a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: So Where Are We on the ‘S-curve’ for PC Devices?

Benedict Evans and Steven Sinofsky

Posted October 29, 2016

There have been a number of new device announcements this past month — from Google’s new Pixel phone (the first time they made their own phone on the hardware side as well) to more recently, Apple’s announcements around a new Macbook Pro and innovations in touch (including a Touchbar that replaces function keys and bringing TouchID to Macs); and then Microsoft, which among other things announced a new Surface Studio — an all-in-one touchscreen desktop PC. How do these change the future of work?

Turns out, even seemingly small interface improvements could have significant consequences for user behavior. Just look at touch. More broadly, though, what happens when a software maker becomes a hardware maker? Or when we’re in the middle of an architecture shift, as we are right now with x86 to ARM processors in mobile (and beyond)?

It’s all about where you’re at on the “S-curve” of innovation (a concept first coined by Gabriel Tarde and expanded on Everett Rogers in his theory of innovation diffusion). And sometimes, the best is the last… But how can we tell where something is on that curve? The right comparisons matter here, and a16z’s Benedict Evans and board partner Steven Sinofsky try to make them in this episode of the podcast!