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on 4 October 2017
As a onetime technologist who seldom had time to consider the broader sweep of what was happening around me; it gave me a great perspective of how things took place in the industry that I was part of.
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VINE VOICEon 5 January 2014
This is a decent overview of some of the biggest events to happen across the digital space in the last 20 years focusing mostly on search and mobile and the three big Western players in the space. It's an interesting account and Arthur puts forward some interesting interpretations - tainted a little at the beginning by relying on Malcolm Gladwell as authoritative on personalities - applied seemingly at random through the narrative.

Well, it seems random partly because the narrative itself is quite random. Roughly chronological, it focuses on a couple of big themes (search and mobile), missed opportunities etc. It's basically a flimsy framework with some very interesting nuggets - many of which are already fairly widespread, eg in the Jobs biographies - attached, though Arthur's experience in tech journalism comes to the fore with several stories from his career lacing the narrative.

This is well-written and a good read. It does feel somewhat piecemeal and it's a shame, because this writing style along with deeper research and some further analytical thought could have made for a very good overview of digital as a whole (not focused on Microsoft, Google and Apple) over the last couple of decades. Missed opportunity.

A further annoyance is that by relying on these three companies, a lot of international development in digital has been ignored. China in the last 6 or 7 years, parallel with the development of the iPhone, has made huge leaps in digital. No mention of the massive app install base in China. No mention of the absolutely huge market as yet still properly tapped by Apple and Google (for financial and ethical reasons) and Microsoft (for copyright reasons). This book would have been worthy of an extra star for throwing a Baidu or Xiaomi into the mix instead of a throwaway comment about custom Android builds.

As a result, the book feels extremely lacking. Still, very much worth a read. Just make sure you do it on a Kindle ;)
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on 14 June 2015
The IT market generally and development of operating systems specifically adapts and changes at a very fast rate. The book correctly envisaged competitive strategies that saw the introduction of tablets and i-phones and the rise of Google and its expansion beyond being king of the search engines.
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on 16 March 2014
As a regular reader of Charles articles elsewhere, I picked up the book with a certain trepidation.

Despite being a technology editor for a national newspaper, Charles appears to have little interest in Technology in general, just a very narrow focus which, without the checks and balances of a national newspaper to restrain him, turn this book in to a mish-mash as preconceived prejudices, factual inaccuracies and cherry-picked supporting data.

Some of the arguments he puts forward are simply absurd, a particular 'highlight' is the Post-PC section.
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on 29 August 2014
Very readable history of the rise of the modern digital age and the three key players: Apple, Google and Microsoft!
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on 24 June 2012
This book was an awful read. Please save your money and don't buy it. Subject matter has been done better by others.
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on 14 July 2012
First thing you need to know is that this is written by the technology editor of the Guardian. I should have known better, because I've read enough of his substandard journalism to avoid buying this book. Generally his technical knowledge is poor... but worse than this, his bias towards certain companies of the technology fruit variety is well known by all regular readers over at the Guardian website. He's well known for both persistent bias and a poor grasp of technical facts. Sadly this follows him into this book. Save your money, look elsewhere for better material.
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on 25 July 2013
I think the author Charles Arthur is one of the biggest ignorants in IT and always wants to speak up about technology trying to sing out of the chorus but in a way that I consider not exactly witty! He misunderstand how the world goes and has no idea of what technology is. This book is a bunch of words glue together.
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on 27 April 2012
I read Charles Arthur's column in the Guardian from time to time so I was interested to see his take on the competition between these three behemoths. It is also nice to see some attention given to Microsoft at a time when most other tech observers are so caught up with Apple, Google, Facebook and the startup story du jour.

I worked at Microsoft during some of the years that Arthur covers, and I was close enough to the events and the people to know that the detail is mostly accurate. Like any story, the truth is quite a bit more complex than he could convey in a book of this nature, but I think the overall impressions taken away by readers will be correct.

Despite covering a lot of ground, the book reads quite easily. And I appreciated that Arthur focused on telling the story rather than indulging in too much speculation and theorizing of his own. He lets the events speak for themselves. At a very high level the book seems to take the position that Apple has won, Microsoft has lost, and Google is somewhere in between. Of course, this is a point in time thing and the outcomes might look different a decade from now.

My criticisms of the book are that Arthur doesn't have the depth of insight about Apple and Google that he has about Microsoft. I have the impression that his Microsoft sources were quite a lot better. And I kept wishing that Facebook was also in the picture.

The book is a very worthwhile read for people interested in this industry. The Microsoft detail is solid, the comparisons between the three companies are interesting, and it is an entertaining read.
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on 11 April 2013
This is an engrossing account of the rise of Google, the reinvention of Apple and how Microsoft's own internal culture has consistently tied its shoelaces together. As much as a book about technology it's a book that details how the very different corporate cultures at work within these organisations and their constantly shifting alliances have shaped (and continue to shape) their products and our technological landscape. (Also: it made me appreciate just how bloody amazing the technology behind a search engine is.) Highly recommended.
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