FroYo, yum yum!

The over-the-air update for Android 2.2, aka FroYo, landed on my Nexus One this morning.

The WiFi hotspot feature works perfectly when tested with my ThinkPad X61 running Linux.

I am liberated. No more per-diem WiFi charges in hotels. No more cursing as I discover that the airport hotspots are all pay-for-play. Internet on my laptop in the shotgun seat of the car!

This feature will be a must for road warriors everywhere. And the iPhone 4 doesn’t have it. The screams of denial from the Apple fanboys as that absence costs Apple another hunk of market share that it will never get back should be most entertaining.

UPDATE: Have verified that USB tethering just works, too. Plug it in and go!

231 thoughts on “FroYo, yum yum!

  1. While yes, the iPhone doesn’t provide a wifi hotspot, it does provide a bluetooth modem, so your e.g. Linux laptop could still connect to the Internet via an iPhone4, thus fulfilling your other desires (no more per-diem charges, etc.).

    So is this really as much of a “iPhone doesn’t support this wonderful feature” as you make it out to be? For most use cases, I suspect the iPhone functionalit will be adequate.

  2. The big selling point for me on Froyo is their JiT Compiler. It really makes dramatic differences in speed.

  3. > While yes, the iPhone doesn’t provide a wifi hotspot, it does provide a bluetooth modem, so your e.g. Linux laptop could still connect to the Internet via an iPhone4, thus fulfilling your other desires (no more per-diem charges, etc.).

    Slower and lower strength. Also, from what I’ve seen, AT&T doesn’t like it.

  4. That’s *almost* good enough to make me want one. If I were to carry a smartphone again, it would definitely be Android based. However, I’m seriously loving not having so much connectivity every time I walk out the door. Carrying a plain old dumbphone (with as few people knowing the number as possible, and the fortitude to just plain turn it off sometimes) is liberating. I’m not sure I could go back.

    It’s amazing to leave the house and actually be *gone* — from microblogging, instant messaging, just-look-it-up-online requests, server monitoring, and so on — and to get to be truly present for whatever I left the house to do. As someone who works from home (and thus doesn’t get a break from work or home), the occasional unplugging — even if it’s just long enough to walk my little one to school or run an errand — does wonders for my mind and spirit!

  5. >Also, from what I’ve seen, AT&T doesn’t like it.

    That’s true. They’ve priced the feature to deter use of it, which is understandable considering how underprovisioned their network is.

  6. What’s the data plan like with your N1? Is it good enough to use your smartphone as your home WiFi?

  7. >Is it good enough to use your smartphone as your home WiFi?

    No. The mail and web server have to be up on the net even when my phone is out of the house.

  8. Sorry, ambiguous use of “your”. How about for the average user not running any servers? (This wouldn’t work in NZ where ADSL is barely cheap and fast enough to use for home internet)

  9. >Sorry, ambiguous use of “your”. How about for the average user not running any servers?

    I don’t know. I don’t remember the details of my data plan and am not sure how to dig them up. There’s no separate data charge on my bill, which suggests that I’m paying a monthly flat rate, but I don’t know whether or not data volume is capped.

  10. I agree that wifi hotspot is a killer feature … And one that won’t show up in iOS any time soon.

    At least not while Apple are still selling 3G iPads.

  11. @esr:

    I don’t know. I don’t remember the details of my data plan and am not sure how to dig them up.

    With T-Mobile — which I’m assuming you have, since you called your previous phone a ‘G1′ which is what T-Mobile branded the HTC Dream — you can get the details of your plan by logging into their website. I have Sprint, but my stepdaughter is on T-Mobile. She characterizes her data plan as ‘unlimited’ as well, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a cap.

    @everyone:

    My wife’s EVO 4G, which has only Android 2.1 at the moment (2.2 is expected to be available soon), also does WiFi tethering. Sprint’s data plan puts a “soft” cap on 3G at 5 GB, but 4G (WiMax) is unlimited. And, yes, it’s specifically spelled out in the subscriber agreement that way. 4G is expected to roll out in my area in August.

  12. >you can get the details of your plan by logging into their website. [...] She characterizes her data plan as ‘unlimited’ as well, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a cap.

    I’d forgotten. I went and looked. One of the code lines on the bill summary reads G1 UNLDATA 400MSGS which looks like unlimited data, but I don’t know if there’s a cap either.

  13. I’ve got a Pre Plus on VZW, and while data on the phone is unlimited, WiFi Hotspot is capped at 5 GB/mo.

    this seems to be the trend. The idea being that they can’t really support full use of internet on their networks, and would much rather you go with some other form of internet connection at home.

    Although with cable providing 20+ Mbps for $50 a month, why would you lock yourself to 3G or 4G speeds at home?

  14. I heard 2.2 is coming to the Droid. Is it true?

    Droid is rumoured for around the 13th of July. Milestone a week or two later.

  15. Can’t wait to get this on my EVO! Besides wifi hotspots and tethering, Froyo has a lot of other goodies buried in the API 8. A lot of great new apps will soon be forthcoming.

  16. careful, that plan is for the G1-only, and other restrictions apply:

    To provide the best network experience for all of our customers we may temporarily reduce data throughput for a small fraction of customers who use a disproportionate amount of bandwidth. Your data session, plan, or service may be suspended, terminated, or restricted for significant roaming or if you use your service in a way that interferes with our network or ability to provide quality service to other users. Some devices require specific data plans; if you do not have the right plan for your device, you may not be able to use data services.

    http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/addons/services/information.aspx?osid=7b463e84-d2f2-4719-ae39-0875f9694e5b&PAsset=InternetEmail&tp=Svc_Tab_TMobileG1

    ESR says: I’m not worried. I discussed the switchover to the Nexus with a T-Mobile rep. He, at least, seemed to consider it an Android plan rather than a G-1 plan.

  17. The screams of denial

    Overdramatize much?

    that absence costs Apple another hunk of market share that it will never get back should be most entertaining.

    The only constraints on Apple’s market share today are manufacturing ramp-up and availability on additional carriers. Even with those limitations, they just sold 1.7 million units in three days.

  18. BTW, as I said over on mini-microsoft:

    When you boil down all the Android hype, all you have left are linux weenies trying to re-invent the iPhone without the depth to understand why Java always sucked so hard for writing mobile apps.

    If Android was based on smalltalk or LISP, or any other OO language that didn’t import so much of C++’s brain damage, and they had someone with a modicum of actual design ability involved (and no, aping Apple’s UI is not design ability), then it might be a serious competitor to the iPhone.

    As it is, all Android’s going to do is eat the lunches of WinMo, Symbian, and the rest of the also-rans. It will be what you get on the Chinese iPhone knock-offs.

  19. > if Android were based on smalltalk or LISP….

    Python apps are coming.

    Even so, the ‘year of Android’ is as far away as the year of the linux desktop

    For approximately similar reasons.

  20. @brian:
    > Although with cable providing 20+ Mbps for $50 a month, why would you lock yourself to 3G or 4G speeds at home?

    Not everyone lives near cable, or even DSL. I pay $400/mo for a T-1 that hums along at 1.5gbps. Get your flying car off my lawn!

  21. “I am liberated.” No, you’re NOT. You’re still a prisoner of your own smart phone. HedgeMage is absolutely right, the only way to be liberated is being free of the burden of connectivity. Twitter, Flickr, Hyves, Facebook is a major pain in the @ss. I really don’t give a shite John Doe twittering that he farted in the Greyhound bus to Amarillo *sigh*

  22. >You’re still a prisoner of your own smart phone.

    Not while it still has an off switch, fool. HedgeMage knows something about self-discipline. So do I.

  23. ” The screams of denial from the Apple fanboys as that absence costs Apple another hunk of market share that it will never get back should be most entertaining.”

    “hunk” of market? I’d guess a percent or so. No more. Basically I see this as being a selling point for just road warriors (already a minor sliver of the pie), who happen to not have a USB dongle already (hard to imagine, but okay), who are willing to drop their current contract for no other reason than to have all of this in one device.

    The other point is this: time and again, we see Android fanboys make a huge mistake when Apple doesn’t waste its efforts developing some feature. They tend to explain it away as Steve Jobs simply not understanding history, being a fool, or the result of some weird personality quirk. The hubris is amazing, but it happens all the time. What people don’t seem to see is Apple’s larger strategy of very specific focus to hit very essential targets.

    Tethering is kinda interesting in 2010. Kinda. But at the rate free wifi and USB dongle modems are proliferating, this will be a non-issue in just a couple of years. Meanwhile, iAd will be raking in billions in a few years. Yep, Steve Jobs really is a fool. God, I hope he reads the comments section of this blog so he can brush up on the history of the personal computing business as well as arcane stuff like “network effects.” Ah, it’s probably all above him, anyhow.

    But it gets more interesting: why on Earth would you use the phrase “market share that it will never get back…”

    Never? Do you really think that anyone who buys an Android will just stick with it? Why on Earth would you imagine that?

    Long fight ahead, people. Long, long fight ahead. And all Android devices combined in the US have just finally come to equal the page views of the “irrelevant” (in Morgan’s words) iPod touch.

  24. BTW, I stopped by the mall yesterday…

    There were more people flocked around the iPhone tables at the Apple store than all of the people in T-Mobile and Verizon combined.

    Didn’t happen to notice any hordes of angry people returning their iPhones over this fictional antennae issue. Did notice that there’s a three week wait for iPhones from apple.com, however.

  25. No more per-diem WiFi charges in hotels. No more cursing as I discover that the airport hotspots are all pay-for-play. Internet on my laptop in the shotgun seat of the car!

    This feature will be a must for road warriors everywhere. And the iPhone 4 doesn’t have it.

    Um, Iphone tethers via bluetooth and USB quite happily. Bluetooth 2.1 EDR data speeds are officially 3Mbit/s.

    I guess the connecting to your phone via Wifi thing would be handy if your laptop didn’t have Bluetooth though.

  26. Tethering is kinda interesting in 2010. Kinda. But at the rate free wifi and USB dongle modems are proliferating, this will be a non-issue in just a couple of years.

    No, it won’t. Try going a road trip some time, junior. Free WiFi is a lot less common than you’d think. And USB dongle modems are a plague that will disappear off the face of the planet soon. No one will want to pay for an extra device on their wireless plan — or keep track of and carry said device — in order to get 3G or 4G on their laptop,when they can turn their phone — that they already have to carry and pay for — into a WiFi hotspot..

  27. “Free WiFi is a lot less common than you’d think.”

    Actually, being primarily a user of the irrelevant iPod touch, I’m quite familiar with the availability of free wifi. It’s growing like crazy. It’s a big reason why I’ve not even bothered buying an iPhone yet. I have a dirt cheap phone that’s only for emergencies and I pay virtually nothing for. All my other communications go through wifi, which I hit for free just about every time I come across a decent sized strip mall, starbucks, public library. heck even my grocery store.

    This is a minor issue for most people right now, and it will soon fade, fade away.

    My bet is that before many Android user’s contracts are over, most laptops will come with modems built in and plenty of wireless companies will offer multiple device plans. Point being, in the long-term this is not going to be an issue.

    BTW, speaking of stocks and market cap, I can’t help but notice that since Android supposedly overtook iPhone in sales in 1Q2010, Google’s stock has actually plummeted. While Apple’s has climbed.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=GOOG+Interactive#chart2:symbol=goog;range=6m;compare=aapl;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined

    I’m sure it means nothing, however. Nothing at all.

  28. Or perhaps it could mean that some people see the absolute friggin’ obvious to which so many here are completely blinding themselves to: Apple is slowly cutting off Google’s oxygen supply and feeding it directly into the iOS development community.

  29. @Morgan

    >No one will want to pay for an extra device on their wireless plan — or keep track of and carry said device — in order to get 3G or 4G
    >on their laptop,when they can turn their phone — that they already have to carry and pay for — into a WiFi hotspot..

    I’m not so sure. While I agree that people would prefer one device and one plan, USB dongles and their ilk have one massive advantage over using your phone as a WiFi hotspot: power consumption. I imagine you will find a significant number of road warriors will decide that having a dongle or built in connection for their laptop is worth it to not have their phone drained completely within 2-3 hours. With that sort of power consumption, you either need a power outlet to plug up to while you’re working, or you need to plug the phone into your computer anyway, which defeats the purpose of the wifi hotspot, unless you really have another device aside from your laptop that you’re working on and your phone that absolutely needs network connectivity at that moment. Now there is a subset of people that this would work for, the traveling family, but honestly I would bet that subset is even smaller than the subset who need or care about wifi hotspot capability in the first place.

    This is one of those technologies that’s neat, but ultimately I think will be replaced with better technologies in a few years, and in the meantime won’t catch on because so very few people actually care.

  30. > And all Android devices combined in the US have just finally come to equal the page views of
    > the “irrelevant” (in Morgan’s words) iPod touch.

    A question for you, sir… why is a raven like a writing desk?

    In other news…

    esr, how long to you typically hold on to a phone? I’ve never quite understood the constant handset switching people do, and I’ve held on to my ancient LG flipphone for years. I’m waiting for The One Phone For Me to arrive before hopping on the smartphone wagon. Could you see yourself holding on to a phone in the Nexus One class (EVOs and whatnot) for a long time, or are there things about it you’d see improved or that would give you reason to change phones? Barring of course someone providing you with a new phone of their own accord…

  31. >esr, how long to you typically hold on to a phone?

    I had my Samsung VT660 for 8 years. I bought a G-1 within days of availability. Switched to Nexus One when Google sent me one.

    >Could you see yourself holding on to a phone in the Nexus One class (EVOs and whatnot) for a long time

    Yes. I’m not a casual switcher; not interested in acquiring the next glitzy status toy just because it’s there. I would have stuck with the G-1 for a good many more years if not for the free Nexus One. The hardware on these things is more than adequate to my needs, most of the action has shifted to software which is going to get updated over the air whether I change phones or not.

    If someone ships an Android device in a Sidekick-like package with a decent physical keyboard, that would tempt me. Otherwise I don’t foresee switching until 4G speeds become generally available.

  32. @Leif:

    How’s that Android tablet coming? I can hardly wait to see one of these mythological “iPad killers” I heard so much about. You know, boy.. if only someone made a tablet with a USB port and Flash. Wow. I’m breathing hard just thinking of the possibilities.

    Tethering is kinda interesting in 2010. Kinda. But at the rate free wifi and USB dongle modems are proliferating, this will be a non-issue in just a couple of years.

    Although I am a non-combatant in the ongoing smartphone conflict (on Saturday, when I drove down to San Antonio to fix my daughter’s air conditioner, I forgot to take my wife’s prepaid dumb cellphone with me AND I forgot the gate code, so I had to resort to the ancient communication technique of throwing pebbles at the window, all of which confused the rest of my family greatly, but was, nonetheless, quite effective), I have to confess that I find this particular widespread cognitive dissonance quite amusing:

    – The iPad’s lack of USB portage is no big deal; no serious user wants to have to hang USB devices off their portable device while using it.

    – The iPhone’s lack of wiFi tethering is no big deal; any serious user will have a USB cellular modem for their laptop.

  33. Actually, being primarily a user of the irrelevant iPod touch, I’m quite familiar with the availability of free wifi. It’s growing like crazy. It’s a big reason why I’ve not even bothered buying an iPhone yet. I have a dirt cheap phone that’s only for emergencies and I pay virtually nothing for.

    Like I said, try taking a road trip. Free WiFi may be common in, say, college towns or other trendy places, but let me know how you do in the middle of Georgia.

  34. Actually, being primarily a user of the irrelevant iPod touch, I’m quite familiar with the availability of free wifi. It’s growing like crazy. It’s a big reason why I’ve not even bothered buying an iPhone yet. I have a dirt cheap phone that’s only for emergencies and I pay virtually nothing for.

    This is primarily my usage pattern as well, mostly because I don’t have the reliable money to pay for a proper cell phone plan (still in school). Had I that money, I would switch to a real smartphone in a heartbeat. I would use Android, because I like the idea of open-source software on my phone, and I really don’t like the idea of having my future upgrade path come through Apple. (I have jailbroken my iPod Touch, but don’t dare upgrade the firmware at the moment (and so miss out on various apps) because I would have to rejailbreak and redo a fair amount of work to restore my current state, even if the upgrade didn’t fix the jailbreaking vulnerability and cripple the device again. A device that allows me to upgrade without nuking my settings and apps is a win over my current setup.)

  35. >Like I said, try taking a road trip. Free WiFi may be common in, say, college towns or other trendy places, but let me know how you do in the middle of Georgia.

    It’s so. I found out on our recent road trip to Michigan that the net-o-sphere thins out and disappears barely twenty miles west of here (about 80 miles inland from the Atlantic Coast) and doesn’t remanifest until nearly to Pittsburgh.

  36. Patrick:

    The iPad can be purchased with 3G built-in; no need for a USB dongle…

  37. Leif:

    While I understand that, for you, anything that Jobs touches is perfection personified, and while your unbridled admiration for things Apple is wondrous to behold, the fact that the iPad can have built-in 3G is really, truly, beside the point.

    If you remove (even temporarily!) all of Steve’s appendages from your anatomy and take a good hard look around, you might realize that some people actually prefer to have a single 3G voice/data plan for a single device, while others, like myself, have no current need of a data plan whatsoever. This itself might make an Android phone a win for some customers, if it is easier to tether an iPad to an Android phone than to an iPhone.

    But don’t take my word for it; after all, I’m not even a customer. Just try a few semi-random google search terms. For example, try “iPad” “3g” “tethering” and take a look at a few of the > 4e6 results.

  38. Patrick:

    Where you, and several others make a mistake is in assuming my comments on these threads are mere unbridled admiration of Steve Jobs. It’s deeper than that. I’m telling you and everyone here that the predictions offered up for Android’s rise, and the reasons offered up for it, are very deeply flawed.

    Furthermore, I’m amazed at how quickly these threads spin out of control with a ridiculous quibbling on minor issues that miss the real point. It is, interestingly enough, a symptom of “cognitive dissonance.”

    My point was very simple. ESR insists that this single feature is going to “take a huge chunk of market” and furthermore that these are people who will “never go back.”

    Both of these statements I find to be very, very doubtful.

    Whether or not Morgan happens to know someone who he can imagine might like this feature (confusing anecdote with data, Morgan?) is irrelevant. It ultimately comes down to how significant this is in terms of the growth of the platform, or this hallucinated “platform war” that many Android devotees are convinced they are engaged in.

    “some people actually prefer to have..” Yes, Patrick. Some people might. But again, how many people are going to run out and instantly ditch their current set-up and plans in order to take advantage of this feature? A small percentage of a small percentage. Certainly no huge chunk. This is no game changer by any stretch of the imagination.

    As Morgan himself notes: ” Free WiFi may be common in, say, college towns or other trendy places, but let me know how you do in the middle of Georgia.” Uhh, YES! Exactly! That’s just it. I’d rather have a platform be dominant on universities and tech sector communities than the must have choice for the odd person who happens to find himself in the middle of Georgia.

    And, as I noted, due to the rapidly changing infrastructure in the fast moving wireless services industry, I believe that this will soon be little more than a footnote in history.

  39. JSK:

    Sorry for not making things more clear to you on this. I’m getting the feeling you’re feeling I’m not making point when I’ve just been not wanting to belabor things to connect the dots.

    You didn’t seem to understand the point I was making on a previous thread about the rise of the iPad in web page views. Let me explain: A few months ago, everyone was working themselves up into a frenzy over this entire issue of the lack of Flash on iOS devices. Flash was considered to be one of the great competitive assets that Android (as well as the mythological upcoming Android based wannabe iPads we used to hear were coming) would bring.

    Flash is rapidly heading towards irrelevance and it’s largely due to the success of the iOS platform. Because iOS devices are making all those page hits, the web is reorganizing itself. 1 year ago, getting the little “no flash” plugin icon warning in mobile Safari happened to me now and then. It’s been weeks since I’ve seen it. Every major website is dumping Flash, and dumping it fast. People are putting up versions of webpages for iOS devices.

    But it goes even deeper than this. I’d mentioned earlier that underestimating Steve Jobs was the height of hubris. If your first response to a strategic decision of Jobs’ is that he’s a fool or doesn’t understand history, I suggest you take a moment and question yourself. Morgan shot back that to “deify” Steve Jobs was ridiculous. Umm, Morgan, pointing out the very obvious that Steve Jobs has a better grasp of history of this industry, branding, and marketing is fairly non-controversial. To assume that suggesting he knows more about these topics than you amounts to deifying them is hubris.

    What everyone is missing here is where Apple is positioning itself. Let’s take a look at that irrelevant “niche MP3″ player that Morgan likes to disparage. Yeah, that one that kicked the most powerful consumer electronics companies in the gut, took their market, knocked virtually every CD store out of business, and turned Apple into one of the largest content delivery/e-commerce companies in the world. Yeah, that one.

    Look at it this way: let’s say someone buys a new Windows based PC and an iPod. It’s highly conceivable that Apple will earn more revenue from that purchase than Microsoft. Microsoft gets the initial license fee, and from then there on the Windows PC serves as a slave to connect the iPod to iTunes.

    The majority of iPad owners are PC users. Essentially, what the iPad does is use the PC to put Apple between the user and the web.

    Now, with Google this becomes highly relevant. Google made it’s fortune by, primarily, being the primary interface between a home computer user and the internet. By directing traffic of all those Windows users, Google was making a cut in advertising royalties.

    Apple is in the midst of a long-term strategy to push Google and Microsoft gently out of the way. Increasingly, more and more iOS device users aren’t going through the browser. They are experiencing the internet through apps. Which is why all the major media websites are making iOS apps.

    There is a fundamental shift going on in internet economics. All those huge revenues that Google was making in advertising are slowly being diverted. As the browser begins to slowly give up minor share to accessing content through apps, it cuts into Google’s bottom line. Which is why Apple put so much into iAd. When you look at it, all iAd is a way of taking Google’s ad revenue and feeding it into Apple’s developer community. Who are being given enormous incentives to create app based means of accessing internet content, increasingly pulling people out of the browser.

    Look at all the major companies that have signed up for iAd already. We’re talking big companies and big money. In a sense you can look at it this way: those companies are financing the growth of the OS X developer community. Which is why there are, quite literally, AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE more books on OS X/iOS development in your local bookstore than there were just a few years ago.

  40. Here’s a better way to look at it:

    About 10 years ago, Apple brought to market a Unix based operating system for which there was very little software and very few developers. Competing against the overwhelming monopoly, Microsoft, which held vastly dominant share, had a vastly greater number of software titles available, and a vastly larger developer base.

    And despite all of those disadvantages, running a platform with very few software titles available, they were able to hold on, grow, and continue improving the OS. Back when I first bought a Mac, in late 2004, it was a risky move. Software was hard to come by, as was documentation. I rarely, if ever, could find books on Mac programming back then. There were just a few: Scott Anguish’s. Hillegas. Kochan. A few odd Oreilly titles that were not particularly good. Back then, there was plenty of software on Windows that was simply unavailable.

    And yet the OS X platform hung on. And grew. Competing against the highly established Windows on one side, and on the other side Linux, which had a head start, WAS FREE, and had all sorts of free software.

    In the space of just a few years, that moron Steve Jobs entered the two most competitive consumer electronics markets: personal media players and phones. With all the “experts” who simply understood this industry so much better than he, loudly claiming that these efforts would be sheer folly.

    We can look back at how the lack of software, the lack of developers, the lack of documentation for developers, and so much more restricted the growth of OS X back 7-10 years ago.

    And then we can look and realize that he’s absolutely turned things upside down. Now he has the developers. Now he has software companies rushing to make Mac versions of their titles. Now he has some of the biggest companies signed on as sponsors of his developer community. Now he has in place the ability to offer higher profits to his developers than any other mobile platform. Oh, and if that weren’t enough, this FIRMLY ESTABLISHED mobile platform which developers are rushing to learn is also the exact same platform, the same IDE, the same APIs as his desktop platform.. which just a few years ago there was virtually no software for.

    You guys have no idea what’s happened. Utterly and completely clueless of the massive seismic shift that has occurred right under your feet. And you’re all carrying on about the race to 51%? While Jobs is locking up the most lucrative 20% and raising an army of developers to begin an assault on the desktop.

  41. Oh, jeez, please let me take all that back. It’s all irrelevant.

    You’re all right.. This tethering issue is huge. HUGE! My God. Apple’s gonna collapse. All these other changes that have occurred are downright irrelevant. Once people learn that they’ll be able to tether their obsolete laptop to their phone on the outskirts of Poughkeepsie, the entire iPhone ecosystem is doomed to collapse.

  42. >the entire iPhone ecosystem is doomed to collapse.

    Collapse, no. Permanent share in the single-digit range, probably. Latest manifestation of the Apple Superior User Experience(tm): the iPhone 4 proximity sensor is flaky as hell. All bow before the perfect, glossy UI polish! Let us abase ourselves before the magnificence of a company that can’t get the physical antenna design, signal-strength indicator, or the proximity sensing right. On its flagship product.

  43. Furthermore, I’m amazed at how quickly these threads spin out of control with a ridiculous quibbling on minor issues that miss the real point.

    I wrote a few words about how I’m not deeply involved in this debate, yet I find a couple of statements amusingly at odds with each other, and you come back with a complete non-sequitur. Once I point out, again in very few words, that it is a non-sequitur, you then write a few dissertations about how everybody’s missing the point.

    That may very well be, but I still find those particular defenses of Apple’s products amusingly at odds with each other.

    You’re all right.. This tethering issue is huge. HUGE! My God. Apple’s gonna collapse.

    I don’t think anybody’s arguing that.

    From my on-the-sidelines perspective, the most interesting thing about the tethering issue is that Jobs can’t yet address it because of AT&T’s lock-in — a sort of poetic justice that further fuels my amusement.

  44. Patrick:

    “That may very well be, but I still find those particular defenses of Apple’s products amusingly at odds with each other.”

    That could be because they are not a defense of products per se. What I am getting at is Apple’s larger strategy and its areas of emphasis. Your example of the iPad seems to me a bit beside the point.

  45. As to your comment that you don’t think “anyone is arguing that” I will simply direct you to esr’s post where he insists that this will take from Apple a “huge chunk” of the market “which they will never get back.” Sure, in jest I was using a bit of poetic license. I’m simply saying it’s not going to have much longterm relevance. The fact that esr has found a feature works that he likes. I simply think he’s radically wrong in the market consequences of that feature.

  46. That could be because they are not a defense of products per se. What I am getting at is Apple’s larger strategy and its areas of emphasis. Your example of the iPad seems to me a bit beside the point.

    Well, actually, it was your own defense of the iPad I was quoting, but I can accept that your conflicting arguments were made in the larger scheme of discussing strategies rather than products.

    I simply think he’s [Eric's] radically wrong in the market consequences of that feature [tethering].

    For someone who is all about strategies rather than features, you’ve got a huge blind spot here. The tethering feature is the consequence of a winning market strategy, not the other way around. The winning cell strategy is basically cheap, reasonably fast, per-user all-you-can-eat data and voice pricing, with no device or field-of-use restrictions on how you access or use this bandwidth. The carrier that makes it easiest to get to this buffet wins. At the end of the day, this will probably involve multiple SIM cards on a single account and phone number, with some sort of shared bandwidth cap and/or location restrictions, and the ability for only one of the devices to make or receive a cell call at a time (these restrictions will be lame attempts by the carrier to try to tie the bandwidth to a single user). This model commoditizes the network, but it also commoditizes the hardware. People who always have their iPads with them can use a bluetooth headset. People who always have their iPhones with them can tether to a laptop.

    I think Eric’s point is that, in this environment, sure there will be people who prefer iWhatevers, just like there are people who prefer Macs, and Apple can even continue to drive some of the innovation in the market and will probably manage to keep their premium offering premium, but the bulk of the market will be lower-cost devices from other companies, and there will be an explosion of product variants in the iPhone/iPad product spaces, with most of the new entrants running Android. Wireless tethering is exceedingly important as a marketing statement about trending towards this wondrous all-you-can-eat buffet. And Apple can’t yet make that marketing statement, even though they are certainly smart enough to know it’s the right statement to make, so that’s a wasted few months for them. So, since they can’t yet make this statement, as you point out they’re instead busy trying to suck the lifeblood out of google with their iAd strategy. Unfortunately, this is complete anathema to the strategy of commoditizing user access to the bits. It will be interesting to see if, as you seem to think, it’s really only a few cranky tech weenies who care about this, or if fighting this long-term trend by trying to layer on more controls is going to backfire on them. After all, you’re right that people shouldn’t underestimate Jobs, but underestimating google in search/ad placement may not be too smart, either.

  47. “Not while it still has an off switch, fool. HedgeMage knows something about self-discipline. So do I.”

    From your messages I get the idea that the off switch is very rarely used by you and calling me a fool doesn’t make your argument any better, in fact it clearly shows your lack of self-discipline.

  48. Patrick:

    Don’t assume that my statements are conflicting. Perhaps you’re just misunderstanding.

    When I brought up the iPad before, it was a comment focused on my amazement that tech-weenies struggle to even fathom what it is, which is why I brought up the USB issue. I was making no statement anti-USB then and not really making a statement pro-USB in this thread. Just commenting on the existence of these things.

    Quoting you, and editing for brevity:

    “I think Eric’s point is that. . . . the bulk of the market will be lower-cost devices from other companies, and there will be an explosion of product variants in the iPhone/iPad product spaces, with most of the new entrants running Android.”

    Yes, I would say that is his point. And to add a bit more, that when this hits 51% of the market, somehow some mysterious, mystical chi energy or mojo or prana will suddenly spring into existence and produced some stuff called “network effects” and that when these constellations of the zodiac align, and Morgan says the magic words that “poof!”, Android will be the “dominant platform” and OS X based products by Apple will instantly sink down to less than 10% of the market to utter irrelevancy.

    In support of this view, Morgan blathers endlessly about undefined “history,” which, so far as I’ve been able to make out, consists of some very odd observations of the 1980s personal computer industry which seem to be serving as the basis of some kind of laws of nature. All of this is offered up in an endless series of non-sequiturs and enthymemes, uttered as if they were undeniable sacred postulates or biblical verses. But always lacking any kind of citations or supporting arguments.

    Not gonna happen.

  49. Continuing:

    ” And Apple can’t yet make that marketing statement, even though they are certainly smart enough to know it’s the right statement to make, so that’s a wasted few months for them. So, since they can’t yet make this statement, as you point out they’re instead busy trying to suck the lifeblood out of google with their iAd strategy. ”

    Apple can’t make this statement? Or won’t? I’m guessing it’s the latter.

    I don’t think they’re exactly trying to suck the lifeblood out of Google (even though they are), and certainly not because they “can’t” make some statement. What I think Apple is saying is that concentrating on content and apps is what is most important in the long-term, and they’re going to use advertisers to sponsor this. And that they are right now more concerned with locking up the most lucrative sponsors and locking in the market sectors with the most disposable income to fuel this eco-system, and that they are doing that in opposition to a strategy based on the superstition that a certain arbitrary percentage of an ill-defined “market share” will somehow magically produce some neato effects.

  50. In support of this view, Morgan blathers endlessly about undefined “history,” which, so far as I’ve been able to make out, consists of some very odd observations of the 1980s personal computer industry which seem to be serving as the basis of some kind of laws of nature.

    *sigh* History has a way of repeating itself. The iPhone vs. Android battle is very, very similar to the Mac vs. PC battle of the 1980s and 1990s. The main differences being that the Mac in the mid 1980s didn’t have the advantage of being first-to-market (hardware-wise), the personal computer had not yet become fully commoditized, and the personal computer wasn’t influenced as much by fashion trends.

    Being first-to-market does buy you an advantage — sometimes. Some observers have pointed out that Apple actually was first to market, with the Apple II series. Neither I, nor I think anyone involved really view the Macintosh as the successor of the Apple II line; it was a totally different product. Regardless, for the purposes of this argument, I do not consider the Mac an Apple II successor. Anyway, if we look, again, at history, we can see countless examples of market disruptions where a new product took over from a previous product, especially at the low-end. The personal computer itself was a disruption from the low-end; the Macintosh attempted to be a disruption from the high-end.

    In the mid-1980s, the personal computer was not yet in the early stages of commoditization. Many manufacturers were still positioning their products as boutique items (Commodore Amiga, Apple Macintosh, Atari ST, IBM PC/XT and PC/AT). Even many clone makers had differing, incompatible proprietary components. Computers were still mostly purchased from dealers rather than from retailers, discounters or direct. By the beginning of the 1990s, however, standards began to evolve and PCs started looking more and more like each other. That very same thing is happening in smartphones today (There are more links where that came from). Your thinking that vendors won’t allow commoditization to happen is completely ridiculous. Vendors don’t have a choice; commoditization is a direct result of fierce competition.

    There it is, citations and supporting arguments and all. If you want research paper, you’ll have to wait. I don’t have time for that.

  51. Apple can’t make this statement? Or won’t? I’m guessing it’s the latter.

    You’ve spent countless words on dozens of messages explaining how brilliant Jobs is and now you’re claiming he’s probably an idiot? :-)

    Apple will introduce whatever tethering they can, whenever they can without violating their contracts.

  52. Leif:
    > Sorry for not making things more clear to you on this. I’m getting the feeling you’re feeling I’m not
    > making point when I’ve just been not wanting to belabor things to connect the dots.

    > You didn’t seem to understand the point I was making on a previous thread about the rise of the iPad
    > in web page views. Let me explain: A few months ago, everyone was working themselves up into a
    > frenzy over this entire issue of the lack of Flash on iOS devices. Flash was considered to be one of the
    > great competitive assets that Android (as well as the mythological upcoming Android based wannabe
    > iPads we used to hear were coming) would bring.

    So, you’re saying all of your disparate statements add up to: Jobs is sucking in developers with a uniform API across Apple platforms coupled with the promise of Google-style ad revenues through the iAd system, and that the platform that has the developers wins the game.

    A lot of that development is going towards creating App versions of web content, to provide a better user experience than can be handled via the included browser and a lack of legacy interfaces. In essence Jobs is trying to do to the Web what he did to the entire Mac crowd with OSX: forced obsolescence of the prior technology and yanking of everyone kicking and screaming into the future.

    By your logic presented thus far, his entire HTML5-is-the-way-forward stance is actually a misdirect as he pulls a rabbit out of the new-paradigm App-centric hat.

    Furthermore, because all these systems will only be available at their full mobile functionality on iOS via apps, consumers will have little choice but to step in line if they want anything resembling a real mobile web experience, thus rendering the network-effects victory unto Jobs in turn.

    Am I following along?

    Now. Here’s the problem.
    If Flash truly dies the death (and glory be if it happens), and HTML5 & other newer web techs take its place In The Real Web, what advantage does having a special app to provide the ‘complete’ functionality of each site bring? According to you, Jobs is trying his damnedest to bring about a great equalizer so that he can then trumpet up his own new thing as The New Thing. But, if companies are then able to provide their full user experience on their sites on any modern browser, what advantage is it to create a special app? Doubly-so, why go with iAd when you can go with someone else, for sake of argument I’ll say Google, where they will gain that revenue no matter WHAT platform a user is on.

    If what you say is true, it looks to me like Jobs is shooting himself in the foot by thoroughly underestimating the power of the commodity handset and the innate desire of any company to lower development costs.

    Personally, I’d like to give him more credit and see him as a guy who is merely out to make the web into a flash-free, less-bullshit place while still making a solid buck by innovating within his niche world and being a technology leader.

    So dude, stop ranting, breath slower, type better. Make your points quick and succinct and logical. You’re spammy.

  53. >If what you say is true, it looks to me like Jobs is shooting himself in the foot by thoroughly underestimating the power of the commodity handset and the innate desire of any company to lower development costs.

    No, Jobs is too smart for that. The iPhone already cuts a carrier’s NRE to near zero, so that aspect is a competitive wash with Android. I don’t think he underestimates the power of commodity handsets either – rather, he’s perfectly comfortable running a niche business. Share below 10% doesn’t bother him as long as margins are high.

    Jobs’s big error in the iPhone strategy was getting locked into a single carrier in the U.S. Now Apple is compounding it with a buggy lemon of a lead product, but that’s not really Jobs himself screwing up, unless his pressure for a ship deadline was the reason for botches like the antenna design.

  54. Morgan,

    Excellent effort. But I think your mistake is in stating that what’s happening today is “very, very similar.” I’d go with “superficially similar in one way”, and that you’re blinding yourself to the critical differences.

    Jsk: you’re kinda following. I will try to work on a response that os not misleadingly terse nor excessive verbose and post it later.

    Esr: the antenna issue is no longer news, and it never really was. You might as well be talking about iPad wifi issues at Princeton. Over. Done. Has no bearing.

    ESR says: that last sentence sounds uncannily like you have your fingers in your ears and are yelling “La -la-LA-la! I can’t HEAR you!”

  55. Jobs’s big error in the iPhone strategy was getting locked into a single carrier in the U.S.

    I think the lock-in strategy made perfect sense for a new 3G phone entry in the US at that time. It let Apple concentrate on the only viable nationwide 3G network, with (apparently) a pretty good premium for exclusivity.

    The thing I’m curious about is not the lock-in itself, but rather the duration of the lock-in. Occam’s Razor almost says that Jobs agrees completely with esr, and that Apple and AT&T both expected all along that, as with computers, Apple’s offering would be a niche high-end offering that garnered a single digit or low double digit market share. A significant underestimation of initial market share would explain a lot of things, including the bandwidth problems that AT&T is having. From that perspective, the initial iPhone runaway success would have been a pleasant surprise, rather than an expected birthright, so the inevitable drop in market share may not be a huge disappointment to them, and the frustration that several here assume that Jobs has about being locked in to AT&T may be almost nonexistent.

  56. >Occam’s Razor almost says that Jobs agrees completely with esr, and that Apple and AT&T both expected all along that, as with computers, Apple’s offering would be a niche high-end offering that garnered a single digit or low double digit market share.

    Hm. That’s quite plausible, actually, and good on you for thinking of it – the possibility that Jobs’s strategy was the victim of unanticipated success hadn’t occurred to me.

  57. Occam’s Razor almost says that Jobs agrees completely with esr, and that Apple and AT&T both expected all along that, as with computers, Apple’s offering would be a niche high-end offering that garnered a single digit or low double digit market share.

    Agreed — simply because most people don’t need smartphones. However, in terms of developer mindshare, Apple was counting on dominating and does indeed dominate. This was more what Leif was driving at than market share.

    ESR says: that last sentence sounds uncannily like you have your fingers in your ears and are yelling “La -la-LA-la! I can’t HEAR you!”

    Remember the G4 Cube? How about that run of really faulty MacBooks in 2006? These were major gaffes in what was at the time Apple’s core platform, yet their effect on the Mac platform’s continued growth and dominance of developer mindshare was essentially nil. Thus it will be with the iPhone antenna kerfuffle, though I do believe that Apple fucked up from an engineering perspective and then handled it wrong from a customer perspective. The right thing would be to fix the issues and release a new iPhone 4 SKU, then offer free swaps of warranty-covered old iPhones for new ones at any Genius Bar or through the mail. They have more money than God or even Microsoft now; they can pull this off and come out smelling like a rose. “Boy, what great customer service Apple has! They gave me a new iPhone and even transferred my data over at no charge!” Stuff like that in fanboy blogs would be like money in the bank.

    But, ultimately, Apple’s overall track record of quality, and the compelling awesomeness of their platform, will ensure that the iPhone will remain first and foremost in the sights of mobile app developers.

  58. Hm. That’s quite plausible, actually, and good on you for thinking of it – the possibility that Jobs’s strategy was the victim of unanticipated success hadn’t occurred to me.

    That makes perfect sense, and goes along with my speculation that Apple originally had no intention of allowing everybody to create iPhone apps. The ridiculously convoluted process of certificate requests and provisioning profiles and code signing doesn’t look like something that Apple would normally inflict on tens of thousands of developers. It looks *exactly* like something that was hacked together for the purpose of supporting app development by a few dozen hand-picked partners. But once the jailbreakers reverse engineered the native API and starting writing their own apps, Apple’s hand was forced; if they didn’t open up development, the majority of iPhones would end up jailbroken and Apple would lose all control over the platform.

  59. @Jeff Read:

    Agreed — simply because most people don’t need smartphones.

    Oh, come on. Nobody in this business thinks that way any more, ever since IBM discovered that there actually was a worldwide demand for more than 5 computers.

    However, in terms of developer mindshare, Apple was counting on dominating and does indeed dominate.

    Others would beg to differ.

    But, ultimately, Apple’s overall track record of quality arrogance, and the uncompelling awesomeness capriciousness of their platform app store requirements, will ensure that the iPhone will not remain first and foremost in the sights of mobile app developers.

    FTFY

  60. Agreed — simply because most people don’t need smartphones. However, in terms of developer mindshare, Apple was counting on dominating and does indeed dominate. This was more what Leif was driving at than market share.

    No serious application developer looking to make money off his or her product, whether closed or open source, will tie themselves into a single platform and a single platform vendor.

    Besides, this has been discussed in this thread already, by jsk and others: smartphone apps tend to be concentrated around what I call Web content wrapper apps. There are apps for Twitter and Facebook and stuff like Trapster. Most of these kinds apps are best suited for HTML 5, and we’ll see most of those migrate there probably sooner rather than later. Of course, all the current smartphone browsers are based on Webkit, and so they already have HTML 5 support.

    There are other kinds of apps that are designed to exploit the phone’s capabilities. Stuff like the UPC and QR code scanner apps on both Android and iPhone, the navigation apps, shopping apps, apps that make a website geolocation aware…. that’s where the action is. I don’t see developers there locking themselves down to a single platform there, either. Besides, the network effects that esr is talking about is exactly what will push more developer mindshare to Android in the first place. Developers want to distribute their apps as widely as possible; there is no way they can ignore that market with so many handsets in existence.

    BTW — Those with some development skills should really, really download the Android SDK and the Eclipse Plugin and give it a try. It’s very, very slick.

  61. >No serious application developer looking to make money off his or her product, whether closed or open source, will tie themselves into a single platform and a single platform vendor.

    And, in fact, developers are behaving as though they’re determined to avoid this trap. The link Patrick Maupin posted suggests that Android has already passed iOS in developer mindshare.

    So, let’s recap:

    * Apple is still locked into a single carrier in the U.S., and will be until sometime in 2012.

    * 1Q Android unit share exceeded iPhone sales. (2Q figures aren’t in yet.)

    * Developers are already shifting focus to Android.

    * Apple has badly fucked up the execution of the iPhone 4, enough to attract derision in the mainstream (not just technology) press.

    * Due to shoddy security, the Apple App store is filled with app farms being used to steal.

    This looks like failure happening, not success.

  62. Jobs’s big error in the iPhone strategy was getting locked into a single carrier in the U.S.

    I think it’s been established that this was a necessary compromise: no other carrier would handle the iPhone the way Apple wanted (implement Visual Voicemail, not fill it with carrier apps, etc.). So AT&T gave Apple what it wanted and got exclusivity in exchange.

    To add to Leif’s list of Apple achievements against the odds, add the Apple Stores. Few thought they would be profitable (remember Gateway stores?), but they’ve been a raging success.

  63. >To add to Leif’s list of Apple achievements against the odds, add the Apple Stores. Few thought they would be profitable (remember Gateway stores?), but they’ve been a raging success.

    I wasn’t surprised. When I first looked into one of them I realized that Apple was pitching its products as positional goods. Own-brand retail is a characteristic part of that strategy, and hugely profitable if the pitch works.

  64. Developers are already shifting focus to Android.

    It is my understanding that Apple’s app store is quite crowded, and very competitive. Some apps are successful, some apps aren’t. Any serious developer will probably have a few apps in both categories. When figuring out where to spend the next development dollar, it certainly seems that it might make sense to contemplate porting some of the more successful apps to Android, rather than building new apps for the iPhone that might not be as competitive.

    So one would expect that serious (money-making) Apple iOS developers would be giving Android some serious “developer mindshare” at this very moment. The coolest thing about this is that, due to the way markets work, a lot of the best iOS paid apps will be ported first, and a lot of the worst paid apps won’t be ported at all, possibly giving the paid apps in the Android store a much better SNR than the paid apps in the Apple store. Of course, this is a self-correcting temporary advantage for Android, but the good news is that when the advantage no longer exists, it will be precisely because as much speculative app development is happening on Android as on Apple.

    In short, you couldn’t ask for a better environment for the classic snowball effect to happen in. The developers who already know exactly what the customers want (because they’re making money hand over fist delivering it on Apple) will immediately port their winning apps; the winning apps will attract more customers to Android, and the customers will attract additional developers.

    ESR says: Good analysis. If customers are actually paying attention to where the apps are, six months of this could easily halve iOS’s market share.

  65. Interesting article at the motley fool: Is Android for Cheapskates?

    But you could jump to many other conclusions, too. For example, the average price of the top 100 non-free applications in the Android store works out to $4.27 while the same figure for the iPhone market lands at a mere $2.62. So, once Android users decide to pay up for an application, their wallets open wider than the iPhone owners’.

    Of course, they give the obligatory disclaimer that the report they found doesn’t really have enough meat to properly analyze:

    You’ll see plenty of stories today bending the Distimo data to fit various pet theories and biases. It’s easily done because Distimo left out a few important data points: We don’t know how many applications showed up in each store during the study period; we only have availability and average prices but no sales reports, and the samples could be skewed six ways from Sunday.

  66. The actual success of Apple retail is probably pretty hard to figure out. In some key areas, I think the stores could easily be much better. I mean this in terms of staffing, management, and product display. Of course, it’s quite hard to argue with the numbers, which are awesome for any retail operation. But I think it’s risky to attribute the performance to the people running the retail side of the company. Apple has been doing everything so well for so many years now that the stores are getting pummeled with traffic based on the products. So it’s hard to say just how good the retail strategy is.

    Where the strategy is exceptionally good is on the creation of some stunning landmarks that serve as superb advertising. In esr’s categories, you could say that these landmarks are truly steeples reaching towards the sky. This will provide ongoing residual returns for years. Which os part of why Apple will hold onto more than 20% of the market in smartphones for a long time. And why they are likely to take that big of a chunk of the personal computer business, as well.

  67. >And why they are likely to take that big of a chunk of the personal computer business, as well.

    But Apple clearly doesn’t want PC marketshare that large. The took “Computers” out of the corporate name. The margins on smartphones and consumer electronics are higher. What they’re doing in the PC and laptop markets is cream-skimming the least price-conscious, most trendoid buyers. To go truly mass-market they’d have to allow margins to drop, which seems to be the one unforgivable business sin in Jobs’s universe.

  68. “But Apple clearly doesn’t want PC marketshare that large.”

    I don’t know how clear that actually is. They seem to be growing each year in units sold and marketshare. Now, since the rise of the netbook that total share appears to not have been growing as quickly. But then again, the netbook is hardly a real PC although its trajectory downwards in performance and capability is a rather curious thing. I guess it could be the natural result of multiple hardware vendors working on a single platform: the race towards the bottom.

    ” The margins on smartphones and consumer electronics are higher…..to go truly mass-market they’d have to allow margins to drop…”

    First of all, at $99 for an iPhone, I don’t really know that their prices are so much higher than other smartphones. Show me a $99 smartphone with all the capabilities of an iPhone…

    Secondly, for several years now the iPod has held 75% marketshare in the MP3 player market. Amazing how a single manufacturer with a tightly integrated product was able to beat out all those multiple vendors offering a dizzying array of must have features….

    In a sense I’d say that it’s true that Apple isn’t primarily interested in MARKETSHARE so much as they are interested in INCREASED sales. Back in the early days of the iPod, the conventional wisdom was that what Apple really needed to do was go after the enterprise. When the iPod was announced, Apple’s stock plummeted. People were just absolutely convinced that Apple needed to built a competitor to MS Office and increase their offerings in the server space.

    I think it would be wrong to suggest that Apple didn’t WANT that market, by why go after a market that is held by a competitor in such a dramatic position of strength?

    Before Apple could (can) really move on the PC marketspace, it needed to build a robust user-base and a robust developer base. Just kicking cheap Macs out the door will not increase market share; it will not, in itself, convince people to switch. As Morgan points out, people buy computers to do things. Several years ago, the big advantage a Windows PC had was a vastly larger library of software. It goes far beyond a single killer app. It’s a plethora of must-haves all added together.

    The iPod created a lifeline to fund further development of OS X and the iPhone. The iPhone has created a means of building a developer community. The iPad is being bought primarily by Windows users, essentially turning their PC into a slave that for an Apple UX and retail store.

    Now Apple’s working on funneling as much $ as possible into a growing developer community, and giving them as many incentives as possible to avoid cross-platform development and instead further master OS X’s APIs. Some developers with eccentric religious beliefs will resist this, others who are interested in making money will continue focusing on OS X development.

    As the availability of highly skilled OS X developers increases, and the userbase of OS X increases, more companies will find the economics to port to OS X to be sensible. Simple supply and demand. Autodesk released some silly apps for the iPhone, had a huge hit for the iPad, and now they are bringing Autocad to the Mac. There’s thousands of sales of Mac Pros to the enterprise alone, right there, for years. With just that. Rinse, repeat.

    In a few years, iPhones, Macbooks, and Mac Pros will radically grow in selected sectors of the enterprise market: the executive suites, the engineering and sciences, the media production labs. Windows and Office will retain their place in the accounting departments and running cash registers. Linux will be left serving webpages and the choice of people who, a generation earlier, chose to build Heathkits over just buying stuff at Sears or JCPenny. It can’t really be justified economically, but it apparently brings the owners some satisfaction.

    In a couple of years, Macs will undoubtedly develop some kind of touch interface; i’m guessing focused around the keyboard. Something like a fusion of traditional keyboards and iPads. And this will be as big of a UI breakthrough as the mouse or multi-touch on the iPhone. And it will radically alter how people interact with computers in key ways: games, most obviously. But it will also have profound consequences in areas like video editing, music editing, CAD work, and so forth.

    And the Windows world will continue to spiral down into cheaper and cheaper netbooks.

    But the top 20% will be held by Apple. And they’ll be the computers used by higher wage earners, engineers, media people. And with that 20%, Apple will probably take close to 80% of the revenues. Because it’s the most important and high value added fields.

  69. “What they’re doing in the PC and laptop markets is cream-skimming the least price-conscious, most trendoid buyers. ”

    Nonsense. They are selling computers to people who simply can’t afford to run Linux and are fed up with Windows.

  70. I am imagining Leif talking in a generic evil super-villain voice. Standard monologue-style.

    It is _hilarious_.

    Too late and too tired to say any more than that. Thanks for the entertainment, Leif.

  71. the least price-conscious, most trendoid buyers

    This may be hard for geeks to grasp, but people who think good design of hardware and software is important aren’t necessarily price-unconscious, or trendoid, or gay, or fanboys, or in some other derogatory category.

    And Leif sounds rather reasonable and non-villainous to me.

  72. >Remember the G4 Cube?

    I remember the G4 cube, and very fondly. I used one for my primary development machine for about a year and a half, and it’s the only time in my career that my office was silent except for the sound of my keystrokes. The cube wasn’t a flop by any means, it just wasn’t as big a hit as other Mac models that were available around that time.

    As for ESR’s claim that the iPhone G4 is a “buggy lemon of a lead product”, perhaps he can cite how many of those 1.7 million units have been returned for any of the molehill issues he’s trying to make mountains from.

    JSK, I notice that you’ve made no attempt to refute anything that Leif said. Frankly, you remind me of one of the AGW cultists heckling a skeptic. Shame on you.

  73. Regarding PCs, Macs, iPads, and marketshare:

    I wondered for years how Apple was going to make a major dent in Microsoft’s hegemony, and it all fell into place when I read an article that pointed out that Apple holds 90+% of the market for computers over $1K. That is far and away the most profitable segment of the personal computer market.

    It turns out that the Mac Mini is a low as they’re willing to go in pushing down the price point for the Mac. They just can’t make a Mac in the $400 range that’s worth selling. Apple didn’t want to join in the Dell/Gateway/HP/Lenovo race-to-the-bottom game, because you simply can’t make a reasonable profit, or a decent quality product in that melee.

    So, does that mean that they’re throwing in the towel? Absolutely not: every iPad they sell is a $400 to $600 windows box that doesn’t get sold. Apple knew they couldn’t beat Microsoft at their own game, so they’re starting a different game, and they entered this whole new market at the top.

    Will there be competitors? Sure, someone’s got to play the “cheaper than the next guy” game, and we’ll certainly see a flood of Chinese knock-offs running Android. Anyone who needs a tablet and can’t afford an iPad will go for an Android tablet. The Android vendors will compete vigorously on price, and margins will be squeezed so tight that they’ll be using inferior materials to try to stay in business, just like we saw with windows laptops. The knock-offs will be flimsy, they will will have inferior battery life, inferior displays, inferior performance, and a dramatically inferior service life. Two years if you’re lucky.

  74. Some Guy wrote:

    “Anyone who needs a tablet and can’t afford an iPad will go for an Android tablet. The Android vendors will compete vigorously on price, and margins will be squeezed….the knock-offs will be flimsy, they will will have inferior battery life, inferior displays, inferior performance, and a dramatically inferior service life. Two years if you’re lucky.”

    Yeah, man, but they’ll, like.. uhh.. run Flash, dude! Let’s see what you Apple fanbois have to say then! Ha!

  75. The amazing thing about Apple’s strategy is this: for years the fosstards have been wondering and scheming about how their glorious free linux might suddenly breakthrough the microsoft stranglehold. And they’ve not realized that Microsoft’s grip has been broken, it was by Unix, and the most expensive and locked down version of Unix. Which succeeded because it had a pretty user interface and nice user experience. Which the fosstards insist has no bearing whatsoever.

    The hatred of Apple is palpable, and to be expected. Apple’s rise in the last 10 years is a clear refutation of just about every superstition of the FSM and numerous open source fanatics.

    Oh, and as to the myth of the rush of developers to Android, here’s a data point for everyone:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/3833/ref=pd_ts_pg_1?ie=UTF8&pg=1

    List of best selling books on Amazon in the category of handheld and mobile devices. 21 of the top 25 are related to iOS and iOS development. 3 on Android development. I’m really looking forward to the howlers of rationalizations on this.

  76. > The amazing thing about Apple’s strategy is this: for years the fosstards
    > have been wondering and scheming about how their glorious free linux
    > might suddenly breakthrough the microsoft stranglehold. And they’ve
    > not realized that Microsoft’s grip has been broken, it was by Unix, and
    > the most expensive and locked down version of Unix. Which succeeded
    > because it had a pretty user interface and nice user experience. Which
    > the fosstards insist has no bearing whatsoever.

    Might I just observe that on this specific flamewar’s battleground, you aren’t allowed to mention any supposed “superior user interface” in Apple’s products. Their shoddy attention to detail, as has been shown constantly with examples here, *is* a user-experience issue! This problem runs up and down Apple’s hardware/software stack, from the issues with the latest iPhone to the fraud going on right now with iTunes accounts. It’s as if they just don’t care. And Apple’s desktop OS contains many examples of the same problem:
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/security/questions-for-pwn2own-hacker-charlie-miller/2941
    I agree with what Linus Torvalds says about security bugs– they are just another type of bug. The type of sloppy coding that leads to security holes is just as likely to lead to some other kinds of bugs as well. So even if you don’t count security as a user-experience issue (which it most certainly is!) you can bet there are plenty of UI bugs as well.

    I want to stress once again, “security *is* a user-experience issue!”

    Please don’t claim Apple has won on this front, because they just plain haven’t.

  77. “you aren’t allowed to mention any supposed “superior user interface” in Apple’s products. ”
    Really? And why do Windows and Android look like Apple clones? Something must be right with the Apple interface….

  78. @TINSTAAFL:

    “* 1Q Android unit share exceeded iPhone sales. (2Q figures aren’t in yet.)”

    Hmmm, you might want to read Nielsen’s “iPhone vs Android”:
    http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/iphone-vs-android/

    While the article is interesting (and I had already skimmed it), your cryptic post seems designed to imply that the article disputes the sales claim. A quick skimming of the article shows no such refutation. The article is also about Q1, and shows that both Apple and Android grew share by 2%, but that number is apparently rounded to the nearest percent, so at the margin it could be 2.5% to 1.5%.

    So, did you read it much more carefully and find something I’m missing, or did you skim it and somehow think the usage numbers were sales numbers, or are you just trying to spread FUD?

  79. Some Guy:
    > JSK, I notice that you’ve made no attempt to refute anything that Leif said. Frankly, you remind
    > me of one of the AGW cultists heckling a skeptic. Shame on you.

    Hehe! I saw nothing to refute; his points down the line rely heavily on very large if statements, and I had not the energy to point each one out at that hour.

    And besides, I never said he sounded like a supervillain. I said I was imagining him saying his words LIKE a supervillain. Try it. His writing style works wonderfully for it.

    Max E:
    > Might I just observe that on this specific flamewar’s battleground

    This isn’t a flamewar, despite the tone of Leif’s words, especially since he is finally starting to make his arguments logically.

  80. @Some Guy:

    JSK, I notice that you’ve made no attempt to refute anything that Leif said. Frankly, you remind me of one of the AGW cultists heckling a skeptic. Shame on you.

    I can’t speak for JSK. I can say that I started working on a refutation of some the points in some of Leif’s more recent posts, but then decided against it. It’s a lot of work, and there are several factual errors that could be relatively easily pointed out, but experience shows he will just completely ignore factual refutations and citations, and just spout more stuff on a slightly different tangent. To be fair, some of the stuff he writes is reasonable, but not, by all means, all of it. Let me give you a simple example:

    ” The margins on smartphones and consumer electronics are higher…..to go truly mass-market they’d have to allow margins to drop…”

    First of all, at $99 for an iPhone, I don’t really know that their prices are so much higher than other smartphones. Show me a $99 smartphone with all the capabilities of an iPhone…

    As I have mentioned before, I don’t own a smartphone. Furthermore, I have no interest in getting one until the bit transit fees become reasonable. But c’mon — any moron who’s been paying even the slightest bit of attention to this sector knows that the price of a phone with a contract has absolutely nothing to do with the phone manufacturer’s margin on that phone.

    A tiny bit of googling will give you the idea that the true price of the phone at retail is probably upwards of $500. I don’t know what AT&T pays, but it’s certainly more than $100.

    So this statement of Leif’s is worthless, and all the statements that derive from it are suspect. This is not an isolated case; just look around on this and other articles — you will probably see several refutations of Leif’s “facts”, and scant follow-up by him on that. So, at some point, it’s easy to just get tired of trying to engage in a conversation or even a debate with someone who doesn’t present logical arguments or factual citations to dispute your challenges to his previous statements, and just goes on to make new statements with new questionable facts.

    As I have just shown, your admonishment of JSK (“I notice that you’ve made no attempt to refute anything that Leif said.”) is equally (if not more) applicable to Leif, so it’s pretty one-sided of you to call JSK to task without also calling Leif to task.

  81. And besides, I never said he sounded like a supervillain. I said I was imagining him saying his words LIKE a supervillain. Try it. His writing style works wonderfully for it.

    In such situations imagining the voice of Vizzini from The Princess Bride works wonders (and lulz). Leif’s points are too good, however, for me to do him that kind of injustice.

  82. “Really? And why do Windows and Android look like Apple clones? Something must be right with the Apple interface….”
    That’s like saying a Porsche 911 looks exactly like a classic VW Beetle. They’re both rear-engined and have the same *general* layout, but the similarity ends there. Note that I’m not necessarily saying which one of the two cars/interfaces is better– they’re both great-looking, classic designs in their own right, which you prefer visually is an aesthetic judgment.

    (But I personally am not at all a fan of the OS X interface in terms of actual functionality, and though I think Windows is clunky and implemented ineptly, the designers at Microsoft are much closer to being on the right track. Favorite desktop? GNOME.)

    “This isn’t a flamewar, despite the tone of Leif’s words, especially since he is finally starting to make his arguments logically.”
    Now that I think of it, I suppose that was pretty insulting to everyone else who was involved in the discussion here. I apologize.

  83. @Max E:

    That’s like saying a Porsche 911 looks exactly like a classic VW Beetle.

    But it does — after all, they were both designed by Ferdinand Porsche…

  84. The hatred of Apple is palpable, and to be expected. Apple’s rise in the last 10 years is a clear refutation of just about every superstition of the FSM and numerous open source fanatics.

    That’s quite a moronic statement, considering Apple both uses and develops open source software.

    List of best selling books on Amazon in the category of handheld and mobile devices. 21 of the top 25 are related to iOS and iOS development. 3 on Android development. I’m really looking forward to the howlers of rationalizations on this.

    Considering that Google’s Android strategy has resulted in Android-based phones being very widely available only within the last 9-10 months or so, and that iPhone launched at the end of 2007, I’d say that’s not too surprising, and that having even 3 books in the top 25 is pretty damned impressive. It shows that Android has gone from being a “what’s that?” to being a household name.

  85. Another thing to consider:

    The rollout of OS upgrades for iOS devices is controlled by one party: Apple.

    The rollout of OS upgrades for Android devices is controlled by three parties: Google, the phone vendor, and the cellphone service provider.

    Sprint has no plans to roll out FroYo on my Hero, ergo I will never see it without rooting.

    Advantage: Apple.

  86. @Jeff Read:

    There are people who want their iPhones to do things Apple and/or AT&T don’t want them to. They root their phones, and then they have to be extra careful that Apple doesn’t brick their phones.

    Then there are people who want their Heros to do things Sprint doesn’t want them to. They root their phones and then, as far as I know, they are happy, because their phone and OS weren’t created by evil control freaks.

    Finally, there are people who just want to make sure that, in the future, they will get some unspecified upgrades from a vendor, for future unknown but possibly expected problems or features. These people are unhappy if it appears likely to them that they will never get an official upgrade again, even if everything is working fine. These people pay extra to buy stuff from the vendor who promises to hold their hand. At work, we call these people “pointy-haired bosses.”

  87. Patrick:

    You are fair to point out that I have not adequately responded to some counterpoints raised in this thread. Morgan, for example, provided a great presentation of why he feels the history of the 80s and 90s has high relevance to the current mobile handset platform market. Morgan’s presentation is sound, he has a strong grasp of the history. He’s smart and informed. I simply feel he’s drawing incorrect conclusions and do need to point out why.

    As to your quibbles on the issue of margins that I brought up with ESR: look, Android and iPhone are highly price competiti

  88. (continuing)
    competitive. Apple primarily does run with very high margins, yes. But this is not an absolute rule, nor does it preclude Apple from having large volumes or large share, as the success of the iPod and iPhone clearly indicate.

    There’s no battle here with ESR over anything, I simply feel he is grabbing onto a few false assumptions that are leading him to incorrect predictions.

    Probably the simplest way I can put things is this: the race to 51% marketshare is irrelevant. Apple simply will not be squeezed down to single digit marketshare any time soon.

    Those are the two big points that ESR is convinced of.

    Android will probably survive, but it’s simply not gonna hold the mobile market with the kind of dominance Windows once held the desktop.

    In a previous post, esr said that for him the only thing that mattered was that Android became the dominant platform. First, dominant has never been defined. Second, why he finds this important is not clear.

    Android doesn’t need to be dominant. It just needs to be good and have a critical mass. And it could do that with 20% share. And you can be happy with that. But if your happiness requires Android to surpass iPhone, you will be disappointed. For years.

  89. >In a previous post, esr said that for him the only thing that mattered was that Android became the dominant platform.

    No, that is not what I said. And you are a blinkered zealot whose rants are growing less credible by the line.

  90. Eric:

    Missing the point: The real stakes in the smartphone wars
    June 10th, 2010

    “…many of my readers continue to miss the real stakes in the smartphone wars and the real point of my analyses of them.

    It’s not about whether or not Apple will be crushed. It’s not about who makes the “best” products…. It’s about what the next generation of personal computing platforms will be. Down one fork they’ll be open, hackable, and user-controlled. Down the other they’ll be closed, locked down, and vendor-controlled. Though there are others on each side of this struggle, in 2010 it comes down to whether Apple or Android wins the race to over 50% smartphone market share; after that point, network effects will become self-reinforcing until the next technology disruption.”

    There it is, Eric.

    Sure, I did quite a bit of abbreviation. But I think it’s rather safe to say that by the fork of “open, hackable, and user-controlled” you meant Android.

    Now, to be sure, you did add the comment that:

    ” It’s not even necessary that Android itself be the eventual dominant cellphone platform. All they have to do is force the competitive conditions so that whatever does end up dominating is as open as Android is.”

    Well, that’s not gonna happen.

    So, sure. Perhaps it was a bit too much of an abbreviation to say that you wanted “Android to become the dominant platform.” But with your continued insistence on the race to 51%, your continued insistence on the “stakes”, it does kind of all add up.

    I’ll simply repeat what’s most essential: If your happiness requires Android to surpass iPhone, you will be disappointed. For years.

  91. @Leif:

    But this [high margins] is not an absolute rule, nor does it preclude Apple from having large volumes or large share, as the success of the iPod and iPhone clearly indicate.

    There is no current evidence that Jobs would lower his margins vs. just riding products down to zero volume, so while it may not be an “absolute rule”, it certainly appears to be a clear preference.

    The iPod is a different market segment; it’s primarily an appliance to play music and do some very minimal surfing, and Apple’s bundled music store (btw, I’m surprised there hasn’t been any antitrust traction there, but I guess the wheels of justice grind slowly) gives them a huge advantage for that appliance function, which helps them keep their margin. This is a niche market compared to the overall cell phone market.

    smartphones are also (currently) a niche market compared to the overall cellphone market. Apple may be big in the smartphone market, but they are still a blip on any graph of total cell phone quarterly shipments. Partnering with AT&T has allowed them to grow market share while maintaining high margins, because AT&T is willing to make up the margin difference for the customer lock-in it enables.

    So, (continuing my previous theme that perhaps Apple currently has a higher market share than they were aiming for) as long as AT&T is willing to make up the margin difference to Apple, and AT&T’s network is good enough to continue to give Jobs his target market share, Apple may very well be perfectly happy to keep the relationship with AT&T. In fact, if the exclusive contract were up right now, perhaps they would even extend it for a few months or a year, because assuming Apple is getting the margin and market share they want, it really is a symbiotic relationship. AT&T can entice subscribers with something no other network has, and Apple has lower support costs.

    From Apple’s perspective, it may be that the only time there would be an issue is if, once the contract is up, AT&T decides that heavier subsidies for iPhones than for other smartphones no longer make business sense (e.g. that no longer helps customer retention, because other cheaper smartphones are “good enough” for most people.) If that occurs, AT&T will reduce the subsidy on the iPhone, and the under-contract price will rise compared to other smartphones (bye-bye $99).

    Even then, Apple has a lot of options to keep their margins high. One option is to do nothing. Another option might even be to enter into a new exclusive with a different provider for a period of time. And of course, they can always just sell unlocked phones to the faithful at insanely high prices. I would almost predict a hybrid strategy where they sell unlocked phones for a high enough price to satisfy a different carrier, but have an exclusive carrier arrangement for contracts. This would make it possible for anybody to get an iPhone, but it would still attract a huge subsidy from a carrier that wanted an almost-exclusive badly enough.

    However, the niche that is currently the smartphone market is going to get much bigger. According to iSuppli, Apple only shipped 3% of all cell phones in Q1, so if Apple has more than a quarter of the smartphone market, that means that smartphones are currently less than 12% of the total cellphone market (but rising rapidly).

    So, as smartphones take over, I think there’s plenty of room for Apple to keep its margins high, and ship more phones, and even get a bigger percentage of the cellphone market, but I think its percentage of the smartphone market will be dropping pretty rapidly. And I believe that would be true with or without Android.

    Of course, I could be wrong about all this, but (1) I haven’t seen anything that indicates that Jobs is willing to drop the margins and slug it out at the bottom, (2) while some will buy smartphones for the status, the smartphone market will have a lot more buyers interested in utility than the MP3 player market does, and (3) Jobs doesn’t have a lock on any compelling smartphone functionality like he does with the iTunes store, so barring some phenomenal rabbit-out-of-a-hat trick, it’s hard to see Apple gaining the sort of lock on phones it has on MP3 players.

  92. @Patrick Maupin:

    That’s another excellent analysis and it shows that you have a grasp of the cellphone market that Leif does not. Just to further clarify point (3), the App Store is not the same advantage the iTunes Music Store is for the media player market. So long as smartphones remain as a development platform (and I see no reason they wouldn’t), I see no reason Android Market shouldn’t have as many applications as the App Store within the next couple of years — it’s already growing exponentially and, as the author of that article points out, it has nowhere to go but up. The success of Android sales in 1Q2010 has been more than enough to spurr an active developer community; 9300 apps were added in March alone.

  93. Considering that Google’s Android strategy has resulted in Android-based phones being very widely available only within the last 9-10 months or so, and that iPhone launched at the end of 2007, I’d say that’s not too surprising, and that having even 3 books in the top 25 is pretty damned impressive. It shows that Android has gone from being a “what’s that?” to being a household name.

    But for the following facts, that might be an interesting conclusion:

    Android was unveiled on 5 November 2007, mere months after the iPhone was launched, and prior to the iPhone gaining a non-web API.

    Android went Open Source on 21 October 2008.

    Android’s problem is market share.

    According to an interview with Eric Schmidt with “The Guardian” Android is getting 160,000 new users per day (end June 2010) up from 100,000 per day in May 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jun/25/android-schmidt-mobile-platform)

    meanwhile Apple sold what, 1.7 million phones in 3 days? And this number despite:

    the initial pre-order system failures

    the device shortages (which Apple apologized for in their release)

    and the fact that nobody can get a white iPhone 4 (yet)

    If Eric is to be believed, Google is getting 4.8M phones/month right now, while Apple is shipping > 17 Million iPhone 4 units per month.

    The HTC Dream (aka the T-Mobile G1) was released on 22 October 2008, 20 months ago.

    The HTC Magic was released between April 2009 and June 2009, a year to 14 months ago, depending on country.

    The HTC Hero (aka the Droid on Verizon and G2 on T-Mobile) was launched July 2009, a year ago, everywhere outside the US.

  94. Android was unveiled on 5 November 2007, mere months after the iPhone was launched, and prior to the iPhone gaining a non-web API.

    However, Android phones only just became on the nation’s largest wireless carrier, AT&T, and on Sprint and Verizon in the second half of last year. Prior to that, you could only get it on T-Mobile, who is a minor bit player in cell phone business. iPhone has been shipping in volume since the second half of 2007.

  95. @SomeGuy:
    > Will there be competitors? Sure, someone’s got to play the “cheaper than the next guy” game, and we’ll certainly see a flood of Chinese knock-offs running Android. Anyone who needs a tablet and can’t afford an iPad will go for an Android tablet. The Android vendors will compete vigorously on price, and margins will be squeezed so tight that they’ll be using inferior materials to try to stay in business, just like we saw with windows laptops. The knock-offs will be flimsy, they will will have inferior battery life, inferior displays, inferior performance, and a dramatically inferior service life. Two years if you’re lucky.

    Remember that part of Huckleberry Finn, where “The King” and “The Duke” put on a show for a town in Arkansas? Where the show was really a ripoff and a fraud? Remember when the townspeople decided to wait until everyone *else* had been ripped off as well, keeping the fraud a secret? Because otherwise they’d be laughingstock? I think this case is similar. And just like the hicks from Huckleberry Finn, you have this irrational urge to become implicit in the fraud by promoting Apple’s products.

    Look, the iPad is made in a Taiwanese-owned sweatshop in China, just like every other future competing product will be. Apple’s famed build quality is a myth (http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2009/11/apple-fourth-best-among-build-quality-study-for-portables.ars,) really it’s no less shoddy than is typical. That’s because almost all computer companies these days source their actual products from Chinese and Taiwanese companies, such as Quanta (which makes something like 15% of all laptops,) and Foxconn.

  96. Patrick,

    I am impressed with many of your observations on this, but I think it’s leading you to the wrong conclusion. 

    There seems to be a lot of focus in these threads on margins and marketshare, both of which are irrelevant. There seems to be the belief Steve Jobs doesn’t understand network effects. This is false; he understands them better than anyone here. And sone seem to think Apple is primarily a hardware company. It’s actually a software company that incidentally delivers via hardware sales. 

    People seem convinced that it’s imperative to seize marketshare. When Apple doesn’t appear to be doing this, it’s rationalized away as being the result of Steve’s stupidity or obsession with margins. 

    You’re right to observe that Apple doesn’t appear to be racing to dump massive amounts of product on the market. The question thus becomes: why?

    First, it’s hard to imagine th building iPhones much faster. Secondly, the load they are placing on the network is heavy enough as it is. Imagine the sstrain of adding 1 million devices in a weekend, with all of those people rushing to download apps and content. And less than a percent of these people having connection issues. 

    If Apple aggressively tooled up, they could drop millions of phones onto Verizon or Sprint, as well. And they could leverage economies of scale to do so in a way to undercut HTC and Motorola. And grab 51%. And do it at a profit. But they aren’t. 

    Because the infrastructure won’t support it. The surge in network traffic would be enormous and it would be a mess. 

    Take a look at the iPad. Why doesn’t it have cameras?  All the experts couldn’t figure this out. Heck, there is space for the camera inside already. Why isn’t it there?

    Profits? Cameras cost a buck or so. It wouldn’t effect margins at all. 

    Now a complete moron will insist that it doesn’t have cameras because evil Steve plans on adding it later to force people to upgrade. 

    The reason the iPad doesn’t have a camera is because the network bandwidth isn’t there. Most cell and wifi systems just aren’t up to it. Most home wifi isn’t up to it. 

    When the iPad was released, it pulled so much wifi that many universities initially banned it. Imagine if everyone tried video chatting with the damned things. On top of that, because networks aren’t up to snuff, most consumers would have blamed Apple for this. Oh, the videochat isn’t that good. It’s jittery. It drops connections. 

    That is why the iPad doesn’t have cameras. Yet. 

    Which leads us to the ipads purpose: it’s simply there to prep the ground for the future. Apple isn’t selling ipads to make money off of hardware. They are simply tooling up and letting enough into the market to get the app and content development started. That’s it. 

    Apple could give ipads away at cost and still profit.  The fact that they aren’t is because they don’t need to. 

    Apple has pretty much stopped talking about it. It has enough in the wild to begin what’s important. When conditions are right, when they are tooled up and ready to go, they’ll open the floodgates. 

    This will probably occur when everyone else rolls out their iPad killers. Thinking that by adding a few features and a slightly lower price, many will come to market. All these companies will spend big money promoting the tablet form, invest lots of money in starting production, and bring their stuff to market. 

    And they’ll be like Pharoah’s army rushing into the red sea. Apple will just barely drop margins and leverage the iPad’s superior software and content portfolio. The clone makers will make the thinnest of margins. And it’ll be iPod vs everyone else all over again. 

    Same goes with the phone market. Apple isn’t rushing for sheer arbitrary marketshare. Yet. They are building all the important features into the ecosystem and waiting for the infrastructure to develop.  

    I’m telling you straight up: Apple isn’t worried about Android. At all. And everything they’ve done since 2007 with the iPhone is simply about prep work. The iPhones we’ve seen so far are nothing more than betas, minor market testing. 

    Android is a Dell jukebox. 

  97. Leif,

    > Which succeeded because it had a pretty user interface and nice user experience. Which the fosstards insist has no bearing whatsoever.

    You must know different FOSS advocates than I do. The ones I read are all about “a pretty user interface and nice user experience”. They think it’s essential for FOSS to make it big on the desktop (and in other places), which they want.

    The problem is that developing “a pretty user interface and nice user experience” does not seem scratch very many FOSS developer itches enough to do all the work to keep up with Microsoft and Apple, at least as regards Linux. It scratches some, and much work has been done, but it is hard to keep up, particularly since you then need difficult to develop applications, like Office. Open Office is not keeping up yet! The strategy of paying developers scratches (different) developer itches very well. But that’s where Google comes in. Google is paying developers to develop “a pretty user interface and nice user experience” and, unlike any Linux companies I know of, Google, like Apple has plenty of $$$$.

    I like FOSS. It’s great for CPAN and other things with a high developer scratch to developer itch ratio. But nice GUI interfaces for complex products for users (not developers – see Eclipse!) have a low developer scratch to developer itch ratio. That’s where ECSS (Expensive Closed Source Systems) or FOSSWAASEBG (Free/Open Source Systems Which As A Side Effect Benefit Google) do better.

    Yours,
    Tom

  98. @Leif’s latest: What? Wait, wait, what? Wait, wait, what?!

    >Because the infrastructure won’t support it. The surge in network traffic would be enormous and it would be a mess.

    So because Apple is generous and benevolent to us puny humans and our worthless infrastructure, Apple isn’t subjecting us to its full holiness and glory? Are you really saying that the reason Apple’s offerings are missing features are because these features are all Things Mere Mortals Weren’t Meant to Know? Is Steve Jobs also sitting tight on the cure for cancer because “You are not ready for immortality?”

    >Apple could give ipads away at cost and still profit. The fact that they aren’t is because they don’t need to.

    Numbers please. Some may be more likely to believe you if your lies are bigger and bolder, but I for one remain dubious.

    >I’m telling you straight up: Apple isn’t worried about Android. At all. And everything they’ve done since 2007 with the
    >iPhone is simply about prep work. The iPhones we’ve seen so far are nothing more than betas, minor market testing.

    As others have said, you sound like a comical dime-novel megalomaniac. Please, do you have any actual inside news from Apple of these unspecified vague grand schemes? Or are you just going to monologue all day about how inevitable our defeat is like that guy from The Incredibles?

  99. First, it’s hard to imagine th building iPhones much faster. Secondly, the load they are placing on the network is heavy enough as it is. Imagine the sstrain of adding 1 million devices in a weekend, with all of those people rushing to download apps and content. And less than a percent of these people having connection issue.

    A million units a weekend? That’s just fucking hilarious. There is NO ONE, repeat, NOT ONE SINGLE HARDWARE COMPANY pushing a million units in a weekend. NONE. To give you an idea, the entire personal computer sector “only” shipped 200 million units worldwide in 2005. Far less than 1 million units a day — for the ENTIRE INDUSTRY.

    Are you SERIOUSLY suggesting that Apple could ramp up and ship more iPhones than the entire PC industry could ship computers?

    Hahahah….my sides are hurting from the laughter!

    Dude, you need to put the crack pipe down and back away — slowly!

  100. @J. Jay:

    If Eric is to be believed, Google is getting 4.8M phones/month right now, while Apple is shipping > 17 Million iPhone 4 units per month.

    I’ve never seen that 17 million units/ month number before, and have to assume that it came straight out of your round pink puckered thing.

    Here’s some numbers from someone who probably has a more reliable ass than yours. He thinks that total iPhone shipments will be 7.5 million in 2Q10, rising to 10.5 million in 3Q10.

    Just in case you’re still struggling with the math, even the 10.5 million number for the whole quarter ending in September is significantly less than Android’s current run rate, which, according to the article you quote, is growing rather rapidly.

    As Morgan says, back away from the crack pipe, and then consider reevaluating some of your other claims as well…

  101. Patrick:

    he’s probably quoting an article like this one which showed that the initial rush on iphone 4s was 1.7m in the first three days. So maybe not completely crack pipe worthy but anyone who thinks the first weekend is indicative of long term sales figures is certainly dabbling in something. Especially considering about a third of that number is in pre-orders.

    This link has a summary of many analyst estimates for 2010Q3. Having said that, their Q2 estimates were completely off but their Q1 estimates were somewhat normally distributed around the real figure.

  102. @JonB:

    Yes, when I read his post I had an inkling of how he got there — he actually wrote “1.7 million phones in 3 days” and then, apparently using what he considered to be “reasoning”, extrapolated. But as Pauli would say, that’s not even wrong.

    According to this article, Apple’s own “top-line forecast” calls for a total of 42.6 million iPhones (of all models) in 2010. But Jay J seems to think they can do that in 2.5 months on iPhone 4s alone.

  103. And sone seem to think Apple is primarily a hardware company. It’s actually a software company that incidentally delivers via hardware sales.

    Leaving aside iOS, if this were actually true they would be selling their software (MacOS X) to anyone who could run the damn thing. This however is simply not the case as the lawsuit with Psystar shows. (The main factor of the Psystar lawsuit is that they breached DMCA by circumventing an anti-copying device that stops you running MacOS on anything other than an Apple machine).

    Still your statement is kind of a accurate. These days they outsource the manufacturing to wherever is cheapest but the design has to be theirs and their software has to run on their designed hardware. And then they market the shit out of it.

    So while they’re not really a hardware company per se (and despite the fact that their software might as well be driver firmware on their hardware), they’re not interested in just selling their software. Jobs himself would probably call Apple an “experience” company or something like that.

    To be fair, it’s kind of hard to bittorrent an ipod(so far).

  104. BTW, google’s apparently not sitting still while Apple’s busy trying to steal google’s ad revenue. Just google “google music store” and read a few of the articles. Reading between the lines, it appears that a few of the people that Jobs has pissed off happen to be record company executives. (Of course, the battles about DRM and song pricing are old news, but either the execs have long memories, or there is something else going on.)

  105. I find the pro- and anti-Apple threads here quite fascinating: lots of knowledge and good arguments on all sides, and with limited name-calling. Good job everyone.

    Anyone fair-minded has to admit that iPhones and iPads are breakthrough products, beautiful and powerful and affordable and flexible in ways that would have blown the mind of any geek just five years ago. Folks, it’s a well-thought-out touchscreen OS built on UNIX in handheld devices with great screens and battery life! Developers have made $1 billion writing for them! How about some appreciation? Jeez, don’t just gripe that there are flaws and limits and they could be $X cheaper. But that’s gratitude and Moore’s Law (and F/OSS politics) for you.

    I tend to side with Leif, but with a nod towards his critics who think he may be overstating things. One aspect that I think he understands: Jobs is playing a long game. It’s not about next quarter’s marketshare, or profit margins, or hypnotic marketing powers over upscale consumer zombies, or evil corporate closed-source DRM control. It is about harnessing computer power with excellent design to produce affordable consumer products that can change the world. Everything serves that goal: profits, marketshare, open-or-closed, maniacal secrecy about future plans, etc. That’s what Jobs has been aiming for since the Lisa, if not the Apple I. He’s been on a roll since the iMac and I don’t see it ending soon.

    Leif may be wrong in some details, and overstate at times, but he understands it’s a long game. Little problems like quirky antennas or App Store policies aren’t game-changers, just stumbles to be overcome. Apple will pick itself up and keep running towards their goal, which is years out. (Don’t forget that $1 billion data center in NC. Once that powers up I suspect many of you will look back at today’s Apple products and think “Ah, so that’s what they were planning….”)

    It’s hard to beat someone in that sort of race by focusing on copying them and adding features (even the feature of openness) and lowering prices and avoiding the same little problems. You might catch up at times, but you’re still following the leader, and since you don’t really know where he’s going, you’re unlikely to get there first.

    But who knows, maybe in five or ten years Apple will be sidelined, and the world will be filled with Android devices, from low-end crap to ubergeek wondergadgets and everything in between. But if that does happen, it will be because Android and associates spent years following the lead of the often-reviled Steve Jobs.

  106. “BTW, google’s apparently not sitting still while Apple’s busy trying to steal google’s ad revenue. Just google “google music store” and read a few of the articles.”
    “Steal”, you mean illegally obtain google’s ad revenue? Or is it just trying to keep/increase it’s market share? Is google “stealing” Apple’s smartphone market share?

  107. @PapayaSF:

    There is no doubt in my mind that Steve Jobs’ ultimate goal is “to change the world” through “insanely great products.” It’s not like Jobs’ MO and rhetoric has changed much in 30 years. And I also get the Jobs is playing a long game. I don’t hate Steve Jobs, I simply find his methods to be flawed.

    As to whether Apple will pull a rabbit out of its hat, who knows? Probably Jobs has something in mind.

    The real question is will whether Steve Jobs will be able to continue the lead he his currently enjoying using the same methods he’s always used. And the real answer is likely “no.” Jobs did good things for Apple by pushing their profit margins higher. However, his methods have never been successful in controlling anything over the long haul but the music player business, which is a very different market than smartphones and other computing devices.

    You can’t do the same things over and over and expect different results.

    Will Apple’s strategy shift in response to the Android threat? I doubt it. As you say, they’re playing a long game, the details of which are unknown. But we can look at Apple’s past behavior and guess what it’s going to be: more of the same proprietary walled-garden with maniacal control. And it’s a model that has a long, long history of failure.

  108. Wow, so much to say here. I am absolutely convinced that in a few years, people will look back on this thread in much the same way as people now look back on threads following the announcement of the iPod. All those armchair experts confidently proclaiming Apple could never compete in such a market. The stock price falling. Oh, good times.

    And here I am, popping off and talking about how huge the iPod will be.

    So I’ll go further: Apple will soon be larger than Microsoft and Google combined. iPhone sales will only continue to grow for several years. The App store will keep growing, and the Android market won’t surpass it. For years.

    Morgan: Steve Jobs isn’t merely smarter than you imagine. He is smarter than you can imagine.

    If you were paying attention, I said nothing about manufacturing 1 million phones in a weekend. I was talking about the strain on a cellular network of adding 1 million new devices in a weekend.

  109. @Leif: You implied/stated that Apple could ship a million devices in a weekend if it wanted to and that it was holding back. I’m telling you that that is completely unrealistic. In doing so, I’m simply demonstrating that you have no grasp whatsoever on the cellular phone business or even the tech sector in general.

  110. @TINSTAAFL:

    “Steal”, you mean illegally obtain google’s ad revenue?

    Possibly. Remains to be determined.

    Is google “stealing” Apple’s smartphone market share?

    Not in the same sense of being anti-competitive, no. However, it will be interesting to see if any of the Apple complaints at the ITC get any traction. Apple and Samsung and others could possibly put a crimp in the smartphone supply with a protracted patent battle.

  111. Specifically Apple is complaning about HTC. Some of those patents are sketchy at best: this patent is an attempt to patent a procedural operating system having an object-oriented class API. Holy prior art, Batman!

    I suspect that Apple doesn’t think it has a leg to stand on, lest it would be dragging HTC into court instead of complaining to the ITC.

  112. Morgan: Yes, Apple could ship a million devices in a weekend. They did so. In fact, they delivered 1.7 million on the first weekend. I was talking about the consequences on the network of this, specifically AT&T’s. Considering the first weekend consisted of the US and just a few other markets, I’m guestimating, and I believe reasonably so, that approx 1 million new devices appeared on the AT&T network at that time.

    It’s not surprising that AT&T is getting a bad rap about drop calls, nor that some people are hallucinating an issue with the iPhone’s antenna. That’s a big surge in network traffic.

    I made no mention of manufacturing 1 million devices in a weekend.

  113. Oh, and Morgan, some news in today about that irrelevant iPod Touch.

    The news is the next generation, due out in just a few months, will basically utilize the same external dimensions of the iPhone, plus add cameras and FaceTime. Just think of all the iPhone owners who will want to buy one for their kids in order to stay in touch. And the kids who will want them due to all those silly games you think are so unimportant.

    Or the college students who’d like an iPhone but don’t want the monthly payments.

    You know, I’m guessing that 14-24 year old demographic might be prone to buying a lot of games and music.

    So, tell you what. I’ll match yours and ESR’s oddball few dozen road warriors in backwoods Georgia with 20 million high school and college students. How about that? And since they aren’t having to pay for big data plans to wireless carriers, think of the money they’ll be able to throw at apps and other content. Then again, after a year or two of buying apps and other content, and they decide to move up to a phone… I wonder what their platform of choice will be?

    Welcome to the real world of network effects.

  114. PapayaSF:
    > Anyone fair-minded has to admit that iPhones and iPads are breakthrough products, beautiful
    > and powerful and affordable and flexible in ways that would have blown the mind of any geek
    > just five years ago. Folks, it’s a well-thought-out touchscreen OS built on UNIX in handheld
    > devices with great screens and battery life! Developers have made $1 billion writing for them!
    > How about some appreciation? Jeez, don’t just gripe that there are flaws and limits and they
    > could be $X cheaper. But that’s gratitude and Moore’s Law (and F/OSS politics) for you.

    I primarily use OSX on my tri-boot tower. My ‘Touch is a Very Cool Appliance. If someone were to hand me an iPad I would take it graciously. Apple makes Damn Good Stuff. If Apple wants to be an (or the) innovation leader, I say let ‘em. They’ve got the money, they’ve got the talent. Bully for them.

    But, aside from a few specialty areas (Final Cut Pro namely) I only use their products where it will not lock me in to a one-sided relationship. I have no professional workflows that rely on an Apple-controlled scheme, and if I have to go elsewhere there is nothing stopping me. Leif would say that, in the future, that won’t be possible as Apple will have a lock on the dominant computing paradigm, and potentially computing itself.

    Anyone who tries to convince me that the megalomaniacal control asserted by Apple over their product domain is the Way of the Future for all computing devices is immediately labeled in my mind as ‘misguided’ at best and ‘outright soul-sucking evil’ at worst. And I don’t mean this as name-calling. It is my humble assessment of a position. Is it necessary to explain why I feel this way?

  115. jsk: something missed in all of this is that I am a bit leery about things. I see Apple rising to a position of great dominance, perhaps greater than Microsoft in the 1990s. Certainly not in terms of the irrelevant market share issue, but in other ways.

    And yes, it is a risk. Personally, I’m not particularly worried (yet) about the stuff you’re describing with emotive language in the last paragraph. It’s essentially more practical things. For example, dumping a lot of energy into mastering a certain set of tools and then having support for that toolset suddenly change. Obviously, Apple has a history of being willing to drop things.

    On the flip side, this is a worry with any technology or any software. I’m looking at stuff beyond the issue of proprietary file formats or specialized code, such as in the case of Microsoft Office. Even something as basic as Photoshop has these issues: the cost of buying Photoshop isn’t nearly as high as the cost of learning how to really use it, the investment in mastery. And this has been a detriment to me in recent years as Photoshop has morphed into a do everything, bloated, slow piece of software that has pricey upgrades of features I largely don’t need and many I simply wish weren’t there.

    As to your last paragraph… Is Apple the Way of the Future? Well, let me put it to you like this: It’s Apple that’s in the driver’s seat. In this forum, we have some pretty smart people from the FOSS world. And yet, as this thread indicates, they are absolutely clueless of 1) Apple’s current position, and 2) absolutely incredulous about where Apple could easily be soon.

    In a sense, you could consider much of what I’ve said as a warning as much as a prophecy or prediction. And the primary response has been ridicule and laughter. Which really doesn’t bother me at all. But I think it shows why FOSS has had no success in the consumer space. Most of them are oblivious to what Apple is doing right in front of their faces, so why should we expect them to be able to construct a challenger?

    Maybe megalomaniacal control IS necessary to drive things. As of now, despite the very real contributions of the bazaar in backroom stuff, it has shown itself impotent before the cathedral in driving significant paradigm or convention shifts that end users can recognize, identify, and want.

  116. @Morgan:

    The ITC is actually a better deal for dealing with patents on imported stuff — moves much faster than a regular court…

  117. The one thing that I do think is very fascinating, and has the potential to be very illustrative on so many levels, is this: 10 years ago, Microsoft’s lock on things seemed unbreakable. It was only in 1997 that Bill Gates said of Steve Jobs, “I can’t figure out why he tries. He knows he can’t win.” That’s also around the time when Michael Dell said that if he was named Apple CEO he’d “liquidate the assets and return the money to the shareholders.”

    If one really grasps Apple’s current market and strategic position, something which is clearly beyond Morgan or ESR, one can only be astonished at how rapidly tables have turned. It’s absolutely astonishing. Personally, I think even Google is on the way down and actually in the middle of a contraction from which they lack the resources to stop. Schmidt simply isn’t up to the task. Google will survive, but already their dominance has been shaken. And other than their 1990s search engine, Adsense, and Gmail, I don’t see them as having rolled out any real successes.

    Want to know how weak Google is? Just how absolutely precarious their position is? When you understand it, you see that Google is nothing more than a house of cards that could collapse over 50% in just a couple of years. The only thing that powers Google is habit. All people have to do is change a bookmark in their browser and become accustomed to sifting through different returns. That IS a big thing, but it’s NOTHING compared to getting people to use a new office suite.

    The vast majority of Google’s users couldn’t even tell you about the competition. They just use Google. It works for them, and they’ve never checked to see if anything better is out there. (I’m not saying it is, I’m just making a point.) Ask 10 average computer users “What’s the best search engine?” “Google!” “how many have you really tried and tested in the last year?” Ask for names of other search engines and a description of the differences. Most people are utterly clueless.

    That’s Google’s strength. That is their weakness.

    Things can change so fast. Things have changed so fast. It wasn’t that long ago when Linux types were experiences delusions of grandeur that they could overcome Microsoft with free software. All they had to do was overcome Microsoft and the world would be all theirs. Wasn’t long ago they talked about this… a time, just a few years ago, when Apple was apparently heading for bankruptcy and no one even heard of Google.

    Things change fast in this industry. Except the religious views of various F/OSS kooks. Those are locked in time, fossilized, utterly resistant to what is happening right in front of their faces. It’s said that cults become more fanatical in the face of failed prophecies, and by this standard F/OSS truly is a cult. The bazarr is more religious than the cathedral.

  118. Leif:
    > Maybe megalomaniacal control IS necessary to drive things. As of now, despite the very real
    > contributions of the bazaar in backroom stuff, it has shown itself impotent before the cathedral
    > in driving significant paradigm or convention shifts that end users can recognize, identify, and want.

    I wonder at how much that is due to a failure in education, especially at a young level. I understand that Joe User probably doesn’t want to know the underpinnings of the devices he uses, but then he probably also didn’t want to learn algebra in grade school. This is mindless rambling, feel free to disect it.

  119. @Leif:
    >Wow, so much to say here. I am absolutely convinced that in a few years, people will
    >look back on this thread in much the same way as people now look back on threads
    >following the announcement of the iPod. All those armchair experts confidently
    >proclaiming Apple could never compete in such a market. The stock price falling.
    >Oh, good times.

    >And here I am, popping off and talking about how huge the iPod will be.
    The iPhone, iTouch, and iPad are *already* huge, no one is denying that. But that also means they have nowhere to go but down. Unless, of course, you’re saying these products are so great, even my goldfish will want twelve of each? Especially with the iPad, everyone who wants one already has one (or will soon.) I predict that Apple will soon have trouble selling them.

    It’s important to keep in mind that the iPod Touch is entirely different than the classic iPod, and I personally think it’s got less staying power. (No I’m not going to elaborate on why, because it’s just a hunch or a gut feeling– feel free to ignore this paragraph, but I really suspect it’s true.)

    >Maybe megalomaniacal control IS necessary to drive things. As of now, despite the
    >very real contributions of the bazaar in backroom stuff, it has shown itself impotent
    >before the cathedral in driving significant paradigm or convention shifts that end
    >users can recognize, identify, and want.
    You just gave me this hilarious mental picture of the Notre Dame Cathedral driving an old AMC Gremlin with clickwheel-style wheels. I think that just about sums up Apple’s position at the moment.

  120. The ITC is actually a better deal for dealing with patents on imported stuff — moves much faster than a regular court…

    Well, consider this: the ITC can’t award monetary damages at all, and it can still take 12-18 months to get the order to halt importation. One other caveat is that the POTUS can issue an executive order stopping the ban if it fails to comply with executive policy. Furthermore, ITC decisions can be appealed to the U.S. District Court of Appeals, and any the ITC order can be stayed pending the outcome of the appeal. This means in pretty much all cases you’re going to end up going to court anyway.

  121. jsk: I think you are overly concerned about an Apple “lock.” Partly it’s just different technology: cellphones are not as hackable as PCs, due to the hardware and regulation. Mostly, though, I think computer tech often (usually?) moves through phases of being more closed or more open. It can start either open (HTML) or closed (CPU designs, hard disk drive patents), but over time tends to move toward the open end of things, as patents expire or are worked around.

    Apple may appear to be becoming more closed, but that’s only because their vision of the future of iOS devices requires it for now. Their other products aren’t becoming more closed. Creating a new, well-designed OS that works on portable devices is hard enough; doing it in a more open way would be far more difficult. But look at the history: Mac desktops and laptops are more open than the original Mac. OS X is more open than OS 9. The iTunes store is more open than it was, having dropped DRM. The App Store is more open than the original iPhone, when all developers could do was write web apps.

    True, Apple is not totally on the FOSS side of things, but to me it looks like they move in that direction when they can. And as I’ve said in other threads, I think the anti-Apple folks around here are mistaken to assume that Apple wants more control for its own sake, when they really just need it at times to get a technology established, and can give it up quickly if they want or need to. That’s a major reason I am skeptical of the Android triumphalism around here: it will be very hard for Android to compete against Apple’s advantages in hardware/software integration, developer ecosystem, etc., but Apple can compete against Android’s advantage of openness any time they want.

  122. PapayaSF:
    > I think you are overly concerned about an Apple “lock.”

    I am concerned about people espousing it as a good thing.

  123. @PapayaSF:

    ellphones are not as hackable as PCs, due to the hardware and regulation.

    That’s certainly changing — multiple CPU cores means the user can have one of his own.

    Apple may appear to be becoming more closed, but that’s only because their vision of the future of iOS devices requires it for now. Their other products aren’t becoming more closed.

    I don’t think that’s true.

    The iTunes store is more open than it was, having dropped DRM.

    Apple is still desperately trying to use iTunes to lock people in to its MP3 players; see the cat and mouse game with Palm, for example. DRM, while stupid, is orthogonal to software openness.

    Apple is not totally on the FOSS side of things, but to me it looks like they move in that direction when they can.

    I would say more that they move in the opposite direction whenever it doesn’t create huge political problems for them. I don’t know how you can look at how they handle app approval and then write that with a straight face.

    I think the anti-Apple folks around here are mistaken to assume that Apple wants more control for its own sake, when they really just need it at times to get a technology established, and can give it up quickly if they want or need to. That’s a major reason I am skeptical of the Android triumphalism around here: it will be very hard for Android to compete against Apple’s advantages in hardware/software integration, developer ecosystem, etc., but Apple can compete against Android’s advantage of openness any time they want.

    I don’t think the word “open” means what you think it means. Do you really expect that Apple will let you run their phone OS on other vendors’ hardware? Do you really think that Apple will ever just let anybody write and distribute any app they want for iOS? (Obviously, they could do either of those things, but it seems to me highly unlikely they will.)

    But in any case, most of your argument is irrelevant to why people think Android is going to take off. It really is extremely simple:

    1) There is a pent-up demand for cheap smartphones with cheap bandwidth. The smartphone market is currently only 1/8 the cellphone market, and could easily grow by a factor of 4 with current smartphone formfactors, and could easily take over the entire cellphone market once the smartphones are cheap enough and have robust enough voice I/O and better power management.

    2) Apple isn’t going to make cheap smartphones. Or to phrase it another way, someone else will always be willing to take lower margins and make them more cheaply.

    3) Competition will eventually force the carriers to provide cheap bandwidth.

    #3 means that Apple’s share of total cellphone sales will grow, probably substantially. But #2 means that Apple’s share of smartphone sales will shrink.

    Look, I haven’t seen anybody write here that Apple will be forced out of the phone business, or even that Apple won’t carve out an exceptionally profitable niche there, just like they have with computers. But the way Apple builds profitable niches is to not compete on price. They make a lot of money by being cool, and if everybody had one, they wouldn’t be cool any more. Right now, I think less than 4% of cellphone users are Apple cool. I could see that rising to somewhere between 10 and 20% as smartphones become more ubiquitous, but it’s unclear to me that a larger market share would be the right answer for Apple.

    As cellphones become general purpose computing platforms, the market will probably come to look more like the general computer market. The dominant vertically integrated platform will probably sell at a lower rate (but with much higher overall margins) than platforms based on the dominant portable, easily licensed, software stack. In short, once cellphones become the new computer, Apple will be the new Apple and Android will be the new Microsoft.

  124. @Morgan:

    Well, consider this: the ITC can’t award monetary damages at all, and it can still take 12-18 months to get the order to halt importation. One other caveat is that the POTUS can issue an executive order stopping the ban if it fails to comply with executive policy. Furthermore, ITC decisions can be appealed to the U.S. District Court of Appeals, and any the ITC order can be stayed pending the outcome of the appeal. This means in pretty much all cases you’re going to end up going to court anyway.

    All that’s true enough, but you grossly underestimate the value of having a binding decision in 18 months without a huge cash outlay. In Federal court, it might take 4 or 5 years and millions of dollars to litigate. In addition to the speed and cost benefits, ITC hearings also offer other benefits. For one thing the venue is known, and the defendant can’t waste years fighting that, and for another thing, personal jurisdiction doesn’t need to be established against the manufacturer (since the suit is against the goods). Finally, res judicata and estoppel aren’t as easily brought as patent defenses. In short, the reason that everybody is doing it is that it really does work better in a lot of cases.

  125. >I would say more that they move in the opposite direction [becoming more closed] whenever it doesn’t create huge political problems for them.

    Absolutely. The Apple model is clear: lock down everything you can, specialize in good UI and hardware aesthetics, and prefer high margins on a smaller userbase to lower margins on a larger one. They’ve been executing this model with barely a variation since 1984.

  126. I think Patrick and esr are paying better attention to Apple’s history than Leif. I have loved Apple products since the Lisa came out. But I’m always too cheap to buy them – including the two Creative Labs MP3 players I bought. I owned Hondas, not BMWs, and now I bought a Kia rather than another Honda. Price matters.

    Yours,
    Tom

  127. A new smartphone survey is out here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/comscore-reports-may-2010-us-mobile-subscriber-market-share-98031904.html

    Their results are a bit different from what I’ve seen elsewhere (different definition or methodology?), but look credible… RIM/Blackberry is the clear leader near 40% share, with Apple second around 24%, Windows Mobile in third at 14%, Android just a hair behind that, and Palm at maybe 5%.

    Notably, in this survey, everyone but Android is losing share… Android was up from 9% to 13% in the last two quarters (though, to be fair, it didn’t include the iPhone 4 launch).

  128. > though, to be fair, it didn’t include the iPhone 4 launch

    Not to sound too dickish, but why has no-one mentioned the lack of data on how many of these new iPhones are mere upgrades and not sales to new customers?

    So, Apple sells 1.7M units over a weekend. How many of those were bought by people who didn’t already have iPhones?

    Or did someone mention this and I just missed it?

  129. >Their results are a bit different from what I’ve seen elsewhere (different definition or methodology?), but look credible… RIM/Blackberry is the clear leader near 40% share, with Apple second around 24%, Windows Mobile in third at 14%, Android just a hair behind that, and Palm at maybe 5%

    Doesn’t sound crazy, except…Windows Moble at 14%? That strikes me as nearly an order of magnitude too high.

  130. @Mike E:

    Interesting survey. Covers usage, where most of what we have been discussing covers sales.

    As you point out, in smartphone market which grew by 8.1%, Android is the only platform to gain share.

    But perhaps even more interestingly, while RIM and Apple gained users (but not at the rate of market growth), Microsoft and Palm lost users in absolute numbers, not just in marketshare numbers. Microsoft is the big loser here — if I did my math right, there were 375K fewer Microsoft smartphone wielding users at the end of the three month period than at the beginning.

    @jsk:

    According to this article, 77% are upgrades. (I think I saw the 23% number somewhere else as where, don’t remember where, though.)

    @esr:

    Survey covers a lot of old phones. Expect that number to drop rapidly…

  131. Leif:

    Retire, relax, enjoy your family. It is just a phone. Not worth it.

  132. >if I did my math right, there were 375K fewer Microsoft smartphone wielding users at the end of the three month period than at the beginning.

    From your figures, I’m going to guess that what’s actually happening out there looks like this:

    1. Windows Mobile users are mostly decamping to Android as fast as their contracts expire, with a relatively small percentage going to iPhone.

    2. Almost all iPhone users are remaining loyal to Apple, with a small minority going to Android.

    3. The Blackberry base is almost stable, with slow erosion to Android.

    4. Nobody’s going from Android to iPhone. The difference in UI polish is just small enough to make the price increment not worth accepting.

  133. @esr:

    Hmmm, may not be quite that simple. I just loaded the data into a spreadsheet, to get the same info (delta actual users over 3 months) for all the reported platforms:

    +2.30E+06 Google
    +1.35E+06 RIM
    +4.43E+05 Apple
    -3.77E+05 Microsoft
    -9.59E+04 Palm
    ——————-
    +3.62E+06 Total

    Of course, it’s difficult to know what’s churn and what’s new users. (Obviously, the negative numbers represent churn, because most of those people will still be carrying smartphones, but other than that, most of the churn is probably hidden, and most of the numbers above are attributable to new smartphone users.)

    But it’s clear that, for this 3 month period, Blackberry was still adding users at a reasonable clip (over 1/2 rate of google, about 3x Apple). There may be a couple of reasons for this. Most of the people who want Apple for the cool factor probably already have one, and Android is still a bit new and nerdy for the business class, so perhaps this is an indication that smart phones are being integrated into more and more business processes. Also, I’m no expert, but I would assume that most Android phones are 3G, and Blackberries are widely available on CDMA (Virgin Mobile, for example).

    Another interesting stat we can get out of this is the number of additional subscribers per day. Average for Android for the quarter is 25K. This doesn’t square with the number of Android phones reportedly sold/activated over the period which was supposedly already 60K/day in February. Some of the discrepancy could be churn from one model of Android to another, but I’m at a loss for where the rest of it comes from. There could be some marketing-ese there, like on one particular day, there were 160K phones sold.

  134. Just saw another article on the price-conscious market — apparently, many poor iPhone users already use it as their only computing device because they would be hard-pressed to come up with $400 for a PC or the monthly internet bill in addition to their cellphone bill.

    This gets back to my point about how much the market can grow. Basically everybody has a cellphone. According to the article, 73% of adults below the poverty line have cellphones. This makes sense because it replaces a landline, and apparently the government is now subsidizing cellphones for some people (just like they always subsidized landlines).

    Practically all of those cellphone users would find utility in a web browser, and many of them don’t have any sort of computer at home. That’s a huge potential low-margin market, and there’s no way Apple can maintain its cool factor if every wino accosting you for spare change downtown carries an iPhone.

  135. @esr:

    From your figures, I’m going to guess that what’s actually happening out there looks like this:

    Yep. That’s what I would have guessed as well. That pattern sounds awfully familiar, too… I know I’ve seen it somewhere before… guess history does matter after all… ;)

  136. Found an article that comes to the same conclusion I did, namely that 160K activations was probably during a particular good day, and not a point on a smoothly fitted curve.

  137. >That’s a huge potential low-margin market, and there’s no way Apple can maintain its cool factor if every wino accosting you for spare change downtown carries an iPhone.

    That, and Android is going to be on the cheapest smartphones because it incurs the lowest cost to the carriers. Apple can’t fix this as long as it needs to make per-sale revenue, something Google doesn’t care about.

  138. @Patrick Maupin: actually, I see that as a HUGE advantage for Android. You’ll see a lot of those people using iPhones as a “poor man’s PC” moving to Android very soon. Especially with deals like the free G1s T-Mobile is passing around and the HTC Hero going for $99 on Sprint. BTW–Sprint is one of the carriers of choice for low-income individuals because they’re a lot more liberal about credit checks than other carriers used to be. T-Mobile and MetroPCS are the other two, but there are no smartphones on MetroPCS other than the Blackberry Pearl.

  139. Patrick wrote:

    “They make a lot of money by being cool, and if everybody had one, they wouldn’t be cool any more. Right now, I think less than 4% of cellphone users are Apple cool. I could see that rising to somewhere between 10 and 20% as smartphones become more ubiquitous, but it’s unclear to me that a larger market share would be the right answer for Apple.”

    Again, you’re on to something very, very significant here. Basically it’s part of “branding”, which is frequently in the case of Apple erroneously referred to as “marketing”.

    To command a premium in hardware, Apple does need to maintain a certain amount of rarity. But the problem is this: Apple is able to make more money AFTER THE SALE than any MP3 player or phone manufacturer. My basic point in earlier posts is that Apple is not pushing for market share and unit volume at the moment because they are nurturing other elements of a more complex eco-system: iAd, developers, iBooks, iTunes University, etc.

    There’s more to network effects than sheer units shipped.

  140. jsk:

    “I wonder at how much that is due to a failure in education, especially at a young level. I understand that Joe User probably doesn’t want to know the underpinnings of the devices he uses, but then he probably also didn’t want to learn algebra in grade school.”

    My general tendency is to avoid “blaming the victim”, so to say. F/OSS types are full of no shortage of excuses to explain their failures, and 90% of them center around the vices of their intended market and the vile nefariousness of their competition. But don’t ever expect any of them to take a good hard look at themselves or the philosophy that they espouse.

    F/OSS failed on the consumer desktop. And there’s only one place to look for the source of the failure. And it’s not the school system, Cupertino, or Redmond.

  141. Two notes:

    @Patrick
    >Do you really think that Apple will ever just let anybody write and distribute any app they want for iOS?

    Yes they will, either by choice or by force. But for now I think they want it locked up for the same reason Apple doesn’t want people using 3pp development tools. The iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad is a new class of computing device, and a completely new interface, with new design considerations. One of the things that makes using WinMo phones and earlier smart phones such a disaster is that developers just tried to take a desktop app and scale it down. You can’t do that with the iPhone, and with Apple acting as gate keeper, they get to (try to) control the interface until people really get what it means to make a touch screen app.

    > They make a lot of money by being cool, and if everybody had one, they wouldn’t be cool any more.

    > there’s no way Apple can maintain its cool factor if every wino accosting you for spare change downtown carries an iPhone.

    The iPod says different.

    Further, you clearly have been long out of touch with the concept of “cool” if you don’t think that one of the prerequisites is everyone having one. Up until about age 25 or so (baring anti-establishment types) “cool” is pretty much defined as “what everyone else has”. And as long as Apple keeps successfully changing up the lines, they will be able to keep that magical coolness flowing. Incidentally there is another side of “cool” which I think you’re hinting at, which is the “No one but us cool people have it” side, “exclusive cool” if you will. Now, think about the huge changes Apple made to the iPod lines over the years, and look at how they’re apparently aiming for similarly large changes with the iPhone line. Now think about that in from the perspective of reaching the “exclusive cool” consumers, and crazy moves like killing the iPod Mini at the height of its popularity make perfect sense. Apple wants (and is succeeding at getting) both the “everyone has it” cool crowd via strong single brands (iPhone, iPod) and the “exclusive cool” crowds via radically different, yet still the same models (iPod -> Mini -> Nano -> Shuffle -> Fat Nano -> aluminum Nano etc)

  142. >F/OSS failed on the consumer desktop. And there’s only one place to look for the source of the failure. And it’s not the school system, Cupertino, or Redmond.

    Careful, that claim might come around to bite you. For the last five six years, at least, Linux desktop market share has frequently been estimated to be at or slightly above the Mac’s – and not by open-source advocates, either, but by several different groups of market researchers without a dog in the fight. Perhaps the most convincing stratistics are from Microsoft, which has every reason to downplay Linux’s success but nevertheless tells its investors that Linux is a bigger competitor than Apple.

    So, are you prepared to describe the Mac as “failed” on the consumer desktop?

  143. I think I figured out the discrepancies that was bothering me. (It was silly of me to try to multitask between looking at Apple stuff and doing real work at work…)

    BTW, the article I referenced at http://www.wirelessweek.com/News/Feeds/2010/07/wireless-who-is-making-those-160-000-android-phones-activat/ is quite suspect. I don’t think they have the idea of a sales ramp in there, unless I’m missing something.

    I forgot that the comscore report that Mike E brought to our attention that I did some analysis on was US-only.. The 160K activations/day was worldwide and for June, with only 100K worldwide for May. So an average of 25K units/day in the US for the entire period of March – May (ramping the whole time, naturally) is probably not at all inconsistent with 100K Android devices being activated per day in May worldwide.

    So looking closely at google’s numbers shows a huge acceleration — 60K/day in February, 100K/day in May, 160K/day in June. It’s quite likely that there will be more Android than iOS phones in use sometime in 4Q10.

  144. >It’s quite likely that there will be more Android than iOS phones in use sometime in 4Q10.

    Interesting. That’s also when I was, independently, guessing the crossover point would be.

  145. @tmoney:

    First of all, I completely agree that Steve Jobs is an evil control freak, but I don’t agree that he will cease being an evil control freak once more people learn how to write phone software “his way.”

    Your make a good point about segmentation in iPods, but for reasons that have already been discussed, the MP3 player segment is completely different than the phone segment. Interestingly, one component of Apple’s lock on the MP3 player market — the synergy between their music store and their players — seems to be something that is squarely in google’s sights.

  146. Leif:
    > My general tendency is to avoid “blaming the victim”, so to say. F/OSS types are full of no shortage of excuses to explain
    > their failures, and 90% of them center around the vices of their intended market and the vile nefariousness of their competition.

    Cool it kiddo.

    For my age bracket at least, the US education system largely ignored the concept of ‘computer literacy’ beyond what was essentially typing ability. I got lucky with some special opportunities (free CCNA courses during high school, and other things), but it was purely elective. I feel that there is a massive lack of any real basic education on computing, which given the shocking prominence of it today versus even ten years ago is saddening.

    An easy argument against it would be ‘well, people drive cars without knowing how they really work.’ Except that’s false, as driving schools will still usually cover at least the basics, and I’d be willing to bet that any average person knows more about how their car works than how their computer works. But, hey, I’m strawmanning.

    I don’t blame lack of education, I question whether or not it could be a factor.

  147. jsk:

    Weren’t saying you were blaming, just cautioning against it.

    Put it this way, in general I believe it’s a very big mistake to ever get into a line of thinking that seeks to explain the failure of a product or movement as due to a flaw in the target market.

    As to computer education in the US, yes, it’s deplorable. And that includes the university level. I do not believe one should be able to obtain a 4 year degree in any field without a solid set of fundamentals in computer usage.

  148. > Put it this way, in general I believe it’s a very big mistake to ever get into a line of thinking that seeks to explain the failure
    > of a product or movement as due to a flaw in the target market.

    Sure. It’s a fallacy. ‘We’d be successful IF the world were actually like this instead of that.’ If you’re trying to market a product to a group, you market it to the group and not what you think the group should be.

    Personally, I try to avoid most Linuxy/FOSSy advocates because they seem to do more harm than good. Too much victimization, too much externalization. When I tell folks my primary OS is a Linux variant, I usually have to add ‘I use it, I don’t evangelize it,’ because to a lot of folks it has a very negative connotation, and not because of the OS itself.

    I avoid most dedicated Apple users for the same reason. Too much religion.

    I still make fun of the MS admins at work, though. :-)

  149. I completely agree that Steve Jobs is an evil control freak, but I don’t agree that he will cease being an evil control freak once more people learn how to write phone software “his way.”

    It’s happened in the past. The first Macs famously did not have cursor keys, because they wanted to force developers to write for a mouse and not do cruddy ports of existing software. Later, Macs gained cursor keys. I’m sure there are other examples. I suspect the bans on Flash and the “compile for all platforms with the click of one button” developer tools come from the same desire: to force developers to use the iOS tools designed to take full advantage of the touchscreen tech.

  150. PapayaSF:

    Yes, there is a lot of this going on. It’s probably a big reason why the iPad is lacking a lot of features (beyond the camera) that many people feel are essentials. The goal is to get people writing software optimized for the touch interface. If Apple had just released a netbook, there would be less effort on the part of developers to work with the Cocoa Touch frameworks. This will then undoubtedly be carried over to a future version of OS X for the desktop, or an integration of iPads with desktop applications. It all leads to users and developers pushing boundaries.

    For people like me who’d like an OS X netbook, it does have some disadvantages. At least in the short term. In the long-term, it creates more options. The exclusion of Flash has been an enabler of innovation for all the same reasons.

    Which is where being a control freak comes in. Many people insist that installing Flash should be their choice. By excluding that choice, new and better choices are brought about.

  151. Patrick wrote:

    “Just saw another article on the price-conscious market — apparently, many poor iPhone users already use it as their only computing device because they would be hard-pressed to come up with $400 for a PC or the monthly internet bill in addition to their cellphone bill.”

    Patrick, that makes no sense at all. First off, the iPhone doesn’t seem mentioned in the article you cite. Secondly, the iPhone essentially requires a computer, it’s all managed through iTunes. This is actually a critical difference in Android and iPhone strategy: Android is about cloud back-up, iPhone is about you owning your backup.

    If anything, Android would be far more susceptible to this kind of behavior.

  152. @Leif:

    Well, I think it does make sense if you realize that I was typing quickly, didn’t proofread well enough, and that first iPhone should have been smartphone :-)

  153. @PapayaSF:

    I suspect the bans on Flash and the “compile for all platforms with the click of one button” developer tools come from the same desire: to force developers to use the iOS tools designed to take full advantage of the touchscreen tech.

    @Leif:

    Yes, there is a lot of this going on. It’s probably a big reason why the iPad is lacking a lot of features (beyond the camera) that many people feel are essentials. The goal is to get people writing software optimized for the touch interface.

    I get that constraints inspire creativity. I really do. I’ve been saying that for years, and I really mean it; in fact I live it. And in the small, I don’t have issues with things like flash going missing, because I think flash sucks, and if I were Jobs, I might not want to support it on my platform.

    (The missing cursor keys is a somewhat different story. All that did was to force the usual (at the time) sort of mapping of special key functions to cursor keys, because it was obvious even then that having to move from the keyboard to the mouse and back at a rapid rate is suboptimal. But I digress.)

    The changing of the developer agreement after the fact, after Adobe spent a lot of money on their flash workaround, is highly indicative to a lot of developers, as are the capricious app store rejections. These are not technical constraints; rather, political ones.

    In the large, the myriad restrictions that Apple imposes on developers, sometimes after the fact, leads to the inescapable conclusion that one of the constraints of developing on any Apple platform is that Steve Jobs is a dickhead who might decide to fuck you over at any time.

    As I said, constraints lead to creativity, and this “Steve Jobs is a dickhead” constraint is no exception. Now, I don’t know for sure, because I wasn’t there, but I have to believe that this particular constraint is a part of what led Google to the creative decision to make and give away Android, and is also a huge part of what led the handset makers to trust that Google was the right decision, and this constraint will be a factor in the decisions of developers for years to come. (Obviously, as history shows, some developers love the constraints that Jobs provides, but many more chafe under them.)

    So, constraints lead to creativity. Hard, physical constraints like gravity often lead to universally useful creative solutions for the problems they cause. The underlying protocols of the internet were created to solve some conflicting very hard constraints, and works pretty well, all things considered, leading to expressions like “the internet routes around damage.” People using the internet likewise manage to creatively do those things they want to in the face of all sorts of constraints, leading to expressions like “The net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

    Make no mistake. In some very creative quarters, the constraint that is Steve Jobs is being taken very seriously as damage, and is being routed around at this very moment.

  154. >As I said, constraints lead to creativity, and this “Steve Jobs is a dickhead” constraint is no exception.

    Heh. You’re suggesting that Google interprets Steve Jobs as damage and routes around him. That works.

  155. iPod’s should be very vulnerable to sufficiently smart phones. Unlike cameras, where expensive optics and battery draining flashes are keys to good pictures, there are no expensive hardware pieces needed to turn a sufficiently smart phone into a good MP3 player. Why carry two devices with stereo headphones when you can carry one?

    In the future as better cheap electronic sensors fix both the expensive optics and the low light issues, I expect cell phone cameras to completely seize the consumer grade still/video camera market. But that tech is only foreseeable now, unlike audio.

    This means that a big battleground is iTunes. If Apple is able to keep iTunes as the market leader and continue to make money off smart phones as iPods decrease in market share, than Leif is at least partially correct – the iTunes network effects will continue to favor Apple. But for the iTunes network effects to keep working, Apple must support smart (and other less smart) phones, not just the iPhone. That reduces the iTunes network effects as a benefit to iOS – although not to Apple.

    Yours,
    Tom

  156. Patrick:

    “The changing of the developer agreement after the fact, after Adobe spent a lot of money on their flash workaround, is highly indicative to a lot of developers, as are the capricious app store rejections. These are not technical constraints; rather, political ones.”

    I believe that your distinction between technical and political is not quite accurate here. First off, as to “capricious app store rejections”, so much of this has been ridiculously overblown. The app store is a new concept for which policies and practices are undoubtedly still unfolding. It’s not like you can find universities kicking out people with degrees in app store auditing. And when we do dig into many of these stories, we find a number of simple mistakes combined with overblown and histrionic rhetoric by the developers that frequently tends to lead to some suspicion.

    The other point is your distinction between technical and political. There are any number of people who spout ridiculous nonsense such as that the app store porn ban reflects Steve Jobs’ attempts to “cram morality” into people’s lives or to enforce his own views. Over and over, we see that this is not so much an issue of politics, but it is related: the social and branding dynamics of creating a particular platform. And the smallest part of a platform is the technical and programming side.

    “In the large, the myriad restrictions that Apple imposes on developers, sometimes after the fact, leads to the inescapable conclusion that one of the constraints of developing on any Apple platform is that Steve Jobs is a dickhead who might decide to fuck you over at any time.”

    Apple’s competitors have been very good at pushing this meme, but I don’t particularly find it convincing. If anything, all the hollering over Flash and various app store rejections and constant uses of words such as “draconian”, “control freak”, “dictator” and so many others have had largely left me disenchanted with the camps from which these claims came from. It’s pretty hard to take someone serious who suggests, for example, that Flash isn’t on the iPod because Steve is in an immature pissing contest with Adobe.

    Time and time again, all of these decisions for which are used as examples of Steve’s personal pathologies are decisions which are clearly not in the least capricious. They are decisions that unambiguously lead to improving the platform for the benefit of the users. Blocking Flash benefited the iPhone owner. And we all know that blocking the use of the Flash runtime compiler also benefited the iOS platform and iPhone owners.

    In fact, had Apple allowed the Flash runtime, it would have been a negligent decision leading to harm the platform and iPhone owners. And a significant portion of Apple developers as well. Nothing capricious about it.

    The only people harmed by the Flash ban were Adobe and Flash developers. It was good for the users and other developers. If Apple reversed its policy, it would be to the detriment of iPhone owners and other developers. This much is obvious. So when I hear those developers spewing a lot of rhetoric I must necessarily become skeptical of their intentions.

    Sure, there’s no question that some will refuse to develop for the platform purely because of their belief that “Steve Jobs is a dickhead.” Which, of course, is a political decision and not a technical one.

    I have no doubt that reactionary forces that wish to maintain the status quo are exceptionally alarmed by Steve Jobs and regard the innovation and success of Apple as “damage” that threatens their current position. I also have no doubt that many people become resentful when he makes a move to block them from exploiting or damaging the platform.

    BTW, I don’t think it’s right to say that Google made much of a creative decision. They bought Android and then Schmidt basically tried to do a replay of Microsoft’s move on Apple in the mid 80s. In both cases we have partners who gained access to an idea and felt it would be feasible to stab Steve in the back and market his product as their own. Bill Gates got away with it, for a little while. Eric Schmidt, being far less intelligent and far less ethical than Gates will experience far less success. Far less. And it will be interesting to see what the payback will be like. Particularly when Apple will be larger than both Google and Microsoft combined by next year.

  157. As to computer education in the US, yes, it’s deplorable. And that includes the university level. I do not believe one should be able to obtain a 4 year degree in any field without a solid set of fundamentals in computer usage.

    I don’t think anyone should be able to obtain a 4 year degree unless they can understand the joke “there are 10 types of people; those who understand binary, and those who don’t,” but that’s just me. ;)

  158. Morgan:

    You’re far more demanding than I! I was just hoping for something like making sure people know how to use alt-tab application switching. :)

  159. Leif,

    I think Steve Jobs’s personal history, particularly his treatment of his first daughter, Lisa, and her mother, plus the way he acted towards his people shows that he certainly can be … focused … in a way that others will interpret badly. It is also true that many people will then react badly. I’m not a fan of either Apple or Microsoft conspiracy theories. They make me roll my eyes.

    Yours,
    Tom

  160. @Leif:

    You keep bringing up flash. I explicitly said that the flash runtime is a non-issue for me, and now you’re using it over and over as a strawman. I suppose that’s because, if you remove flash from your latest post, there isn’t any content left.

    The political decision to control the entire toolchain, the political decision to not allow political cartoons unless they are by somebody well-known enough for a fuss to be kicked up, and the political decision to not allow apps that allow too much end user programmability — these are all very damaging, and it’s not because some university doesn’t have some sort of class on managing an app store. In fact, if Apple were to handle it better in the way you suggest, it would be even more damaging long-term, because it would not be as blatantly obvious to as many people exactly how autocratic Apple is.

    Sure, there’s no question that some will refuse to develop for the platform purely because of their belief that “Steve Jobs is a dickhead.” Which, of course, is a political decision and not a technical one.

    Not at all. It is a purely technical decision if Apple disallows the technology you have written most of your libraries in and are most comfortable in. Since Apple has indicated that they will make exceptions on a case by case basis, that indicates some politics could let you develop on the platform after all, but not developing on the platform because of political machinations is kind of like not investing in China or Russia or somewhere else because of political machinations. The decisions the developer makes may be purely pragmatic, in that they have assessed the probabilities of the politics adversely affecting their product, and have decided from a purely game-theoretic viewpoint that the risk/reward ratio doesn’t favor developing for the platform. Some companies could, without placing any positive or negative moral value on Steve Jobs’ decision, decide that the monetary value proposition is simply too risky on that platform.

    BTW, I don’t think it’s right to say that Google made much of a creative decision. They bought Android and then Schmidt basically tried to do a replay of Microsoft’s move on Apple in the mid 80s. In both cases we have partners who gained access to an idea and felt it would be feasible to stab Steve in the back and market his product as their own.

    I wasn’t there, but I have to assume that they decided what they wanted to do before they bought Android, and that finding and buying Android was the most expeditious way to get there. Just because somebody’s done something similar before doesn’t mean that there weren’t a lot of creative decisions involved in the process.

    Eric Schmidt, being far less intelligent and far less ethical than Gates will experience far less success.

    I have personally seen ample evidence of Gates & company’s lack of ethics, but am not familiar with any of Schmidt’s.

  161. Patrick,

    My decision to elaborate on Flash was due to the fact that it has been a forefront issue, one of great complexity and endless heat. I realized, of course, that you said it wasn’t personally important for you. But I was unclear as to how you considered it unimportant. For example, one could say unimportant due to having no desire for Flash. But plenty of people acknowledge Flash sucks and still gripe about the issue. Quite simply, any discussion of the various charges of developer policies and such that sidesteps an issue this big is rather incomplete.

    Your second paragraph: You keep insisting that these decisions are “political”. Just because they may not be technical (centered around languages, APIs, etc.) doesn’t necessarily leave them to be political. They could be called “business decisions.” Apple is trying to shape the app market in various ways. There is nothing wrong with this.

    When I pointed out the lack of university programs what I was getting at this: the App Store is a new concept that is unleashing a tremendous amount of creativity. Apple’s decision to provide some controls as to what gets sold in the App Store requires some analysis and selection. It’s an editing process. But these editors, nor policies for every possible contingency, simply couldn’t have been flawlessly crafted beforehand.

    We’re talking about thousands of apps coming in every week. Think of the manpower involved in just checking to see if the things work and lack major bugs or exploits. It’s enormous.

    Existing rules won’t perfectly fit all possible situations. People will make mistakes. Your insistence that the only political cartoons allowed are by those “well-known enough to make a fuss” is, quite simple, a misleading presentation. The fact that Apple is adjusting or someone made an odd mistake less than one tenth of 1% of the time doesn’t concern me. The fact that people like you latch onto these things and boldly and emphatically state the reasons why or make claims to an agenda does concern me.

    Lack of end-user programmability: this is not a political decision, this is a technical decision and a business/strategic position. Essentially Apple is trying to limit problems for themselves and their customers. Some will be inconvenienced by this. Currently, Apple’s solution is rather simple and avoid problems.

    As to all this fretting of “locking down”, it should be noted that Apple makes it extremely easy to jailbreak the devices. Almost too easy. Obviously, this does run some risks. But it keeps Apple from having to deal with the service nightmare consequences of people who want to get in well over their head. This kind of policy exists across the consumer product spectrum. It is an economic decision, not mere politics.

    Likewise, so is the decision to control the entire toolchain. It’s not random, personality disorder driven psychology driving that. It’s a part of their business strategy. If it’s a bad strategy that harms the platform, that harms the user, they will undoubtedly have to change it. If the opposite is true, they should keep it.

    The App Store is a new idea that has resulted in making things easier for the consumer, increasing reliability, reducing security risks, simplifying updates, reducing piracy, increasing revenues for developers, and lowering prices for consumers. The App Store is a good thing. To scream and malign the app store because it doesn’t operate in accordance to one’s arbitary personal whims or doesn’t followed the failed conventions and models of the past, now THAT is a political decision.

    “Since Apple has indicated that they will make exceptions on a case by case basis…”

    Since Apple has indicated that they are willing to review rejections you are upset. Okay.

    “The decisions the developer makes may be purely pragmatic, in that they have assessed the probabilities of the politics adversely affecting their product, and have decided from a purely game-theoretic viewpoint that the risk/reward ratio doesn’t favor developing for the platform. Some companies could, without placing any positive or negative moral value on Steve Jobs’ decision, decide that the monetary value proposition is simply too risky on that platform.”

    Exactly! But there’s a flip side: many of the App Stores policies, in fact its entire business model that certain people wish to stridently complain about, IS WHAT HAS MADE THE PLATFORM APPEALING TO DEVELOP FOR. The App Store has created great incentives for developers. It is profitable. It works. That profitability is a result of many of the so-called “political decisions.” So, while some developers may decide against developing for the platform due to the risks, all the rewards are an outgrowth of the policies you cite as risks. If things were more gloriously “open”, it’s entirely possible that customer satisfaction could decline, reliability and security problems could increase, and in that case the rewards of entering the market begin to disappear.

    “….if Apple disallows the technology you have written most of your libraries in and are most comfortable”

    I really don’t feel this needs to be addressed. Do you honestly feel that Apple should be required to distribute and authorize code in whatever you’re most comfortable with? And that their decision to do so is in any way unethical or harmful to the end user? Who is being harmed here?

    There are very sound technical reasons for Apple to want iPhone developers to use Apple’s tools to create apps. It is good for the vitality and long-term health of the platform.

    More importantly, I need to point something out: there is no compelling philosophical or moral reason that a developer should have whatever rights he wishes to a platform. IT IS APPLE’S PLATFORM. Apple doesn’t exist for the sake of creating opportunities that you are most comfortable in. It’s like walking into a restaurant and demanding that they set the thermostat to the temperature YOU ARE MOST COMFORTABLE IN, and serve only food you are most comfortable with. Where do you get the idea that this is just some kind of inherent, natural right? It’s like demanding Wal-Mart be forced to provide shelf-space to whomever wants it, for whatever they want to sell.

    Why do you feel Apple just should be required to carry on the failed policies of the past?

  162. Patrick: I’ll make it brief. I find it remarkable that many self-styled developers are screaming in outrage about the very policies that have made the App Store the success that it is. And a source of suspicion that otherwise epistemologically savvy individuals claim with absolute certainty to know the reasons why and motivations for any random bit of news that comes out of particular rejections. The App Store has been one of the best things for users and developers EVER. It’s a totally new business that’s done over $1 billion in a couple of years. And you’re upset that a handful of mistakes have been made.

  163. > IT IS APPLE’S PLATFORM.

    It’s the user’s device. Replace ‘developer’ with user and extrapolate.

  164. Morgan,

    Is this the same Paul Graham who said that given a choice between funding an iPhone app and funding an Android app, he’d pick the iPhone app every time because that’s where the money is, his misgivings concerning Steve Jobs notwithstanding?

    Once again — butthurt bloggers do not make up the majority of the iPhone developer base. The ones whining are either fosstards, people for whom “cross platform development” is a religion, or prima donnas whining that they cannot use their favorite subtly-broken GUI toolkit or idiosyncratic programming language.

    Surprisingly enough, most software developers in the world write code for one platform in one language, both of which are specified by the company they work for. For them, developing iPhone apps is not a step backwards (and it may be a step forwards due to the awesomeness of the APIs).

    A lot of the rest are flexible and professional enough not to really mind Objective-C and Cocoa. Compared to much of the dreck that’s out there (including — yes — C++), it’s actually really insanely great.

    Once again Apple has done single-handedly what the fosstards knew they could do, set out to do, struggled for some decades to do and ultimately failed at: fix the broken software distribution model. Leif is right again: the App Store has been one of the industry’s biggest boons to users and developers (developers who want to make any money, that is). It is the future.

  165. Is this the same Paul Graham who said that given a choice between funding an iPhone app and funding an Android app, he’d pick the iPhone app every time because that’s where the money is, his misgivings concerning Steve Jobs notwithstanding?

    Exactly my point; what a better poster child for making my case that the App Store is a bad idea than Paul Graham?

  166. @Leif:

    As usual, you write some reasonable stuff and some not-so-reasonable stuff. You have obviously misunderstood where I am coming from to some degree. I am tired, so I will let most of that slide, but I cannot let this go unchallenged:

    More importantly, I need to point something out: there is no compelling philosophical or moral reason that a developer should have whatever rights he wishes to a platform. IT IS APPLE’S PLATFORM. Apple doesn’t exist for the sake of creating opportunities that you are most comfortable in. It’s like walking into a restaurant and demanding that they set the thermostat to the temperature YOU ARE MOST COMFORTABLE IN, and serve only food you are most comfortable with. Where do you get the idea that this is just some kind of inherent, natural right? It’s like demanding Wal-Mart be forced to provide shelf-space to whomever wants it, for whatever they want to sell.

    I do not think I ever wrote anything that indicated I thought this was a natural right, although I think that changing the rules after the fact could be actionable as a tort by some software vendors. Personally, I believe the right answer is competition like Android. However, I will say that if, as you sometimes seem to be predicting, Apple wipes the floor with everybody else and gets a lock on the market, then in point of fact there is an excellent chance that Apple will be forced to loosen up controls on the app store, because the US and the EU both hold monopolists to higher behavioral standards than other vendors.

    However, my thoughts on this have everything to do with my preexisting beliefs, and I have to say that if I believed otherwise, you wouldn’t have convinced me of anything with this paragraph. I find both your restaurant and your WalMart analogies extremely unpersuasive, because they are both deeply flawed — the thermostat might be analogous to conditions in the store for the buyer and seller, but has nothing to do with the product, and unlike WalMart, Apple has truly unlimited shelf space.

  167. @Jeff Read:

    Surprisingly enough, most software developers in the world write code for one platform in one language, both of which are specified by the company they work for. For them, developing iPhone apps is not a step backwards (and it may be a step forwards due to the awesomeness of the APIs).

    Surprisingly enough, most application software companies (which employ most of the developers you are talking about) try to write code for multiple platforms, and try to reuse existing bits they have lying around. Also surprisingly, a lot of the apps in the app store are written by (gasp!) people writing stuff for free in their spare time, and not even trying to make money on it.

    It will be interesting to see how these factors play out over the next several months, but what you call “fosstards” are not the only humans on the planet that are sometimes driven by non-economic considerations, and quite often, the non-economically motivated behavior of one group of people can greatly influence the economically motivated behavior of a much bigger group.

    For example, half the apps in the Apple app store are free, and free apps are downloaded (and, admittedly, presumably, discarded) at a much higher rate than paid apps. Those apps may or may not give iPhone users who download them perceived utility, but if they do, and if it ever becomes widely perceived that more free utility is available on the Android, then that is the place that customers will flock to, and the place developers will want to be.

    Having said all that, I have to admit there is a good possibility that Apple is in the driver’s seat, though, on choice of language and APIs. This is by default, because they are the only ones who care deeply enough to put a stake in the ground.

    Prediction 1: Within a year, at least two different entities (companies or open source groups) will ship software tools that aid in the translation of iOS apps into Android apps. I get bonus points if one of them is named Adobe.

    Prediction 2: If prediction 1 comes to pass, even though that will actually help Apple by keeping the developer focus squarely on the iPlatform, Apple will try at least one lame C&D letter on some sort of copyright or patent BS.

  168. jsk:

    “> IT IS APPLE’S PLATFORM.

    It’s the user’s device. Replace ‘developer’ with user and extrapolate.”

    And the usefulness of the device, the appeal to which is has in the market, it’s ultimate health is Apple’s responsibility. Apple needs to grow the platform and maintain and increase the platform’s ability to add value to products that Apple is selling.

    A few users or developers demanding to have something does not give those users the right to inflict damage on the platform to the detriment of other users and other developers.

  169. Morgan:

    As to your silly quibble about the App Store being a new idea. Give it up. You’re again not reading carefully and trying to make a ridiculous debate that it no way reduces the overall argument of which that statement was merely one component.

    The point was that this business (the App Store) hasn’t been sitting there running for years with plenty of opportunity to develop absolutely flawless policies and to grow a deeply trained staff ready to deal with every possible contingency. From an operational perspective, this is new territory for the company, the managers, and the employees. In 2 years and 200,000 apps and over $1 billion, I maintain the sobriety to avoid histrionic outbursts and accusations following a few odd mix-ups.

  170. Morgan:

    ‘Exactly my point; what a better poster child for making my case that the App Store is a bad idea than Paul Graham?”

    from the article you cite:

    “Can anything break this cycle? No device I’ve seen so far could. Palm and RIM haven’t a hope. The only credible contender is Android. But Android is an orphan; Google doesn’t really care about it, not the way Apple cares about the iPhone. Apple cares about the iPhone the way Google cares about search.”

    At least he gets some things right.

  171. > A few users or developers demanding to have something does not give those users the right to inflict damage on the platform
    > to the detriment of other users and other developers.

    So. What’s stopping me from writing software for iOS by myself, for my use alone, and using it on my iOS device?

  172. > Nothing. Go knock yourself out. Xcode is free.

    That so?

    Care to demonstrate?

  173. Actually, Leif, nevermind. I’m just luring you into a trap. You’ve already proven your boundless ignorance about this.

    There is – absolutely – no way for an end-user to legally install his or her own programs WITHOUT paying a $99 developer’s license. The only way to do it is to crack the iOS trusted security library to accept a new certificate. And, guess what? That violates not only the terms of use (giving Apple the contractual right to physically take the device from the user), but also the DMCA.

    Give me a response to this that doesn’t fill me with rage.

  174. This problem runs up and down Apple’s hardware/software stack, from the issues with the latest iPhone to the fraud going on right now with iTunes accounts. It’s as if they just don’t care

    What’s your next guess?

    Out of tens of millions of iPhones sold: the failures are so rare that every one is major news.

    Apple cares very much about quality, which is why the don’t have the malware issues that you Android users are suffering. You love to bitch and moan about the dozens of apps that get rejected, while ignoring the #1 benefit of the approval process: iOS users don’t have to worry about damaging their phone if they install an app.

  175. Surprisingly enough, most application software companies (which employ most of the developers you are talking about) try to write code for multiple platforms, and try to reuse existing bits they have lying around

    I have a friend who runs a PR firm specializing in mobile apps, which he started about a year before the iPhone was introduced. His clients were all writing apps in Java for Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, etc.

    Within six months of the iPhone SDK’s availability, they had all told him not only that their iPhone products would be the main focus of all of the PR efforts they were paying him for, but that all of their versions for other platforms were legacy products that would go into maintenance-only status.

    He filled me in on just how bad it was to be a mobile app developer before the iPhone. First of all, the model of selling apps to end-users was pretty much unheard of. The only way you saw any significant revenue is if a major carrier decided to include your app in their bundle. Secondly, writing Java apps for mobile devices was hell: write once, debug everywhere , even on the same model of phone, because the OS features differed per carrier.

    Apple showed up in this market with not just a better product for the end users, but also a vastly superior development environment. There’s a reason why the iPhone got thousands of developers who had never considered shipping an app on a mobile device previously.

  176. jsk:

    Yes, I know. I’m a licensed Apple developer. Your trap was a bit transparent.

    I’m not particularly sure what your actual complaint is here. You claimed yourself that it is fully within your rights to install software on your device. In a sense, I find your complaint about the price of the developer license to be much like someone who purchases a 5 client version of some software making a fuss because he needs to buy another license to add more computers.

    When it comes right down to it, you might say that the license process/cost “sucks.” It’s a hassle. But personally I will not jump to the conclusion that it is nothing more than malevolence and nefariousness resulting from traits commonly associated with various Axis II disorders.

    All sorts of products come with various obligations as to how they are used.

    Again, much of this comes back to the well-being of the platform. It’s pretty obvious that Apple is not taking enormous efforts to block jailbreaking. By all indications, they seem to have an official policy of looking the other way. The biggest real world problem is that wingnuts who jailbreak their phone void their warranty. And here’s what I think about that: GOOD. I personally don’t want Apple’s tech support loaded with a bunch of clowns who got themselves too deep in an absolutely self-created problem. They take time and resources away from customers who need help who didn’t create their own mess.

    Suggesting Apple is gonna come and take your device is sort of like fretting about removing the warning labels on pillows.

    Geek enough to jailbreak? Better be geek enough to not mess things up. Otherwise, put it down and use don’t abuse.

    How about this: you tell me how Apple “should” be doing things. Secondly, what benefits do you see to the iOS user base that directly result from these policies, and how would you go about making sure those benefits remained? I really need to know what fundamental right(s) of yours you feel is violated here.

    Apple is offering you devices that other companies are not. For $99 more, you can expand their capabilities to another level of customization. Where is your exact complaint?

    Do you really think it’s all about Steve’s megalomania?

  177. Morgan,

    Thanks for that link to Paul Graham’s completely brain-dead diatribe in which he demonstrates his utter lack of understanding of how the App store works. Dozens of apps get rejected. Tens of thousands get approved. The developers whose apps get approved don’t go and blog about how Apple shot their dog and stole their girlfriend.

    Paul Graham may know a thing or two about writing Lisp code, but that essay alone shows me that despite being a canonical Accidental Millionaire, he should never be in a position with bottom-line. profit-and-loss responsibility in a real-world business. Mazel Tov to him for selling Viaweb to Yahoo (who were never very bright about how much to pay for an acquisition).

  178. It’s pretty obvious that Apple is not taking enormous efforts to block jailbreaking. By all indications, they seem to have an official policy of looking the other way.

    Apple has never put much effort into tracking down violations of their shrink-wrapped licenses, unless the breach had the potential to cost them money (like those guys in Florida who were trying to sell Hackintosh machines.)

    The biggest real world problem is that wingnuts who jailbreak their phone void their warranty. And here’s what I think about that: GOOD.

    I don’t even use the term “jailbreak”. if you buy an iPhone, you can toss it in blender for all Apple cares, but if you do, it’s not Apple’s fault if it stops working. When you bypass the software security measures on the device, you make it susceptible to damage from malware.

    The iOS/Android choice really comes down to whether you want quality control. Apple does it. Google doesn’t.

  179. jsk:

    merely because I don’t regard some of your fervent beliefs about how things should be is not an indication of my “boundless ignorance.”

    I’m constantly hearing from people what Apple should do, what Apple shouldn’t do, how things should be. Should, should, should. Yet all these shoulders stop and looked stunned and have the audacity to become outraged when someone asks them the most simple and basic question: why?

    As to my boundless ignorance, let me point something out to you: skim through the thread again. Note that the most vicious attacks on me from most here were of an amazingly personal nature. And then note how many times the worst abuse was committed by people who clearly misread some very simple statements. Morgan’s bizarre insistent that I claimed 1 million devices manufactured in a weekend was the most glaring. Your snark, while considerably more toned down, was neither fair nor in any way persuasive in leading me to see what you regard as self-evident truth.

    Why is it that so many people here are so abusive and have such an obsessive need to frame anyone who disagrees with them as mentally or morally deficient?

  180. If prediction 1 comes to pass, even though that will actually help Apple by keeping the developer focus squarely on the iPlatform, Apple will try at least one lame C&D letter on some sort of copyright or patent BS.

    Apple never complained about GNUStep, did they?

  181. Some Guy wrote:

    “The iOS/Android choice really comes down to whether you want quality control. Apple does it. Google doesn’t.”

    I put it like this: For some reason everyone’s insisting that it’s evil and unfair and bad because Apple isn’t doing things like everyone else. I once heard that the inventor of the sewing machine was beaten by a mob of angry seamstresses. Seemed like a laughable urban legend. The reactionary “stay the course” conservatism of many tech bloggers and “coders” and self-styled developers, when faced with a model that differs from the status quo, makes those angry seamstresses seem downright reasonable.

    The iPhone has proven to be the most powerful, reliable, and easy to learn computing device to hit the mass market. One of the reasons owners are so happy with it (higher customer satisfaction rating than Android, last time I checked) is because of the much pooh-poohed “user experience” and the fact that THERE IS NO PLATFORM FOR WHICH IT IS EASIER TO FIND, PURCHASE, DOWNLOAD, INSTALL, and REMOVE software than iOS. There’s no computing device of equal power for which a complete beginner can so quickly shown how to use.

    Consumers naturally love this after 15+ years of dealing with viruses, crashes, unreliability, freezes, malware, and more.

    But the amazing thing is that so many developers, indeed open source “for the people” developers, are extremely hostile to any changes that will benefit the ease of use for end consumers. It’s like everyone wants to stay in the 90s.

    Sorry guys, but many people simply cannot afford to run Linux. It’s just too damned expensive. Particularly when they can go to the mall and get a beautiful Mac at a store they know will provide service. And their initial investment will be less than a Linux box. Keep in mind, “initial investment” does include learning how to use the thing, and the history shows that most people are still finding Linux to be a bewildering and perplexing mishmash of incoherence, lacking in both quality documentation and service.

  182. Patrick:

    “Prediction 1: Within a year, at least two different entities (companies or open source groups) will ship software tools that aid in the translation of iOS apps into Android apps.”

    Hmmm. Of course, the natural response to this would also be to port them over to any other platform that happens to rise. In just a few months, many Android will be confronted with the appearance of Windows Phone 7. Microsoft will be throwing big resources at this. And as it stands now, the entire UI of WP7 is a full generation beyond Android. Cross-platform development of mobile apps was a cool idea when it was hoped that Android could easily siphon off content created through Apple’s efforts. Now that Apple has closed a temporary gate on that and brilliantly duped Android into touting Flash as a “feature”, the landscape looks a little different. If such porting would benefit Android, it can benefit Android competitors.

    Ultimately, such a wild orgy of porting from iOS to Android would only serve to further depress the already flaccid and dull Android market. Incentives to develop apps, incentives for developers to master the platform, all begin to fall when faced with a flood of content. If the ported apps take any kind of performance hit from their iPhone originals, people will notice this and come to the conclusion that the problem is Android. Going a step further, it’s not hard to imagine that the margins would be slimmer on Android.

    Android’s position is more precarious than seems to be realized. It’s wild variation of hardware reduces economies of scale and network effects for accessory producers. It’s app market thus far is rather unimpressive. It’s branding is exceptionally low quality and consumer awareness low. Users are buying fewer apps. Documentation and training materials lags far behind. On and on. Worst of all, Android hasn’t slowed the growth of the user base. Apple is likely to sell twice as many iPhones in 2010 as 2009. Android isn’t even a speedbump. And now here comes a refresh to the iPod touch which will serve to increase the iOS user base by many millions more this year alone.

    And here comes Microsoft with a vastly superior mobile UI, a lot of money to throw around, and a desperate need to carve out a percentage.

    Far from thinking Android is the unquestionable heir to dominance, I think Android will be very fortunate to even approach iPhone this year. It might show some big marketshare, but the lack of homework done in critical areas will leave it unable to leverage that share into meaningful network effects. No wonder Google’s stock is falling and Apple’s is rising.

    Then there’s the upcoming bloodbath and feeding frenzy when the Android tablet comes to market…

  183. Leif:
    You’re right, I am being unfair. Bad week + anger management problems, so I apologize for not keeping myself in check well enough to prevent my snark from bursting through.

    You ask what I think the correct thing for Apple to do is? Simple: Put no restriction on allowing programs built by a user to be installed by the user on any local devices she has. With the existing infrastructure it would be trivial to secure this in a meaningful way, by providing free, personal-use-only certificates, and only allowing programs compiled by the machine that is going to send the program to the device.

    This does at least two things.

    First, it will provide for a stronger growth in hobbyist developers sharing code, creating a new community of developers working together to learn a platform. It would bring a net boon to the platform by increasing group knowledge of the capabilities of the devices without the cost overhead.

    Second, it maintains Apple control on the distribution of commercial applications. Apple can continue their quality control measures to ensure a good experience for the greatest number of users.

    All your arguments thus far about Why Apple maintains the control it does are valid _within the context of the App Store_. The fact is that their policy, intentional or no, extends all the way to the user, by erecting a barrier to entry. I was very pleased when they dropped that barrier to a flat $99, but I still feel it is too steep a price to pay for something that seems should be so intrinsic to the ownership of a device.

    And, yeah, I don’t worry about Apple coming to take my iPod away. I do wonder if they might exert some kind of remote kill, though. It’s within their contractual rights and their power, and I have strong issue with anyone who is in a position to wield that power. I actually have the exact same issue with cloud-ish services like Steam. I _like_ them, but I harbor no delusions over where I stand as a user in these arrangements.

  184. J. Jay:

    Many of Motorola’s Andriod phones include a unified social networking app as the primary shell (motoblur?); that may account for the lack of interest in the facebook-specific one.

  185. Apple never complained about GNUStep, did they?

    They wouldn’t be able to. Cocoa is simply an implementation of the OpenStep API. Also, considering that Apple purchased NeXT, they are their own prior art for several of their patents related to OOP APIs and OOP graphics.

  186. @Some Guy:

    Apple never complained about GNUStep, did they?

    That’s an excellent point. Prediction #2 was more of a comment on how a lot of companies use lawyers as threats these days, but perhaps doesn’t really apply to Apple. While Apple sometimes does some things that piss developers off, judging from exactly the kinds of things they do, and unlike, say Adobe, it is quite possible that they talk to and even listen to their lawyers before taking this sort of step.

    @Leif:

    Hmmm. Of course, the natural response to this would also be to port them [iOS APIs] over to any other platform that happens to rise. In just a few months, many Android will be confronted with the appearance of Windows Phone 7. Microsoft will be throwing big resources at this. And as it stands now, the entire UI of WP7 is a full generation beyond Android.

    If Microsoft is smart enough, perhaps they will create such a porting toolkit. Don’t expect a third party developer to do it until there’s a significant and growing installed base. It’s called the chicken and egg problem. In any case, if you are abstracting an API layer via a porting toolkit, what does it matter to the actual app developer how ugly the underlying architecture is?

    Cross-platform development of mobile apps was a cool idea when it was hoped that Android could easily siphon off content created through Apple’s efforts.

    You have this 100% backwards. Apple stopped people from using non-Apple stuff on Apple. The only thing Apple has done is to insure that cross-platform development that has iOS as one of the targets has to start with iOS-compatible sources. Since you seem to think that iOS is so superior, this is a win for developers, and a win for other platforms that no longer have to have too many developers learn their arcane APIs.

    Now that Apple has closed a temporary gate on that and brilliantly duped Android into touting Flash as a “feature”, the landscape looks a little different. If such porting would benefit Android, it can benefit Android competitors.

    I think you mean “Now that Android has temporarily duped Apple into thinking the battle is about flash, rather than about letting developers use whatever tools they want and letting the market sort out the result…” And, sure, the porting would help any OS out. But nobody’s going to bother writing automated porting software unless the target platform has a lot of users and at least some growth, so RIM and Nokia might be in luck, but probably not Microsoft, unless they do it themselves.

    Ultimately, such a wild orgy of porting from iOS to Android would only serve to further depress the already flaccid and dull Android market. Incentives to develop apps, incentives for developers to master the platform, all begin to fall when faced with a flood of content. If the ported apps take any kind of performance hit from their iPhone originals, people will notice this and come to the conclusion that the problem is Android. Going a step further, it’s not hard to imagine that the margins would be slimmer on Android.

    First of all, you have the cart and the horse completely swapped around on margins vs. other things. Margins on Android phones are going to start out smaller. A lot smaller. As far as I know, everybody who thinks that Android is going to pick up significant market share thinks it’s because Android is going to win on price (and also because, in the US, Apple is currently network-constrained, but to a significant degree, that is also a price issue). So my prediction that porting toolkits will arrive has some built-in assumptions in it: (a) Android phones are cheaper, (b) so people buy a lot of them, (c) so there is a big enough market to make a porting toolkit worthwhile.

    There’s a corollary to that that I didn’t state with the prediction: by the time the porting toolkits are anywhere near ready, there will already be a lot of native Android apps available. So customers will not only be able to compare ported apps to the iPhone original; they will also be able to compare ported apps to native Android equivalents. The porting toolkits will not define what the quality of a good Android app is, but if the toolkits are themselves good enough, they will insure that applications of any size can be released on iOS and on Android almost simultaneously.

    At the end of the day, to the extent something doesn’t work quite as well on a phone that is much cheaper than an iPhone, price-conscious customers will just accept it. To the extent that something works much worse on Android, some developer will take a chance and code a replacement, or the porting toolkit vendor will man up and make it work better.

    You have seized on my prediction of porting as something that would serve to “depress … the Android market.” But I view it exactly the other way around. When I made the prediction, I wrote “there is a good possibility that Apple is in the driver’s seat … on choice of language and APIs … because they .. care deeply.” Google and the partners don’t care if your app runs on Apple. They don’t even care if it runs slightly better on Apple, or if you dropped trou just to do it Jobs’s way and then did an inferior port. Frankly, they don’t even care if you port your app to Android at all, but if you do, they’re happy to have you. But even if you have the best iOS app in the world and aren’t going to port it, somebody hungrier than you will write a very similar one for Android. Google is setting things up so that the free market will insure there are lots of good (maybe great) apps for Android.

    Android’s position is more precarious than seems to be realized. It’s wild variation of hardware reduces economies of scale and network effects for accessory producers.

    Wait, it’s no big deal that the iPad doesn’t have any ports for accessories, but now it’s a barrier to end user adoption that it might be more difficult for companies to make cradles and things for non-Apple cellphones? Fortunately, if that really were an issue, the margins on accessories are incredibly high, so the Android accessories will, in fact, magically appear as needed.

    It’s app market thus far is rather unimpressive. It’s branding is exceptionally low quality and consumer awareness low. Users are buying fewer apps. Documentation and training materials lags far behind.

    Yes, you definitely sound as elitist as any Apple developer. Many years ago I used to develop Windows drivers. Things were much suckier then; there wasn’t even any internet, and I had to reverse-engineer half the APIs. Guess what? Bill Gates made most of his money after that point in time.

    On and on. Worst of all, Android hasn’t slowed the growth of the user base.

    The installed Android user base grew twice as fast as iOS last quarter, and you don’t think some of that growth came at the expense of Apple??!? On and on is right — you’re like a broken record.

    Apple is likely to sell twice as many iPhones in 2010 as 2009. Android isn’t even a speedbump. And now here comes a refresh to the iPod touch which will serve to increase the iOS user base by many millions more this year alone.

    And still, Android will be bigger less than a year from now (perhaps much less). That must really hurt.

    And here comes Microsoft with a vastly superior mobile UI, a lot of money to throw around, and a desperate need to carve out a percentage.

    Unless Microsoft has a credible story to tell the phone vendors about how they aren’t going to nickel and dime them to death later, they might as well take that desparate need and all that money to Vegas and put it on red. Or better yet, double-zero.

    Far from thinking Android is the unquestionable heir to dominance, I think Android will be very fortunate to even approach iPhone this year. It might show some big marketshare, but the lack of homework done in critical areas will leave it unable to leverage that share into meaningful network effects. No wonder Google’s stock is falling and Apple’s is rising.

    “It might show some big marketshare, but…” But what??? The only “network effect” google cares about is all those people doing google searches and google ads. And for developers to care about the stock price, when google could go bankrupt and companies would still be shipping Android phones, is rather ridiculous.

    Then there’s the upcoming bloodbath and feeding frenzy when the Android tablet comes to market…

    Not sure I know what you’re alluding to here, but that’s probably just as well. This was one of your less reasonable posts.

  187. @Leif:

    IT IS APPLE’S PLATFORM.

    I have already covered how I think the free market will eventually sort some of this out, but I should also point out that consumer protection laws such as the UCC mean that vendors have to set customers’ expectations appropriately. For example, a lawsuit against Apple and AT&T for not unlocking phones has just been granted class-action status.

    Now this doesn’t mean that the plaintiffs will prevail, but class action status itself is a pretty high hurdle that is difficult to achieve if there is nothing actionable there. So it’s entirely possible that a judge will rule that, if Apple ships something that pretends to be a GSM phone, then, a user ought to be able to put a random SIM card in it and use it as a GSM phone, once the contract is up. It may well be that the only way Apple could get around this would be to lease the phones instead of selling them outright. “Fitness of purpose” is a legal concept that is sometimes difficult to work around.

    It’s not too big of a stretch to extrapolate from this battle that if Apple sells a compact general purpose computing platform (even one that also serves as a phone), then perhaps a user ought to be able to put his own software on it without jumping through too many hurdles or voiding the warranty. The iPad, which isn’t even a phone, is going to increase the pressure for this. I will be not at all surprised if at some point a judge rules that Apple has to allow anybody to ship whatever software they want for iOS, although the judge may well leave it up to Apple whether they allow this to occur inside the Apple store, or enable sales through third parties.

    FWIW, the idea that Android might put the hurt on Apple is starting to get a lot more momentum in the mainstream press.

  188. JSK: Thanks for your response, and I do understand how these issues can provoke a bit of snark, or worse. First, it’s clear people feel they have something on the line in some of these debates. All of us are loaded with all kinds of “should” beliefs and it can be a bit provocative when someone regards our sacred shoulds as questionable or worse.

    I do understand your annoyance with many of these things. But I think people make a mistake in thinking that many of Apple’s policies are purely the result of Steve Jobs’ being a dickhead. He may be a dickhead, but that’s not the primary reason for these things.

    I’ve been a little more patient and less excitable about various quirky Apple policies because I see them as being a part of a strategy to grow the platform and avoid big problems. In this case, I can see where a number of problems can be avoided by erecting some barriers to the number of people fiddling around with things beyond their ability and reducing the ability of large numbers of users to inadvertently installing crap which causes problems. Microsoft takes more blame for viruses and malware than virus writers. Some of that may be quite justified, but because of that I can see why Apple is trying to avoid some of those things.

    Obviously, this is something you find kind of fundamental: “it’s MY device.” And I understand your annoyance. And I also understand that it’s a bit of a provocation on my part when I respond in a way that trivializes this issue to you. I really don’t know how I can say, “it’s not that big of a deal” without provoking some ire. All I can say is that is not my intention.

  189. Patrick:

    “You have this 100% backwards. Apple stopped people from using non-Apple stuff on Apple. The only thing Apple has done is to insure that cross-platform development that has iOS as one of the targets has to start with iOS-compatible sources. Since you seem to think that iOS is so superior, this is a win for developers, and a win for other platforms that no longer have to have too many developers learn their arcane APIs.”

    Well, that’s exactly it. Apple is obviously using the draw of the iOS platform to increase the number of developers who are capable with Apple’s APIs. The iPhone is part of a larger strategy to acculturate more members of the general public to Apple conventions and icons while at the same time increasing the OS X developer base.

    And while it may be a “win for developers and for other platforms”, it assures an expanding developer base and the potential for new software titles to land on iOS first.

  190. The installed Android user base grew twice as fast as iOS last quarter

    Heh. “Fastest growing”? Really?

    Android will be bigger less than a year from now (perhaps much less). That must really hurt.

    It’s going to hurt all those people who wanted an iPhone and had to settle for Android, sure.

  191. Cocoa is simply an implementation of the OpenStep API.

    Guess again. There’s far more in Cocoa (and GNUSTep, by now) than we had back in the OpenStep days.

  192. Apple stopped people from using non-Apple stuff on Apple.

    I’m sure that will come as an enormous surprise to the thousands of third-party hardware and software vendors who sell apps on the Mac and iOS, not to mention the tens of millions of customers who have bought and use their products.

  193. many people simply cannot afford to run Linux. It’s just too damned expensive.

    That reminds me of one of the few insightful things that Jonathon Schwartz ever said. I don’t know the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of “Linux is free, like a puppy.”

  194. Facebook Android app, 630 users.

    Ok, either Android users are all practicing some kind of anti-FB snobbery that has them all hobnobbing on Orkut or Friendster or something like that, or developing apps for Android is a fast track to bankruptcy. 630 users for a free app? Wow. Just, wow.

  195. @Leif:

    Well, that’s exactly it. Apple is obviously using the draw of the iOS platform to increase the number of developers who are capable with Apple’s APIs. The iPhone is part of a larger strategy to acculturate more members of the general public to Apple conventions and icons while at the same time increasing the OS X developer base.

    And that strategy certainly could assure Apple a leading role in design (just like they have with the Mac) and a high profit margin (just like they have with the Mac), while still giving them a small fraction of the total market (just like they have with the Mac). Nobody arguing here with you has ever disputed any of this, yet you somehow think you’re insightful for pointing it out…

    And while it may be a “win for developers and for other platforms”, it assures an expanding developer base and the potential for new software titles to land on iOS first.

    Sure, for those titles where the developer cares enough about Apple’s ever-shrinking base to jump through Jobs’s hoops. But, even though I’ve hinted at it and then spelled it out, you seem unable to accept that my prediction of the translation tools market is predicated on Android being big enough to attract lots of development on its own.

    @Some Guy:

    The installed Android user base grew twice as fast as iOS last quarter

    Heh. “Fastest growing”? Really?

    Actually, while what I wrote was misleading, it wasn’t incorrect, at least for the U.S. I temporarily got confused between Apple and RIM. According to the article that Mike E. pointed us to, if you do the math, it appears that Android’s U.S. user base grew almost twice RIM’s, and six times Apple’s last quarter. (Of course, some could have been waiting for new iPhone before dumping something else.)

    Android will be bigger less than a year from now (perhaps much less). That must really hurt.

    It’s going to hurt all those people who wanted an iPhone and had to settle for Android, sure.

    More crap elitist attitude that assumes lots of falsities, starting with (a) everybody agrees on what the best is; and (b) everybody who lives in a trailer park is unhappy with their lot in life; and probably even (c) people shouldn’t be allowed to even pretend to be happy if they can’t afford what you think the “best” is.

    Apple stopped people from using non-Apple stuff on Apple.

    I’m sure that will come as an enormous surprise to the thousands of third-party hardware and software vendors who sell apps on the Mac and iOS, not to mention the tens of millions of customers who have bought and use their products.

    OK, I don’t know if you’re being deliberately obtuse, or are genuinely stupid, but within the context of this discussion of developer tools on iOS, this statement was completely true. If you want a more generally true statement, how about “Apple gives people the choice of only running Apple-approved apps on their iOS devices, or of voiding their warranties by rooting their devices.”

  196. Some Guy:

    You’re on the right track! Always misinterpret any obvious negative data as a plus for Android. Admirably, you hit on the snobbery level. Whenever anyone points to some apparent flaw with Android, spin it into an indication of the amazing sophistication of the Android user base.

  197. Patrick:

    “Sure, for those titles where the developer cares enough about Apple’s ever-shrinking base”

    Apple is on track to sell twice as many phones this year than last year. Android is slowing Apple down. At all.

  198. Patrick:

    “If you want a more generally true statement, how about “Apple gives people the choice of only running Apple-approved apps on their iOS devices, or of voiding their warranties by rooting their devices.””

    I prefer this: Apple provides a wonderful service to users and developers by offering quality assurance, distribution, and billing in a way that makes things easier for end users and for the developers. By freeing developers from all the administrative and billing costs, Apple works hard to improve their success and keep prices low for consumers. By offering quality assurance and the highest levels of ease in finding, buying, installing, and automatically updating apps, Apple works hard to keep the consumers happy so they buy more apps from the developers. Because Apple cares, everyone wins. And off to the side, for the entertainment and amusement of everyone, are a circus of people who neither own Apple products nor develop for Apple products who are outraged by all of this.

  199. Patrick:

    Obvious that should have been Android ISN’T slowing Apple down. At all.

    They just aren’t.

    You know what you and everyone else seems to be missing is this: Android is on devices made by manufacturers who have been historically dominant. Motorola, HTC, et al. Of course Android is growing fast. They’d be growing fast even if no one ever heard of them. Their growth is largely the result of being picked up by manufacturers who already owned a big chunk of the market.

    Of course it’s growing fast. When you start at minute amounts, tiny bits of market share register as rapid growth.

    But then again, as I’ve tried to explain but sadly and apparently failed to do, market share is a pretty silly data point in and of itself. And market share is just one part of the equation of leveraging network effects; and far from being the most important. I would guess that the Android user base would have to be at least 2x the size of iPhone’s in order to have an advantage in network effects, simply due to all the other work Apple has done and is doing to CREATE A PLATFORM and not merely shove their product in as many hands as possible as quickly as possible.

    There is such a thing as growing too fast. Platforms, being cultural constructs are subject to patterns exhibited in biological systems. Some things can grow too fast. Android appears to be on a track of believing that their highest priority is market saturation. The problem is that they have little in place that will allow them to hold onto their share.

  200. @Leif:

    (Talking about Apple’s control of the marketplace)

    Because Apple cares, everyone wins.

    Interesting definition of “everybody.” Do small corporations who want to deploy custom apps to their own employees win? No, I thought not.

    And off to the side, for the entertainment and amusement of everyone, are a circus of people who neither own Apple products nor develop for Apple products who are outraged by all of this.

    Yeah, and some of those outraged people have some real power to back up their outrage.

    As I have pointed out before, once Apple sells a device to a consumer, all sorts of government regulations can kick in. The OBD-II connector on cars is a good example. Auto manufacturers try to keep some of the diagnostic information proprietary, so their dealers can get a bigger cut of the action. But the government makes them make most of it available. “But it’s GM’s platform!!!” you might whine. In a pure free-market scenario, that might be true, but that’s not what we have. Similar regulation is probably coming for phones. Interestingly, the worse Android does, the more likely Apple will be saddled with (what they will consider to be) onerous regulations.

    [Android would] be growing fast even if no one ever heard of them. Their growth is largely the result of being picked up by manufacturers who already owned a big chunk of the market.

    Don’t be silly. All those manufacturers still offer other phones with other OS’s, often much cheaper (because they don’t need the horsepower to run something like Android). Android’s accelerating growth is because people have heard of it and believe it will do what they need.

    Of course it’s growing fast. When you start at minute amounts, tiny bits of market share register as rapid growth. But then again, as I’ve tried to explain but sadly and apparently failed to do, market share is a pretty silly data point in and of itself.

    A minute ago, you were explaining that Apple’s growth is huge, unstoppable. Android’s adding users 6 times as fast, but that’s irrelevant? BTW, marketshare is only an irrelevant number if enough people believe it’s an irrelevant number. Good luck with that meme.

    There is such a thing as growing too fast.

    Which is it? Not really growing, or growing too fast?

  201. I don’t know if you’re being deliberately obtuse, or are genuinely stupid,

    Well, fuck you too! and now that we’ve dispensed with the formalities…

    but within the context of this discussion of developer tools on iOS, this statement was completely true.

    You’re still wrong. There are corporate customers deploying Mono Touch apps to their employees right now. You can write iOS apps with any tool chain you want. What you don’t get to do, is push it through Apple’s distribution channel. Like I said above, Apple does QC. Other platform vendors don’t. The public’s been pretty clear on which model they prefer.

  202. : Android is on devices made by manufacturers who have been historically dominant.

    Yeah, all the has-beens love it.

  203. @Some Guy:

    You’re still wrong. There are corporate customers deploying Mono Touch apps to their employees right now. You can write iOS apps with any tool chain you want. What you don’t get to do, is push it through Apple’s distribution channel.

    It’s my understanding that if you’re going to deploy to 500 phones, you can do this, but you still need to do special things to all the phones. That’s a pretty small market segment to argue generalizations on. Show me how Joe Average developer can get his app to Joe Average customer without going through the app store and without Joe Average customer having to root his phone, or otherwise jump through some other insanely complicated hoops, and I will retract my opinion of your obtuseness. Otherwise, since you seem to be relatively well-informed, though, I’m veering away from “willful.”

    Like I said above, Apple does QC. Other platform vendors don’t. The public’s been pretty clear on which model they prefer.

    Until Apple, I’m not even sure the general public was all that aware that they could download applications (other than the odd game from their provider) onto their phones. I think the app store is a step towards the public’s preference in terms of making a variety of apps easily accessible, but I honestly don’t know that the QC function is that important. That argument almost seems to me like newspapers claiming that the internet will never take off because the public demands intermediaries to help tell them what to believe.

  204. “You know what you and everyone else seems to be missing is this: Android is on devices made by manufacturers who have been historically dominant. Motorola, HTC, et al. Of course Android is growing fast. They’d be growing fast even if no one ever heard of them. Their growth is largely the result of being picked up by manufacturers who already owned a big chunk of the market.”

    Apple has a big chunk of the market too. Can we chalk up continued iPhone sales to that fact, or is the product succeeding on its own merits? The same type of branding that let Apple branch into the smartphone market lets Motorola and HTC take a chance with Android. People expect quality from the companies they’ve come to trust, so they are willing to risk something new. If you want to remove brand appeal from the issue, you’ll have to find a way to remove it from both sides.

    “Of course it’s growing fast. When you start at minute amounts, tiny bits of market share register as rapid growth.”

    Fair enough. Just note that this doesn’t apply to absolute numbers (units sold, or market share, or whatever else you’re measuring), only actual growth.

    “There is such a thing as growing too fast. Platforms, being cultural constructs are subject to patterns exhibited in biological systems. Some things can grow too fast. Android appears to be on a track of believing that their highest priority is market saturation. The problem is that they have little in place that will allow them to hold onto their share.”

    But you said Android was succeeding because it was picked up by historically dominant manufacturers. If that kind of brand-name staying power drew customers to Android in the first place, why won’t it keep them there?

  205. Patrick:

    “Interesting definition of “everybody.” Do small corporations who want to deploy custom apps to their own employees win? No, I thought not.”

    It depends on your notion of “small.” At the moment, Apple has an option for businesses with over 500 employees. I’m sure they’ll scale down as time permits. Keep in mind that Apple has not had a strong presence in the enterprise space, and one of the huge barriers to the enterprise space is having the personnel to support it. It takes time to grow such personnel.

    You’ll be relieved to know that Apple has been steadily and consistently working to build and grow its support network. Apple retail is a part of this, insuring customers and companies can get easy physical access to equipment and assistance. And they are in the process of bringing in more people for enterprise support and running them from Apple’s retail stores.

    So, yes. Everyone benefits. If Apple just rushed features out without having the necessary support, “everyone” wouldn’t be able to get what they want either.

  206. Patrick:

    “Don’t be silly. All those manufacturers still offer other phones with other OS’s, often much cheaper (because they don’t need the horsepower to run something like Android). Android’s accelerating growth is because people have heard of it and believe it will do what they need.”

    The vast majority of them are people who know little more than “it’s like an iPhone.” It has very low brand recognition.

  207. ” If that kind of brand-name staying power drew customers to Android in the first place, why won’t it keep them there?”

    Because Android can be dropped. I like Motorola, for example. Bought Motorola products in the past and I’m sure I’ll buy them in the future. I might even buy a Motorola with Android, if a Motorola phone with the right features appeared. But I wouldn’t buy any apps, nor any media content, and I’d do all I could to block out Google’s services and spyware.

    Now, others won’t go as far as I would go. But just as I might buy a phone with Android on it, but have no interest in Android per se, that applies to several other people. I’d say the majority of people.

    Only geeks and dorks say, “I bought an Android!”

    Normal humans buy an HTC Incredible or a Motorola Droid. Because, you know, it’s pretty cool. A lot like an iPhone. But hey, they’re stuck on Verizon. But this will hold them over until the iPhone becomes available. You know, they don’t need all those apps and music and stuff. Which is fortunate cause they aren’t quite sure how you even buy that stuff on their HTC or Motorola that incidentally has something called “Android” running in it, which for them is little more than a buzzword like “dual overhead cams”. Something they’ve heard is supposed to be good, but they aren’t sure what it is or why.

    And the market data increasingly shows this.

    It would be really hilarious if Apple decided to license iOS. Any Motorola or HTC running iOS could be priced for $100 more and would outsell the equivalent device with Android. And I really hope that all of you know that.

    Apple could really take some huge market share and some huge profits doing that.

    But they got something more ambitious in mind.

  208. ESR:

    Martin Cooper (born December 26, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois, USA) is a former Motorola vice president and division manager who in the 1970s led the team that developed the handheld mobile phone (as distinct from the car phone).

    So a former Vice President of Motorola is using a Motorola? Matt Drudge had better fire up that spinning red and blue alert GIF.

    Also, from the article you linked I couldn’t help but notice….

    “While Cooper said that he has used an iPhone previously, he recently passed it on to his grandson in favor of a Motorola Droid, which he says he chose because he wanted to get more experience with Android.”

    I bet his grandson would rather have the iPhone. Good thing his dad is such an accomplished inventor, he should be able to figure out how to use the basic functions on the Droid.

  209. Interesting new report out. You have to give them your email address to get the entire report, but they not only surveyed actual developers, but also had app-building shootouts, etc.

    http://www.visionmobile.com/blog/2010/07/mobile-developer-economics-2010-the-migration-of-developer-mindshare/

    According to the report, Android has higher developer mindshare and is more productive to develop on.

    BTW, Leif, I don’t think either of us is going to convince the other of anything useful. The difference is, I don’t really have a dog in this hunt at the moment — I don’t develop for phones or carry a smartphone (or even carry a cell, except when I borrow my wife’s once every 3 months or so). I’m sure I’ll get one when the dust settles, and at that point I’ll be able to figure out if you’re really a genius, or if you’ve just been extremely busy validating your own personal choices.

  210. Actually, just noticed that’s effectively the same report I found a link to earlier, just from the original source. I hadn’t read the whole thing before, though, just excerpts. It’s quite illuminating.

  211. >According to the report, Android has higher developer mindshare and is more productive to develop on.

    Another implication of the report: (1) developers are preferentially moving to Android, (2) and, developers give highest market penetration as the most important factor in platform choice, therefore we can conclude (3) developers are choosing Android precisely because they expect it to have the highest market penetration.

  212. Patrick,

    I really don’t have a dog in this hunt, either. While I personally have a negative view of Google (I see them as worse than msft in the 1990s, but that’s another story), I don’t regard this as something like the Superbowl, hoping “my team” will win. I even noted above that I could see myself purchasing a phone with Android on it. Most of what motivates me in posting centers around the following:

    1) Market share, in and of itself is not as important as seems to be assumed. One company can hold 20 percent of a market and another can hold 40 percent of the market. But the first company can be more successful than the second if it holds a more lucrative portion of the market and has higher margins and more repeat business.

    2) market share is not nearly as important to produce “network effects” as people here seem to believe. “Metcalfe’s law is more of a heuristic or metaphor than an iron-clad empirical rule. In addition to the difficulty of quantifying the “value” of a network, the mathematical justification measures only the potential number of contacts, i.e., the technological side of a network. However the social utility of a network depends upon the number of nodes in contact.”

    3) Metcalfe’s law doesn’t do magic things when an arbitrary 51% is obtained.

    4) The history of the 1980s business desktop computer, and thus the earlier Mac vs PC model, has little or nothing to do with the current market in smartphones. There is only two very incidental and minor similarities. Steve Jobs brought a new idea to the market (oh, and if I hear anyone pop off that it wasn’t Jobs idea, references to PARC, etc., I want to say right now: YES! I KNOW. And remind you I said “brought.. to the market.”) and some schmuck stabbed him in the back and tried to mass produce an inferior spinoff. But so many other variables are so vastly different. Different product, different market, different starting points, and so much more.

    5) People who think Apple is purposefully going for a small share of the desktop/notebook market because they arbitrarily are only interested in margins and not growing their user base are rather silly.

    6) Apple’s dominance in media player market share is a much more relevant model to look at than their dominance in personal computer market share. For years, Apple has owned 75% of the portable media player market. I believe that their strategy points to an effort to lock up the top 20-30% of the market we currently call smartphones.

    7) Android’s strategy, branding, and position are far more shaky than its fans seem to belief. I’m just warning them.

    8) Most relevant to the religious beliefs of people here, we’ll find that many of our beliefs about the relative merits of “closed” or “open” platforms are purely speculative, and largely ill-digested and misunderstood. More open doesn’t always equal better, in fact it doesn’t even usually mean that.

    9) Like it or not Apple is in the driver’s seat and stepping on the gas. Not just in phones. In tablets, phones, personal media players. And they are selling 4x the number of computers they were than just a few years ago. Everyone else is following at this moment which be default puts Apple in the lead and dominant position. The natural result of this, and other highly relevant assets Apple has developed in recent years is this: get ready for massive growth by Apple in terms of revenue, margins, and product shipped.

  213. Patrick..

    continuing:

    “According to the report, Android has higher developer mindshare and is more productive to develop on.”

    10. I find “market share” dubious in and of itself and have similar feelings regarding “mind share.” It should be expected that Android has a high level of interest: the tech press has been making quite a hoopla and the belief of the times is that this whole mobile app biz is going to be highly lucrative, something I’m a little dubious of. If you’re a developer looking to get in on this thing, you gotta look at 1) your skills, 2) the market. Android’s IDE is all about java, and there’s lots of java people running around. They look at iPhone and see the potential of the app market, but see that it’s also already loaded with developers. They’d need to bone up on Obj C to even enter. Of course, Kochan’s fantastic book on the topic IS selling like hotcakes.

    Android will have some reasonable potential, undoubtedly, for some developers. But the Android Market is still way, way behind. And by all indications the Android user base is simply not buying as many apps as iPhone users. The last time I looked, the Android user base would have to be more than twice as big as the iPhone user base to come to parity in terms of app sales.

    There’s a long ways to go. And this fall Android is going to get savaged by the next iPod and slowed down a bit by Windows 7 Phone.

  214. Oh, and lastly… about the Europeans regulators: I’m not at all surprised. And I simply cannot take any regulator seriously who would suggest that it’s in the public’s interest to have Flash on their computer.

    Apple is going to be in the crosshairs of plenty of regulators and it has nothing whatsoever to do with any of Apple’s “evil” policies. They simply smell blood. Follow the money. The EU fining Microsoft over the availability of documentation or the inclusion of a friggin’ media player app in no way could be said to have enhanced any consumer’s experience. In Latin America and Africa, this kind of thing is referred to as “bribes.” And that’s what I see coming down the pike here; the sharks smell blood and are circling and probing.

    Beyond that, Europe has its own telecom industry to try to protect.

    In the US, the hinted investigations seem patently ridiculous. Eric Schmidt apparently got his money’s worth from his political campaign “donations.”

    Unfortunately for the extortionists, they’ll find that Apple won’t roll over like Microsoft. Bill Gates will be looked back on as a real pussycat.

  215. Re: Developer mindshare

    I’ve actually done extensive research and reporting in this arena for the last eight to ten months and what the Vision study shows doesn’t tell the entire story by even half. Of all the published research in this area, Appcelerator is easily digging deepest (and disclosure, I’ve been asked for my opinion and suggestions by Appcelerator for its survey questions, I’ve also had the chance to discuss and anyze the data beyond just the

  216. Ack, comment form fail:
    I’ve done research and had discussions beyond the published reports.

    A few things I’ve noticed:

    First, yes interest in Android is on the rise and “learning” Android is growing in importance.

    However, Android isn’t making developers any money, at least when compared to iOS. For that reason, Apple is still the primary focus for most developers.

    Most games for android are JDK ports and they suck. Creating native 3D games is too much effort for too little payoff right now.

    Most Android apps that come after iPhone apps (which is the tend) are ports in a sense. They usually start off with less features and then add features later on, sometimes surpassing the iPhone features, sometimes not.

    Apologies, I can’t actually see what I’m typing right now so I’ll stop until I get on my iPad.

    ESR says: I fixed your typos and approved this.

  217. Your 2.2 JIT is still weak. Check out the video comparing a natively-compiled C++ program with Java on Android 1.5.

    There is no way a JIT is going to be 14X.

    “Using Java for serious jobs is like trying to take the skin off a rice pudding wearing boxing gloves.” — Tel Hudson

    “Of all the great programmers I can think of, I know of only one who would voluntarily program in Java. And of all the great programmers I can think of who don’t work for Sun, on Java, I know of zero.” — Paul Graham

    “Java is the most distressing thing to happen to computing since MS-DOS.” — Alan Kay

    “Like the creators of sitcoms or junk food or package tours, Java’s designers were consciously designing a product for people not as smart as them.” — Paul Graham

    I’m shocked you’re not more up-in-arms about Java on Android.

  218. @J. Jay:

    I’m a language bigot. I don’t like Java. I don’t write in Java. I seldom even write in C++ (and then, only a very restricted subset). I mainly write in Python and Verilog, and if I have to, I write embedded assembler or host C for speed (Python is the new C; C is the new assembler).

    Nonetheless, I have no problem whatsoever with Google’s direction. For one thing, the most useful phone apps are going to be web apps, so they need a good browser. Check. I don’t care what they write their own stuff in, as long as it appears to work. Check. In terms of market share, they should pick a language that a lot of application-level developers know and are comfortable with. Check. And that makes it relatively easy to develop. Check — at least according to that VisionMobile report. If I were to start carrying a smartphone, I would want one that let me easily code my own cheesy little apps in Python, without needing to host an SDK on a different computer. Check. If I were to decide to start doing minimal development on a smartphone, I would pick one that didn’t keep me from giving simple apps to my friends without publishing them for the world to see. Check. Or selling them into vertical markets for big bucks without giving away 30% to a forced intermediary. Check. And that didn’t restrict me to a particular language or development methodology (even though there might be a preferred one). Check.

    BTW, most of those quotes are downright silly, and ignore some serious computer history. Personally, I view Java’s rise as utterly predictable.

  219. (Python is the new C; C is the new assembler).

    Change that to “dynamic languages are the new C; C is the new assembler,” and then I’ll agree with you. :) As much as I like Python, other dynamic languages like Lua, Ruby and even JavaScript have their merits.

    Of course, what they all have in common is strong influence from LISP. :)

  220. As much as I like Python, other dynamic languages like Lua, Ruby and even JavaScript have their merits.

    Of course, what they all have in common is strong influence from LISP. :)

    LISP, along with FORTRAN and COBOL, was there at the beginning. Any half-way decent language that was there at the beginning would be expected to have some features that would reappear in other languages, but to take some of the practical discoveries of pioneers as evidence that they were somehow omniscient gods is almost always a mistake. For example, McCarthy was evidently surprised when it was pointed out to him that his new language could actually be executed…

    I’m not going to get into a flamewar about how LISP-like, or not, various languages are, but I will note that, for the average programmer (and there are 10000 average programmers for every truly exceptional one), the syntax of LISP itself really is part of the problem, and not part of the solution, whether or not it simplifies treating programs and data identically.

    But in terms of language features that first appeared in LISP (and yet, not in the very first implementation…), the unsung hero is automatic memory management.

    I have a kind of warped view of computer language development. I think that it was pretty much a given that an ALGOL-derived syntax was going to define the mainstream. I think it could have almost have been Pascal at one point, except that C had a lot more free implementations. I think there was still a chance it could have been Modula-2, except that (a) ANSI C came along and fixed some of the more egregious problems, and (b) the C compilers got enough smarter to warn you when you did stupid stuff like “if (c=27)”.

    In my warped view of computer languages, C++ became popular because of memory management. A quick look at writing Pascal for the early Mac could make you realize that object setup and teardown was a big deal. I think C++ could have been a hit even if the only polymorphic functions supported by its objects were automatically called initializers and destructors.

    But C++ was a big language, somewhat ill-defined, hard to port (e.g. to support exceptions properly), and it was not just possible, but exceptionally easy, for “wizards” to write code that mortals couldn’t possibly understand. That’s why the world was ready for Java. A language that leveraged all the existing C/C++ familiarity, that had better automatic memory management, that didn’t make it quite so easy to write stuff nobody else could read, that was itself written in the new universal assembler (C) so it could be ported to any architecture, and that was free — never underestimate the value of free.

    In my opinion, Perl owes as much of its success to automatic memory management as it does to regular expressions, and TCL owes as much of its success to automatic memory management as it does to TK, and Python — well, Python is like a well-balanced throwing knife that ties together automatic memory management with all the other necessary, must-have, and even nice-to-have computing paradigms (except, perhaps, macros) and wraps it all up with a nice syntactic bow that just can’t be beat.

  221. Python is like a well-balanced throwing knife that ties together automatic memory management with all the other necessary, must-have, and even nice-to-have computing paradigms (except, perhaps, macros) and wraps it all up with a nice syntactic bow that just can’t be beat.

    When you combine it with all the stuff it comes with, it becomes a Swiss Army balisong. :)

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