Remember John Dvorak? John C. Dvorak. Yes, that Dvorak. The Dvorak who dissed the original Mac and mouse. The Dvorak who said Apple should get rid of the iPhone even before iPhone shipped. That Dvorak.
That John C. Dvorak is at it again but this time with a consideration that has legs; a perspective that makes sense if you take the time to peer through the weeds and digital noise you find on most technology rags. Software is still 1999.
Apps Slow, Hardware Fast
For the past decade or so I’ve railed against the disparity between the software most of us use, and the hardware we use it on. Hardware is faster than ever. But we still use software that has roots back in 1999; software that does not and cannot take advantage of all that hardware power.
Wait. I know what you’re thinking. Photoshop. Final Cut Pro. What about all those so-called professional applications that MacBook Pro and iMac Pro and Mac Pro users scream about using and not getting enough horsepower from Apple.
So-called professional app users are a loud and vocal minority of the computer for the rest of us.
In the early days of the personal computer revolution, everything was disruptive. Relatively affordable microcomputers appeared, and everyone knew they’d eventually supplant the minicomputer, which itself had largely supplanted the mainframe.
Translation: John C. Dvorak is old. But his perspective is accurate.
What about software? Applications?
Are we stuck with Microsoft Word until the end of eternity? Modern word-processing software did disrupt the scene dominated by dedicated word processors like the Wang 1200 WPS and other devices.
Dvorak goes on to explain that Google apps– Drive, Sheets, Docs, and others– are worse than Word or Excel.
In other words, today’s applications, though they number in the millions, are not much better at productivity than major apps from the 1990s. Nothing has disrupted software other than 1) lower prices, 2) easier access in app stores, 3) easier updates. Is Pages or Word easier to use than WordStar or WordPerfect or Word from back in the day?
The more I look over the scene the more I’m reminded of Xerox PARC. This operation was notorious for developing things that should have evolved into something disruptive and needed by the market.
Remember, inspiration from the Mac came from Xerox PARC. The LaserWriter, too. But that was decades ago and we haven’t seen many changes to major applications other than moving from keyboard-centric to point and click (which, by the way, is going backwards in productivity and efficiency).
Maybe there are disruptive packages out there and I just don’t know about them… when do Microsoft Word and PowerPoint get disrupted and disappear? I see nothing on the horizon that can seriously wipe out Word, nothing.
What will wipe out applications on the iPhone? Siri and artificial intelligence? It doesn’t look like it. Apple Glasses? Don’t hold your breath. We are a long way from having iPhone capability in a pair of glasses.
My advice is to get proficient at Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You won’t regret it. Maybe this advice will change in a decade, but from the looks of things, I doubt it.
Simply put, master the major apps on whatever platform you choose because it’s likely they’ll be around awhile. Why? Many, many iPhone customers still have trouble with features in Messages, Camera, Safari, and basic applications that we take for granted. Maybe disruptive software is a thing of the past and everything coming from the future is merely an iteration of applications that we know and use today.