The Smartphone Wars: A Night in the Lonesome December

The December comScore results are out, covering up to October 2011. I’ve updated my page on smartphone marketshare statistics.

There’s no drama this month; we’re seeing a pretty straight-line continuation of previous trends. Android continues to gain users and market share at about twice the rate of the iPhone, and the other players continue to dwindle towards insignificance.

Which is interesting in a dog-didn’t-bark sort of way; the October 14th launch of the iPhone 4S had no noticeable impact at all. Which is not really a surprise at this point; we’ve been through enough rounds of breathless hype followed by ho-hum before to know better.

I’m guessing the November release of Android 4.0 isn’t going to have any noticeable impact on the user numbers either. Evidently the forces driving the growth of this market are too large and distributed to be much perturbed by individual product releases, as fondly as corporate marketing departments might like to think otherwise,

154 thoughts on “The Smartphone Wars: A Night in the Lonesome December

  1. I’m guessing the response is going to be something along the lines of :-

    But the iphone did really poorly before October 14 therefore they must have sold hojillions of them to have had no noticeable impact.

    And assuredly someone will bring up yet again that Apple is making lots of money so this whole “platform dominance” thing is meaningless.

  2. I’m hoping by Q2, all new shipping higher-end phones will start to come with Ice Cream Sandwich. A buddy of mine installed Koush’s CyanogenMod 9 alpha 11 on his Nexus S, and the device flies! It’s SO fast. ICS is also much more polished across the board, and more cohesive. The apps built using both the Honeycomb and ICS API’s are really exceptional on it — they look and feel nicer. I think it’ll change a bunch of peoples’ minds about Android being a slow, clunky nerdy OS.

  3. Actually on looking at the data, i am seeing an uptick for Apple in October however the actual increase is still less than Android in the same time, with Apple at their best(new release and all).

  4. Interesting datum: in the last four months Android gained almost as many users as Apple in a year.

  5. @JonCB:

    > But the iphone did really poorly before October 14 therefore they must have sold hojillions of them to have had no noticeable impact.

    Well, the iPhone did do really poorly before October 14th. And Apple did sell hojillions of them. There are three separate reasons why the comscore report won’t reflect this much:

    1) Comscore is a 3 month moving average based on polling over the course of the 3 months. So to the extent there is/should have been an impact, it will show up a bit more in the next couple of months. But then, of course, there’s that ecstatic first weekend and the afterglow of the next two weeks, which were solidly in October.

    2) I expect most of the domestic units sold in the first orgasmic weekend were to the true believers. In other words, replacements units. See, for example, http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/nov/28/iphone-sales-triple-october?newsfeed=true This will, however, have a knock-on effect in the market. I believe (based on numbers at previous releases and then in the ensuing months) that a lot of users will hang on to their old iPhones as a backup in case their new one gets damaged or lost, but a lot of users will in fact sell (or even give back to Apple, some of the users are that generous!) their old units, which will show up on the market as refurbed over the next couple of months. This will have a net positive effect for Apple, but it won’t be all that large.

    3) This rollout, which sold umpteen hojillion units more in the first weekend than any other rollout, was, IIRC, also rolled out to more countries than any previous first weekend rollout. US Comscore numbers won’t reflect those sales, although Apple shareholders like them just fine.

  6. The data that strikes me as most interesting here is that concerning the losers: Microsoft and RIM.

    Microsoft was in a straight-line decline until May 2011, then suddenly it leveled off at about 5% penetration. Why? Is that last 5% a qualitatively different group of consumers who find the product fits their needs? Is this a group that won’t switch phones because they view switching costs as too high? Did Micosoft change strategy at that point and stop the worst of the decline, while still failing to grow the business? What will it take to get them down to 1% share?

    RIM continues its straight-line path to oblivion. Will they also stabilize at 5%? Unlike Microsoft, RIM probably can’t stay in business at that level, unless they can retain a much larger international user base.

  7. @Patrick Maupin
    > Well, the iPhone did do really poorly before October 14th. And Apple did sell hojillions of them. There are three separate reasons why the comscore
    > report won’t reflect this much.
    So the only thing Apple does when it announces a new iPhone revision is temporarily sabotage sales of its previous revision?

  8. @Cathy: “RIM continues its straight-line path to oblivion. Will they also stabilize at 5%? Unlike Microsoft, RIM probably can’t stay in business at that level, unless they can retain a much larger international user base.”

    Interestingly, MS at least seems to be making a credible effort to reverse its fortunes. RIM appears to have gone on permanent vacation. I wonder what % MS will have to have in order to actually stay in the market and not bail out in a year or two?

  9. @Max E:

    > So the only thing Apple does when it announces a new iPhone revision is temporarily sabotage sales of its previous revision?

    I wouldn’t characterize it that way. You can only milk an old product for so long (especially in the face of improving competition). Apple has actually managed two quite remarkable feats very consistently: (1) they can preannounce new products without completely Osborning the previous generation; (2) even though (or because, whichever) they provide free software upgrades, they’ve managed to convince lots of their customers to pay cold hard cash for the hardware upgrades.

    Of course, part of the reason for (2) is the whacked-out economics of the cellphone companies hiding two-thirds of the cost of a fancy smartphone in two years of your data plan whether or not you actually guy the new fancy smartphone, but I’m sure a lot of Apple lovers would stay on the upgrade treadmill even if that weren’t the case.

  10. @Patrick Maupin Good comment on pointing out the 3 month moving average. And I agree on the initial pop being largely upgraders.

    @esr So if iPhone market share goes up in the 3 month period Oct – Dec which fully reflects the 4S rollout, what will be the new Apple disruptive collapse spin?

  11. >CarrierIQ anyone?

    I haven’t written about this because there’s nothing to say about it that isn’t thunderingly obvious. Carriers screwing their customers is old news. The wave of lawsuits over huge violations of the wiretapping statutes should be entertaining to watch.

  12. >So if iPhone market share goes up in the 3 month period Oct – Dec which fully reflects the 4S rollout, what will be the new Apple disruptive collapse spin?

    Why would there need to be any? Apple’s share has been rising, very very slowly, since May 2010. I don’t expect that to change yet because Apple and Android are not yet in a fully zero-sum game – there are still lots of dumbphone conversions and RIM users bailing out. Disruptive collapse will start to look like more of a near-term probability when (a) Android has gone over 50% share, and (b) the competition is more like scorpions in a bottle.

  13. “RIM appears to have gone on permanent vacation.”

    Not quite. I read recently that RIM has announced that two of its big corporate mobile security apps will now work with non-RIM phones. (Lots of employees want to use their own smartphones for work, rather than the one that mother gives them.)

  14. RIM’s earnings took a big hit this week. Their tablet is a pretty glaring failure to date.

  15. The only amusing thing about the Carrier IQ controversy is that the iPhone hasn’t been immune as Apple had used the software in some form.

  16. What about figures looking at which smartphone platform people actually *use* – by looking at mobile _browser_ usage? Outdated versions of Android are being sold on an awful lot of cheap phones. People don’t browse the web a great deal from phones like that – because they didn’t buy an Android phone, they bought a cheap phone that just happened to have Android on it (and they don’t tend to pay for and install apps either). Looked at through the lense of browser usage, iPhone still has a strong lead over Android:

    http://www.informationweek.com/news/mobility/smart_phones/231902069

    “Between December 2010 and October 2011, Safari’s share of mobile browsing use rose from 49.17% to a crushing 62.17%. That means three out of five devices surfing the mobile Web are doing so via Apple’s mobile browser.”

  17. @SPQR

    >The only amusing thing about the Carrier IQ controversy is that the iPhone hasn’t been immune as Apple had used the software in some form.

    I think that’s a bit slippery of you. The iPhone doesn’t deliver any data using the CarrierIQ software that the user doesn’t explicitly consent to. It is limited to anonymised diagnostics data, and it is opt-in. I have pasted the exact wording from the phone below.

    This is in contrast to, for example, the HTC Android phones, which log every digit you press in the phone app, every text message you send and receive, media playback, apps being opened, every URL you go to, and the list goes on. All this without any consent from the user, any sign that it is happening, or any way to turn it off.

    So, I certainly don’t blame Google for this. The blame falls on the carriers. But it is wrong to say that the iPhone is not ‘immune’ because Apple uses the software ‘in some form’. The form it is using the software is entirely innocuous.

    From Settings/General/About/Diagnostics & Usage/”About Diagnostics and Privacy”:

    Apple would like your help to improve the quality and performance of its products and services. Your device can automatically collect diagnostic and usage information and send it to Apple for analysis — but only with your explicit consent.

    Diagnostic and usage information may include details about hardware and operating system specifications, performance statistics, and data about how you use your device and applications. None of the collected information identifies you personally. Personal data is either not logged at all or is removed from any reports before they’re sent to Apple. You can review the information by going to Settings, tapping General, tapping About and looking under Diagnostics & Usage.

    If you have consented to provide Apple with this information, and you have Location Services turned on, the location of your device may also be sent to help Apple analyze wireless or cellular performance issues (for example, the strength or weakness of a cellular signal in a particular location). This diagnostic location data may include the location of your device once per day, or the location where a call ends. You may choose to turn off Location Services for Diagnostics at any time. To do so, open Settings, tap Location Services, tap System Services and turn off the Diagnostics switch.

    You may also choose to turn off Diagnostics altogether. To do so, open Settings, tap General, tap About and choose “Don’t Send” under Diagnostics & Usage.

    To help Apple’s partners and third-party developers improve their apps, products and services designed for use with Apple products, Apple may provide such partners or developers with a subset of diagnostic information that is relevant to that partner’s or developer’s app, product or service, as long as the diagnostic information is aggregated or in a form that does not personally identify you.

    For more information, see Apple’s Privacy Policy at http://www.apple.com/privacy

  18. You know Tom, that’s what Apple is claiming. We’ll have to see how truthful that turns out to be.

  19. Eric, from your page with the comscore graphs:

    “I asked what their 95% confidence intervals for these estimates but was told I could be provided with that technical information. It is not known to me whether or not paying customers are given the error bars on the measurements.”

    Were you told you could be provided with the info, or that you could *not*?

  20. @SPQR:

    > We’ll have to see how truthful [what Apple is claiming] turns out to be.

    We’ll also have see how… accurate… the original researcher was. Others are claiming that, yes, the keystrokes went into the CarrierIQ app, but no, they didn’t come out, and the way the app is written they wouldn’t.

    But I think it’s all good. The hounds are on the scent. Whatever mischief can be done by CarrierIQ on whichever handsets and whichever carriers it can be done on, will soon be common public knowledge.

    @Tom:

    > This has been at least partially confirmed already

    The question is: can Apple turn on the DiagnosticsAllowed parameter remotely? And then the next question is: are there other parameters that control the behavior? As esr implies, it’s time to get the popcorn.

  21. Tom, that link does not really “confirm” even partially, that Apple’s usage of the CarrierIQ app was more benign than other vendors’ use. And the privacy text you quoted, like the link you supply, you should really read it more carefully. There is some very artful vagueness to my reading. Really, you should read that link more carefully.

  22. You guys are starting to sound like the UFO people.

    Anything remotely anomalous or ambiguous is automatically taken as evidence for the conspiracy. Any statements or denials from the putative conspirators are discounted, because, of course, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

    This rapidly falls into the same trap as all conspiracy theories; it becomes epistemically closed and self-sustaining.

    I would like to know more about the situation, of course, but for the moment there is no evidence that any information is being sent from the iPhone without the user’s explicit permission. There is, however, very good evidence that some Android and BB phones are sending very detailed information without the user’s knowledge.

  23. I love these kinds of threads….they help me understand why my cats enjoy playing with mice

  24. Regarding CarrierIQ, it’s amusing that the media was so slow on the story. On the xda-developers.com forums for my Android phone, a Samsung Epic 4G, no CarrierIQ custom ROMS and mods to remove CarrierIQ from stock ROMs have been available since at least March. I presume forums for other phone models also had CarrierIQ removal methods but I have no direct knowledge of that.

  25. @Tom:

    You guys

    I assume I’m one of “you guys” since I’m one of the two guys who expressed a lack of confidence in your possibly premature pronouncements.

    are starting to sound like the UFO people.

    Really? Which UFO people are those?

    Anything remotely anomalous or ambiguous is automatically taken as evidence for the conspiracy. Any statements or denials from the putative conspirators are discounted, because, of course, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

    What did I say other than that (a) there are differing accounts of how things work and (b) whatever the truth is, it will soon be common knowledge? How does any of that remotely resemble the thinking of a conspiracy theorist?

    but for the moment there is no evidence that any information is being sent from the iPhone without the user’s explicit permission.

    Where the hell did I say that there was?

    There is, however, very good evidence that some Android and BB phones are sending very detailed information without the user’s knowledge.

    Ahhhh, that conspiracy! The one between CarrierIQ, all the carriers, some of the vendors, but not your lovely Apple. Well, it’s all well and good that you believe in that conspiracy (you are entitled to your beliefs, after all), but not everybody believes in it yet:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57335715-281/how-carrier-iq-was-wrongly-accused-of-keylogging/

    You go ahead and avow Apple’s innocence and everybody else’s guilt. If you’re right, good on you. Personally, I haven’t seen enough non-refuted evidence to have a solid opinion yet. If that makes me a conspirator, so be it.

  26. >Were you told you could be provided with the info, or that you could *not*?

    That I could not. I don’t know whether the press officer I was speaking with was executing a policy or simply clueless, but either way she seemed pretty impenetrable and I let it drop.

  27. Note: reposted with missed a tag close fix. ESR, how about a preview feature?

    Cathy Says:The data that strikes me as most interesting here is that concerning the losers: Microsoft and RIM.

    Microsoft was in a straight-line decline until May 2011, then suddenly it leveled off at about 5% penetration. Why?…

    RIM continues its straight-line path to oblivion. Will they also stabilize at 5%? Unlike Microsoft, RIM probably can’t stay in business at that level, unless they can retain a much larger international user base.

    One needs to look at the absolute user base as well as market share. In an expanding market, a company which retains its existing customers will lose share, but still do the same amount of business. Microsoft lost a lot of its user base in 2010 and early 2011, but since then has actually gained a little. It appears that Microsoft has a block of locked-in users who may bleed away over the long term, but aren’t going anywhere in the short term.

    RIM is in a similar position, but bleeding faster.

    As to Apple and Android: Android has been the fastest growing base all along, but its growth rate has been declining continuously (in part an artifact of expanded base size); it’s now down to about 6.5%/month. Apple’s growth rate is stable around 5%/month.

    Android is now both larger and faster growing, but not by huge margins in either category. Still, compound interest is going to boost Android’s base advantage, and thus its share advantage.

    But I’m not convinced that this will lead to a tipping point that crushes Apple. I don’t see smartphone usage as anywhere near as compatibility-driven as PCs were – and Apple survived that crunch. When smartphone penetration maxes out, we’ll see if Apple and Android can co-exist.

  28. >Android has been the fastest growing base all along, but its growth rate has been declining continuously

    Not true either in market share or userbase – go look at my graphs. There has been an apparent slight falloff in the last two months, but it’s not pronounced enough or long enough to be over the statistical noise level. Not yet, anyway. Its main effect was to shift my projection of the 50% crossover point by about two weeks from the most optimistic case.

  29. Apparently the Galaxy S2 is outselling the iphone in the UK:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2069056/Samsungs-Galaxy-S2-outsells-iPhone-4S-Apple-handsets-month-shops.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    I’m a bit curious about Apple’s current strategy given that the iPhone 4s seems to be in short supply. There are reports that some in the US waited 2 or 3 weeks for their phones, but then there are reports that 75% of Apple stores ran out on Black Friday (indicating that 25% didn’t). There have also been reports of daily restocking at several stores, which seems somewhat suspiciously inefficient, although I’m sure FedEx and/or UPS are loving it.

    If the phone really is in short supply, Apple has an interesting optimization problem in trying to decide where to allocate sales — to countries like the US where it’s already a known quantity, or to other places in order to establish a beachhead as the premium supplier.

    Here’s a conspiracy theory for you: if the phone isn’t actually in short supply right now, we’ll never know. And if Apple’s numbers at the end of the quarter are good, they’ll go with what they’ve been saying all along: “demand was unprecedented and we just couldn’t keep up,” but if the numbers aren’t so good they’ll “admit” to having a component shortage, which will be seen as quite plausible because all the pundits who were previously lauding Apple’s air-tight, untouchable supply chain have somehow become privy to this information and have been repeating it for the last month. Either way, we’ll never know what the actual demand was, just that it was higher than Apple could satisfy.

  30. Why would there need to be any? Apple’s share has been rising, very very slowly, since May 2010. I don’t expect that to change yet because Apple and Android are not yet in a fully zero-sum game – there are still lots of dumbphone conversions and RIM users bailing out. Disruptive collapse will start to look like more of a near-term probability when (a) Android has gone over 50% share, and (b) the competition is more like scorpions in a bottle.

    Wait, what? I could swear we disagreed on this last month whether we were in/near zero-sum territory. If there’s still lost of dumb phone and RIM conversions then how close can we be to zero sum even in the US market? I don’t think your transition to zero-sum prediction in 2011 (or even early 2012) is going to hold water. Frankly, I don’t see zero sum for a while yet. The barrier to the adoption rate (among US post paid subs) is the $15/month smartphone fee, not device cost. We’re still only at 90M smartphones out of 234M phones. 37% according to comscore numbers…although we hit 40% in September according to Nielsen.

    As far as the impact of the iPhone 4S the October numbers was the best since you began tracking and it’s a 3 month moving average. When the September slump falls off the moving average we’ll have a much better picture of the impact of the 4S and the depth of the demand. 4S demand still seems quite high

    http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/12/02/iphone.4s.demand.still.pushing.limits/

  31. @Rich Rostrom:

    > In an expanding market, a company which retains its existing customers will lose share, but still do the same amount of business.

    True, that, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Comscore numbers are installed base. For quarterly sales figures, you need to get estimates from iSuppli, et al.

    Assuming that Apple phones are a bit better made than their average Android counterpart, then you would expect that more Android sales are required to get to the same installed base, both because of broken phones and because of consumer dissatisfaction.

    Also, with the wider variety, faster introduction rates, and (in some instances) lower cost of Android phones, an Android enthusiast could conceivably have more Android phones in the drawer than an Apple enthusiast.

  32. >Some WordPress comment preview plugins:

    I tried Intense Debate a couple of years back – uninstalled it because I hated the way it paginated the comment stream. I’ll have a look at the others, though.

  33. >Wait, what? I could swear we disagreed on this last month whether we were in/near zero-sum territory.

    Well, I think we’re getting closer to that, but not there yet.

    I will further note that a lot of Apple fans seem to way overinterpret the things I say about Apple, as though I must be as religious in my dislike of the company as they are in worshiping it.

  34. “I don’t see smartphone usage as anywhere near as compatibility-driven as PCs were”

    True.

    Here is a possible cure for that: Make NFC two way. Set up a protocol so that an NFC client on one phone will bring up the corresponding NFC server on the other when the two phones are bumped together. Pretty soon everyone wants the same smart phone as runs the most popular operating system.

  35. To be fair, Eric, last month you said we were in zero-sum territory.

    “Since early 2011 I’ve been writing that the U.S. smartphone market didn’t look like its players were in a zero-sum game. In particular, both Android and Apple were spared having to compete head-to-head in each others’ core markets by the huge volume of dumbphone conversions and customers bailing out of RIM and Microsoft. But I also expected this to change in 3Q2011 as the U.S. smartphone market neared saturation; this change was hinted at in the June numbers and I think the September ones show it arriving right on schedule.

    I think you’re religious about your dislike of Apple because if Apple crafts quality products, it’s a counter-example to your life work, and that’s a very threatening thing. There’s nothing surprising about that, and I certainly don’t blame you for it. You have a better reason to loathe any hint of success from Apple than irrational fanboys have for loving Apple.

  36. @Patrick Mauphin

    I assume I’m one of “you guys” since I’m one of the two guys who expressed a lack of confidence in your possibly premature pronouncements.

    Yes. Although my comments were prompted more by SPQR than by you, they are directed at you as well.

    What did I say other than that (a) there are differing accounts of how things work and (b) whatever the truth is, it will soon be common knowledge? How does any of that remotely resemble the thinking of a conspiracy theorist?

    The part of your comments I object to is this:

    The question is: can Apple turn on the DiagnosticsAllowed parameter remotely? And then the next question is: are there other parameters that control the behavior?

    The unstated premise is: let’s withhold assumption of innocence until all possible accusations against Apple have been refuted, even if there is no evidence that the accusations might be true.

    Yes, they ask your permission before gathering diagnostics data, but is there a remote switch for this? Are there other parameters that control the behaviour? Are there other information-gathering apps on the phone that we don’t know about yet? Is it possible that they have planted software that doesn’t show up in the filesystem or the process listing and therefore is completely undetectable? Are they secretly listening in on all phone calls? And on and on and on. It never ends. You can keep asking questions plucked out of the air forever. You will never be satisfied.

    but for the moment there is no evidence that any information is being sent from the iPhone without the user’s explicit permission.

    Where the hell did I say that there was?

    You didn’t. What you did was imply that even in the absence of such evidence we shouldn’t conclude ‘right now there is no reason to think that Apple has done anything wrong or that any information is being extracted nefariously from iPhones’. That would be a fair assessment at this time. But that is not your assessment. Your assessment is ‘let’s assume they are guilty until all the possible accusations I can make have been disproven.’

    And I just think that is rather unfair.

  37. Here is a possible cure for that: Make NFC two way. Set up a protocol so that an NFC client on one phone will bring up the corresponding NFC server on the other when the two phones are bumped together. Pretty soon everyone wants the same smart phone as runs the most popular operating system.

    This only works if you write a protocol that’s not portable across operating systems, and that’s distinctly unlikely to happen on Android.

  38. @Tom:

    Other people’s mileage might vary, so let me just paraphrase how this little exchange looks from my point of view:

    Me: Hmm, Apple ships this app that some people think is bad. Wonder if they can turn it on remotely?

    You: Wahhh! Bad Patrick! Ragging on Apple! Convicting them in the court of public opinion! With zero evidence! I mean, sure, they have the same kind of gun the bad guys use, but NOBODY SAW THEM PUT A BULLET IN IT!

    Me: Where did I say they were guilty?

    You: You didn’t. BUT I CAN READ YOUR MIND AND I KNOW WHAT YOU THINK! It’s TERRIBLY unfair, so STOP IT RIGHT NOW. There is, however, very good evidence that some Android and BB phones are sending very detailed information without the user’s knowledge.

    Me: Here’s an example article that shows that a credible somebody has disassembled and analyzed the code, and another credible somebody has actually gotten to look at the source and the design documents, and both of those credible somebodies seem to think the evidence is incorrect and/or overhyped.

    You: (Crickets chirping)

    This isn’t the pot calling the kettle black. This is the pot calling the highly polished flatware black. Do you work for an Apple PR firm?

  39. “I will further note that a lot of Apple fans seem to way overinterpret the things I say about Apple…”

    whereby “overinterpret” means pointing out that your “predictions” have been wrong for several months now.

  40. >”I think the September ones show it arriving right on schedule.”

    Yes, you’re right, I did think that at the time. But something odd happened in October. The pace and direction of change in the market changed – notably, it slowed down. And I’m, not just speaking of Android’s performance; Apple stalled out too, and Microsoft…rebounded a little bit?

    Two months later, we’re not where I thought we’d be at the beginning of December. The flood of cheap single-chip phones I was expecting is barely a trickle. I’ve seriously wondered if the floods in Thailand or some underreported trouble in the Pearl River Delta is at the back of this. Or perhaps it’s a knock-on effect of the worldwide economic doldrums.

    I thought the market would have transitioned to a seriously zero-sum game by mid-1Q12. Now I don’t think it will. “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

    I’d have blogged about this, but I’ve been pretty heads-down in hacking mode lately and it’s going to take some research.

  41. “I thought the market would have transitioned to a seriously zero-sum game by mid-1Q12. Now I don’t think it will.”

    I can find several citations of mid-3Q11, none pointing to mid-1Q12, but trying to track the number of times you’ve moved the goalposts gets tedious.

  42. “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

    The facts didn’t change; your theory wasn’t bourne out by the data. In such a scenario, I would acknowledge the error and alter the theory to suit the facts. Not claim the facts changed and that your theory is still valid.

  43. >Android has been the fastest growing base all along, but its growth rate has been declining continuously

    Not true either in market share or userbase – go look at my graphs.

    Here are the month-to-month % growth in userbase for Android:

    Jan 2010 47.80%
    Feb 2010 34.98%
    Mar 2010 17.84%
    Apr 2010 19.70%
    May 2010 10.57%
    Jun 2010 16.61%
    Jul 2010 22.04%
    Aug 2010 20.26%
    Sep 2010 15.01%
    Oct 2010 13.53%
    Nov 2010 12.13%
    Dec 2010 13.44%
    Jan 2011 13.17%
    Feb 2011 11.69%
    Mar 2011 9.72%
    Apr 2011 7.90%
    May 2011 7.77%
    Jun 2011 7.58%
    Jul 2011 9.14%
    Aug 2011 7.47%
    Sep 2011 6.03%
    Oct 2011 6.40%

    It was perhaps too strong to state that Android’s growth rate has declined “continuously”; it increased slightly in 10/11, and spiked up in 7/11. However, it declined in 10 of 11 months from 7/10 through 6/11, and again in 8/11 and 9/11. In the last three months, the rate was lower than any previous months.

    That looks like a pretty strong trend line to me.

    I don’t think this is a particularly bad sign for Android; it reflects the growing size of the base. (Growth rate = new base/existing base – 1; when existing base gets large, the ratio gets smaller.) But it is a real effect.

  44. Tom,

    This Tom read Patrick more like Patrick says. You are defending Apple. Patrick is speculating / curious about which shoes will eventually drop.

    Yours,
    Tom

  45. @Rich Rostrom
    I think we should look at the growth of iOS and iPhone as a linear growth. The US userbase of both is roughly growing linearly since spring 2010.

    ~ 2.5 million users/month for Android and ~1 million users/month for iOS. (http://www.catb.org/esr/comscore/)

    Which obviously means the growth percentages are dropping.

  46. I’m going to try posting this again; it seems to be stuck for some reason. Apologies if this results in a double post.

    @Jeff Read

    Not adequately explained: why the Android UI has been clunky as shit lo these many years (even ICS is, from reports, not as smooth as the iPhone 4). Really, Google, you’re just making yourself look worse here.

    Certainly one part of the explanation is that Android has always had the disadvantage of having to run its code through the JVM, while iOS uses native objective-C. Not having the overhead of an emulation layer gives iOS a big performance edge in the comparatively low-powered world of mobile devices. And it shows.

    Another part of the explanation is that Apple puts an incredible amount of engineering effort into squeezing every scrap of performance out of its custom-designed processors, while in the Android world the hardware is left in the hands of OEMs who have neither the inclination nor the margin for this kind of specialised work. Apple has more than 1000 engineers working on nothing other than tweaking the performance of their ARM chips. The Android OEMs just cannot afford this kind of investment because they are making quasi-commoditised devices.

  47. Tom,

    I’m aware of these things. But Google doesn’t seem to want to admit to, or address, them.

    Of course it would pretty much undermine your entire mobile-OS strategy to admit your platform is too clunky for mobile, and that it’s optimized for shovelware SoC vendors and third-tier developers rather than end users.

  48. @Jeff Read:

    Of course it would pretty much undermine your entire mobile-OS strategy to admit your platform is too clunky for mobile, and that it’s optimized for shovelware SoC vendors and third-tier developers rather than end users.

    Meh. When each succeeding version of Windows came out, Microsoft was excoriated for bringing out software that most hardware couldn’t run very well, for no apparent reason. But the naysayers are betting against Moore’s Law.

    Both Apple and Google (not to mention your “shovelware SoC vendors”) are correctly betting heavily on developers crawling even further up the abstraction and generality curves. Apple has the manpower to place some side bets on efficiency, but the main beneficiary of this is Apple, because they don’t have to refresh their product line as often to compete.

    Bear in mind, though, that Apple took this exact same path on the desktop, and wound up falling dangerously out of the mainstream performance curve a couple of times. They now have the volume and clout with Intel to make this misstep an unlikelihood at this point on the desktop.

    But in mobile, they are taking risks. Well-reasoned risks, to be sure — they’ve bought a couple of very capable chip companies, but risks nonetheless. By doing their own chip designs, they can theoretically create exactly what they need, but vertical integration is fraught with peril. It may be what they need to do to compete against Samsung, however.

  49. >Apple has more than 1000 engineers working on nothing other than tweaking the performance of their [ARM] chips.

    No, they don’t. In fact, you probably couldn’t even find 1000 people qualified to do that kind of work, and even if you could, Brooks’ law applies.

  50. >Apple has the manpower to place some side bets on efficiency, but the main beneficiary of this is Apple,

    That sentence reads as though one of the capital-A words was meant to be “Android”.

  51. @Patrick Mauphin

    But the naysayers are betting against Moore’s Law.

    You’re right that eventually mobile hardware will be powerful enough that Android’s JVM disadvantage will no longer be that important, and its performance will be able to close in on iOS. We’re not there yet, though, and I don’t think we will be for a few years, especially as graphically-rich gaming becomes a more and more important part of these platforms.

    I think that fairly soon we are going to see a mass-migration of the gaming industry from old-style consoles over to mobile platforms. When that happens (and it has already started) iOS is going to have a huge built-in edge that Android is going to struggle to match.

    are correctly betting heavily on developers crawling even further up the abstraction and generality curves

    This is definitely a problem, and it’s one that Apple is aware of. They are slowly adding features to their language and toolchain that allow developers to create natively compiled applications while having some of the nice abstracted features of higher-level languages. The latest example was ARC (automated reference counting), which is a compile time feature that automatically adds all the memory allocation and deallocation code that previously we had to write by hand. I know what you’re going to say: programmers in other languages haven’t had to worry about that sort of thing for years. And it’s true. But Apple’s goal is to have an efficient complied language that nonetheless has nice high-level features.

    It’s a hard problem, but they have been making steady progress, and if they continue to do so I think that in a few years they will have the best of both worlds.

  52. @Some Guy

    No, they don’t. In fact, you probably couldn’t even find 1000 people qualified to do that kind of work, and even if you could, Brooks’ law applies.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-20117856-37/apple-has-1000-engineers-working-on-chips-report-says/

    Maybe I should have said “1000 engineers working on their custom chips” rather than “tweaking” the chips, but nonetheless it shows the investment they are making in hardware performance.

    By the way, when did CNET’s website become such a piece of shit? Holy crap.

  53. And obviously I meant ‘ARM’ chips, not AIM. Oops.

    ESR says: Typo fixed.

  54. @esr:

    Apple has the manpower to place some side bets on efficiency, but the main beneficiary of this is Apple,

    That sentence reads as though one of the capital-A words was meant to be “Android”.

    Actually, no, I meant Apple. As in short-term bottom-line benefit. All the people saying “Apple must be doing something right! Look how profitable they are!” are right, as far as it goes. One of the reasons that Apple doesn’t need to lower the price of the handset 6 months after they bring it out is it’s still powerful enough, and one of the reasons it’s still powerful enough is the optimization that Apple does. But that’s arguably not that much of a customer benefit (aside from reasonably frequent OS upgrades, which is a somewhat different story). Apple appears to engage in a combination of market-oriented pricing and value-based pricing — the price is relatively independent of the manufacturing cost. That’s why, when the iPad first came out, nobody else could touch the price for anything similar, yet Apple could make a ton of money — they knew they could quickly ramp sales and drive their costs down without having to drop their retail price, because the product would still be competitive in 6 months. It was an awesome bet.

    When Apple makes a code optimization that lets them use a less powerful processor, the benefits accrue as much to Apple as they do to the consumer, because Apple is merely figuring out what kind of appliance it is selling and for how much, and then optimizing its production costs. This is not at all to say that none of the optimization benefits accrue to the consumers (see, e.g., the never-ending debate about screen lagginess), just that Apple can maintain higher margins for longer than anybody else, because they can get a longer life out of each generation of chip. Everybody else has to go to the next generation right when the older generation has been fully amortized and starts getting really cheap.

    Not that you’d want to waste your battery this way, but if you mined bitcoins or participated in seti@home with your cellphone, you’d quickly find out which hardware was best at computation (and that none of it is as good as a $150 desktop). But that’s OK because when Apple does sell the ability to do serious computation (Siri), they provide it off-phone.

    If anything, I would say that the focus on optimization is more of a Woz legacy than a Jobs legacy, and also that when I’ve worked for companies that had to do serious optimization at that level, it was great fun — nice puzzles, but you can optimize yourself into a corner where you’re more easily disrupted.

  55. @Tom:

    You’re right that eventually mobile hardware will be powerful enough that Android’s JVM disadvantage will no longer be that important, and its performance will be able to close in on iOS. We’re not there yet, though, and I don’t think we will be for a few years, especially as graphically-rich gaming becomes a more and more important part of these platforms.

    This misses the point from the example of Windows, namely that Moore’s law is a journey. Predictions of its final destination are routinely destroyed just as surely as if they had been made by Paul Ehrlich himself. Any company that spends too much effort optimizing for this generation of processor might find all that effort wasted when the next generation comes out, or when the compilers get better.

    I think that fairly soon we are going to see a mass-migration of the gaming industry from old-style consoles over to mobile platforms. When that happens (and it has already started) iOS is going to have a huge built-in edge that Android is going to struggle to match.

    I don’t think Android is going to struggle nearly as much as you seem to think. There’s a huge market there, and serious developers will figure out how to tap it. Hint: a lot of them won’t be using Java. There will certainly always be some popular games that don’t run well on older phones, but the hardware makers will jump for joy every time this happens.

    [Apple is] slowly adding features to their language and toolchain that allow developers to create natively compiled applications while having some of the nice abstracted features of higher-level languages.

    Sure, but that doesn’t distinguish them in any meaningful way from the competition.

    The latest example was ARC (automated reference counting), which is a compile time feature that automatically adds all the memory allocation and deallocation code that previously we had to write by hand. I know what you’re going to say: programmers in other languages haven’t had to worry about that sort of thing for years. And it’s true.

    Still trying to read my mind? :-) Although true, no, that’s not my beef with your thesis.

    But Apple’s goal is to have an efficient complied language that nonetheless has nice high-level features.

    This is not a unique goal, and other companies are working that direction as well. Apple may be slightly ahead on this in mobile, but they are certainly not ahead of the game overall. Apple’s main competitor has both Go and Dart working in this direction.

    It’s a hard problem, but they have been making steady progress, and if they continue to do so I think that in a few years they will have the best of both worlds.

    Sure, but even if Apple has some sort of headstart on this (which I’m dubious of), it won’t be a long-term advantage, no matter how much they abuse the patent system.

  56. No, they don’t. In fact, you probably couldn’t even find 1000 people qualified to do that kind of work, and even if you could, Brooks’ law applies.

    10% of their workforce working on their SOC technology? Sure, everything from power management, to CPU, to GPU, to compiler, memory, interconnects, OS support, etc?

    Even if they don’t have 1000 engineers working pure silicon issues, given their acquisitions in PA Semi and Intrinsity they have some of the top engineers working on their A line of ARM/SoCs even with the PA Semi founders leaving.

  57. >Microsoft was in a straight-line decline until May 2011, then suddenly it leveled
    >off at about 5% penetration. Why?

    Likely due to OEMs using Windows based phones for applications involving the Windows desktop and smartphones.

    The industrial market no longer goes in sync with the consumer market. In fact the whole switch away from the desktop to smartphones and portable device has been a real pain in the ass as it gets harder for us to use commodity computer components. Sure there is a industrial market for components but the prices are higher and often overkill for some of the stuff we do.

    However there are stuff like the Ardunio that steadily grow in capability so it isn’t all doom and gloom.

  58. Tom writes: You guys are starting to sound like the UFO people.

    Anything remotely anomalous or ambiguous is automatically taken as evidence for the conspiracy. Any statements or denials from the putative conspirators are discounted, because, of course, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

    No, Tom, now you are failing to read what I wrote. First, I did not state that the vague half-denials you quoted and the privacy legal text you copied were “evidence” of anything. I stated that they did not do what you claimed they did which was prove Apple’s use of Carrier IQ was benign. Then you quoted from a blog entry, claiming it “partially confirmed” Apple’s claims, that evidently you didn’t actually bother to read. Because that blog entry is sprinkled with “unknown” and “believe” with reference to the initial values of the diagnostics variables that the core logging toggled on.

  59. @SPQR

    I stated that they did not do what you claimed they did which was prove Apple’s use of Carrier IQ was benign

    This is my whole point. It is practically impossible to prove that a complex piece of software (like iOS) is incapable of doing a thing (actually it might be mathematically impossible, but I’ll leave that judgement to those more familiar with software validation). It is always the case that there might be some way you have not thought of for Apple to embed behaviour that is undetectable.

  60. @Patrick Mauphin

    Any company that spends too much effort optimizing for this generation of processor might find all that effort wasted when the next generation comes out, or when the compilers get better.

    I wouldn’t say it has been *wasted* as such. It has lead to a series of market-leading products with fantastic performance. When we move to the next big thing in processors (and I think we’ll be with the ARM architecture for a while) obviously fresh optimisation work will have to be done. But the point is that Apple has the resources to do this.

    Also, you make it sound like Apple is vulnerable to unexpected or unforeseen changes in processors and compilers, but in fact the truth is that it is Apple that is pushing these changes. They are the ones developing the LLVM compiler to replace GCC. They are the ones that were aggressive in moving to ARM. If Apple is anything it is forward looking. It is not the sort of company to cling on to past successes. They are usually the first ones to chuck out legacy technologies and move on.

    This is not a unique goal, and other companies are working that direction as well. Apple may be slightly ahead on this in mobile, but they are certainly not ahead of the game overall. Apple’s main competitor has both Go and Dart working in this direction.

    Yes, you’re right of course that Apple isn’t the only company working on this. And I don’t know I’d necessarily say that Apple has a great advantage or disadvantage over others. However, I was just trying to refute your point that Apple will lose out because Google has bet on developers climbing up the abstraction tree. I think by the time iOS loses the performance advantage provided by objective C (due to better hardware) Apple will have improved the language to the point where it has enough high-level features or developers not to be lured away by other technologies.

    One advantage I think Apple does have here is that rather than creating a whole new language (like Go) they are continually adding to an existing and well-known language. This means that developers aren’t made to learn a whole new way of doing things. One day we just wake up and realise we don’t have to worry about memory management any longer.

    Go doesn’t have any meaningful traction yet. It *might* be the next big thing, but that is a few years away, assuming it ever happens. The improvements Apple is making to obj-c are being used in production environments *right now*.

  61. @Tom:

    It is practically impossible to prove that a complex piece of software (like iOS) is incapable of doing a thing

    Apple included this CarrierIQ software, which (according to you) is really bad mojo, and the only thing standing between it working and not working is apparently a little switch. Speculating about how difficult it is to hack iOS to spew packets about all user activity to an IP address of your choosing is not at all the same as speculating about how difficult it is to flip a switch.

    However, I was just trying to refute your point that Apple will lose out because Google has bet on developers climbing up the abstraction tree.

    I really think you need to work on your reading comprehension skills, and stop making off-the-wall claims about what I wrote or what I think.

  62. @Patrick Mauphin

    Apple included this CarrierIQ software, which (according to you) is really bad mojo, and the only thing standing between it working and not working is apparently a little switch.

    Right, and from everything we can see for ourselves and have been told by Apple the switch is off unless the user explicitly agrees to it being set to on.

    What I have heard from some people here is that we have not seen *proof* that this is the case and that Apple doesn’t have some secret method of turning on the switch. What I am saying is that I don’t think it is reasonably possible for such proof to exist.

  63. Haven’t touched android in a few months and was helping a buddy with his phone. Had to google where these notifications were coming from that he insists he never installed an app for and found this today:

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/245305/sneaky_mobile_ads_invade_android_phones.html#tk.hp_fv

    Looks like he has a couple apps with StartApp push ads installed. Lame.

    At least he didn’t fall prey to one of the battery trojans…

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/241967/sleazy_ads_on_android_devices_push_bogus_battery_upgrade_warnings.html#tk.mod_rel

    Meh. I’m just pleading ignorance from now on.

    “Oh sorry, I only know macs and iphones. I’ve never touched android or windows 7…”

    “Didn’t you write that app…”

    “Nope. Sorry, wasn’t me.”

  64. @Tom:

    I explained that flipping a switch is usually much easier than wiring in an entire new package. Any additional software like CarrierIQ is a security-hole amplifier, whether the switch is flipped by default or not, or whether Apple has any intentions of flipping the switch or not (but if not, you have to ask why the software is on the phone, since, as you point out, they are really great at optimizing things). But the more sophisticated software that is available on the phone with this sort of root capabilities, the easier it is for a cracker who gains a modicum of control over your phone to do bad things to you. So even if Apple has zero evil intentions (which I actually believe in this instance — I haven’t yet seen any evidence that Apple, HTC, or Samsung are all that interested in violating customer privacy in this manner), if the software performs as advertised, it’s a potential security risk that ought not ship by default.

    And, if the Carrier IQ app is really as bad as you think it is, Apple’s description of how the switch apparently got set is a bit disingenuous:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4305

    “how [your phone is] working and how you use it” doesn’t really seem to cover your private bank password, now, does it?

  65. @Patrick

    So even if Apple has zero evil intentions (which I actually believe in this instance — I haven’t yet seen any evidence that Apple, HTC, or Samsung are all that interested in violating customer privacy in this manner), if the software performs as advertised, it’s a potential security risk that ought not ship by default.

    Well, I’d agree with that. And I am pleased that Apple has apparently removed it completely from iOS 5 (although the ‘on most devices’ caveat in their release is a bit vague).

    That link seems to be broken.

    @Nigel

    And we’re surprised by this? There may well be advantages to an open platform, but one undeniable disadvantage is that without a single integrated vendor who controls the device and cares about the user experience we are going to end up with phones polluted by garbage.

  66. @Tom:

    That link seems to be broken.

    Works for me. Anybody else?

    And we’re surprised by this? There may well be advantages to an open platform, but one undeniable disadvantage is that without a single integrated vendor who controls the device and cares about the user experience we are going to end up with phones polluted by garbage.

    Does every thread here have to devolve into an argument about how the average person or company can’t be trusted to make the right decisions?

    Sure, there are plenty of examples of people and individuals who won’t do the right thing, which is why we have any laws at all in the first place, but that is really a case of the worst 5% screwing it up for the other 95%, and shouldn’t be taken as an excuse for laws designed by the “best” 5% to protect the other 95% from themselves.

  67. @Patrick

    Weird, that link seems to be working now! I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be looking at on the page though.

    I don’t know how laws got into the discussion.

  68. Other not so good news on the Android security front:

    “Computer scientists have discovered a weakness in smartphones running Google’s Android operating system that allows attackers to secretly record phone conversations, monitor geographic location data, and access other sensitive resources without permission.

    The most vulnerable was HTC’s EVO 4G device, which was found to leak eight functions, including its precise geographic location finder, camera, text message service, and audio recorder. HTC’s Legend came in second with six leaks. Samsung’s Epic 4G contained three leaks, including the ability to wipe data and applications off the handset. Google’s Nexus One and Nexus S contained one leak.

    In a video demonstration, they show how an app they designed is able to access audio-recording and SMS functions on an EVO 4G without first getting approval from the user. As a result, the app is able to turn on a recorder that collects nearby audio or phone conversations. The app is also able to send unauthorized text messages.”

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/30/google_android_security_bug/

    Niiice. I guess this got eclipsed by the Carrier IQ news. Of the two, it’s probably more serious.

  69. @Tom:

    Laws? For me, that page is titled “iOS: Providing Apple with diagnostics and usage information”

  70. @Patrick

    That’s what the page says for me too. I was referring to your comment.

  71. Does every thread here have to devolve into an argument about how the average person or company can’t be trusted to make the right decisions?

    Personally, I trust the average company (where company is anything larger than a ma and pa shop) less than I trust the government. That they tend to work hand in hand to screw the individual is only icing on the cake.

  72. @Nigel:

    Yeah, I read about the capability leak thing and got distracted before I could comment on it. Looking for silver linings, I hope it’s a spur for more frequent Android updates, as well as for less messing around by the handset manufacturers.

    The two issues together (capability leaks and Carrier IQ) are probably useful in teaching the lesson that phone vendors shouldn’t screw with Android too much — the google-branded phones apparently don’t have Carrier IQ and only had one minor capability leak.

  73. @Tom:

    Yeah, too many tangentially related discussions going on.

  74. @Robert Conley:
    “The industrial market no longer goes in sync with the consumer market. In fact the whole switch away from the desktop to smartphones and portable device has been a real pain in the ass as it gets harder for us to use commodity computer components. Sure there is a industrial market for components but the prices are higher and often overkill for some of the stuff we do.

    However there are stuff like the Ardunio that steadily grow in capability so it isn’t all doom and gloom.”

    …and so, there is the Amarino Project. It uses the Bluetooth interface to link an Arduino board to an Android smartphone.

    http://www.amarino-toolkit.net/

  75. @Patrick

    The two issues together (capability leaks and Carrier IQ) are probably useful in teaching the lesson that phone vendors shouldn’t screw with Android too much — the google-branded phones apparently don’t have Carrier IQ and only had one minor capability leak

    You made my point beautifully! If Google had Apple’s integrated model then these stupid vendors wouldn’t be able to mess Android up (because Google would be the vendor).

    Again, maybe the open model has its benefits. But it also has its downsides, and this is one of them.

  76. @Tom:

    You made my point beautifully!

    This point?

    There may well be advantages to an open platform, but one undeniable disadvantage is that without a single integrated vendor who controls the device and cares about the user experience we are going to end up with phones polluted by garbage.

    That’s a non-sequitur. Linux has an open platform and only occasionally suffers this problem — then everybody moves to a new distro. The proliferation of installed garbage and lack of updates are properly viewed as fragmentation problems (and judging by the “fragmentation isn’t so bad” comments from informed developers, are probably actually the most pressing fragmentation problem). Early Unix (which, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, was pretty open for its time) suffered from this same sort of fragmentation problem, but then the market coalesced around Linux.

    If Google had Apple’s integrated model then these stupid vendors wouldn’t be able to mess Android up (because Google would be the vendor).

    Erm, no. If google had Apple’s integrated model, then none of us would know or care what an Android is. Because google wasn’t going to build phones, and had zero leverage otherwise over the handset manufacturers or carriers.

    Again, maybe the open model has its benefits. But it also has its downsides, and this is one of them.

    The fragmentation sucks, but (a) I think it’s rapidly going away, and (b) I think that the competition that got us here has had a huge positive effect on the ecosystem. Android phones can be had off-contract for a couple of hundred, and it’s even putting some price pressure on Apple. Going forward, when the vendors grow up and realize that with freedom comes responsibility, it will be easy to figure out which is the “right” version of Android — it’s what google ships, with as few changes as possible, at least until google gets too big for their britches, at which point it will probably be cyanogenmod.

  77. By the way, I don’t view the existence of Ubuntu, Red Hat, Suse, etc. to be a fragmentation problem, nor do I expect what Amazon or B&N is doing to be a huge fragmentation problem (and obviously, Asus is going out of their way to not have a fragmentation problem).

    I would say that fragmentation becomes an issue when it strands a lot of users on unmaintained forks with no easy path to something more up-to-date.

  78. @Patrick

    That’s a non-sequitur. Linux has an open platform and only occasionally suffers this problem — then everybody moves to a new distro. The proliferation of installed garbage and lack of updates are properly viewed as fragmentation problems (and judging by the “fragmentation isn’t so bad” comments from informed developers, are probably actually the most pressing fragmentation problem). Early Unix (which, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, was pretty open for its time) suffered from this same sort of fragmentation problem, but then the market coalesced around Linux.

    I don’t mean open source software in general, I mean specifically creating an open source OS and then allowing vendors to take it, do what they want with it, and put it on their devices. It doesn’t really apply to Linux because generally people are not buying devices with linux pre-installed. It’s usually technically knowledgeable people downloading exactly what they want and installing it themselves. Completely different.

    Erm, no. If google had Apple’s integrated model, then none of us would know or care what an Android is. Because google wasn’t going to build phones, and had zero leverage otherwise over the handset manufacturers or carriers.

    That may or may not be true, but I am making the narrow point here that even if it was generally a good idea for Google to be open with Android (and I just want to put that wider argument to one side for the sake of this one specific point) there are still some downsides to that model. One of them is that they do not have control over the final product and that this leads to garbageware on Android phones.

    The fragmentation sucks, but (a) I think it’s rapidly going away

    In some areas I think fragmentation is increasing. The first Android tablet that has a chance of selling more than a few hundred thousand units (the Kindle Fire) is a highly customised version of the OS, for example. But we’ll see. I don’t think it is easy easy as you say for normal people to determine the ‘right’ version. A lot of people I have met with Android phones don’t even seem to know that they have Android. They call their phones ‘HTCs’ or ‘Samsungs’, so for them it is really a non-starter to try to determine the correct version of an OS they barely are even aware they have.

    This is just an issue that does not exist for an integrated system like the iPhone. So I really think that, no matter what other advantages or disadvantages the two platforms might have, in this area of excluding garbageware the integrated model has the advantage.

  79. Sorry, I forgot the Nook when I made the claim of the Kindle Fire being the first Android tab to have a chance of selling more than a few hundred thousand. I had the recent NPD numbers in my head, and for some reason they did not list the Nook.

  80. @Tom:

    I don’t mean open source software in general, I mean specifically creating an open source OS and then allowing vendors to take it, do what they want with it, and put it on their devices.

    But that is open source software in general. How can it be open source if you don’t allow vendors to do this?

    It doesn’t really apply to Linux because generally people are not buying devices with linux pre-installed.

    What you’re saying is that it doesn’t really apply to desktop Linux because that is not popular enough.

    It’s usually technically knowledgeable people downloading exactly what they want and installing it themselves. Completely different.

    Not completely different, and you don’t have to be all that knowledgeable. 2012 just might be the year of the rooted phone.

    One of them is that they do not have control over the final product and that this leads to garbageware on Android phones.

    But you’re discounting the point that google had to (appear to) give up control just in order to get Android into the market, and the now relevant point that by doing so (and keeping control of the android market and other google services) they now actually have a lot of control, at least for most Android cellphones sold outside of China. They actually are starting to flex their muscles now that they have some leverage. I expect a lot of mitigation of crapware and fragmentation on the next crop of phones.

    In some areas I think fragmentation is increasing. The first Android tablet that has a chance of selling more than a few hundred thousand units (the Kindle Fire) is a highly customised version of the OS, for example. But we’ll see.

    I already explained that I don’t view the Nook or Fire as a fragmentation problem. But while you’re explaining it’s a problem, where’s the irritating crapware on these two platforms? I don’t see any complaints about that at all. Yes, B&N care about their customer experiences, and yes, they effectively control the underlying OS on the device (and just happened to choose Android). So you certainly can’t say that it has to be an Apple to be a lovely, curated experience.

    This is just an issue that does not exist for an integrated system like the iPhone.

    What? Support of e-ink readers? Sure.

    So I really think that, no matter what other advantages or disadvantages the two platforms might have, in this area of excluding garbageware the integrated model has the advantage.

    Some phone manufacturers are going to go the crapware route. Some aren’t. This is mostly orthogonal to the issue of OS control. Google has enabled zillions of companies to offer Apple-level experiences, if any of them care to do so. It’s really naive to think that no handset manufacturer except Apple cares about their customers’ experiences, or even, in general, that at the end of the day there won’t be at least one Android phone that the customers rave about.

    At the same time, there probably will be vendors who make a couple more bucks shipping extra stuff on the phone. This happened with MS Windows, as well. But guess what? Those are the phones being sold for cheap in the WalMart. It’s the phone equivalent of commercial OTA television — customer gets subsidized by being bombarded with stuff he didn’t necessarily want.

  81. @Patrick

    But that is open source software in general. How can it be open source if you don’t allow vendors to do this?

    Yes, but there *are* no Linux vendors (or at least none that are significant). Linux is not sold to consumers as part of a device. Android is.

    2012 just might be the year of the rooted phone.

    It might be. It might also be the year we finally crack world peace. But I doubt it. I have said this many times before: normal people are never going ‘root’ their phones. The very idea means nothing to them. People don’t even replace the OS on their computers unless Apple or Microsoft delivers it up to them on a platter.

    I expect a lot of mitigation of crapware and fragmentation on the next crop of phones.

    Well, again, this is speculation. But the fact is that we have crapware now. And even if opening up Android was overall the absolute right thing for Google to do that doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides. Crapware is one of them.

    But while you’re explaining it’s a problem, where’s the irritating crapware on these two platforms

    Again, you’re making my point for me. Crapware and fragmentation are not the same thing (although they are related). And you are absolutely right that by taking control over the platform and making it their own, and by integrating it vertically with the hardware and services, B&N and Amazon have made some of the best Android tablets out there, with the least amount of garbage.

    just happened to choose Android

    Exactly, they just happened to choose Android. It’s an implementation detail. For most consumers they will barely (if at all) notice that these devices are Android. From the consumer perspective the Fire is a great vertically integrated device that has one company and one vision controlling the whole stack. And that’s why there is no crapware.

    Some phone manufacturers are going to go the crapware route. Some aren’t. This is mostly orthogonal to the issue of OS control. Google has enabled zillions of companies to offer Apple-level experiences, if any of them care to do so. It’s really naive to think that no handset manufacturer except Apple cares about their customers’ experiences, or even, in general, that at the end of the day there won’t be at least one Android phone that the customers rave about.

    At the same time, there probably will be vendors who make a couple more bucks shipping extra stuff on the phone. This happened with MS Windows, as well. But guess what? Those are the phones being sold for cheap in the WalMart. It’s the phone equivalent of commercial OTA television — customer gets subsidized by being bombarded with stuff he didn’t necessarily want.

    And all the while the perceived quality of the Android platform is going down. If you buy an Android device it’s a crapshoot. You might get a nice clean Nexus device, or you might get a bogged down piece of crap. For the average consumer who walks into their carrier phone store and asks for a new phone they can’t know in advance what they are going to get.

    With the iPhone you know what you are going to get. Quality.

  82. @Tom:

    Yes, but there *are* no Linux vendors (or at least none that are significant).

    A company doesn’t actually have to be as big as Apple to be “significant” you know. But whatever.

    I have said this many times before: normal people are never going ‘root’ their phones. The very idea means nothing to them.

    The term might be meaningless (I doubt it), but the idea of upgrading an OS is not. Even the idea of upgrading an OS using an OS from a third party isn’t that foreign to older people, because it wasn’t that many years ago that there was a little desktop competition, and a lot of younger people are completely fearless when it comes to installing new technology.

    People don’t even replace the OS on their computers unless Apple or Microsoft delivers it up to them on a platter.

    You can download a new OS from Apple, or Microsoft, or CyanogenMod. Sure, CyanogenMod isn’t as well known, and you don’t have to pay for it, but I don’t see why any of that is a particular problem. They all have scary instructions about how you should back up your system, etc., but the process isn’t that difficult and is only going to get easier.

    But the fact is that we have crapware now.

    On some devices. You keep acting like this distinction isn’t important, but it is.

    And you are absolutely right that by taking control over the platform and making it their own, and by integrating it vertically with the hardware and services, B&N and Amazon have made some of the best Android tablets out there, with the least amount of garbage.

    Talk about damning with faint praise!

    Exactly, they just happened to choose Android. It’s an implementation detail.

    It’s the detail that allows them to win long-term. B&N made an awesome strategic move with Android, and Amazon had to counter. Take a look at a pre-Android kindle. Android is the only serious game in town for those guys, and both vendors (and Kobo and others!) can build awesome systems with it for cheap, and you can’t seem to stand to believe that it was google’s strategy that made it happen.

    For most consumers they will barely (if at all) notice that these devices are Android.

    Trust me, they know. If you watch kids with Baseball cards or Pokemon cards, you’ll understand that they know.

    For the average consumer who walks into their carrier phone store and asks for a new phone they can’t know in advance what they are going to get.

    Seriously? What planet do you live on?

    With the iPhone you know what you are going to get. Quality.

    My daughter’s been to the Apple store 4 times now and her POS iPhone 4 still fucks up sometimes. And don’t get me started about the issues with her overpriced Macbook Pro. Sorry, my personal anecdotal evidence disagrees. (Nice magnetic power connector, though.)

  83. @patrick IMHO its not a fragmentation problem or a open source problem…it’s a business strategy problem. Google’s business strategy to profit from Android is centered on advertising. This pervades the entire ecosystem in ways never seen on linux or any other open system. Fragmentation or no fragmentation. Even on windows it’s not the same. Only on the free web is it similar and of course this is where Google comes from.

    The money quote from the article is very telling:

    “This is what the Android operating system is all about,” says AirPush founder and CEO, Asher Delug. “It has created new marketing opportunities and allowed developers to unlock revenue within the OS.”

    So you’re going to see the same kind of asinine behavior from advertisers on Android like on the web. In your face, more intrusive advertising because that’s the primary way to make money on the platform.

    In comparison, on iOS the primary way to make money is to sell a better app than the next guy and this is driven culturally from Apple’s business model of making money by selling a better gizmo than the next CE company.

    So to restate a common theme, in iOS you are the customer. You’re the purchaser of the product. In Android the customer is the one buying ads. You are the product…the developer buys you with free content/functionality to resell to advertisers for more money than they hopefully spent buying you.

    Both business models has advantages and disadvantages but from my perspective, apps are so cheap that I’d rather be the customer and pay the $0.99. Plus the ecosystem is simply nicer and the hardware equal if not better than alternatives.

  84. you can’t seem to stand to believe that it was google’s strategy that made it happen.

    Meh. You don’t think that samsung or amazon couldn’t have created their products based on BSD and their own UI layer? Because essentially that’s what Bada is. Touchwiz stack on top of BSD with C++ SDK vs Dalvik stack on top of Linux with Java SDK.

    If Android didn’t exist we’d likely still have the Fire. The Nook is questionable but Amazon isn’t short technical chops when it comes down to it. Likewise we’d still have the Galaxy Tab and Galaxy phones. The ecosystems would be weaker and more fragmented but the sheer volume of Samsung sales strikes me as large enough to have a vibrant market if all their Android sales were Bada. Likewise Amazon would have a solid app store selection.

    I have the impression that even without Android that Samsung would STILL be eating Nokia and RIM’s lunch.

  85. Why MS will start to fall apart next year:

    IDC predicts PC users won’t upgrade to Windows 8, tablet sales will be “disappointing”
    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/12/05/idc_predicts_pc_users_wont_upgrade_to_windows_8_tablet_sales_will_be_disappointing.html

    However, porting Windows 8 to ARM won’t enable new devices to run existing Windows desktop software, all of which will need to be rewritten for the ARM chip. Apple faced similar issues in porting its Mac OS from 68k to PowerPC and eventually Intel processors, but at each transition, Apple included software to run existing Mac titles in emulation. Microsoft has announced it will not.

    No new sales on desktops, no sales of phones, nor sales of tablets. Where to go than become a full time patent troll?

  86. @winter so if MS doesn’t “start to” fall apart next year what are you going to do? Just shift it to 2013? The Year Of The Linux Desktop all over again?

  87. @Nigel
    “Just shift it to 2013?”

    No, I will simply admit that I was wrong.

    I have no problems with admitting I was wrong. As close to 100% of all predictions about the future come true only at chance level, I do not see why mine would fare any better.

    I do believe that at some dat in the future MS will go out of business. But that is like saying that I will die some day.

  88. @Nigel:

    So you’re going to see the same kind of asinine behavior from advertisers on Android like on the web. In your face, more intrusive advertising because that’s the primary way to make money on the platform.

    Hmmm, I don’t seem to have that problem with any other google products I use. What makes Android fundamentally different?

  89. There is an interesting sinusoidal wave convolved with the linear growth in the “Projected Android market share” graph. Any reasonable guesses to account for this? Is it a statistically irrelevant thing?

  90. “Hmmm, I don’t seem to have that problem with any other google products I use. What makes Android fundamentally different?”

    Serious answer: consider the change in ad placements for Google search. In my opinion, the ads on Google search have gotten significantly more intrusive over the years. I don’t find it annoying, because I’m the frog in the slowly heating pot. But I just did a search on “hard drives”. My Firefox window shows tabs, the URL bar, and the bookmark bar. It’s maximized on a 1680×1050 screen.

    11 of the links displayed are ads. 2 are actual search results, and I’m slightly suspicious about the Newegg result, but maybe they have good SEO. 5 are Google Product Search results, which are not ads and which link to pages without any ads. There’s some indirect monetization going on there with Google Checkout and perhaps the rumored Amazon Prime competitor, but that’s pretty indirect. And finally, 15 are suggested search refinements. Of those 15, 5 are brands and 5 are stores. Clicking on any of those 15 takes us to another search results page with another 11 ads and another 2 actual search results, etc. Interestingly, of the 11 ads I see on the second click, three have pictures associated with them. Ah, for the days when Google was telling us text ads were all we’d ever need.

    Now, that’s a search which could be on a product, depending on what I’m looking for. Lots of Google searches produce no ads at all, which is nice. But I’d definitely say that Google’s putting more ads on the search results page over time. Again: 11 ads, 7 search results (counting Product Search), and 15 neutral links of which 10 drive you towards content which is easier to target with ads. When a search engine is showing you more ads than search results in a maximized browser, it’s getting pretty intrusive.

  91. @Bryant:

    Interesting observation. But I would suspect that what drives it is (a) the sheer number of commercial pages selling hard drives, and (b) what google search engine users want to see when they enter those two words.

    Google sees everything everybody clicks on. Shoot, I have to say that if I were to enter that term, it’s probably be because I was looking to buy a new hard drive. Buying stuff is a major thing that people do.

    But I’d definitely say that Google’s putting more ads on the search results page over time.

    But is that due to the commercialization of google, or the commercialization of the web?

    As an aside, I think google’s display of commercial content goes up and down, as they battle the link farms.

    When a search engine is showing you more ads than search results in a maximized browser, it’s getting pretty intrusive.

    I think most people who want to know something about hard drives, as opposed to just buying a hard drive, will enter additional terms. For example, “hard drive technology” or “hard drive magnetoresistive” or “hard drive manufacturing.”

    Try any of those terms.

    BTW, thanks for quoting me. Re-reading what I said, I realize that the statement wasn’t strong enough, so I’ll amend it:

    I don’t have that problem with any other google products I use, and can’t imagine that google’s aiming to make Android more annoying than its other products.

  92. @meat.paste:

    If you decide to investigate further, remember that the data is a three month moving average. I don’t know comscore’s methodology exactly. In the most simplistic case, they simply poll ‘x’ people every month, and always average the last 3 month’s replies together.

    Bearing that in mind, it appears there might be some seasonality there around Christmas, but also there seem to be other factors at play. One of those might be the HTC Thunderbolt release last March — apparently it was pretty popular at Verizon.

  93. @patrick not google’s own apps specifically although Bryant provides an interesting but expected example. Google has to make money somehow and I don’t begrudge them their search links.

    What I mean is that app developers have to make money somehow and just like free content on the web, free apps on Android have to be ad driven. Which leads to the behavior we’re seeing. Some tasteful. Some like those weird video ads with some fat girl dancing.

    To a certain extent I “steal” web content since I run ghostery (eliminating analytics) and adblock (which does what it says). But the sites I like I tend to either buy swag or hit their donate button once in a blue moon. Most of those are like The Loop or DF with a nice clean layout to begin with.

  94. @winter I was being a little snarky but it just struck me as funny/odd to be quoting an Apple fanboy site about the demise of MS. Especially a DED article. That guy is infamous on the extreme Apple spin he puts on things. If he posted that the sun rose out of the east the spin would be because Steve Jobs had Ives design it that way.

    I read AI but sometimes it’s just too much. Gruber is at least humorous (to me anyway).

  95. >There is an interesting sinusoidal wave convolved with the linear growth in the “Projected Android market share” graph. Any reasonable guesses to account for this? Is it a statistically irrelevant thing?

    I think it’s just noise. But I could be wrong.

  96. @Nigel
    Ok, fair. His comments are not outlandish. And the underlying report does exist:
    http://blogs.computerworld.com/19376/windows_8_will_be_an_upgrade_failure_warns_idc

    Nothing shocking, just what you (or I, at least) expect. The real problem for MS is that they have nothing to offer that will improve the productivity of their users. And, historically, that is where they made their money: creaming off productivity increases. Apple have other incentives to get users to upgrade, ie, better hardware, coolness etc. Google does not even make their money from selling software. But MS have none, nothing people need or even want, nothing else to make money with.

    So, I think in the end Neal Stephenson was right (“In the beginning was the command line”): Selling an OS is not a sustainable business.

  97. I know this is seriously off topic, and for that I apologize, but has anyone read the Forbes article on “Developernomics”? I had trouble sleeping after reading it. To those more knowledgeable, is this guy onto something or just blowing smoke? It comes from a reputable source.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/venkateshrao/2011/12/05/the-rise-of-developeronomics/

    Are developers selling themselves short? Is software development talent really that rare? (It doesn’t seem so to me, but many of my friends are really great software developers.) Are we heading for a phase change in the importance of software development, and therefore developers?

  98. @Tom
    Laugh all you want, brainwashed hipster fashion victims. It is devices like those that will very soon spell doom for Apple. Disruption from below!!!

  99. @Patrick

    Oh, sorry. Didn’t realise.

    I am pretty skeptical about these bargain-basement tablets. Amazon has just barely made a usable tablet at twice the price. And they are reportedly selling the Fire almost at cost, hoping to make it up on content. Right now I don’t think it is possible to even manufacture a credible tablet computer for $100, let alone sell and make money from one.

    No doubt it will happen eventually but it’s a good year or two off I think.

  100. @Patrick Maupin:

    “Exactly. What the hell can you do on a 6502 with 4K of RAM, anyway?”

    I implemented a time-code reader with a SYM-1. Worked great.

  101. Is Google’s Eric Schmidt reading Eric Raymond? ;-)

    Google’s Schmidt: Android leads the iPhone
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-57338276-264/googles-schmidt-android-leads-the-iphone/

    “Ultimately, application vendors are driven by volume, and volume is favored by the open approach Google is taking. There are so many manufacturers working to deliver Android phones globally,” Schmidt said. “Whether you like Android or not, you will support that platform, and maybe you’ll even deliver it first.”

  102. >Is Google’s Eric Schmidt reading Eric Raymond? ;-)

    Of course he is, or was at some point. Google’s founders sent me fan mail before they were famous; I taught Google its strategy. Why else do you think I’ve been able to anticipate its moves so effectively?

  103. @DocDoc
    The article starts on a low:
    “If you were an early hominid and you killed a large mammoth, you could not possibly eat it all before it rotted. So you shared it.”

    Seriously, how does an single early hominid kill a mammoth? The idea is that early hominids became social and sharing because lonely, isolated hominids are dead hominids (then and now). Just as lonely apes are dead apes. The best bank is not just any empty stomach, there is more to altruism than a few sound-bites.

    Next, the brunt of the article is well depicted in this rather old joke:
    http://www.extremelyfunny.co.uk/parsepicture.php?jid=1154

    The rest of the article goes downhill from that point. Instead, read SatireWire. It is much more to the point.

    LOYAL EMPLOYEES A VALUABLE ASSET, SO NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO SELL THEM
    Companies Can Get Top Dollar for Their Most Faithful Workers
    http://www.satirewire.com/news/0105/loyal.shtml

    Palo Alto, Cal. (SatireWire.com) — In an age when employees are labeled ‘human capital’ and workplace longevity is measured in months, some companies have finally begun to realize that a truly loyal employee is a rare and valuable asset that should be recognized, nurtured, and, ideally, sold to the highest bidder.

    “Your truly devoted employee, one who honestly believes in his or her company and is faithful to its mission and its products, is an absolute gem, impossible to find,” explained Ken Chesley, human resources director for CitiGroup. “That’s why they’re so easy to sell. Companies are yearning for employees like that.”

  104. @esr
    “Why else do you think I’ve been able to anticipate its moves so effectively?”

    I must deliminate my rethorical questions better.

  105. >I must deliminate my rethorical questions better.

    Maybe not. It was very late and I was rather fried when I read that one – could be my humor sensors were impaired.

  106. There’s a little company called Le Pan that makes a 9.7″ (iPad sized) Android tablet that’s selling at Amazon for $250.

    From what I hear it’s an excellent device. 178-degree viewing angle on the display, fast enough CPU, half a GiB of RAM. It’s also not quite rectangular, so the danger of infringing on Apple’s patent on a rectangular tablet is less. (Yes, Apple’s patent on rectangularity — D504,889 — is real and enforceable; if you make a rectangular tablet you are infringing on Apple’s IP.)

  107. > D504,889 — is real and enforceable

    Real, yes.

    Enforceable remains to be seen. Given the substantial questions of prior art, the ITC has declined to grant a preliminary injunction against Samsung to Apple.

  108. @Patrick

    Personally, I think Patents are to Innovation what the Spanish Inquisition was to truth.

    More on how MS’ patent war ship is making lot’s of water:

    ITC Recommends Finland and Canada Help Barnes & Noble Get Evidence from Nokia and MOSAID
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php

    You know what I was thinking as I typed up this list? That all that trash talk by Microsoft about how it had patents that Linux was infringing was so much hot air. Android runs on the Linux kernel, and in order to effectively assert patents against Android, Microsoft didn’t reach into its own cupboard. Well, it did, against Barnes & Noble, but the patents from Microsoft’s store are patents that Barnes & Noble calls trivial and worthless. Microsoft, it appears, did this deal with Nokia and MOSAID to get access to patents it thought might actually work. Funny. Or sad. Microsoft is what it is, but think about the companies that signed up for the Microsoft patents.

  109. Apple taking over from MS as the evil standards buster:

    Apple using patents to undermine open standards again
    http://my.opera.com/haavard/blog/2011/12/09/apple-w3c

    A couple of years ago, I reported on how Apple was using patents to block a W3C specification.The end-result was that the patent didn’t seem to be relevant to the specification at all, and one or both of them were even rejected by the patent office. That Apple would use invalid or irrelevant patents or patent applications to block or delay an open standard seems odd, but if you look at their general behavior during the whole thing, it is easy to conclude that the intent was indeed malicious.

    ….

    This time they have four claims – three patents and one patent application – that threaten to block the W3C Touch Events Specification. They filed their patent claims a little over a month before the time limit expired (the claim was filed on November 11, and the time limit is December 26, 2011).

  110. I am not the only one who thinks MS is in serious danger

    Is Bill Gates mulling a return to Microsoft throne?
    One final belated repeat of a Jobs move maybe on cards
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/09/bill_gates_back_to_microsoft/

    One would be the Microsoft stock value. Earlier this year, activist investor David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital likened Ballmer to a weight dragging down the company’s share price. He said Ballmer was “stuck in the past” and called for him to step aside. Ballmer is not loved by Microsoft’s less vocal investors either.

    Another spur for Gates could be the desire to give Microsoft a new focus in a time of sharp change, especially as it pushes into the mobile space. Steve Jobs and Larry Page famously returned as CEOs after absences and pulled off marvellous recoveries. But despite Jobs’ claim that Gates always copies him, it’s not likely Gates will do something just because Steve did.

  111. @Winter re “Parks Tanks’

    I saw that earlier, thought it was one of the funniest headlines I’ve seen in this sordid IP mess. What goes around, comes around.

    What do you want to bet there isn’t a self-driving Google car with 100m euros in the trunk somewhere in Germany waiting on a destination to be programmed? [If varAtMotorolaDestination = True Then varPopTrunkOpen = True]

    Excuse me, the popcorn’s almost done…

  112. @Greg

    >I just came across this and thought I’d pass it on. It looks like HP is open-sourcing WebOS.

    What really is the point of this? Are they expecting some company to come along and drive the development of the OS? Can it even be run on anything?

    I guess open-sourcing it is marginally better than just putting it in a drawer and forgetting about it, but in all honesty I don’t see this going anywhere.

  113. Tom, as near as I can tell, HP’s open-sourcing WebOS as a last resort after failing to find a buyer for it. If they’d done so two years ago it would have been significant.

  114. I t should be able to run on anything that will run Linux. As Some Guy says, this is probably best described as ‘too little, too late’ (a step up from ‘desperate flailing’ – which for HP is improvement). It’s not earth-shaking, but it is interesting.

    WebOS may have been a loser in the marketplace, but it has virtues and potential. I have a Touchpad. I like WebOS. My 2-year old son likes WebOS. And most of WebOS’s failings can be traced back to lack of development time/resources (it’s missing features, it’s *slow*, and it has no apps) and open-sourcing might just be the right way to address all 3 at once. Certainly it can’t hurt – the homebrew community is already one of the best things WebOS has going.

  115. @Greg

    >WebOS may have been a loser in the marketplace, but it has virtues and potential. I have a Touchpad. I like WebOS. My 2-year old son likes WebOS.

    *I* like WebOS. It had fantastic potential. Next to iOS it was the most polished mobile OS out there. It really seems like HP didn’t even give it a chance. They gave up almost immediately and then dithered around for a few months before deciding to open source it. I guess they think this will get them some good PR in hacker circles. It’s pathetic, really. It’s so sad to see the company blindly thrashing around like this. They have no vision, no focus, no purpose whatsoever.

  116. Management changes.

    HP bought Palm and WebOS under a cost-cutting/bargain-hunting CEO who was always looking for an acquisition that he could wring the juice out of, like EDS. So HP bought Palm, but of course under a CEO like that they wouldn’t invest *more* money into finishing WebOS (and WebOS really wasn’t/isn’t finished), they just wanted to try to make a quick buck off what they bought, as-is. Didn’t work.

    Then HP got a new, blundering lummox of an ignoramus CEO, who didn’t understand half of what HP did, so naturally he reacted by trying to kill all the pieces he didn’t understand. And he was off a good start before he got canned. (And naturally WebOS, as a previous CEO’s pet project, was starved for resources, then slated for death.)

    The latest CEO is just trying to make the best of a bad situation. When your predecessors have dealt you such an awful hand, there’s only so much you can do….

  117. “What really is the point of this? Are they expecting some company to come along and drive the development of the OS? Can it even be run on anything?”

    The CEO has said that HP will continue to pay their developers to support it, so it’s not just being orphaned.

  118. Re: WebOS: while it may be late given Android’s dominance and growth, it offers a non-Microsoft option to manufacturers if they have concerns about Google’s ownership of Motorola.

    Of course, this would be have been more effective 12 months ago, but I suspect the new CEO had to come in and find her feet before making this decision.

  119. I was told there is a Russian proverb that says stupid people learn from their own mistakes and smart people learn from other peoples mistakes (I assume other countries have comparable proverbs).

    It is obvious that MS are not learning from other phone manufacturer’s mistakes.

    Windows Phone vulnerable to SMS attack
    http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/Windows-Phone-vulnerable-to-SMS-attack-1394382.html

    According to a report from WinRumors, the Messaging Hub on Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” devices can be completely disabled using a specially crafted SMS message.

    ….

    WinRumor’s Tom Warren says that the only way to fix a device affected by the problem is to perform a hard reset and wipe the device, during which all personal data will be lost.

  120. The wave of lawsuits over huge violations of the wiretapping statutes should be entertaining to watch.

    And how many of those lawsuits do you expect will actually be won in post-9/11 Murka? Wiretapping statues — hell, the whole 4th amendment — mean precisely dick when there’s terrists to catch. Welcome to the surveillance state.

  121. @SPQR:
    “Cathy, what developers?”

    From WSJ:

    “WebOS is ‘a fabulous technology that we don’t want to have go away,’ Ms. Whitman said in an interview. She called the decision to make it available using the open source model ‘a great answer.’

    “Under the plan, H-P will continue to make enhancements to webOS, and the 600 or so employees who work on it will remain at H-P. The company has no plans to build devices using webOS in 2012, but it might in future years, Ms. Whitman said.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203413304577088582229860486.html?KEYWORDS=webos

  122. “The CEO has said that HP will continue to pay their developers to support it, so it’s not just being orphaned.”

    Yeah, it is. It’s just a soft-orphaning.

  123. Sorry, posted this on an older Smart Phone Wars entry:

    Is $50 after rebate and with a new contract low enough for NoWin?
    http://allthingsd.com/20111214/nokia-re-entering-u-s-smartphone-market-with-a-low-end-windows-phone-for-t-mobile/

    A low-end Android is free under contract at Verizon:
    http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/store/controller?item=phoneFirst&action=viewPhoneDetail&selectedPhoneId=5714

    And an old iPhone is $0.99 at AT&T (again with two-year contract, and data service):
    http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/packages/packages-details.jsp?q_package=sku4670287&_requestid=164431

    My guess: NoWin needs to be free with contract.

  124. @Marco:

    One question is how much commission Microsoft pays the salespeople…

  125. @Patrick Maupin:

    I would defer to a more knowledgeable source, but I doubt Microsoft pays salespeople (other than their own) directly.
    Channel partners are often provided with end-of-year discounts based on volume (and other metrics) that enable them to derive profits separately from unit sales.
    I would not be surprised if they provide marketing cost sharing with the Nokia and the carriers.
    And I would not be shocked if they price their software stack at, or even below, the nominal cost of patent licensing on other software stacks.

    But all this is barely informed speculation.

  126. @Patrick Maupin:

    I would add that my original comment reflecting the need for NoWin to provide a compelling value proposition to overcome inertia was my attempt to claim an increasingly important role for the end-customer over various gatekeepers (most critically, the carriers) in the mobile device supply chain.

  127. Old news, that really is not news. But it illustrates the fall of Apple in the mind share.

    Apple’s Galaxy Tab ban was best advertising ever – Samsung
    Thanks a lot, Cupertino!
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/15/samsung_capitalises_on_apple_court_win/

    And just to ensure that the Korean firm capitalises on the Tab’s fifteen minutes of fame, it has bought up some lovely vengeful adverts in Australian newspapers, running the tagline ‘The tablet Apple tried to stop’.

  128. “But it illustrates the fall of Apple in the mind share.”

    How so? If anything it reflects that Samsung can only acquire mindshare via Apple, and that Apple’s mindshare remains the strongest.

  129. @Tim F:

    How so? If anything it reflects that Samsung can only acquire mindshare via Apple… [emphasis added]

    That word doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means.

    and that Apple’s mindshare remains the strongest.

    There is no conflict between the two statements “Apple has the largest mindshare” and “Apple fucked up by suing their competitor and lost quite a bit of mindshare in the process.”

    If some NPE patent troll had sued Samsung and managed to get injunctions in Australia and Germany, that would have been good advertising too. Sure, the advertising is better because Apple is the gorilla in the space, and the pundit class loves that sort of conflict.

    But…

    The mindshare of the journalists looking for a conflict and then publishing stories that contain the words “Samsung” and “smartphone” in them is not the same as the mindshare of the buying public that Samsung cares about. We can directly see the former; Samsung sees (and cares deeply about) the latter.

    If you’re a member of the public who is not on the bleeding edge, sure you knew there was a thing called an iPad, and you probably knew it was made by Apple, even if you hadn’t the remotest interest in buying one. Now you know that Samsung makes a similar thing that is so good it scares Apple to death. Maybe it’s time to take a look and see what all the fuss is about.

  130. @Marco:

    I would add that my original comment reflecting the need for NoWin to provide a compelling value proposition to overcome inertia was my attempt to claim an increasingly important role for the end-customer over various gatekeepers (most critically, the carriers) in the mobile device supply chain.

    I agree. But…

    Smartphones, like cars, are something that a lot of people like to touch before buying, rather than buying over the internet. This often gives a salesman an opportunity to sway a sale one way or another, and manufacturers are keen to directly compensate the sales guys (often in the form of gadgets or trips or some other medium that reduces the dealer’s incentive to try to siphon the incentive away from the employee and add it to the dealership bottom line):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiff

  131. I wasn’t privy to this until just recently, but apparently GameStop is selling Android tablets — including the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the ASUS Transformer Prime — as gaming units, and preloading them with games including Sonic CD and some third-person shooter. The most recent Android kit seems up to the task; the third-person shooter looks like an original Xbox title and seemed to play without any visible slowdown or stutter. Sonic CD is pretty much perfect.

    It will take a while for game developers to become aware of Android, but there is some hope for a niche — AAA mobile gaming — which until now was the exclusive province of iOS (and handheld consoles of course).

  132. @Patrick Maupin
    “and manufacturers are keen to directly compensate the sales guys (often in the form of gadgets or trips or some other medium that reduces the dealer’s incentive to try to siphon the incentive away from the employee and add it to the dealership bottom line)”

    They would have to ramp up the incentives considerably in Europe it seems. However this particular survey seems to be even less reliable than your average market survey.

    Survey: So Far, Europe Shuns Nokia’s Lumia
    http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/12/17/survey-so-far-europe-shuns-nokias-lumia/

    The brokerage cut end-user sales forecasts of the Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) Windows Phone-powered Nokia Lumia to just 800,000, significantly lower than its earlier “ballpark estimate” of 2 million sales, according to Reuters. This compares, said Exane BNP Paribas, with sales of between 3.5 million and 4 million for Nokia’s previous flagship smartphone, the N8, during the first quarter it was available.

  133. Another example why FLOSS is important:

    Google needs a very thorough frisking, say antitrust senators
    FTC told search biz’s dominance raises questions
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/20/ftc_probe_google/

    The Federal Trade Commission has been urged by two concerned US lawmakers to investigate Google’s search business practices more thoroughly.

    Senator Mike Lee and Senator Herb Kohl, who both sit on the upper house’s judiciary antitrust subcommittee, wrote (PDF) to the FTC’s chairman Jonathan Leibowitz on Monday.

    The current leadership of Google might consist of saints. They might try to do everything to improve human freedom. But if Google become powerful, someone even more powerful will step in and take over.

    If Android does take over the mobile phone market as expected, we can be pretty sure some people with power will start procedures to take over the control center of Android. They did it with MS, which was beaten into submission to political interference by anti-trust actions (MS started to donate to political causes big time after the verdict). They will do it with Google.

  134. Jeff R.:

    I also see a wide variety of (mostly cheap) android tablets at Toys-R-us alongside the iPad and iPod touch. Interestingly, there’s also an android netbook, though it looks like a cheap piece of junk. Remember, 201X is the year of the Linux^HAndroid desktop!

  135. @Patrick Maupin: “There is no conflict between the two statements “Apple has the largest mindshare” and “Apple fucked up by suing their competitor and lost quite a bit of mindshare in the process.”

    There’s also no conflict with Samsung increasing mindshare and it not diminishing Apple’s mindshare.

    “Sure, the advertising is better because Apple is the gorilla in the space, and the pundit class loves that sort of conflict.”

    Ah… Samsung increased their mindshare with the all important “pundit class” — certainly that must have diminished Apple’s mindshare.

    “We can directly see the former; Samsung sees (and cares deeply about) the latter.”

    And neither point to diminished mindshare for Apple.

    “Now you know that Samsung makes a similar thing that is so good it scares Apple to death.”

    I highly doubt this is the standard response to Samsung’s ads. The general public is just as likely to see Samsung as delusional, a copycat, or completely in Apple’s shadow. Do you actually think the average citizen thinks Apple is afraid of very many competitors if any at all?

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