for U.S. companies to turn to Japanese partners with consumer electronics marketing and component manufacturing capabilities.36

If the battlefield in the 1990s is density memories and sophisticated software, where will microprocessors fit? To be sure, the performance of microprocessors is advancing, largely as competitors pursue the RISC-design technology. Furthermore, added power is needed to run increasingly powerful applications. Yet at the same time, more and more software is being written to run independently of any particular microprocessor. This trend, if it continues, will allow any computer maker to choose any cheap microprocessor, as long as it has the horsepower to run the intended applications. Furthermore, as microprocessors enter an era of commodity pricing, a severe challenge could be posed to the profitability and future of microprocessor vendors that have relied on proprietary architectures to maintain market share. Thus, the personal computer and semiconductor industries have entered a crucial period of alignments and realignments based on global alliances. What emerges from the crucible of alliance-bloc competition will be fascinating to observe. Certainly both the processes and the outcome will shape the structure and dynamics of the personal computer and semiconductor industries (just as RISC alliances will shape the structure and dynamics of the workstation industry).

36  

Bob Johnstone. "Future at Hand." Far Eastern Economic Review, April 30, 1992, p. 74.



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