The Smartphone Wars: Short Takes

No grand unifying theme in this installment of our smartphone-wars coverage, but a bunch of short takes.

From Google, muted and conflicting signals about the future of Motorola. I still think journalistic talk of the company trying to run a vertically integrated mobile business a la Apple is hogwash brought on by Jobs-worship, as attempting this would run directly counter to the grand strategy Google has been tenaciously pursuing since 2008. What they will do with the acquisition remains unclear. One patent-law consultant claims Google has blundered and the Motorola patents are a pile of junk, but I think skepticism about that report is warranted – failing in technical due diligence on this issue before the purchase would have been a quite un-Google-like mistake. Most likely Google’s leadership is still wrestling with possibilities.

Hewlett-Packard says it is exploring ways to get money out of WebOS other than consumer mobile devices, and there is informed speculation that the TouchPad was sacrificed as an internal political maneuver. I agree that talk of a TouchPad resurrection is wishful thinking, and that there has been plenty of incompetence to go around at HP lately.

The July 2011 comScore results came out a few days ago. Android’s growth rate is on the same 2% per-month rail it has been, and still on track to break 50% U.S. market share this fall. Microsoft resumes its interrupted fall in market share, though the overall market is growing so fast that it actually gained a thimbleful of users. Apple grows a touch faster than the market, too, which it didn’t in last month’s results; this lowers the odds on near-term disruptive collapse a bit. RIM performs as expected, which is to say badly.

As I noted in a comment a few days ago, the LA Times reported that Android tablet manufacturers are getting the message from the TouchPad frenzy, with Lenovo saying it will debut a $199 tablet at the end of September. While there has been a lot of skepticism about the possibility of non-crappy tablets at that price level, parts breakdowns make it clear that the only serious blocker is the capacitative touchscreen and display assembly – and, as it turns out, multitouch on cheaper resistive touchscreens is possible. Perhaps this is what Lenovo will do.

Interestingly, the article suggests that consumer price expectations for tablets may be being bounded above by the price of e-readers ($250 range). I think this is very plausible – to non-tech-savvy consumers the distinction between a tablet and an e-reader probably isn’t very prominent. I continue to believe that skeptics are underestimating the amount of capital flowing into reducing component costs, and thus underestimating the rate at which tablet prices will fall in the near term.

134 thoughts on “The Smartphone Wars: Short Takes

  1. >thus undestimating the rate at which tablet prices will fall in the near term.

    You seem to be assuming that the minimum acceptable level of quality will remain constant, but I doubt that’s true. As components get cheaper, you will get something different for your $500 than you did in 2011. You’ve been able to buy a $30 mp3 player for years and years, but somehow they never managed to displace the iPod as the market leader.

    The price of the average notebook has certainly fallen over the years, but it has fallen very gradually.

    Also, two of the major costs in manufacturing tablets are the body and the battery. You can’t win in that market by building a $5 plastic enclosure with an acrylic screen and a $10 battery. And the cost on things like batteries, tough glass and CNC-machined aluminium are not dropping all that fast.

  2. No comment on the Amazon “Kindle Color” that TechCrunch covered?

  3. “I still think journalistic talk of the company trying to run a vertically integrated mobile business a la Apple is hogwash brought on by Jobs-worship, as attempting this would run directly counter to the grand strategy Google has been tenaciously pursuing since 2008.”

    Do you think the upcoming Google-less forks of Android by Amazon and Baidu will leave that strategy unchanged?

  4. @steven That’s an interesting question. Does the Amazon Kindle and Baidu Yi count as Android?

    IMHO:

    From an OSS perspective yes.
    From a Google perspective not so much.

    Replacing Google services, especially the search part, interferes with Google’s Android monetization strategy. Not a problem unless the fork gains traction but Baidu Yi has automatic traction in China…that’s going to seriously impact Android (TM) growth even if android (the code) dominates in the form of Yi.

    I don’t see much impact to Apple. They’ve staked out the high end of the market regardless. WP7 in China probably took a hit but Baidu and MS have a search deal. I wonder if Dell will agree to pay MS the royalty fee for their Yi products. That might lessen the sting.

  5. >Do you think the upcoming Google-less forks of Android by Amazon and Baidu will leave that strategy unchanged?

    Yes. Remember that what Google is aiming it is not control but preventing anyone else from controlling.

  6. SVN’s argument is incorrect given that Amazon is using an internal 2.x fork and Baidu has their own Yi store and infrastructure.

    This is Android fully forked. My understanding is that the Kindle OS was built on top of some version of Android prior to 2.2. And Amazon will keep building on top of that of that over time. In other words, this won’t be getting “Honeycomb” or “Ice Cream Sandwich”

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/02/amazon-kindle-tablet/

    Baidu Yi market:

    http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/09/02/will.offer.apps.for.its.android.based.baidu.yi.os/

    Whether Yi turns into a full fork like Kindle I guess depends on Google plans after ICS…or even plans for ICS given that 3.x was never open sourced. I don’t think Google can afford not to open ICS…but I could see a closed Google Android fork ONLY for Google Market and a generic Android for all other app markets. Kinda like RHEL and Fedora…only with the RHEL part completely closed.

  7. Two points: First, your comment “Google’s leadership is still wrestling with possibilities” is quite likely. They are undoubtedly still learning the details and in-and-outs of what they have bought.

    Second, on the components front, remember Christensen’s example of the replacement of cable backhoes by hydraulic – one of the essentials there was the improvement in the hydraulic system components. I would not be surprised to learn that some manufacturer is improving resistive touch screens to the point that they are still cheaper than but functionally competitive with capacitive screens.

  8. Nigel nailed this, but Amazon’s tablet will reportedly use Google for search, so there’s less impact on Google there.

    However, Eric is wrong about Google’s desires. Everything Google is doing in the mobile space is funded the same way Google’s search engine business is funded: by the volume of consumer attention Android devices bring to Google’s advertising business. An Android device that doesn’t generate search engine traffic is not worth as much to Google.

  9. Yes. Remember that what Google is aiming it is not control but preventing anyone else from controlling.

    Google’s aim is to make money too…something it can’t do if Baidu and Amazon is taking too big a share of search and thereby advertising revenue by reducing the eyeball count that Google controls.

    Granted China was already largely lost to them but Amazon could be huge. It doesn’t help Google that much if the two leading tablets are iPads and Kindles followed by Nooks all with largely non-Google ecosystems.

  10. “big share of search” (which is true for Baidu but not Amazon) should have been “big share of eyeballs”…but then I would have used eyeballs twice in the same sentence. Edit would be nice but what the heck, it’s just a comment on a blog. :)

  11. Me, I find the most interesting bit of the Amazon table to be the suggested free Amazon Prime, which would mean each $250 Amazon tablet comes with a huge free video library. It looks to me like a fairly classic “disruptive” play; instead of competing with the iPad head-to-head, it segments a market for cheap video streaming devices, which then produces network effects for Android tablet apps as a non-frontal attack on Apple. And since the approach doesn’t take on Apple head-to-head, it’s hard for Apple to respond; just cutting the price on the iPad to $350 isn’t an answer.

  12. As a prime member the video service is nice to have for free but that disruptive…although the recent NBC and CBS additions are nice. Seems that Netflix has lost a lot of content of late (the MythBusters catalog got gutted) and Amazon Prime streaming is getting better.

    I would expect Amazon Prime streaming to eventually show up on iOS. Folks get Prime to get free 2nd day shipping and the Amazon Windowshop for iPad (while rough around the edges, is pretty neat) and the Kindle reader app shows they’re not going to limit their footprint to just Kindle hardware.

    Apple’s response is iTunes video streaming assuming they can get content. Content is King but they are pretty well covered by Netflix and HuluPlus at the moment…as much as can be…even without their own streaming service.

  13. I dunno. If I were Bezos, I might decide not to put Prime streaming on the iPad. Or, actually, I’d hold the decision until after I saw my tablet’s sales figures. They haven’t done it so far; waiting another few quarters won’t kill ‘em.

    Personally I find the most interesting bit of the Amazon tablet to be their games play. They’ve hired a few very experienced computer gaming people to work on games for them, which suggests to me that they’re more interested in being a game console than Apple is. On the other hand, a non-multi touch screen screws that up, so I wind up even more curious.

  14. Just to be clear, I think Amazon is going to sell a ton of these…and I’m likely to buy one if it is rootable. Otherwise I’ll wait for the Nook Color 2…

  15. Nigel, the point is that there is a huge difference between the markets for “$250 video playing device with large free streaming library” and “$500 tablet that can, with a $96 a year Netflix subscription, stream video”. They mostly don’t compete for the same consumer dollars . . . but the former device still has network effects that will benefit Android devices that do take aim at the iPad.

  16. @Steven

    I would agree that the Kindle tablet will have positive network effects for the Kindle/Amazon ecosystem to some detriment of the iTunes/Apple ecosystem and larger detriment to the Nook/B&N ecosystem but what network effects will the Kindle grant to the Android/Google ecosystem it’s not really part of? There’s no Android branding, there’s little commonality in use of Google apps and services, etc. Apps can be shared to the extent that 2.x apps will be common to both, that’s about it. I would assume that Amazon will be centering their cloud APIs against Amazon cloud services and we’ll see more and more divergence there.

    If anything it’s a huge negative and sucks all the air out of the room for 7″ Android tablets.

  17. If you can write apps for any Android device (including Amazon’s) without a lot of retooling, there’s network benefit there insofar as the ecosystem improves.

  18. >if Baidu and Amazon is taking too big a share of search

    Amazon’s search sucks. If I am looking for a particular book, even if I plan to buy it on Amazon, I often use Google to locate it, then click through to Amazon.

  19. “Amazon’s search sucks. If I am looking for a particular book, even if I plan to buy it on Amazon, I often use Google to locate it, then click through to Amazon.”

    I haven’t had this problem at all, provided you know the actual title or author of the book you are looking for. I agree that Amazon doesn’t have a great browsing interface, but I don’t typically browse for books online. I already know what I want before I go looking.

  20. @PapayaSF:
    “OS X marketshare continues to rise (13.4% in the US, 6% worldwide). Sorry, I’m still not seeing signs of any ‘disruptive collapse’.”

    This actually raises an interesting question. Can anyone think of past examples of industries where a disruptive collapse to the market leader has occurred during a category’s fast-growth phase?

    My intuition says that disruptive collapse doesn’t typically occur when the market is expanding by leaps and bounds. Rather, it’s when growth of the the total category drops dramatically that the strong vs. weak players are sorted out. A rising tide lifts all boats, but when the tide goes out we get to find out who has the most buoyancy and shallowest draft.

    If this is correct, we should not expect to see a disruptive collapse in the U.S. smartphone space until the U.S. market is fully saturated. (The world market will take considerably longer to reach saturation.)

  21. >My intuition says that disruptive collapse doesn’t typically occur when the market is expanding by leaps and bounds.

    Alas, your intuition is wrong. In Christensen’s paradigm case – the disk drive market – disruptive collapses occurred at fairly regular intervals even though the overall market for disk storage was increasing like crazy throughout.

  22. An analysis of the HP situation should be relatively obvious: HP is preparing to pull an IBM and spin-off its PC division. Like IBM, they’ll keep making servers and high-end Unix workstations — where there is still lots of profit to be made — and they’ll concentrate more on services, where the real profit is. Unlike IBM, I don’t think HP will spin-off its printer division; I suspect it’s still very profitable. I could be wrong about that, though.

    WebOS Isn’t likely to be canned. I think that once the PC division is spun out, HP will start making mobile devices aimed at the very large hole that exists in the corporate sector. Neither iPhone nor Android are really ideal as corporate mobile devices. BlackBerry is, but Android and iPhone are pulling enough marketshare away from RIM that RIM won’t be able hold that niche much longer.

    If these events come to pass, remember, you read it here first! ;)

  23. In the PC market, which is what Mac OS X targets, Macs are the disruption…

  24. @jeff nah, the rate of increase for osx isn’t high enough to be disruptive.

    iOS might be. It depends on if you believe we are in a post PC era. I think so but only hindsight will tell.

  25. > failing in technical due diligence on this issue before the purchase would have been a quite un-Google-like mistake.

    Perhaps mistakes like this happen when you only take 5 weeks to do the deal. Can you say, “state of panic”?

  26. > Yes. Remember that what Google is aiming it is not control but preventing anyone else from controlling.

    How, exactly, is this not control?

  27. The “patent expert”, in the article you link to first ESR, who is saying that Motorola Mobile’s patents are junk does not seem to have any actual basis for that claim … other than a toss off about MPEG patents.

    Fairly vapid piece there, so I’d ignore it too.

  28. Jeff Read:

    OS X is a weird case (in the context of Creative Destruction). Apple has been able to push into lower value territory while maintaining its high margins. This is the opposite of disruption, where a low-value, low-margin product gradually gains functionality and displaces its high-margin, high-value counterpart.

  29. I would agree that the Kindle tablet will have positive network effects for the Kindle/Amazon ecosystem to some detriment of the iTunes/Apple ecosystem and larger detriment to the Nook/B&N ecosystem but what network effects will the Kindle grant to the Android/Google ecosystem it’s not really part of? There’s no Android branding, there’s little commonality in use of Google apps and services, etc. Apps can be shared to the extent that 2.x apps will be common to both, that’s about it.

    Are you sure you have any idea what a “network effect” is? Branding doesn’t exhibit any network effects. What search or map service you use doesn’t exert network effects (except insofar as one might go bankrupt). What mail service you use only exerts network effects insofar as to whether it’s part of the Internet-based SMTP network or some proprietary service. What app store you use has minimal effects, if app vendors can get into any of them. The commonality of app development platform is the only thing you mentioned that has any network effects, and in that respect an Android Kindle is fully part of the same world as other Android tablets.

    None of the rest has any impact on network effects either way. Whether a computer was an IBM-branded IBM BIOS machine running PC-DOS on an Intel processor or a small shop custom job with an Award BIOS running DR-DOS on a Cyrix 386, they all contributed to the “PC compatible” platform network effects for software and peripherals, even though they had not one vendor or brand in common.

    > Yes. Remember that what Google is aiming it is not control but preventing anyone else from controlling.

    How, exactly, is this not control?

    Denying an enemy air force air superiority is not the same thing as having air superiority yourself.

  30. During my last international conference, I saw an incredible growth in the number of Macbooks. That has gone on a few years now. I would not be surprised if Apple is about to surpass MS in the high end laptops. At my department too there is an incredible growth in Macbooks. Is Windows 7 really that bad?

  31. Winter – Speaking as someone who’s had Ubuntu on his desktops and laptops for the past six years … Windows 7 is actually ehh okay sorta. It wastes 1GB of memory just sitting there on its huge fat ass, but memory is cheap. It’s pretty (it so wants to be KDE 4 when it grows up), it’s usably functional, it’s got that Windows fresh-out-the-box shoddiness about it … you can use it to do work on without setting it on fire the first day, once you’ve installed everything imaginable from http://ninite.com and installed ClamWin. Personally I’d still Ubuntu it, though.

  32. “plenty of incompetence to go around at HP lately.”

    **LATELY**?

    I guess if you measure things in geological epochs…

    ESR says: Alas, sir, your point is valid.

  33. @David Gerard
    “Personally I’d still Ubuntu it, though.”

    I am switching to Mint/Crunchbang. But I only occasionally have to start up XP. That is all. So I really have not even tried Windows 7. But what I understand of it, MS is perpetually chasing tail-lights, and falling back more and more.

    Anyhow, MS will start to fall apart starting next year anyhow.

  34. Are you sure you have any idea what a “network effect” is? Branding doesn’t exhibit any network effects. What search or map service you use doesn’t exert network effects (except insofar as one might go bankrupt). What mail service you use only exerts network effects insofar as to whether it’s part of the Internet-based SMTP network or some proprietary service. What app store you use has minimal effects, if app vendors can get into any of them. The commonality of app development platform is the only thing you mentioned that has any network effects, and in that respect an Android Kindle is fully part of the same world as other Android tablets.

    branding has network effects in terms of mind share leading to bandwaggoning a related enough concept I shouldn’t have to explicitly call out.

    map, search, mail, etc are part of the cloud suite being used. These are highly integrated into the ecosystem from identity/single signon to social network tiein to shared document format to incompatible DRM (books, video, etc) all with network effects and lock-in for the ecosystem. If folks use Amazon’s picture, video, book, movie, social, etc services it sure does have a negative effect for google controlled services in terms network effects.

    appstore has more network effects than you think. Devs go first to the stores with the most paying customers. This gives the owner more leverage in negotiations and terms and a higher likelihood of exclusives (like amazon and popcap) leading to more folks using their store.

    If the reports are correct then Kindle is forked from 2.x and won’t go to 4.x. API will diverge and the cloud backend (and other) support will be geared toward AWS and not google cloud services.

  35. The future is in the software that runs on the devices. Thus the competition is really about the model for leveraging the content of the devices.

    Amazon: closed-source portal marketplace
    Apple: closed-source one-stop marketplace
    Google: open-source marketplace, closed-source derivative ad server marketplace

    Google doesn’t need to care so much about device content, they only need the internet ad market to continue expanding. Amazon doesn’t need to care so much about the qualities of content, they only need the content providers market to continue expanding (which is why I think they offer the commodity server business). Thus Amazon is working for Google. Apple has to micromanage content, because their model depends on their quality being differentiated from the others.

    Clearly Apple is more vulnerable to disruption than Amazon.

  36. Thus ultimately they are all working for us– we the open source programmers.

  37. Amazon: store – uses devices and content to sell stuff to people
    Google: ads – uses devices and content to sell eyeballs to advertisers
    Apple: devices – uses content and services to sell devices

    All are vulnerable to disruption in different ways.

    One of these care about devices and their users because that how they make money.
    Two of these have me as a customer. The other I am a commodity sold to their customer.

    So two are “working” for me. One is “working” for someone else.

  38. Apple: devices – uses content and services to sell devices

    That is a subset of the more general model I offered, which is that Apple needs to control content quality in order to differentiate their products. They require that their products be differentiated on quality, in order for the total “Apple experience” to be differentiated. Otherwise there is no compelling reason to enter their jailed garden, where more open markets exist for Android and Amazon. Please realize that as hardware costs decline, all significant nominal profits will be made in software, not in hardware. Apple is thus the most vulnerable to disruption because they depend on being able to offer less choice and higher quality, but that isn’t the nature of open source Inverse Commons, where high quality follows from more open choices.

    Amazon: store – uses devices and content to sell stuff to people

    That is a superset of my model which has no predictive power, because all 3 of them use devices and content to sell something, Google sells derivative ad servers. The significant predictive power quality of Amazon’s model, is that is a portal and not a one-stop shop. Thus they are leveraging the devices (Kindle) and commodity servers (EC) businesses to drive more partner websites. Hopefully you have noted that Amazon takes orders for 1000s of partners, where you can find the same product for sale on the partner’s website.

    Google: ads – uses devices and content to sell eyeballs to advertisers

    Yup, and I hope you get the point that the derivative model is immune to need for an result with the devices, other than that no one else can monopolize the devices to block ads. And that the main goal of Google is to lower the cost and increase the number of devices. Google doesn’t need to win the device marketplaces.

  39. So two are “working” for me. One is “working” for someone else.

    That is the simplistic and obvious relationship, which doesn’t capture the more significantly derivative economic relationship that I outlined.

    I noted that ultimately they are all vulnerable to open source business models, i.e. Apple is vulnerable to “Web3.0 open apps” (assuming they won’t be limted to Flash nor HTML5, but fully programmable), Amazon is vulnerable to open source exchange marketplaces (e.g. what I am working on), and Google is eventually vulnerable to open source decentralized social networking (e.g. Diaspora) where rent-free ad serving and relevancy is inherent in the network.

    And they are all working to expand the market, which gives more economy-of-scale to our open source markets. Since closed-source can’t scale, I can boldly claim they are working for open source programmers.

  40. Winter,

    Windows 7 is not bad at all for a Windows release, anyway, and in terms of doing what the average user has to do it is still about 10 years ahead of Linux. Plus there’s the fact that whatever hardware you have, it’ll probably work under Windows.

    But if you truly want no compromises, Mac OS X is your only choice. It’s the only major platform out there right now that’s both a floor wax and a dessert topping: it’s a powerful Unix workstation with a user experience that is truly best-of-breed, and has great productivity software. Ubuntu and friends have come a long way in making Linux look pretty and palatable, but in terms of hardware support, user experience, and software that’s guaranteed to work with what’s in the office it still comes up short.

  41. @Jeff Read
    “and software that’s guaranteed to work with what’s in the office it still comes up short.”

    So, Linux will never get “there” because to do so would require MS porting their Office suit to Linux? Indeed, then you are right, Linux developers cannot get MS to port their software if they really do not want to.

    On the other hand, if you do not need MS software, Linux is already “there” and beyond.

    Anyhow, the “qualities” of the OS do not make much difference. As you say yourself, OSX is way beyond MS Windows in every respect. But that did not get a Mac on every office desk. Most people in business still use XP, and that is rather antiquated. Whatever makes people stick to MS Windows, it is NOT the quality of MS technology.

  42. > Whatever makes people stick to MS Windows, it is NOT the quality of MS technology.

    I’m pretty sure the ‘whatever’ has been known for more than long enough: vendor lock-in. Businesses run on Excel and VB/.Net. Convincing any company to ditch or migrate their automation and processes just so they don’t run MS is like asking a tsunami to please turn around and go back to the sea.

    Another factor: DirectX.

  43. FWIW, I have tried Macs, and to be honest I was never impressed. I always found it extremely hard to get things done. Of course, I have a lot of experience as a Windows user, and consequently, I am not as familiar with the Mac idioms. But I am a reasonably smart and computer savy person, and my experience on a Mac is always extremely frustrating. Basically, until I fire up Microsoft Word (from that really annoying bar at the bottom that is always interfering with everything I do) I am at a loss how to get stuff done.

    As I say, I am a Windows person, so I think in different idioms. But isn’t the Mac supposed to be brain dead easy even for grandma? How come a person who uses computers every day can never get it quite right? Oh and BTW, I see Macs hanging all the time requiring a hard boot, and I know a few people who are suffering the usual indignities of Windows — viruses and the computer grinding down in speed.

    I’m not denying that it is pretty, in that high school cheerleader “look at me I’m so pretty” kind of a way, but so is Windows 7, and I find it just as annoying there too.

    I don’t know why my experience is so different from all the acolytes on the web, but it makes me wonder how much of it is religion and reality distortion over really objective superiority. However, I’m sure I am completely wrong, there must surely be some objective data to back up all the hype. Nonetheless, I’m just relating my experience. I wouldn’t take a Mac over a PC (or a Linux system) if you paid me.

    However, it seems to be almost apostasy to say things like this.

  44. Whatever makes people stick to MS Windows, it is NOT the quality of MS technology

    Another major factor is the browser runs fine on XP. So this opened up an unlimited world of expansion that didn’t require change or OS differentiation. Also most people are task focused, with the minimum disruption possible. An outlier OS presents stumbling blocks along the way, and offsetting theoretical efficiency gains are difficult for the individual to mentally amortize across those. Apple solved this by being a first mover in a new device space.

    This is another reason that I am trying to kill project granularity of composition, and this even applies to open source. We wouldn’t get so stuck if programs could mutate incrementally “with enough monkeys banging randomly on the source” (paraphrased quote of Esr).

  45. Windows 7 is not bad at all for a Windows release, anyway, and in terms of doing what the average user has to do it is still about 10 years ahead of Linux.

    You make this claim based on what? The average user reads mail, surfs the Web and plays solitaire. Or are you talking about office users? Multimedia authoring? I can make specific claims that show that Linux is not lacking at all in these and other areas, but your specific claim relates to the “average user”. Now if you want to talk about certain niche users, then, yes, Linux is behind there.

    Plus there’s the fact that whatever hardware you have, it’ll probably work under Windows.

    Like my trusty old HP Photosmart P1000? Let me give you a hint: Windows 7 doesn’t come with drivers for it, nor can I download drivers for it on HP’s website. I did get this printer to print on Windows 7, but actually locating a usable driver took me about 2 hours of digging on the Net. OTOH, when I plugged it into my Linux, it Just Worked(tm).

    Or maybe like USB GPS mice? Heh heh heh. I’ll bet a few people around here have heard a few horror stories.

  46. Please realize that as hardware costs decline, all significant nominal profits will be made in software, not in hardware.

    Please realize this is a nonsense statement. Hardware costs are based on the needs of the users which increase as software increases in capability. It’s going to be a while before CPU, GPU, display, memory, etc are so good that improvements no longer matter. Until then hardware prices remain fairly static and manufacturers just provide greater capability at the same price points.

    I noted that ultimately they are all vulnerable to open source business models, i.e. Apple is vulnerable to “Web3.0 open apps” (assuming they won’t be limted to Flash nor HTML5, but fully programmable),

    Except it isn’t because Apple apps still perform better than open apps regardless of underlying technology.

    Amazon is vulnerable to open source exchange marketplaces (e.g. what I am working on),

    Good luck with that. I buy from Amazon because of decent prices coupled with brand trust (in terms of customer service, and protection from scams) and their excellent fulfillment capabilities. Openness has no inherent advantages.

    and Google is eventually vulnerable to open source decentralized social networking (e.g. Diaspora) where rent-free ad serving and relevancy is inherent in the network.

    I don’t buy this one either.

  47. @Nigel
    Anything that can be automatized will drop in price to the bare price of the commodities from which it is made. For software, that is the price to copy the bits.

    The only other things that will keep up in price are energy and human time.

    So, in the end, it is work that will pay. In the end, work by the hour.

  48. Jessica,

    People who don’t have years to decades worth of accreted Windows-isms probably find the Mac much easier to learn than people who do. Plus there’s the fact that the transition from Classic to OS X resulted in a net loss of usability for the Mac platform.

  49. I’m pretty sure the ‘whatever’ has been known for more than long enough: vendor lock-in.

    It’s not just vendor lock-in. Try finding a spreadsheet program that offers the wealth of functionality that Excel does and puts it within easy reach of the average user.

    And if you do, tell Ken Burnside about it. I’m sure he’d be glad to switch.

  50. “Oh and BTW, I see Macs hanging all the time requiring a hard boot, and I know a few people who are suffering the usual indignities of Windows — viruses and the computer grinding down in speed.”

    Seriously? I’ve never, never seen a virus in the wild on any of the Macs I own, nor friends who use them. And yet you personally know “a few” who suffer from viruses? Sure, they may have emails that they’ve received with Windows based viruses, but that’s a far cry from being infected by an OSX virus. Sure, we’re talking anecdotes, but your experience is so far from the norm that I’m skeptical of viruses actually being present. Perhaps they’re experiencing something else that’s causing performance issues, or probably running multiple virus scanners like many Windows users I know.

  51. # Jeff Read Says:
    > People who don’t have years to decades worth of accreted Windows-isms probably find the Mac much easier to learn than people who do.

    I imagine — but that is a lot of people, doesn’t that affect the average usability a lot? After all, the best user interface is the one that does what you expect it to do, or where the method of doing your task is extremely obvious. These things are largely culturally defined.

    > Plus there’s the fact that the transition from Classic to OS X resulted in a net loss of usability for the Mac platform.

    Funny, I never hear that caveat when I hear the fanboyz lecture me about the superiority of the Mac.

  52. @jessica I dunno that OSX is easy to learn but I can say that my kids could use my iPad from day 1.

    OSX seems to have the least amount of friction in the environment for me. I like Win7. It’s nice OS…more so than Ubuntu for me. Frankly I moved to OSX so I could stop dealing with linux breakage (suspend/sleep/hibernate, sound, yada yada yada) and still have unix underneath when I wanted it.

  53. Jessica, really? Hard reboots common on Macs? Were these Macs still running OS 9 or something?

  54. Anything that can be automatized will drop in price to the bare price of the commodities from which it is made. For software, that is the price to copy the bits.

    The only other things that will keep up in price are energy and human time.

    So, in the end, it is work that will pay. In the end, work by the hour.

    You guys keep repeating that mantra but it doesn’t seem that reality matches idealism. Producing CPUs is fairly automated so why can’t I buy the latest Intel cpu for the cost of the silicon and the energy to make the CPU and ship it to me? Answer: because production costs aren’t the only costs.

    So the same is for software. The cost for software is never just the cost of moving bits around unless someone is giving you something of value for free or you’re stealing someone’s product.

    So some companies pay developers by the hour to make proprietary software that they then sell for profit. Developers like this because they make a decent living out of this arrangement. Customers like this because they can click a button on an app store and instantly (more or less) get new capability on their computer. Everyone but RMS and his adherents are happy. That’s not a model that’s going away anytime soon.

  55. I haven’t had to hard reboot, but XCode crashes about as often as Visual Studio 6 ever did.

    Safari on iPad crashes every few days.

  56. By the way, the first computer virus for microcomputers was on the Mac. It was in the executable stream of data files.

  57. @nigel
    Legal monopolies make things expensive, true. And copying bits is never stealing. It is at most ann infringment of copyright. Stealing involves exclusive ownership and piracy involves ships an violence. Copied bits are non-exclusive and do not involve ships.

  58. > Looks like the can of worms on the openness of Android is . . . opened

    This is news? This is concerning, even?

  59. @jsk I think it might provide some insight into Google’s true role for Motorola regarding patents and hardware.

  60. @winter given that copyright infringement has been called piracy from 1603 (if you believe wikipedia) I’d say you’re a bit behind the times.

    As far as whether it is legally stealing, no. Ethically, I’d say yes given you’re taking something that doesn’t belong to you. Claiming otherwise (legal monopolies, blah blah blah) is just justifying selfish behavior and trying hard not to justifiably get called a thief. If they don’t want you to have a copy without paying either pay or do without.

    In any case, “legal monopolies” exist so the cost of hardware (nor the cost of software and ecosystems) isn’t going to become the bare price of the components so Shelby’s premise that all profit will be from the software is flawed. Apple isn’t immune to disruption but it’s not going to get disrupted in this fashion anytime soon. ESPECIALLY given that they excel in supply chain management. Undercutting their tablet and MBA hardware costs is pretty hard at the moment.

  61. Nigel Says:
    > Ethically, I’d say yes given you’re taking something that doesn’t belong to you.

    Please define the words “taking”, “something” and “belong” in the context you used them. Please list the differences between the following

    * “You are taking my car which does not belong to you”
    * “You are taking my ebook which does not belong to you”
    * “You are taking my idea which does not belong to you”
    * “You are taking that song I was singing, which does not belong to you”
    * “You are taking my job which does not belong to you”

  62. @wlad: Regarding Florian Mueller’s blog…I still read it because of the hard data he puts in it. He is knowledgeable and energetic. Regarding the non-factual portions of his writing, I have come to believe that one of the two following statements is true…

    Either (1) Apple/Microsoft/Oracle are run by geniuses AND Google/Samsung/HTC/Motorola are run by idiots OR (2) Florian’s opinions are biased for undisclosed reasons.

    Take your pick, YMMV. Florian Mueller doesn’t have any better idea than you or I what Google’s intentions re Motorola are. Wrapping up his opinion in legal claptrap is misleading but it gets him quoted.

    @Louis4: The linked article is a rehash of Florian’s blog, same comments apply.

    Generally (although they don’t report on the same subjects all the time), I find that I place more credibility in Groklaw when they have something to say on patent litigation (With SCO all but wrapped up, they are posting more on Oracle v Google). Always looking for other hopefully unbiased sources if any knows one…

  63. @jsk I think it might provide some insight into Google’s true role for Motorola regarding patents and hardware.

    I like how the comment doesn’t even mention the very last line of the slide.. “Provide Incentives… Carrots rather than Sticks”.

    How is “Screw the lot of you we’re going to do it ourselves” EVER going to be a carrot?

    Considering they’re calling this the _takeway_ (i.e. in the context of the entire presentation that was the most important message of the slide) I can think of no meaning of “provide incentives” that would be consistent with “we’re going to stiff every one of our partners by making phones ourself”.

    In fact to me this makes the skunkworks theory an even more plausible idea. “we’re going to develop cool technologies(considering thats pretty much our stock in trade) and give them to our partners who play nice first” is 100% carrot (Plus they get potential patent armaments).

    Oh and btw… to those who thought i was being a google fanboy when i said “It means that google doesn’t get to use the stick and instead has to use the carrot”… Read em and weep.

  64. P.S. by comment i mean the blog post. Not Loius4′s comment.

    My bad for confusing word usage.

  65. There are roughly five applications that keep me from going to Unix/Linux:

    1) Microsoft Excel. Nothing remotely comes close to Excel in terms of capability and ease of use and automatability, nor is as widely spread. I can make an argument that the VAST majority of actual honest to got computer programming done by humanity is making reports and exploratory graphs in Excel.

    Give me an IDE that works like Excel with graphical display of the interrelation between variables and produces Python…and I might well be content.

    2) Microsoft Word. I know people in the authoring and legal professions who insist that Word is best in breed for managing collaborations. I find it bloated and clunky, but still more responsive than Google docs or Libre Office Writer.

    3) Adobe InDesign. This has become a de-facto industry standard.

    4) Adobe Illustrator: Inkscape doesn’t do what I need to do with a vector drawing program.

    5) Adobe Photoshop: The GIMP is the closest thing to a real competitor to anything on this list. I do not know if they’ve ever gotten it to do pre-press color separations yet.

    By and large, open source software is written by programmers for programmers, and it takes a charismatic tyrant to impose even Microsoft-levels of user experience expertise on them.

  66. Another (interesting) take on the motorola set-top-box business:

    http://www.geekwire.com/2011/googles-bigger-game-subplot-motorola-acquisition

    Given this type of expected outcome, coupled with the inevitable conclusion that advertising value of time spent on the web will continue to lag time spent with television at an even greater rate, anything Google can do to help transfer not only eyeballs, but the inherent dollar value of web-centric advertising is a double win for them.

    Partnering with the cable companies gives Google the key pieces that it needs to accelerate this convergence. It provides Google a gilded path into the living room with a fundamental service channel, and a large existing audience that is already locked into a core portal – which is otherwise known as the electronic program guide or EPG.

  67. @Nigel
    “As far as whether it is legally stealing, no. Ethically, I’d say yes given you’re taking something that doesn’t belong to you.”

    There are other considerations: Some of Jessica’s examples can be labeled as censorship. Others can be labeled as a privilege.

    This whole “ownership maximalist” thing has been extended from the sensible “The owner incurs all negative externalities” to “The owner has a right to all positive externalities”. So now my Intellect (Mind) has become the Property of someone else. In the end, it simply leads to censorship. For commercial and political reasons I am not allowed to express certain words, make certain music, or do certain things.

    This leads to the absurd situation that the costs of copyright enforcement is surpassing the value of the copyright itself. Especially if you add the implementation and opportunity costs of crippling hard- and software to that of the actual legal enforcement.

    It is easy to say that it is for the greater benefit. But all the evidence points towards the current implementation being for the greater loss of us all. And great are the losses, indeed.

  68. Someone who totaly agrees with Eric

    Will Google Keep Motorola?
    By Christine Hall
    http://fossforce.com/2011/09/will-google-keep-motorola/

    Google just needs the patents. They need an electronics manufacturing company like they need a hole in the head. I doubt they intend to keep Motorola, and I suspect their Android partners understand that. It wouldn’t even surprise me if I were to discover that one of them has already agreed to purchase the handset maker as soon as the DOJ approves the deal and Google claims ownership.

  69. @jobcb – The statements are damaging because it shows that Google knew that Sun owned the Java IP and it had to get a license. If shown to be infringing then it’s willful infringement.

    The question about the carrot part is whether it’s working (not for Baidu or Amazon) and what they’re going to do stick wise if they can’t monetize Android as planned. Amazon has many of the same carrots and the willingness to pay developers for timed exclusives. If the hot new games are on the Amazon store and all the other apps are there as well then the value of the Google store is much lower.

    Whether Amazon will license the Kindle OS to 3rd party hardware companies remains to be seen but I expect Amazon to take the #2 tablet position this Christmas assuming they launch as rumored and dwarf shipments of all other Android tablets.

  70. The statements are damaging because it shows that Google knew that Sun owned the Java IP and it had to get a license. If shown to be infringing then it’s willful infringement.

    Um.. i think you and I are talking about different things.

    You sound like you’re talking about the Lindholme draft email. I’m interested to see what the impact of a context-free unsent draft email will be on a jury but leave that aside, that’s not what i’m referring to.

    The link that i’m referring to is talking specifically about a single slide from a presentation with a heading of “If we gave it away, how can we ensure we get to benefit from it” of which the highlighted section says

    * Do not develop in the open. Instead make source code available after Innovation is complete.
    * Lead device concept: Give early access to the software to partners who build and distribute devices to our specification (ie, Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to market advantage and in return they align to our standard.

    and then proceeds to make random stabs at google.

    A good example of this is “We’re also wondering just where Verizon putting Bing on a number of phones fits into aligning to Google’s standard”. Now this seems really sinister right? like… ooooh Verizon is hitting back! Except i’m pretty sure that Bing is on my Motorola Milestone and if it’s not, adding it is going to be a piece of piss with at least one official extension available from the app market. I KNOW that it’s on my ASUS EEE Pad transformer. You know… one of those “preferential treatment” honeycomb pads.

    If Google’s strategy is what ESR believes (and this slide pretty heavily backs him up IMO) then Google doesn’t mind if you put Bing, Baida or whatever search engine you like on there. Hell, make it default No problems! So long as people can still go into Browser -> Settings -> Advanced -> Set Search Engine and say “Google”… their money is well spent. Remember… not looking for lock-ins, just preventing competitor lock-ins.

    The question about the carrot part is whether it’s working (not for Baidu or Amazon) and what they’re going to do stick wise if they can’t monetize Android as planned. Amazon has many of the same carrots and the willingness to pay developers for timed exclusives. If the hot new games are on the Amazon store and all the other apps are there as well then the value of the Google store is much lower.

    We don’t have enough information yet. We don’t know how “non-android” they are. Recall that that presentation is calling motorola a good specification partner with every likelihood this is post-motoblur and the baidu “fork” didn’t look that different from android at all (just some different apps… woo scary).

    However i’d be surprised if they had any stick specifically planned at all. “Ok you go off and do your own thing. You’ll come crawling back when the bugs and slow release schedules come for you in the night and we’ll still be here”. I’d probably change my prediction if warfare(i.e. patent suits) broke out between them and other android partners.

    To put it another way, if you love your mobile OS set your partners free, If you’re really better they’ll be back.

  71. @Nigel: hardware prices remain fairly static and manufacturers just provide greater capability at the same price points

    The greatest capability increase of the past decade has been the knowledge deposited on the internet, the consumption of which has supplanted compiling as my main knowledge activity. For that purpose, my less than $100 computer (in 1990s dollars) works as well as $1000+ one I needed a decade ago to compile faster (when compiling was my main activity). I am not factoring in the price of the monitor, as these have razor thin profit margins, and remember my point is that profit margins drive the relative “nominal” (global aggregate) profit when comparing hardware vs. software.

    And the price is not my point, but rather that per-unit profit margins in hardware are declining, because the economies-of-scale are increasing with the physical production automated (or cheap labor which is in oversupply as we enter the knowledge age). Thus the aggregate profits are becoming a relatively lower percentage of total profits in the world, when the comparison is between industry in general versus software and knowledge production. In short, all profits are derived from the knowledge portion of the business, not the physical production.

    Apple apps still perform better than open apps regardless of underlying technology

    That debatable quality advantage isn’t sustainable, because the Inverse Commons has proven numerous times to be the winning economic model.

    @Winter: So, in the end, it is work that will pay. In the end, work by the hour.

    Knowledge is can’t be automated. Labor by-the-hour is not correlated with knowledge production, and is often anticorrelated, e.g. the Mythical Man Month. The belief that labor and knowledge are equivalent is the fallacy of communism.

  72. @Shelby
    “The belief that labor and knowledge are equivalent is the fallacy of communism.”

    Could be. But still, creating knowledge is work, hard work at that. It takes many hours. And if we look at scientists, who as a group are arguably the biggest creators of “raw” knowledge, they are definitely paid by the hour.

    And most “knowledge creators”, be it software coders or writers, are paid by the hour too, not from any “positive externalities” like licensing (work-for-hire paradigm). Even those who write books get their real income from other sources (have a talk with Randal Schwartz about his income from the Perl books).

    So, in the end, I believe the “equilibrium price” of non-exclusive knowledge will simply be the hourly rate of the creator.

  73. @Nigel: but it’s not going to get disrupted in this fashion anytime soon

    Disruption is often a waterfall event, that isn’t expected by most observers. This is because it is often a surprising technology paradigm-shift, and the nature of new technology, is that it isn’t well known before it is created and proven in the market.

    I am specifically working on the technology that indirectly could possibly disrupt Apple’s “native apps better than web apps” model, and more directly cause imperative programming such as Apple’s required development system to suffer an orders-of-magnitude loss in relative productivity, and last night I rough drafted a beginner’s tutorial to explain it (section Copute Tutorial at bottom of page). The library and compiler are progressing. Is the 5 line code example in the tutorial not compelling, elegant, and intuitive enough for rapid adoption?

  74. @jobb

    Um.. i think you and I are talking about different things.

    You sound like you’re talking about the Lindholme draft email. I’m interested to see what the impact of a context-free unsent draft email will be on a jury but leave that aside, that’s not what i’m referring to.

    Yes, I was confused because I had read the Rubin email regarding a RedHat like distribution model for Android (by Sun) and that they were asking for $100M/year licensing.

    My bad.

    Anyway back to carrots and sticks.

    If Google’s strategy is what ESR believes (and this slide pretty heavily backs him up IMO) then Google doesn’t mind if you put Bing, Baida or whatever search engine you like on there. Hell, make it default No problems! So long as people can still go into Browser -> Settings -> Advanced -> Set Search Engine and say “Google”… their money is well spent. Remember… not looking for lock-ins, just preventing competitor lock-ins.

    Except the potential scenario is lockout right? Baidu isn’t likely to allow Google anything on their platform and will have the blessing of the Chinese government in doing so. It’s not clear to me when those slides were produced…if they factored in ad revenue from China that’s a big hit to the original revenue projections.

    The Koreans appear to be heading in the same direction.

    Amazon could lock google out from everything but web searches. More importantly, the default advertising API mechanism in Kindle OS for app developers is likely Amazon focused using their own ad service.

    http://gigaom.com/2011/04/08/is-amazon-entering-the-display-ad-business/

    Want to bet that Amazon is going to be a lot more competent and cut throat than Apple in this arena? And they’re going to be using their version of Android to do it.

    My suspicion is that the Kindle is going to be a highly managed environment (like iOS) and isn’t going to be as easily rootable as the Nook Color. The odds of the Nook app easily running on the Kindle as a sideload strikes me as remote.

    Google certainly has a stick. Closed development where infrequent drops of Android is open sourced months or years or forever behind the mainline Google Market Android release. Then the Baidu and Amazon forks will see greater and greater divergence to the point where app compatibility is likely significantly degraded.

  75. @Shelby: my less than $100 computer (in 1990s dollars)
    because the economies-of-scale are increasing
    In short, all profits are derived from the knowledge portion of the business

    So this requires those who produce knowledge must be wealthier than does who don’t, otherwise these economies-of-scale (driven by a large population and the declining costs of physical production) are wasted in the collectivist redistribution scam.

    The propaganda about overpopulation is merely the calls of passive capital for a bailout from the knowledge age. But no one can bail them, game over, check mate. Do they even know what time it is?

  76. Baidu isn’t likely to allow Google anything on their platform

    I am hopeful that blocking anything will become technically impossible, if we can reach the point where web apps are inherently trustable, because a declarative language is a “no corner cases” sandbox. Thus someone writes a peering app that serves google over peer IP addresses (a la Skype), then even IP blocking becomes useless.

  77. Amazon could lock google out from everything but web searches. More importantly, the default advertising API mechanism in Kindle OS for app developers is likely Amazon focused using their own ad service.

    Advertising is not something you “default”. Unless you’re suggesting that Kindle-android developers are going to be expecting that working with “com.google.ads” is going to point them to Amazon (and thats principle-of-least-surprise violation if ever i saw one) it’s something a developer is going to choose to do. Basically what i’m saying is that the decision to advertise with is actually in the hands of the app developer not the device.

    And if com.google.ads is overwritten in the kindle then my first reaction would be to by add a small class that developers put into their own jar file that handles it.

    (Oh and yes Amazon could just not provide a com.google.ads or provide a degenerate one, however that stands a fair chance of breaking apps and will damage the amazon app store)

  78. @JonB (sorry for the name typo earlier)

    Advertising is not something you “default”. Unless you’re suggesting that Kindle-android developers are going to be expecting that working with “com.google.ads” is going to point them to Amazon (and thats principle-of-least-surprise violation if ever i saw one) it’s something a developer is going to choose to do. Basically what i’m saying is that the decision to advertise with is actually in the hands of the app developer not the device.

    Well com.google.ads is kinda a default isn’t it?

    I’m saying they could simply provide a com.amazon.ads that is functionally identical and built into their SDK as a first class citizen. This wouldn’t cause much heartache for developing for the kindle market. Google/AdMob will have to maintain a separate jar to be Kindle OS compatible if the SDKs start to diverge much from stock 2.x.

    The other way to make devs agree not to use competing ad services to gain access to the kindle specific marketplace. I’m guessing that Amazon is not quite brazen enough to do this but it could. If the kindle market is big enough and Amazon ad-revenue sharing terms reasonable enough it probably would pass muster with many devs.

  79. If the kindle market is big enough and Amazon ad-revenue sharing terms reasonable enough it probably would pass muster with many devs.

    The first is a non-starter. Since the kindle market(the amazon app store, what i call “Amazon Apps”) already accepts AdMob apps, Amazon Apps would have to be bigger than Amazon Apps + Google Apps which is not possible.

    The second is possible but then as I said… it’s still the devs choice, which means no lock-out. If AdMob dies because Amazon ads is better then that’s just business as usual.

  80. The first is a non-starter. Since the kindle market(the amazon app store, what i call “Amazon Apps”) already accepts AdMob apps, Amazon Apps would have to be bigger than Amazon Apps + Google Apps which is not possible.

    Amazon Android App Market and Kindle App Market may be two different things so obviously it is possible. There is no reason that Amazon couldn’t have a Kindle apps only market just like the Nook Color. Again, it would be mildly surprising if you could just sideload the Nook app onto the Kindle.

    If the kindle color (for lack of a better name) sells as well as I expect to (millions) then the devs will make whatever accommodations required given there would essentially be no other Android tablet market this christmas.

    This expectation is based on the high probability that Amazon has locked in exclusives for their markets for high profile games and agreements from top app makers to have Kindle optimized apps ready on launch day. Coupled with their free video streaming and other advantages it’s likely to be the hottest CE christmas gift item for 2011 unless Apple has something really awesome to be unveiled next month. That strikes me as unlikely…I don’t see a 5″ iPod Touch or an iPhone Nano or something similar to steal the giftable limelight. Lots of folks will buy the iPhone 5 but fewer give them as gifts. An updated iPod touch, even if it had 3G, might not be as hot.

    If access to this market means replacing com.google.ads with com.android.ads that’s a no brainer. That would instantly jumpstart Amazon’s mobile advertising business in a far bigger and more harmful way than iAds ever will. If Bezos has ad ambitions that’s a no brainer to leverage the Kindle to do this.

    Then again the hardware/software could just suck but based on the review it seems to do what it does well in the context of a short hands on demo.

  81. Disturbing news:

    “Apple Inc. on Friday scored another win against Samsung Electronics Co. in a global patent war as a German court backed an injunction banning the South Korean company from selling its tablet computers in Germany.

    “The court in Düsseldorf upheld a preliminary injunction gained by Apple at the beginning of August against Samsung’s PC Galaxy 10.1, which is widely considered the most promising challenger to Apple’s iPad. However, the ban remains under appeal from Samsung, and a ruling on whether the Galaxy is too similar to the iPad remains subject to a later trial.”

    But the real issue is that Samsung’s “solution” seems to be to back away from Android completely:

    “Samsung is preparing to expand its range of tablets by using a new version of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows software to avoid further legal clashes, according to people familiar with the matter.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903285704576560073220716118.html?mod=WSJ_hps_sections_tech

  82. Sprint will get the iPhone 5 later this year.

    I think I just lost a major reason to stay with Android.

  83. @Cathy why is samsung starting to use wp7 or win8 a bad thing for consumers?

    More competition is typically better. I’d much rather see a 3-4 way race over a duopoly. Shame that webos isnt doing well. I really like their cards ui. Likewise I like the WP7 tiles.

  84. @Nigel:
    “Why is samsung starting to use wp7 or win8 a bad thing for consumers? More competition is typically better. I’d much rather see a 3-4 way race over a duopoly.”

    Several reasons.

    – The smartphone market is rapidly moving toward a duopoly between Android and iOS. Both are likely to be long-term credible players, while all other options are rapidly losing credibility and staying power. If Samsung jumps to WP7 for its tablets, it will be riding a losing horse and the only real beneficiary will be Apple. Like it or not, the only long-term credible alternative to iOS appears to be Android.

    – Microsoft: ugh. Need I say more? Almost anyone would be a preferred partner.

    – It’s one thing when bad patents drive up the cost of products by forcing additional licensing fees. But the patent problem rises to a whole new level when a popular product that represents the major competitor to a market leader literally cannot market its product at any price due to patent restrictions, but feels forced to fall back to an inferior product. Imagine if Apple had had strong legal support for “look & feel” in the late 80′s and early 90′s, and had been able to force Microsoft (and everyone else) to stick with a command-line DOS with no Windows at all; we’d have an even more rigid desktop monopoly than Microsoft held.

  85. @Cathy smartphones appear to be less likely for a duopoly now given baidu yi, wp7, bada are all likely to take share from mainline android. It easy to dismiss wp7 but Nokia looks to have some nice hardware come out soon and mango is a needed improvement. So I disagree that the only credible alternative to iOS is Android.

    Even if it was true it doesn’t matter. iOS isn’t currently structured to take more than a fraction of the market. Even if android didn’t exist and Apple was competing against just symbian, wp6 and rim they wouldn’t have any more share than they do today. Apple tends toward supply rather than demand constrained. The only time demand slackens is when folks are waiting for the next version.

    Tablets might be different. Apple might be able to make enough tablets to take a majority share. The market is currently a lot smaller.

    I have no problems with MS products. They tend to be a bit less user friendly than Apple products but provide good value for the money. I also don’t view WP7 as an inferior product to Android. It looks like a very nice mobile OS that is very developer friendly. MS dev tools are among the best and they write (and document) very strong SDK/APIs.

  86. There is no reason that Amazon couldn’t have a Kindle apps only market just like the Nook Color.

    Other than one of the reasons why Android is a success right? Because it means that competing devices can nonetheless share developer mindshare. Without which you’lll never get to the critical mass where its worth it to developers to make the effort.

    Maybe amazon has some special secret sauce that can make things magically work… but I doubt it.

    smartphones appear to be less likely for a duopoly now given baidu yi, wp7, bada are all likely to take share from mainline android

    I’ll believe both the assertions that Baidu and Bada aren’t just android with skins and that wp7 will do anything but fail the hard way when I see evidence to the contrary.

  87. >I’ll believe both the assertions that Baidu and Bada aren’t just android with skins and that wp7 will do anything but fail the hard way when I see evidence to the contrary.

    I’m pretty sure bada is not a skinned Android – it would suck much less if it were. It’s actually losing users too and I think it’s not likely to survive another three quarters.

  88. @JonB If amazon can sell millions of Kindles then developer mindshare won’t be an issue. Making enough Kindles to meet demand will. Critical mass will be a given because there isn’t going to be an android tablet critical mass this year anyway.

    If they can’t sell millions of kindles then it doesn’t matter at all how they structure their markets.

    Baidu yi is an android with a skin…but we’re talking google lockout. Baidu sure as hell can lock google out of their ecosystem in China. Any android monetization plans for China envisioned in the early days is dead. Baidu can make it hard to root Hi devices and can keep their fork closed source except for the GPL parts.

    Google is also likely to get locked out of some Korean android fork in the future as well in favor of Korean search and ad services.

    So Google’s Asian monetization plans are at large risk in Asia. In the west they are likely to see core competition from Amazon in ads leveraging their IP against them.

    Whether wp7 fails remains to be seen. MS has deep pockets and is willing to spent to get into the market. Xbox is a successful example. Zune is not…but they kept at the zune for a long time and is now essentially replaceable by a wp7 device

  89. Heh both Larry’s have to show up in court for mediation. Perhaps the oracle vs google lawsuit should be decided in a cage match between ellison vs page. :)

    I’m guessing they get to sit around a couple days saying pleasantries and agreeing that it has to be solved in court. I wonder if Google would offer the $100M/year Sun wanted to make it all go away.

  90. “Baidu yi is an android with a skin…but we’re talking google lockout. Baidu sure as hell can lock google out of their ecosystem in China. Any android monetization plans for China envisioned in the early days is dead. Baidu can make it hard to root Hi devices and can keep their fork closed source except for the GPL parts.”

    Irrelevant. Since China controls all the servers, they can lock out any phone, tablet, etc. regardless of operating system. For U.S. companies, any U.S. companies, monetizing the Chinese ad market appears to be a pipe dream unless you can persuade the Chinese government that it would be in their best interest.

  91. @Cathy which does not make my point irrelevant. Given that android is largely apache anyone with a comparable ecosystem can lock google out. The carrots in the slide won’t work against Baidu, Korea or amazon if they choose. Locking unapproved devices from google market is a two edged sword. Some competitors can more than live with that…thats what they want.

    That the Chinese have their great firewall is what is irrelevant in this case. While it can be used as an economic weapon, doing it so blatantly would likely trigger formal US protest. Given they can just lock out Google in the OS this isn’t required.

  92. What a fun timeline:

    Both Samsung and HTC remarked that they need their own OS in the long term. The purpose of having an OS is to own the entire stack from hardware to app store, just as Apple does.

    Samsung is reported to be in talks with HP about webOS.

    Google buys Motorola. Google wants to make devices in order to own the entire stack from hardware to app store, just as Apple does.

    This raises serious questions about Android’s future. The other Android vendors are afraid Motorola will get preferential treatment.

    Thus Samsung’s and HTC’s quest for a new OS becomes more urgent. There are three candidates: Windows Phone, webOS, and MeeGo.

    The Windows Phone deal is bad: instead of being beholden to Google the device vendors would have to do as Microsoft tells them. And they’d have to pay royalties. And they don’t get to control the entire stack from hardware to app store, just as Apple does.

    And Microsoft is threatening to integrate Skype in Windows Phone, and that is something the mobile operators really won’t like — free phone calls are rather high on their Things To Hate list. They could very well cut offenders out of their retail channels, which is something Samsung and HTC really won’t like. (See also Nokia, upcoming problems of.)

    Thus Windows Phone will be more expensive and far harder to sell than Android, and it doesn’t solve the fundamental dependency problem. Windows Phone is not the solution.

    HP, webOS’s owner, which is in the process of being transformed into an upscale consultancy firm (why? don’t we have enough of them already?), wants to get rid of its hardware divisions, including mobile. They find that entering the mobile market is expensive, in tens of billions of dollars values of expensive, and don’t want to foot the bill. Besides, mobile was the previous CEO’s hobby.

    HP is not a software company, and webOS-as-software in HP would be like a swan in a tractor factory: pretty to look at, but not exactly useful, or at one with the environment. Sale is the only option.

    When the MotoGoogle bombshell breaks HP hurriedly announces webOS is for sale. They might make a good price for webOS now that many companies are looking for a replacement for Android. So sell it to the highest bidder, whom everbody assumes to be Samsung. This also forces them to reveal the entire reorganisation plan prematurely. (OK, that last statement is conjecture.)

    Then Samsung states it will never buy webOS.

    Intel, MeeGo’s owner, was betrayed by Nokia, which has stupdily decided to go Windows Phone. Thus Intel owns a promising but half-developed OS without any devices. It does not want to pay billions to enter the mobile market.

    Intel draws the same conclusion as HP: sell it now that the market is hot.

    Samsung is said to be interested, but later denies it. It will focus on its own OS: bada. A bit late, and lots of confusion could have been avoided, but this message is clear and in line with Samsung’s strategy over the past few years.

    HTC says it’s interested in other OSs, but “won’t be rushed” — unlike certain other large Android vendors it could mention.
    Everybody agrees webOS is the most likely candidate. It has a natural constituency that MeeGo and Windows Phone lack: web developers. HTC will have to learn to communicate with them, though.

    But HTC won’t be rushed. Maybe HP will lower the price.

    In theory all of the above also goes for Sony Ericsson, LG, and other Android vendors, but they are already in a lousy position and are less likely to take bold and expensive action.

    On the other hand, MeeGo is still in the market, and with Samsung and HTC gone the price may drop.
    My guess is that if anyone will use it, it’ll be Sony Ericsson. Unless Nokia forswears Windows Phone and embraces MeeGo. Who knows? Weirder things have happened in the past few weeks.

    In any case, Google needs Samsung and HTC more than Samsung and HTC need Google.

    Google gave HTC the patents in order to keep it in the Android flock. Google was afraid of desertion — a fear that seems well warranted. (OK, this is conjecture. But it fits.)

    Google, developers, and possibly consumers want a unified Android for ease of development. Device vendors and operators want differentiation in order to retain visibility with the consumer. Device vendors and operators also very very much want their own app stores preinstalled instead of the Android Market.

    Samsung and HTC will desert unless Google relaxes its efforts to unify Android and gives the vendors what they want — including their own app stores.

    Own OSs or liberalised Android, the traditional device vendors have won against Google.

    Android is in serious trouble. Even if it survives as a major OS its fragmentation problems will spread to the core: the Android Market.

    The iPhone Nano will wreak slaughter among the divided Android army.

    Thou shalt not hare-brainedly enter the mobile device market with a splash and a bang. It upsets the sheep.

    You listening, Microsoft? Don’t even think about it.

    We’ll only start to notice all this in the market in Q2 or so. All vendors have traditional Android devices in the pipeline, and they’ll be released according to schedule for Christmas and Chinese New Year. It’s the next set of devices that will run a new OS or a liberalised Android.

    No doubt we’ll have more news in a few days, after which this line of reasoning turns out to be totally outdated, not to mention misguided and short-sighted. But it is where I stand right now.

  93. Google buys Motorola. Google wants to make devices in order to own the entire stack from hardware to app store, just as Apple does. . . . No doubt we’ll have more news in a few days, after which this line of reasoning turns out to be totally outdated, not to mention misguided and short-sighted. But it is where I stand right now.

    Actually, about eight hours before you posted, it was reported that Google tried to buy MMI’s patents alone, and only bought the whole company when MMI refused to sell the patents. Source is an under-penalty-of-perjury SEC filing. So, outdated before you even posted it.

  94. Note Samsung’s MS Tablet OS is most likely Win8, not WP7. Win8 supports ARM and is already booting on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the dev platform MS gave away at Build is based on the Samsung Slate 7 (i5-based Tablet PC). Win8 also offers significant advantages for Samsung in the Tablet space, most notably a real ecosystem as it can run .NET & Silverlight apps with only minor changes from the Win7 versions of said apps (for ARM) or unchanged (for x86). Which makes me wonder when we’ll see the first real Atom-based Tablet, I’m betting those will ship at launch for Win8.

    I’m no big fan of Metro or WP7, but I’m thinking right now that WP7′s days are numbered and WP8 will be essentially ARM Win8 with phone/SMS capability. And of course if MS can nail compatibility between WP and Windows they’ll acquire the sort of ecosystem necessary to make their phone OS viable. If MS can successfully pull the phone/tablet market into the PC/Laptop market it’s a net win for both themselves and Apple and a major loss for Google who suddenly loses their marketshare advantage.

  95. @Adam Maas
    As usual, if MS can stop the competition from selling and improving their products, they will eventually be able to catch up and play their Windows Desktop card. Stress on “eventually”.

  96. @Adam Maas
    Note, Win8 is a completely different OS from WP7. Both are incompatible. Also, Win8 ARM will not run Win8 i86 binaries or vice versa.

  97. @Winter: Win8 ARM will run Win8 x86 apps if they’re .NET and interpreted or if they’re Silverlight, which pretty much includes all Metro apps (and you’re generally only going to want to use Metro apps on a tablet). These Apps will for the most part run on WP7 as well. It’s only traditional Win32 x86 apps which won’t run on Win8 ARM, which will be mostly legacy apps or apps that need the desktop UI.

  98. @Adam Maas
    “It’s only traditional Win32 x86 apps which won’t run on Win8 ARM, which will be mostly legacy apps or apps that need the desktop UI.”

    Which seem to me to be all the things that would make it worth while to bother with MS Windows in the first place. Because without “legacy apps” why would you chose Windows?

  99. The big advantage for choosing Windows outside of the x86 desktop apps? App syncing, Win8 Metro apps purchased through the Windows App Store are tied to your Live account, not the install. Login anywhere, get your apps and data. So your phone, tablet and laptop all have the same set of apps with no hassles. And the sort of apps that this won’t work for are generally the ones which need more horsepower than a tablet/phone can provide. MS seems to have identified the biggest weakness of the iOS and Android app stores (per-device purchase/install) and if their syncing works better than iOS or Android (which isn’t hard, both suck, especially if you have experience with Palm’s Synergy) they may actually disrupt the current market. And the current market, particularly the Tablet market, is ripe for disruption.

  100. @Adam Maas
    Given that MS have never delivered before, I believe it when I see it. Else, I do not see an advantage of this. I do not have “many” devices. The only thing I sync is data.

  101. Another short take on MS, Bing burns $1B a quarter. That is $9B in total:

    Microsoft’s Plan To Stop Bing’s $1 Billion Bleeding
    http://www.kitv.com/r/29243922/detail.html

    Weitz calls the Bing-vs-Google rivalry a “big geek slap fight,” and says Microsoft has one key advantage over its rival: It has nothing to lose by experimenting. On the flip side, slight tweaks to Google’s search algorithm send shivers down the spines of companies that rely on high rankings.

    “We are able to try things with much more flexibility,” said Weitz. “If we make a mistake, it’s not going to take down the company.”

    Note how a marketeer can present obscurity as an advantage. And admitting that they are bad art search.

    My take on it? When MS has lost the phone market, they will abandon Bing. That will be next year.

  102. Is banned Android Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 better than the Apple iPad 2?
    http://www.daniweb.com/hardware-and-software/netbooks-tablets-and-mobile-devices/reviews/383317/1650867

    The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is, without any shadow of a doubt, the best Android-powered tablet to date. In fact, it’s even better than the iPad 2. There, we said it. Let’s just hope that all the design and patent silliness gets sorted so that consumers everywhere can discover that there is life outside of Apple when it comes to truly stunning tablet devices.

  103. The Android tablet UX is shit. I know because I’m living it. Due to Google’s bonehead decision not to use OpenGL compositing, updating a tablet-sized display takes fucking forever. There is considerable input lag. Even 50 ms input lag is enough for an untrained user to feel it, and trained users have even more exacting standards. Pro musicians will not suffer any digital instrument with a latency greater than 1 ms. Contrast this with virtually no input lag on the iPad. The proximal causes for this are engineering decisions like not using a VM for runtime and mandating OpenGL compositing for UI elements. The distal cause has something to do with Jobs beating his engineering team with a rubber hose while chanting “NO INPUT LAG, NO INPUT LAG”. Apple is the only company that puts this much focus on what’s really, really important at the end-user purchase decision point: the experience the end user has with the device, both immediate impressions and over the long term. This is why Apple dominates the computer industry.

    So the iPad could easily win the hearts-and-minds game just because using it — especially when doing drag, swipe, or gesture actions — doesn’t feel fucking frustrating, like stirring mud. Then there’s the apps. Especially with the entire mobile gaming industry focusing exclusively on iOS content, there’s just no way that Android tablets are going to have the depth and breadth of apps that iOS has. So you’ll pay at least as much as you do for the iPad, get a worse UX, and fewer, lower quality apps. If you fall for that, congratulations. You just got screwed by the Android vendors.

    Alan Kay’s original 1972 vision of personal computers being mediums, hand-carryable conduits to a world of information and ideas reified as manipulable on-screen “objects”, has finally come true in the form of one device: the iPad. Everything else falls short. The Galaxy Tab is NOT better than the iPad, and there’s a reason why that piece of shit has a 2% sale-to-shipment ratio.

  104. By the way, that Cruze tablet is now selling for a hundred bones from TigerDirect.

    It’s not even as egregiously bad as the knockoffs like the iPed. It’s still a piece of shit, but there you go, there’s your magic price point. Now watch them fly off the shelves (not).

  105. The big advantage for choosing Windows outside of the x86 desktop apps? App syncing, Win8 Metro apps purchased through the Windows App Store are tied to your Live account, not the install. Login anywhere, get your apps and data. So your phone, tablet and laptop all have the same set of apps with no hassles. And the sort of apps that this won’t work for are generally the ones which need more horsepower than a tablet/phone can provide. MS seems to have identified the biggest weakness of the iOS and Android app stores (per-device purchase/install) and if their syncing works better than iOS or Android (which isn’t hard, both suck, especially if you have experience with Palm’s Synergy) they may actually disrupt the current market. And the current market, particularly the Tablet market, is ripe for disruption.

    Er, this isn’t true. iOS app purchases are account-linked, not device linked. I own two iPhones, I use the same account for both, and I pay once for an app installed on both.

    I am in the same situation with OS X Lion — two machines, one account, apps install on both with one purchase.

  106. Android beats iPhone 2-to-1 in new smartphone purchases
    https://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9220296/Android_beats_iPhone_2_to_1_in_new_smartphone_purchases

    Android’s share of recent smartphone buyers jumped from 49% in May to 56% in August, according to Nielsen’s data.

    However, more of Android’s gains came at the expense of Research in Motion’s BlackBerry than from Apple’s iPhone: RIM’s share of recent smartphone purchases fell from 16% in May to 9% in August, a seven-point decline that was more than double that of Apple’s.

  107. Another cheap and dirty tablet : Sweex Yarvik 7 inch Tablet

    Yarvik tablet test Youtube movie (Dutch)

  108. Winter, repeat after me.

    There is no tablet market.

    People don’t want “tablets” in the generic sense, they want iPads. Maybe a cheapo Android tablet will suffice for those really pinched on income. But it’s not a real substitute.

    The Nook Color and the Kindle Fire have had the most success in this space and they did it by a) not being positioned as tablets but as fancy e-readers; and b) further splintering the already-fragmented-to-hell Android ecosystem.

    Android doesn’t compete here. It can’t compete here. Its only chance was to co-opt the market for rinky-dink cellphones which it has done successfully. But by and large the post-PC era belongs to Apple.

    And quite frankly, I wouldn’t trust it to anyone else.

  109. @Jeff Read
    “Winter, repeat after me.
    There is no tablet market.”

    Indeed, therefore, they sell the Apples in electronics store, like at my local
    Mediamarkt
    .

    Your link is simply stating things that the buying public is completely ignoring, or are simply irrelevant. You sound like that shop owner that complains:
    “I get really tired of telling all those people asking for X that we do not sell it because there is no market for it”

    You really should go out more. The world is such a big place, and there are people who actually buy non-Apple stuff!

  110. They’re offering tablets for sale but who’s buying? The original Galaxy Tab shipped a million units. Fine retailers everywhere offered them for sale. But only 20,000 actually sold. Retailers are going to offer things for sale if the manufacturers are willing to pay for the shelf space. But that doesn’t mean that people will actually buy it in large numbers. And non-Apple tablets (in other words, iPad knockoffs/wannabes), er, haven’t been.

    I have a non-Apple tablet right next to me, the Archos 101. It’s crap. It doesn’t have enough memory, and the display changes colors drastically at any viewing angle besides head on. I bought it because it’d make a nice little cheap ARM-based Debian machine. But as a tablet it sucks, and no one in their right mind would put up with this. It still cost me nearly 400 bones. That’s $100 less than the cheapest iPad, and for that additional $100 you get so much more.

    The iPad is the easiest-to-use computer ever built. And, far from being a premium product with a stiff “Apple tax”, it comes literally at the lowest price point possible while still remaining a decent product. It’s pretty much a perfect computing device for the home user. How do you compare with perfection? How do you compete against it? All the other tablet manufacturers are finding out: You can’t.

  111. @Jeff Read
    “How do you compare with perfection?”

    Make it cheaper? Lighter? Smaller? Bigger? Other color?

  112. Winter,

    That story is spun all to hell. What Apple fears is trade dress dilution and if you ask me, they actually have a case. Apple successfully sued eMachines and got their eOne pulled off the market on the grounds that it looked too much like an iMac — even though the resemblance was clearly not exact.

    Have you seen the photos of the GalTab 10.1? Even without the photoshopped aspect ratio, the resemblance to the iPad is close enough to infringe if the case of the eOne is any indication.

  113. @Jeff Read
    “What Apple fears is trade dress dilution ”

    Excuses, excuses.

    Apple fears that many people may buy Android tablets. These consumers are very much aware they buy Galaxy Tab and not an iPad. So there is a market for Android tablets.

    And if tablets are useful computers, these people buying them must consider Android good enough to use. So Apple is afraid that the Android tablets are good enough. Therefore, Apple disagree with you about the usability and market of Android.

  114. Sprint, an Android early adopter which had the first “4G” smartphones, is “betting the company” on a new smartphone platform, but uh — it’s not Ice Cream Sandwich.

    I think I have a reason to finally switch platforms. Coupla years ago I was on the fence about whether to stick with AT&T, add a data plan and get an iPhone or switch to the much cheaper Sprint and get an Android smartphone. I switched. Android is mostly-good-enough and I save a lot on my data plan. But the real, actual iPhone on Sprint is just too tempting…

  115. Sprint is right to go all in on the iPhone: apparently the iPhone 5 integrates Siri Assistant, a voice-commanded app that goes leagues beyond what Google has done with Voice Search.

    So much for another of Android’s putative advantages…

  116. Apple fears that many people may buy Android tablets. These consumers are very much aware they buy Galaxy Tab and not an iPad. So there is a market for Android tablets.

    Who? Who’s buying these Android tablets? Almost nobody. The iPad is the ONLY tablet that matters.

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