You’ve gotta love Haskell.
As the programming language’s website describes it:
Haskell is an advanced purely-functional programming language. An open-source product of more than twenty years of cutting-edge research, it allows rapid development of robust, concise, correct software. With strong support for integration with other languages, built-in concurrency and parallelism, debuggers, profilers, rich libraries and an active community, Haskell makes it easier to produce flexible, maintainable, high-quality software.
Many of my friends consider Haskell to be cool, compelling and the future of software development. But is anyone running it? Take a look at the Web comic XKCD for Jan. 3, 2014.
Being cool and compelling is not enough to necessarily ensure success, whether it’s in the overheated market for Android tablets, or for cloud hosting providers, or for source-code management systems, even in open-source projects like Haskell.
Hundreds or thousands of new products will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Conference, running Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas. Next week, I’ll report back on some of the most interesting ones. You won’t see news coming out of the Haskell team, but we can expect to see a lot of home audio (Bang & Olufsen have a huge presence), wearable computing (news is coming about the Pebble), automotive telematics (General Motors has new toys), flat-screen TVs (Sony, LG and Samsung), 3D printing (MakerBot and friends) and, well, Android tablets.
One tablet announced before CES is the DreamTab from DreamWorks Animation. That’s right: the studio that makes animated television shows and movies, generally for kids. According to the New York Times:
The tablets will be sold with a range of DreamWorks-branded accessories, including headphones, protective bumpers and carrying cases. An eight-inch version of the DreamTab will arrive in stores in the spring. Pricing is still being determined but it will be under US$300, a Fuhu spokesman said. A 12-inch version is also planned.
From the developer perspective, the question is: Is there an opportunity? In kids’ mode, apparently not, but the report implies there may be one for grownups: “Switched into parent mode, it provides roughly the same computing power as an iPad, the companies said.” Computing power… but your favorite apps, available from any Android app store?
I think that the DreamTab is going to be a very high-walled garden—and because of that, not a market success. Do you really want to run software that comes only from DreamWorks or its preferred vendors? Yet, as Android continues to become more fractured and splintered, high-walled gardens of this sort are the wave of the future.
And speaking of future waves, a new book due out should prove fascinating. “Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation,” from Accenture’s Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, promises to help us figure out why some innovations catch hold, and others do not. (Haskell?)
In an excerpt published in Wired, called “The Faster a New Technology Takes Off, the Harder It Falls,” the authors write that early success my not be an indicator of longevity, because saturation may kill it:
Markets take off suddenly, or they don’t take off at all. Since adoption is increasingly all-at-once or never, saturation is reached much sooner in the life of a successful new product. So even those who launch these “Big Bang Disruptors”—new products and services that enter the market better and cheaper than established products seemingly overnight—need to prepare to scale down just as quickly as they scaled up, ready with their next disruptor (or to exit the market and take their assets to another industry).
Sometimes, the move toward success seems inevitable: We can all tell that 3D printers, Android tablets, big-screen televisions, wearables and cloud computing are here to stay. That’s easy. Picking the winners and losers, though, that’s hard, as first-mover advantages come to mean less and less.
Make your call on the biggest winners and losers of 2014: Write me at email@example.com.
Alan Zeichick, founding editor of SD Times, is principal analyst of Camden Associates.