The smartphone wars: Google changes aim

I just got a look at the promotional video for the Nexus S. What it reveals about Google’s Android strategy is fascinating, and suggests that the pressure on Apple and the telcos is about to ratchet up another notch.

The Nexus S, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention, is the successor to the Nexus One, the original Googlephone. Similar looks, identical price point ($529 from Google, $199 with T-mobile contract). HDSPA radio capability, which means it can use T-Mobile’s 3.5G network. Android 2.3 “Gingerbread”. Spec sheet here. This would have been the Nexus Two if Google CEO Eric Schmidt hadn’t for some now-forgotten reason promised there’d be no Nexus Two.

HTC is on the sidelines – this is a Samsung handset. And it has the NFC (near-field capablility) that Schmidt recently highlighted as a key feature for next-generation phones. He’s basically said up front that Google aims to replace conventional credit cards and the credit-card companies are OK with this. Hey, if it talks to their payment systems they don’t care. Not having to ship and manage as many physical cards will lower their costs.

The video tells us some very interesting things about how Google is positioning the Nexus S. And, because Google isn’t stupid and doubtless test-marketed and focus-grouped the product pretty carefully, that in turn tells us a lot about what Google thinks the state of the smartphone market is and where the battlegrounds of the next phase of the smartphone wars will be.

First message: Google thinks that this time it’s got an iPhone killer that can capture the youth/hipster/trendoid market. The video is aimed squarely at teenagers and fashion victims just as surely as the Nexus One was positioned as cutting-edge techno-cool for geeks and salarymen.

Second message: This thing is being marketed squarely as an organize-your-world information appliance. I’m not certain I ever saw an actual phone call occur in the video, and if there was one it went by so fast that I missed at. No, the focus was actually on augmented-reality apps – using the phone display as an information overlay on your physical environment.

Third message, and the stinger in the tail: Near the end, the video says “Pure Google”. Yes, this does seems to mean that Google has read consumer disgust with carrier skinning and lockdown and decided to actively market the uncompromised Android experience against the carriers.

On the assumption that Google’s market-intelligence people haven’t been taking stupid pills, this sets up a prediction: Apple and the cell carriers are about to take a hard punch in the face.

If this seems overly optimistic, reflect on the way that Android phones have so far been winning every market Google has chosen to throw them at. All other smartphone OSes have been losing relative market share. Carrier efforts to capture, cripple, and own-brand Android have already, as I’ve noted in my reports on the G-2, stumbled badly.

The most interesting second-order implication of “Pure Google” is that Google now thinks it can say a loud public fuck-you to the telco carriers and get away with it. Big change from July when the Nexus One got pulled from the Google store, a move many observers (but not me) took to mean Google had lost the power struggle with the carriers. I don’t think there’s much doubt who has the whip hand now.

And as for Apple…their strategic problem just got dicier. The N1 wasn’t designed to go head-to-head with the iPhone on “user experience” and wasn’t marketed that way either. The Nexus S, from this video, squarely is. Apple fanboys may be too worshipful to think this is a real danger, but I think Apple’s planners know better. Watch for an increasing marketing emphasis on their tablets and media/entertainment delivery as a leading indicator that they’re conceding defeat in phone handsets.

186 thoughts on “The smartphone wars: Google changes aim

  1. This is tempting enough that I may upgrade to Nexus S instead of iPhone 4 after Christmas. (Upgrading from an iPhone 3G.)

  2. > Watch for an increasing marketing emphasis on their tablets as a leading indicator that they’re conceding defeat in phone handsets.

    Hey, lets get some terms straight now, so the claim chowder will be evident when it occurs:

    If Apple ships iPhone on Verizon in Q1, does that count as conceding defeat in phone handsets?

    If Apple ships an updated iPad at the end of Q1, does that count as increasing marketing emphasis on tablets, or just a normal upgrade cycle?

    If Google finally manages to ship a ChromeOS-based tablet, does that mean Google is increasing marketing emphasis on tablets, and is therefor conceding defeat in both the phone and Android space?

    Inquiring minds want to know…

  3. > This is tempting enough that I may upgrade to Nexus S instead of iPhone 4 after Christmas. (Upgrading from an iPhone 3G.)

    As someone who owns both a Nexus 1 (and a G1 dev phone prior to that), both *free* from Google, and who carries an iPhone 4 every day, (I do app development on the N1), I’m here to tell you, hands down, that you’ll regret it.

  4. Have you tried a Nexus S? (Has anyone yet?) Google isn’t terrible at user experience, even if it’s taking them awhile to get their phones right. This looks good enough that I’m willing to research it further.

  5. Nexus S for “pure Google”

    G2 etc. for “carrier-flavored Android”

    CheapChineseJunk(tm) for various other devices

    The bottom line? Android is fast becoming THE mobile operating system. Apple will be marginalized, and Microsoft is a pathetic also-ran.

    As we’ve been saying for years: Linux will win when the game changes to one that isn’t already stacked in favor of Microsoft. Everyone get ready for “Step 4: then you win.”

  6. Haven’t had my hands on a Nexus S yet. Don’t expect the 2.3 over-the-air upgrade for my N1/G-2 for three weeks or so, going by the pace of previous rollouts.

  7. Michael Arrington put it this way, “If you are an iPhone user this isn’t going to make you switch. If you’re an Android user you will want this phone more than any other.”

    There is no comma key on the virtual keyboard.

    No (micro) SD slot, so you’re stuck with 16GB of storage. (At least the iPhone lets you buy 32GB if you want.)

    meh

  8. > There is no comma key on the virtual keyboard.

    Hmm. I see an ellipsis on the period key. Probably can hold it down for a moment and get a comma, but if I were to design it, I would have some intelligence built into it so that it knows when I want a comma and when I period. Point being: could be a UI design choice to increase key size for fewer misses. We’ll see.

  9. >If Apple ships iPhone on Verizon in Q1, does that count as conceding defeat in phone handsets?

    Obviously not. But I don’t think this will be tested, as I still don’t think Apple is going to get out of its exclusive before 2012.

    >If Apple ships an updated iPad at the end of Q1, does that count as increasing marketing emphasis on tablets, or just a normal upgrade cycle?

    Could be either. It depends what the marketing looks like when it happens.

    >If Google finally manages to ship a ChromeOS-based tablet, does that mean Google is increasing marketing emphasis on tablets, and is therefor conceding defeat in both the phone and Android space?

    Definitely not. Google’s position, and its strategic risks, are very different from Apple’s. It ships reference designs to shape the top of the market, expecting that the rest of the Android army will pile in with hardware at widely varying price and capability points. The costs of experimentation, and the costs of failure, are much lower for Google than they are for Apple; we’ve already seen with the iPhone4 how badly the latter can be hurt by a single design flub.

    Therefore, expect Google to make more bets knowing it will lose some. One way for it to defeat Apple is to use the Android army to force the competitive tempo of product innovation past the level where it’s possible for a single company to sustain. Bundling in NFC seems to me to be exactly that sort of accelerating move, a point I meant to be more explicit about in my post.

  10. “The Nexus S…is the successor to the Nexus One, the original Googlephone. Similar looks, identical price point ($529 from Google, $199 with T-mobile contract).”

    Does anyone have any figures? How many bought the Nexus One at $529 versus those that went with T-mobile? I think that Google still really needs the carriers, but I could be wrong.

  11. > Bundling in NFC seems to me to be exactly that sort of accelerating move, a point I meant to be more explicit about in my post.

    RIM has already announced that the Crackberry will be getting NFC too.

    NFC is about more than credit card replacement. I imagine that it would be trivial to wire up something such that your display runs xlock when you’re phone is not within 4″ of the CPU, and automatically unlocks when you come near.

    Since this is a hacking blog (right???) I’ll point out that Google is using a LGPL library from NXP for their Android NFC implementation, and note that it already also runs on Windows and MacOS X.

    See: http://www.libnfc.org/documentation/introduction and http://code.google.com/p/libnfc/

  12. > One way for it to defeat Apple

    Wait, I thought you said that it already had done so!

  13. >I think that Google still really needs the carriers, but I could be wrong.

    From Google’s POV, the benefit of working with the carriers is that the carriers are willing to make expensive devices available cheap in order to entice consumers into contract lockin. If Google were planning for Android phones to hang out above the $200 pricepoint forever, yeah, they’d need the carriers forever.

    But that’s not the plan. As Jean-Louis Gassée has pointed out, Google is playing as though it expects the people Ignatius T. Foobar calls the CheapChineseJunk brigade to drive the price point of a midrange Android phone, unbundled, below $200. Safe bet they’ll do that, too – at which point the bottom will fall out of the market for carrier contracts. On present trends, I’m guessing this will happen in mid-to-late 2011.

  14. >Wait, I thought you said that it already had done so!

    I see those hallucinations are kicking in again.

  15. >NFC is about more than credit card replacement.

    How wide is that pipe? Could it be used for pushbutton contact exchange between phones that have it? Because that, kids, would be the social killer app.

    UPDATE: And, by what I see in the nfclib docs, it’s wide enough.

  16. Hm. Investigating further, I see Google has just changed the rules in the NFC market. By adopting a well-established open-source interface library for NFC, they’re putting a lot of pressure on NFC device vendors to interoperate and perhaps go open-source themselves. Because if there was ever a hardware-market segment that had “must play nice with Android apps” written all over it, NFC is it.

  17. > How wide is that pipe? Could it be used for pushbutton contact exchange between phones that have it? Because that, kids, would be the social killer app.

    I don’t think this is possible, because the NFC tech in Nexus S is read-only, “That means you’ll only get info from other NFC tags, not the other way around.”:

    http://geek001.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/what-is-that-nfc-in-nexus-s-or-in-general/

    I just realized that years after things settle down, this “smartphone wars” series of blog posts will be an interesting read to people into smartphone history. It will be like reading a journal of someone living at the time of World War 1 :).

  18. >I don’t think this is possible, because the NFC tech in Nexus S is read-only

    I see you’re right. The bandwidth is there but the two-way capacity isn’t. Also the range is shorter than I thought – maxing out at about 4cm, according to that source.

    That means this isn’t going to work for contact swapping, or a credit-card replacement. Alas. Next generation – give it six months.

  19. > Next generation – give it six months.

    Another killer app is connection setup or pairing. Hold your phone next to an NFC object, your screen says “detected [your friend Bob]” or “detected [your home server PC]“, “what do you want to do with it?”

    Next you click, “add to contacts” or “bookmark SSH connection”. Later connections to that device are one-click from your contacts or SSH servers screens.

  20. I’m not certain I ever saw an actual phone call occur in the video

    Closest I saw was an SMS that appears at around 0:12.
    Their choice of perspective(? I think that’s the right word… are they getting kickbacks from shoe and jeans manufacturers now?) means that SMS is pretty much the only phone function that they could show off. For all we know they intended all the times the phone goes off screen to be people talking on the phone.

  21. NFC interests me, but I have a feeling it will remain read only / one way for quite some time. Not because I don’t think it’s technically possible, but because we need a better way to connect devices. We’ve had methods for short range data communication in portable devices forever, any high school kid can tell you about TI-83 data cables, old Palm and Handspring folks will remember IR business card / contact swapping and after that we’ve had various bluetooth options in phones for quite awhile and who can forget “squirting” (the microsoft kind you perverts). But all of these have suffered from the problem that the interface sucks. I have to get out my phone, open the app, choose receive business card, then the other guy has to get out his phone, open the app, choose send card, the phones have to find each other, then you may have to enter a passcode on one or more phones, and all of this assumes that both apps are using the same card format (thank god for vCard). By comparison, for a current business card, information exchange is as quick as me handing you a card.

    I can however, imagine a scenario which might just solve the speed problem, and solve the digitizing problem old fashioned business cards. Imagine instead that your phone with NFC (even 4cm range) turns it’s antenna on when you unlock your phone (even for say, 5 minutes only). In the background of your phone runs a process which waits to read information on this NFC antenna in the same way RFID system might. Then your business man hands you his standard business card, which has his information encoded in a chip already. You simply unlock your phone, swipe his business card over the screen, and the process on the phone reads the card, identifies it as a business card and passes it off to whatever application is registered to handle business cards. Business guy doesn’t need hundreds of cards, and with mass production of such business cards, the cost could probably be gotten down quite a bit anyway.

    To me, that (or something that simple) is the interaction model that will be required before NFC is used for any sort of real information exchange, and even then its still really one way.

  22. I see you’re right. The bandwidth is there but the two-way capacity isn’t. Also the range is shorter than I thought – maxing out at about 4cm, according to that source.

    That means this isn’t going to work for contact swapping, or a credit-card replacement. Alas. Next generation – give it six months.

    What’s wrong with using bluetooth for contact swapping?

  23. > What’s wrong with using bluetooth for contact swapping?

    As I outlined above, the interface sucks. Not that bluetooth couldn’t be used. However, if you limit it to extremely short ranges, I think you have a better chance of having something like I described where your phone can just receive and parse the information given without getting junk from everyone who has a transmitter turned on.

  24. What’s wrong with using bluetooth for contact swapping?

    As I outlined above, the interface sucks. Not that bluetooth couldn’t be used. However, if you limit it to extremely short ranges, I think you have a better chance of having something like I described where your phone can just receive and parse the information given without getting junk from everyone who has a transmitter turned on.

    I was going to ask exactly the same question. I think it would be trivial (possibly even just a software hack in a lot of hardware) to add a bit of attenuation at the transmitter and a lot of attenuation at the receiver for a bluetooth data exchange mode.

    Alternatively, do the LCDs on that phone update quickly enough to use the display and the camera to do something like the Timex Datalink?

    I knew somebody who had one of those. I still don’t even carry a cellphone, partly because of high carrier costs (I’m a cheapskate) and partly because the bandwidth of the UI is only now getting to the point where I think it’s acceptable.

    Or maybe it has an IR LED for remote control that you could use in conjunction with the camera.

    Or maybe spatial resolution (GPS, cell tower triangulation, etc.) just gets good enough that you could just transfer information through the network to “the guy standing next to me.”

  25. We have all heard lately that Apple is about to bring the iPhone to Verizon.

    I would like to know why Apple did an exclusive deal with AT&T. Why did they not sell it through all the carriers?

    I have never heard a solid answer on this.

  26. Because AT&T gave them the terms they wanted. Verizon wouldn’t. T-Mobile and Sprint are third place.

  27. > The bandwidth is there but the two-way capacity isn’t.

    Well, the NXP chip supports being turned around. So either Google crippled the phone for reasons we’ll never know, or a software update will enable thr phone being a tag.

    Also the range is shorter than I thought – maxing out at about 4cm, according to that source.

    Capacitive coupling.

    That means this isn’t going to work for contact swapping, or a credit-card replacement. Alas. Next generation – give it six months.

    About the time the new iPhone ships, enabling all the stuff that won’t work on android.

  28. About the time the new iPhone ships, enabling all the stuff that won’t work on android.

    Unless you touch it in the wrong spot of course.

  29. Some of the reviews are a bit confused. There’s the myth about no comma key, and there’s another that it doesn’t speak HDSPA and thus won’t talk to T-Mobile’s 3.5G network. Since it has HDSPA on the official spec sheet and T-Mobile is shipping it starting 16 Dec I think we can discount that.

    There’s less to the absence of an SD card than meets they eye. There’ll be a mountable partition emulated in memory, so cabling the thing to your PC and treating it as USB mass torage will still work.

    Will I get one? Maybe.

    It pretty much kills my interest in buying the G-2 I’ve been lent. Really the question is whether to spent $200 and go back on contract with T-Mobile or fall back on my N1 until the price of the S drops. Not feeling a lot of pressure to move up because the N1 is still one damn nice phone – I think I could easily live with it for another couple years.

  30. > The video is aimed squarely at teenagers and fashion victims just as surely as the Nexus One was
    > positioned as cutting-edge techno-cool for geeks and salarymen.
    If that’s true, then why was one person wearing socks and flip-flops?

    By the way, JL, any relation to Raptor Jesus?

  31. palms were perfect at contact transfer, at least if the person receiving was willing to pay the battery price of leaving IR on all the time–the sender just held down the “contacts” hardkey for about two seconds and pointed the device at the receiver, who didn’t have to do anything beyond turn his on and hit “ok” to add the received data. i find it rather frustrating that apple won’t do the same with bluetooth, it ought to be trivial to add a “Bluetooth” button to the “Share Contact” popup, which would offer a list of nearby phones to pick from (or an accelerometer hack like paypal’s “bump to pay”).

  32. >Unless you touch it in the wrong spot of course.

    *snrk*

    Cue the Tubes singing Don’t Touch Me There! I nominate this as the official iPhone theme song. “At this moment of surrender, darling, if you really care — don’t touch me there!”

  33. OK I have to answer this bullcrap about “touching the iPhone in the wrong place:”

    I have owned an iPhone 4 for a month or so now, and I have touched the thing all around it’s edge. It have never dropped a call because of this.

    This is pure FUD and I wish people would stop spreading it.

  34. There’s less to the absence of an SD card than meets they eye. There’ll be a mountable partition emulated in memory, so cabling the thing to your PC and treating it as USB mass torage will still work.

    But the fact that it’s emulated in memory and backed by internal storage means that it will never expand beyond 16GB as long as you own your Nexus S. 16GB is kinda small for those of us who’d like to use such a device as a music player.

    For my part, if it had 32GB internal storage I’d snap it up, but having only 16GB means I’d still need a separate music player. I’m not sure the Nexus S is worth the price if it’s not the only device I have to carry.

  35. >and I have touched the thing all around it’s edge.

    The sensual life of fanboys is a strange and wondrous thing.

    “The smell of burning leather as we hold each other tight…”

    Heh. This is never going to get old.

  36. The sensual life of fanboys is a strange and wondrous thing.

    I wonder if there’s an app for that.

  37. One of the best apps I’ve found for exchanging contact information is Bump. Its available for both android and iPhone, and works cross-platform. The 2 parties start the application and pick what data to share, including own contact, other peoples contacts, pictures, and then bump the phones together. The accelerometer hit triggers it, and both phones communicate to a central server, which matches the locations and timestamps and facilitates a point to point data connection between the handsets to exchange the data.

    If that all sounds too complex, you can also encode a V-Card into a QR code, and display it on the screen of your device, the other party can then use a barcode reader app with the camera to decode it. This works very well, and is much less fiddly than trying to line up IR sensors.

  38. @darrencardinal:

    I have owned an iPhone 4 for a month or so now, and I have touched the thing all around it’s edge. It have never dropped a call because of this.

    Lemme guess…you have a bumper case? Try taking the bumper case off and then touch its edges.

    @esr:

    There’s less to the absence of an SD card than meets they eye. There’ll be a mountable partition emulated in memory, so cabling the thing to your PC and treating it as USB mass torage will still work.

    No SD card == not expandable and not replaceable. However, it could mean that since the mass storage is internal, it’s a bit faster. It’ll also reduce the manufacturing costs some; whether or not T-Mobile passes that on to customers is something I can only speculate about. (My guess being that it’s a competitive market, so, yes.)

  39. As I outlined above, the interface sucks.

    Out of interest… What do you mean by “the interface”? Graphical, hardware or software? (I’m assuming graphical but figure it could be the others)

    From my usage of OBEX, the biggest problem with it is that you had to have bluetooth active.

  40. I think I have read about NFC used to approve Bluetooth connection *because* of its close range. Tap two NFC-capable Bluetooth comminicating devices together, and they can connect. The same could be used for exchanging cards: tap phones to exchange. Close range (and prehaps even detecting actual tap) is advantage to protect against sniffing.

  41. @ Morgan

    Or it could just be that he holds his phone like a normal person. Besides, according to HTC, signal loss is inevitable http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2010/12/06/244306/HTC-defends-HD7-handsets-after-antenna-problems-reported.htm

    @JonB, yes it’s mostly the software. Although, having to have bluetooth on all the time, especially if you don’t use a bluetooth headset sucks as well.

    @Jakub, that’s pretty much what I think would be one of the best uses of NFC, although, it may simply be easier to transmit via NFC rather than powering up bluetooth and pairing, at least for small simple transfers. Still, it would be nice to simply be able to touch your phone and headset together to get the damn things to pair.

  42. The “Pure Google” thing seems a discrete enough tagline for assuming it’s a stock Android, though I doubt the likes of Vodafone and friends will resist to customize the firmware with their logo plastered somewhere.

    Also in carrier-customized versions I still have to understand how and if security fixes are handled, being my guess they aren’t, if the phone is ‘old’.

  43. I wonder if Android 2.3 doesn’t just about kill MeeGo in its crib. I can just imagine the dev’s putting the finishing touches on MeeGo when the marketing guys rush in screaming “NFC! NFC!” and now it’s a 6 month project to get NFC into MeeGo and the launch is delayed. Rinse repeat with whatever Android moves into next. Since Nokia still doesn’t even have a product that they can get feedback on, they have no idea where they can most effectively spend their resources either. The hill to climb for them seems only to get bigger and steeper.

    It makes me think that Nokia’s best chance is to go for broke on some kind of pocket-computing device- a “smartphone” to the smartphone, so to speak. But I’m also not sure the market really wants, or is ready for, such a device. Certainly, it would be a nice hacker’s toy, but that’s not where the market is. The thing about smartphones is how they all have hit the sweet spot in allowing people access to the things they want- Facebook, email, Amazon, music, browsing etc. From a user experience, there just doesn’t seem be much further to go. So how does MeeGo meaningfully differentiate itself?

    Given Android 2.3, and very probably a new iPhone device in the first half of 2011, there really isn’t a lot of time left for Nokia to get in the game, let alone win it.

  44. Ken Burnside Says:
    > Engadget got to fondle the Nexus S:

    We also had a chance to test the NFC of the device … the function doesn’t require any app launching or picture snapping — you simply get your phone within range of the target.

    Nice. This sounds like it can avoid the annoying “pairing” process with PIN that is required for setting up short-range Bluetooth connections.

  45. > if Google CEO Eric Schmidt hadn’t for some now-forgotten reason promised there’d be no Nexus Two.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replicant
    Because he was worried that if he got to Nexus-6, he would have to pay to defend a lawsuit or settle (probably less expensive than the legal and related fees, even if he won)?

  46. No, because the iPhone is the only smartphone to respect your fundamental right for the freedom from porn:

    Steve raises a point: Mobile developers are free to target any platform they want but for some reason the vast majority of them target iPhone and iPad first.

    Couldn’t be because the ecosystem around iOS is better for developers than that of Android, could it?

  47. It makes me think that Nokia’s best chance is to go for broke on some kind of pocket-computing device- a “smartphone” to the smartphone, so to speak. But I’m also not sure the market really wants, or is ready for, such a device. Certainly, it would be a nice hacker’s toy, but that’s not where the market is.

    They tried that with their Internet Tablets. Nifty little devices — somewhere in form factor between a thick smartphone and a Radio Shack Pocket Computer from the 80s. Went over like lead balloons, except as hacker toys. I swear, the guy at Micro Center seemed to be doing everything in his power to not sell me one.

    “Computers”, Turing-complete machines you can switch on and type programs into, are only important to a small subset of people — we call them “computer geeks”. Everybody else has a few things they do: Word, spreadsheets, games, media, social networking, etc. For them there’s the iPhone and iPad. Since the world is mostly made of such people, no surprise the iPhone and iPad are game changers.

  48. > OK I have to answer this bullcrap about “touching the iPhone in the wrong place:”
    > I have owned an iPhone 4 for a month or so now, and I have touched the thing all around it’s edge. It have
    > never dropped a call because of this.
    > This is pure FUD and I wish people would stop spreading it.

    I wish it was FUD. When work gave me an iPhone4 a few months ago, I decided to test. Not holding the phone, one finger lightly (no pressure) on the left-side black bar, 30 seconds I lost one bar. 10 seconds after, another. Then another, until it went to one bar. I didn’t bother letting it continue at that point. Finger off, and signal back up to full.

    It isn’t FUD. It may be dependent on location, but it _is_ a problem with the phone.

  49. >No SD card == not expandable and not replaceable.

    Of course. But I think they calculated that for most of their customer base expanding or replacing it isn’t an interesting option, and they’re probably right about that.

  50. Jeff – almost true:

    “Computers”, Turing-complete machines you can switch on and type programs into, are only important to a small subset of people — we call them “computer geeks”. Everybody else has a few things they do: Word, spreadsheets, games, media, social networking, etc. For them there’s the iPhone and iPad. Since the world is mostly made of such people, no surprise the iPhone and iPad are game changers.

    I think the threshold is not “types programs into”, but is “types extensively into”. What I think is being missed is that there’s a market for digital content devices with limited data input. It’s a ‘tweener between a portable TV player and a notebook.

    In retrospect (and this shows one of the places where Apple is really smart), the only thing that kept Microsoft from owning this category a decade ago is the marketing. Microsoft’s ‘tablet PCs” were meant to be serious data entry machines that could also double as ‘slates’ – they were too heavy, the UI sucked (no cheap capacitive touch screens), and the only Microsoft division that understands ‘content consumption’ is their Xbox team.

    If I were Steve Ballmer and I were trying to play catchup with the iPad, I would hand the Windows Slate project to the XBox team, tell anyone over the age of 30 in the team that their job is to make whatever the young punks dream up work, and to otherwise, get the hell out of the way. Focus on consumer first, THEN port the enterprise data consumption apps over, such as they are.

    Semi-bold prediction:

    I think that the next computing hardware market Apple goes after will be the console game; they might wait until the Quad Resolution wars are either over or nearly over, and they’ll be aiming for Sony, though Sony won’t realize it at first.

    (The reason why TV manufacturers love the Digital TV transition is because it’s now possible to lure consumers into the “buy a new higher-def High Def TV every 3 years” upgrade cycle as a way to stave off hardware commoditization.)

  51. Of course. But I think they calculated that for most of their customer base expanding or replacing it isn’t an interesting option, and they’re probably right about that.

    I would go further than that. Enough people have had enough experience with cellphones now that quite a few of them are going to view any unnecessary additional orifice that lets the external environment get to the internals of the phone as a liability. One of my daughter drives a pedicab for tips. She now carries her phone in a ziploc bag when she works, but I am intimately familiar with all the fasteners and cables on her slider phone (very ingenious mechanics, btw), having had to disassemble it in order to wash out the sweat/salt.

  52. Ken Burnside:

    > I think the threshold is not “types programs into”, but is “types extensively into”. What I think is being missed is that there’s a
    > market for digital content devices with limited data input. It’s a ‘tweener between a portable TV player and a notebook.

    Ummm, this sounds a lot like the iPad, or am I missing something?

  53. >quite a few of them are going to view any unnecessary additional orifice that lets the external environment get to the internals of the phone as a liability.

    Fair point, but I’ve never seen a phone on which the SD card is this kind of problem. Typically to get at them you have to pop off the battery shield. And if the battery shield is off you’ve got worse exposure problems than anything the SD socket’s going to cause.

  54. @esr sez:

    > >Unless you touch it in the wrong spot of course.
    >
    > *snrk*
    >
    > Cue the Tubes singing Don’t Touch Me There! I nominate this as the official iPhone theme song. “At this moment of surrender,
    > darling, if you really care — don’t touch me there!”

    ROTFL!!

    You’re all lucky I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that, or I would have spewed all over the bunch of ya!

  55. Fair point, but I’ve never seen a phone on which the SD card is this kind of problem. Typically to get at them you have to pop off the battery shield. And if the battery shield is off you’ve got worse exposure problems than anything the SD socket’s going to cause.

    That makes good sense. Since I have no plans to choose and carry a phone, I didn’t think hard enough about where any potential SD card would be located.

  56. Gerry – my point is that Jeff is right in the most part.

    Eric looks at the iPad and cannot think of any use for it that he wouldn’t already use a smart phone or notebook for. It lacks the ergonomics for text entry (so it doesn’t work as a notebook replacement for him, even if it had developer tools) and it doesn’t fit in his pocket, so it isn’t a ‘carry everywhere’ device.

    The iPad does not displace the notebook or smart phone. It displaces the dedicated portable TV/DVD/MP3 player, while also giving a good wireless internet experience.

    Where Jeff is wrong is in saying that only the computer geek crowd will say that the iPad is a device that doesn’t work for them. It’s also not a suitable device for content creation in most contexts.

    I’m not a computer programmer, atrocities written in Excel notwithstanding. I have a faint itch to get an e-book reader or tablet computer as an entertainment device, not as a computer. However, that itch is also largely met by writing and reading on computer screens with my netbook, so it’s a fairly faint itch.

  57. >Eric looks at the iPad and cannot think of any use for it that he wouldn’t already use a smart phone or notebook

    Actually, I’ve partly changed my mind about this. I would have a use for something like an iPad, if it cost less than $100 and had reliable WiFi and didn’t come bundled with expensive cellphone service. I’d buy two, put one on my kitchen table and one on my nightstand, and always be within reach of a browser on which I can read comfortably.

    In my life there’s a niche for a device whose job is to handle impulse Google searches when I don’t feel like walking to my office. I’ve been using my phone for this, but I’d pay a little money for the ability to do it on a bigger screen. This is why I’m keeping an eye on CheapChineseJunk Android tablets.

  58. Eric, look long and hard at the WiFi only Kindle. It’s not a color browsing experience, but it does allow web browsing and is at $139.

    It doesn’t hit my needs – yet – but I suspect that sometime in 2011, the price point and value proposition for me will intersect.

    For me, the killer app for the IPad is displaying RPG rulebooks with full text search and not mangling tables. Right now, most RPG rulebook PDFs beat the iPad up and take its lunch money – they are painfully slow to redraw the screen for print-resolution PDFs (or even downsampled-to-screen-resolution ones).

    However, the stupidest bet you can ever make in tech is assuming that because a graphic display of something is painfully clunky now, it shall always be so.

  59. >Eric, look long and hard at the WiFi only Kindle. It’s not a color browsing experience, but it does allow web browsing and is at $139.

    Price point’s OK, but no color is a crash landing. Too many websites render horribly in black and white.

  60. I think that the next computing hardware market Apple goes after will be the console game; they might wait until the Quad Resolution wars are either over or nearly over, and they’ll be aiming for Sony, though Sony won’t realize it at first.

    If Sony doesn’t realize it it’s because they’re daft, which wouldn’t be surprising given the PSP Go.

    The iPhone has Nintendo running scared. N.B., that’s “the iPhone”, not “smartphones”. The only thing really interesting happening in the Android gaming space is a not-half-bad port of Angry Birds. Even John Carmack says that Android is a clusterfuck for gaming development and distribution.

    But yeah, for the past 20 years or so, portable gaming has been owned by Nintendo, and they’re about to lose that hammerlock to Apple.

    An Apple game console may not be outside the realm of possibility (maybe gaming on AppleTV?) but they tried once before — the Bandai Pippin — and it failed. Of course then, Jobs wasn’t in the driver’s seat.

  61. Price point’s OK, but no color is a crash landing. Too many websites render horribly in black and white.

    If you’re willing to buy only one, there’s the $250 Nook Color. For half the price of an iPad you get more than half an iPad. Fairly limited as is (browser, books, documents, video, a few games), but a root exploit exists.

    I bought one. It’s awesome.

  62. > Price point’s OK, but no color is a crash landing. Too many websites render horribly in black and white.

    Might want to check out B&N’s NOOKcolor. A little more expensive at $250- but if you’ve got B&N around, you could at least play with it.

  63. >Might want to check out B&N’s NOOKcolor. A little more expensive at $250

    See, that’s too expensive. I’d rather wait for dirt-cheap Android tablets. I don’t think it’ll be long.

  64. Where Jeff is wrong is in saying that only the computer geek crowd will say that the iPad is a device that doesn’t work for them. It’s also not a suitable device for content creation in most contexts.

    Depends on what you mean by content creation. The digital art and music communities have embraced the little doohicky as an ideal portable sketchpad/canvas/synthesizer/DJ table that works great with a Mac.

    As for things like writing which require typing… a Bluetooth keyboard solves that problem.

  65. @Jeff Read:

    I rather like the last line of that article:

    “Verdict: Run screaming in the other direction.”

    I have to agree, no matter what the price: 2-3 hours of power on standby? Less than an hour of actual use on a charge? Have these Maylong guys maybe thought about maybe hiring an electrical engineer or two that didn’t receive their degree from a college that also offers certificate programs in Underwater Basketweaving?

  66. I love how Maylong solved the “where’s muh blue E” problem — willful and blatant trademark infringement.

    But yeah, shitty $99 Android tablets are here already. Decent ones may not be far behind.

  67. Even John Carmack says that Android is a clusterfuck for gaming development and distribution.

    Looking at the interview that isn’t exactly what he says. The direct quote is :-

    The official word here is that we are definitely going to get some games compiled on the Android platform, but we are not yet committed to selling something on the Marketplace. Because I’m honestly still a little scared of the support burden and the effort that it’s going to take for our products, which are very graphics-intensive.

    I read that one of two (not necessarily incompatible) ways.
    a) Fragmentation is a bitch and i’m still a little worried
    b) I’m a 3d engine developer and so i’m used to working at the lowest possible level.

    Also i’m not sure why you’d say “Even John Carmack” since he’s always ready to roast a platform for not being perfect, as he’s done to MacOS several times(despite being an enormous fan of the OS itself).

  68. >But yeah, shitty $99 Android tablets are here already. Decent ones may not be far behind.

    Seems pretty certain to me. I saw that pan of the Maylong when first published and laughed. But I also thought…hmmm. Six months, maybe?

  69. Ok, Gerry mentioned some nonsense about MeeGo so I feel obliged to clarify:
    1) There is no way any droid could harm MeeGo, let alone kill because MeeGo have very distinct features.
    2) There is no delay in MeeGo – development goes according to schedule which was set BEFORE latest droid announcement

    Some people really fail reality check :)

    Personally I can’t wait for MeeGo phones to show up: just imagine – mobile Linux WITHOUT google’s backdoor and with ability to install all the software via normal .rpm – isn’t it bloody awesome?!

    [offtopic]
    Eric, post some rant over wikileaks already – it’s really interesting to get to know your pov :-D

  70. Jay:
    > … because MeeGo have very distinct features.

    Like what? Could you possibly elaborate?

    > … and with ability to install all the software via normal .rpm – isn’t it bloody awesome?!

    Egad! I’m going to go hide under the bed! Why would I want to spend hours in dependency hell and searching for obsolete versions of obscure libraries that are known only to the developer of that lovely rpm.

    If that’s what MeeGo is about, they will sell a few to the Slashdot crowd (say a few tens of units) and then it will blessedly disappear from the market to never be seen again.

    My preferred methods of installing software:
    1) Some sort of non-totalitarian app store (e.g. Firefox extensions)
    2) With downloadable installers (e.g. Windows)
    3) debs, rpms, tarballs or any of the myriad Linux “solutions”
    4) A totalitarian app store (i.e. Apple)

  71. > Egad! I’m going to go hide under the bed! Why would I want to spend hours in dependency hell and searching for obsolete versions of obscure libraries that are known only to the developer of that lovely rpm.

    http://geekz.co.uk/lovesraymond/archive/the-redhat-package-mangler

    I’m just sayin’…

    “Initial script donated by a mysterious anonymous benefactor”

    Rumor indicates s/he works for RedHat.

  72. @Michael Hipp:

    Not that I currently use an RPM-based distribution at home anymore, but as someone who has made serious money doing Red Hat administration, I do have to point out that dependency hell is as much a thing of the past on RPM-based distros as it is in the Debian-based distros. Just as one can do ‘sudo apt-get install foo‘ on Debian or Ubuntu, one can do ‘sudo yum install foo‘ to get the same effect. CentOS’ package repos are more complete, however.

  73. @Max> By the way, JL, any relation to Raptor Jesus?

    The Jezus Lizzard does not have a donut on his genitals.

  74. @Jay – “Eric, post some rant over wikileaks already – it’s really interesting to get to know your pov”

    He already mentioned what he thought in a comment on a thread that kinda went all off-topic, and I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if he doesn’t feel that the creeps don’t deserve a front page spot (e.g. a separate blog entry).

  75. Jay-

    My comments about MeeGo were narrowly about putting it in a smartphone and its chances for success going forward. Also, for the record, I didn’t say there WAS a delay. I said I could imagine it. Just a minor nit…

    That said- I’d love for you to point me to a MeeGo based product I can testdrive/ purchase today. Really, I would. I would almost certainly have an irrational preference to purchase it simply because it was a MeeGo product. Although, I too am not exactly thrilled about rpm’s, but what the heck. Hell, I burned a stick with it about 6 months ago and ran it on my netbook just to see what it was about. I even liked what I saw then.

    The problem is you can’t point me to such a product. There is no MeeGo product. Anywhere.

    In the meantime, Android has approximately 1 google different phones running it. Their latest upgrade should be available for any number of phones in a month or so. Additionally, Android is going into tablets, GPS units and cars. (At this point it wouldn’t surprise me to see Android stuffed into a coffee maker.) Iphone is heading for a 5th generation. iOS has seen a couple of upgrades in the last year or so. Both OS’s have app stores with ridiculous numbers of applications and active, established development communities. Don’t forget the iPad sucking up market oxygen as well.

    All MeeGo has is Nokia, which based on recent performance should scare the bejeezus out of anyone rooting for MeeGo, and Intel, definitely a point for in my book. Regardless, if all of the above doesn’t seem like a daunting, almost crippling, challenge to overcome for a new entrant into the market, then I’ve got nothing else for ya.

    Maybe, when something finally comes along, it will blow the doors off of everything else and we’ll spend the rest of our days whistling MeeGo jingles out our arses. Goodness knows I’d really like to see that (not the whistling part, the “blow the doors off everything else” part). But you’ll have to pardon me if I harbor some lingering doubts. See above.

  76. > and I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if he doesn’t feel that the creeps don’t deserve a front page spot (e.g. a separate blog entry).

    So he’s on the side of Fox News, then?

    OK, how about this? Java seems to be coming unraveled. Apache quit the JCP, and Oracle is suing Google over Java in Android, specifically its use of (a subset of) Apache Harmony, an open source project. On October 11, IBM abandoned the Harmony project.
    IBM was, by far, the largest participant.

    This has real effect on both Java and by direct extension, Android. It also makes the promise of Open Source somewhat more hollow.

    Yet thusfar, silence from the steward of all things open source.

  77. >Yet thusfar, silence from the steward of all things open source.

    Basically because there’s not much to be said that isn’t stunningly obvious. The Java community made a devil’s bargain with Sun when they accepted usage restrictions on the open-source licensing (which violated the spirit if not the letter of OSD clause 6). Now they’re paying for that mistake. The next gang of corporate tools to try something similar will find it more difficult. We live and we learn.

    I don’t think Oracle’s patent suit against Google is going anywhere. I’ve read the patents. The defense is so easy I could almost write the briefs myself. *Yawn* Lots of lawyers will make lots of money and nothing will happen. Well, not unless Ellison can buy the judge.

    This is children’s games to those of us who fought the SCO lawsuit.

  78. Java seems to be coming unraveled.

    First off, Java’s problems are a direct result of Sun’s poor stewardship.

    Secondly, Dalvik is not a JVM. Google picked Java as a development language for Dalvik because Java developers are a dime a dozen. But they could just as easily implement other languages on top of Dalvik.

  79. >So he’s on the side of Fox News, then?

    I dunno. I don’t know what line Fox is taking, because I never watch it (or any other television, actually). I mean, I suppose they’re calling for Assange’s head on a pike, it’s what I’d expect conservatives to do, but that’s a guess.

    I haven’t written about Wikileaks because I haven’t arrived at a position definite enough to write up. The only evaluation I’m certain of is that Julian Assange is a very nasty piece of work on several levels, but this is actually orthogonal to the most interesting issues the case raises; I might yet end up defending him and hating every second of it.

  80. >Maybe, when something finally comes along, it will blow the doors off of everything else and we’ll spend the rest of our days whistling MeeGo jingles out our arses. Goodness knows I’d really like to see that (not the whistling part, the “blow the doors off everything else” part). But you’ll have to pardon me if I harbor some lingering doubts. See above.

    Well summarized, Gerry. You echo my evaluation almost exactly.

  81. > The defense is so easy I could almost write the briefs myself.

    But you won’t, for unstated reasons. Tell us at least this much, which strategy do you choose for the patent infringement parts of the suits? “Invalidation?” (if so based on which cause?) “Doesn’t infringe?” (if so via which mechanism?)

    Seriously, how are they going to get around RE38,104?

    And even if they fix their patent problems, what about the copyright lawsuit?

    Have you seen Miguel’s initial response? http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2010/Aug-13.html

  82. >But you won’t, for unstated reasons.

    Not actually being admitted to the bar is sufficient, wouldn’t you say?

    >Tell us at least this much, which strategy do you choose for the patent infringement parts of the suits? “Invalidation?” (if so based on which cause?) “Doesn’t infringe?” (if so via which mechanism?)

    Both, of course. These are nonexclusive defenses.

    >Seriously, how are they going to get around RE38,104?

    Obviousness to a practitioner at the state of the art. This is pretty general interpreter infrastructure being described. I really don’t think they’re going to have a lot of trouble with it, especially since I’ve seen one interview in which Gosling dropped a broad hint that he’d be willing to testify against Oracle over that specific patent.

    >And even if they fix their patent problems, what about the copyright lawsuit?

    Even easier to bust, since copyright only protects expression of ideas. Really that was just Oracle’s way of expanding its chest and growling.

    >Have you seen Miguel’s initial response? http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2010/Aug-13.html

    Pretty good. He dug up some backstory I didn’t. Managed not to notice that Gosling is quietly but definitely inviting a call from Android’s lawyers, though.

  83. I discovered that my iOS4 iPod is no longer compatible with my Apple sanctioned car deck. A common problem apparently. Backward compatibility isn’t part of the user experience. I’m surprised Google isn’t all over providing Android integration in the car. Imagine if Android had a tiny Web server so any automotive head end could run apps and interact with any Android phone on the dashboard.

  84. I should have noted previously that what Oracle is doing is pretty classic patent trolling. That is, I think they know they can’t prevail if Google hangs in there; what they’re after is to make the cost of winning so high that Google will pay them to go away, leaving them a setup to blackmail others using the Google settlement as a legitimizer.

    Google, though, is strategically unable to fold. They have to keep Oracle from being a credible threat to the Android army, otherwise the whole decade-and-longer grand strategy Google is working unravels.

  85. > >Seriously, how are they going to get around RE38,104?

    > Obviousness to a practitioner at the state of the art.

    I take it you’re hoping KSR v. Teleflex is applied.

    If so, you could produce something like this (http://www.m-cam.com/patentlyobvious/20100818_oracle.pdf), rather than empty words. You have no ability to rely on your lack of bar admittance, since you’re not attempting to practice. (One would think that,
    given that your spouse is a lawyer, that she could explain this to you.)

  86. “The 2 parties start the application and pick what data to share, including own contact, other peoples contacts, pictures, and then bump the phones together.”

    This sucks. No one will use it. Bumping the phones together when one of them has an active screen should start the application, and the default one click operation should be to exchange contact data.

    Or if you bump it to POS terminal, the default one click operation should be to pay the charge and record a receipt.

    Or if you bump it to most other devices, it should get that device’s public key and internet address for a bookmark.

    Until nfc is two way, and autostarts the appropriate app, no use.

  87. esr: “Lots of lawyers will make lots of money and nothing will happen. Well, not unless Ellison can buy the judge.”

    Social decay: Judges are getting markedly cheaper. Journalists are already undercutting forty year old Cambodian whores.

  88. OTOH, Florian thinks Google is in trouble:

    http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/11/google-makes-weak-showing-against.html
    “… if it doesn’t put forward some real substance later on, it will lose, and at this juncture I haven’t seen Google do anything that would surprise (let alone scare) Oracle”

    http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/11/copyright-part-of-oracle-vs-google.html
    “For now, if I had to bet money, I would without hesitation bet it on Oracle’s claim that what we see here is indeed a copyright infringement.”

  89. @TJL
    “And even if they fix their patent problems, what about the copyright lawsuit?”

    Basically, you are arguing that Google and Android will lose even though the patents are bogus or do not apply and the alleged copyright infringement is in a test file that is not distributed in Android. That is, Android will lose even though there is no legal case against it.

    So you have a pretty grim view of the US legal system: It does not matter whether you stay in the law, you will get convicted anyhow.

    How can yo put up with that?

  90. >If so, you could produce something like this (http://www.m-cam.com/patentlyobvious/20100818_oracle.pdf), rather than empty words.

    *blink*

    Um…and why, exactly do I need to get that involved? All indications are that refuting Oracle’s claims is not difficult, Google has a competent legal team, and they’ve got plenty of hackers willing to help it out. If they want me they know where to find me…but Gosling would make a better star witness and I think he’s willing.

  91. @esr> Um…and why, exactly do I need to get that involved?

    You’re the one who said, ” The defense is so easy I could almost write the briefs myself. *Yawn*”

    When challenged why you didn’t, your retort was, “Not actually being admitted to the bar is sufficient, wouldn’t you say?”

    I think I’ve shown its not. So what we’re left with is your empty posturing.

    Many people in the Android community *want* the suit to go away, but people with money on the line have either all but shut up (see the inane lack of response from OIN) or (in the case of Gartner, who provides advice to corporations for hire), have said, in essence, “start avoiding Java on Android”.

    Personally, I don’t think this suit will kill Android, but it will kill Java on Android. How Google plans to avoid having to kill Java (because I firmly believe that Oracle has a winnable case), without the result being the death of Android, seems a subject of interest to the readers of both this blog and the Android community at-large.

    One obvious solution to limit Google’s losses here (when they end up having to license Java, or worse, license and convert to JME) is to introduce a new language on the Dalvik VM (go? python? something else?), freeze any ‘new’ development based around Java, and proceed, paying Oracle a few hundred million, but liberating the platform from the chains that bind it.

    Apache dropping out of the JCP *could* mean that the Apache foundation is aware of the plan, and is willing to join Google in both the fight and in the new, post-suit world, with an entirely free (and yes, open) platform for mobile computing.

    I don’t think its entirely beyond the pale to have Apache do a mechanical translation of a subset of Harmony to a new language (say, Go).

    I don’t think its even out of the question that Google pushes Go in the direction of a new ‘native’ language for Android (or Chrome OS). The ARM (5g/5l) compiler/linker is obviously being worked on.

  92. I saw that “Jezus Lizzard” linked to my analysis of Oracle v. Google. Some may remember that I fought hard against Oracle’s acquisition of Sun (because of the MySQL part of the deal) and that I criticize Oracle’s “open standards” hypocrisy (they lobby for “open standards” but look how they treat Java). So I’m obviously not in the tank for Oracle, but I don’t think they’re trolling. They certainly have to prove their allegations, and Google has to try to disprove them, so I don’t claim that I can say with certainty that there are patent infringements (on the copyright infringement side I believe there are strong indications, although the relevance of the particular code segment Oracle presented is another question).

    Oracle is tough, but trolling is not its style. And I can’t see that a “trolling” strategy, if that were the plan, would work for Oracle. It would only work if the suit created so much uncertainty for Android that app developers would defect to other platforms. There’s no indication of that happening at this stage. It might happen when all is said and done, but that would take a while.

    If Oracle wanted to get really nasty, it could sue all sorts of Android device makers. In particular, it could file ITC complaints against them in order to obtain import bans ( http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/10/us-international-trade-commission-as.html )
    That would add tremendously to the pressure on Google. But Oracle, at least so far, doesn’t do that. They didn’t even got to a typical “troll-friendly” patent court: they sued right in Northern California where both area based.

    By the way, there’s another Java patent suit targeting Android, filed by a European company in October:
    http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/10/digital-security-company-gemalto-sues.html

    In my opinion, the primary problem Android faces is that Google’s own patent portfolio isn’t strong enough to do cross-licensing deals on favorable terms with players like Oracle (or Apple or Microsoft). Also, Google doesn’t seem to care at all about the need to obtain licenses. This here is an example of a company that did a license deal with Microsoft a while ago, but apparently there’s nothing in place with Google: http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/11/next-android-patent-suit-vertical.html

  93. >I think I’ve shown its not. So what we’re left with is your empty posturing.

    Why do you diminish yourself like this? My other readers are perfectly capable of interpreting “I could practically write the briefs myself” as a mildly funny if hyperbolic way of saying “not a difficult job, people”. When you try to gin up an artificial controversy around my not actually doing it, all you accomplish is to look like a garden-variety haterboy. Maybe that’s all you actually are, but from someone who appears to have been around since the metaphorical dawn of time one might have expected less petty and immature behavior. It’s disappointing, it is.

  94. OTOH, Florian thinks Google is in trouble

    I thought Florian was generally considered a nutter?

    In terms of the actual oracle suit I think you kind of need to treat the two parts separately.

    The Patent side is at best a test of how redeemable the US patent system is. The patents are flimsy and the technicalities of the law have been broken by oracle even ignoring the whole “you said you wouldn’t do this when we let you buy Java in the first place”/”unclean hands” angle.

    The copyright side is more interesting. There does indeed seem to be some smoke hovering around there. It’s pretty lame smoke, apparantly complaining over auto-generated documentation on an API interface file thats only in the testing area anyway but still…

    If they were to settle (and that hasn’t been the Google MO thus far anyway) then android is sunk anyway unless they get certain concessions (most notably, indemnity for anyone developing on top of android which I daresay oracle won’t want to give away). Java ME is never going to enter the picture. It has no fitness for purpose. Go is a possibility once it matures but I think it would need a JIT VM. Python would have the plugin security(or lack thereof) of activex (nuff said really).

    It would be interesting if they started using something like LLVM and it’s VM mode. But thats mostly because we’d be as close as possible to unifying iOS and Android development (shared libraries could be compiled to IR and shared).

  95. P.S. this is naturally based on what information is available (what little there is). I’m perfectly willing for discovery (when we finally find out about it) to change my mind.

  96. @JonB Thanks for the “nutter” compliment ;-)

    Here are a few reasons to reconsider that assessment:
    - I said in early August that there should be antitrust investigations against IBM and in late July the European Commission launched them. (The launch of such probes isn’t a final determination but it shows that rational people have cause for concern.)
    - I criticized the OIN for various reasons, primarily for its scope (fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/06/oins-linux-system-only-constant-is.html), months before Oracle sued Google, a fellow OIN licensee, thereby exposing what I said all along is the #1 problem of the OIN: it covers only certain programs (not Dalvik, for example, although it does cover Apache etc.).
    - I said on several occasions (such as the launch of WebM) that Google doesn’t have the patent situation under control. With all that’s going on concerning patent infringement suits targeting Android, I believe that assessment has been proven right.
    - I published the most complete visualization (including detailed reference lists) to date of Apple’s patent disputes with Android device makers HTC and Motorola (http://www.scribd.com/doc/44759893/Apple-vs-Android-10-12-02).
    - That one was recommended by the leading US patent law blog, PatentlyO, and the leading US legal website, law.com, recently linked to what it called “a really smart post at FOSS Patents”.

    So I can only encourage you (and/or the ones you quoted) to separate dislike for someone’s style or disagreement with someone’s views from the question of whether someone conducts and provides reasonable analysis as far as the legal, technical, economic and political issues (and overlaps between all those areas) are concerned. BTW, in my most recent blog post I just pointed out where I stand concerning open source, just so no one mistakenly believes I claim to speak for the community, which I never did and never will.

  97. > It’s disappointing, it is.

    Perhaps, but I’d still like to see you do a bit more than “any fool could do it in a rainstorm without getting wet”.

  98. > Go is a possibility once it matures but I think it would need a JIT VM.

    Why would Go need a VM (never mind a JIT in one)? It compiles to native code, and it works pretty well today for generating code that will run on Android phones.

    (I only mentioned python in order to entertain esr. (I think the language is flawed, see previous posts.))

    There is a whole bunch of infrastructure that needs to be built, but consider what happens if Chrome is the new ‘windowing’ engine (process per app, just like dalvik) with C, C++, go and Javascript as reference languages.

    Navigation looks like web pages. OpenGL is supported. etc.

  99. > I thought Florian was generally considered a nutter?

    His opinions on patent law are … unpopular in the F/OSS crowd. Problem is, he’s usually right, and he likes to call people out on their BS.

  100. > someone who appears to have been around since the metaphorical dawn of time.

    Not *quite* as old as you, but close.

  101. >In my opinion, the primary problem Android faces is that Google’s own patent portfolio isn’t strong enough to do cross-licensing deals on favorable terms with players like Oracle (or Apple or Microsoft).

    You’re probably right. But Google has lots of options other than countersuing – up to and including, in the post-Bilski environment, trying to break the entire software patent system.

  102. Just for an EZ lesson on what ‘obvious’ means in patent law:

    The legal standard for denying a patent application isn’t, “I totally heard of something like this, here’s a mention of something that may possibly be related, but I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine.”

    The legal standard is that:
    (i) a claim is anticipated under 35 USC 102 if each and every limitation as set forth in the claim appears, either explicitly or inherently, in a single prior art reference; or
    (ii) a claim is obvious under 35 USC 103 if a combination of prior art references teach or suggest each and every limitation as set forth in the claim.

    The reason this takes longer than a 10 minute read-through is you have to through every word of each claim and find it in the prior art. When you state, “not a difficult job, people”, you completely undo any authority you might have with people who have actually done this type of work.

  103. >Perhaps, but I’d still like to see you do a bit more than “any fool could do it in a rainstorm without getting wet”.

    Well, I have pointed out in the past that:

    * There’s prior art for the ’720 patent in Emacs.

    * Predating the ’476 patent, RFC 86.0 is probably grounds for an obviousness challenge.

    * It has been alleged that the technique described in the ’205 patent was described in “Efficient implementation of the smalltalk-80 system” (1984)

    It was finding that stuff within like 48 hours of the initial lawsuit announcement that persuaded me Oracle’s case is weak.

    If they want me to testify in re ’720 and the Emacs preload technique, I’ll do it. I didn’t write that code but I grok it pretty well.

  104. > Jezus: Python is without flaw. Go forth and sin no more.

    Keep within. And when they say, ‘lo here’, or ‘lo there’ is Lizzard; go not forth; for the Lizzard is within you. And they are seducers and antichrists, which draw your minds out from the teachings within you.

    (If you reference John 8:1-11 above, I am far more likely to stop throwing stones, ya queer.)

  105. > If they want me to testify in re ’720 and the Emacs preload technique, I’ll do it. I didn’t write that code but I grok it pretty well.

    Can you show that each and every claim in ’720 is implemented in the Emacs preload technique(s)?

    If not, they can’t (won’t) use you, because you would be helping Oracle if they put you on the stand.

  106. >Can you show that each and every claim in ’720 is implemented in the Emacs preload technique(s)?

    Haven’t done the detail check yet, but certainly would before I accepted any hypothetical invitation to testify. The answer is probably, though not certainly, that the Emacs coverage is good enough; it doesn’t actually have to be 100%, just enough to make the remainder unpatentable.

    Also remember that one way to use prior art that’s close but not identical is to impeach the patent application on grounds of the patent-holder’s failure to cite well-known techniques that might bear on the patent – and ’720 doesn’t cite Emacs. This is particularly damning in view of the fact that Gosling worked on an Emacs implementation. A smart lawyer could beat Oracle pretty bloody with this, casting much doubt on the non-junkiness of the other patents as well.

    Believe me, I know how this game is played. I have been up close and personal with a software-IP lawsuit that made this one look like light entertainment.

    This particular patent resonates with my earliest days as a hacker. The very *first* piece of open-source code I contributed to was Gosling Emacs.

  107. > up to and including, in the post-Bilski environment, trying to break the entire software patent system.

    WTF? Why do you think Bilski applies?

    The Bilski decision itself deals with a patent applications, not issued patents. Now, you might argue that Google will use this case as a platform to campaign against issued patents, but thats going to be a problem for Google itself.

    If Google attempts to apply Bilski to the Oracle suite, there is another patent that Google must considering, and it’s not owned by Larry Ellison. In fact, its owned by Stanford University, (and assigned to the NSF). I’m speaking of none other than 6285999.

    With claims like “A computer implemented method of scoring a plurality of linked documents,” this patent may also be vulnerable to a Bilski argument.

    So, IF Google is gearing up to create some caselaw that would help others invalidate patents on Bilski grounds, what does it have to do with the Page Rank patent? Why would Google be willing to invalidate its own base patent?

  108. @esr
    > But Google has lots of options other than countersuing – up to and including, in the post-Bilski environment, trying to break the entire software patent system.

    Unfortunately, Bilski wasn’t the beginning of the end for software patents. This appears to be the first federal circuit ruling that makes explicit reference to Bilski and what PatentlyO quotes and concludes sounds (unfortunately) like software patents aren’t endangered at all by the old concept of “abstract” subject matter:
    http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2010/12/research-corp-v-microsoft-section-101-and-process-claims.html
    I don’t know about the patents-in-suit in that particular case, but what the ruling appears to say about general legal principles concerning abstract subject matter post-Bilski reaffirms what I thought. I actually expressed that kind of assessment after the Bilski ruling and in another follow-up a little later (http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/07/bilski-decision-silver-lining-isnt.html). I’ve dealt with substantive patent law (the rules for what’s patentable or not) for a while now, and when I saw the Bilski ruling, I could see the handwriting of an expansive patent system that only lawmakers can rein in (if they want, which so far they don’t).
    So Google can’t just take down the entire patent system. However, your thoughts about prior art for some of those Java patents are very interesting!

    @Jezus Lizzard:
    Thanks for your support. I know that my opinions aren’t mainstream open source positions on most of the issues. I admitted that fact explicitly in my most recent blog post.

  109. > This is particularly damning in view of the fact that Gosling worked on an Emacs implementation.

    But not one that pre-loaded. That got done (first) in 1985 by Fred Fish for GNU Emacs.
    http://cse.csusb.edu/dick/cs320/prolog/src/pl-2.1.14/src/gnu/unexec.c (so far back that the GPL statement was v0!)

    Note that this was based on work by Spencer Thomas.

    I actually back-ported it for GOSmacs back in 1987 or so, and handed the results back to Unipress.

  110. Concerning software being too abstract to be patented, it’s interesting that a few years ago one of Red Hat’s patent applications was rejected and then Red Hat argued that software is *not* too abstract. I called them out on that on their opensource.com blog, pointing out that one can of course be against software patents and obtain them but one can’t say “too abstract” in public and “not too abstract” in private:
    http://opensource.com/law/10/11/software-too-abstract-be-patented#comment-2809

  111. >WTF? Why do you think Bilski applies?

    Because of the way the two-prong test was expressed in the finding. The case law may not evolve in a way that shuts down all software patents not tied to a particular hardware implementation, but that can’t be ruled out yet either.

    >Why would Google be willing to invalidate its own base patent?

    Oh come on, that’s easy. Google’s value proposition started with PageRank, but most of the value in the company now is in the huge databases in their server farms. Given a choice between seeing their Android grand strategy kicked to shit and jeopardizing the PageRank patent, it’s not going to be a hard call for them to expose the latter. If it comes to that.

  112. @esr I agree with you that the PageRank patent and other search engine patents aren’t nearly as important to Google now as they were in the very beginning when that patent was key to Google getting seed funding and attaining market leadership.

    Whether they’d really want to do away with all software patents now is still a difficult question. Google’s Bilski brief was basically the same position as that of all the other major players (http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/08/googles-bilski-brief-didnt-advocate.html) but if they look at the current Android mess, not just the Oracle case but everything that affects Android, they may indeed prefer a software-patent-free environment. However, even if Google’s leadership had that position (which we just don’t know, but by now or in the not too distant future they might), there’s always a risk that patent lawyers writing the actual documents would subtly water the message down because it’s not in the interest of their profession to do away with such a large part of the patent system. Maybe that kind of dilution already occurred to their Bilski brief, but I don’t want to speculate too much.

  113. > most of the value in the company now is in the huge databases in their server farms.

    Google is the new Facebook?

    If / when search dies, how does Google make money enough to replace their ad revenue?

  114. > If / when search dies

    I don’t think Google’s search business would die even if they completely lost some patent(s). Or even be injured significantly. Competing search engines would still be playing catch-up.

  115. >I actually back-ported it for GOSmacs back in 1987 or so, and handed the results back to Unipress.

    Hm. I missed that. I’d switched from Unipress Emacs in ’83 to a very early version of GNU Emacs – I was, as a matter of fact, the person who had suggested to RMS that this “FSF” thing he was contemplating really ought to ship an Emacs. By Zawinski’s timeline the first release I hacked on would have been early ’85; that meant I was long gone from the Gosmacs scene by ’87.

    But I’m actually not sure that timeline is quite complete. I think I actually switched over in the summer of ’84 to some 12.x version that I got direct from RMS. Whether that was a “public release” is something I don’t don’t remember a quarter-century later and may not have known at the time. It was an interesting period – the FSF hadn’t really booted up yet organizationally but some of its early projects were already running. I get occasional flak from haterboys because I report having been a contributor that early – they look at the 1985 start date that’s in the history books and assume that I’m senile or telling horrible lies or something. But no…I was actually pretty tight with RMS back then; met his family, even.

    I was only involved in Gosmacs for about a year, but I have fond memories of fixing minor bugs in the Gosmacs display code. Ah, that skull and crossbones! Probably the most visible thing I contributed was a rewrite of the mail reader, but that MockLisp didn’t survive the GNU transition (I think it got replaced by something ported in from Bernie Greenberg’s version). I’ve occasionally wondered if that code still exists anywhere. Google searches suggest not.

  116. >If / when search dies, how does Google make money enough to replace their ad revenue?

    There’s an unjustified leap in there. You seem to think Google’s search primacy depends critically on PageRank. Get with it; they love that we’re-smarter-than-anyone-else image, but their ability to run extremely large content databases has been more important for years now.

  117. “I mean, I suppose they’re calling for Assange’s head on a pike, it’s what I’d expect conservatives to do, but that’s a guess.”

    My initial reaction (long before the cables were released) was “declare him an enemy combatant and take him out with a drone strike.” Perhaps that’s unimaginative; maybe there are ways to make his life a living hell without making him into some “truth” martyr. I’m certainly willing to be convinced.

    I honestly don’t care whether the cables were all that damaging or not (or how much it hurt the Obama administration and State, neither of which I’m a fan of, obviously.) The principle here is that an enemy of the US does not get to decide what is or isn’t damaging.

  118. Pretty good. He dug up some backstory I didn’t. Managed not to notice that Gosling is quietly but definitely inviting a call from Android’s lawyers, though.

    I think it’s pretty clear that Gosling would like to join some his friends at Google, but Google’s lawyers likely advised them not to hire him at least not until this lawsuit with Oracle wraps up.

  119. Why would Go need a VM (never mind a JIT in one)? It compiles to native code, and it works pretty well today for generating code that will run on Android phones.

    VM because we need the sandbox.
    Native because we need the speed.

    My primary problem with going flat native is that that gives crackers a chance to poke around in the low level. In theory a JIT VM should filter a large chunk of the crap (particularly if the language allows little to no direct memory management) while still ending up running native.

    Truth be told it doesn’t even need to be JIT, it could just as easily do the translation at install time(which is likely to be even faster still). Ultimately what i’m looking for is some representation of <insert language here> that ensures you can’t reference random memory addresses/hardware registers or send random requests to the kernel directly.

  120. My primary problem with going flat native is that that gives crackers a chance to poke around in the low level.

    That’s what the app approval process is for.

    /trollface

    Truth be told it doesn’t even need to be JIT, it could just as easily do the translation at install time(which is likely to be even faster still). Ultimately what i’m looking for is some representation of that ensures you can’t reference random memory addresses/hardware registers or send random requests to the kernel directly.

    You’re looking for Native Client (also a Google technology, strange that they didn’t bother to arse with it on Android).

  121. I dunno. I don’t know what line Fox is taking, because I never watch it (or any other television, actually). I mean, I suppose they’re calling for Assange’s head on a pike, it’s what I’d expect conservatives to do, but that’s a guess.

    Most of the Fox people want him prosecuted for espionage or something, but Stossel and Napolitano support his rights under the Pentagon Papers precedent, and Beck says both sides are wrong (if either side wins, it’s bad for the US) but I haven’t quite figured out what he thinks the right answer is.

  122. @esr:

    The only evaluation I’m certain of is that Julian Assange is a very nasty piece of work on several levels, but this is actually orthogonal to the most interesting issues the case raises; I might yet end up defending him and hating every second of it.

    Yeah, I mentally pigeonhole him into a wide category of radical martyrs (including David Koresh, Randy Weaver, Jim Bell, and countless others) who seemingly work diligently to prove incontrovertibly that the government is capable of doing stuff that anybody who was paying attention already knew it was capable of doing. It’s certainly not strictly necessary to be a nasty piece of work to be in this category, but there does seem to be a positive correlation between that personality trait and the perserverance to actually see it through to the bitter end. I’m sure part of this is a false correlation, in that there are, for many potential causes, a lot of people who would be willing to see something through to the bitter end, but who are never challenged quite as thoroughly to follow through, simply because they don’t rub all the wrong government officials the wrong way.

    I often admire the dissemination of the lesson while simultaneously deploring the cost associated with delivering the lesson.

    OTOH, it may be that Assange is just a radical martyr wannabe. It’s unclear at this point that he has proven nearly as much, or will be made to suffer nearly as much, as others in that category.

  123. >Most of the Fox people want him prosecuted for espionage or something, but Stossel and Napolitano support his rights

    That makes complete sense. I know nothing about “Napolitano”, but Stossel isn’t actually a conservative at all – he’s a libertarian who ended up on Fox because the lefties who run the other major networks hate his guts.

  124. If Assange can’t be brought to heel under current law, the law will change to go after him. The consequences of that change in law will almost certainly do more damage to the rights of the innocent than the massive dumps of unimportant folderol have done good.

  125. (@ESR: Andrew Napolitano is another libertarian.)

    If Assange can’t be brought to heel under current law, the law will change to go after him. The consequences of that change in law will almost certainly do more damage to the rights of the innocent than the massive dumps of unimportant folderol have done good.

    This is pretty much what Beck was saying; we’re screwed by Assange or screwed by the crackdown against him.

  126. >>If / when search dies, how does Google make money enough to replace their ad revenue?
    > There’s an unjustified leap in there. You seem to think Google’s search primacy depends critically on PageRank.

    no, if the world goes mobile, then search has to change. (and probably no longer depends on page rank)

    Google makes nearly all their revenue from ads. mostly against search results.

    How do they replace that revenue, and how does android help? (or is android just a holding action, stemming the flow to iPhone and blackberry?)

  127. This is pretty much what Beck was saying; we’re screwed by Assange or screwed by the crackdown against him.

    Ok… when O’Reilly became the voice of sanity and reason (if not tolerance) on Fox i was most amused.

    But Glen Beck?? Really?

    Stop the world… I want to get off.

  128. Actually to be fair that does make the second thing i’ve seen him say that doesn’t make him look like a complete lunatic. (The other being about printing too much money)

    I think one of his script writers is secretly a libertarian and managed to get through the careful screening process.

  129. You’re looking for Native Client (also a Google technology, strange that they didn’t bother to arse with it on Android).

    Oooh.. hadn’t seen that before. And the reason why google probably didn’t include it in android was because it wasn’t ready when they were (according to wikipedia it got ARM support in March 2010). Also according to wikipedia they’re working on a new version that uses LLVM IR.

    If Google does lose OraGoog, i’d be tipping PNaCl with some semi clever library linking(for backwards compatibility) as the new solution.

  130. @JonB: I hear the Republicans only care about three things starting with G: [ ] Guns [ ] Gays and [ ] God. Surely any libertarian will answer the guns question to their satisfaction. And I could see a libertarian lying about the other two to get the job. :)

  131. I think one of his script writers is secretly a libertarian and managed to get through the careful screening process.

    Nothing secret about it. He actually self-identifies as libertarian. I think he’s been more in right-center field, but he’s been moving libertarian over the last few years. I pay attention to what he says because he has a track record of saying “crazy” things that turn out to be true. And he pisses off the right people, so he must be doing something right.

    In fact, Beck is the only person on TV I’ve seen go into much detail on the events of Assange’s trip to Sweden. If you follow the timeline, it’s clear that two different women each had consensual sex with Assange (one of whom hosted a party in his honor the evening following her assignation with him) but later compared notes, found out the other one had too, and then suddenly decided ex post facto that it was “rape”. I personally think his surname is about four letters too long, but I will defend him against such obviously trumped-up charges.

  132. >How do they replace that revenue, and how does android help? (or is android just a holding action, stemming the flow to iPhone and blackberry?

    “The flow to iPhone and Blackberry.” You’re hilarious, you are. They’re both losing share to Android, have been steadily for over a year. It’s quite consistent in both U.S. and international market-share figures.

  133. > The flow to iPhone and Blackberry.” You’re hilarious, you are. They’re both losing share to Android, have been steadily for over a year. It’s quite consistent in both U.S. and international market-share figures.

    I suppose its all in how you read it. Yes, Android has come from (essentially) nowhere in Sep 2008 to, what, 3rd place now? (Symbian, then iPhone, then Android, then RIM is how I think it currently stands.) When I read his question, it was “How does Android make money for Google?” Likely Android will take second place very, very soon (passing iPhone).

    Despite years of developing and acquiring an array of social, productivity, communication and media applications, Google hadn’t hit on any viable sales stream beyond ads targeted on Web search. That is becoming an increasingly important problem for Google, with Facebook breathing down Google’s neck for the lead in referrals to other websites, (one of the key statistics that advertisers look to when deciding which advertising networks to join.)

    Google doesn’t make a penny licensing Android. It’s open source, after all. Google gets nothing from Android Marketplace app purchases. It does sell in-app ads for Android developers through its AdMob network.

    So what is the revenue model for Android, or, if there isn’t one, is it just an action to ‘stem’ what seems to be happening with the web disappearing behind 10,000 different ‘apps’? As long as the browser was the interface, Google AdSense had a chance to display ads (and get paid). Once the browser starts to become less the centerpiece, what then, Eric?

    I find it irritating that you engaged in bluster, and didn’t answer his (her ?) question.

    Lets say a miracle occurs, and all the world of handsets & tablets is Android, and these represent 50% of the installed base, with the other 50% desktops and servers (all, say, running Linux?) An ESR wet-dream, come to life…

    Were this situation to occur, how does Google make money from Android?

  134. >I find it irritating that you engaged in bluster, and didn’t answer his (her ?) question.

    I find your meta-bluster irritating. It”s a word you use too often without good reason. If you continue, I may begin replacing the word “bluster” and similar negatively-loaded terms in your posts with “Jezus-Lizzard-being-pointlessly-obstreperous-again”. But at least you’ve phrased an actual question rather than a sort of vaguely questionlike twitch, you get points for that.

    The answer is: I don’t know how to answer the question about AdMob’s revenue curve. And I don’t know how to get the information I’d need to form a predictive theory. I think that question may be predicated on a false premise, however.

    I question the premise that the browser will become less central. I find that the effect of having one on my hip, even one with an app store, is that I do more searches per day rather than fewer. The reason is clear: as the overhead of searching drops, I’m doing more of it and substituting it for other modes of information-seeking. And I think everyone is doing this, not just me.

    Also, you’ve framed your question incorrectly. Google is not in the search business. It’s in the business of monetizing attention, with search as a principal means. The difference in focus becomes clear when you begin asking questions like “Will Google’s control the software of millions of NFC-using devices allow it to begin collecting a small rakeoff on billions of electronic payment transactions a day?”

  135. >Emacs on an Ubuntu tablet, with touchscreen gestures:

    On one hand this is almost ridiculously cool. His gesture interpreter emits elisp forms! Looks like it ships a bounding box and centroid for each gesture, too. There is some sort of geeky LISPy ultimate being approached here.

    On the other hand, I question the ergonomics. Gestures on a tablet are great for a navigator/browser-like workflow, but they’re gonna suck for editing on a vertical display. It’s causing me to imagine a gesture trackpad under my right hand with software that puts a transient scribble on the screen when I touch it. But then I’d lose the direct tie between finger and screen position. Hm. More position-independent design of the gesture alphabet, maybe?

  136. > I question the premise that the browser will become less central. I find that the effect of having one on my hip, even one with an app store, is that I do more searches per day rather than fewer.

    Do you click on the ads? If you don’t, how can we decide you’re a typical google search user?
    You don’t use facebook (good!), but 500 million people do.
    You don’t use Google Apps (gmail, calendar, docs, talk), so google doesn’t get much FaceTime with you.
    Do you spend much time in apps on your phone? If not, you’re not typical.

    The trend on phones seems to be away from search, though android makes it easier than apple.

    As for micro payments, Angry Birds is moving toward in-app purchase on Android. Micropaymenrts via your carrier billing. Because google can’t seem to figure that out.

    > Gestures on a tablet are great for a navigator/browser-like workflow, but they’re gonna suck for editing on a vertical display.

    Jobs said this, too.

    > It’s causing me to imagine a gesture trackpad under my right hand with software that puts a transient scribble on the screen when I touch it.

    Jobs makes one of these

  137. >I know nothing about “Napolitano”,

    Get to know him:

    http://www.amazon.com/Nation-Sheep-Andrew-P-Napolitano/dp/1595550976

    In A NATION OF SHEEP, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano frankly discusses how the federal government has circumvented the Constitution and is systematically dismantling the rights and freedoms that are the foundation of American democracy. He challenges Americans to recognize that they are being led down a very dangerous path and that the cost of following without challenge is the loss of the basic freedoms that facilitate our pursuit of happiness and that define us as a nation.

    Judge Napolitano asks the questions that no one else will, challenging readers to rethink why they are blindly following a government that has only its own interests in mind. He asks:

    Why is the government using the war on terror as an excuse to sidestep the Constitution?
    Why are Americans not challenging and questioning the government as it continues to limit more and more of our freedoms?
    What part of “Congress shall make no law…” does the government not understand when it criminalizes speech?
    Whatever happened to our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that are proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, guaranteed by the Constitution, yet ignored by the governments elected to protect them?
    Why does every public office holder swear allegiance to the Constitution, yet very few follow it?
    Don’t we have rights that are guaranteed and cannot be taken from us?

  138. @fackbook is evil:

    As for micro payments, Angry Birds is moving toward in-app purchase on Android. Micropayments via your carrier billing.

    That’s interesting. I had to pop my head up to take a little look at what’s going on in this space. The first thing I noticed is that what a lot of people seem to be calling micropayments these days are payments that are two or three orders of magnitude larger than the traditional definition of micropayments, perhaps because it seemed pretty obvious to people who thought deeply about it that true micropayments wouldn’t work. Maybe we should call these new payments “minipayments.”

    I did notice some interesting developments in true micropayments that remove the historical objections. For example, flattr allows you to budget a monthly amount for contributions, and then allocate the dispersal of that money by actions you take (clicking on a button or whatever) throughout the month. You don’t have to worry about going over budget.

    This method of simultaneously controlling costs while rewarding those you appreciate seems so obvious, it’s hard to believe that nobody thought of it before. Well, actually at least one somebody did — even when Netflix was only distributing DVDs, they had a start on the same model, and now that they deliver a lot of content online, I seriously doubt that most of their contracts with the content providers don’t have some sort of mechanism that rewards the most-viewed.

    Because google can’t seem to figure that out.

    Believe it or not, google has been very successful with a true micropayment model for a very long time now. It’s just that, with google, you’re not the customer — you’re the product.

  139. Perry De Havilland comes out supporting Assange. As I summarized in the comments, “things ARE REALLY desperate, so it’s time for a stupid and futile gesture.”

    He has written off the US as beyond repair by conventional means.

    Assange may as well be an [insert evil shadowy concern] mole because the end result could be the same.

    The reason why we keep losing our freedoms is because they’re playing a game of “heads I win, tails you lose.” Either they use the threat of loss of order/security/etc. to take away freedoms or they piggyback on libertarian-approved gains of freedom (like DADT) to corrupt institutions which are genuine protectors of freedom (like the Christian, conservative, “homophobic” military) to create an army unmoored from loyalty to the “bitter clingers.”

    Not feeling really optimistic tonight at all. We’re in for a rough patch even if by some miracle the financial problems don’t lead to a collapse.

  140. “Google doesn’t make a penny licensing Android.”

    They do get paid for the non-free apps like GMail, Maps, and Market.

  141. >They do get paid for the non-free apps like GMail, Maps, and Market.

    [Citation Needed]

  142. They do get paid for the non-free apps like GMail, Maps, and Market.

    [Citation Needed]

    Oh, come on. It’s not that hard to find evidence that some people pay google for apps.

    It’s a bit harder to find evidence for exactly what that total amount is, but it’s not that difficult to find informed speculation along with amounts for ad vs non-ad revenue.

    It’s interesting to note that, while non-ad revenue is increasing dramatically, it wobbled back down to 3% in the latest quarter. I wonder if that’s because their mobile strategy has kicked some extra life into their ad revenue.

  143. @esr:

    I question the premise that the browser will become less central. I find that the effect of having one on my hip, even one with an app store, is that I do more searches per day rather than fewer. The reason is clear: as the overhead of searching drops, I’m doing more of it and substituting it for other modes of information-seeking. And I think everyone is doing this, not just me.

    You’re probably right on that. I’m doing the same thing. I can’t remember the last time I stopped and asked for directions. I don’t call 411 or use phone books anymore. Nor do I use paper maps. I don’t read newspapers. Like Jay Maynard, I often fix my own cars, but I don’t use Chilton’s or Hayne’s manuals anymore. All the information I need for these tasks and much much more is on the Web. Having a Web browser handy right at the hip 24×7 is very handy indeed.

    But maybe I’m an odd duck.

  144. > They do get paid for the non-free apps like GMail, Maps, and Market.
    >
    > [Citation Needed]
    >
    > Oh, come on. It’s not that hard to find evidence that some people pay google for apps.

    Wait, you’ve provided a pointer to a city converting to Google Apps, (www.google.com/a), not Android Apps provided by Google
    to carriers. Sorry, that doesn’t fly.

    > It’s a bit harder to find evidence for exactly what that total amount is, but it’s not that difficult to find informed speculation along with amounts for ad vs non-ad revenue.

    But that’s still not what Google charges for its Android apps.

    Here is what we know, directly from Google:

    That’s why we developed Android apps for many of our services like YouTube, Gmail, Google Voice, and so on. These apps are Google’s way of benefiting from Android in the same way that any other developer can, but the apps are not part of the Android platform itself. We make some of these apps available to users of any Android-powered device via Android Market, and others are pre-installed on some phones through business deals. Either way, these apps aren’t open source, and that’s why they aren’t included in the Android source code repository. Unauthorized distribution of this software harms us just like it would any other business, even if it’s done with the best of intentions.

    Now, let us examine that sentence with a critical eye:
    “We make some of these apps available to users of any Android-powered device via Android Market, and others are pre-installed on some phones through business deals.

    “Business deals” does not imply “revenue”. It is much more likely that these apps (now known as the “Google Experience” or “pure Google”) are only supplied to Android vendors who agree to not re-skin Android, delete features, change the search bar to use a non-Google search engine (e.g. Bing), etc.

    So we’re back to “how does Android make money for Google”?

    > It’s interesting to note that, while non-ad revenue is increasing dramatically, it wobbled back down to 3% in the latest quarter. I wonder if that’s because their mobile strategy has kicked some extra life into their ad revenue

    Oh hell, lets just quote from the latest Q1, shall we? Here ya go, from Google’s own mouth (as it were):

    I actually asserted the opinion above that people are being distracted away from Google as a search engine. Many responders said I was wrong. Google… agrees.

    More individuals are using devices other than personal computers to access the internet. If users of these devices do not widely adopt versions of our web search technology, products, or operating systems developed for these devices, our business could be adversely affected.

    The number of people who access the internet through devices other than personal computers, including mobile telephones, smart phones, handheld computers, video game consoles, and television set-top devices, has increased dramatically in the past few years. The lower resolution, functionality, and memory associated with some alternative devices make the use of our products and services through such devices more difficult and the versions of our products and services developed for these devices may not be compelling to users, manufacturers, or distributors of alternative devices. Each manufacturer or distributor may establish unique technical standards for its devices, and our products and services may not work or be viewable on these devices as a result. We have limited experience to date in operating versions of our products and services developed or optimized for users of alternative devices, such as Google Mobile and Android, or in designing and selling alternative devices. As new devices and new platforms are continually being released, it is difficult to predict the problems we may encounter in developing versions of our products and services for use on these alternative devices and we may need to devote significant resources to the creation, support, and maintenance of such devices. If we are unable to attract and retain a substantial number of alternative device manufacturers, distributors, and users to our products and services, or if we are slow to develop products and technologies that are more compatible with alternative devices, we will fail to capture a significant share of an increasingly important portion of the market for online services, which could adversely affect our business.

  145. @Morgan: Google picked Java as a development language for Dalvik because Java developers are a dime a dozen. But they could just as easily implement other languages on top of Dalvik.

    I said: “but consider what happens if Chrome is the new ‘windowing’ engine (process per app, just like dalvik) with C, C++, go and Javascript as reference languages.”

    and have implied elsewhere on this blog that Android is not the long-term strategy of Google, but rather ChromeOS is.

    Now comes this:

    http://cemerick.com/2010/12/12/oracle-vp-we-have-a-strategy-to-run-java-inside-a-javascript-environment/

    Oh, hey… what do you know? ChromeOS is … Javascript.

    I sense a disturbance in the Force…

    Prediction: When Oracle forces Google to settle, part of it will be that Google converts to this new Java in Javascript engine for Android (dropping it into V8). Now Android apps can be cross-compiled for ChromeOS (and … heh, iOS), *and* the Dalvik engine goes *poof*.

  146. @TJL:

    Wait, you’ve provided a pointer to a city converting to Google Apps, (www.google.com/a), not Android Apps provided by Google
    to carriers. Sorry, that doesn’t fly.

    Well, I didn’t make the original assertion you were responding to, and we’re probably talking at cross-purposes about the context. My only assertion would be that google wants to sell gmail, google does sell gmail, and google is smart enough to realize that gmail has to be easy to use from mobile devices for them to keep selling gmail. If google actually charges separately for a “gmail app for Android”, that is something I was completely unaware of, and not even attempting to address.

    Oh hell, lets just quote from the latest Q1, shall we? Here ya go, from Google’s own mouth (as it were):

    [obvious boilerplate disclaimer from google redacted]

    Yes, that’s the exact same document I linked to, and yes, any company that gets 96% of its revenue from ads is vulnerable to this shift and will have to report in their 10Q when the world is shifting like this, but no, I don’t think you can read this at all to indicate that they are not seeing the traction they want or expect in mobile at the moment. 10Qs are notorious for containing negative language to reduce the probability of successful “shareholder” lawsuits.

    Google publicly says that Android is profitable now. It’s hard for me to believe that is just posturing, in that if it is a lie, it would surely expose them to litigation that the cautious language in the 10Q couldn’t save them from.

  147. @TJL:

    Prediction: When Oracle forces Google to settle, part of it will be that Google converts to this new Java in Javascript engine for Android (dropping it into V8). Now Android apps can be cross-compiled for ChromeOS (and … heh, iOS), *and* the Dalvik engine goes *poof*.

    You bring up an excellent point, but perhaps not the one you intended. Google has been shipping their own Java -> JavaScript compiler for over 4 years. That’s just more evidence that laches will probably apply in this lawsuit.

  148. >That’s just more evidence that laches will probably apply in this lawsuit.

    No. Doctrine of laches doesn’t apply to patents quite as it does in most civil matters; that’s why submarining a patent is possible. You can use laches to argue that plaintiff can’t collect imputed royalties from before the patent violation was discovered by the plaintiff, but it’s still possible to claim royalties going forward from there no matter how long the patent was unenforced

    A related argument I think we are likely to see in this case is equitable estoppel.

  149. @esr:
    It’s a little more complicated than that. I don’t know if your familiar with Symbolic Technologies v. Lemelson, but here is a very good article about it in the New York Law Journal. In summary, Symbolic used the doctrine of prosecution laches, which is different from the normal laches doctrine; the Federal Court of Appeals ruled that Lemelson couldn’t delay suing for years and then suddenly try to assert their rights. Furthermore, rules changes since 2000 pretty much prevent submarine patents anyway. It’s all in the article.

  150. @Morgan:

    I was going to mention Symbolic, but of course, that doesn’t apply in this case (Symbolic is really about submarining, which Sun/Oracle didn’t do). Also, these days, even if you could submarine a patent, it would only be good for 20 – x years…

    Eric’s absolutely right that I should have said “equitable estoppel” as well as “laches”. Obviously, Google is going to assert both, for both copyright and patents, and assert patent misuse and copyright misuse as well.

    I’m actually (perhaps wrongly) quite optimistic about google’s chance to either invalidate the patents or show they aren’t applicable. The copyright stuff can be trickier, although some of Oracle’s claims look like they’re trying to pull an SCO, so maybe there’s nothing there, either. In any case, for copyright, there should be no infringement going forward, because anything that has really been copied can be replaced pretty quickly. So if laches can be found to apply to the copyright issues, the only damages will be for a very brief period, that arguably hasn’t even started yet.

  151. >rules changes since 2000 pretty much prevent submarine patents anyway

    Now that I dig into it, the real turning point seems to have been 2005. My understanding of patent law had been current up to about 2004, but that was just before the Symbolics case. Good to see somebody finally shut down Lemelson, even if they had to invent a new doctrine to do it.

  152. @Morgan> It’s a little more complicated than that. I don’t know if your familiar with Symbolic Technologies v. Lemelson,

    @Patrick> I was going to mention Symbolic, but of course, that doesn’t apply in this case (Symbolic is really about submarining, which Sun/Oracle didn’t do).

    @esr>but that was just before the Symbolics case.

    It’s not “Symbolic Technologies v. Lemelson”, or “Symbolics” (a lisp machine company!) it’s “Symbol Technologies v. Lemelson”.

  153. Analysts seem to hate the Nexus S and Android 2.3
    http://www.enterprisemobiletoday.com/news/article.php/3916481/Analyst-Perspective-on-Nexus-S-Android-23-Negative.htm

    “In his recommendations, Greengart gave this advice: “Google should go big or go home: either launch ad-subsidized unlocked multi-mode products that work across all U.S. carriers, or stop the Nexus line and work with carriers and vendors like a normal mobile OS company.”"

    To summarize the analysts: Google should not design great products for customers. That is politically incorrect, or something like that.

  154. @J. Jay:

    since when does it require a Windows PC to update Android?

    This is a theme I’ve seen multiple times before. There are NAS boxes, routers, TVs, etc. that run Linux, that require Windows to update them. It’s perfectly understandable, from a customer support standpoint, to support the OS that the vast majority of people use. But it’s annoying as hell, and yet more proof that if a company doesn’t start with the mindset that you should be able to hack their stuff, just demanding source from them may not actually get you all that far.

  155. Total US iPhone shipments for the quarter at 5.5 Million, tracking article John referenced reasonably well:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2010/11/01/android-overtakes-iphone/

    Of course, if you combine that data with the comscore report, you will find that 5.5 million is 243% of the total increase in U.S. iPhone users over the last quarter, so it’s likely that 3.2 million of those 5.5 million are replacements.

  156. I was wondering about the spate of apparent iPhone upgrades, because the iPhone 3 shipment dates don’t seem to support a lot of people going off contract last quarter (if the standard contract is 2 or 3 years, the 270K units in Q32007 and 720K in Q32008 don’t add up), but apparently AT&T offers “early” (before end of contract) iPhone upgrades to their customers at reduced rates.

    http://www.geeksugar.com/iPhone-Moving-Verizon-T-Offering-Early-Upgrades-iPhone-3G-3GS-Users-8693941

  157. T-Mobile (the carrier of last resort) was the only carrier to take an Android phone.
    Sprint and VZW joined when it became obvious that iPhone was going to … Eat their lunch.

    Once VZW gets the iPhone, if AT&T can still sell the iPhone, it’s game over, as Android will have to run a “race to the bottom” on both Spint and T-Mobile in order to attempt to compete on price. When that happens, thhe margin in building Android phones will evaporate, and the major players (Motorola, HTC, Samsung) will either exit or scale back. Chinese junk will fill thhe market, and Goigle will have to return to the Nexus 1 / S to sell it’s wares.

    Meanwhile, VZW turned up its LTE network on Dec 5. AT&Tbturns up theirs in mid-2011. It’s obvious that iPhone 5 is an LTE device.

    The iPhone is the iPod of the mobile market. Everyone laughed at first, but in the end, Jobs will win.

    It’s not the hackers & geeks on this blog who are the middle market. It’s the folks at Starbucks. As an exercise,, go count the Macs at Starbucks sometime. All those people would have an iPhone if they could use their carrier. Soon they will.

  158. >apparently AT&T offers “early” (before end of contract) iPhone upgrades to their customers at reduced rates.

    That’s consistent with the overall picture I have from other sources. To within statistical noise: Apple is holding share, all others are losing share, Android is gaining share fast. These are broadly the same trends we see in the worldwide data.

  159. ESR says: I read it., but I can’t interpret it. Too many crucial figures – like the total size of VZW and AT&T userbases – are just missing.

    Right, even if you read the full report, they only list the subscriber bases: VZW has 92 million vs. ATTs 90 million. Then they’re comparing AT&T’s iPhone sales to all VZW smartphone sales.

    But what they’re missing are the historical sizes of smartphone vs feature phone users for each vendor. And the mix may very well be different between vendors.

    A cellphone user is not a cellphone user. This study assumes that all cell users necessarily want or need a smartphone. But just as smartphone users aren’t happy with feature phones, the reverse is also true: many users who like feature phones are likely to stick with feature phones for not just cost reasons, but also a desire for greater simplicity. I know many people who refuse to get a smartphone because they simply don’t like the idea of a phone being smarter than they are. :)

    Furthermore, they suggest that VZW is losing smartphone customers to ATT due to the iPhone exclusivity, but they don’t actually make this case. There is no data showing customers churning from VZW to ATT.

    They also explicitly state that they are ignoring ATTs non-iPhone sales. What if Android is beating iPhone at ATT? Yet they ignore it.

    And that’s a good point because ATT’s pricing is somewhat higher than VZW’s. That means that their demographics look very different, with ATT having a higher percentage of affluent users. And affluent users are, I think, going to be more likely to buy a smartphone than a feature phone.

    I think the story is very telling — but more for what they leave out than for what they include.

  160. I actually asserted the opinion above that people are being distracted away from Google as a search engine. Many responders said I was wrong. Google… agrees.

    And yet the corporate line… disagrees.

    From here:

    Search ads, display ads and advertising within wireless applications are all growing. In addition [Susan Wojcicki] said Google processes four times the number of mobile searches it did one year ago.
    The company’s integration of mobile ad provider AdMob is going well too, she said. Over the last year, she said AdMob has doubled, and is doing more than a billion ad requests per day.

  161. @ FACEBOOK IS EVIL: The user experience of the Android phones kicks Apples butt big time. The number of cool apps in the Android marketplace, while not quite as big as Apple’s, is HUGE. I just got an Android phone (Samsung Vibrant) and as an Architect I see a lot of designers and people who have to fall in the self-consciously “cool” category, many of whom are Apple fans. They all have gadget envy, and one has just decided he will not renew his contract when it is up because he want Android.

    So, Android DOES not have to compete on price, but they should continue to undercut iPhones by just a bit, and will kill them on market share. The sign of the end of Apple will be their lowering of their price. And forget windows, it will be at Palm’s level in just a couple of years.

    So when you say:

    Once VZW gets the iPhone, if AT&T can still sell the iPhone, it’s game over, as Android will have to run a “race to the bottom” on both Spint and T-Mobile in order to attempt to compete on price. When that happens, thhe margin in building Android phones will evaporate, and the major players (Motorola, HTC, Samsung) will either exit or scale back. Chinese junk will fill thhe market, and Goigle will have to return to the Nexus 1 / S to sell it’s wares.

    I have to say your are hallucinating, and don’t understand how “cool” Android is. Coolness has left Apple.

  162. >Coolness has left Apple.

    Huh? No…that far I won’t go, and I think this kind of unjustified overstatement is how you spot someone who really is an Android fanboy.

    Apple is still cool to a sufficiently large core demographic to be viable; they’re not all hipsters, art fags and fashion victims, even if that snark still has some ring of truth to it. Apple’s problem is that coolness is increasingly not enough.

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