Dvorak: Ten Bright Ideas for the Computer Industry

When you follow the computer scene the way I do, you begin to develop a list of complaints and ideas for fixing them. Here's my latest Top Ten list.

1. Sun-Apple Merger

This has been under discussion since 1985 or so, with no action taken.

I have personally never seen two companies that suit each other to a T as these two do. It would round out the line of machines perfectly and put Sun out of its misery.

At one point in the late 1990s, Sun would have been the big dog in the deal, putting Apple out of its misery. Now it is the other way around.

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2. Microsoft Split

As anyone who has read my columns over the years knows, I'm a big promoter of a Microsoft split. Whether it is into two, three, or four entities, I do not care.

All I know is that the Microsoft shareholders and the company itself would benefit from a breakup. Only the egos of the executives keep it from happening.

3. Unification of Linux

More than anything else, the industry needs a unification of the Linux operating system, with one purveyor that can control the details of the operating system in such a way that you do not have all these confusing distros.

The current flavor of the day is Ubuntu. In a year or two, it'll be another distro.

Years ago there were good reasons for this internecine battling — a form of tribalism — but they are no longer valid.

Linus Torvalds could make this happen overnight.

4. Motherboard Standardization

Why do we need so many motherboard variations? How many different x86 boards do we need in the world?

I know there are rationalizations for this, since every new glue chip that hits the market improves things a little. But this is a bigger mess than Linux distros.

5. Make Dead Products Public Domain

It's ridiculous how much superb computer code and how many cool products and inventions get shelved and die.

Sometimes one company buys another and then decides to stop marketing the acquired product because it is not making enough money. Users are left in the lurch.

There should be a proviso in the copyright and patent laws about abandoned properties. They should become public domain. I've been harping on this for years.

6. AMD-Intel Merger

I'm sick of watching these two companies bicker. Enough said.

7. Universal Ink Cartridges

Why does a single printer company have a line of, say, 30 different printers that use 20 different kinds of ink cartridges? I could as easily complain about the price of ink (another peeve of mine), but that said, what is the point of all these different cartridges?

What's weird about it is that every company in the world constantly moans and groans about having too many SKUs. Meanwhile, this situation continues unabated.

We're not talking about unique cartridge mechanisms here; they're mostly just little tanks filled with ink.

8. Standard Cell Batteries

Digital cameras should use standard cells so people could buy batteries in situations where they cannot recharge. This change would also get camera manufacturers back into the business of making cameras rather than making weird, overpriced proprietary batteries for profit.

Companies have to figure out if they are in the camera business or the battery business.

9. Stop Outsourcing Everything

This issue has died down in the news lately, but the problem is worse than ever.

Intel is dropping $2.5 billion into a fabrication plant in China. Money is flowing into India in much the same way — by the billions. What about building a fab in Macon, Georgia, instead?

And, yes, I understand all the bogus arguments from the outsourcing perspective. "Bogus" is the operative word.

10. Get Rid of DRM

There is more money being lost in digital-rights-management schemes than any savings from thwarting piracy.

I'm not convinced that piracy prevention is necessarily that good an idea when the evidence continues to indicate that a more open market for file-sharing results in increased sales. But everyone in Hollywood sees that seeming contradiction as a mere coincidence.

Honestly, I could pull together similar lists of complaints week after week. This is it — for now.

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