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12 industry disaster scenarios

Andrew C. Oliver | Oct. 12, 2012
The end of the world may or may not be nigh, but in the tech industry, many of these possibilities could easily become reality

Linus Torvalds is the undisputed benevolent dictator and project manager for the Linux kernel -- and no one knows exactly what would happen if he were incapacitated for some reason. There are succession plans of a sort in the Linux world, and other prominent developers already manage large chunks of the kernel, but without Torvalds' vision and direction, it's possible that Linux development could stall or fragment, which would be bad news for everyone.

Disaster scenario No. 4: Legislation against municipal fiber is enacted

The Man is at it again. Just like the early part of the last century, when utility companies tried to prevent the public sector from bringing electricity to poor people (unfair competition) and avoided bringing it themselves (poor people can't pay), Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, and the rest are working with your state representatives to pass their "model legislation" to stop municipal fiber.

When the U.S. government brought electricity through the Rural Electrification Administration, it quickly saw unprecedented economic growth. Within a few years, most of the systems became profitable because the people who benefited from electricity became richer. With recent political change in North Carolina, even my state has now passed a law making it harder for municipal fiber to bring high-speed Internet to rural communities.

This kind of nonsense is a terrible problem for people in rural communities. Not only won't the state deliver high-speed Internet, but localities themselves are prevented from doing so. Someone needs to tell Time Warner and various state legislatures it isn't the 1930s anymore.

Disaster scenario No. 5: Oracle buys MongoDB; IBM buys Couchbase

While MongoDB isn't the only document database in town, it's certainly the best-funded and most widely deployed. Couchbase is the most obvious Pepsi to MongoDB's Coke, with a well-financed effort by open source and database veterans as it transitions from key-value to document with the impending 2.0 version.

We haven't seen too many open source IPOs recently, which means MongoDB and Couchbase are likely to get big and fat and acquired. While Couchbase, written in Java, is complementary to the suite of technology Oracle acquired with Sun, there's a reason I think Mongo would more likely go Oracle: It pays more for its open source acquisitions than IBM does.

If Oracle merely bought MongoDB, those of us who didn't want to pay Oracle rates would go to Couchbase. But yikes, what if IBM bought Couchbase around the same time? We'd be left with with the lesser-funded open source database upstarts and a lockdown of the fastest-growing and most exciting part of the industry.

Disaster scenario No. 6: Applesof

tNo, I'm not talking about the historic brand Apple used for software. I'm talking about the nightmare that would be the Apple-Microsoft merger.


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