The Smartphone Wars: Circling the RIM

It’s been a quiet week in the smartphone wars. The three most interesting developments are (a) stock analysts have begun hanging crepe for RIM’s funeral, (b) HP has priced its WebOS tablet to die, and (c) the iPhone 5 is now not expected in September, being constrained by iOS 5’s ship date.

RIM’s stock price has been badly hammered in recent weeks by plummeting market share and the failure of the Playbook launch. Layoffs have been announced. Typical coverage these days asks whether RIM can survive. Takeover talk has begun, with Dell and Microsoft mentioned as possible buyers. App developers are bailing out.

For months I thought there was a strong possibility that RIM would soft-land in a defensible market niche around its business customers. But the last quarter has been blunder after blunder; RIM simply is not behaving like a company with the capability to pull out of a death spiral. I’d say we’re about seven months plus or minus two from a crash or buyout.

HP’s WebOS-based TouchPad tablet is out, and Jason Perlow is devastating about the problem with it, repeating a theme I’ve been sounding here for months. The TouchPad, and all of the iPad’s other competitors, are priced to sink like stones. Product planners all over the industry are living in a ludicrous fantasy if they think they can compete with the iPad at the iPad’s price point; Apple’s brand strength makes this suicidal. They need to cut margins and prices until it hurts, and then cut a bit more, to get traction. HP is not doing this and consequently HP will fail.

But Apple has troubles of its own. Word is that the iPhone 5 won’t ship in September because iOS 5 won’t be ready by then. On Apple’s hints about the iOS 5 release date, the iPhone 5 could be delayed as late as November. And it’s not going to be a full update, either, just a processor and camera upgrade; some rumors have it being branded as the ‘4S’, with ‘5’ reserved for a major upgrade in 2012.

Apple’s problem is that the new iPhone, 4S or 5, is going to be facing brutal competition from upcoming Androids like the Samsung Galaxy S 2, HTC Sensation, EVO 3D, and the rumored Nexus 4G. All these phones will be offering 4G, display technology fully as good as the Apple “retina screen” and probably faster processors.

A weak iPhone upgrade simply won’t fare well against these phones. Falling behind in 4G/LTE support is particularly likely to lose Apple high-end sales. And a poor 2011 Christmas season could completely finish off the iPhone’s chances of regaining lost ground.

264 thoughts on “The Smartphone Wars: Circling the RIM

  1. Yaknow… I keep telling people, and have been since Android first really became viable; that RIM just doesn’t have a plan forward other than “get acquired”, and that they’re going down the tubes, it’s just a matter of time.

    For some reason they keep coming back with “You’re crazy, they OWN the corporate market. No way will everyone give up their blackberries”.

    Somehow they forget that IBM “owned” the corporate market with PCs at one time (far more so than RIM has ever owned the smart device market, except in their first two years of offering national email service); and were bypassed by better, cheaper, more capable technology from more responsive and innovative companies.

  2. “Product planners all over the industry are living in a ludicrous fantasy if they think they can compete with the iPad at the iPad’s price point; Apple’s brand strength makes this suicidal.”

    I am puzzled by this suicidal pricing of tablets. I assume that not all marketteers are insane. They must see themselves that the sales are bad. There have been speculations about part shortages or high prices for parts on this blog. But I never saw a reasonable explanation for the high prices.

  3. They (HP) live in the delusion that HP is still a “brand name”.
    But HP today is just two letters, not the mark of excellence that it was at the times of Hewlett and Packard. They could even build a piece of hardware with the innovative power and quality of the HP35 or their test equipment, and nobody would buy it. “HP” is dead. Too many cheap printers with 1-year self destruct.

  4. The first of the three sources for the Huffington Post article, Bob Egan, put out a puff piece for one of his research reports, Is RIM done?, which starts with a graph that I think Eric will like.

    http://www.sepharimgroup.com/2011/05/23/is-rim-done/

    > Some industry observers feel that the tsunami of Apple (MGI Index=8,327) and Android offerings has irrevocably washed RIM away from its comfortable market position. Others see the current RIM challenges as a temporary hiccup for an otherwise great company in a great market. For one thing, we do not believe that with over $2Bil in cash, no debt and a consistent profitability, RIM is going out of business any time soon. … In this research note we examine RIM survival and recovery scenarios and share our outlook of why RIM’s recovery is likely to take a while.

    Egan seems to think that enterprise email will continue to have strategic value for RIM and doesn’t seem to be interested in Blackberry Messenger as an important asset.

    The point about cashflow / balance sheet means that “crash” isn’t likely in the coming year. Who would the buyers be? It has a capitalisation of about $22 bn. I don’t think that any of the tech giants would be interested. I could see Dell trying to complement its server offering with RIM’s products, but RIM’s market cap would have to fall far for it to be digestible.

    I stand by by earlier prediction, that RIM will issue at least 6 profit warnings before it becomes clear what will happen to them. Well, maybe 4.

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=3171#comment-305804

    @Chris wrote “Somehow they forget that IBM “owned” the corporate market with PCs at one time”

    The point here isn’t that RIM will have to change direction, it is a matter of how fast. IBM had years to lose its dominance, a dominance in an area that was always one of a number product categories.

  5. @Winter: “But I never saw a reasonable explanation for the high prices.”

    I guess the hope is that the Android slice of the market can support a premium product or two.

    The other thing is that I guess the Android-centric manufacturers are having difficulty keeping costs down. Apple has had time to plan its manufacturing operation, make good volume predictions, lock down suppliers, and so has been able to keep costs under much tighter control than later entrants to the market.

  6. Egan seems to think that enterprise email will continue to have strategic value for RIM and doesn’t seem to be interested in Blackberry Messenger as an important asset.

    Will someone please hit Egan with a giant clue stick? The company I work for had a big meeting the other day about replacing all of their Blackberry phones with Android. Reasons: reduced costs, more productivity-enhancing apps and no more need to maintain BES, which is a huge administration headache.

    I’m betting they are not alone in thinking this way.

    Blackberry Messenger is the only asset they have that’s worth anything.

  7. It should be interesting when the quarterly financials come out in a few weeks. CDMA iPhones have been out long enough to do well internationally or not, nothing new on the domestic front (no Verizon or AT&T countering with deep discounts), nothing imminent on the new product front (the smart money has been pushing iPhone 5 out farther and farther since before this quarter even began).

    In short, I think this may be the quarter where we see the extent of Apple’s underlying strength, when Jobs isn’t up on the stage holding up a new piece of hardware, the expectation of Jobs up on stage holding a new piece of hardware isn’t imminent, and AT&T isn’t selling old phones at fire-sale prices.

    I think Apple’s very happy they have the premier tablet right now, but I think potential problems in their phone business might become apparent to a wider audience.

    Apple made more than half their profit last quarter from iPhones. If the chart in this article is accurate, their overall profit will probably drop by 15% this quarter unless they sell enough iPads and Macs to make up for the difference.

    It’s normally expected that business is cyclical, but it will be interesting to see how Apple shareholders react to the news.

  8. >I am puzzled by this suicidal pricing of tablets [...] I never saw a reasonable explanation for the high prices.

    I assume Apple has economies of scale that nobody else can afford to match and has priced things pretty aggressively – it’s not yet *possible* for a smaller-volume competitor to make money selling at a much lower price.

    What makes you think new competitors *could* underprice the iPad?

  9. I assume Apple has economies of scale that nobody else can afford to match and has priced things pretty aggressively.

    I don’t believe this is true. In any case, we discussed it extensively on an earlier post.

    It’s not yet *possible* for a smaller-volume competitor to make money selling at a much lower price.

    The competitors that are floundering (Mot, Samsung) are the ones at the same order-of-magnitude. The ones that are start to kick ass are the ones that we haven’t heard of yet. If the big guys don’t get it in gear, they will be overrun. Such is capitalism.

    What makes you think new competitors *could* underprice the iPad?

    Because new competitors don’t require the same sort of margin that Apple does.

  10. >Because new competitors don’t require the same sort of margin that Apple does.

    That’s exactly right. It’s why I’ve been predicting repeatedly that the iPad killer is going to come out of some outfit like Huawei or ZTE. China is an ideal incubator – low manufacturing costs and a quarter of the world’s population as a domestic market.

  11. Glen Raphael Says:
    > What makes you think new competitors *could* underprice the iPad?

    Because fairly capable laptops can be bought for far less than an iPad and those laptops have much bigger screens and everything else. Makes it obvious that a smaller pad device *should* be priced much less than those laptops. Perhaps its because production volumes on those particular components haven’t hit the sweet spot yet and certain costs are not yet amortized, but it seems awfully slow in coming.

  12. I think the initial models may have been low-volume tests with accordingly high price.

    They are beginning to creep toward more realistic prices – looking at the local electronics store now, Android tablets seem to run from about parity to 20% cheaper than the equivalent-spec iPad, with the newest models at the lower end of that range.

    On the other hand, there are low-spec Android tablets for under $200…

  13. My understanding is that one of the big selling points for RIM and BES right now is the security model, which makes it attractive for regulated industries like finance and medical. From what I’ve been reading, the new version of Microsoft Exchange coming out will have similar features (potentially with an open wire protocol for the security model too, though I’m not holding my breath). However, instead of charging something like $50/seat that this costs with BES, it will be available at no extra charge. From a business IT perspective the decision then looks like this:
    Exchange + BES @ x + 50$/seat
    or
    Exchange @ x/seat.
    This then means that BES is unneeded, a complete pain to maintain, and expensive. Oh, and it limits you to Blackberry hardware (though this would be the easiest item to change). This is nothing but a negative-value proposition for the customer. They still might be able to do something with their current assets, but effectively it means finding another business model.

  14. Whoa! A Touchpad …review? I consume.

    We’re tossing fruit-dressed French pancakes on RIM?

  15. >They still might be able to do something with their current assets, but effectively it means finding another business model.

    Assets? What assets? That’s not a snarky question, I’m quite curious about this – it’s going to make the difference between buyout and crash.

    In effect, you’ve made a case that the existing Blackberry product line isn’t an asset. Has RIM got any network infrastructure that could be repurposed in an interesting way? If the answer to that is “no”, what’s anybody going to buy the company for? Certainly not their customer relationships; the base is eroding fast and will bail to Android or Apple in a hot second if the company looks like it’s going to flatline.

  16. FWIW… the second exchange had reasonable over-the-air capability via “Activesync” with Windows mobile devices, I had a real hard time telling anyone that the extra investment in a BB server just to get effective non-tethered syncing was worthwhile, and wondered what the heck RIM was going to do to maintain a value proposition as it’s management flexibility edge kept eroding.

    Apple (and then Android) rewriting everyone’s expectations of what a smartphone could “do” was the most visible nail in that coffin, especially once iOS and Android gained the ability to fluidly sync to exchange servers as well.

    So now we have better quality, more flexible, more usable smartphones that sync at least as well with Exchange, and sync BETTER with Google, and RIM sat on it’s ass getting it’s lunch eaten out from under it. Except for a few physical keyboard holdouts (also addressed by some Android models), there is no reason why anyone would use a crappier phone, or why any IT department would want to spend the money on BES licensing and administration. There just aren’t enough people I know in IT for whom the extra features of BES are worth the cost and integration headaches even as their bosses are asking for Androids and iPhones.

  17. >> What makes you think new competitors *could* underprice the iPad?

    > Because fairly capable laptops can be bought for far less than an iPad and those laptops have much bigger screens and everything else.

    “Bigger” is the problem here. The engineering to cram everything into tinier spaces without heat or battery or flex issues is a substantial part of the cost. Nobody doubts one could make a cheaper iPad *without* the form-factor constraints. In short, compelling iPad competitors are expensive for much the same reason Macbook Air competitors are expensive. Sure, they’ll arrive eventually, but it’s a moving target.

    > Because new competitors don’t require the same sort of margin that Apple does.

    New competitors can’t make money off apps and movies and music to the degree Apple does, which should lower the amount of margin they “require” considerably.

  18. “Has RIM got any network infrastructure that could be repurposed in an interesting way? If the answer to that is “no”, what’s anybody going to buy the company for?”

    They’ve got at least two large network operations centers that most Blackberry traffic goes through. There may be assets there that are worth buying. If nothing else, there’s some lucrative government contracts that may be worth something to maintain for a bit.

    RIM should have gone vendor neutral as soon as Android started getting traction. They could have positioned themselves as a cross-platform semi-to-mostly secure unified messaging system for business. It’s really what they are, a messaging company that happens to make phones. They somehow forgot this.

    At this point, they’re just screwed, I think.

  19. Glen Raphael Says:
    > “Bigger” is the problem here. The engineering to cram everything into tinier spaces without heat or battery or flex issues is a substantial part of the cost.

    I think a corrected version would read “… is a substantial part of the *design effort*”. Having to add another 3% of resin in a key spot to reduce flex or, heaven forbid, another fastener won’t increase the BOM by $150 which would seem to be the case these delusional vendors would have to make to support your point.

    Note that laptops and desktops are now essentially equivalent in price even tho the bigger unit requires far less engineering and far less “cramming”. And the bigger unit doesn’t even include an embedded LCD panel.

    So while your point is certainly valid that designing small things is harder than designing big things in this space, it is nowhere enough to account for the numbers we are seeing.

  20. >New competitors can’t make money off apps and movies and music to the degree Apple does, which should lower the amount of margin they “require” considerably.

    This is exactly right, but you can say even more. Apple could make a significant loss on each iPad sold, and it would still be worth their while, not only in terms of selling apps movies and music but in terms of locking users (and more importantly, developers and content providers) into their ecosystem.

    I have no idea what each iPad customer is worth to Apple after the iPad is sold, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it was in the ballpark of $100 or even $200. That is where Huawei and friends can never compete. In the android world, Google takes all the ecosystem benefits so the hardware manufacturer *needs* to make a profit on the hardware.

  21. You certainly seem opinionated enough about what the true financial demands of manufacturing ought to be.

  22. Just look at Amazon.com. Tablet prices are dropping like rocks. Reasonable spec 10″ Android tablets from multiple no-name companies for $180.

    Others have pointed out the cost deltas between laptops and Apple/Mot/Samsung tablets. I will add that, functionally one of the major differences is the cell communication.

    In other words, I think Mot and Samsung are viewing the ability to have your tablet talk over the cellular network as a barrier to market entry that the no-name brands can’t overcome, perhaps due to their perception that the only value-add that the selling-like-hotcakes iPad has over previous tablet market entrants is the ability to communicate from everywhere.

    But unless the carriers drop data access to reasonable pricing levels, most potential tablet customers aren’t going to give a hoot about cellular. And if I can get a functional tablet for $180 now, I can just buy another one for the same price or less from ZTE or Huawei in a year or so when the cell companies wake up and realize that 200 million * $10/month is better than 10 million * $30/month.

  23. Re app store:

    CitiBank says that gross revenue from the app store should hit $2e9 in 2011. 30% of that is $600e6, before costs.

    Meanwhile, Apple’s profit last quarter was $6e9. Annualized, this means that app store might contribute 2.5% to the bottom line.

    Other estimates put the app store somewhat higher.

    In any case, Apple’s gross margin is above 40%, which is damn good for a hardware company and much better than their app store margin of 30%!.

  24. @Glen Raphael:

    “Bigger” is the problem here. The engineering to cram everything into tinier spaces without heat or battery or flex issues is a substantial part of the cost. Nobody doubts one could make a cheaper iPad *without* the form-factor constraints. In short, compelling iPad competitors are expensive for much the same reason Macbook Air competitors are expensive. Sure, they’ll arrive eventually, but it’s a moving target.

    Component-wise, most of today’s tablets are more like upsized phones than downsized laptops. They use much cooler and less power-hungry/heat-producing chips that can work in much smaller form factors.

    The major difference between a high-end Android phone and a high-end Android tablet will probably be a bigger display, a bigger battery, and a few more connectors.

  25. >They still might be able to do something with their current assets, but effectively it means finding another business model.

    Assets? What assets? That’s not a snarky question, I’m quite curious about this – it’s going to make the difference between buyout and crash.

    I think he means the stuff covered by the accounting term “current assets”, which is to say, the $2.1 billion they have in cash and short-term investments and the $4.3 billion they have in net total receivables. When you’ve got $6 billion, you can try launching a new business model with the money.

  26. @twilightomni:

    > You certainly seem opinionated enough about what the true financial demands of manufacturing ought to be.

    The true financial demands of manufacturing vary considerably according to the competition. Where I used to work, we had a silicon product that replaced transformers for phone modems. Even though the transformer market was fairly mature with multiple competitors, over the course of a couple of years, the cost of the transformers we were competing against went from about $3.00 to about $0.25.

    When you compete against something disruptive, you either die or you adapt. Tablets are disruptive to a lot of companies. The laptop companies are suffering quite a bit of softness recently. Do you really expect that they (and those of their component suppliers unlucky enough not to have Apple contracts) are just going to say “oh, well, it was good while it lasted” and close up shop?

    While I’m sure that some of the companies are going to die, I certainly wouldn’t bet against some of them adapting quite nicely and prospering. Especially since Apple has shown an unwillingness to cut margins below 40%, when a lot of these companies will churn out product all day long at one tenth that…

  27. There’s another assumption around here that I dispute. Yes, Apple has fabulous margins, but is it written in stone somewhere that they can’t drop them a bit if they need to? They’re sitting on a mountain of cash, too. I’m not an MBA, but if competition and/or commodification means their margins drop to (say) 25%, or even 20%, I’m not seeing catastrophe for them. What am I missing?

  28. PapayaSF: Right, a more plausible prediction would be that they will cut their margins if they feel they are falling below some significant level of market share.

    They never did that with the mac, of course, but that was because they have never been in this position before.

  29. What about diseconomies of scale? Who says scale automatically implies economies? When you’re selling tens of millions of identical whatevers, that kind of limits your options for sourcing parts, since you need to find a vendor big enough to sell you that quantity. And the bigger your operation, the longer it takes to change direction, which can be crucial in a market as fast-moving as mobile. Bringing chip design in-house, for example, means that you now have to deal with the fairly significant delays that this entails. It takes 3 months just from uploading your layout to TSMC until you get your first chip back, and realistically, at least a year from final netlist to shipping products, by which point you might well be making the wrong thing entirely, but sunk costs convince the company leadership to keep doing it.

  30. @PapayaSF:

    I don’t understand how you can dismiss Apple’s economies of scale.

    I’m not. This has all been discussed in comments on previous posts, but in a nutshell: going from 1 million units to 10 million units gives you much less additional leverage than going from 100K to 1 million, which gives you less additional leverage than going from 10K to 100K, etc.

    Yes, Apple has fabulous margins, but is it written in stone somewhere that they can’t drop them a bit if they need to? They’re sitting on a mountain of cash, too. I’m not an MBA, but if competition and/or commodification means their margins drop to (say) 25%, or even 20%, I’m not seeing catastrophe for them. What am I missing?

    They could drop margins. Their investors wouldn’t like it and the stock would react badly. Some of their customers wouldn’t like it and they would cede the high end. They might eventually be in a much more precarious position, or not. Hard to tell.

    But in any case, what they can’t do is to drop margins enough to keep at least some other companies from being able to undercut them on price. So, if you’re missing anything, it’s probably just that I was primarily writing to correct the mistaken impression that Apple is so big and has such economies of scale that no other company will ever be able to produce a tablet at a competitive pricepoint.

  31. I’m not an MBA, but if competition and/or commodification means their margins drop to (say) 25%, or even 20%, I’m not seeing catastrophe for them. What am I missing?

    Lower margins will hurt the stock price. You can flip a coin as to whether the result is a minor decline, or major flight; the psychology of the market is hard to predict.

  32. twilightomni Says:
    > You certainly seem opinionated enough about what the true financial demands of manufacturing ought to be.

    I’m rather opinionated about a lot of things. So what?

    Were I planning to enter the business of manufacturing tablets it would never occur to me that I could compete against a well-entrenched first mover with an enviable brand and not have to undercut them significantly on price. Or else build a vastly superior product that would command a premium.

    These manufacturers have done neither and it’s not obvious why. But the results thus far have been exactly what one would expect.

  33. Uh oh.

    “Wolf believes this is the beginning of more market share losses for Android, which began with the introduction of the iPhone on Verizon, and will continue with the release later this year of the next iPhone on Verizon and AT&T, and perhaps other carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile. Apple’s share of sales during the first quarter grew to 29.5 percent, up from 17.2 percent in the previous quarter. This tracks with a previous NPD report that found that Android sales in the first quarter fell to 50 percent of total, down three points from the previous quarter, while iOS grew by 9 percentage points for 28 percent of smartphone unit sales.”

    http://gigaom.com/2011/06/21/iphone-gains-eat-into-android-dominance-can-it-last/

  34. >http://gigaom.com/2011/06/21/iphone-gains-eat-into-android-dominance-can-it-last/

    Yeah, I saw that. I have no idea where Wolf is getting those numbers; they’re wildly out of kilter with the ComScore, Nielsen, and Kantar Worldpanel figures. Note that the article is from AppleInsider and be skeptical.

  35. @Michael Hipp

    Were I planning to enter the business of manufacturing tablets it would never occur to me that I could compete against a well-entrenched first mover with an enviable brand and not have to undercut them significantly on price. Or else build a vastly superior product that would command a premium.

    It wouldn’t occur to me either, but I don’t think competitors are being merely unintelligent.

    On the other hand, my own bias seems to demonstrate a double standard here, ex. regarding Samsung and Motorola’s sensibilities versus RIM’s.

    If we were to find out in ten years that RIM decided to sell an equally-priced but poorly positioned tablet with few extras and no ecosystem merely out of desperation with no other market strategy, it wouldn’t surprise me. But I like to think that Samsung and Motorola are a littler smarter and a little less desperate, and are accepting a compromise while waiting for…some sort of turnabout in pricing or distribution.

  36. @ Morgan Greywolf, comm “June 21st, 2011 at 8:33 am” – observed and agreed.
    I work in the very high-end tech side of the military-industrial complex (currently integration of aerospace, space, sea, and land integration of technology for battlefield dominance, particularly as it relates to precision strike [special warfare]) and you would be (or perhaps not) surprised at the number of us using Android personally and professionally, especially when it comes to constant comms and total integration, personally and professionally.

    A phenomenal warrior, LT. Michael Murphy, died in Afghanistan when his team was outnumbered by Taliban/ al-Qaeda scum (after killing more than half of the initial ~150 fighter wave – this was a 4-man team). The radios failed as they often do in the field, and he used a cell to bring in the rescue element. When the emer beacons fail, we can be tracked to location by cells if necessary…anyway digressing as I tend to, to keep it short, RIM would be foolish to bet on their corporate email history. In the many contractors, civs, and military guys involved in this stuff, most of them have abandoned their Blackberries for the higher-end Android phones and thus far there has been a HUGE cost/effectiveness increase in this environment. And all have been thrilled at the capabilities used to date. There is much excitement in planning and developing expansions in this environment, doable only in the Android platform so far. Many of us in this arena are techheads and the things we can do with our “owned” (rooted) phones has been extraordinary. I don’t know anyone who uses Apple anything, either.

    Forgive the ramble. 3 days of no shower, one meal, and 4 hours sleep…I’m just gonna leave it in there. The disconnected point here is that in my observation, RIM, Apple, et al will have a harder time in the future targeting the military market once these programs are observed and the ripple effects spread. The old institutions are losing “brand-name” history to newer brand names, losing their benefit to capitalize on their history. Anyway, this is the nature of the universe. Linux-based elements are popular and effective (heavily in use) in the high-end here too. I remember when many loved SQL Server. Not anymore.

    One guy’s observations from one small slice of the pie.

  37. twilightomni Says:
    > But I like to think that Samsung and Motorola are a littler smarter and a little less desperate, and are accepting a compromise while waiting for…some sort of turnabout in pricing or distribution.

    Agreed. Perhaps I’m just impatient while seeing a future soon where there will be always-on tablets in every nook and cranny of my home and office to do all sorts of nifty things. But the manufacturers seem to be stuck in a mindset of “luxury item” where I’m shopping for “commodity”.

  38. anonymouse: I don’t know Apple’s details, but many large manufacturers source identical parts from multiple vendors, and any inflexibility caused by huge volumes seems more than outweighed by the advantages.

    Patrick: I don’t see how lower margins would upset customers or cede the high end, because Apple would have the same quality products, just cheaper. Yeah, maybe the stock would take a hit, but it’s done fabulously well for 10+ years now, which I think would cushion the blow.

    Michael Hipp: The average consumer electronics manufacturer seems very much in the grip of “me too” thinking, which tends to produce barely-differentiated products of only acceptable quality. They are reacting to the iPad as if it were just another product from just another competitor, but Apple is playing a very different game. It’s not going to be easy to match or exceed the iPad + App Store, as we can see from the feeble competition. I suspect the iPad killer will prove as mythical a beast as the iPod killer was.

  39. > But I like to think that Samsung and Motorola are a littler smarter and a little less desperate, and are accepting a compromise while waiting for…some sort of turnabout in pricing or distribution.

    Could be. But, as I mentioned, their actions seem to indicate to me that they think that they’re in some sort of exclusive club with Apple of “those few companies who are qualified to build tablets with cellular capabilities.”

    If that’s what’s going on, I think they’re nuts. They’re going to get their lunch eaten from the bottom by companies who realize there’s a huge market out there that thinks that WiFi is good enough for now, and before they wake up and drop prices and ramp volume, new silicon coming on line is going to make cookie-cutter cell capability available at bottom dollar to all comers.

  40. >They are reacting to the iPad as if it were just another product from just another competitor, but Apple is playing a very different game.

    I don’t buy this at all. If it weren’t possible to compete against Apple’s “ecosystem” with price and features, Android wouldn’t have whaled the tar out of the iPhone over the last eighteen months. That history demonstrates that the “ecosystem” is not magic pixie dust, and talk of Apple “playing a very different game” is just uncritical repetition of their marketing spin that brings nothing to the analysis.

    The really interesting question to ask is why Android is doing so well against the iPhone but so poorly against the iPad. Same mass of apps on either side, so that nulls out. I think the simplest explanation is the right one: Android smartphones are priced aggressively, to sell. Android tablets are not.

  41. > They’re going to get their lunch eaten from the bottom by companies who realize there’s a huge market out
    > there that thinks that WiFi is good enough for now

    Quite frankly, with wifi tethering on a phone, having only wifi on a tablet (such as my recently-purchased-and-rooted Nook Color) is more than good enough; it’s completely acceptable. Not that every carrier-offered phone officially provides wifi tethering without an additional fee, of course, but still.

  42. Speaking of doomed cellphone companies:

    Today Nokia announced their N9 cellphone, their first phone running (some variant of?) Meego. But who would buy an orphan? Meanwhile, they’re still months from shipping their new Windows phone. Wasn’t the whole point that it would be ready sooner? Seriously, WTF?

  43. >But, as I mentioned, their actions seem to indicate to me that they think that they’re in some sort of exclusive club with Apple of “those few companies who are qualified to build tablets with cellular capabilities.”

    I’m sorry, I just don’t see how they can be that stupid. Who can’t buy baseband chips from Qualcomm and assemble them into a Qualcomm reference design? Manufacturing consumer electronics has been routinized and automated to the point of silly; the only issue is NRE and the chipmakers do a pretty job of taking out that cost in order to pump their volumes.

    I think it’s more plausible that the product planners at HP and elsewhere still think consumers will play for their nameplate. Idiots.

  44. @PapayaSF:

    I don’t see how lower margins would upset customers or cede the high end, because Apple would have the same quality products, just cheaper.

    Yeah, nobody gets upset when the price drops. And nobody ever wants to pay more than they have to for a cellphone.

    Apple is a premium brand. They aren’t always on top (LTE? RAM? CPU MHz?) but get away with charging a premium because of good industrial design, good software, good will. If they stop charging a premium, they will be good value, but won’t be a premium brand any more.

    Their current business model requires a higher margin than some of their competitors. Maybe not as high a margin as they have, but they can’t afford to start the nuclear arms race of dropping prices. If they drop their prices, others will follow. Soon they will find they are still selling the same number of phones, but at far fewer dollars per phone. There’s a huge science devoted to pricing things correctly and it doesn’t really matter whether Apple is practicing “Premium Pricing” or “Contribution margin-based pricing.” In either case, if they drop their prices too quickly (if at all) they will be leaving money on the table.

    Apple is playing a very different game. It’s not going to be easy to match or exceed the iPad + App Store, as we can see from the feeble competition. I suspect the iPad killer will prove as mythical a beast as the iPod killer was.

    Nope. iTunes was Apple’s killer app for the iPod. But that genie’s out of the bottle. People have already figured out how to make iTunes work (well enough for them) with their non-Apple smartphones, and there are a lot of iTunes alternatives finally coming on-line, and… the primary usage of a tablet is not going to be for personal music listening.

  45. >Meanwhile, they’re still months from shipping their new Windows phone. Wasn’t the whole point that it would be ready sooner?

    No. Nokia never even tried to pretend it would ship a WP7 before late in 3Q2011. Now they’re talking 2012; the most optimistic estimates by third parties are in the second quarter. Me, I don’t think they’ll ship in time to matter on any level at all.

  46. What is the consensus on the addition of additional architectures to the android universe?
    I think 2012 will be “interesting times” for android competitors in all manner of form factors.
    Could MIPS use the It’s Dark in the Box effect to counter the ARM ecosystem and lower the
    BOM for tablets, phones, etc. Android is the great emancipator for 3rd party hardware.
    Release the Kraken!!!

    MIPS-Based Smartphone Passes the Android Compatibility Test Suite
    http://www.mips.com/blog/?p=102

  47. I was always taken aback by how slow RIM was to innovate. They were first to do wireless e-mail, and people loved their “chicklet” keyboards, but they didn’t even release a touch screen device until the Storm. The Storm was universally panned and was released the same day (on Verizon) as the Motorola Droid.

    Too little, too late on touch screens, app stores, and tablets it seems.

  48. @esr:

    “those few companies who are qualified to build tablets with cellular capabilities.”

    Who can’t buy baseband chips from Qualcomm and assemble them into a Qualcomm reference design?

    I think there’s still a bit more to it than that. Maybe I didn’t write it correctly. Unfortunately, the universal SIM card still doesn’t live up to its promise, especially when we have lots of CDMA around. I don’t think that the average tablet gets attached to the average cell network without the average support call to the network. That call probably either goes “here’s how you do this” or “Sorry — never heard of that tablet.”

    So I think there is a bit of a barrier to entry for the market of “tablets that attach to cell networks,” especially in the U.S. Especially when, e.g., a 3G tablet sold in the midwest would be returned because of lack of coverage. And I think that because the iPad was successful and because it attaches to a cell network and because of the human capability of finding causality where none exists, it is possible, or even probable, that the few companies which can (a) make tablets, and (b) partner with carriers to sell those tablets in the large, rich US market, might have deluded themselves into thinking there are barriers to market entry, when in fact any such barriers are only for a miniscule part of the TAM, and the average consumer would be happy as a clam with a WiFi-only tablet.

  49. @Patrick

    the primary usage of a tablet is not going to be for personal music listening.

    On the other hand, I do believe that the primary use of a tablet is apps, which definitely still have some sort of ecosystem effect.

    Same mass of apps on either side, so that nulls out.

    This ain’t true for tablets, and even in the handheld case, there are many apps I use on my iPod that simply don’t exist on Android; over half, and I’ve downloaded about 200 apps myself, a collection of games and utilities (pretty good sample for my needs as a student, I’d think).

    Tablets may be good at browsing the web, but they browse it no better (and slightly slower) than netbooks. Hordes of new touch applications are the iPad’s game.

  50. Or: there’s almost nothing unique to do on an iPad except apps. Buying one for any other reason wouldn’t make sense, as it does nothing else exceptionally better than anything else.

  51. Same mass of apps on either side, so that nulls out.

    This ain’t true for tablets…

    Umm, I think it was esr that made that claim.

    Tablets may be good at browsing the web, but they browse it no better (and slightly slower) than netbooks.

    I disagree with this. I think, for example, “no better” is absolutely not true for the case where someone is relaxing in a recliner or sitting away from a table outside on the deck.

    Hordes of new touch applications are the iPad’s game.

    OK as an anecdote, but what sort of application advantage do you expect the iPad to keep over Android tablets, and why?

  52. Sorry, the second quote was for @esr.

    @Patrick

    OK as an anecdote, but what sort of application advantage do you expect the iPad to keep over Android tablets, and why?

    Oh, it wasn’t meant as anecdote; I’m sure you know the numbers of apps written specifically for the device, in addition to the iPhone ecosystem.

    I think Android could easily match the numbers in a year or two, but you also probably don’t want me to list all the apps I use that won’t be on an Android tablet. The best apps are either well-known brands (good chance of cross-ecosystem here) or indie titles and iOS-specific dev shops (low-chance of crossing to Android here).

    I disagree with this. I think, for example, “no better” is absolutely not true for the case where someone is relaxing in a recliner or sitting away from a table outside on the deck.

    Perhaps I should rephrase: apps are the chief reason for using an iPad, not necessarily any other tablet. You can use the web very conveniently too, but if you’re just buying an iPad to use the web, you probably didn’t need to get an iPad.

  53. It’s worth noting at this point that I mention the apps I use; it is quite true that of the ones that I use, certainly many of them have equivalents on Android, and of the ones that are specific to the i-Platform, there’s no guarantee that’s representative of mass appeal.

    But whether you think individual app houses matter, I do think that touch apps, and not the web, will be the tablet killer-use case for the next few years.

  54. twilightomni, what apps (other than games) do you use on iPad that just aren’t available on Android?

  55. > you also probably don’t want me to list all the apps I use that won’t be on an Android tablet.

    I’m just interested in any class of app that you think won’t be served by a substitute on Android, and why.

    > if you’re just buying an iPad to use the web, you probably didn’t need to get an iPad.

    See, this is the entire point. Android tablets (maybe not Mot or Samsung) are already cheap enough and getting cheaper, that people who don’t need to get a tablet for surfing the web will be doing so. In droves.

    Android phones were popular before there were any significant apps, because they were cheap and let you make calls. Android tablets will be popular before there are any significant apps, because they are cheap and let you surf the web.

    The apps will follow.

  56. >>I’m sorry, I just don’t see how they can be that stupid.

    The difference between inteligence and stupidity —
    There are limits to inteligence.

    Keep in mind that from the outside, and from the inside, large corporations tend to look like very dumb schitzophrenics.
    Fortunatly, there are some exceptions, we just don’t seem to be looking at them here.

  57. Confession time: I don’t use an iPad, I use my brother’s. Here are the apps I do use though.

    Reeder, Instapaper, Instacast, Pastebot, Simplenote, a few NEJM apps (not sure if those are on Android or not), Epocrates/Drugs databases (available), Grades, Blackboard (not quite available on Android; Blackboard requires specific Android-carrier-university deals, whereas the iPhone/iPad just “works”). Also Soulver (for math stuff), Writer and Apple’s iWork Pages. I also have a very nice “murmurs” app which may possibly have some equivalent on Android, two Twitter apps (Twitter and Tweetbot), and Due.

    Many of these apps help me use web services, but I prefer the apps to the web pages.

  58. > if you’re just buying an iPad to use the web, you probably didn’t need to get an iPad.

    See, this is the entire point. Android tablets (maybe not Mot or Samsung) are already cheap enough and getting cheaper, that people who don’t need to get a tablet for surfing the web will be doing so. In droves.

    Oh, I definitely agree. My point is that if the iPad continues to be a success, it will be *only* because of the app ecosystem, as it has no other advantage it can possibly trumpet, and the apps are a little stickier than the websites.

    Even more than basic communications and phone calls, the iPad is Apple better on “our platform’s software will be better than your platform’s software.” It remains to be seen if such a strategy is sustainable, but for the moment it’s trivially true (vis-a-vis Android tablets).

  59. Also, I don’t plan to get my own iPad anytime soon. It’s kinda ridiculous for me to wax about why people are buying them when I won’t be getting one myself, even though I’m the one praising all the software for it. My next Christmas gift needs to replace my Palm Pixi, and I don’t even plan to have my own income for a few years yet.

  60. @twilightomni:

    I misunderstood. Thought you were already a Dr.

    Anyway, on the issue of margin. As several people here have pointed out, because of Apple’s volumes they manage to get good pricing, which certainly helps margin out. And sometimes, when companies get really big, they attempt to wring every last penny out of their suppliers:

    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/06/21/apple_reportedly_demands_10_price_cut_from_key_ipad_suppliers_as_orders_increase.html

    Sometimes that can backfire. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  61. @Patrick

    I misunderstood. Thought you were already a Dr.

    Not yet, still in med-school here.

  62. Being in the corporate world, it seems to me that iPads are becoming the new Blackberry.

    Every single company we deal with has either already deployed a boat load of iPads or are about to deploy a whole boat load of iPads.

  63. >This ain’t true for tablets

    Explain, please.

    My intention was not to claim that Android and iOS have the same apps. Rather, what I’m saying is this: For any given version, Android on a phone has the same set of apps as Android on a tablet. Any given version of iOS on a phone has the same set of apps as iOS on a tablet. Therefore, if a difference in app availability explains why Android tablets are doing poorly, it ought also to be tanking Android smartphone sales.

  64. It occurs to me that perhaps the reason you don’t see the big players doing much with wi-fi only tablets is because they have no outlet to sell them. Consider this:

    When Apple released the iPhone, they were entering the domain of Samsung and Motorola and RIM. Apple placed the iPhone in their own stores sure, but also in AT&T and other cell carrier stores, and later Best Buy and Verizon. When SMR wanted to compete, they made their shiny new android devices (or in RIMs case, blackberry) and then stuck them on the shelves right next to the iPhone. When you want a new phone, you go to the carrier store, and buy a new phone.

    But where do you go if you want a tablet? If you’re an Apple person, you go to the Apple store (or to Best Buy and go to the Apple section).

    But where do you go if you want an Android tablet? SMR don’t have their own stores to sell their tablets from. Best Buy carries them, but they’re stocked with the cell phones, not the laptops and computers. And if they’re stocked with the cell phones, there’s going to be a sort of natural assumption that they should work on the cell network. This assumption isn’t helped by the persistent association of Android with cell phones (see the Droid phone for example) and the fact that samsung, motorola and RIM are all (to most people) cell phone manufacturers (well, TVs too for samsung) and not makers of general computing devices. Compare this to Apple who has almost from the start with the iPod touch, made it a point that iOS is more than just it’s phone components, and you can see where SMR are having trouble breaking the perception that their tablets should be cell devices.

    Then it becomes a sort of self perpetuating circle. SMR produce tablets, but they can only sell them through their standard channels. Best Buy will lump them with cell phones, and verizon and AT&T sure as hell won’t carry anything that can’t run on their network, so SMR include 3g and make these things like bigger cell phones and do nothing to dispel the Android = Phone association, which leads to their product being lumped in with cell phones … etc etc etc.

    I hope that makes sense, it does in my head, but I can’t really think of a way to get it into words.

  65. @tmoney:

    > big players .. have no outlet to sell [wifi-only tablets]

    That’s a good point. Essentially, Apple created the product category. Since theirs works on cell networks, it winds up being stocked with the cellphones, and the competitors are trying to get nearby shelf space.

    Motorola, in particular, doesn’t sell computers. Samsung sells laptops, so maybe they’ll wake up and start getting tablets placed there.

    Unfortunately for them, Mot and Samsung don’t define the Android tablet market and are soon going to be left far, far behind (absent any strategy changes).

  66. (and when I say created the product category, of course I mean “created the first truly viable product in the category and currently dominate the category mercilessly”)

  67. >It occurs to me that perhaps the reason you don’t see the big players doing much with wi-fi only tablets is because they have no outlet to sell them.

    It’s a logically coherent and appealing theory, but it’s falsified by the facts whenever I walk into a Staples. In the one I visit most often, three different Android tablets are on prominent endcaps visible from the store entrance – nowhere near the cellphones. In fact I’m not even sure that Staples sells phones.

  68. Things like this give me some hope:

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-Details.asp?EdpNo=7040841&sku=V18-0016&SRCCODE=WEM2717BY&cm_mmc=email-_-Main-_-WEM2717-_-tigeremail2717

    7″ tablet for $279.99 with 3G. Alas ViewSonic has no name outside us I/T people and some of the specs on that item are unimpressive. But for what it is it’s probably as overpriced as the $500 10″ tablets. But drop the price by $100 and I could see myself owning several of them.

  69. The basic question is this: if someone wants an iPad, why on Earth would they want to buy an Android device?

    It wasn’t long ago that all the tech geeks were crying about the basic design/feature set of the iPad. You know, no USB port. Now most of the counterfeit iPad makers, I mean Android Tablet makers, are basically following the same design principle.

    But the big point is this: what on Earth does an Android tablet offer that the iPad doesn’t? Umm… Flash? Haha.

    On the other side, the iPad actually has a library of real apps. No, not merely iPhone apps. Apps designed for the iPad.

    What do Android devices offer? At best, the same largely crappy apps that sorta run on an Android.

    It’s really quite laughable. All these Android goons who were crying about the design of the iPad are now the champions of really crappy sorta iPads.

    Now Android on the phone is a different matter. No one, other than the types of tools who frequent this blog, deliberately wants a friggin’ Android phone. There are NO Android fanbois other than goofy pentads who only want it due to religious reasons and are gravely upset about the success of the iPhone.

    The vast majority of Android buyers are not Android buyers. They are buying a smart phone. It’s pure coincidence that their phones are running Android. They were actually buying Droids, Heros, etc.

    It’s going to be hilarioius to watch as Android’s market share plummets. And the excuses you guys offer up when 50% market share doesn’t immediately catapult Android to Windows like ubiquity.

    Sorry guys, iOS is the leading mobile platform and will remain so for many years. And it doesn’t need anywhere 50% market share to maintain that lead. Android, however, will need that kind of market share or more to just stay alive.

  70. If the iPad is truly as pointless and superfluous as all you clowns were claiming back when it was introduced, a completely neutered and functionless Android tablet for the same money that has nowhere near the capability is utterly insane.

  71. The vast majority of Android buyers are not Android buyers. They are buying a smart phone. It’s pure coincidence that their phones are running Android. They were actually buying Droids, Heros, etc.

    Assuming this is true, what will keep the same thing from happening in the tablet space?

    If the iPad is truly as pointless and superfluous as all you clowns were claiming back when it was introduced, a completely neutered and functionless Android tablet for the same money that has nowhere near the capability is utterly insane.

    “neutered” and “functionless” are interesting word choices for the platform that anybody can easily write and distribute a program for, for free…

  72. I don’t buy this at all. If it weren’t possible to compete against Apple’s “ecosystem” with price and features, Android wouldn’t have whaled the tar out of the iPhone over the last eighteen months. That history demonstrates that the “ecosystem” is not magic pixie dust, and talk of Apple “playing a very different game” is just uncritical repetition of their marketing spin that brings nothing to the analysis.

    Of course it’s possible to compete with Apple. By “different game” I’m not uncritically repeating anything. Anyone who knows how the consumer electronics market works should know that Apple does it differently: a few models, very carefully designed, with some features left out (at least at first) for various reasons. It’s the antithesis of the standard way of doing things, which applies to Android: a plethora of models, crammed with often awkwardly-implemented features, with little evidence of design polish, and with an overall feeling of “cheap” or, at best, “good enough.” (Though of course, for the geeks, Android can rate as “best” for obvious geek reasons.) And it’s not “marketing spin” because their marketing doesn’t sell things this way, beyond some emphasis on design quality.

    The really interesting question to ask is why Android is doing so well against the iPhone but so poorly against the iPad. Same mass of apps on either side, so that nulls out. I think the simplest explanation is the right one: Android smartphones are priced aggressively, to sell. Android tablets are not.

    That’s part of it, though I don’t think Android has nearly the amount of tablet-optimized apps the iPad has, nor nearly the (on average) high quality of apps. I think Android on phones is a special case, because the vast bulk of those are being sold to people getting their first smartphones, often on carriers that don’t offer iPhones. It’s a combination of low price, wide availability, (mostly) first-time buyers, and a few true-believer geeks. On the other hand, iPads seem to be going to two general categories of customers: 1) experienced computer users who want that form factor, and want the best tablet. 2) Inexperienced computer users, like my Mom, who want the easiest way to get online. For nearly everyone, iPads are clearly both the best and easiest. I don’t think that’s true in the phone category, where (for most people) Android does so well because it’s “good enough.”

  73. Patrick:

    > “neutered” and “functionless” are interesting word choices for the platform that anybody can easily write and distribute a program for, for free…

    Anybody? It’s that easy to program on Android? Wow. Now, if it were true that anybody could easily write and distribute an app (let alone for free) you might be on to something.

    But in reality, most people can’t write apps. Let alone easily. Let alone good apps. If this were the case, there’s be a vastly higher quality and quantity of apps available for Android. There clearly aren’t.

    Apps are a big part of the functionality. And the lack of them is a big reason why there’s little sound practical reason for anyone to purchase an Android tablet over an iPad. Throw away all the bizarre talk you guys try offering about how critical it is that you have “control” over your device and the freedom to run whatever you want. The fact is that I have more control AND more freedom on my iPad than any Android tablet owner has. The freedom and control to do things no Android tablet can do. And the freedom and control to more easily obtain content than can be experienced by most on an Android.

    Yep, freedom and control. I’m going to go home now and load up some software on my Mac that no Linux geeks have the freedom to install. I like freedom. And powerful platforms.

    Sent from my Walled Garden.

  74. > I don’t buy this at all. If it weren’t possible to compete against Apple’s “ecosystem” with price and features, Android wouldn’t have whaled the tar out of the iPhone over the last eighteen months. That history demonstrates that the “ecosystem” is not magic pixie dust, and talk of Apple “playing a very different game” is just uncritical repetition of their marketing spin that brings nothing to the analysis.

    Well, Android has in no way “whaled the tar” out of the iPhone over the last eighteen months. iPhones continue to sell very well, the use base continues to grow, the developer base continues to grow.

    A bunch of people might be buying Android phones, but none of this appears to have put the slightest dent in Apple’s sales or growth. And really, that’s the most important point of all. All the talk about who has what % share of a rapidly changing market is really kind of silly. The only thing Apple needs to worry about is declining sales. Their numbers have only improved since the introduction of Android.

    As to all the talk about profit margins and all the rest up above, all if it misses a lot of critical points. Apple simply doesn’t inexplicably need to obtain a certain profit margin. They just don’t. The idea that shareholders are going to cry about the % of profit margin is silly. The bottom line is what counts.

    As for the iPad, Apple is making huge margins. There’s no bizarre law of nature that insists that they must maintain these margins or face an implosion.

    Apple is struggling to meet demand with the iPad. When demand is high, keep your margins high. Apple simply has no reason to slash prices. There’s no iPad competitor that is threatening their sales, their margins, or their profits.

    Now, if you were silly enough to believe that this whole issue of “market share” is for some mysterious and inexplicable reason absolutely critical to the ultimate success of the platform, you might come up with some zany ideas like this: Apple should work on pumping out as many iPads as possible to increase the size of the user base. This kind of thinking is a bit common with people who are delusional enough to think their misinterpretation of the old Windows vs Mac battle from 20 years ago has some kind of relevance in this current situation.

    The iPad user base is already in excess of 25 million. There’s no competition. There’s some counterfeit iPads coming out, but few people are buying them. Apple’s doing the right thing: growing their user base and developer base in a measured, cautious, and high profit manner. And reinvesting the profits in iOS, OS X, and API development. That is the formula for long-term success.

    If I was calling the shots at Apple over all of this, my approach would be to just let all these companies waste a lot of money designing, manufacturing, and promoting their goofy counterfeits. Let them spend money to further popularize the whole tablet idea. And if, by some kind of miracle, Android tablets begin to catch on, THEN go for price cutting.

    Other than religious nut cases blabbering incoherently about “freedom” and “control”, most people, given a choice between the iPad or a half-assed counterfeit at the same price will wisely choose the iPad so they can have the freedom and control to run the apps they want to run. Apple has plenty of room to cut prices and still make great money. But there’s clearly no need to do that at this time. And there’s no reason to assume that there will be for at least another year.

  75. “It’s why I’ve been predicting repeatedly that the iPad killer is going to come out of some outfit like Huawei or ZTE

    Metro PCS is now advertising Huawei phones by name on the radio. I doubt anyone who wasn’t already a Metro customer, or considering becoming one, three months ago, had heard of them.

  76. @esr> I have no idea where Wolf is getting those numbers; they’re wildly out of kilter with the ComScore, Nielsen, and Kantar Worldpanel figures.

    Apparently, he gets them from IDC. This image is linked to the bottom of the article-in-question.

    http://gigaom2.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/needhamscreen-shot-2011-06-21-at-6-15-10-am1.png

    You’re going to see these ‘canary in the coal mine’ postings from people who are willing to objectively look at the data (and, yes, from Apple fans).

    @esr> Note that the article is from AppleInsider and be skeptical.

    Fortune is not an Apple mouthpiece.
    http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/06/21/needham-androids-market-share-peaked-in-march/

    Neither is Business Insider:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/android-us-marketshare-2011-6

  77. > It’s why I’ve been predicting repeatedly that the iPad killer is going to come out of some outfit like Huawei or ZTE. China is an ideal incubator – low manufacturing costs and a quarter of the world’s population as a domestic market.

    If only Google would release the source code to Honeycomb….

  78. >You’re going to see these ‘canary in the coal mine’ postings from people who are willing to objectively look at the data (and, yes, from Apple fans).

    I’ll reserve judgment until I see confirmation from at least one other major market research firm. The next set of comScore figures should be out in two weeks or so. I suggest you not get your hopes up too high; we already know that the Verizon iPhone failed to stall Android’s market growth for the first two months after its release, and given the normal sales patterns of smartphones it would be quite surprising for a swing that large to develop later in the cycle.

    >Fortune is not an Apple mouthpiece. Neither is Business Insider:

    No, but they’re both sourcing the same story by the same guy. And, notably, there hasn’t been any confirmation from IDC or any more detail from anyone else. So right now Wolf’s claims are unconfirmed. Best not get overinvested in them; you might end up looking (more) foolish.

  79. >As noted, Android has in no way slowed down iPhone sales, let alone whaled the tar out of iPhone.

    Ah, denial. Such a predictable trait in the fanboy. Do you guys have a rotation? Is there, like, a clearinghouse where people go “Oh, my turn to foam at the mouth this week”?

  80. > I’ll reserve judgment until I see confirmation from at least one other market from at least one other major market research firm.

    Neilsen noticed that Android had plateaued (or even contracted slightly) in May.

    http://www.mobilecrunch.com/2011/05/31/nielsen-android-lead-on-ios-plateaus-data-usage-spikes/
    http://www.phonearena.com/news/Android-lost-market-share-in-the-U.S.-last-month-according-to-Nielsens-smartphone-survey_id19193

    > No, but they’re both sourcing the same story by the same guy.

    I love watching you backpedal.


    First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
    Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
    You live you life like a canary in a coalmine
    You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line

  81. >, but it’s falsified by the facts whenever I walk into a Staples. In the one I visit most often,
    >three different Android tablets are on prominent endcaps visible from the store entrance –
    >nowhere near the cellphones.

    But lets be honest here.When you think computer shop, how far down the list do you have to go before you think Staples? I bet for most people it’s pretty far down the list. For the theory to hold it doesn’t require that there be no such examples, just that they be few enough to not break the Android = phone connection.

    >Assuming this is true, what will keep the same thing from happening in the tablet space?

    No need for a substitute good. In the $500 cell market (and later the $200 one) every one who wanted an iPhone was not always able to get one (carrier lock in). In the $500 tablet space, there is no similar restriction and therefore no surge to android tablets

  82. >Neilsen noticed that Android had plateaued (or even contracted slightly) in May.

    OK. that’s partial confirmation. The Neilsen report specifically denies that Apple has made up ground, though, so the story Wolf is trying to sell still isn’t confirmed. The comScore numbers, whichever way the point, will be more convincing to me.

    >I love watching you backpedal.

    The facts are what the facts are. What you call “backpedaling” I call “sanity”, and if it’s a weakness rather than virtue you could stand to be weaker.

  83. Is there, like, a clearinghouse where people go “Oh, my turn to foam at the mouth this week”?

    You know the scene in Lord of the Rings where the Black Gate opens? I’m imagining its something like that, only instead of the Mouth of Sauron and the Big Eye, you’ve got Steve Jobs.

  84. >But lets be honest here.When you think computer shop, how far down the list do you have to go before you think Staples?

    Not far. We bought Cathy’s last printer there because Staples’s prices for those are competitive, and we were in there specifically to scope out a possible tablet buy for my wife. I don’t think we’re atypical this way.

  85. > You know the scene in Lord of the Rings where the Black Gate opens? I’m imagining its something like that, only instead of the Mouth of Sauron and the Big Eye, you’ve got Steve Jobs.

    Very close to where I’d say Google’s Android fantasy is going.

    As to ESR’s rhetorical dodge, I’ll simply say that facts are facts. I’ve yet to see any numbers that show that Apple is losing sales or user base. Or developer base. It just keeps growing and growing. At faster rates. Becoming an iPhone developer has only become more profitable since Android came on the scene.

    There’s not a single shred of data, and no semi-plausible constellation of even dubious data points, that you guys can point to that would indicate Android will ever in any way have the kind of dominance Windows once had on the desktop.

  86. @laughing
    “I’ve yet to see any numbers that show that Apple is losing sales or user base. Or developer base. It just keeps growing and growing. At faster rates.”

    No one is denying that. Eric’s thesis is just that Android grows faster. Apple may grow to have half a billion customers. Android looks like it is growing to have 5+ billion customers.

    @phil
    The link says:
    http://gigaom.com/2011/06/21/iphone-gains-eat-into-android-dominance-can-it-last/
    “Wolf believes this is the beginning of more market share losses for Android, which began with the introduction of the iPhone on Verizon, and will continue with the release later this year of the next iPhone on Verizon and AT&T, and perhaps other carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile. ”

    Why oh why does this work only in the US? We have seen iPhones for every network in Europe (and all networks are GSM), and Android grows faster than iPhone in Europe. According to this logic, we should have seen iPhone clobbering Android everywhere in the world except in the USA until Verizon started to sell iPhone?

    So if this is correct, and Android will be clobbered by iPhone in the US’ 300 million consumer market, then we are left with the enigma of explaining the very existence of Android in the other half of the market with 6 billion consumer market.

    Actually, we do not have to be puzzled. I am sure 90% of all people would like to drive a Mercedes instead of a Volkswagen or Toyota. Still, both Volkswagen and Toyota sell an order of magnitude more cars than Mercedes. So even if all those 6+ billion humans would actually prefer an iPhone (which is obviously not true), they would still end up buying an Android.

    So the linked article says:
    “If Apple continues to put out just one phone a year at just a couple of basic prices, it won’t be able to keep grabbing share back from Android.

    Assuming Apple does release some cheaper phones and continues to expand carrier distribution deals, we should see Android and iOS settle into some more stable market share positions long-term.”

    Or, if Apple starts to compete on price, it will get a competing market share. But it is easy to deliver good quality and design at high prices. Much less so at cut throat margins.

  87. @laughing: Becoming an iPhone developer has only become more profitable since Android came on the scene.

    Well, there is the catch: iPhone developer is attractive proposition today. iPhone developer company is not. Most of them are wildly in the red and we are clearly heading to the repeat of dot-com bust (Android is even worse, actually: while there are more Android phones they are cheaper so it’s not yet clear is there are more money in this ecosystem). What will survive and in what form is still hard to say.

    This all is overlaid on top of the whole economy crisis which will be similar in size to Great Depression (or may even rival it). Neither Apple not Google control that one – but it’s direction will be very important to the survival of the ecosystems.

    Right now iPhone users are smaller in number but more profligate in spending. But how the trend will change when unemployment rate will grow and high-paying full-time jobs will be replaced with low-paying part-time jobs? How long people will continue to spend money on luxury items like iPhone twitter apps?

    There are lots of unknowns in the future – so it’s hard to predict it.

    @laughing: There’s not a single shred of data, and no semi-plausible constellation of even dubious data points, that you guys can point to that would indicate Android will ever in any way have the kind of dominance Windows once had on the desktop.

    It’s kind of funny: we are discussing The Smartphone Wars: Circling the RIM article, right? Till last year it was very obvious that BlackBerry owner will “never” drop it. And userbase continued to grow :-) There were very few datapoints to indicate that it’ll crash. But since it was obvious that BlackBerry ecosystem was disrupted it was also obvious that it’ll crash and burn at some point. iPhone’s ecosystem is in the same situation, but Apple is crafty. It may secure some niche (like it did with Mac: publishing industry kept it alive for years when everyone else abandoned it). Or it may go “game consoles way” (seal the exclusive deals with some content providers and then the whole app hysteria will not be as relevant) – in this case it may keep some fixed market share for years. So no, we are not looking on the Windows dominance of Android… at least not any time soon.

    As for iPad… cheap tables are not yet “good enough” (few of them use IPS, for example) and high-end tablets are as expensive as iPad so “first-mover” advantage keeps the market locked it.

    Everyone is saying “I never saw a reasonable explanation for the high prices.” Are you insane? The answer is trivial.

    Fact 1. Open 2009 year (and early 2010 year) articles. They all (or at least most) pointed to $1000 “Apple tablet”, not $500 “Apple tablet”.

    Fact 2. It takes about 1.5-2 years to develop totally new model of some gadget (that’s why NoWin phones are expected by 2012: they apparently started development right when Elop was hired – so in the best case they will be ready by the end of 2011… and now “early 2012″ is new estimate).

    Conclusion: Competitors expected to cash handsomely on coattails of Apple’s offer at half a price. They had a plan: apple offers $1000 tablet, we offer $500 tablet and kill the sales of this overpriced gadget. Are we cool or what? When apple offered $499 model is was a shock and apparently many still decided to offer their prepared answers at the same price point (rather then offer nothing). Some dropped price… and produced truly horrific things. Time will tell when “good enough” competitors will arise with adequate price/performance offers.

    Since Apple played “$1000 apple tablet” disinformation gambit so well the real Android answer can not be ready before the second half of 2011. We’ll see if this head start will be enough to send iPad on different trajectory compared to iPhone.

    P.S. You can develop something and ramp up production faster then 1.5-2 years – but only if you are ready to swallow much higher costs. Because we are talking about low-priced commodity items and not some conceptual high-end gadgets this option is not exactly feasible.

    P.P.S. It’s funny how often people forget about logistics. When some company X introduces some revolutionary G “the venerable analysts” usually choir: “companies Y and Z need an answer to G – and it should be on sale in three months”. Well, this is good offer, the only question is: where to find time machine to send development team about year back in time? “Offer” is usually in development at this point (it’s hard to develop something and no leak anything to the competitors till the day of release: 2-3 month before sales are starting all the information is leaked… albeit it can be mixed with disinformation) – but you need at least a year to finish said development.

  88. @khim
    “Everyone is saying “I never saw a reasonable explanation for the high prices.” Are you insane? The answer is trivial.”

    Thanks for the explanation.

    And no, I am told there is nothing wrong with my mental health. However, I have no experience in manufacturing. And I had not seen the $1000 iPad predictions (I was not interested in iPads then).

  89. >And I had not seen the $1000 iPad predictions (I was not interested in iPads then).

    Neither had I. Can you cite one, khim?

  90. Use Google. There are tons of them in the end of 2009, beginning 2010.

    Things like that: http://www.pcworld.com/article/184137/a_1000_apple_tablet_lets_hope_not.html

    Reiner’s prophecy calls for a tablet with a 10.1-inch LCD display and an average sale price of $1,000.

    Or that: http://mashable.com/2010/01/04/tablet-1000-price/

    Earlier today, we learned from the Wall Street Journal that the tablet should launch in March for around $1000.

    Nothing from Apple, of course, but then Apple rarely openly publish their plans, right? It uses “leaks” to lead competitors away, but rarely publish plans. This time… I’m not sure if it was planned Apple’s disinformation campaign or not, but this $1,000 price point certainly blinded everyone and then $499 cheapest model was totally unexpected. As I’ve said: few months before actual Apple debut companies started altering plans because their “cheap” $500-$600 tablets were obviously not cheap anymore, but it’s not easy to do in hurry.

  91. >There are tons of them in the end of 2009, beginning 2010.

    OK, then, your theory is plausible given two assumptions: (1) major parts for tablet devices have stable prices, not following a Moore’s-Law cost curve, and (b) once a tablet design has gone to PCB the cost to update it using less expensive parts is prohibitive. I find both these assumptions questionable, and would like to hear them discussed by someone like Patrick Maupin who has hardware-engineering experience. But by “questionable” I don’t mean “obviously crazy”; you could be right.

  92. @esr: major parts for tablet devices have stable prices, not following a Moore’s-Law cost curve

    What this has to do with anything? Moore’s-Law is independent from development time. Simple example: CPUs obviously follow Moore’s-Law yet development time for brand-new CPU architecture is 3-5 years and even if the design is ready it may take months to ramp up production of some particular model.

    @esr: once a tablet design has gone to PCB the cost to update it using less expensive parts is prohibitive

    Again: this is question of logistic, not “change to PCB”. The chips you are using are produced months in advance and ordered half-year to year in advance. Before that you need to design and test the thing. You can alter things to some degree, but to slash price 2x times without major redesign? Impossible.

  93. > My intention was not to claim that Android and iOS have the same apps. Rather, what I’m saying is this: For any given version, Android on a phone has
    > the same set of apps as Android on a tablet. Any given version of iOS on a phone has the same set of apps as iOS on a tablet. Therefore, if a difference in
    > app availability explains why Android tablets are doing poorly, it ought also to be tanking Android smartphone sales.

    Well, Arstechnica review of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 mentions lack of apps designed for tablet form factor, rather than being simple smartphone apps on tablet.

  94. > Neither had I. Can you cite one, khim?

    Here, let me Google that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3eep6el

    (b) (which is really ‘(2)’) isn’t true. Oh sure, you need to engineer and layout the new PCB, but the problem is really this:

    Apple has huge, huge volumes, and can place huge future orders backed up with cold cash. Nobody else in the ‘tablet’ game can touch them right now. Maybe Samsung, but there Apple probably has contracts in-place that they get Most Favored Nation terms/prices on anything purchased from Samsung, so the products side of Samsung pays at least the same price as Apple, if not more (due to their lower volumes).

    As for the major parts in a tablet:

    The battery doesn’t follow Moore’s law.

    The radios are already at the bottom of that curve. The analog bits (PA/LNA, filters if needed) won’t follow a Moore’s law curve anytime soon.

    As for the SoC, Apple has one already. Neither Qualcomm’s nor Samsung’s will be any cheaper.

    Memory (flash and ram) is a commodity, but here Apple’s superior buying power effectively throttles the other players.

    the screen and case are the other major components, and here, again, Apple’s buying power gives them huge advantage.

    The other wide of it is that Apple has a channel that is nearly unbeatable in consumer electronics. Just because you shop at Staples doesn’t mean that’s where the world goes. They go to Best Buy, or Walmart. This ignores the Apple Store (the retail outlet), the carrier stores, or deals that Apple has in-place like selling through Target or Toys-R-US.

    $70B in cash, Eric. Think about it. Apple could buy the smartphone industry for cash and have money still in the bank.

  95. Well, Arstechnica review of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 mentions lack of apps designed for tablet form factor, rather than being simple smartphone apps on tablet.

    I think this will change rather quickly once Google finally gets around to a handset version of Android 3. Some of the features in the SDK (Activity fragments in particular) will make it noticeably more convenient to write shared-interface apps for handset and tablet that adapt to the screen size.

  96. What this has to do with anything? Moore’s-Law is independent from development time. Simple example: CPUs obviously follow Moore’s-Law yet development time for brand-new CPU architecture is 3-5 years and even if the design is ready it may take months to ramp up production of some particular model.

    The iPad doesn’t have a brand-new CPU architecture. It’s a package-on-package.of an existing CPU and GPU. And, see below:

    @esr: once a tablet design has gone to PCB the cost to update it using less expensive parts is prohibitive

    Again: this is question of logistic, not “change to PCB”. The chips you are using are produced months in advance and ordered half-year to year in advance. Before that you need to design and test the thing. You can alter things to some degree, but to slash price 2x times without major redesign? Impossible.

    You’re putting the iPad in a bubble all by itself. The fact is that the iPad shares many of the same component with the iPhone. Apple may have floated a $1,000 price tag to the media, but maybe not. One of the articles you pointed to notes that at the time, the iPhone 3GS was selling for $599-$699. Increased competition with Android dropped the price tag of the 3GS down and introduced an aggressive upgrade campaign for the iPhone 4. Apple unloaded the 3GS for $99, and upgraded existing customers for $200 and began offering a $449 8 GB model priced to compete with the EVO 4G.

  97. Ah, denial. Such a predictable trait in the fanboy. Do you guys have a rotation? Is there, like, a clearinghouse where people go “Oh, my turn to foam at the mouth this week”?

    My image was of the Marketing Well from Dilbert.

  98. @esr –

    I think you’re missing HP’s play on the TouchPad. HP isn’t looking to compete with Apple or Android for the individual space. They’re looking to take out RIM in the enterprise space. Why would a company go with iPads for internal applications and have to deal with Apple’s capriciousness in the walled garden when they can get the SDK for WebOS for nothing, develop their own apps, and install them without rooting, hacking, jailbreaking, or going through any app store?

    This is pure speculation on my part, but based on the moves they’ve been making, it’s pretty obvious. Touchpads on the shop floor for document control, Pre’s and Veers integrating into the corporate Exchange infrastructure, etc.

    And don’t bother talking about how “well, android’s free to develop for too”. I don’t think that Android has anywhere near the developer support that HP is throwing behind WebOS, nor its framework for rapid development.

    Android is trying to pick up Apple’s scraps. HP is creating a market for the TouchPad. Not to say that they’re guaranteed success, but they aren’t going to be fighting the 800 lb. gorilla either.

  99. @tmoney:

    Assuming this is true, what will keep the same thing from happening in the tablet space?

    No need for a substitute good. In the $500 cell market (and later the $200 one) every one who wanted an iPhone was not always able to get one (carrier lock in). In the $500 tablet space, there is no similar restriction and therefore no surge to android tablets

    But the point is, we’re headed to the below $200 tablet space, where there will be substitute goods aplenty…

    @khim:

    I think it might be plausible that others expected Apple to come out with a $1000 tablet. More to the point, other companies didn’t expect whatever Apple did to affect their ability to do business as usual. I came up with a theory a few months ago. I thought I posted it, but I can’t find it, other than an oblique reference back in April.

    Anyway, I’ll post and explain my theory here:

    One thing that Apple truly does differently than anyone else these days is product launch. I have no love of Steve Jobs whatsoever, but he sure has some big cojones to announce something new and then have millions to ship right away. We all know about product recalls. He proactively works really hard to make sure that these don’t happen in a big way. The antenna fiasco was huge precisely because it was an anomaly.

    I’m sure there are several factors that go into this calculation to assume the volume will be there, and not ship until he stands a small chance of satisfying the expected hyped-up demand, but one of them is obviously the mindset of at least some very vocal Apple fans — while all other early adopters expect, nay desire to pay extra to say they got the first one, there are a lot of Apple early adopters who feel betrayed when Steve drops the price. So Steve is smart enough that he’s stopped dropping the price.

    So, there are several reasons for Steve to come out with a product at the expected target price that he can keep for a few years. This runs counter to the entire electronics industry. The entire semiconductor industry takes it as a truism that you make all your money on a new device in its first 6 months. That price model directly impacts semiconductor customers all the way down the chain to the consumer. Not only do they expect to pay more for the first one, they expect to pay less, a lot less, for the last one — continuous deflation.

    All the other Apple-sized companies expected to sell a few tablets for a couple of months at one price, accept a few returns, shake out a few bugs, then to lather, rinse, repeat at ever increasing volumes.

    Steve throws a monkey wrench in this game. He’s already dropped his price half-way which is why it’s perhaps not so much of a surprise (and maybe even good business) that he’s pushing his suppliers to drop their prices to him at this very moment. I honestly don’t know how hard he’s squeezing them, so I don’t know if this is him trying to put his supply pricing curve in the right place, or merely flexing his muscles — he gets plenty of margin either way.

    The interesting thing about Steve’s economics is that, by forgoing a small number of higher-priced units on the front end, he manages to ship a huge number of higher-priced units on the back end. Apple doesn’t drop their prices until they bring out something better. When other manufacturers drop their prices every month, they are sending a message that deflation is real in electronics, and all I have to do is wait for something to hit my pricepoint. Apple’s message is “here is the pricepoint; it will be good for a long time; you will always be able to get our best for this price, and sometimes get our old stuff a bit cheaper.”

    In short, bean-counter thinking permeates all Apple’s big competitors. Who in their right mind would attempt to spend 3 months building up what would, under normal circumstances, be 6 month’s worth of inventory? Especially when you aren’t sure about the product mix…

    As has been pointed out multiple times, one Apple anomaly is the limited number of SKUs. That makes it much easier to pre-build. You just have to be sure you’re building something people will want, and then follow through.

    In short, Jobs may be doing an excellent job of channelling Andrew Carnegie (who was also not without his share of detractors):

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” is all wrong. I tell you “put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch the basket.” Look round you and take notice; men who do that do not often fail. It is easy to watch and carry the one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that breaks most of the eggs in this country. He who carries three baskets must put one on his head, which is apt to tumble and trip him up.

    Unfortunately for the Motorolas and the Samsungs of the world, it is only natural to compare their offerings to Apple’s on all fronts, including price. They may be able to continue down the “normal” path of getting a few high-end adopters at an insane price point and then ramping the curve down, but it seems unlikely, because of the sanity-questioning press this engenders.

    More likely, Mot and Samsung are either going to have to grow their own sets and set their own more reasonable launch pricepoints, or exit the market. Otherwise, they may find themselves relegated to fringe markets and/or not getting any business at all until they’re duking it out for price with the bottom-feeders.

    Android itself doesn’t suffer from this issue. There are plenty of scrappy little companies building tablets, a few of which will eventually be noticed for reasonable pricing, performance, and build quality.

  100. BTW, Apple also has a lot of customers (probably even more than the other companies) who truly want to pay extra to be able to say they got one of the first ones.

    The difference is, that while other electronics companies are loath to leave that money on the table, Apple knows it will make all that back and more by not having to keep dropping prices in the back-end.

    So Apple lets the homeless guy camped out for two days at the front of the line make a windfall…

  101. ESR being harassed by apple fanboys, apple apologists, appletards, bananamen. the saddest thing is that most probably none of them even own any apple hardware.

    Even on my little country there are half a dozen tablets priced at 300E or less from known brands.

    While for hollow vessels apple’s name might seem important, and they therefore extrapolate, the truth is that for the majority of the population that name is meaningless.

    If these commentators are not apple’s employees, or don’t own apple stock then why do they care? There’s nothing in it for them. It’s religious behaviour, fanatism, zealotry, fundamentalism, cultism, radicalism…

    Pathetic lowlives that fantasize that they are sharing apple’s success by making annoying louder fanboyistic behaviour.

    Male, white, single, between 30 and 50, pass most of their time sitting at a desk, live in their parents sub basement and sleep with sex dolls. Hell, trolling others is the most excitement they will ever have in their utmost pathetic lives.

  102. I think I figured out why Motorola thinks that it’s perfectly reasonable to sell their tablet for $750. They’re a phone company, and they make phones, and they think it’s perfectly reasonable to, sell a phone for, say, $600, just like Apple sells their phones for $650 and $750. Except of course that’s the price before subsidy, and no actual consumers want to pay that much for a phone. With a tablet, there is no carrier subsidy, and that sort of pricing doesn’t work at all, for a device that’s somewhere between an oversized phone and a netbook with no keyboard. Asus, on the other hand, makes netbooks, and so tends to think that $400 is a perfectly reasonable price, and I think the market agrees, given how hard it’s been to buy their product.

  103. brian wrote:
    Why would a company go with iPads for internal applications and have to deal with Apple’s capriciousness in the walled garden when they can get the SDK for WebOS for nothing, develop their own apps, and install them without rooting, hacking, jailbreaking, or going through any app store?

    You really don’t do any iOS development, do you? Apple has this base covered, in spades. They charge $300 for a company wide developer license.

    This enterprise license lets a corporate developer write a company only application, which can then be deployed to all company owned iPads via iTunes. All it takes is just a little set up by an IT department to put an iPad into the corporate umbrella.

  104. It’s religious behaviour, fanatism, zealotry, fundamentalism, cultism, radicalism

    Bull. Some of us place a higher value on design (hardware and especially software) than the average geek. I fully respect the desire to have open and flexible software and hardware, but it’s not as important to me as the pleasure and ease of the overall experience. All design and manufacturing involves tradeoffs, and I tend to prefer the ones Apple makes. That’s not buying anybody’s marketing message, it’s my personal experience. I am rather dismayed at the way anti-Apple people are so willing to dismiss Apple fans as somehow deluded. Sometimes it seems like sneering at people who buy $15 wine because Thunderbird will get you drunk for less.

    (Granted, I’m different from the ubergeeks who hang out here, being an English major who got into computers 25 years ago via desktop publishing.)

    But to add some fuel to this fire: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387401,00.asp

    “Apple has been awarded its long sought-after patent on the iPhone. Intellectual property experts say it’s so broad and far-reaching that the iPhone maker may be able to bully other smart phone manufacturers out of the U.S. market entirely.”

    (I should say I’m not much of a fan of software patents.)

  105. @PapayaSF:

    I am rather dismayed at the way anti-Apple people are so willing to dismiss Apple fans as somehow deluded.

    Not all of them are. Some of them can make cogent arguments and have realistic reasoning.

    Sometimes it seems like sneering at people who buy $15 wine because Thunderbird will get you drunk for less.

    OTOH, some of them really don’t understand…

    Intellectual property experts say it’s so broad and far-reaching that the iPhone maker may be able to bully other smart phone manufacturers out of the U.S. market entirely.

    I’d be willing to bet you $2000 right now that this doesn’t happen.

  106. Yes, I should have said “some anti-Apple people.”

    And no, I wasn’t thinking of you with the Thunderbird crack, because I don’t recall you ever saying Apple products are merely glitzed-up rip-offs (though I see that p.o.v. a lot on Slashdot).

    Of course I understand that open source advocates make other points beyond cost, often good points. What they often don’t seem to understand, though, is the value of what Apple does not just for Apple users, but also the ways in which their maligned proprietary innovations have been driving the smartphone and tablet fields. Android needs Apple: just look at the first Blackberry-ish Android phone to see an example of who’s leading and who’s following. And the Android tablet market (such as it is) is entirely a result of the iPad’s success. There’s nothing wrong with not being the first to market, but it’s a little unseemly to so harshly attack the company and products you are so desperately trying to copy.

    I won’t take that bet, because I don’t see that outcome, either. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some licensing money ends up heading in Apple’s direction. They may well make some money from Android….

  107. @PapayaSF:

    Android needs Apple: just look at the first Blackberry-ish Android phone to see an example of who’s leading and who’s following.

    Well, here’s the thing, PapayaSF. While I agree that Apple definitely opened up a new market, I don’t agree with Apple fans who think that Apple is somehow some visionary company that invented multitouch and such out of whole cloth. They didn’t. Steve Jobs simply purchased the technology outright when they bought Fingerworks in 2005, which didn’t even originate from them, but instead from a paper written by Pierre Wellner in 1991 about a system he called “The DigitalDesk”. Wellner’s work is where even the “trademark” pinch-to-zoom motion originates.

    Also, ever heard of the PARCTAB? Well, it seems Steve Jobs went back to the same well when he “created” the iPhone.

    So, you see, Apple isn’t revolutionary. They are simply evolutionary. They applied concepts that were invented decades before by folks way smarter and more visionary than they ever could be, added some glitz, and turned out a product. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but calling them visionary is, at best, disingenuous, and, at worst, disrespectful to the folks that Apple cherry picked ideas from.

  108. >So, you see, Apple isn’t revolutionary. They are simply evolutionary. They applied concepts that were
    >invented decades before by folks way smarter and more visionary than they ever could be, added some
    > glitz, and turned out a product. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but calling them visionary
    >is, at best, disingenuous, and, at worst, disrespectful to the folks that Apple cherry picked ideas from.

    This is like saying that Shakespeare (or insert other great author) wasn’t visionary or revolutionary because the basic story archetypes had been invented by Homer (or his predecessors) centuries before (see The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell). How does that quote go, “If I have seen farther it is because I stand upon the shoulders of giants”? See also http://www.everythingisaremix.info/ with its newest installment discussing our favorite fruit company, and also coincidentally hitting on the alternative view of ESRs alternate “world without web”.

    Invention is hardly ever about being the first person to do something. It’s about being the first to do it right, or do it in some way that enables others to go further.

    There’s also the idea that sometimes it’s a matter of pulling all the right pieces together in the first place. Apple did tablets years ago, they called it the Newton. It failed (also Jobs killed it, but it wasn’t exactly a home run to begin with. Why then does an iPad work now? New pieces all combining, better touch interface, better processor, better screen, ubiquitous wi-fi AND cellular data, better sync capabilities, push services.

    Pick any great invention, and I can almost guarantee you the fundamentals were made years (or even decades) before.

  109. “Apple isn’t revolutionary. They are simply evolutionary.”

    Technology is just like any other field (music, writing, movies, etc). People build on what has been built before.

    I remember in college back in the early 90s talking with other tech geeks about the “future” tablets that would eventually replace books, newspapers, etc. What we envisioned was much like what the iPad is now. But it doesn’t mean shit until you can actually build it and people use it.

    But I have to ask – have you ever seen a winning streak like Apple has right now? Apple Retail stores/iPod/iTunes/iPhone/iPad and a mac resurgence? Apple stock from $7 in 2003 to $320+ and a bigger market cap that MSFT + INTC now?

    Seriously, what qualifies as revolutionary?

  110. @esr “Yeah, I saw that. I have no idea where Wolf is getting those numbers; they’re wildly out of kilter with the ComScore, Nielsen, and Kantar Worldpanel figures. Note that the article is from AppleInsider and be skeptical.”

    The Kantar numbers were so erratic, I would toss them. But yes, we need confirmation.

  111. Patrick Maupin,

    > I’d say “barely covered” rather than “in spades,” especially when it comes to the normal corporate heterogenous build/buy scenario:

    > http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/ios-devs-request-apples-help-in-selling-enterprise-apps/

    Sprint ID addresses this problem for some Sprint Android phones. Corporations can create their own ID packs for their employees. Employees can then switch their phone between the corporate ID pack and any of their own ID packs at will. Maybe Sprint ID will be ported to iOS when the Sprint iPhone rolls out.

    Yours,
    Tom

  112. Morgan: You think making multitouch go from a whitepaper (even via Touchworks, who didn’t, oh put it pervasively into an entire OS) to working like it did in the iPhone is just “glitz”?

    Well, much in the way that going from general relativity to Fat Man was “just implementation”, I guess.

    If it was so god damn easy, why isn’t everyone doing it like Apple does? Why, because it’s not just glitz. It’s actually a lot of really hard work that takes serious effort and dedication to get right.

    I know this on a lesser scale from doing UI/UX work for money; it’s hard to get Awesome. Hell, sometimes it’s hard to get not-crappy.

    (That’s the trap, I think, that the KDE and Gnome people have been stuck in for a decade and a half (or so); the idea that things like top-end user interface and user experience are “glitz” – or “chrome”, more accurately – that you can just tack on and, hey, it’ll be awesome. Or that “just usable is good enough”. Perhaps some people on their teams know better – but it doesn’t come across, sadly.

    Which is why I cringe every time I have to use either, and one reason why The Year Of Linux On The Desktop remains Next Year, permanently. )

    (And, seriously, PARCTAB? Looking at some of their docs I see that if Apple paid any attention to it at all, it must have been pretty general, and much along the lines of “For God’s Sake Don’t Do THAT”. PARCTAB was an interesting idea in 1993. It wasn’t important enough to even think about in 2007.)

  113. @sigivald:

    You make some good points, but most things that are a lot of really hard work still don’t deserve patent protection. And usually don’t get patent protection except, perversely, in the art of software.

  114. >This is like saying that Shakespeare (or insert other great author) wasn’t visionary or revolutionary because the basic story archetypes had been invented by Homer (or his predecessors) centuries before

    Shakespeare didn’t try to parent dramatic tropes so his competitors couldn’t use them. Apple claims a degree of originality it doesn’t possess, uses it to wage lawfare on competitors, and its fans excuse all this by bleating that originality isn’t necessary for genius. You pathetic suck-ups are enough make anyone hate Apple just for the degree of brain-damaged rationalization it induces in its groupies.

  115. @esr “Shakespeare didn’t try to parent dramatic tropes so his competitors couldn’t use them. Apple claims a degree of originality it doesn’t possess” etc etc etc

    I think software patents are a crock of shit myself. However, I have to point out: http://moconews.net/article/419-googles-bid-for-nortels-patents-upheld-by-doj-auction-set-for-next-week/

    Given the state of the patent system, all the big companies are hoarding patents. Until congress wises up and at the very least reforms the patent system, this is what we are stuck with. Everyone plays the game.

  116. phil Says:
    > I think software patents are a crock of shit myself.

    Your comparison, Sir, is severely flawed!

    Dung, feces, excrement, and guano are very good for fertilizer and gunpowder.

    And software patents are good for…???

  117. > And software patents are good for…???

    A source of hot air, rather than nitrates?

  118. > You pathetic suck-ups are enough make anyone hate Apple just for the degree of brain-damaged rationalization it induces in its groupies.

    Eric, here is something not patented (afaik).

    Apple has a combination of technologies (kerberos, ipsec over ipv6 over ipv4, zeroconf) that it calls ‘back to my mac’.
    It works especially well with Apple’s WiFi Base Stations (Airport brand), but it works with other gateways (e.g. wrt54g) with the right additional software.

    It’s really cool.

    Used to be that you had to pay Apple $99/year for this. With iCloud, it’s free.

    Question is: Why hasn’t *ANYONE* cloned all this (its basically an assemblage of several open source technologies, some of which Apple itself has open sourced (Bonjour Sleep Proxy, Apple’s NAT traversal)) for the non-Mac world?

  119. @esr> Shakespeare didn’t try to parent dramatic tropes so his competitors couldn’t use them.

    (Assuming you meant ‘patent’ where you wrote ‘parent’.)

    One must point out that ole Bill didn’t have the opportunity, even if his plays had been patentable.

    Patents in England only came about with the Statute of Monopolies in 1623 under King James I The SoM declared that patents could only be granted for “projects of new invention.”

    Shakespeare died 23 April 1616.

  120. @esr “Your comparison, Sir, is severely flawed! Your comparison, Sir, is severely flawed!
    Dung, feces, excrement, and guano are very good for fertilizer and gunpowder.
    And software patents are good for…???”

    There is one thing software patents are good for – lining lawyers’ pockets.

  121. Sorry, Som passed 25 May 1624, not 1623. My point still stands.

  122. @JonB:

    > Lawyer paychecks.

    Indeed. Not just software patents though. All other patents. The only purpose patents serve is to squash competition from the little companies and startups. The big corporations with their junk patents can afford the lawyers and their checks. Startups obviously cannot.

    The one thing that would single-handedly revive the American economy is abolishing patents – all patents.

  123. @Patrick

    Where’s “here”? My daughter is “there.”

    I’m at South Carolina, myself.

    @esr

    Explain, please.

    My intention was not to claim that Android and iOS have the same apps. Rather, what I’m saying is this: For any given version, Android on a phone has the same set of apps as Android on a tablet. Any given version of iOS on a phone has the same set of apps as iOS on a tablet. Therefore, if a difference in app availability explains why Android tablets are doing poorly, it ought also to be tanking Android smartphone sales.

    I’m actually not sure what you mean here — there are apps specifically just for the iPad, that do not work on iPods/iPhones. I try to buy mostly “universal” apps myself.

    And for Android, I am running under the impression that there are many apps (or there will be in the future) that will only run on Honeycomb/tablets, and not on phones. I understand that Google’s new Fragments interface helps make their own version of universal apps a lot easier to manage, but as long as you can specify a minimum screen size, they will also allow programmers to create tablet-only apps.

    So in this case, there is a difference: Android apps (so it is written, so I’ve read) scale at least semi-competently to the tablet screen size (rather than merely emulated like on the iPhone). But in this case, it is possible that while all Android phone apps can scale to tablet size, not all Android tablet apps will scale to phone.

    Because on the iPad there is a clear difference in design intent and interface conventions (although there are many similarities) to iPhone, hence I say that iPad’s tablet apps are a differentiator. While it’s nice that Android apps scale for text and simple layouts, I don’t happen to believe that Android app makers were able to predict and hence factor the future tablet-form in their design when programming.

    As the app market continues to evolve, that may become less a disadvantage, but right now it is clear that big-screen Android software is not very plentiful, and compensated for only slightly by the ability to reuse some phone apps with a slightly better optimized layout. Or so Apple’s argument would certainly go, which I think has some claim of merit.

  124. SJVN wrote an article on dangers on Android’s path discussion the usual suspects, dismissing patents, but arguing against different developer (v2/3) and OEM versions, openness, security. More or less what I see floating past in this blog.

    Finally, SJVN asks the same question: Why are Android tablets so expensive? He seems to think it is stupid marketing. I sort of like the theory posted above that the competition expected the launch price of the iPad to have been $1000.

    Five reasons Android can fail
    By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | June 22, 2011, 2:21pm PDT
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/five-reasons-android-can-fail/9147

    5. Pricing

    Here’s what I see happening. Android will still prosper… right up to the point where some other company comes out with an affordable platform and a broad selection of compatible software and hardware. Maybe that will be webOS, if HP drops the price on its TouchPads. Maybe it will be MeeGo. Heck, it could even be Windows 8. What it won’t be though in the long run, unless Android gets its act together, will be Android.

  125. @esr: This is like saying that Shakespeare (or insert other great author) wasn’t visionary or revolutionary because the basic story archetypes had been invented by Homer (or his predecessors) centuries before (see The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell).

    This “or insert other great author” is a bit telling, isn’t it? Apple is a decent innovator (it’s often not easy to pick the right vision and buy the right technology), but it’s hubris is about 10 (or may be 100) times bigger then what they are actually worth in the “vision” department.

    Apple PR and Apple fanbois are often trying to picture where Apple shows the world “the vision” and everyone else blindly follow. This is not so. Case to the point:

    @esr: Android needs Apple: just look at the first Blackberry-ish Android phone to see an example of who’s leading and who’s following.

    I actually liked G1 much better then later models, but this is not as important as the fact that first “Blackberry-ish” phone was created by the company which created this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTC_Touch (note “Availability” date, Ok? compare with the same for original “visionary” iPhone). The fact that first Android device included a keyboard (I fail to see anything else “Blackberry-ish” in it) was dictated by the simple fact that Android 1.0 required hardware keyboard. When version suitable for keyboard-less phones was released the flood of such models followed.

    Yes, popularity of keyboard-less phones are in large part an Apple achievement… but is it so great? Have we really won so much from pinch-to-zoom? Apple shapes the fate of the IT world to some degree, that’s true, but this effect is very modest in the grand scheme of things. When it starts to project Lotus (with it’s infamous lawsuit where it tried to assert that it’s particular menu layout is so “innovative” it deserves copyright protection) it deserves all the contempt it gets.

  126. If Android is to become the dominant platform, it depends on the success of its licensees. Who are these licensees and what are the chances that they will be able to align their businesses to what Android offers (a new revenue model based on services and advertising)?

    Android does not offer more than a lifeline. It is not a foundation for long-term profitability as it presumes the profits accrue to the network and possibly to Google. Profit evaporation out of devices to Google may be a possibility at some time in the future, but only if the devices don’t need too much attention to remain competitive. But because they’re still not good enough (and they won’t be for years to come), it’s certain that attention to detail is what will be most important to stay abreast of Apple.

    So here we have the real challenge to Android: partnership with defeated incumbents (Motorola, Sony Ericson, LG, etc) whose ability to build profitable and differentiated products is hamstrung by the licensing model and whose incentives to move up the steep trajectory of necessary improvements are limited.

    In other words, Android’s licensees won’t have the profits or the motivation to spend on R&D so as to make exceptionally competitive products at a time when being competitive is what matters most.

  127. @Sigivald:

    I’ll address two things, but backwards:

    And, seriously, PARCTAB?

    Understand that while the Wellner paper had already been released by 1993, the touch screen technology it described had not yet been invented. PARCTAB encompasses most of the major themes and ideas in iPhone and Android — onscreen keyboard, gestures, and a couple of buttons, computing on the fly, with most of the major processing happening “in the cloud” via network-enabled applications, even the rows of pretty icons UI. Well, okay, in the grand tradition of Apple, there is only one button on the iPhone, as usual. :-P

    Morgan: You think making multitouch go from a whitepaper (even via Touchworks, who didn’t, oh put it pervasively into an entire OS) to working like it did in the iPhone is just “glitz”?

    Apple didn’t do that. Fingerworks did. Apple just outright purchased the technology. That is not innovation.

    Anyway — as esr rightly points out, their patents should be invalidated. At the very least, the whitepaper proves that Apple’s patent claims fail the obviousness test.

    I know this on a lesser scale from doing UI/UX work for money; it’s hard to get Awesome. Hell, sometimes it’s hard to get not-crappy.

    Yes, yes it is hard to get an awesome UI. I don’t necessarily think that the iPhone’s UI is “awesome” — I think it’s pretty good, but needs improvement. The Macintosh UI is also pretty good, but some of its ideas are dated and need improvement — lack of customization being a big one.

  128. @Morgan Greywolf ideas are easy. building a product that actually works and people buy is what really matters.

    One could argue Apple’s success is a result of the absolute incompetence of its competitors. Pre-iphone you had clunky brick phones with battery doors that fell off with the slightest jarring. Almost no phones would let you put music on them – and if they did it was usually from some terrible carrier driven store and there was usually no easy to get the music on your PC. You had to use a dongle to use your headphones (even the G1 had this WTF!) Surfing the internet was a truly clunky experience – no one really did this. WiFi was almost unheard of. Crap-ware was the norm. And they almost all had clunky little plastic keys for input. Apps? hahah. J2ME was the terrible norm. Not that anyone actually bothered to buy apps…..

    Pre-iPad I used tablets at various times from 2002 to 2008 or so. They were all beyond terrible. Pretty much the size of a small laptop. Touch was a joke. Just windows crammed on a tablet form factor with a stylus. No one else could bring a decent tablet to market.

  129. >Anyway — as esr rightly points out, their patents should be invalidated. At the very least,
    >the whitepaper proves that Apple’s patent claims fail the obviousness test.

    But this wasn’t the original claim you made. You said it was disingenuous to say that Apple is visionary or revolutionary, because the basic concepts for their inventions and innovations existed previously.

    That is a very different claim from the idea that their inventions are not eligible for patent protection.

    As to the question of obviousness, I suppose it’s worth asking why it took us until the iPhone to make this stuff work if it’s so obvious? Touch screens have been around forever, and touch screen + cell phones have existed since at least the Palm / Handspring days, never mind the Treos and the Windows Mobile devices.

    So let’s have another thought experiment. We talked about what the world would be like without the Web, let’s talk about the iPhone. What would the cell phone industry look like today if there were no iPhone / iOS?

    And speaking of purchasing your tech, remember that Google purchased android, and also have their own mobile patent portfolio.

    This isn’t to say that I think without the iPhone or Apple that such devices would never exist. I do think they would have eventually come about, as I tend to think most inventions are of the inevitable sort rather than the “one man, one genius” sort, but that doesn’t mean that Apple didn’t and hasn’t shaped the landscape as it is today.

  130. @not(Andy Rubin):

    In other words, Android’s licensees won’t have the profits or the motivation to spend on R&D so as to make exceptionally competitive products at a time when being competitive is what matters most.

    Yeah. That’s how it worked in the PC industry. Pity that Microsoft’s dominance meant that we didn’t have any innovation or competition in CPU silicon or in computer systems or in applications software. I mean, you’d think someone would be able to build something with some compute that would fit in your lap by now, but the closest thing I could find was a Sinclair ZX-81. It fit my lap just fine, until I attached the cassette recorder and the TV.

  131. Patrick, I hear that Radio Shack might come out with something innovative in a decade or two…

  132. The one thing that would single-handedly revive the American economy is abolishing patents – all patents.

    I wouldn’t go this far. Some industries would no longer exist without patents. Take the drug industry, for example. It costs $100 million to research and develop a new drug. It costs only $50,000 to clone that same drug. Without patent protection, we would rarely get new drugs.

    I would say that business patents, firmware patents, and software patents should be abolished. In addition, patent holding companies should also be abolished. That is, if you have a patent, you need to be making a physical product based on that patent, with intent to sell.

  133. Thank you, tmoney and Sigivald, for making those points.

    khim, to point to the HTC Touch, which was released about three weeks before the iPhone, as somehow showing the iPhone’s non-innovativeness, just proves my point. It’s ugly and ran Windows Mobile. It had megabytes of storage, while the iPhone had gigabytes. It had a stylus (though apparently didn’t require one) and an inferior screen. I’ll bet the UI and UX and apps were inferior as well. It had different names depending on the carrier, and probably had carrier crapware. Nobody thinks it revolutionized anything, and nobody is trying to design and build an “HTC Touch killer.”

    It’s like saying the DC-3 wasn’t innovative because there were other twin-engine monoplanes around. There were, but anyone who doesn’t understand the specialness of the DC-3 is missing lots of important things.

  134. @phil:

    I know ESR has proclaimed that the iPod touch doesn’t matter but it accounts for 7.8% of mobile internet usage in the US. But again, it doesn’t matter :)

    The claim is that iPod doesn’t contribute much, if anything, to the iOS ecosystem. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the article you point to accurately measures traffic, and the traffic accurately represents the “contribution” to the iOS ecosystem by the iPOD. (Although I like comScore, I don’t particularly like web-gadget based statistics, of which this seems to be one.)

    Crunching the numbers in the table in that article, in the US, the iPod touch accounts for less than 15% (and shrinking rapidly) of “connected” iOS devices. That doesn’t seem like much of a contribution to me, but what do I know?

    Also, since Apple has shipped approximately twice as many iPod touches as iPads, why is the iPod touch traffic only about 1/3 the iPad traffic?

    One interesting stat in the press release referred to by that article is that:

    In the smartphone market, 47.5 percent of iPhone traffic occurred over WiFi networks compared to 21.7 percent of Android phones. With respect to tablets, an overwhelming 91.9 percent of iPad traffic occurred over WiFi networks compared to 65.2 percent among Android tablets.

    This shows the incredible disconnect between the way that people actually use iPads (WiFi), and how the bulk of the Android tablets sold to date have been positioned in the market (so expensive that they are mostly bought by the demographic that doesn’t mind splurging for the data plan).

    I expect the same survey taken in a year will show that Android tablet users prefer WiFi over 3G at an even higher rate than the iOS tablet users.

  135. Actually, in looking at the numbers again, I’m not sure what a survey in a year will show.

    Android phone data hits the cell network almost 4 times as often as it goes through WiFi, but iPhone data traffic is basically evenly split.

    Are a lot of iPhones sitting there with non-renewed data plans?

    Do the networks punish iPhone buyers by roping them into more expensive data plans?

    Is it simply a matter of (still, mostly) iPhone == AT&T, Android == other? (Will Android change towards WiFi with the phaseout of unlimited data at Verizon?)

    Or is it something really basic, like iPhone makes it easier to use WiFi when available?

  136. @phil> I know ESR has proclaimed that the iPod touch doesn’t matter but it accounts for 7.8% of mobile internet usage in the US. But again, it doesn’t matter :)

    > interesting #s. Android has a sizable lead over iPhone in the US, but iPhone leads Android in 10 of the 13 markets they measure.

    A summary: Android beats the iPhone in the U.S., with 35.6% to iOS’ 23.5%, but as stated, the iPod Touch accounts for another 7.8%.

    In most other countries, though, Android and iPhone (not iOS, iPhone) are either tied or the iPhone wins handily.

    I love Patrick’s “I’m not sure what a survey in a year will show.” retreat. A classic! “We’re not winning now, but just wait for next year! Next year will be the year of the linux desktop^W^WAndroid phone!

  137. > Android phone data hits the cell network almost 4 times as often as it goes through WiFi, but iPhone data traffic is basically evenly split. [...] Are a lot of iPhones sitting there with non-renewed data plans?

    Maybe people in the mac ecosystem are more likely to have home wifi? Or Apple users are more motivated to use wifi when they can because AT&T service sucks?

    Wait, I’ve got it: FaceTime! Some people use it, it’s a bandwidth hog, and it’s only allowed over wifi.

    Oh, and downloading large podcasts or programs. If I’m on the go and spontaneously decide I want to download a one-hour podcast or a new game somebody just mentioned and it’s over some limit (20 MB, I think?) I’m not allowed to download over the air. Rather than wait until I get home to sync up, I’m likely to walk down the street, find an open wifi, and try again. (I did this very thing yesterday).

  138. > FaceTime! … Oh, and downloading large podcasts or programs.

    This is where my faith in web stats falls apart. I can’t for the life of me believe that they somehow manage to allocate every byte of a downloaded program, or of an interactive conversation, to the correct bucket.

  139. @not(Andy Rubin):

    I love Patrick’s “I’m not sure what a survey in a year will show.” retreat. A classic! “We’re not winning now, but just wait for next year! Next year
    will be the year of the linux desktop^W^WAndroid phone!

    Despite the fact that you’re not stupid, your desire to needle overwhelms your intellectual facilities on a regular basis. You’re just like my daughter’s dog, who seems quite intelligent, yet keeps darting out into traffic at any opportunity.

    What on earth does a comparison about WiFi vs. cell traffic on different platforms have to do with how the platforms are doing? (Seriously, I’d like to know, because there may be something useful there, but your brain-dead lack of analysis is unhelpful.)

  140. >Despite the fact that you’re not stupid, your desire to needle overwhelms your intellectual facilities on a regular basis. You’re just like my daughter’s dog, who seems quite intelligent, yet keeps darting out into traffic at any opportunity.

    All Internet forums attract this sort of creature, but this blog seems to draw them particularly strongly. I have to whack ‘em with a rolled-up newspaper on a semi-regular basis.

  141. > So let’s have another thought experiment. We talked about what the world would be like without the Web, let’s talk about the iPhone. What would the cell phone industry look like today if there were no iPhone / iOS?

    More or less what it looks like today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nokia770-fi-wiki.jpg

    That’s the Nokia 770 Internet tablet, released over a year before the first iPhone. Somewhat strangely, it had everything a smartphone has, except the phone. The technologies that made the modern smartphone were not developed by apple, they were out there and converging into the smartphone as you know it. Apple just managed to out-execute everyone else.

  142. @PapayaSF:

    Interesting: T-Mobile confirmed to Macworld on Thursday that it “does have more than one million iPhones on its network today.” Which means they’re willing to use EDGE instead of 3G.

    Well, that could explain why at least some iPhone users prefer WiFi…

  143. Besides the nice nose whacking Patrick administers, I noted this comment: “A summary: Android beats the iPhone in the U.S., with 35.6% to iOS’ 23.5%, but as stated, the iPod Touch accounts for another 7.8%. “

    Except that’s not a summary. Android is not “beating” iPhone in that data. Its not about sales volume or market share. Its about data traffic originating from the devices.

  144. @Patrick: Oh, indeed. I wasn’t trying to defend software patents as a generally good idea! (Maybe, in some restricted capacity, they could be, but what we have now? It’s a useless mess.)

    I was purely attacking the idea that “patent on X means X is coming to product Y”; Apple (like every company in the software business of that sort of size) files an immense number of patents (to play patent-warrior with if nothing else, see above), and many of them never seem to make it into a real product.

    @Antti-Ville: What does the N770 have to do with the cell phone industry, though?

    Doesn’t that sort-of make his point that Apple’s amazing (in contrast the Windows Mobile and BlackBerry and Nokia’s whatever) “just manag[ing] to out-execute everyone else” was, in fact, revolutionary in impact? By which I mean, “tablets” went from a curiosity in the form of the Nokia products that basically only enthusiasts even thought about, to a mass market phenomenon of immense popularity…

    Android stopped being a BlackBerry/WM clone and started trying to be an iPhone clone, along with everyone else (except, ironically, Windows Mobile, and good on ‘em for it); making the entire rest of the industry change their UI paradigm to a significantly less sucky one… that’s a thing. And not a purely evolutionary one, I think.

    (Then again, as a cell-phone user, interactive voicemail alone was revolutionary; and as far as I know nobody did that before Apple. That and a phone UI that didn’t make me want to throw the thing under a bus… not strictly “revolutionary” but it’s sure odd that nobody else BOTHERED before Apple. I mean, Jesus. Nokia’s UI on their not-smart phones made me contemplate murder back when I had one.)

    (Also, look at that picture – see what the N770 has that no modern tablet does?

    A god-damn stylus.

    Apple should earn everyone’s eternal gratitude for that, as well.)

  145. @Sigivald:

    > A god-damn stylus.

    Interestingly, at least two of the top 100 sellers in Amazon’s “Cell phones and accessories” category are iPhone/iPad stylii…

  146. > @Antti-Ville: What does the N770 have to do with the cell phone industry, though?

    It was developed as a “skunkworks” project by the incumbent market leader in cell phones. I talked to a bunch of people working on it back then, and they all seemed to believe that it was going to be the future Nokia smartphone. Unfortunately for Nokia, too much of the middle and upper management got where they were with symbian, and Maemo/Meego slowly withered due to political infighting.

    > making the entire rest of the industry change their UI paradigm to a significantly less sucky one… that’s a thing. And not a purely evolutionary one, I think.

    Nokia 770, and especially it’s successor, N800, which was launched very near the original iPhone, contained nearly all of the new, “significantly less sucky” ui paradigm. Along with a high-res screen and copy&paste. ;)

    > A god-damn stylus.

    The UI was otherwise usable without it, but hitting thin links of websites got much easier with it. I agree that designing your UI to not need a stylus is a plus.

    It’s not really about evolution vs revolution. All the tech was there, most of it decades before iPhone. Apple did little original innovation. But that doesn’t matter. Anyone who has followed the tech sector for any amount of time knows that having lots of really innovative ideas counts for nothing, unless you are capable of turning it to a good product. (Just ask Xerox Parc.) I now think that it was wrong of me to use the words ” just managed to out-execute”, not because they were wrong, but because the word “just” makes it seem that I think that Apple is any less for it.

    Apple is capable of consistently capturing the zeitgeist of tech, and polishing it until a very attractive product comes out. I am in awe of their capability to reliably execute well. Somehow, they seem to lack many of the downsides of being a company of their size, and are capable turning the company on a dime to follow the new paradigm, and to capture new markets, not when they emerge, but when they explode in size.

    But they didn’t invent the smartphone. Which was the original premise. Had there not been the iPhone, it might have taken a couple more years, but we would have the modern smartphone, with whole-screen touchscreen ui’s, and all the things that naturally lead from that.

  147. And while we’re at it, let’s figure out what other spin we can put on the useless numbers given in the article. I’ll start:

    Use of iOS software results in 7% more customer support calls than Android software! (92% of all iOS support calls were non-hardware related vs. only 86% of all Android support calls.)

  148. # hsu Says:
    >I wouldn’t go this far. Some industries would no longer exist without patents.
    > Take the drug industry, for example. It costs $100 million to research and
    > develop a new drug. It costs only $50,000 to clone that same drug. Without
    > patent protection, we would rarely get new drugs.

    This is the classic patent argument, but it is also a classically flawed argument. It only considers one side of the coin. Does the opportunity to gain a government granted monopoly on an invention facilitate the creation of some new inventions? Of course it does. However, it ignores the other side. Does the fact that some people have government granted monopolies on some inventions make it much more difficult to bring some other new inventions to the market? Again, of course it does.

    For example, lets say I know of a way to slightly improve the performance of statin drugs. For me to bring my invention to the market, I must negotiate a maze of legal hurdles, licensing agreements, and fuzzy law before I can do so. And I must do it in such a way as to get agreements with the very people I am going to be competing against.

    An area I think is ripe for innovation is 3D printers. However, it is practically impossible for someone to bring a product of that nature to the market without a massive legal budget simply because it is a minefield of patents.

    The onus is on the pro patent people to prove that the balance weighs in favor of patents, and the fact is that this has never been done, on the contrary, there is some evidence, even in the poster boy industry of pharma that the opposite is true.

    There is this commonly held idea that patents protect Uncle Joe who cooked up an engine that runs on grass clippings in his garage. The patent protects him from evil big business stealing his idea. They even made a movie about it — some guy who invented the intermediate wiper blade. It just isn’t what happens in the real world. 99% of patents come out of patent mills in mega corps. It has to be that way because defensible patents are insanely expensive to generate. Patents are not a tool of the little guy to protect himself from the big guy. They are the opposite, they are a tool of the big guy to squash the little guy like a bug, and fight off all the other big guys who are trying to screw up their business.

    And patent trolls? What are they? They are what happens when a tiny piece of the efficiency of the free market is brought to bear on the whole grinding legal mess. A tiny bit of efficiency and they almost cause the sky to fall in. As I have said before, the patent system itself is a huge, voracious patent troll. The only reason it doesn’t squash us all is that it is so slow and lumbering, we can often outrun it.

  149. >Interesting spin here. Let’s play “spot the missing information that makes this article totally useless”

    Are you thinking of the fact that they don’t appear to have normalized for market share, or something else?

  150. Patrick/ESR, well there is a number (600K calls) and a percentage (14%) of which are Android h/w … but there is no information regarding rate of support call per device. It could as easily mean that the software in Android is more reliable (as I think Patrick noted) as that the hardware is worse. It may but certainly does not necessarily mean, without more information, that the hardware is in fact more likely to break.

  151. > Are you thinking of the fact that they don’t appear to have normalized for market share, or something else?

    I have to admit that, after noticing the lack of discussion of normalization, I stopped looking for other issues…

  152. @SPQR:

    Note that it is not 14% of 600K calls; rather it is 14% of the unspecified portion of the 600K calls that were for Android support.

  153. So, to put it in perspective, I guess I noticed a normalization fail in two distinct ways:

    1) We don’t know what percentage of the support contracts this company has are for which platform; and
    2) We don’t know what percentage of the support calls this company received are for which platform

  154. “It’s like saying the DC-3 wasn’t innovative because there were other twin-engine monoplanes around. There were, but anyone who doesn’t understand the specialness of the DC-3 is missing lots of important things.”

    Bad example. The DC-3 wasn’t that big an advance over the DC-2. As proof of how similar the planes were, there was a point early in WWII where a DC-3 was temporarily fitted with a DC-2’s right wing in order fly it out to where it could be repaired. Any airplane that can be flown with its own left wing and the right wing from the previous model is not a revolutionary change from the previous model!

    http://www.cnac.org/aircraft02.htm

    This isn’t just a fun aviation story. The reality is that most of our modern technologies have come about more through evolution rather than revolution. There is a straight line of development from the Ford Trimotor to the Boeing 247 to the DC-1, -2, and -3. But as humans, we have an emotional connection with radical breakthroughs and lone inventors (whether individuals or corportations). This greatly distorts the real history of technology, whether in aviation or electronics.

    Incidentally, the early development of aviation was adversely impacted by patent wars betweent the Wrights and Glenn Curtiss. The US government finally had to put a stop to it in 1917 so that manufacturers could focus on producing aircraft for WWI instead of wasting their energies on legal fights. While the Wrights are generally credited with “inventing the airplane”, an examination of the evidence will show that Glenn Curtiss contributed significantly more to the state of the art over his lifetime than the Wrights ever did.

    Early aviation would have evolved faster without patents, but would have produced a different set of winners and losers.

  155. Note that if I were a slightly unethical support company, and I received a nominal amount to register a device (to get billing information, etc.), and made the bulk of my money on support calls, I might find it slightly advantageous to put out slightly misleading information that made the most profitable platform for me — the one that generated the most support calls — appear to be the least profitable platform for me.

    Of course, that’s probably not it at all. I suspect Hanlon’s Razor applies here.

  156. > Wolf has a long position in Apple. There’s a surprise.

    Attacking the messenger Eric? Really?

    Yes, there is potential for COI for Wolf. It could be that he’s promoting APPL in order to send his own holdings higher.
    OTOH, it could be that he believes that Apple will win, so he’s back his beliefs with a bet that the market will respond with a higher share price if it does.

    You had an interesting position in VA, once, no?

    As for Patrick, it’s clear that the subject was being changed from a growing awareness that Android has contracted slightly (but who can tell what next month will bring?) to “iPhones use more WiFi”.

    You can play whack-a-mole with a newspaper all you like. It’s not going to matter to the market.

  157. Cathy, you’re not really disputing my point. Yes, the DC-3 evolved from the DC-2, etc. It was not a revolutionary change like props to jets, but it was revolutionary in the sense that it put a lot of existing things together in a way that hit a particular sweet spot.

    Similarly, one can nitpick the iPhone (or iPad or iPod or the 128K Mac) and say that this feature or that component or way of doing things existed before, which is often true, but beside the point. What was revolutionary in all those cases was the totality of the designs, all of which hit particular sweet spots, and all were revolutionary in their own way.

    Re the Ford Trimotor: I believe that was the plane that prompted a threatened lawsuit from Fokker (IIRC), who claimed a patent on the idea of using corrugated metal on airplanes and orienting it so that the channels followed the airflow! Talk about obviousness.

  158. @not(Andy Rubin) Says:

    As for Patrick, it’s clear that the subject was being changed from a growing awareness that Android has contracted slightly (but who can tell what next month will bring?) to “iPhones use more WiFi”.

    No, it should be clear to anybody paying attention that the silly implied assertion that “data usage == phone penetration” was being completely ignored, and other data from the same source was being parsed in an attempt to find meaning. I’m not sure I found any meaning in the other data, but it was interesting, nonetheless.

    If you search back on this blog, you can find many other instances of web usage data by platform being completely out of kilter with both platform sales data and market penetration survey data (dating back over a year), so we take the web usage data with a huge block of salt.

  159. @not(Andy Rubin):

    Just looked a little more closely at the Fortune Article about Charlie Needham you pointed out a couple of days ago. What a hoot!

    One reason Apple delayed the launch of iPhone 5 until September is that it reportedly plans to coordinate the launch of the GSM and CDMA versions of the phone. To do so in June would likely have upset Verizon subscribers who purchased iPhone 4 in the preceding months.

    So the delay of iPhone 5 was strategic, you know, because Apple values the feelings of all 2.2 million iPhone 4V purchasers above all other considerations.

    It’s our expectation, then, that the anticipated surge in iPhone sales on the Verizon network is likely to occur this fall after Apple launches iPhone 5.

    In fact, Apple values the feelings of those dumb early purchasers so much that they are willing to risk pissing off the much larger number of smart people waiting for iPhone 5v (“the anticipated surge”) with indeterminate delay. But never mind! Though they’re much smarter than the initial buyers, they aren’t all that smart, and they will almost certainly remain in the fold, say Hallelujah!

  160. Not to mention that I doubt anyone here really cares what percentage of Android support calls are h/w and what are s/w related. At all. I can’t think of anyone’s opinions on the topics being discussed that have a foundation in the religious idea that Android phones are, in terms of physical product, “better” than iPhones. Certainly none of mine are.

    I don’t want to be accused of putting words in others’ mouths, but I strongly suspect that its more likely to be argued that a strength of Android is that it isn’t dependent upon the quality of manufacture or design of any single manufacturer at all.

  161. @phil:

    Wow. Apple must be getting desperate if they’ve hired the Yankee Group to spin some FUD for them.

    But never mind that. Prospective surveys have a horrible track record. Like this one.

    Retrospective surveys, like comscore does (“What do you have in your pocket right now?”) actually seem to have some value, roughly tracking against reported activations, sales numbers, etc.

  162. I was going to mention Laura Didio and ancient Yankee Group FUD, but I was sure I could find some later BS. Sure enough, the Yankee Group thinks that 27% of apps downloaded last year were paid for and that will increase to 32% by 2015.

    Now, I don’t know their methodology, or their competition’s methodology, but I gotta say those numbers don’t feel right to me. readwriteweb’s take on distimo and chomp’s data looks a bit more realistic:

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/mobile/2011/05/97-percent-of-android-app-downloads-were-free-says-chomp.php

  163. >So the delay of iPhone 5 was strategic, you know, because Apple values the feelings of all 2.2 million
    >iPhone 4V purchasers above all other considerations.

    Two points:

    1) They pissed off a whole crap ton of customers when all they did was drop their price 6 months after the fact. So much so they gave free money to everyone who bought an iPhone. I think a brand new phone 2-3 months later might generate quite a bit more anger.

    2) It was pretty much inevitable that the iPhone would eventually shift it’s release times to another month. Someone was going to have to wait longer for their new version. Apple has their developer conference in June, with new iPhone models releasing in June, it means they have to announce new iOS versions in Feb (overshadowing other announcements) and not at the developer conference. Moving the iPhone released to sept / oct not only allows them to announce new iOS versions at the developer conference, but also puts them in line for the holiday purchasing season, and lines it up with iPad and iPod releases as well.

  164. @tmoney:

    They pissed off a whole crap ton of customers when all they did was drop their price 6 months after the fact.

    Yes, I already mentioned that in a comment on this very article. But the Verizon event was very low key, and most industry people assumed that very few would be buying because of the refresh coming out this summer.

    It was pretty much inevitable that the iPhone would eventually shift it’s release times to another month.

    I don’t recall this being widely known or assumed at the end of last year. If you’re just basing it off of hindsight, well my hindsight says they were caught with their semiconductor supplier’s trousers down.

  165. > most industry people assumed that very few would be buying because of the refresh coming out this summer.

    I should add that “very few” is relative to installed base on AT&T and was still more than esr or I expected and more than actually bought. In any case, even if Apple gave every single iPhone 4V purchaser a $100 credit, it would still probably have been worthwhile to them to have the phone this summer.

    I do believe that the iPhone 5 is going to be late enough that either (a) the base model will have a lot more memory; or (b) they will drop the domestic subsidized price a bit to better compete with the Android onslaught. Or maybe both.

  166. >I don’t recall this being widely known or assumed at the end of last year.

    I don’t know how much time you spend in the mac forums and communities, but people have been wondering about this pretty much since the release of the 3G.

  167. >I do believe that the iPhone 5 is going to be late enough that either (a) the base model will have a lot
    >more memory; or (b) they will drop the domestic subsidized price a bit to better compete with the
    >Android onslaught. Or maybe both.

    What about dropping the unsubsidized price? Apple just started officially selling the GSM version unsubsidized. And who better than Apple to begin the process of breaking the tether between carriers and phones? As I talked about before, unlike SMR they have their own retail stores to sell through, and unlike Google, because they have a retail store, they have someplace for people to go and touch and play with the phone first. It needs to happen eventually, and for whatever reason, Google hasn’t been successful at it, Apple could have been if they hadn’t given into the subsidy game.

  168. > What about dropping the unsubsidized price?

    Absolutely. But they could probably drop the price to the carriers $50, and that wouldn’t necessarily change the subsidized price. I think they need to drop the retail price $100 for the subsidized price to drop $50, so my point certainly applies to the unsubsidized price.

    > And who better than Apple to begin the process of breaking the tether between carriers and phones?

    Well, they started that process when they released the iPhone, but they’re not in front at this stage. Having to cut down your T-Mobile SIM card and then settle for EDGE rates — that’s just goofy. You can get an unlocked Nexus One for $265 at Amazon.

    > Unlike Google, because they have a retail store, they have someplace for people to go and touch and play with the phone first.

    You might be underestimating the power of Amazon’s easy return policy.

    > Apple could have been if they hadn’t given into the subsidy game.

    Sorry, but I don’t believe for a minute that Apple would be where they are today if they had started out selling $600 phones without subsidies. For that matter, I’m not sure Android phones would be as cheap as they are today in that world, either. A lot more people would be happily trundling along with their cheaper featurephones.

  169. “One reason Apple delayed the launch of iPhone 5 until September is that it reportedly plans to coordinate the launch of the GSM and CDMA versions of the phone. To do so in June would likely have upset Verizon subscribers who purchased iPhone 4 in the preceding months.”

    I agree, this is silly. I would guess they delayed because either 1) something went wrong or 2) they were waiting for an LTE chip that wouldn’t kill the battery.

  170. >Well, they started that process when they released the iPhone, but they’re not in front at this stage.
    >Having to cut down your T-Mobile SIM card and then settle for EDGE rates — that’s just goofy.

    Baby steps. Of all the companies making phones, Apple is one of the least likely to stand still. Since they haven’t before sold unlocked iPhones (here in the US anyway) there was no need for the T-Mobile 3G frequencies. Now that they do… there is a need.

    >You might be underestimating the power of Amazon’s easy return policy.

    Possibly, but I think you might be overestimating the number of non tech consumers who rely on that policy. Even if they still eventually by from Amazon, plenty of people head to their local brick and mortar stores to get a look at products before they buy it. And a lot of people still go to the carrier store to get their next phone, regardless of whether they can get it online or not.

    >Sorry, but I don’t believe for a minute that Apple would be where they are today if they had started
    >out selling $600 phones without subsidies.

    Nitpick but I assume you mean “if they had continued to sell”, since they did indeed start out selling $600 phones without subsidies. But yes, overall I imagine we wouldn’t be where we are today had the iPhone remained unsubsidized and at that price. However, I also wouldn’t expect it to remain there. Just like the iPod was expensive, and came down over time, I expect the same would have happened with the iPhone

  171. As to Apple fanboys pissing people off, and various claims about Apple relative like of originality/creativity, I’d say this:

    I’m always a bit taken aback by the venom the various FOSS types and Android fanboys have for Apple. But I think I know why. Apple’s entire model just isn’t supposed to work. Open was just always supposed to beat closed. Back around 10 years ago, when people talked about one day weakening Microsoft’s grip on the desktop, it was just naturally assumed that this task would be handled by Linux.

    Now what is amazing is the inroads made by the Mac platform on the desktop since 2007. It wasn’t long ago that people commonly complained about the lack of software for OS X. Of course, we all know that the OS X developer community has absolutely swelled. A staggering level of growth few would have predicted.

    Nowadays, the old argument that you need Windows due to all the great software that’s Windows only holds very little weight. Heck, even the growth in OS X gaming has stunned me.

    And it was all achieved via a business model that was pretty original and creative: the closed app store process. That just wasn’t supposed to work, dontcha know. Turns out it worked very well. And for the first time, millions of people experienced intuitive, fairly trouble free computing. The ease of which you can install software, and remove it, from an iOS device (and now OS X) is really quite amazing for computing novices. And the lack of mysterious malware problems that it brought about has also raised the bar.

    Open was just supposed to out-perform a closed, controlled, hierarchical model. Well, that idea simply doesn’t square with reality any more. And many people are upset about it. So they need to call Steve Jobs nasty things and rationalize away Apple’s success and accomplishments. “It’s just glitz.. polish.. marketing.”

    Having read ESR’s book, I’d say my biggest frustration on this blog is my belief that he and others are totally missing the point. The desire to see Apple fail is so strong that is, by all accounts, being hallucinated. As noted, Android has simply not whaled the tar out of iOS.

    As to the phone market, Apple is already secure there. They’ve got a customer base and a developer base. That will stick around for some time even if Apple remains fairly static. My guess is that in terms of hardware we’ll see Apple working only towards this: thinner, lighter, more battery life, more speed. That’s pretty much it.

    That’s the same thing we’ll see in future iPad models, as well. In both of these product lines, Apple will follow the same recipe. This will continue to lock up the tablet market because all a tablet needs is a good screen, good graphics, and battery life. And lightweight.

    The point for Apple isn’t to have the majority of the market. It’s to capture the most profitable sections with the greatest economies of scale.

    In order to continue securing the phone market, they won’t concentrate on ground-breaking hardware in iPhone 5. They’ll be looking to make inroads into the home via TV, desktop, and continued growth of the iPod touch market. Apple is looking to create more integration across devices. That’s what iCloud is all about.

    To grow the iPhone market, Apple’s primary strategy will not be a bleeding edge phone. It will be to grow the iPad user base and in some other way get into the home. Then, people will benefit from consistent UIs across devices and content/apps/data that cleanly flows between them.

    The tablet market is locked up. It’ll take at least a year before Android tablets become comparable.

    That’s why the next 12 months will be about Apple going after the TV and desktop. The TV is the prize, and Apple will certainly beat Google for that.

  172. “Cathy, you’re not really disputing my point. Yes, the DC-3 evolved from the DC-2, etc. It was not a revolutionary change like props to jets, but it was revolutionary in the sense that it put a lot of existing things together in a way that hit a particular sweet spot.”

    I’m not sure you and I are using the same definition of “revolutionary”. Perhaps if you shared your definition, we’d be about to discuss this more clearly.

  173. > I agree, this is silly. I would guess they delayed because either 1) something went wrong or 2) they were waiting for an LTE chip that wouldn’t kill the battery.

    More likely: 3) waiting for iOS5 to be finished.

  174. http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/22/verizon-iphone-android/

    In April, when NPD data had the iPhone market share push a bit forward while Android saw a small decline, it was perhaps a bit too early to read into it. But a month later, Nielsen data suggested that Android share was indeed flattening, and most credited the 2.2 million iPhones Verizon sold in the two months of its existence on the carrier as the reason.

    A few days ago, a report by Needham using IDC data suggested that Android’s market share peaked in March, and was now on the decline as Apple’s share was rising again. This was the first quarterly share decline that Android had ever seen.

    Why? It seems obvious, doesn’t it?

    Earlier today, BTIG Research put out a report showing that in both AT&T and Verizon stores across the country, the iPhone is now the top selling device in most stores. Four months ago, the iPhone did not exist in Verizon stores. Now it’s easily outselling any Android device in the majority of stores.

    To be fair, as before, the sheer number of different Android devices out there means they’re undoubtedly still outselling the iPhone when combined together. But the market share numbers suggest that even this discrepancy has collapsed. That’s pretty amazing.

    And let’s keep something in mind — by most accounts, the Verizon iPhone launch was not the massive blow-out many were predicting. Why? It’s likely that a sizable chunk of would-be Verizon iPhone buyers believed a newer model would launch in the summertime, just a few months away, just like it always had in the past.

  175. This article is well timed:

    Alas, poor RIM and BlackBerry, we knew them well
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/perlow/alas-poor-rim-and-blackberry-we-knew-them-well/17626

    So now between the Droid on Verizon (and its many Froyo-based copies that would follow on various carriers in 2010) and the iPhone on AT&T, the seemingly invincible BlackBerry that was holding onto its Enterprise customers with an iron grip was losing ground and being flanked on the largest growth market for smartphones, the consumer.

  176. @not(Andy Rubin) “More likely: 3) waiting for iOS5 to be finished.”

    This would be in my category #1 – something went wrong. In this case the software schedule slipped. Although, I’m not convinced on this as they could have released an iPhone 5 with iOS 4

  177. A potentially important, and overdue, development in mobile phone security:

    AppFence: Protecting User Data from Android Applications
    http://appfence.org/

    To mitigate the risks of misappropriation of the user’s data by today’s Android applications, the researchers of the study have developed a system, called AppFence, that implements two privacy controls that (1) convertly substitue shadow data in place of data that the user wants to keep private and (2) block network transmissions that contain data the user made available to the application for on-device use only. We demonstrate that our privacy controls can block unwanted explosure of sensitive data by 66% of the applications that we tested without causing any side effects. For the remaining 34%, we have characterized the types of functionality that require the exposure of sensitive data and the side effects that result if our privacy controls are in place, to provide users with some guidance for making an informed decision.

    Here is the entry in Bruce Schneier’s blog

    Protecting Private Information on Smart Phones
    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2011/06/protecting_priv.html

    The problem is that the mobile OS providers might not like AppFence. Google probably doesn’t care, but Apple is one of the biggest consumers of iPhone personal information. Right now, the prototype only works on Android, because it requires flashing the phone. In theory, the technology can be made to work on any mobile OS, but good luck getting Apple to agree to it.

  178. @laughing
    > I’m always a bit taken aback by the venom the various FOSS types and Android fanboys have for Apple.

    Apple has said that running software they don’t approve of on an iPhone or iPad should literally be a federal crime. How do you expect FOSS advocates to react to such a power grab that goes well beyond anything Microsoft ever tried to pull?

    > Now what is amazing is the inroads made by the Mac platform on the desktop since 2007.

    That is impressive. Although it doesn’t help your argument, since the Mac desktop is wide open compared to iOS. It’s likely to change in the next few years, but today anybody can write Mac OS X software and distribute it however they see fit with no restrictions from Apple.

    > The ease of which you can install software, and remove it, from an iOS device (and now OS X) is really quite amazing for computing novices.

    Those who have been using Linux package managers for years are less amazed. Yes, Apple did a good job of putting polish on the process, but to pretend that they’re the only ones who saw the value of a centralized repository is silly. As is the implication that forcibly preventing users from running software outside the repository is a necessary component or beneficial to anyone but Apple.

    > The point for Apple isn’t to have the majority of the market. It’s to capture the most profitable sections with the greatest economies of scale.

    And that would be fine. As ESR and others have repeatedly said, the goal of most FOSS advocates is not to see Apple fail, it’s to make sure that we avoid a world where the default is that hardware manufacturers have total control over how you’re allowed to use “your” property. Android having 75% of the market with Apple taking the “top” 20% would be acceptable in that regard.

  179. Apple has said that running software they don’t approve of on an iPhone or iPad should literally be a federal crime.

    Really? I think the most they’ve said is that it voids the warranty. I don’t know of any cases of them siccing the FBI on the many people offering jailbreaking software, etc.

    Cathy, I am using a looser definition of revolutionary. E.g., I would consider Android revolutionary, based on sheer numbers and market share, even though it’s largely an attempt to copy iOS. [ducks and runs]

  180. >even though [Android is] largely an attempt to copy iOS.

    Can we have an end to this fanboy nonsense, please? Android is rev 2 of the Danger Hiptop software, which predated the iPhone by five years – first shipped in 2002. Android development began in 2003; the chief architect of Android had been one of the Danger founders.

  181. @laughing:

    Now what is amazing is the inroads made by the Mac platform on the desktop since 2007.

    @brian2:

    That is impressive. Although it doesn’t help your argument, since the Mac desktop is wide open compared to iOS. It’s likely to change in the next few years, but today anybody can write Mac OS X software and distribute it however they see fit with no restrictions from Apple.

    Anyway, you’re missing the point. Apple’s huge innovation in 2007, that is propelling the Mac to greater and greater heights, was to drop their (collaborative with IBM) work on their own “best-of-breed” processor, and go out and buy one of the real killer processors that the market had honed through the process of ruthless competition outside of any walled garden.

    They did the same thing for the guts of their OS, and their browser, too, and yes, it involved open source.

    But IMO the main thing was the processor. It gave them enough MIPs so that they could emulate their old crap well enough, and it gave them enough MIPs and compatibility that it was easy for people who wrote applications for those other OSes to also make Mac versions; and it gave them a pure hardware market outside of Mac OS. I know plenty of people who buy Macbooks and scrape off the software and install Linux.

  182. >Android is rev 2 of the Danger Hiptop software, which predated the iPhone by five years – first
    >shipped in 2002. Android development began in 2003; the chief architect of Android had been
    >one of the Danger founders.

    And? The Hip Top software looked nothing at all like the iPhone or Android of today, and all of the early android prototypes looked like blackberry replacements, not like an iPhone. No one is saying that Android wasn’t in development before the iPhone, but it certainly seems reasonable to argue that the design of Android was heavily shifted when the iPhone came out.

  183. @Brian 2:

    > The ease of which you can install software, and remove it, from an iOS device (and now OS X) is really quite amazing for computing novices.

    Those who have been using Linux package managers for years are less amazed. Yes, Apple did a good job of putting polish on the process, but to pretend that they’re the only ones who saw the value of a centralized repository is silly.

    Luckily nobody’s suggesting that, just as I don’t really believe you’re suggesting that apt and YUM are viable consumer alternatives to the App Store and its modern brethren (which would be even sillier).

    Everything is built on what came before it.

    As is the implication that forcibly preventing users from running software outside the repository is a necessary component or beneficial to anyone but Apple.

    Running a Linux distribution solely on its own repository is in fact a great way to make sure your software stack stays sane. How access to the repository is controlled is the true problem.

  184. > As noted, Android has simply not whaled the tar out of iOS.

    Though it might be accurate to say Android and iOS are *both* whaling the tar our of everybody *else* in the market.

    >> either 1) something went wrong or 2) they were waiting for an LTE chip that wouldn’t kill the battery.
    >More likely: 3) waiting for iOS5 to be finished.

    Nah, the hardware has to be the driver here. When it became clear the hardware was going to be delayed, the software guys were told they had an extra couple of months, so they tried to cram more features in. OS5 will take as long as the next hardware does more or less *by defiinition*.

  185. > they could have released an iPhone 5 with iOS 4

    this is how anyone other than Apple would do it.

  186. >No one is saying that Android wasn’t in development before the iPhone, but it certainly seems reasonable to argue that the design of Android was heavily shifted when the iPhone came out.

    Only if you ignore the timing. The iPhone shipped in June 2007. Android first shipped in October 2008. That’s 14 months at the end of a 5-year development, a dead minimum of half of that time had to have been taken up with prerelease testing and final-phase bug fixes. There simply wasn’t time for a major shift.

  187. > That’s 14 months at the end of a 5-year development, a dead minimum of half of that time had to have been
    > taken up with prerelease testing and final-phase bug fixes.

    Which means that either Android had been intended to also provide the interface that it does today, or else they designed it well enough and flexible enough to do a dime-turn at the last minute and still be successful. Either way, it paints a pretty picture.

  188. @esr:

    That’s 14 months at the end of a 5-year development, a dead minimum of half of that time had to have been taken up with prerelease testing and final-phase bug fixes.

    Careful, or they’ll start to take your words to advocate for patents. See, obviously, everything new in iOS that Android copied could be implemented in 4 months by a large team of flying monkeys, but dreaming it up took a few really skilled men behind the curtain years and we, as a society, have to reward their employer heavily for this effort, else nobody will ever innovate again on anything, ever.

  189. Thanks again, tmoney. Eric, the iPhone was unveiled in early January of 2007 and shipped six months later. So Android shipped 22 months after the iPhone went public. Not enough time to do everything, I grant, but that seems like enough time to take it into account.

    On the other hand, how long after the initial iPad release did it take for Android to come out with Honeycomb? Was Android for tablets in development before the iPad?

    When I said “is,” I meant currently. Regardless of its origins, it’s clear that Android has been heavily influenced by the iPhone, and is currently promoted as “like the iPhone, but cheaper and open source and better.”

  190. >When I said “is,” I meant currently. Regardless of its origins, it’s clear that Android has been heavily influenced by the iPhone, and is currently promoted as “like the iPhone, but cheaper and open source and better.”

    Neither of these things is “obvious” anywhere outside an Apple fanboy’s fantasies. It’s no coincidence that T-Mobile, the first carrier to ship an Android phone, had a large population of loyal Sidekick users (that was their branding of the Danger Hiptop) that was hungering for another device using the Sidekick’s design language. And in the G-1 that’s exactly what they got.

  191. And, of course, Android phones have a full keyboard, no wait, a virtual keyboard and hardware buttons, no wait, virtual buttons.

  192. > Only if you ignore the timing. The iPhone shipped in June 2007. Android first shipped in October 2008. That’s 14 months at the end of a 5-year development,

    Let us not forget Eric Schmidt’s presence on Apple’s board, from August 2006 to August 2009.

  193. >And, of course, Android phones have a full keyboard, no wait, a virtual keyboard and hardware buttons, no wait, virtual buttons.

    That’s an exceptionally ignorant remark even from a fanboy. All Android phones have real (off-display) buttons – there’s a rumor that the next Nexus might not, but it’s only a rumor. The G-1 had a physical keyboard, so does the G-2, and they remain relatively common on Android phones.

  194. Life as we know it,

    My Android phone has a slide out keyboard, or, if you prefer, a virtual one. You can get an Android phone with two touch screens. One can be the keyboard and one the screen, or they each can run a program or they can both run the same program on a larger screen, like a tablet. I know there are advantages to Apple minimalism. It’s cool. But so is Android variety!

    Yours,
    Tom

  195. @esr “And in the G-1 that’s exactly what they got.”

    Well, the G1 did continue the clunky tradition of pre-iPhone smartphones. Dongle needed to plug in headphones. Slow as hell. Clunky slide-out keyboard. Weird little trackball. And what do Android phones look like now? I’ll leave the answer as an exercise to the reader: http://zedomax.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/samsung-fascinate-2.jpg

    I think you are in la-la land if you don’t think “it’s clear that Android has been heavily influenced by the iPhone”

    And very often when I ask people what kind of phone they have they say something like: “well, it’s like an iPhone but it works on Sprint”

  196. >Only if you ignore the timing. The iPhone shipped in June 2007. Android first shipped in October 2008. That’s 14 months at the end of a 5-year
    >development, a dead minimum of half of that time had to have been taken up with prerelease testing and final-phase bug fixes. There simply
    >wasn’t time for a major shift.

    As pointed out, Apple announced the iPhone (and nearly its entire feature set) in Jan of 2007, giving 22 months (not the 16 you claim) of lead time. Now, given Apple’s claim that they started working on the iPhone in 2005, that means they went from 0 to 100% in a maximum of 30 months, assuming that they started Jan 1 2005. Are you saying that it would be impossible for Google to take a mostly complete phone OS and redesign the UI and interface in 8 months less time than it took Apple to do the whole process, hardware and software, from scratch?

    Again, not saying they weren’t working on something, indeed the fact that they were working on something is probably what allowed them to meet that turn around, in addition to having a massively talented team. And no matter how much testing time you ask for, the fact is, you’re saying that Google couldn’t take a mostly complete product and gut and replace the UI in 8 months less time than it took Apple to develop an entire OS from scratch.

  197. >As pointed out, Apple announced the iPhone (and nearly its entire feature set) in Jan of 2007, giving 22 months (not the 16 you claim) of lead time.

    I don’t accept that premise, for starters. Announcing a product with a demo full of vague marketing language in no way equates to specifying a feature set. Besides, knowing what I do about the Sidekick, the reaction of the Danger developers to the announcement in Jan 2007 was probably “Hm. Apple may almost have caught up to where we were five years ago.”

  198. The January 2007 introduction of the iPhone was not just a bunch or “vague marketing language,” it was a demonstration of most if not all of the features of the phone:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwhG6LggOQU

    And I don’t think Danger had anything like visual voicemail, swipe to scroll, etc.

  199. @PapayaSF:

    Visual voicemail on a cellphone required the carrier to actually do some software and cooperate. Any early history of iPhone will show you that they had to bully AT&T long and hard to get some basic APIs for this sort of thing. I have stated multiple times that Apple’s clout and determination allowed it to do things that were actually obvious at the time to other UI people, but that required cooperation of others.

    But Visual Voicemail was only unique in that somebody finally got the carrier to support an interface. For non-cell applications, it had been around awhile. Even the name:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/11/apple_citrix_visualvoicemail/

    Finger based scrolling was happening anyway:

    http://www.mobileburn.com/review.jsp?Page=2&Id=3442

    I don’t use a phone so can’t comment on the differences other than to say that eventually somebody would have settled on a way that everybody would agree was intuitive.

    What’s etc.?

  200. >I don’t accept that premise, for starters. Announcing a product with a demo full of vague marketing language in no way equates to specifying a
    >feature set. Besides, knowing what I do about the Sidekick, the reaction of the Danger developers to the announcement in Jan 2007 was probably
    >“Hm. Apple may almost have caught up to where we were five years ago.”

    1) Perhaps you should actually go and watch the iPhone announcement, as clearly you have never seen it, and don’t know what you’re talking about right now. You’re better than this.

    2) If Danger was there five years ago, then why were they still releasing phones using their old software and interface as late as 2008? Is five years not enough time for them to take a completed product and release it to the public?

  201. The iPhone is the AK-47 of cell phones. While the AK doesn’t have a single original design element, it synthesizes a while bunch of pre-existing ideas into something radically ahead of anything else at the time, and no-one can doubt its influence. Nevertheless, it’s not the holy grail, and neither is the iPhone. Time goes on.

  202. 2) If Danger was there five years ago, then why were they still releasing phones using their old software and interface as late as 2008? Is five years not enough time for them to take a completed product and release it to the public?

    The “danger developersd whom Eric refers to left Danger and founded Android in 2003.

  203. >The “danger developersd whom Eric refers to left Danger and founded Android in 2003.

    The point remains.They had this all figured out in 2002 (five years before the iphone) but somehow couldn’t get a product using it released until 22 months after the iPhone was announced.

  204. @tmoney:

    “The Hiptop operating system, referred to as DangerOS, is largely based on Java. For Hiptop development, Danger has its own proprietary APIs, which are a subset of J2SE with their own extensions…To aid third-party software design, Danger has released a comprehensive software development kit (SDK) that contains a Hiptop simulator, development installation utilities, and Danger API information. The SDK is available without charge from Danger’s development website….The Sidekick LX 2009 model runs DangerOS 5.0,[23] which is reported to be based on NetBSD.” source: WIkipedia article on Danger

    Sound familiar? Java, with a subset of J2SE with some extensions, running on top of *nix? A simulator-based SDK… Where have I heard of a phone that uses something like J2SE running on a Unix-like platform….hmmmm…

    Why were they still releasing phones using their old software and interface? Well, let’s see, why was Apple still producing machines based on a single-user, cooperatively-multitasked operating system with no memory protection as late as 2001? Answer that and you’ll have your answer.

  205. The point remains.They had this all figured out in 2002 (five years before the iphone) but somehow couldn’t get a product using it released until 22 months after the iPhone was announced.

    I don’t recall the exact figures, but I think that what people have gleaned from Apple’s financial filings, etc. is that Apple did, indeed, pour a lot more developer resources into iOS than Android did. Android was a shoestring startup, and even after google acquired them they ramped manpower very slowly.

  206. There’s a cool data transfer app that figures out which program you want to transfer data to or from on your desktop by using the camera on your cellphone. Oddly, Apple seems to have nothing to do with it.

  207. > The iPhone is the AK-47 of cell phones.

    Sorry, no. Android is the AK-47 of cell phone operating systems. Cheap and ubiquitous, but not the first choice in a firefight if other rifles are available.

    iOS is then a HK G3 (HK-91). Much more elegant, and must more expensive.

    Know your firearms.

  208. not(Andy Rubin), actually the G3 is an example of German engineering making a mediocre design work, if that’s what you think iOS is, who can argue?

    The AK analogy isn’t a bad one actually. The AK did revolutionize the infantry small arms market and everything in it can be traced to an earlier design, from the cartridge (7.92 Kurz) to the gas system.

  209. > iOS is then a HK G3 (HK-91). Much more elegant, and must more expensive.

    HAHAHAHAHA /me collapses on the floor howling with laughter.

    This is rich. Have you even seen a G3, much less actually held one?

    Before you embarrass yourself further:

    1) Go to your friendly neighborhood gun store.
    2) Ask to look at a G3. A Century Arms clone will do fine.
    3) Notice the weight and the balance.
    4) Notice the location of the charging handle and the fact that the last shot doesn’t lock back the bolt.
    5) Notice the cheap-ass stamped steel construction.
    6) Ponder the implications. Realize the vast gulf between what you think you know and what you actually know.
    7) Go home. Meditate on your shortcomings.

    There is one place where your analogy holds, though, I’ll give you that. As this so eloquently notes, H&K certainly have the mind-blowing arrogance part down.

  210. Patrick, you are absolutely right that Apple used its clout to get AT&T to do visual voicemail. That’s tied in with the reason for the initial exclusive deal: only AT&T would agree to not installing crapware, to not having an AT&T app store, to not branding the phone, etc., and the price of all that was an exclusive deal for years. (Or so I’ve read.)

    That’s also something else Android fans should be grateful to Apple for: at least showing that the carriers don’t have to be in full control of the phones. AFAIK, Android had (and has) no such clout with carriers. Android phones are often carrier-branded, include crapware, etc., correct?

    And true, those iPhone features may well have existed in some form, somewhere, previously. Eric seems to think there are lots of Apple fans who think Apple invented everything, but I know better: they invent some things, but mainly combine and polish things until the result is, as a package, revolutionary. That “polish” step is critical to me (and millions more), and often underappreciated around here. Geeks often think that step is trivial if not superfluous….

    My point about those features was to counter Eric’s claim that Danger had all those things years before. E.g., they didn’t have finger-swiping, they had scroll wheels. My “etc.” was just to say that I could think of two things Danger did not have when the iPhone appeared, and that there were probably others.

  211. Patrick, you are absolutely right that Apple used its clout to get AT&T to do visual voicemail. That’s tied in with the reason for the initial exclusive deal: only AT&T would agree to not installing crapware, to not having an AT&T app store, to not branding the phone, etc., and the price of all that was an exclusive deal for years. (Or so I’ve read.)

    That’s also something else Android fans should be grateful to Apple for: at least showing that the carriers don’t have to be in full control of the phones. AFAIK, Android had (and has) no such clout with carriers.

    If you look back on this blog, you will see me acknowledge multiple times the good Apple did in wresting control from the carriers. But that’s just starting the job. Apple wants to keep a lot of control for itself, and Android wants to finish the job.

    Eric seems to think there are lots of Apple fans who think Apple invented everything, but I know better: they invent some things, but mainly combine and polish things until the result is, as a package, revolutionary. That “polish” step is critical to me (and millions more), and often underappreciated around here.

    That’s a non-sequitur. The fact that you know that apple didn’t invent things, and even the fact that you know that a lot of other Apple fans know this, doesn’t alter the fact that a lot of Apple fans really uncritically believe that Apple really invented this stuff.

  212. And I think most of us acknowledge Apple’s skill in marketing, packaging, design and “polish”.

  213. A lot of Apple fans may be uncritical, but not a lot of Apple fans around here. And yet I feel I (and others) get tarred with that brush in the heat of these discussions.

    Personally, I’m less worried about Apple control than carrier control, but I have mixed feelings. I admire the openness of Android, and want it around if for no other reason than for the pressure it puts on Apple, but I recognize that Apple’s control is inextricably linked to their polish (to use that term as shorthand for UI/UX/etc.).

    My fear for Android is that it becomes (or remains) too much like the Windows worlds: cheap and with lots of options, but overwhelmed with awkwardness, ugliness, incompatibilities, and malware.

    Re incompatibilities: John Gruber notes that Hulu Plus for Android is out, and that out of 310+ Android devices, it runs on… 6.

  214. @PapayaSF:

    > A lot of Apple fans may be uncritical, but not a lot of Apple fans around here.

    Nooo, most of the Apple fans around here are highly critical. Of Android. (cf. “even though [Android is] largely an attempt to copy iOS.”)

  215. I wouldn’t own an AK-47.

    I do own several AR-15s, an M1-NM, a M1-A, and several other match rifles.
    And yes, I do own a HK-91.

    (And I’m ranked DM by the NRA in High Power rifle.)

    People who don’t like H&K rifles are people who can’t afford H&K rifles. (Not unlike the Android fanboys who can’t afford an iOS device.)

    The United States Capitol Police use G36s (G3s in .223), and the FBI’s hostage rescue team uses PSG1s. Who in the US shoots an AK that isn’t a psycho Viet Nam vet?

  216. from your link:

    It is reliable, because of the roller locking bolt that destroys your brass, and recoils worse than other competing .308 rifles.

    It recoils because it’s light.

    destroying the brass isn’t something you worry about unless you’re poor or reloading for single-shot match rifle (e.g. 1000 yards or bench rest)

    It *is* reliable, and reliability * accuracy is what you want in an assault rifle.

  217. It sucks not being able to turn off the 60-cycle hum… not even when we go off on a tangent that has nothing to do with Eric.

    >People who don’t like H&K rifles are people who can’t afford H&K rifles. (Not unlike the Android fanboys who can’t afford an iOS device.)
    That’s almost a cliche. Did you read the Correia link? It’s hilarious, and spot-on regarding HK fanbois.

    >Who in the US shoots an AK that isn’t a psycho Viet Nam vet?
    You’d be surprised. Even *having* that prejudice means you’re at least 60.

    >destroying the brass isn’t something you worry about unless you’re poor or reloading for single-shot match rifle (e.g. 1000 yards or bench rest)
    False. Revealing (not anything good, but nevertheless revealing) but false.

    Reloading lets you shoot more (you don’t really do it to save money, you do it to be able to shoot more). Also there are people who like to work up their own custom loads who *aren’t* match shooters (er kind of like you sometimes find people who like to write their own software who aren’t Apple employees). Heh.

  218. > It recoils because it’s light

    No, fool, it’s because unlike other rifles it doesn’t have a gas system to soak up part of the recoil. As for empty weight:

    FN-FAL: 4.5 Kg
    G3: 4.5 Kg
    AR-10: 4.3 Kg
    RFB: 3.7 Kg
    SCAR-H: 3.9 Kg

    Light my ass.

    > The United States Capitol Police use G36s (G3s in .223)

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Please stop. Can’t you see that you’re embarrassing yourself?

  219. >Please stop. Can’t you see that you’re embarrassing yourself?

    I gather you don’t understand the fanboy/haterboy mind very well. Inability to grasp how the behavior around their fixation is received by others is fundamental.

  220. not(Andy Rubin), some of us reload all our rifle brass. Which is why a rifle action so violent of extraction as to require a fluted chamber is undesirable.

    By the way, a G36 is not a 5.56mm version of a G3 ( a H&K 93 would be ) as its a gas operated piston form of action. The G3/CETME and its off spring are roller locked delayed blow-back actions.

  221. >The G3/CETME and its off spring are roller locked delayed blow-back actions.

    Ah! I had forgotten that designation of the CETME. I’ve fired one of those. Due to a mechanical-design issue (or so I was told) they can be difficult to fire single-shot rather than burst unless you have unusually good physical control of the weapon. Well, as it turned out, I did. I was pleased by this.

  222. Haha, Patrick, but I of course I meant I am often critical of Apple. Plus, when I say Android is largely an attempt to copy iOS, I am actually not being critical. That’s what they should be doing, because it seems clear to me that iOS does many things right and is setting a high standard. That doesn’t mean Android won’t be innovative when they can and should (I’m sure they will be), but It would be foolish for Android to be different simply for the sake of being different.

  223. > It would be foolish for Android to be different simply for the sake of being different.

    Right. At some point you have to standardize where the clutch and the brake go. And when somebody else has a good idea, you take it (great artists steal) whether you’re Andy Rubin or Steve Jobs (taking the notifications and enhancing them a bit).

    But I think the point that esr and others were trying to make is that, while Apple may have caused some minor course correction in Android, Android was arguably on the path to produce something that would have been recognizable to all of us as Android, even in Apple’s absence. And of course, despite Apple suing Samsung over iPad look and feel, the design of the iPad dates to 1973.

  224. esr, not sure I know what design issue you are refering to, but CETME’s have pretty crappy triggers as built.

    @not(AndyRubin) – frankly these two comments are difficult to reconcile:
    “(And I’m ranked DM by the NRA in High Power rifle.)”
    “destroying the brass isn’t something you worry about unless you’re poor or reloading for single-shot match rifle (e.g. 1000 yards or bench rest)”

    I can’t imagine a “DM” ( Distinguished Master ) in High Power Rifle writing the second quote. Oh, and “DM” isn’t a classification of NRA High Power competitors, per se, its an award rather than a classification. And its from the CMP, not the NRA … since I know actual competitors who make the same conflation, I won’t actually call you out.

  225. >Android was arguably on the path to produce something that would have been recognizable to all of us as Android, even in Apple’s absence

    This was clear from the beginning to anyone who saw the Danger Hiptop, aka T-Mobile Sidekick, used live. Some friends of mine were early adopters back in 2002.

  226. >esr, not sure I know what design issue you are refering to, but CETME’s have pretty crappy triggers as built.

    Or it might have been a problem with that particular specimen; this was three years ago and I no longer recall the details. What stands out in my recollection was the pleasant surprise of having been told it was a difficult rifle to control and then finding it quite easy to shoot accurately on the first try.

  227. > What stands out in my recollection was the pleasant surprise of having been told it was a difficult rifle to control and then finding it quite easy to shoot accurately on the first try.

    Nobody ever accused you of not understanding firearms. (Did they?)

    > Oh, and “DM” isn’t a classification of NRA High Power competitors, per se, its an award rather than a classification. And its from the CMP, not the NRA …

    > since I know actual competitors who make the same conflation, I won’t actually call you out.

    I think you just did! (Correctly.) The confusion stems, I think from also having been awarded DM by the NRA for small bore ‘prone’. (I never did qualify for the ‘position’ award.) After more than 20 years, it’s all a blur, I’m afraid.

    p.s. the CMP used to be the DCM. (Was when I went out.)

    I shot a metric ton of “surplus” (ahem) Lake City Armory NM .30-06. Suppose I should have saved the brass.

    But anyone shooting a H&K in a real (non-range) situation isn’t going to worry one second about the brass. It’s expendable, and there is business that needs doing. (And I still think they’re neat. No, I don’t own one.)

  228. I think I just outed myself. I’m done here. Have fun, y’all.

  229. This was clear from the beginning to anyone who saw the Danger Hiptop, aka T-Mobile Sidekick, used live. Some friends of mine were early adopters back in 2002.

    I almost bought one.. It was a lot like Android in a lot of ways. A bit more primitive, but well on the way to something like Android is today. Unfortunately, I got laid off before I could scrape together the cash, so it never happened.

  230. I have no doubt that something recognizable as Android would have been produced even if iOS had never existed… but not if the original Mac OS had never existed, because all current major GUIs owe it huge debts. (Yes, I know all about Xerox PARC etc.) Despite it’s shortcomings, iOS is what other mobile OSs are judged against right now, and Android seems to have been clearly influenced by it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  231. I always wondered how the shanzhai make cellphones. What goes into it? Could someone make a Shanzhai-like phone in their garage (minus maybe the cover)?

  232. > I always wondered how the shanzhai make cellphones. What goes into it? Could someone make a Shanzhai-like phone in their garage (minus maybe the cover)?

    I think so, unless some of the chips are BGA. (Even then with a bit of skill you can do it in a toaster oven.)

    But…

    One huge advantage the Shanzhai have is not selling into markets with high-functioning equivalents of the FCC, the FTC, the UL, etc.

  233. > One huge advantage the Shanzhai have is not selling into markets with high-functioning equivalents of the FCC, the FTC, the UL, etc.

    The Thinking Man proposes that these are not necessarily an advantage for the customer, however.

    > I have no doubt that something recognizable as Android would have been produced even if iOS had never existed

    The Thinking Man pauses to consider the fate of OpenMoko.

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