.

Google, you just bought a bunch of patents. Why not dig around in them. Maybe there is something groundbreaking there. Also, use big people beta names for this stuff. Folks might take it more seriously.

To the rest of you, well, do something different. But, for jeepers sakes, do not keep fooling yourself that there is a tablet business or even much of a consumer PC business you have any chance of making real money in. If HP can’t, if Dell can’t, you are toast there.

To recap:

  • Stop trying to make iPads. Make markets.

Sincerely,

Patrick

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