Many years ago, I recall talking with some of my Mac-nerd friends about how strange it was, after Apple’s near-death experiences of the late 1990s, to be living in a world where it’s just assumed that any tech luminary will mostly likely use a Mac. A year or two later, Tim O’Reilly gave a name to this prognostication technique: watching the “alpha geeks.”
This trend of Mac adoption among alpha geeks was a sign of good things to come for Apple, and generally a bad sign for its competitors. Today, James Gosling’s departure from the remains of Sun brought to mind a similar trend—one that’s not so good for Apple.
These days, when a high-profile technical professional leaves his position at the company where he’s done his most important work, everyone’s first guess as to where he’ll end up is…well, do I really have to name the place? The point is, it’s not Apple.
There are many trend lines that contribute to a company’s overall trajectory, and nearly all of Apple’s are still pointing in the right direction. But the emergence of Google as a huge gravitational sink for engineering talent in the past five years has definitely put a kink in at least one those graphs.