What it is: Windows is the dominant operating system for desktop PCs, but is no longer the dominant operating system for all types of computers that includes mobile and wearables.
At one time, the only way to do anything from browse the Internet to send e-mail was to get a PC. That meant getting and learning to use Windows. Through the 90’s and early 2000’s, almost everyone had to get a Windows PC to use a computer. Then something changed.
Apple introduced the iPhone and introduced the idea of a smartphone with a computer in your pocket. Now instead of relying on PCs to do everything, you could rely on a smartphone to do common tasks. With less of a need to use a Windows PC, there was less of a need to buy more Windows PCs.
At one time, publishers used to print books teaching people how to use their KayPro 4 or Osborne I computer. That’s because computers were so different that each one meant learning new skills to use them.
When Microsoft introduced MS-DOS and the world of IBM PC clones appeared, publishers started printing books on how to use MS-DOS and then Windows. Learning to use a specific computer wasn’t as important as learning how to use an operating system. If you wanted to use a Windows PC, you had to learn how to use Windows.
Nowadays, operating systems are no longer as important since most tasks can be done through a browser. Google’s ChromeOS led the way towards a browser-based computer and even Microsoft is migrating Microsoft Office towards the cloud with their Office 365 subscription service.
According to CNN Money, Microsoft’s latest quarterly results show a healthy increase in profits from every division except for Windows. “Sales of Windows tanked last quarter, falling 19% for business customers and a stunning 26% for consumers, over the same period last year.”
With Windows 8 tanking in the market and Windows 10 coming, Microsoft is depending less on Windows for revenue and more on their other services. With Microsoft promising to give Windows 10 away for free to consumers (but still charging businesses to use Windows 10), the Windows era is over.
When the world changes, you can bet some companies will get hurt while others will thrive. The goal is to see this change and take advantage of it without getting run over in the process.
With Windows becoming less important for consumers, first hit will be authors dependent on Windows books geared for consumers. With fewer consumers needing Windows, fewer consumers will need books on how to use Windows for consumers. That means both authors and publishers will no longer see Windows book sales earning as much profits as they did in the past.
With Windows no longer as important in the consumer market, software publishers who sell Windows-only programs will be next to suffer. Many people play casual games on smartphones and tablets, and the business software market has long consolidated around Microsoft Office and similar programs so there’s no room for growth in creating another word processor.
Specialized software for real estate agents, dentists, and accountants may still be able to survive on Windows alone, but general purpose consumer programs will not. If you want to see the next growth market for software, just look at popular Windows-only programs and create similar versions for OS X, iOS, and Android. The market for consumer software has shifted from Windows to alternatives as well.
The slow demise of Windows PCs has long ago brought stores like Circuit City and CompUSA to its knees because people no longer need PC-related accessories and software. That means nobody needs retail stores that specialize in PC-related accessories and software.
That also means manufacturers of PC-related hardware are also suffering. AMD is already in a slow death spiral from competing against Intel and fighting the downward trend of the PC market in general.
Knowing what’s going to fail isn’t as profitable as knowing what will succeed. Mobile and wearable computers are the new growth market so follow this trend. Notice how many companies sell iPhone and iPad cases? Notice how many developers hope to strike it rich writing iOS and Android apps? Notice how companies like Uber could never have existed without the abundance of smartphones in everyone’s hand?
Any developer should focus on mobile as fast as possible. In the old days, developing software for Windows was a sure route to success. Today, that sure route to success involves developing for iOS.
Smartphones, tablets,and wearables are easy enough to use that you no longer need to read 300 page manuals like you had to do in the Windows era. That means authors and publishers need to focus less on the software (and operating system) and more on either programming tools or interesting ways to use mobile and wearable devices for everyday use.
Books no longer need to explain how to use software. Instead, books need to explain how to do something useful with your mobile and wearable devices, and that means instead of thinking of 300 page books, authors should be thinking of alternate ways to deliver information to users through YouTube videos, apps, or e-books.
The world is changing and that means old ways of making money will die while new ways of making money will sprout up seemingly out of nowhere. By keeping your eyes on the trends, you can see the future before anyone else.