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But Microsoft was busy at work as well, and in November , Bill Gates released The Road Ahead , a book describing a future profoundly changed by the emerging global information superhighway, or, as we more commonly call it today, the Internet! Bill Gates worked throughout the year with distinguished coauthors Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson on this book.

For brevity, we will refer only to Bill, but do not doubt that the contributions of Nathan and Peter also helped make this book the classic it is today. He predicted that all manner of human activity would take place online, and that we would have broader choices in deciding who our friends were and how we spent our time with them. He imagined stolen devices directing us to their location, and he envisioned the ability to ask any question and get an answer straight away.

One of the errors made in The Road Ahead was the prediction that Moore's Law would hold for another 20 years, and that by the year computing would be more than 10, times faster. This did not occur; although, beginning in , it held true for about 17 years. To increase computing capacity, it is necessary to fit more transistors onto the microchip.

In recent years it has become much harder to manufacture smaller transistors efficiently. The equipment needed to produce them is prohibitively expensive , which is why there are only a few surviving chipmakers today. Bill Gates learned some valuable lessons from mistakes that both Microsoft and its competitors had made. Bill believed a company achieving good write-ups was likely to attract many other good things, such as bigger investments in the company and top talent wanting to come work for them.

Conversely, whenever a negative atmosphere takes hold, it becomes harder to keep hold of the most talented employees, and the press are likely to keep writing negative stories. Bill noted a few stories of competitor failures, most notably IBM who were massively successful in the s but had underestimated the business value of the operating system market in the s. But IBM agreed to a low-cost licensing deal that left Microsoft free to use them like a springboard for selling their operating system to other computer companies. They also hedged their bets by offering two high-priced operating system alternatives, and lacked the focus that smaller companies had, meaning it was harder to innovate as quickly.

Bill said IBM did not expect their PC would cannibalize their business systems, making the mistake of holding back on PC innovations in order to protect their higher-end products. Xerox also took criticism from Bill, who faulted them for failing to take commercial advantage of their groundbreaking research in graphical user interfaces. Microsoft was not shy about borrowing ideas from Xerox or to some extent Apple Computers and made a fortune from Microsoft Windows. The key lesson Bill wanted us to learn here was to avoid complacency.

Bill imagined the Internet would end the era of needing to watch your favorite TV show at a specific time and day each week.

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The s gave us the videocassette recorder, which provided some flexibility, and Bill envisaged a world where the Internet largely surpassed this technology. He predicted televisions would be connected to the Internet. He suspected that they would not look like a computer and not have a keyboard, but would have electronics inside or on top of the television somewhat like those of a PC. VHS would be replaced by discs similar to CDs, and he said those would then be replaced by online video on demand.

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Bill predicted that almost every home in the United States would have a computer connected to the Internet. He also anticipated pocket-size computers with color screens and significant changes in attitudes to the technology. He also correctly predicted digital money, the ability to easily pay for goods using it, use of biometric technology for better security, and the ability to have directions read out to you as you drive your car.

Printed passports are still the norm for us today, and significant security challenges must be surmounted before any computing device can be considered a safer option. More advanced still is the ability to have conversations with your computer. Although Bill was optimistic in predicting computers that would be able to decipher arbitrary sentences by , his vision is certainly accurate over the longer term.

A further optimistic prediction was that computers would have the ability to answer complex queries, for example:. Additionally, there is a propensity for consumers to consume this content on TVs, laptops, and tablets, devices where Apple has a less commanding presence. Original content will be very important in this business as people want access to diverse programming, and so the company with the bigger catalog will see the most profits.

In considering the structure of the industry, it is our opinion that for Apple to be a major player in the digital streaming industry they would either have to buy out the competition later, or declare war on incumbents now.

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  • All the options presented require a massive outlays of capital, which they currently have, but appear reluctant to spend. Amazon is in too many unrelated business for it to be a great fit and is also worth almost trillion, and the others are either too small or part of a larger company with many different business units and complexities. Declaring war on current incumbents is the most viable strategy, but we believe that Apple is not prepared to do any of that, after all their primary expertise is in hardware and to some extent software for their own eco system. In our view, Apple is in a position to make an impact on their bottom line through mobile payments, however, it will take a few years for this to play out.

    Apple's install base of around 1. First, Apple Pay is a recent addition to the company's platform and so only a small proportion of the install base are capable of using the technology. On the other hand, if they are able to maintain the device count, they will eventually be in an enviable position to leverage the growth in payments. There are many competitors in this space Google, Samsung, Amazon, Square, Alipay Tencent but none of the competitors except maybe Samsung is in a stronger position than Apple.

    It is also difficult to compete against Apple when they control the entire eco system and have a trusted brand. When all is said and done, Apple will likely face challenges in the near term as the number of profitable growth opportunities for a company its size is small. Left in the house are his beautiful, languorous, and withdrawn wife, Katharina, and their fair-haired, inquisitive twelve-year-old son, Peter. Her bedroom smells of ripe apples and dead mice, and contains a portrait of Hitler.

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    Life in this little universe stumbles on. An aged schoolmaster, Dr. Wagner, sweet-natured and a bit of a bore, comes every day to tutor young Peter.

    The Beginning of the Information Age

    Bitter, full of petit-bourgeois resentment and genuine grief his son died fighting in Poland , Drygalski is suspicious of the entitled and aloof Globig clan, and has been watching them for years. The Globigs, in turn, laugh at him, as a jumped-up local tyrant. A dark finale is building, barometrically. A series of unexpected visitors jolt the Georgenhof world; they are harbingers of a general exodus that will eventually include the Globigs.

    A political economist and avid stamp collector is on his way to Mitkau, and takes shelter for the night. He asks his hosts if they saw the fires burning last night. He also steals a stamp. Kempowski gives us a hundred pages of this steady pressure-building—delicately achieved, with a constantly flickering humor—until the barometer breaks.

    The Road Ahead by Bill Gates

    The event that bundles the Globig family out of their house and into the general German experience is precipitated by Pastor Brahms. He asks Katharina if she will house, for a single night, a political refugee, a man on the run. Katharina, elegant, passive, drifting through an unhappy marriage, is far from heroic.

    The refugee, Erwin Hirsch, is a Jew from Berlin, and has been hiding from his persecutors for four years. Katharina tells no one else in the house; Hirsch spends the night, and most of the next day, safely ensconced inside the refuge. Kempowski treats the encounter with an almost uncanny neutrality. At one moment, she and Hirsch look at a map to see how close the Russians are:. What kept the Red Army from striking a blow? They bent over a map, and realized that the Red Army was less than a hundred kilometres away, ready for the final leap.

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    So what? Anyone can say that, and we have enough Jews of our own. Two people bend over the map, each with different anxieties, but who is thinking these thoughts about the Russians? Hirsch, Katharina, Kempowski, or all three? But here the questions appear to be voiced by a chorus. The effect is a kind of uncertain omniscience, which allows the novelist not only to move easily among his characters but to blend their thoughts, when need be, into a collective anxiety.

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    Katharina gambles—for the sake of excitement, really—and loses. Hirsch is later picked up by the authorities, and incriminates her. The police arrive; Drygalski gets to stomp around the Georgenhof, the fine old house having confirmed all his blackest suspicions. And Katharina, beautiful and blank, is taken off to prison.