The PC market sees decade-high growth, Dropbox to go permanently remote, Twitter and Facebook spark new election controversy and much more

10/15/2020 - Jin Woo

Published every Thursday, The Blue Print recaps the industry’s most intriguing news, unexpected shifts and developing trends that are defining the business and technology landscape.

CNBC: The U.S. PC market just had its best quarter in 10 years, Gartner says
PC makers shipped 71.4 million PCs in the quarter ending in September, a 3.6% increase from the same period last year, according to an estimate from technology research company Gartner. 16.5 million PCs were shipped to the U.S., an 11.4% increase over the same period last year. That’s the fastest U.S. PC growth rate in a decade, according to Gartner. The PC market has been declining on and off for the past decade as smartphones became dominant in many markets and businesses wait for new versions of Microsoft Windows before upgrading. But this quarter, worldwide consumer demand for new PCs was the highest it’s been in five years, as the global coronavirus pandemic and concurrent lockdowns drove demand for home entertainment and remote schooling.

Why It Matters: The pandemic has led to the first spike for computers not seen in years due to the combination of remote workers and distance learning for students. Meanwhile there’s now a shortage, which is being hardest felt among students. What’s more troubling is that it shouldn’t have taken a pandemic for the United States to realize we need to give students laptops and internet, which is critical to reverse the trend of our falling rank as it relates to education and innovation.

Tags: PC, laptops, remote workers, schools, students

Forbes: 10 Insights From Microsoft’s Latest IoT Signals Report
One in three enterprises is increasing their investments in IoT as a result of Covid-19.
79% of enterprises adopting IoT see AI as either a core or a secondary component of their strategy. 97% have security concerns when adopting IoT, with network-level security being most important (43%), followed by device track & management and endpoint security (both 38%). Businesses adopting IoT believe they’ll see a 30% ROI on their IoT projects. These and many other insights are from Microsoft’s IoT Signals Report, Edition 2, published on October 2nd. IoT Signals is published annually to provide Microsoft partners, customers and business leaders the insights and market intelligence they need to develop and launch IoT strategies.

Why It Matters: More companies are shifting from learning and evaluation to implementation stage especially in retail, energy and manufacturing. 63 percent of enterprises expect 3 year payback, according to Gartner. As AI matures and 5G continues to be rolled out, IoT will continue to help businesses innovate, differentiate and improve efficiency.

Tags: IoT, pandemic, COVID-19, security, Microsoft, energy and manufacturing, AI, 5g

Protocol: Google will give up direct control of the Knative open-source project
Google and its partners on Knative, a key cloud open-source project controlled by Google until very recently, plan to announce sweeping changes to the project’s governance structure on Thursday, Protocol has learned. The new changes are part of many twists and turns in Google’s enterprise open-source strategy over the past year, which have angered and confused some of its partners. This time, Google is relinquishing direct control of a popular open-source project: Later this year Knative will implement a steering committee structure in which no single vendor can hold more than two seats on a five-seat committee, according to a blog post released late Thursday, after this report was published. Individuals will now hold seats on the Knative steering committee rather than vendors, and elections will be held later this year to select two new members. The committee, which sets the overall direction for the project, could expand to as many as seven members in the future to include representatives from the end-user community.

Why It Matters: Knative focuses on enabling the building and deployment of container-based serverless applications that can be transported between cloud providers. Serverless application projects haven’t taken off as fast as other areas of cloud-native computing projects in the enterprise but are starting to gain some momentum. Google will give up control of Knative Project rather than taking the approach it took with Istio service mesh project which was met with much criticism. The Knative Trademark Committee will include members from Google, IBM/Redhat and VMware.

Tags: Google, Knative, Open Usage Commons, open source, Istio

Business Insider: Dropbox will let all employees work from home permanently as it turns its offices into WeWork-like ‘collaborative spaces’
Dropbox is going remote — permanently. The cloud-storage company announced Tuesday it would allow all employees to work from home going forward. The shift comes after an internal survey found nearly 90% of Dropbox workers said they were more productive at home. “Starting today, Dropbox is becoming a Virtual First company,” the company said in a blog post. “Remote work (outside an office) will be the primary experience for all employees and the day-to-day default for individual work.”

Why It Matters: Gartner released new data this week that shows when employees have more choice and flexibility around where and when to work, they are higher performers. There are still questions around long term impact around culture, collaboration and skills growth. This could also signal a win for the restaurants, especially in places like San Francisco, that were losing talented chefs and cooks to tech companies that were providing better schedules, health benefits, 401k and other benefits, but a loss for chefs and cooks who will lose those benefits.

Tags: Dropbox, productivity, work from home

WSJ: Facebook, Twitter Limit Sharing of New York Post Articles That Biden Disputes
Facebook and Twitter took the unusual step of limiting the sharing of New York Post articles that made new allegations about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that the Biden campaign denied. The Post said its reports were based on email exchanges with Hunter Biden—Joe Biden’s son—that were provided by allies of President Trump, who in turn said they received them from a computer-repair person who found them on a laptop. Twitter on Wednesday blocked users from posting links to the articles, initially citing a potential violation of its rules regarding hacked materials. The company later said the articles also violated its policies on displaying private information like email addresses and phone numbers without a person’s permission. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said the company’s failure to give context around its actions was “unacceptable.”

Why it matters: The role of social media platforms in amplifying political information (and disinformation) that could potentially sway voters has been controversial. In this case, Twitter and Facebook took the unusual step of swiftly limiting circulation of a political story, Twitter going so far as to lock the official Trump campaign account for sharing it. On the one hand, there are numerous red flags that put the veracity of the story into serious question; on the other, the moves by Facebook and Twitter continue to raise questions about the role of social giants in operating neutral platforms. The CEOs of both companies will likely testify on the matter to the Senate Commerce Committee in a (previously arranged) hearing in two weeks.