THE WORLD IS BEING EATEN BY SOFTWARE

THE WORLD IS BEING EATEN BY SOFTWARE

Around seven years ago Marc Andreessen penned an essay, published in the Wall Street Journal, defending the valuations of many Silicon Valley companies. He famously said, as he discussed the permanent transformation wrought by companies such as WhatsApp and Uber, that ‘Software is eating the world’.

Unless you live in the ‘nerdosphere’ (like some of us at SMC) you may not know who Marc Andreessen is. He’s now well known for being one of the founders of Silicon Valley investment giants Andreessen Horowitz, but many, many years ago (in fact 25 years ago – the same year SMC was founded) he was the author of the internet’s first popular browser – Mosaic. Before this time, one had to use a text-only menu system to navigate the nascent internet. Mosaic was the first browser to let images appear in line with text (not in a separate window). This made the internet usable – and useful and exciting – for regular humans. He went on to found Netscape – a hugely successful company in the early years of the web.

Mosaic

In his article, Andreessen said

‘Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.’

What he meant was ‘Anything you can imagine? You can do that now.’ We’ve seen that of course with Fifa 19, Fortnite or Facebook.

The internet is now ubiquitous. Everywhere. All the time. Mobile. Personal. Scalable. Shareable.

Look at the transformations that have occurred:

  • Kodak? Photos on your phone, synchronised everywhere
  • Blockbuster? Netflix
  • Borders? Amazon
  • Tower Records? Spotify
  • Woolworths? Amazon

Andreessen went on to call out and predict some of these changes, including an explanation of how the transformation, and apparent simplification for users, results in a world that can be difficult to understand, hard to do without and impossible to maintain:

‘Software is also eating much of the value chain of industries that are widely viewed as primarily existing in the physical world. In today’s cars, software runs the engines, controls safety features, entertains passengers, guides drivers to destinations and connects each car to mobile, satellite and GPS networks. The days when a car aficionado could repair his or her own car are long past, due primarily to the high software content. The trend toward hybrid and electric vehicles will only accelerate the software shift — electric cars are completely computer controlled. And the creation of software-powered driverless cars is already under way at Google and the major car companies.’

On the plus side, much of this amazing functionality is now available for free. Starva, Citymapper and Babylon are terrific examples.

But there’s a downside

 

This software runs in the cloud. Not in your kitchen. Not in your hand. You need the internet to work. Absolutely reliably all the time.

SMC can help with that. We’ve installed 1Gb and 10Gb connections this year. If you’re pleased with your BT Fibre connection, these are dozens of times faster, which makes a huge difference when streaming high-resolution video to multiple TVs, and even using wireless devices in the home.

We also manage home WiFi with industrial-strength technology so it works well when you have loads of guests at your Christmas party and everyone is using Sonos at the same time – or when you just want to cut off the kids internet at bedtime.

We install a redundant connection so key systems work even if there is a problem with the wider network, and we provide 24/7 support, both remotely and in person.

So if the software that has eaten your world is important to you, it might be a good time to give us a call.

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