Has Silicon Valley Lost Its Edge?

Google's open-source Android operating system for smartphones has always been thought of as the company's iPhone killer, its way of spearing Apple's Steve Jobs at his historic weak spot: his unwillingness to give up control. And indeed it is just that, although it has got a long ways to go to catch up with Apple's huge lead.

But nobody saw this coming: Two Taiwanese computer giants, Asus and Acer, introduced this week two new netbook computers running Android as their operating systems. And even more amazing, they also announced that these computers would run that operating system on cell phone-type Qualcomm processors rather than the standard Intel Atom chip, thus breaking the other great lock in the high-tech world. HP and Dell are reportedly looking at similar products.

And that's just the beginning. Google this week began previewing Wave, a new application for managing and organizing personal Internet activities that essentially makes it possible for the user to do away with both the browser and e-mail. In other words, goodbye Internet Explorer and Outlook.

So far, other than Google's Android attack, Apple Computer seems the one outfit immune to all this. But don't be too sure. From the interesting new Microsoft Zune 2.0 to the Palm Pre, the competitors are swarming, just waiting to see if Apple loses a step with Jobs' departure.

Yahoo Making a Resurgence

And we haven't even talked about a re-organized, resurgent Yahoo. And who is waiting in the wings to take on those other two long-standing locks: Amazon and eBay?

Tad's Tab: While most of us love our family members dearly, I think we can agree that humans are strange-looking creatures -- with some curious habits. Awkwardfamilyphotos.com showcases just that, the bizarre and hilarious family portraits of people like you and me, who just happen to have the camera catch us at the wrong moment.

This is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michael S. Malone is one of the nation's best-known technology writers. He has covered Silicon Valley and high-tech for more than 25 years, beginning with the San Jose Mercury News as the nation's first daily high-tech reporter. His articles and editorials have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and Fortune, and for two years he was a columnist for The New York Times. He was editor of Forbes ASAP, the world's largest-circulation business-tech magazine, at the height of the dot-com boom. Malone is the author or co-author of a dozen books, notably the best-selling "Virtual Corporation." Malone has also hosted three public television interview series, and most recently co-produced the celebrated PBS miniseries on social entrepreneurs, "The New Heroes." He has been the ABCNews.com "Silicon Insider" columnist since 2000.

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