Europe will see no new companies with the power of Apple or Facebook for some while yet, Parallels virtualisation platform founder Serguei Beloussov (pictured) has said, amid a grim outlook for the existing crop of technology giants.
Speaking at tech start-up conference Demo Europe 2013 in Moscow today, Beloussov described a "tectonic shift" in IT that will take all software and services to the cloud within three years, leaving behind those who can't adapt in time.
"It's going to take some time for [Europe] to create these companies, said Beloussov, who has also founded Acronis, Acumatica and is currently CEO of Acronis and Senior partner at Runa Capital
"And in these specific shifts at the moment, I don't see companies of Facebook or Apple scale coming out of Europe. Companies that are a rank below, like LinkedIn or Twitter, they could come out of Europe or Asia, but companies like Apple and Facebook and this kind, I don't see them coming out of Europe just yet."
While Beloussov congratulated SAP on its "resistance" to shifts over the last 20 years, he warned that start-ups should expect a rough ride.
Citing the Guttenberg Press, the transistor, mobile devices and the freemium software model as some of history's greatest innovations, Beloussov added that "innovations are not forever".
"Things you think are going to keep a competitive advantage don't forever," said Beloussov, before saying that books and newspapers will only last a few more years.
"The landline is dying a slow death; almost nobody calls them anymore. Music is all in the cloud; I remember when I started in 1990, CDs and DVDs were the coolest things on earth," added Beloussov.
"And it's only a matter of time before software disappears and becomes cloud services. We are three years away from when software boxes will completely disappear from stores."
Beloussov stated that "IT is about to change radically; everything that seemed very certain five years ago is all in flux".
As a result of this shift, Beloussov said it's unclear what fate holds for some household names.
"It's not so clear what's going to happen to Apple next," said Beloussov. "It's the greatest company still today, and most valuable in terms of usage of applications on mobile, but is challenged on all fronts.
"I'm not sure what Apple can do to continue. With Steve Jobs at the helm, you'd imagine they'd have come up with something new, but there's no Steve Jobs there.
"It's not a platform company, it's an innovation company. It never pretends to have, or keep, majority market share in any specific market."
Beloussov also criticised Microsoft, asserting that in the past five years, the company has lost "almost every battle" it fought.
"Mobile, server and tools, cloud, applications and infrastructure. It's all a challenge for them."
Beloussov said he believes only the company's "consumer segment, with Xbox" has any clear strategy at all.
Beloussov stated that, in fact, Google could be "the next Microsoft" as it moves away from search and becomes a fully-fledged cloud platform.
"For a while I was unimpressed with Google in general, but in the past several years it has come up with very important innovations such as Chrome, Android and Google Glass. [Glass] is a big innovation, and it seems to me it's going to be very important," added Beloussov.
"It's not reflected in the company stock yet, but perhaps Google is the next Microsoft."
Time to stop just talking the talk, says commercial director Dominic Harvey. More diverse companies do better
And three things they don't, writes Holly Brockwell
Holly Brockwell argues for professional mentoring as a positive choice for women in technology roles
If industry thought differently about what they want from candidates, the recruitment pool would open up, says Dr Patricia Charlton
Holly Brockwell argues that events need to offer more choice to suit different tastes and lifestyle choices