May 5, 2023

Next Big Thing

Let’s start with a Steve Jobs quote that I found in Richard Rumelt’s excellent book, Good Strategy Bad Strategy:

In the summer of 1998, I got an opportunity to talk with Jobs again. I said, “Steve, this turnaround at Apple has been impressive. But everything we know about the PC business says that Apple cannot really push beyond a small niche position. The network effects are just too strong to upset the Wintel standard. So what are you trying to do in the longer term? What is the strategy?” He did not attack my argument. He didn’t agree with it, either. He just smiled and said, “I am going to wait for the next big thing.”

It seems like just about every day for the past month, a new AI service has crossed my radar.

For the most part, these apps all show obvious signs of being rushed to market, and yet...

They’re shockingly useful, despite being barely better than beta-quality releases.

So useful, in fact, that I’m paying hundreds of bucks a month just to play with a bunch of apps that probably didn’t exist a month ago to try to get my head around the possibilities that they unlock.

I’ll talk more about the specifics in future emails if you’re interested, but the thought for today is about how it feels.

Here’s the thing...

Blockchain, crypto, web3, VR, AR, wearables, etc were all super hyped and, in fairness, reasonably interesting to a tech geek like me.

But... none of these hypecycle buzzwords ever felt to me like they were anywhere near the cultural significance of mobile.

Until ChatGPT.

Bottom line?

AI in 2023 feels like mobile did in 2009.

Which is to say...

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if in five years we can’t remember what it was like in the “before times.”

Everything’s going to change.

Maybe a lot,

maybe a little,

maybe for the better,

maybe for the worse.

But one thing’s for sure...

Steve’s “next big thing” is here.