The Smartphone Wars: Back to the Old Normal

It begins to look like the 2012 holiday-season was an anomaly. comScore’s new numbers (for Jan 2012) are out; Android is resuming its long-term growth rate after a temporary slowdown, and Apple’s market share actually dropped slightly.

I refused to overinterpret Android’s relatively poor performance in the last quarter then, and I’m not going to read too much into Apple’s fall in market share now – it’s probably within the statistical noise limit for comScore’s numbers. I’ll leave the hyperventilation to the fanboys.

I wasn’t the only observer to doubt that the sales spike produced by the 4S was sustainable, and that skepticism now appears to have been well justified. Android phones were outgrowing iPhones even at the hight of the giddy hype; now we’re back to situation normal, with Android posting about three times iPhone’s growth rate.

So what happened last quarter? I have to say I don’t know. The most intriguing bump in the trendlines, I think, was that RIM – poor, doomed RIM – pegged a slight gain in its userbase in December, after having watched that erode steadily from a high in late 2010. This suggests to me that the quarter’s numbers got bent by a surge of smartphone newcomers that were exceptionally lacking in the ability or knowledge to scope RIM’s future prospects – and, by extension, poor at evaluating the prospects of Apple and Android as well.

But now RIM’s trend curves have resumed their long-term decline. That surge is over. It’s an interesting time for Apple’s growth to be weakening. The census Bureau gives the current population of the U.S. as 311,591,917 and comScore says there are 101,300,000 smartphone subscribers in the U.S. That means about one in three Americans now has a smartphone.

If I were a zealot, I’d be crowing about the Trump of Doom for Apple as vociferously as the Apple fanboys were predicting same for Android three months ago. But no; while I still think Apple is headed for disruptive collapse, this probably isn’t it. Yet. This is probably just a lull after an unsustainable holiday frenzy. But if Apple continues to look as uncompetitive next month, the end of its giddy run might indeed be drawing nigh.

Tablets, you say? Tablet dominance will save Apple’s planners from the disruption jitters? Probably not. This announcement – a 7″ capacitive (so, full multitouch) tablet running full Android 4.0 for $89 – heralds the next stage in the disruption. It’s now a safe bet that before the end of Q2 there will be a dozen varieties of Android 4.0 tablet on sale at price points below $100. In the $150 range we’ll see 10″ screens and retina displays. That price point is a recipe for increasing pressure on the iPad.

585 thoughts on “The Smartphone Wars: Back to the Old Normal

  1. I’ve never predicted “doom” for Android, just pointed out reasons that its “giddy run” is unsustainable and that it won’t hurt Apple much, if at all. And forgive me if you already have done this and I’ve forgotten, esr, but would you be specific about your definition of “disruptive collapse” for Apple?

    And 10″ retina display Android tablets for $150, in a few months? No way, unless it’s some otherwise horrible p.o.s., or being blown out at a loss.

  2. “And 10? retina display Android tablets for $150, in a few months?”

    Just write down the bet. If it doesn’t happen, we can chalk it up to a natural disaster.

  3. The Comscore data shows that Microsoft lost another point of share. That doesn’t sound like much, until you realize it’s a drop of about ~20%. And further realize that share has fallen every month without exception since at least December 2009.

    How long can even Microsoft keep throwing good money after bad? At what point do they throw in the towel? Yes, it’s “strategic”, blah blah blah, but at some point they have to realize that they are on the wrong side of the network-effects curve.

    A quick linear regression on the data says that Microsoft is losing 0.5% share every month. that puts them at 0% in 3Q2012. I don’t really expect the decline to remain linear at these really small penetration levels, but it shows that 2012 is likely the year of final reckoning for WinPhone.

    RIM, on the other hand, still has a way to go. (Interesting to me, since I’ve just gotten a Blackberry at work.) Linear regression there says that 1Q2013 will cross zero. Again, I don’t expect this to literally happen as the trend likely won’t remain linear…but it shows that RIM’s tank is nearly empty (in the U.S., anyway).

    (Reposted from earlier thread, as it really belongs on this thread.)

  4. @esr

    But if Apple continues to look as uncompetitive next month

    Uncompetitive?

    How can a company be uncompetitive when it has the top selling products in the category, is making more money than anybody else, and has better satisfaction ratings than anybody else?

  5. “How can a company be uncompetitive when it has the top selling products in the category”

    You’re obviously not paying attention. There’s no way Apple can compete with this: http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/17/2804317/ainovo-novo7-basic-review

    Plus, when you consider that by the end of the year we’ll have retina-display, 10” tablets with 4G, NFC, 3D and haptic feedback included free with every box of Cracker Jacks, you can’t not conclude that Tim Cook must be sweating bullets right now.

  6. Apple is also on the wrong side of the network effect curve, but they will eventually settle in as a respectable #2 player in the same way they did with the Macintosh. (Or #3 depending on whose Linux desktop market share figures you want to believe.)

    RIM has one move left and they’d better get their asses in gear and play it while they still can. RIM must get out of the hardware business completely. Blackberry is still the preferred mobile messaging suite in the business world. That messaging suite should be made to run on Android and iOS devices (and maybe even Vista Phone 7 & 8 for good measure) so that the PHB’s of the world can continue to use it. This would keep them alive in “the enterprise” for at least another decade.

    Looking forward to buying an inexpensive Android 4 tablet. I thought we’d be there by now, but I guess Apple has gotten good at creating enough natural disasters to keep the supply chain constrained. They can do this because they have Al Gore on their board, and we all know he has a weather machine…

  7. @pinhead:

    That report is comparing one three month period with the previous 3 month period (three month granularity). Eric’s comparing the current three month period with the one from a month ago.

    Full series of numbers and graphs are here:

    http://www.catb.org/esr/comscore/

    But like he says, the drop is too small to be statistically significant.

  8. ” I’ll leave the hyperventilation to the fanboys.”

    Learn just a little Japanese: The Japanese word for “fanboys” is “otaku” ;)

    I tried to call my friends on my new blackberry, but Driscoll’s doesn’t quite have the same touch as RIM. Also, I’ve always preferred Sunkist to… what was that other company called again?

    “How can a company be uncompetitive when it has top selling products…”

    Microsoft started about eleven years behind in proper GUI operating systems in 1995. It is still about that far behind. I have hard data from the GNOME on that, K? ;)

  9. >Hmm, the report I’m reading [...] actually says that Apple’s share has risen.

    Since October. There’s a slight fall from last month.

  10. Interesting review of the Novo 7 posted by wlad and phil. Much of it is what you’d expect for such a low-end device, but the MIPS processor has some nasty surprises.

    “About half of the apps I tried to install from the Amazon Market failed with the message ‘The package appears to be corrupt.’ The issue appears to be that most apps are coded to expect support from an ARM-based processor, not a MIPS-based processor. Common apps like 1Password, Angry Birds (not the pre-installed MIPS-compatible version), Fruit Ninja, Flixter, Rdio, Retro Camera, Skype, SwiftKey X, and more wouldn’t work on the Novo7 Basic. At all.”

    Apparently a lot of Android apps don’t limit themselves to Dalvik bytecodes. I’m not surprised that Angry Birds is in that category, but for so many common apps to be processor-dependent is not what I’d have expected from an operating system that is focused on a VM.

  11. @Cathy
    > Apparently a lot of Android apps don’t limit themselves to Dalvik bytecodes.

    Sadly necessary for performance reasons. Hopefully less necessary with improving software and hardware as we go forward.

  12. Looking at total added users in the data you’re maintaining, I have to say that it looks like comscore’s average is heavily weighted toward the last month. I played with this a bit awhile back — it’s interesting to write a script to try to come up with monthly numbers and weightings that would make the chart come out right. Might be easier now with more data and that big spike. Alas, I have too many other things to do.

  13. @esr

    It’s now a safe bet that before the end of Q2 there will be a dozen varieties of Android 4.0 tablet on sale at price points below $100.

    And they’ll all be total shit.

    I’m sure Apple is quaking it its boots at the prospect of a dozen “creaky clunker” tablets, “stripped of all essential Googleness” that offer “subpar 7-inch 800 x 480″ displays suffering from “Stark loss of contrast [and] poor viewing angles”, in addition to “egregious lack of Android market access”, cases that don’t “do much to inspire confidence”, a “dearth of accessible content” and web browsing experiences where “Full desktop pages [take] up to 46 seconds to load on a high-speed wireless connection.”

    Do you honestly think that any existing or potential iPad customers are going to be derailed by this crap? They buy iPads because they want high-end devices, not shit. This stuff isn’t even in the same galaxy as the iPad.

  14. >Do you honestly think that any existing or potential iPad customers are going to be derailed by this crap?

    You really don’t get how low-end disruption works, do you?

    Never mind. You’ll learn.

  15. “You really don’t get how low-end disruption works, do you?”

    Clay Christensen: “There’s just something different about those guys. They’re freaks.”

  16. As I’m sure you’d agree, simply being low-end isn’t enough for disruption, or everyone would have a Coby or other no-name-o MP3 player.

    Every time someone buys an Android device that won’t load Android apps, or has a screen that can barely be used for reading, or turns out to have a crappy two-megapixel camera, they’re less likely to buy another Android device. Android’s rise is not sustainable because of (among other things) poor user experience and fragmentation like this.

    (It probably won’t hurt the Novo 7, but the bit about two sets of hardware volume controls cracked me up. Yeah, faced with design expertise like that, Apple should be worried….)

  17. @esr

    You really don’t get how low-end disruption works, do you?

    Low end disruption does not mean just introducing a bunch of shitty products.

  18. I’d like to bring the audience back to April 14th, 2011.

    Meanwhile, 7-inch Android tablets now ship for less than $90 quantity 1.

    Mind you, this is before the Android SoCs are shipping in volume. This tells us three things: first, my previous price projections were way, way too conservative – $85 tablets now implies $50 tablets by year end.

    I swear. You dangle a cheap low-quality 7″ tablet in front of Eric and he hits the same reaction points every time. Right down to the eager discussion of low-end disruption and the relative timeline.

  19. Yes, it does mean introducing a bunch of cheap, shitty products… then improving them, then improving them, then improving them, then improving them, then improving them, then improving them, then by golly they’re still cheap but aren’t shit anymore. And we’re at least on the third “improving them” for Android tablets by now.

  20. Bryant, good catch.

    Which prompts me to ask: isn’t Apple more likely to create and benefit from a system on a chip? They’re designing their own CPUs and selling them by the scores of millions, so I don’t see how SoC technology is some sort of unique potential benefit for Android.

  21. @PapayaSF

    isn’t Apple more likely to create and benefit from a system on a chip

    Apple’s Ax series *are* systems-on-a-chip.

    Systems on chips?

    System-on-a-chips?

    Little help…?

  22. Well, yeah. The thing is, Apple does have a really good engineering team. They also happen to have a superb design team, and sometimes people get a bit confused and assume you can’t have both at once. Also, as Clayton Christensen has pointed out, Apple has so far been resistant to low-end disruption because Jobs wasn’t motivated by the desire to get the highest possible profit.

    Good example: LTE. We’ve had a lot of arguments around here about what it means that the iPhone doesn’t have LTE. I would argue that if Apple had gone for LTE at this point, they’d be falling into the disruption trap: the performance of the product would overshoot the needs of the marketplace. Same probably goes for NFC.

    I think Christensen’s 2011 comments on Apple are worth reading; he’s figured out where he was wrong earlier. He hasn’t turned into a fanboy or anything. He recognizes where Apple might fail in the future. But he’s not stuck repeating his old predictions, either. Earned a lot of respect there from me.

  23. Every time someone buys an Android device that won’t load Android apps, or has a screen that can barely be used for reading, or turns out to have a crappy two-megapixel camera, they’re less likely to buy another Android device. Android’s rise is not sustainable because of (among other things) poor user experience and fragmentation like this.

    This is where i think you’re wrong.

    Every time someone buys a device that won’t load apps or has a screen that can barely be used for reading etc… they’re less likely to buy THAT device (or from that company). I massively doubt that the common man is actually buying an “ANDROID Phone woo!”, instead they’re buying “A Samsung because they do quality shit!” or “A HTC because they’ve been in the smartphone business almost as long as it existed” or even “An Apple because i like the way they work”.

    Anything else is the technology equivalent of declaring the earth is flat, extraordinary claims/extraordinary evidence.

  24. Tom, you are correct. I knew they didn’t include all logic-board components, so I thought they wouldn’t count, but I was wrong.

    So then SoCs for Android would be (once again) chasing Apple… which reminds me of one of the things I notice about Android cheerleaders: they so often seem to forget that Apple is a moving target. It’s not enough to take months or years to equal an Apple product of today, even if you can somehow do it more cheaply. You’re going to be competing with the Apple product of the future… an unenviable task.

  25. Oh and as an addendum… they’ll also buy “an ainovo because by christ they suck but $90 is as much as i’m willing to spend”.

  26. @JonCB

    Every time someone buys a device that won’t load apps or has a screen that can barely be used for reading etc… they’re less likely to buy THAT device (or from that company). I massively doubt that the common man is actually buying an “ANDROID Phone woo!”, instead they’re buying “A Samsung because they do quality shit!” or “A HTC because they’ve been in the smartphone business almost as long as it existed” or even “An Apple because i like the way they work”.

    I think you’re right there. Andy Rubin said it best himself:

    “there’s no organized way for consumers to recognise it [Android] as a viable platform,”

  27. JonCB, I think that’s a distinction without a difference. If Android is a selling point, then poor user experiences erode Android as a selling point. If people are ignoring the OS and thinking of Samsung/HTC/whatever, then the Samsung/HTC/whatever brand is eroded… but those brands use Android. Either way, the association hurts, and people are less likely to repeat the experience.

    Sure, there are revision cycles and improvements (and Apple has them, too), but nobody beyond geeks wants to be part of a testing cycle that starts at shitty and slowly improves. It’s actually far more likely that dissatisfied users will hear from their friends how much they like their iOS devices, and upgrade to them when they can.

  28. I’ve read a lot of blogs and reviews on a variety of Android phones and I can only say that I’m damn confused by the whole range of user experiences: from absolutely dismal to passably good to great. Android seems to be too fragmented at the moment. On the other hand, the few reviews I read of WP 7 phones seem to indicate more consistent experience and quality. And almost all reviewers are ga-ga about the UI of WP 7 phones being excellent, fluid, smooth and fast. Of course, the bad thing is that WP 7 is absolutely locked down – it doesn’t even allow for bluetooth file transfers!

    I am still searching for an “ideal” Android phone, but yet to find it. There’s no reasonably inexpensive Android phone with a decent user experience, battery life and good build quality. Android phones of quality seem to be more expensive than their WP 7 counterparts with similar feature set. Again, I have read hundreds of reviews from various sites on different models of phones.

    Android seems unsatisfying to me. Even as a Linux geek, I shy away from the Android experience because certain issues seem to keep cropping up over and over again on even some devices tagged as “mid-range” phones:
    * Dismal to just passable battery life.
    * Less-than-stable OS which tends to reboot or shut down randomly (on some models). To be fair this happens less on newer Android versions.
    * Poor build quality or cheap-looking plastic parts even on some of the more expensive models.
    * Less-than-satisfactory camera.
    * Screen quality consistently less than WP 7 phones of similar or lower price range.

    Maybe I just restricted myself to a few well branded but low-to-mid range models, but I still think that paying more than INR 20,000 for a phone is a bad idea no matter how great it is. I am still not yet sure of a decent Android experience in the sub INR 15,000 range. It just seems that the low end Android phones are pure gimmickry and to lure users to “smart phones”. I think that is always a bad ploy.

  29. JonCB, I think that’s a distinction without a difference. If Android is a selling point, then poor user experiences erode Android as a selling point. If people are ignoring the OS and thinking of Samsung/HTC/whatever, then the Samsung/HTC/whatever brand is eroded… but those brands use Android. Either way, the association hurts, and people are less likely to repeat the experience.

    Lets say I get an LG Optimus and decide after 6 months that it’s a shit phone (because based on the reports of one of the commentators here… it is).

    If i blame LG then when i go into the phone store and complain about how bad LG phones are, they can point me in the direction of Samsung or HTC and there’s no problem.

    If i blame Android then the only option is to go to Apple or Nokia as you suggest.

    Does that make the difference in my distinction clear?

  30. OK, but I wouldn’t see that as “no problem.” 1) Some people will see another Android OS phone and it will matter to them, because they were burned by OS frustrations or app incompatibility issues. 2) There are only so many brands of Android phones. How likely is it that dissatisfied users will go from Samsung to HTC to Motorola to LG to whatever, and not eventually notice that pretty much everyone they’ve ever met with an iPhone is happy with it?

  31. @PapayaSF
    > How likely is it that dissatisfied users will go from Samsung to HTC to
    > Motorola to LG to whatever, and not eventually notice that pretty much
    > everyone they’ve ever met with an iPhone is happy with it?

    How likely is it they’ve already decided they don’t WANT an iPhone? I still don’t quite understand why that concept is so inconceivable to most Apple proponents.

  32. @PapayaSF
    > How likely is it that dissatisfied users will go from Samsung to HTC to
    > Motorola to LG to whatever, and not eventually notice that pretty much
    > everyone they’ve ever met with an iPhone is happy with it?

    How likely is it they’ve already decided they don’t WANT an iPhone? I still don’t quite understand why that concept is so inconceivable to most Apple proponents.

    (Apologies if this is a double-post, my first one seemed to have been et by a grue)

  33. Of course some people won’t want iPhones. I never meant to imply otherwise. Android will do fine among people who don’t like iPhones, the cheap, the geeks (a rounding error, alas), and the poor. But most of the poor would love an iPhone, and might well be able to afford one in the coming years, and I don’t think the total of the remaining categories is enough to ever give Android the hugely dominant market share Eric has predicted. (I seem to remember him predicting something like a ’90s-style Windows vs. Mac wipeout, but I could be wrong.)

  34. >Low end disruption does not mean just introducing a bunch of shitty products.

    Actually, quite often that’s exactly what it means. Shitty, but priced to sell to customers who can’t afford better, with the earnings ploughed back into process improvements. Pretty much exactly what the Asian tablet-makers are doing, using the low-end markets in the Pacific Rim.

  35. @esr

    Shitty, but priced to sell to customers who can’t afford better

    If they can’t afford better then they can’t afford an iPad, and Apple has lost nothing.

  36. with the earnings ploughed back into process improvements.

    Hmmmm, what company has incredibly massive, dwarf-the-competition earnings (and economies of scale) available to plough back into “process improvements”…?

  37. >You dangle a cheap low-quality 7? tablet in front of Eric and he hits the same reaction points every time.

    Yes, but the situation isn’t symmetrical. For Apple to avoid disruption, you have to be right about Moore’s-law process improvements failing to arrive forever. I only have to be right about them arriving on time once.

  38. > Of course some people won’t want iPhones. I never meant to imply otherwise.

    That’s exactly what I’m talking about. That exact attitude and behavior. Prove that most people DO want an iPhone explicitly. I’m not sure I’ve seen that data. And I don’t mean ‘would take one,’ but actively want one. Because every time people say that, a red does-not-compute flag goes up in my head.

  39. Sorry to seem dense, but what are these “Moore’s-law process improvements” that benefit Android more than Apple?

  40. Tom said
    > *cough* iPhone *cough*

    The only iphone I will ever get is as a gift from somebody if they are kind enough. I refuse to spend money on a phone that I could buy a reasonable good laptop and a powerful desktop computer for.

    Besides as I said before, I hate the lockdown of WP7 and iOS. I much prefer to deal with the open platforms.

  41. >Sorry to seem dense, but what are these “Moore’s-law process improvements” that benefit Android more than Apple?

    It’s not that they favor Android over Apple, it’s that they favor disrupters over sustainers. If you actually read some case studies on low-end disruption in electronics you’ll figure out how and why.

  42. OK, but I wouldn’t see that as “no problem.” 1) Some people will see another Android OS phone and it will matter to them, because they were burned by OS frustrations or app incompatibility issues. 2) There are only so many brands of Android phones. How likely is it that dissatisfied users will go from Samsung to HTC to Motorola to LG to whatever, and not eventually notice that pretty much everyone they’ve ever met with an iPhone is happy with it?

    Ok but you’re assuming that the satisfaction rate on android phones is 0% which is rediculous.
    I’ve yet to meet someone who is actually unsatisfied with their phone. This is one of the points i’m skeptical about. This alleged legion of people that are overwhelming unhappy with android has been more apocryphal than real for me.

    As far as i’m concerned the Android experience is only bad if the person in question is used to an iphone experience (which is neither surprising to me nor does it say anything more than they’re a normal human being) . P.S. the iphone experience is just as bad if you’re used to an Android experience. This from the guy who has managed to crash, freeze or just glitch out my housemate’s iphone every time i’ve picked it up.

  43. Hmmmm, what company has incredibly massive, dwarf-the-competition earnings (and economies of scale) available to plough back into “process improvements”…?

    Google?

    Or did you mean the one thats sinking money into a whizz bang new office building.

  44. I’d say Apple has been (and will continue to be) a disruptor of the computer/phone/consumer electronics industry.

  45. Umm, JonCB, did you see the news that Apple’s profits are now greater than Google’s revenues?

    Of course I’m not assuming a 0% Android satisfaction rate. All I need to assume is that the Android satisfaction is less than Apple’s, and based on reports, it is.

  46. Of course I can’t “prove” that “most people want an iPhone explicitly.” But do these look like sales numbers for something most people don’t want?

    2007: 1,389,000
    2008: 11,625,000
    2009: 20,731,000
    2010: 39,989,000
    2011: 72,300,000
    2012 (1Q only): 37,044,000

  47. Of course I’m not assuming a 0% Android satisfaction rate. All I need to assume is that the Android satisfaction is less than Apple’s, and based on reports, it is.

    You’re assuming that someone will go through 4 phones by 4 companies, only one of which i know to have a shoddy phone and not be satisfied. Especially given that people can be satisfied by a phone enough to not want to replace it when it has a shattered screen, “satisfied” here sets a pretty low bar.

    I think the difference in our opinions is that you assume that android satisfaction is “less than apple’s” because _Android_ is less satisfying than Apple. What i’m assuming is that in the breadth of devices there are a lot of devices that are probably about the same satisfaction level as Apple(factoring in price range obviously) and a few duds which bring down the average.

    I’ll accept that alteration to my initial statement that, yes, these duds reflect on online metrics but stand by my statement that they have no real impact on consumer buying habits. Lets be honest here… if online(or even just generally published) metrics meant squat to consumer habits, people would have stopped buying SUV’s “for safety” years ago.

  48. But do these look like sales numbers for something most people don’t want?

    If we add up all your sales numbers we get a figure of 183,078,000 (note: back of envelope calculation i make no absolute guarantee of accuracy)

    If we limit people to just those living on the planet right now… that represents about 2% of people want an iPhone.

    I’m assuming those are worldwide numbers since thats higher than the estimate on people with smartphones but if we limit “people” to be just those living in america right now… we’re still only talking about 58% of people want an iPhone.

    58% doesn’t imply “most people want this”.

  49. There’s no way Apple can compete with this:

    Are you being sarcastic, or did you not read that review?

    You get what you pay for, and Apple has no shortage of customers willing to pay for a quality product.

  50. Yes, I believe that, due to inevitable issues (fragmentation, slow updates, less-polished IU, malware, carrier crippling), Android will continue to be (on average) less satisfying than iOS.

    Also, that due to lower economies of scale, less design expertise, lower profits, and manufacturers behaving like traditional consumer electronics companies, Android hardware will continue to be (on average) less satisfying than Apple hardware.

  51. Apple does have a really good engineering team.

    When it comes to hardware engineers, Apple’s been hiring the cream of the crop for about a decade now. As Motorola, Sony/Ericsson, and Nokia gave up on quality, the people who have any pride in their work have been going to Apple.

  52. >I think the difference in our opinions is that you assume that android satisfaction is “less than apple’s” because _Android_ is less satisfying than Apple.

    Such assumptions make me laugh.

    In the U.S, in every month since October 2010 Android phones have outsold Apple phones. Of course, according to the same Apple fanboys who now honk about superior Apple customer satisfaction this was impossible, because all that superior Apple customer satisfaction was so…superior.

    In the U.S, in every month since October 2010, the gap between Android and Apple installed bases has widened in Android’s favor. That is, not only customers are buying new Android phones more often than new Apple phones, there is every sign that as their exposure to the alternatives increases due to higher total smartphone penetration, customers are increasingly favoring Android. This tend continued even during Apple’s record 4Q2011.

    The U.S. is an outlier. Outside the U.S. the swing to Android has in general been faster, not slower.

  53. A surge in buyers is a “swing” of momentum and numbers, but doesn’t it consist largely of first-time smartphone buyers? So in another sense it’s not a swing away from Apple. Apple’s growth continues to skyrocket.

    My disagreement is with the idea that Android has some unstoppable momentum towards dominating smartphones the way Windows dominated PCs in the ’90s. Does Apple face some problems in maintaining their pace of growth? Sure… but Android faces many problems that Apple does not, and has some severe handicaps in overcoming them.

  54. Also, I don’t think I ever said Android would never sell more than Apple. To me it seemed likely that they would, at least in the short or medium term. I just don’t think that’s going to lead to “disruptive collapse” of Apple or iOS or even iPhone sales.

  55. @papaya, I agree with both of these premises though not your reasons.

    Ultimately I think the average will be less than Apple’s solely based on Apple’s continued design vigilance. You have to care about delivering a good product to guarantee you deliver a good product. (You can deliver a good product by accident but the second version…) Everything you listed there is only a factor one way or the other because of (or usually more of a lack of) design vigilance. Well except for malware, and that doesn’t really change things either way.

    Having said that, i’d also add that unfortunately for Apple, they don’t get to compete with the average android. They have to compete with the likes of the Galaxy S2 which (given the worst interpretation) went pound for pound on all of the hardware specs.

  56. True, but how much profit is Samsung making from the Galaxy S2, compared with the profit Apple is making from the 4S? What are Samsung’s economies of scale with the S2 compared to Apple’s with the 4S? Are Samsung’s hardware engineers now working with the knowledge of how best to match the features and demands of Android versions coming in a year or two?

  57. “Of course, according to the same Apple fanboys who now honk about superior Apple customer satisfaction this was impossible…”

    You are the first person I can recall to say that a product with superior customer satisfaction cannot sell in lesser quantities. Logic fail.

    “In the U.S, in every month since October 2010, the gap between Android and Apple installed bases has widened in Android’s favor.”

    Data fail.

  58. “Data fail.”

    Apologies: you switched to user base rather than market share. My bad.

  59. True, but how much profit is Samsung making from the Galaxy S2, compared with the profit Apple is making from the 4S? What are Samsung’s economies of scale with the S2 compared to Apple’s with the 4S? Are Samsung’s hardware engineers now working with the knowledge of how best to match the features and demands of Android versions coming in a year or two?

    And we’ll probably never realistically know the answer to these questions.

    But there’s a more important question. How would these things be in any way, shape or form improved by Samsung wandering off into making their own OS?

    I _can_ answer that question, they can’t be improved. At best they’ll be exactly the same. More likely profits will nose dive as costs and lead times increase. It’s also plausible that economies of scale will get worse.

    That in itself justifies Samsung maintaining it’s Android line.

  60. Of course Samsung and the others shouldn’t just drop Android. It’s the best chance they have. Some will succeed with Android, to some extent, for some years.

    As for what “most people want,” I look at it this way: Apple has now become expert at creating little jewels of technology, in part due to design vigilance. (Good phrase, by the way.) These products are affordable (but not the cheapest), very flexible (but not the most flexible), and have many fine features (but not the most features). They have become highly desirable objects, with excellent reputations and high resale values, and have sold in rapidly-increasing numbers for years. Now, why would “most people” not want one?

    Almost by definition, “most people” do not want the cheapest product, or the one with the most features, or the most flexible one. They want the overall best one for them, and (to some extent) the “leading example” (i.e. the most popular high-status one). I don’t see Apple being knocked out of those positions anytime soon.

  61. Again, like in 2010 (?) we hear it claimed people will buy an iPhone because it is Better (TM).

    This is the same argument that predicts people will buy Mercedes Benz because their cars are better in every respect than Volkswagen. Obviously, there is something that makes people preferring Volkswagen cars over Mercedes cars (100:1?).

    That same something, price, is making people buy Android over iPhone. iPhones might be nice, but not the be all and end all of smartphones. And for most people, “second best” phone beats “no phone”. And we can speculate how long it will take before Android is not second best anymore.

    In the end, it is easy to imagine Android phones in the hand of 5 billion people. It is rather difficult to imagine iPhones in the hand of 5 billion people. We can rather be confident that there will be billions of Android phones in a few year. We can also be confident that there will *not* be billions of iPhones, ever.

    @Cathy,
    MS WinPhone is dying. It is kept alive with a very expensive add campaign. But there is simply no room for a me-too phone without any advantage. With WinPhone, MS is heading for divestment. I expect Ballmer to step down before the end of the year.

  62. I can easily imagine billions of Android devices… many of them substandard and unloved, many made with little care and for little profit (divided between various companies), most quickly obsolete, and most with not-wonderful levels of user loyalty.

    I can also imagine a somewhat slower build to billions of iOS devices, each widely desirable, each making a profit for Apple, and generating vast user loyalty.

    I am just not seeing “disruptive collapse” anytime soon, on either side.

  63. I can easily imagine billions of Android devices… many of them substandard and unloved, many made with little care and for little profit (divided between various companies), most quickly obsolete, and most with not-wonderful levels of user loyalty.

    My suggestion would be to meditate on this vision and look for parallels between that and the current desktop PC market. To me they’re striking.

  64. These products are affordable (but not the cheapest), very flexible (but not the most flexible), and have many fine features (but not the most features). They have become highly desirable objects, with excellent reputations and high resale values, and have sold in rapidly-increasing numbers for years. Now, why would “most people” not want one?

    * Because those criteria are subjective and saying that most people will conform to your same subjective view on those criteria is almost begging to be proven wrong.

    * Because “most people” are completely irrational and will pick seemingly at random. If i’m randomly choosing a samsung, HTC or Apple phone thats a 66% chance of picking android.

    * Because “rapidly increasing” numbers can be deceptive when the sample space is changing. As ESR said, here’s another “rapidly increasing” number, the number of consumers who AREN’T picking an iPhone.

    * Because people see phones as commodities and thus reputation of the item itself is mostly meaningless. Company reputation means more but it’s not like the name “Samsung” is a bad one and besides, the internet is on this robotty because it says “Google” every now and then.

    While i don’t suggest that all of these reasons are in fact true, all are plausible reasons why people would not “Want” an IPhone. There is however one more that i know is true

    * Because this last christmas, at least 10 Million people could have gotten an iPhone and got a Galaxy S2 instead. This implies that your “Most People” is misleading at best.

  65. In the current desktop PC market, Windows PC makers are struggling, while Apple grows…. And I don’t think Android will have as strong a network effect as Windows did. (iOS won’t either, but it’ll be stronger than Android’s.)

    Winter: In 2007, could you have imagined Apple selling over 200 million iPhones in the next five years? Steve Ballmer didn’t, and I couldn’t have, but it happened.

  66. Because this last Christmas, at least 10 Million people could have gotten an iPhone and got a Galaxy S2 instead. This implies that your “Most People” is misleading at best.

    I believe that number includes sales on carriers that don’t offer the iPhone, so no, all 10 million couldn’t have gotten an iPhone. And it’s still fewer than iPhone 4S sales in the same period.

  67. @PapayaSF
    “Winter: In 2007, could you have imagined Apple selling over 200 million iPhones in the next five years? Steve Ballmer didn’t, and I couldn’t have, but it happened.”

    I do not consider Ballmer a visionary. And even if he was, he heads MS which have consistently been able to foil any plan that could have saved them.

    In 2007, the average household income in the rich countries was $35,000. In that year, the world median household income was $1700. An iPhone/iPad costs around a third of that. Half of the worlds population would have done away with housing, food, or education just to buy an iPhone. Only 19% of humans lived in countries where the *average* (not median) income was above the *world* average of $7000.
    http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2007/10/07/average_earnings_worldwide/

    There are over 5 billion mobile phone subscriptions. Around 1.5-2B of them are feature phones. Unless Apple will drop their prices to below $100, those people will *not* buy an iPhone. However, the poorest 2B people will buy *anything* below $100 that will give them Internet access. Quality is really not the question at all.

    The PC market is a good parallel. Very few people, indeed, will argue that Windows is in any way better than Mac. But Windows PCs still outsell Macs world-wide. Especially in the poorest 75% of the world.

    Apple simply will not cater to poor people.

  68. Has anybody considered the phenomenon that you HAVE a strong motivation to be satisfied/happy with Apple iPhone once you pay so much money to get one? I mean, nobody likes to admit they made a less-than-satisfactory purchase especially after paying so much money. Part of the satisfaction is psychologically motivated by the fact of spending so much money rather than getting a quality product (though in Apple’s case it is

    A personal update: Among Android phones, I’ve pretty much made a decision after long, hard analysis. The Sony Xperia Ray it is – especially for its camera and build quality which seems good.

  69. > Low end disruption does not mean just introducing a bunch of shitty products.

    Really. And that’s why the high-end and superior Macintosh remained the undisputed market leader even though Windows 3.1 was a shitty product. Right?

    You can call it “low end disruption” but the real effect at work here is “commoditization.” Apple’s relegation to a high end niche is not a matter of if, but when.

  70. Regarding the RIM jump, its quite possible that IT departments that had unspent money in their budgets upgraded lets of people in December. While BYOD is growing in popularity, blackberry is the the choice of large conservative companies.

  71. @esr

    >I think the difference in our opinions is that you assume that android satisfaction is “less than apple’s” because _Android_ is less satisfying than Apple.

    Such assumptions make me laugh.

    It’s actually not an assumption. It’s an empirical fact that is backed up by every customer satisfaction survey ever.

    http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/03/18/j-d-power-iphone-is-tops-for-5th-time/
    http://blog.cellphoneshop.com/2009/12/consumer-satisfaction-survey-verizon.html
    http://www.phonearena.com/news/Consumer-satisfaction-survey–5-phone-makers-collide_id14815

    In the U.S, in every month since October 2010 Android phones have outsold Apple phones. Of course, according to the same Apple fanboys who now honk about superior Apple customer satisfaction this was impossible, because all that superior Apple customer satisfaction was so…superior.

    You ought to be the first person to realise that market share is not a good indicator of consumer satisfaction.

  72. @Cathy: > How long can even Microsoft keep throwing good money after bad?

    For quite a bit longer, I expect. It’s a typical agency problem: If Microsoft stops making smartphones, it’s going to be a huge blow to Steve Ballmer’s reputation, and quite possibly the final straw that ends his tenure at Microsoft. On the other hand, the money that Microsoft keeps throwing at Windows Phone is largely NOT Steve’s money.

    Given this situation, why WOULD Microsoft stop throwing good money after bad?

  73. A surge in buyers is a “swing” of momentum and numbers, but doesn’t it consist largely of first-time smartphone buyers?

    I don’t know about this. As Nigel is quick to point out, a lot of people upgrade their phones on a regular basis.

    So in another sense it’s not a swing away from Apple. Apple’s growth continues to skyrocket.

    Apple’s doing well in smartphone marketshare, but profit is the only metric where you could possibly claim they are untouchable.

  74. “Sure, there are revision cycles and improvements (and Apple has them, too), but nobody beyond geeks wants to be part of a testing cycle that starts at shitty and slowly improves.”

    Suggestion: read “The Reckoning”, an excellent book about the rise of the Japanese car industry after WWII. It was written in the 80′s, but it’s just as true today. The first generation of Japanese cars was truly terrible, but gradually they learned what was (and wasn’t) needed to compete in the American car market. We’re now in the next phase, where Korean Hyundai has gone from being viewed as the very definition of cheap crap to winning awards. Who today would say that Japanese cars are not high-quality? True, Apple is better at this game than Detroit was, but the basic pattern can still hold.

    The generations of product come much faster in the tech space, so it won’t take 20 years for this to occur.

  75. “Every time someone buys an Android device that won’t load Android apps, or has a screen that can barely be used for reading, or turns out to have a crappy two-megapixel camera, they’re less likely to buy another Android device.”

    I think consumers are more realistic than you might think about what they can get at a certain price point. And with the plethora of Internet reviews, most people today will have a pretty good idea of what to expect before purchase.

    So I don’t think low-performance products with slow processors and crappy cameras change the equation, and in any case with new generations of hardware that problem should decreate rapidly as the months pass.

    However, I am much more concerned about CPU fragmentation. What has tied Android together up until now is that fact that they (pretty much) all ran on ARM processors, so an Android app would run on any device that had the necessary hardware (i.e., a camera app obviously needs a device with a camera). If so many popular apps have native code, then we are in for fragmentation problems once a significant number of devices run non-ARM processors. Developers will have to do significantly more work than they currently do with ARM-targeted apps, and consumers will be frustrated if a newly-released app becomes popular and won’t work on their device.

    This is potentially a much bigger issue than Froyo/Gingerbread/Ice Cream versioning fragmentation, which has never worried me before and still doesn’t.

  76. @Ignatius:
    “RIM has one move left and they’d better get their asses in gear and play it while they still can. RIM must get out of the hardware business completely. Blackberry is still the preferred mobile messaging suite in the business world. That messaging suite should be made to run on Android and iOS devices (and maybe even Vista Phone 7 & 8 for good measure) so that the PHB’s of the world can continue to use it. This would keep them alive in “the enterprise” for at least another decade.”

    Unless they already have this running in an alpha version in-house, I doubt they have time. This would not be a trivial port.

  77. “Lets say I get an LG Optimus and decide after 6 months that it’s a shit phone (because based on the reports of one of the commentators here… it is).”

    I have an LG Optimus and I’m very happy with it. Your mileage may vary, but I absolutely do not agree that it’s a “shit phone”.

  78. @JonCB
    Twice as many people bought an Android phone than an iPhone. How this can be interpreted as a global disappointment with Android is beyond me.

    The fact you do not like it has just as little weight as your opinion on MS windows has on MS market share.

  79. >You ought to be the first person to realise that market share is not a good indicator of consumer satisfaction.

    It’s not perfect, but it is at least as good as surveys.

  80. Regarding tablets built on Linux, has anybody touched KDE’s Plasma Active on a tablet?

    It’s just what I always wanted, Mummy! A mobile ARM device running real Linux and everything!

    Yeah, yeah. I’ll believe it when I see it. Remember the Always Innovating TouchBook? Geeks are always coming up with devices like this but never seem to achieve the market density necessary to get one in my hands easily. It’s always “Coming Soon! Preorder today to get… maybe… a device, with no continuing support, at some unspecified point in the future. Hurry, before the repo men make it to our factory!”

    Meanwhile, the TouchBook’s promise has been (mostly) fulfilled when I put a Debian chroot on my EeePad Transformer with the Linux Installer app.

  81. > I believe that number includes sales on carriers that don’t offer the iPhone, so no, all 10 million couldn’t have gotten an iPhone.

    Not necessarily. If they really wanted an iPhone they could have chosen a different carrier. So even if they preferred iPhone to Android, they still preferred their carrier of choice to an iPhone.

  82. Updates from Apple today: the new iPad (that’s the actual name, it seems) is primarily new hardware. High res screen, 5MP camera, 4G LTE, small hit on the previous battery life. Priced same as previous iPad 2, with the 2 lowering in price. Standard strategy for iPhone now applied to the iPad. Not unexpected.

    Some nice upgrades (the screen is… REALLY high res), but no one thing that really jumps out. The biggest thing is probably the iPad 2 price drop. Meh.

  83. Jon Brase: Many people did choose a different carrier to get an iPhone, hence Verizon’s and Sprint’s eagerness to get it. But many people are “trapped” on their carrier by family plans, etc. I think the huge sales iPhones get when they debut on a carrier indicates pent-up demand.

  84. >I think the huge sales iPhones get when they debut on a carrier indicates pent-up demand

    But the even huger sales Android phones get when they become available doesn’t. Right.

  85. The amazing Retina Display is such an advance — $500 for a computer with a paper-like screen in terms of resolution, better than any PC monitor — that Apple will be well ahead in the tablet game for at least another year.

    Don’t expect Retina Displays to appear on Android tabs. Apple is the driver behind the engineering and process innovations necessary to produce those in bulk; their suppliers may be under contract not to sell to anyone else. If ultra-high-res displays appear on the competitors’ tablets, they will probably be stuck-pixely junk. Note that no Android phone has yet matched the iPhone 4 or 4S in terms of number of pixels and pixel density; those with comparable screen resolutions (960×640 or above) are HUGE.

  86. Eric, those sales aren’t bigger model-for-model, and I haven’t heard of any lines around the block when a new Android phone arrives.

  87. That Ainovo thing you link to is… a horrible piece of crap that will make people who get one (apart from geeks who have realistic expectations) dislike Android tablets. Well, that is, assuming they ever hear about it, which they probably won’t.

    (I especially like how it advertises “1080p Full HD decoding”… while being 800×480. That will make for very happy consumers.

    Well, if anyone bought it. Which they won’t, in real terms, just like the previous version.)

  88. If I remember correctly some of the first Japanese cars had names that did not give a clue as to the manufacturer in case they bombed. Some Japanese firms were stepping up from motorcycle and scooter production.
    During this time my friend who did all his own car maintenance changed the oil on his buddies Toyota. When he opened the oil filter package he noticed a plastic guard over the oil filter to keep dirt out while it was on the shelf. Right then he knew the domestic car industry was in trouble. He almost cried. His next car was a Toyota. Now we have a GM czar. How sad.

    Moore’s, Kryder’s, Bell’s laws, etc. gallop along.
    xburst2 mips tablets will be X times better provisioned than the current
    crop at the same price point. Application requirements will probably not
    keep pace hence this entry level tablet will have mid level capabilities sooner than later. Apple has to battle at least five manufacturers working
    with Arm designs plus Mips designs from China and Intel fighting to enter
    the market. What unites them all is Android.
    Imagine when system designers start to take advantage of the expanded memory and virtualization capabilities of almost shipping processors.

    Bell’s Law says there’s a new class of smaller, cheaper computers about every decade. With each new class, the volume shrinks by two orders of magnitude and the number of systems per person increases. The law
    has held from 1960s’ mainframes through the ’80s’ personal computers, the ’90s’ notebooks and the new millennium’s smartphones. In less than a decade, that smartphone you’re holding could have 32 times the
    memory, 20 times the bandwidth and a processor no bigger than a red blood cell.
    –Mike Muller CTO ARM Ltd. 2011

  89. jsk said: Some nice upgrades (the screen is… REALLY high res), but no one thing that really jumps out. The biggest thing is probably the iPad 2 price drop. Meh.

    Does it need to make coffee and perform sexual favors to count as a meaningful upgrade worth more than “meh”?

    (Admittedly, those would be significant upgrades.)

  90. Note that no Android phone has yet matched the iPhone 4 or 4S in terms of number of pixels and pixel density; those with comparable screen resolutions (960×640 or above) are HUGE.

    Every once in a while you just venture off into fantasyland where you’re just stupidly *wrong*. The HTC Rezound surpasses iPhone 4/4S in number of pixels and pixel density. It’s been out since last November. qHD is so 2011 (it’s now midrange), the current Android gold standard is 720p. This one isn’t as much of a doozy as some of the others I’ve seen, but you really have to be careful about the overgeneralizations supported by untruths.

  91. > Does it need to make coffee and perform sexual favors to count as a
    > meaningful upgrade worth more than “meh”?

    Same basic design. Nicer screen and camera, faster proc, faster mobile connectivity. Bigger/better/faster, but nothing really new, just keeping a steady pace. Same thing I feel about every new overhaul of their laptop and desktop designs. Looks nice. So what?

  92. Same basic design. Nicer screen and camera, faster proc, faster mobile connectivity. Bigger/better/faster, but nothing really new, just keeping a steady pace. Same thing I feel about every new overhaul of their laptop and desktop designs. Looks nice. So what?

    Great for now, but Apple is starting to look like it’s in a form-factor rut. This is definitely an Android advantage.

    Yes, the iPhone has a preposterously large chin and forehead and a screen that is much smaller than it could be. Which is ironic, because going to touch only and forgoing hardware buttons was a daring step designed to allow a larger screen. But in terms of form factor, Apple is now stuck in 2007. They have their reasons, and for 2007 it was revolutionary… but still stuck in 2007. Anyway, they need the internal volume if they’re going to keep the phone so (heh) ‘sexy and thin’. Alternately, being stuck with a 2007 form factor gives them extra volume (well technically it’s extra cross-sectional area in the chin and forehead) they can use to make the phone fairly thin, so they might as well try to play that up as much as they can.

    I posted that in another forum, in an argument about screen size vs. phone size “packaging”, ICS, onscreen vs. offscreen buttons, etc when someone offered that packaging must not be very important because the iPhone has all that wide open space below the screen around the button.

  93. “The amazing Retina Display is such an advance …

    Am I the only one that read that is a car commercial announcer voice?

    What should I expect next? Apple suing people for patent infringement and trade dress infringment for their eyes having a retina?

  94. Greetings all.

    This is rather off-topic, but it does involve smartphones, and I have nowhere else to share this observation. I apologize to any who are offended.

    Recently, online, I discovered a remarkable musician, Sonny Moore, stage-named Skrillex, who creates astonishing music, of which I am now a fan. A few weeks ago, he won three Grammy awards. A video of his first acceptance speech is here:

    http://www.grammy.com/videos/skrillex-accepts-best-remixed-recording-non-classical
    Skrillex accepts Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical
    The Recording Academy

    The smartphone-related part starts a few seconds after 1:15 and goes to 3:00.

    Notice what he does? To give the speech, does he pull out a paper with notes on it, as older or more conventional people would have done? No. Instead, he pulls out a smartphone with notes in it. This is the first time I have ever seen this on an awards show; maybe it is the first time it has occurred.

    Especially note the organic naturalness of his actions; such comfortable familiarity. They seem so native, so devoid of artifice or performance-intent.

    Can any of the technically-adroit readers of this blog identify the smartphone type? I cannot.

    I hope this was interesting. Thank you for your attention.

  95. @papaya

    I haven’t heard of any lines around the block when a new Android phone arrives.

    Yeah, most android manufacturers would rather ship enough phones to actually support demand rather than inflate their apparant worth by manufacturing shortages.

    I have an LG Optimus and I’m very happy with it. Your mileage may vary, but I absolutely do not agree that it’s a “shit phone”.

    Ah ok. There’s a commenter here (whose name I forget repeatedly, apologies to them) who rags on android based on their experiences with the LG Optimus and its ability to do display updates. A quick search gave a few threads saying much the same thing. I’ve never played with an Optimus personally but given that the reports would want to play with it before i coughed up the cash for one.

    BTW.. do you have an original Optimus or a more recent one (2X, 3D etc…) because that could be the difference.

  96. Oh, there’s no doubt that there’s rarely a shortage of any Android phone! ;->

  97. One thing about the new iPad’s display. It is a 2048-by-1536 resolution, aka exactly twice the old resolution in both dimensions for easy graphics scaling for apps.

    That means if you are playing 1080P video on it you are either going to be stretching the frame oddly or running it in a smaller window instead of using the whole screen. They could go with small side bars and use the 29% of unused vertical space for always onscreen controls. 720p video will be even worse at less than half the vertical space but just over 62% of the horizontal so you can’t double it and fit.

    It will be interesting to see which way they decide to go with that.

  98. > There’s a commenter here (whose name I forget repeatedly, apologies to them) who rags
    >on android based on their experiences with the LG Optimus and its ability to do display updates.

    You might be thinking of me. I have an LG Optimus V from virgin mobile. I don’t think it’s shit, but I do think it’s worse than the first gen iPhone I had before. It’s still stuck on 2.2, it is a very laggy phone and it tends to freeze and hang up doing simple things like unlocking.

  99. @Jeff Read:

    Don’t expect Retina Displays to appear on Android tabs. Apple is the driver behind the engineering and process innovations necessary to produce those in bulk; their suppliers may be under contract not to sell to anyone else. If ultra-high-res displays appear on the competitors’ tablets, they will probably be stuck-pixely junk. Note that no Android phone has yet matched the iPhone 4 or 4S in terms of number of pixels and pixel density; those with comparable screen resolutions (960×640 or above) are HUGE.

    Greg has already debunked the last part of this comment; let me tackle the first.

    Although we may not know for sure for awhile, it is bound to leak out who created the displays. Apple hates having a single supplier, and I would bet that one or both of the display suppliers are Korean (LG and/or Samsung)…

  100. Once upon a time, there was a little OS called Maemo.

    It skipped through the forest and delighted in smelling the pretty blossoms.

    A nasty M$ wolf made it squeal like a piggy for months before eating it alive.

    The end.

  101. Regarding Mer (the Meego-esque mobile OS used by Spark, mentioned by Marco, above)…

    http://merproject.org/

    It mentions that it is:

    “… openly developed, inclusive, and meritocratically governed.”

    Prediction – Mer will flush itself down the same queasy liberal crapper as Gentoo.

  102. It does look like Samsung makes retina display. Maybe LG, too:

    http://www.imore.com/2011/07/18/apple-testing-retina-displays-samsung-lg-ipad-3/

    http://9to5mac.com/2012/02/19/possible-photos-of-ipad-3-retina-display-production-samsung-displays-sighted/

    BTW, Samsung has already demo’ed higher resolution LCD screens than the “retina” display:

    http://www.geek.com/articles/gadgets/samsung-shows-off-10-1-inch-2560-x-1600-resolution-tablet-display-20111026/

    Of course, Apple’s lawyers are so much better than Samsung’s that there’s no way that Samsung could ever release a tablet with its own technology.

    Also of course, Apple has a lock on innovation, so there’s no way Samsung could have showed off a flexible display a year ago:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJEHp15Hoo0&noredirect=1

    Oh, yeah. That’s right, others innovate, but Apple puts it all together. Yeah, pity Samsung can’t for the life of itself figure out what to do with this fancy new flexible technology. Needs Apple for that.

  103. That actually raises an interesting question. Samsung was showing off high res LCD displays last summer. A couple of outlets got leaks to the effect that Samsung would be releasing a high res tablet at MWC, a week ago. Obviously they didn’t manage it. Equally obviously, Samsung would have loved to have beat Apple to the punch.

    So what hypothesis explains their failure? My uninformed guess: Apple’s got better chip design and was able to design a chip that could both a) power the high res display and b) not chew up battery life.

  104. @Bryant:

    What on earth makes you think it was any sort of engineering failure on Samsung’s part?

    Perhaps Samsung (rightly or wrongly) thinks that being first to market is much more important for Apple than it is for Samsung. So you completely discounted possibility c) Apple paid Samsung lots of cash to be able to announce products using the display first, and possibility d) Apple and Samsung entered into some sort of patent peace, and that was part of the deal.

  105. Or e) little green aliens did it. But they must have done it sometime in the last three months, given that someone was leaking detailed Samsung plans in the first week of December.

    Also, when Samsung showed off the display last May, they expected it to be available for commercial use in late 2011. It wasn’t.

    Patents: no. Apple and Samsung are still litigating against each other all over the world. No ceasefire there. As to technology: have we so soon forgotten the time Samsung reengineered a tablet to make it thinner than the iPad? They’re not giving up potential technology advantages for cash. They’re competitive and they don’t like being #2.

    So that’s what, on earth, makes me think that Samsung did not accomplish what it set out to accomplish. They publicly projected a release date, which they missed, and they leaked a product (accidentally or on purpose) and then didn’t make that ship date either.

  106. On second thought, scratch d) — they still seem to be going at it legally hammer-and-tongs. Nonetheless, that doesn’t seem to impact their ability to work together as customer and vendor…

  107. given that someone was leaking detailed Samsung plans in the first week of December.

    Which would be just the ticket for Apple to notice and have a talk with Samsung, maybe flash some green.

    Also, when Samsung showed off the display last May, they expected it to be available for commercial use in late 2011. It wasn’t.

    Maybe it was. Maybe Apple bought ‘em all.

    Patents: no. Apple and Samsung are still litigating against each other all over the world. No ceasefire there.

    Yeah, I think I agree — in fact I cross-posted before I saw this. But there are rumors of an Android/APple ceasefire, nonetheless.

    As to technology: have we so soon forgotten the time Samsung reengineered a tablet to make it thinner than the iPad?

    I seem to remember they did that rather quickly. Perhaps they’re in the middle of a reengineering cycle right now. It would make sense to do the reengineering before you show off the first version, if you ask me.

    They’re not giving up potential technology advantages for cash.

    Don’t know what you mean by “give up.” If they’re building it they have the technology. Obviously if they didn’t want to enable Apple, they wouldn’t enable Apple, but wait! They’re enabling Apple…

    They’re competitive and they don’t like being #2.

    They’re also realistic. Realistically, if they announced something much better than the iPad 3 in the weeks before the iPad 3, what would happen? Nothing. Everybody would wait to see what Apple had to offer. I think it makes sense to announce a couple of weeks after Apple, especially if you’re ready to ship.

    They also like Apple giving them money, and they know that they can’t ramp up to Apple’s volumes in the tablet space quickly, no matter what they bring out. So why not let Apple have the first units? Gives them more cash, keeps Apple from buying from one of their competitors. Seems like win-win to me.

    So that’s what, on earth, makes me think that Samsung did not accomplish what it set out to accomplish.

    Is that all you got?

    They publicly projected a release date, which they missed,

    You don’t know they missed any public date. Apple stockpiles so many tablets that they may have committed to all the non-internal production Samsung could produce.

    and they leaked a product (accidentally or on purpose) and then didn’t make that ship date either.

    Meh. go back and look at all the “leaked” Apple iPhone 5 stuff from last spring/summer and then get back to me.

  108. There seem to be people here who have difficulty understanding that not everybody desperately wants Apple products. Here is a good writeup from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols:

    The new iPad’s great but what’s wrong with a good, inexpensive Android tablet?
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/the-new-ipads-great-but-whats-wrong-with-a-good-inexpensive-android-tablet/10544

    Well, I’ve been using a variety of tablets, including both the already shipping iPads and the 16GB version of the Nook Tablet, and here’s what I use my tablets for: Reading e-books, watching Netflix and Hulu Plus videos; listening to music; playing some games; and lightweight Web browsing and writing. That’s it. Guess what? For my purposes, I use my Nook Tablet about nine times as often as I do my iPads.

    That’s in no small part because I’ve found the Nook Tablet’s smaller form factor to be idea for when I’m lying in bed or just sitting back in a comfy chair. The iPad is indeed better in many ways, but sometimes bigger isn’t better.

  109. Why I love FLOSS:

    Tablet from China designed in the shape of a handbag
    http://www.ubergizmo.com/2012/03/tablet-from-china-designed-in-the-shape-of-a-handbag/

    The tablet will sport a 3,500mAh battery that the company is claiming 6 hours of usage, and the best part is that it will come with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich preinstalled. All of this can be had for a rather affordable price of $94, although we doubt you’ll be able to find it outside of China.

    Sounds almost too good to be true!

  110. The Comscore numbers give a very flattered view of the iPhone’s global performance.
    4Q2011 was a boon for Apple in the USA, but less so elsewhere:

    Apple’s iPhone loses China market share
    http://www.livemint.com/2012/02/17123718/Apple8217s-iPhone-loses-Chi.html?d=1

    Apple’s iPhone Offsets Europe Losses Through Gains in the U.K.
    http://www.trefis.com/stock/aapl/articles/104692/apples-iphone-offsets-europe-loss-through-gains-in-u-k/2012-02-22

    Apple’s iPhone sells poorly in indebted European countries, while Android flourishes
    http://www.phonearena.com/news/Apples-iPhone-sells-poorly-in-indebted-European-countries-while-Android-flourishes_id27457

    Tough for Apple selling iPhones in India: IDC
    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-10-03/hardware/30238252_1_iphones-largest-smartphone-maker-playbook

  111. Patents: no. Apple and Samsung are still litigating against each other all over the world. No ceasefire there.

    Considering that Novell is still suing Microsoft, even though microsoft owns them…
    Nothing that occurs in the legal sphere surprises me anymore.

  112. Prediction – Mer will flush itself down the same queasy liberal crapper as Gentoo.

    Linux was and is “openly developed, inclusive, and meritocratically governed”. Is it doomed to go down the “queasy liberal crapper”?

    I suspect Gentoo was crowded out of its own niche by Arch, which has the same rolling release schedule, binary packages for most common software, and an easy way to add new packages from source (in stark contrast to the clusterfuck that is emerge).

  113. (in stark contrast to the clusterfuck that is emerge).

    Emerge isn’t that bad compared to the clusterfuck that was dpkg in debian when I used it last.
    It’s greatest fall down (and i agree, for the Aunt Tilly’s of the world this is fatal) is that it’s dependency tracking can miss the boat every now and then and the result is some random crap from GCC that no-one should have to read, let alone users. The counter to this is that i have yet to find a system that DOES do dependency tracking well.

    Actually i think the vastly bigger flaw in Gentoo is that it’s installer is… HAHAHAHA installer… thats what command line is for.

  114. @esr “I still think Apple is headed for disruptive collapse”

    Since you say that, you are stating that the company is being run poorly, no?

    What would you do differently?

  115. @tmoney:
    “I have an LG Optimus V from virgin mobile.”

    As do I; it’s probably the same model.

    “I don’t think it’s shit, but I do think it’s worse than the first gen iPhone I had before.”

    False comparison if, as I suspect, the retail price of that first generation iPhone was much higher. The last generation Cadillac you owned was probably a nicer car than your current Ford econobox, too. :-)

    “It’s still stuck on 2.2″

    Yes. I’ve tried to flash it to 2.3, but so far haven’t found a custom Gingerbread ROM that’s fully functional. I can’t say this has impacted my ability to use it, though. The percentage of Android phones running Froyo was still well into double-digits last time I checked, although the majority are now on Gingerbread.

    “It is a very laggy phone…”

    Yes, it’s slow. At that price point, that’s what you are going to get. This is an under-$200 phone (w/ no subsidy, no contract, and no financing).

    “…and it tends to freeze and hang up doing simple things like unlocking.”

    I haven’t had these problems at all. Of course, I’m running the custom Bumblebee ROM, which is definitely better than the stock ROM. It doesn’t have the Virgin Mobile cruft added, and it has apparently fixed the battery-drain bug that makes the battery go down quickly if the stock phone is powered up in non-Airplane mode. I can get a lot of battery life out of it. Many reviews bashed the battery life, but we now know that was purely a software problem.

    I really think this comparison comes down to performance-for-the-price, which is good for the Optimus (IMHO). Obviously if you take price out of the equation, a low-end phone like the Optimus isn’t going to fare well. This little phone is not targeted at iPhone 4S users or Samsung Galaxy S users; those live at a different point on the price/performance curve.

  116. >Since you say that, you are stating that the company is being run poorly, no?

    Not just no, but hell no. Disruptive collapse often happens to well-run companies – it’s not a result of incompetence but of managers quite properly seeking to maximize returns by chasing the highest-margin, highest-value customers.

  117. @esr “Not just no, but hell no. Disruptive collapse often happens to well-run companies”

    good management means watching the market, being aware of the competition, and adjusting accordingly. I don’t think anyone would argue that RIMM has been well managed. They didn’t take iOS/Android seriously and now they are in the midst of “disruptive collapse”

    so are you saying if you were CEO of Apple you wouldn’t do anything differently even though you think disruptive collapse isn’t far off?

  118. >so are you saying if you were CEO of Apple you wouldn’t do anything differently even though you think disruptive collapse isn’t far off?

    Go read The Innovator’s Dilemma.

  119. @esr “Go read The Innovator’s Dilemma.”

    I know all about the innovators dilemma.
    So you don’t want to answer the question I take it?

  120. >So you don’t want to answer the question I take it?

    Not in a blog comment. And especially not since you’ve read Christensen, which suggests that you’re just trolling. It’s not my business or my goal to fix Apple’s strategic problems. If you’re not trolling and really set on an answer, do what the investment bankers do – buy my consulting time through Gearson Lehman for $300 an hour.

  121. @esr I’m just curious what you think apple is doing wrong given that you think it’s headed to to the toilet.

    So Apple is very competitive when there are subsidies. When there aren’t, they have a tough time. Expecting consumers to drop $650 on an iPhone isn’t realistic. This IMO is their biggest challenge…. they want to maintain their insane margins in the subsidized markets but not give up the unsubsidized.

    To me, they need to give up some margin and sell the old models more cheaply. I don’t know why they don’t do this other than they think it will hurt their stock price when their margins go down. This IMO would be the wrong reason not to lower the price, they have plenty of margin room to play with. The only other thing that makes sense to me is they are supply constrained. No point in dropping margins if they can’t produce any more product.

  122. @Winter:

    > 4Q2011 was a boon for Apple in the USA, but less so elsewhere.

    The more I contemplate this, the more I think that there is a vast global network trafficking grey market iPhones. One result is that older models wind up outside the US. China’s largest state-owned carrier was in the same state as T-Mobile — wrong frequencies, iPhones not working well, not able to sell iPhone — but had 15 million subscribers who had jailbroken the iPhone. Where did they get them all from?

    We always see huge bumps in iPhone sales when Apple brings out a new model, but comscore never seems to follow. Are all the upgraders really sticking the old one in the drawer? Hard to believe.

    Consider that you can typically get a new iPhone for $200 and simultaneously sell your old one for $250. Then consider that the buyer can possibly sell it in Asia for $400 – $500, and the customer pays a lot less than for a new iPhone.

    Personally, if I were locked into a carrier contract and was happy with it and had an Android phone, I’d quite happily accept the shiny new iPhone for $200, and then turn around and immediately sell it for $550 (which was eminently doable at rollout according to what I’ve read). Such arbitrage would drop my real cellphone bill by around $29/month, and the carrier would be giving another $8/month to help someone in a third world country afford an iPhone. Charity at its finest.

    @Phil:

    The only other thing that makes sense to me is they are supply constrained. No point in dropping margins if they can’t produce any more product.

    Supply constrained? They’re predicted to sell fewer this quarter than they did last quarter…

    Also, in many cases, it makes zero sense to distinguish “supply constrained” from “margin challenged.” Many here (maybe even you — can’t remember) have been bragging about Apple’s vaunted supply chain and economy of scale that others can’t touch. Yet other manufacturers are making phones with arguably fungible components.

    Let me give you a concrete example. Flooding in Thailand heavily damaged disk drive production. One natural consequence of this is that the price of flash memory, which is fungible in a lot of cases, rose. Apple would have long-term flash contracts for some percentage of its anticipated needs, but would need to buy the rest on the open market.

    Now, if Apple decides that they could, in fact, make a million more phones, but that it would cost them an extra $300 per phone, and they decline to do this, is this because they’re supply constrained, or margin challenged? (Or simply greedy? After all, you just proclaimed they should happily take a haircut on the margin…)

    Everybody knows that cost of goods for the first device is not the same as cost of goods for the last device. But many don’t consider that in some cases, the cost of device ‘n+1′ can greatly exceed the cost of device ‘n’ even in a full production scenario.

  123. @Patrick Maupin Apple claims they could have sold more last quarter if they’d been able to make more. But that probably doesn’t apply this quarter…. of course they aren’t going to adjust their pricing quarter to quarter.

    I don’t think the Thailand flood affected Apple much based on their conference call, and if it did it was in hard drive products.

    But yeah, this implies they don’t want to take the margin haircut to gain marketshare. From my standpoint, this is a mistake in the long term. But I’m an arm chair QB here… It does seem to me they are behaving like they aren’t worried by the competition though.

  124. Cathy, Apple is probably better poised to take advantage of any disruptive technology than any competitor. I believe they regularly pre-pay for components by the tens of millions. Their “investment” in older tech consists of contracts with suppliers, not the ownership of factories. That leaves them pretty flexible.

  125. Cathy,

    Apple is using indium because it’s here and it works. As soon as graphene screens become viable to manufacture at scale, Apple products will sport the best graphene screens around.

    And especially not since you’ve read Christensen, which suggests that you’re just trolling.

    Citing Christensen when the man himself has said that his own rules don’t apply to Apple is a bit like continuing to flog “In the Beginning Was the Command Line” today, in an era when Neal Stephenson has switched to Mac OS X and ain’t looking back. Yes, it was earth-shakingly relevant in its day and still has some good ideas, but it’s been OBE.

  126. @phil
    Innovators dilema: the discounted value of all future profits in the old high margin ways are higher than the discounted future profits in the new low margin ways. Until the very end it is rational to follow the high margin dead end.

    The new entrants only have the low margin option.

    There, free of charge.

  127. I am just not seeing Apple running into a “high margin dead end.” The iPod line started high-end ($400) and moved downmarket, while keeping the high-end business. With iPads, they started mid-market (most previous tablets being $1000+), and seem to be slowly dropping prices. At least with subsidized phones, they are also moving downmarket (iPhone 4 for $99, 3GS for free).

    Apple will never produce the cheapest of anything, but Moore’s Law and economies of scale and clever engineering mean they aren’t going to fall prey to any dead ends any time soon.

  128. @PapayaSF
    I have seen it argued for every failed company in history that they are imune to disruption “from below”. And especiallu in the electronics and computer industry.

    Apple will leave the bulk market to low margin suppliers. They will simply not bank on phone models that will retail for less than Apples current margin on iPhones.

  129. >False comparison if, as I suspect, the retail price of that first generation iPhone was much
    >higher. The last generation Cadillac you owned was probably a nicer car than your current
    >Ford econobox, too. :-)

    The problem is two fold however. First off, the first gen iPhone I had was released in 2007. The Optimus V was released in 2011 (technically mid-november 2010 if you assume, as is likely, that no significant changes were made from the Optimus One to the Optimus V), almost 4 years later. At the time that I bought the phone, I could have bought an iPhone 3G for the same $250 I paid for the LG (I sadly bought during their odd price bump, but before the plan went from $25/month to $35/month). So despite being a 3-4 year newer phone, I wound up buying a less capable phone than one that I had years earlier, and less capable than another newer (but still not as new) iPhone model that I could have purchased for the same price. Indeed, had any GSM carrier offered a deal to match Virgin Mobile’s I would have bought the iPhone.

    Secondly, we’ve been hearing about how much Apple is over priced, and how cheap Android phones are just as capable and competitive. Well, I bought the cheap android phone, and it isn’t competitive. If I have to spend just as much as I would for an iPhone to get a quality Android experience, why shouldn’t I just buy an iPhone?

  130. @PapayaSF:

    1) I still don’t think the iPod example is that relevant. iTunes was a major product differentiator for a very long time, the likes of which we might not see for a very long time (or which Apple might introduce in a new product category tomorrow — who knows?)

    2) In my view, iPads actually started at the top of the market. The things double the iPad price were arguably in a different (commercial) market. As I have said before, part of the genius of Jobs was, after he designed the right thing, to believe in his design. Only Apple has the proven ability to achieve huge economies of scale on the very first product run.

    3) Your comment about subsidized phones is directly relevant to the question of whether Apple will be able to extend this (get other carriers to subsidize) or whether the carriers will revolt at some point.

    If you want to make a case that Apple will be able to do well regardless of what else happens in the markets, I think you should focus on (a) how Apple has managed, time and time again, to “create” product categories (I put create in quotes, because they don’t, really — they make them work well at a price point that well-heeled consumers can easily afford) and (b) how Apple has managed to do well even in mature product categories — the Mac is the best example of this — they are slowly increasing market share in a mature product category, an impressive feat to be sure — but they certainly don’t do that at the low end.

    @phil:

    But yeah, this implies they don’t want to take the margin haircut to gain marketshare. From my standpoint, this is a mistake in the long term.

    I’m not sure about this. Apple makes its money by betting big, and watching their margins go up over time. Once you start cutting margins, this is much harder to do, because mistakes are so much more costly. To the extent that Apple really is somehow immune to the innovator’s dilemma, this willingness to cede ground in old businesses might be part of the equation.

  131. >iTunes was a major product differentiator for a very long time, the likes of which
    >we might not see for a very long time (or which Apple might introduce in a
    >new product category tomorrow — who knows?)

    I think it’s still a good differentiator, there’s an entire ecosystem there that doesn’t quite yet exist on Android, and the software gives a nice connection and interface between your computers, and your phone, and like most things apple, it’s the little touches sometimes. For example:

    Question: How do you backup an iPhone? / How do you backup an Android Phone?

    Answer: Plug it in to iTunes, click Backup. / It depends.

  132. “If I have to spend just as much as I would for an iPhone to get a quality Android experience, why shouldn’t I just buy an iPhone?”

    So why didn’t you? Why did you switch to an inexpensive Android phone?

    I suspect the answer is, “Oh, it wasn’t the phone, it was that the Virgin Mobile prepaid service was much more affordable.” Of course, that’s a point I’ve made before; you should be able to disentangle your choice of a phone from your choice of carrier, but today, that is very difficult to do. And some of that expensive service is being used to underwrite the up-front cost of the phone.

    At the time I bought my LG Optimus V, it was the top-of-the-line phone offered by Virgin Mobile, so it made no difference whether I was willing to pay more for the phone. I had no intention of paying Verizon or AT&T prices for the service, and that limited my choices of phone.

    I fully expect this to resolve itself over time. Patrick’s links show that we’re already seeing BYOD offerings at decent prices.

  133. @Patrick Maupin “I’m not sure about this. Apple makes its money by betting big, and watching their margins go up over time. Once you start cutting margins, this is much harder to do, because mistakes are so much more costly”

    I think they can have their cake and eat it to. Keep their crazy margins on the high end, but scoop up some people that wouldn’t normally go iPhone. Get them hooked. Then next time they upgrade, they might go for the latest and greatest and collect the fat margin. I have to think iPhone 4′s and esp 3GS’s are cheap to manufacture anyway. It’s not like they would have to sell them at cost.

    Notice their strategy is different with the iPad. Their margins are ~30%, which is much less than the iPhone.

    But Tim Cook is a very smart guy and he knows all this.

  134. @tmoney:

    Question: How do you backup an iPhone? / How do you backup an Android Phone?

    Answer: Plug it in to iTunes, click Backup. / It depends.

    Which is all well and good when things work. Every time my daughter plugs here iPhone into her Mac, it fucks it up royally. When things don’t always work, the ad hoc Android method is arguably better.

    @phil:

    Notice their strategy is different with the iPad. Their margins are ~30%, which is much less than the iPhone.

    This might be the same strategy, but at a different point on the curve. Although I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see their iPhone margins drop a bit if they’re angling for more marketshare, I also would not at all be surprised to see their iPad margins go up when they face increased competition. (Not by raising prices so much as riding production costs down.)

  135. @Patrick Maupin “Every time my daughter plugs here iPhone into her Mac, it fucks it up royally.”

    Well, that sucks of course and sounds like my experiences with Windows. You should fix it ;)
    But just use iCloud for backups.

    What mechanism does android have for backups anyway?

  136. @Patrick Maupin “I also would not at all be surprised to see their iPad margins go up when they face increased competition. (Not by raising prices so much as riding production costs down.)”

    but increased competition would have nothing to do with their margins going up, right? Not sure why you mention that.

    This is plausible though. Seems to me like they might take a bit of a margin hit in 2012 with LTE and the new display. Those are huge upgrades. But really, what are they going to do from here? More incremental stuff like faster, longer battery life, better camera, etc. Same for iPhone…. next one will have LTE and maybe NFC. But after that, where would the big hardware upgrade be? Becomes more incremental. This offers the opportunity to have higher margins if they can sustain the same price point.

  137. @phil:

    but increased competition would have nothing to do with their margins going up, right?

    Not necessarily. To the extent that increased competition causes increased production of commodity components like flash and DRAM and RF components and drives those down the price curve, increased competition actually could reduce Apple’s costs. (As I have mentioned before, one of the really nice things about the iPad is it is just a cellphone with a bigger screen, so competition in the handset market is helping to reduce these costs right now as well.) The question is whether they adjust the price accordingly. I think not (other than their usual price reductions on older gear). But they could surprise me.

    This offers the opportunity to have higher margins if they can sustain the same price point.

    Exactly. And, despite the iPad being a phenomenal success, these component price reductions wouldn’t happen as quickly if the components were unique to the iPad.

  138. @jsk/greg

    Same basic design. Nicer screen and camera, faster proc, faster mobile connectivity. Bigger/better/faster, but nothing really new, just keeping a steady pace. Same thing I feel about every new overhaul of their laptop and desktop designs. Looks nice. So what?

    Great for now, but Apple is starting to look like it’s in a form-factor rut. This is definitely an Android advantage.

    The reason Apple’s case designs don’t change much is because they have got them pretty much *right*. Apple actually takes design seriously. The company does not change designs for the sake of it, or on a whim. They might tweak things here and there to keep things fresh, but fundamentally the case designs of the iPad and iPhone are correct, so don’t expect to see major changes just to satisfy fashion trends.

    The focus on static case design from people on this blog is surprising to me. I would have thought technical people would be more interested in how the thing works under the hood than in criticising Apple for not arbitrarily altering the product exterior every six months.

  139. @phil @tmoney:

    At midnight, my phone syncs user data (documents, pictures, music) with my PC on the home network over wifi if I am at home. Logs show it takes about eight minutes to run.

    Contacts, e-mail, and non-critical documents are kept in the cloud via Google but backed up locally monthly via Google Takeout (or IMAP in the case of mail).

    Tin foil hats created as required.

  140. @Tom

    “The reason Apple’s case designs don’t change much is because they have got them pretty much *right*. Apple actually takes design seriously. The company does not change designs for the sake of it, or on a whim. They might tweak things here and there to keep things fresh, but fundamentally the case designs of the iPad and iPhone are correct, so don’t expect to see major changes just to satisfy fashion trends.”

    Although case design isn’t the entire point here, I’d point out that the above paragraph fits another mobile device company fairly well if you replace the word “Apple” with “RIM” and the iWords with Blackberry.

    I don’t subscribe to the theory that Apple is in danger of imminent disruptive collapse. But I also believe they are in uncharted territory on a path with serious sustainability issues. The pace of product innovation, greater support by carrier subsidy than the competition, and complacency are issues that concern me. They don’t have a dominant market share that will allow them to mismanage and sustain success over decades (like IBM did with mainframes, Xerox with copiers, and still ongoing Microsoft with PC operating systems).

    (The visible pace of innovation in their products is imho slowing. Others will disagree, I am sure, but I consider 2010 to be the last time any “wow” products were introduced (iPad, iPhone4). Everything since then has been tweaks.)

    They may have stuff in the pipeline that will make me look foolish for making the above statements. But I’m not buying any AAPL stock right now.

  141. @Kevin Snyder

    The visible pace of innovation in their products is imho slowing.

    I don’t know if you use Apple products, but as somebody who does, I have the exact opposite feeling. In fact, I often worry that they are charging ahead at such breakneck speed with changes to OS X and iCloud that the quality of their products will inevitably suffer. Lion is possibly the first sign of this, although it seems to be stabilising and may be an anomaly.

    It is only two years since Apple created an entirely new product category with the iPad. They have just announced that they are moving to a yearly release cycle for major OS X upgrades, and it is less than a year since iCloud was announced.

    Also, I strongly suspect that 2012 will see the release of a revolutionary television product, but of course that is speculation.

    As an iOS/OS X developer I can also tell you that the pace of change in the SDKs and dev tools is so fast that it is quite honestly very annoying.

    All in all, I think that Apple is moving faster than it ever has.

    I’m not quite sure why you consider the iPhone 4 to be a ‘wow’ product, but not the new iPad. They offer quite similar levels of improvement over their predecessors.

  142. I think Apple does pretty well with both big leaps and incremental improvements. Both come from their design vigilance. I bet we’ll see a number of “wow” Apple products in the coming years.

  143. @PapayaSF

    I think Apple does pretty well with both big leaps and incremental improvements.

    That’s right. It was 3 years from iPhone to iPad. It has only been two years since the iPad, and yet progress has supposedly slowed because we haven’t seen another ‘wow product’ (even though iCloud is arguably just such a big leap)?

    This makes no sense.

  144. @Tom:

    > That’s right. It was 3 years from iPhone to iPad.

    It took ‘em 3 years to remove the ability to make a phone call and make the screen bigger? No wonder things seem like they’re going faster now!

    Seriously, the big deal with the iPad was Jobs having the cojones to believe they would sell, and then investing to be able to build them at a reasonable margin and to have the finished, polished product ready in huge quantities at announcement.

    > (even though iCloud is arguably just such a big leap)?

    I don’t think iCloud is any sort of Apple specific product differentiator like iTunes was. None of the ideas are Apple-specific and it’s doubtful that any are Apple-first. Also, google doesn’t even need any third parties to counter…

  145. It took ‘em 3 years to remove the ability to make a phone call and make the screen bigger?

    Haha, but no. It’s known that the iPad was the original project, and that the iPhone was a spinoff of that research that (for some reason) was ready first.

  146. I don’t think iCloud is any sort of Apple specific product differentiator like iTunes was.

    iTunes did not become a differentiator for some years after it came out in 2001. Give iCloud time.

    None of the ideas are Apple-specific and it’s doubtful that any are Apple-first.

    The Apple difference is in the quality of the execution, not in being the first or the only.

  147. @PapayaSF:
    “It’s known that the iPad was the original project, and that the iPhone was a spinoff of that research that (for some reason) was ready first.”

    Would love to see a link from a credible source that establishes this. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I have never heard this claim anywhere.

  148. The reason Apple’s case designs don’t change much is because they have got them pretty much *right*. Apple actually takes design seriously. The company does not change designs for the sake of it, or on a whim. They might tweak things here and there to keep things fresh, but fundamentally the case designs of the iPad and iPhone are correct, so don’t expect to see major changes just to satisfy fashion trends.

    Heh. As someone else pointed out, Apple may be in more trouble than I thought. This way of thinking is arrogant and stagnating enough to be RIM-like. And BTW, form factor is much more than just case design. I’m not talking about cosmetics at all.

    The focus on static case design from people on this blog is surprising to me. I would have thought technical people would be more interested in how the thing works under the hood than in criticising Apple for not arbitrarily altering the product exterior every six months.

    Either you didn’t read what I wrote, didn’t understand it, or you don’t actually own a smartphone. (I’ll say again, I’m not talking about cosmetics. I despise things like the T-Mobile myTouch series, that turn otherwise useful hardware into abominations with horrible styling choices in the name of ‘branding’.) It’s all about the screen. Apple realized this some time ago and the iPhone basic design was revolutionary for 2007, getting as large and usable a screen as they did into as small and handy a device as they did (compare with a contemporary S60 device for how not to do it). But since then they’ve been essentially static. Content. Dare I say, smug.

    Other manufacturers have used the greater possible miniaturization that’s come with the technical improvements since 2007 to pack more screen into an equivalent sized handset (the particulars of appearance and styling are irrelevant here). Which is a huge thing in usability and enjoyment in a smartphone. Whereas Apple has been content to just make their phone thinner.

    Note, this is just as it applies to phones (which is all I was talking about in the other forum I transplanted the quote from). There are substantial innovations going on in the Android tablet space too, like the Asus Transformer series.

  149. Greg, you do know that the iPhone 4 got a “retina display” with double the resolution, right? I don’t see how you can call that being “static.” Are there more than one or two Android phones with higher resolution?

    As for Asus Transformer innovations, this sort of competition doesn’t worry Apple much, nor should it.

  150. I would think the choice for releasing the iPod Touch before the iPad would have been conditioned by the differences in screen prices.

    I imagine that a 10″ screen would have costs much more in 2005-2007 than a consumer would have been willing to spend. And, obviously, the CPU power to drive such a computer might have been lacking in the ARM chips of the day.

  151. A window into the ideas of Eric Smidt:

    Google’s Eric Schmidt: ‘Connecting the World Will Free the World’
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rahimkanani/2012/03/08/googles-eric-schmidt-connecting-the-world-will-free-the-world/

    1, “Looking back at 2011, we now see that if you connect people with information, they will change the world.”

    2. “Connectivity, even in modest amounts, changes lives.”

    Cheap and open smartphones with Internet access do fit in nicely. Expensive smartphones with censorship do not
    (yes I know, if you really really want to, you can yada yada jailbreak yada yada)

  152. While I am at it, here is an outlook of Android tablets

    Android tablet surge will be led by Google-Motorola, HP, Dell in ’12
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/android-tablet-surge-will-be-led-by-google-motorola-hp-dell-in-12/10558

    Apple and Microsoft are getting all the ink in the tablet wars these days but no doubt Android tablets will be matching if not outselling iPads within a year or so.

    People seem to forget that Google is the new owner of Motorola Mobility and plans to release a Xoom-like tablet running Android 4.X sometime in mid 2012, company chairman Eric Schmidt has said publicly.

    PS, how can I get bold text in the new theme?

  153. And here is a reminder of why Google just had to start Android, and still has to continue supporting it. Apple just dropped Google Maps for OSM in some applications.

    Apple to Google Maps: ‘Get lost’
    iPhoto geo-tagging switched to OpenStreetMap
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/08/apple_drops_google_maps_for_iphoto/

    I might add that I like what OSM is doing, thye can use the boost given here by Apple, and I really hope OSM will be able to surpass closed maps fast. But that is not the point here.

  154. >PS, how can I get bold text in the new theme?

    I don’t know. If you stumble over a way, please tell me.

  155. >Greg, you do know that the iPhone 4 got a “retina display” with double the resolution, right? I don’t see how you can call that being “static.”

    It’s static because, whatever technical innovation might have been necessary to accomplish it, you hit a point of diminishing returns with respect to how much more impressive a doubling of resolution makes your product far short of “retina display”.

  156. Actually, given the ComScore numbers, this is like kicking a puppy. But, in the light of the current Advertisement onslaught (I see Lumia posters everywhere), here it is.

    When you thought you heard all that is wrong with the WinPhone, there is more:

    Microsoft reveals low-end WinPho limitations
    Lumia Tangoed
    http://www.reghardware.com/2012/03/09/microsoft_reveals_low_end_windows_phone_limitations/

    Unfortunately, this means that those 256MB Ram handsets such as the Lumia 610 are unable to run certain apps, manage podcast subscriptions or watch podcast videos.

    The company has disabled features such as SkyDrive, HD video playback and background agents, while the fast app switching feature that appeared through the Mango update has also been omitted, essentially making multitasking redundant.

    Some people here insisted last year that Nokia+Mango would be a very nice phone. My severe doubts have not been lessened.

  157. As for Asus Transformer innovations, this sort of competition doesn’t worry Apple much, nor should it.

    Sounds about the same as the complaints i was hearing from the 3GS people when the updated to the latest version of iOS. Hasn’t affected my transformer as far as I can tell.

  158. @Greg

    Other manufacturers have used the greater possible miniaturization that’s come with the technical improvements since 2007 to pack more screen into an equivalent sized handset (the particulars of appearance and styling are irrelevant here). Which is a huge thing in usability and enjoyment in a smartphone. Whereas Apple has been content to just make their phone thinner.

    Apple has taken the design *decision* that 3.5 inches is the right size for a smartphone. Android manufacturers are obviously obsessed with making their screens larger and larger. It has become a joke. But I don’t think it has come as a result of any well-thought-out design process. It is the result of simply trying to find some way to differentiate their handsets. ‘Bigger is better’ is what they are thinking.

    In my opinion they are completely wrong. I want my phone to sit comfortably in the palm of my hand and be controllable with only the thumb of that hand. 3.5 inches is perfect for that.

  159. @Cathy

    Would love to see a link from a credible source that establishes this. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I have never heard this claim anywhere.

    Jobs revealed this at one of the ‘D’ conferences while being interviewed by Walt Mossberg.

  160. Meanwhile we have another example of Android’s legendary ‘openness’:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/08/us-google-idUSBRE8271CJ20120308

    Google Inc has been pressuring applications and mobile game developers to use its costlier in-house payment service, Google Wallet, as the Internet search giant tries to emulate the financial success of Apple Inc’s iOS platform.

    Google warned several developers in recent months that if they continued to use other payment methods – such as PayPal, Zong and Boku – their apps would be removed from Android Market, now known as Google Play, according to developers, executives and investors in mobile gaming and payment sectors.

  161. @Tom
    “I want my phone to sit comfortably in the palm of my hand and be controllable with only the thumb of that hand. 3.5 inches is perfect for that.”

    Different people have different hands. Things that fit in your hand might not fit in another hand.

    Some people have pockets, others use purses or hand-bags. Well over half of the human population would not carry their phone in their shirt pocket.

  162. Here another writeup why MS is so desperate to get a foot-hold in the mobile phone and tablet market:

    New iPad Launch Could Eat Into PC Sales
    http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/new-ipad-launch-could-eat-into-pc-sales-65006

    Ahead of the expected launch of the next iteration of the iPad, many observers, including Apple chief executive Tim Cook, are predicting that tablet sales will soon surpass PC sales. One analyst, Horace Dediu, even predicts it will happen as early as 2013.

    The new iPad is expected to boost the growing tablet market at a time when PC shipments are decreasing, fuelling speculation that mobile devices could overtake traditional computers.

  163. >Just a simple test to see how to get Bold:
    like so ? – this worked on the Theme Preview you linked to

  164. @kn
    It is Friday afternoon and my brain seems to have taken the day off.

    What tags did you use? I really cannot find them.

  165. Sounds about the same as the complaints i was hearing from the 3GS people when the updated to the latest version of iOS. Hasn’t affected my transformer as far as I can tell.

    Nor mine. I noticed a couple of random reboots when I first bought the thing, before ICS came out.

    After the ICS upgrade I leave it on for days at a time without a hitch.

  166. “[The LG Optimus] is still stuck on 2.2?

    @Cathy:
    “Yes. I’ve tried to flash it to 2.3, but so far haven’t found a custom Gingerbread ROM that’s fully functional.”

    News flash: I updated it to 2.3.7 last night and it seems to be running well. The version you want is “BACKside-IHO-VM670-03062012.zip”. Speed of GUI interactions seems to be a little faster. I’ve re-installed my suite of apps and it seems happy. The only thing that doesn’t appear to be working properly is the Google search toolbar, which is trivial. (And I still need to reinstall Swype. I wish they’d put their software in the Google Market instead of making me jump through hoops to get it.)

    There’s a deeper point here than whether or not the Optimus is a good, or even sufficient, phone. Neither Apple, nor Google, nor LG controls what version of software my phone is running. If it’s available in source form and provides a benefit, sooner or later a new version of Android will be ported to a phone if it has the hardware horsepower.

    If your response is, “but non-geeks won’t flash their phones,” my answer is, “but practically all of them know a geek who would do it for them if asked.”

  167. Cathy, you are vastly overestimating the number of geeks, and their social connections with the rest of the world. No, “most people” don’t know a geek who will flash their phone for them. LOL

  168. Oops, you said “practically all”… even more LOL. (Friendly joshing here! No offense intended.)

  169. I have been thinking a lot abut the issue what major hardware upgrades post “retina display” are there in the near future? If we take a little bit of a head in the sand approach, it looks like tablet manufactures will basically be hammering away at these points: price, battery life, weight, performance. So, for the foreseeable future no more hardware “wows”. What that leaves is software, content, and integration to impress consumers. I’m guessing this could be the reason Apple has ended the iterative naming of the iPad. From now on just calling it “iPad” as they mostly do with their computer and iPod line up.

    I’ll reserve my opinions until I get a chance to actually see the new iPad screen, but from reviews of people who have, it sounds pretty “stunning”. Once every one is shipping “retina” class tablets it will be all about “apps”, content and integration (I’m using this term to mean “cloud services”, syncing with other devices, backup, etc). Just to let you know I think we already reached this point of it isn’t what the tablet can do (specs.) so much as what you can do with the tablet (apps).

    Tablets are blank slates. The software makes the device a movie screen, drawing pad, musical instrument, MRI display, whatever. The real race here is not going to be about form factor, it is going to be about software and integrating with other gadgets (pretty much anything which needs some type of display/control surface, ie. home automation, medical instruments, surveillance camera systems, you get what I’m talking about).

    Until some one releases a Star Trek unbreakable slab of “glass” which never needs to be charged up, the hardware is probably going to be mostly evolutionary changes, the revolutions will come in the form of software/apps. So arguing whether a “retina” display is evolutionary or revolutionary is semantics (from preliminary reports I’m guessing I will personally put it in the revolutionary camp, since it seems to be getting the open-mouth-glazed-eye type of reaction). The tablet revolution marches on regardless.

    Let’s remember, it doesn’t matter whether we are in the Android or iOS or Metro (‘not that there is anything wrong with that’ ;v) camp, we are all in the f@&%ing-lucky-to-be-alive-while-this-is-all-happening camp! I mean my grandparents went from what, a hand crank phone to as far as a push button, maybe cordless phone with crappy voice mail? Where as, we have gone from a wired rotary phone to one which, not only can I simply ask it to call my mom but also turn my thermostat down from across the country and give me directions on how to get there!

    Cheers-Argosy

  170. @cathy “sooner or later a new version of Android will be ported to a phone if it has the hardware horsepower.”

    with iOS you don’t have to wait. iOS users get upgraded WAY faster.

  171. @Greg “the iPhone has a preposterously large chin and forehead and a screen”
    “Whereas Apple has been content to just make their phone thinner.”

    Can you point me to a better designed Android phone? Seriously, I want to see it.

    I think they could probably squeeze out a bit of a larger screen in the current form factor, and good chance they will in iPhone 5. But you have to realize the iPhone is mostly battery. They are cramming a ton of stuff int here and didn’t want a larger device. This notion that the chin/forehead is “preposterously large” is silly. Android phones have a similar layout, and have since they first copied the iPhone’s design. Take a look at the latest flagship: http://www.google.com/nexus/

  172. @PapayaSF:
    “Cathy, you are vastly overestimating the number of geeks, and their social connections with the rest of the world. No, “most people” don’t know a geek who will flash their phone for them. LOL”

    You may be right. :-) I have a toe in both worlds, so maybe I have a skewed view.

    I showed one of my non-geek co-workers and friends my Nook-running-full-Android, and it sounded as though I may get a “tech update” request from her in the future. She’s loyal to HP phones, and with their demise is deciding where to jump.

    This topic is probably worthy of a full blog post by ESR. If geeks want to influence non-geeks, they need to have social connections with them.

  173. @kn
    Thanks, I was thinking of <b>. Should have known as I always use <em>.

  174. @PapayaFS
    “No, “most people” don’t know a geek who will flash their phone for them. LOL”

    Most people in the world are also too poor to buy an iPhone or iPad. That does not seem to stop you proclaiming that Apple will rule the world.

  175. @Winter “proclaiming that Apple will rule the world.”

    who has proclaimed Apple will rule the world? All I hear is Android is going to dominate.

    “Most people in the world are also too poor to buy an iPhone or iPad.”
    Yep. I think android will get the low end market. But being that it’s “low end” it’s not worth much is it?

  176. @phil:
    “But being that it’s ‘low end’ it’s not worth much is it?”

    Walmart stockholders might disagree with you.

  177. @PapayaSF:
    “Android Orphans: Visualizing a Sad History of Support [link]”

    Very interesting. Kudos to Apple for good ongoing support, although once they cut off an older phone, good luck getting updates through any other source with no source (pun intended).

    Based on this data, I’d say that HTC is doing the best job (among Android manufacturers) and Motorola is absolutely terrible. One wonders if Google’s purchase of Motorola will change the latter going forward, once they have time to get over the transition and figure out what they will and won’t do with Motorola Mobility.

  178. @Cathy “Walmart stockholders might disagree with you.”

    Good point.

    But WalMart isn’t low end on a global basis (low income Americans are rich in comparison to much of the world)

    But yeah, low end is worth something.

    I think iOS will do much better in prosperous countries and Android will dominate poorer countries. There is no law that one winner takes all.

  179. @phil:
    “I think iOS will do much better in prosperous countries and Android will dominate poorer countries.”

    Then why does Android have much higher market share in the U.S. than iOS?

  180. Android is doing well among first-time smartphone buyers, the poor and cheap, among geeks (a rounding error for that category), and on carriers that don’t have iPhones. Also, because carriers are pushing Android hard. One of my disagreements with esr and others around here, though, is that I don’t think Android’s growth is sustainable, because of low user satisfaction and because smartphones aren’t as “sticky” as PCs. I think Android’s market share will top out before iOS’s, and not achieve the network-effect dominance that Windows had in the ’90s.

  181. @Cathy “Then why does Android have much higher market share in the U.S. than iOS?”

    I wasn’t clear. When I said better, I meant compared to poorer countries. I don’t think iPhone will exceed 50% even in rich countries. Looks like it’s about 30% in US. Dunno where it ends up over next several years, but probably less than 40%?

  182. @winter
    “And here is a reminder of why Google just had to start Android, and still has to continue supporting it. Apple just dropped Google Maps for OSM in some applications.”

    Your chronology is off. Apple is planning to drop Google Maps (or at least offer/use an alternative) *because* Google started Android. If Google had not started Android (or at least if they had kept it as the Blackberry clone it originally was). we would not be seeing this.

  183. wlad is correct. Apple and Google used to be buddies, united against Microsoft, and then Google decided to follow Apple into the smartphone business. Bad blood followed.

  184. @phil:
    “I don’t think iPhone will exceed 50% even in rich countries. Looks like it’s about 30% in US. Dunno where it ends up over next several years, but probably less than 40%?”

    Sounds like we’re in violent agreement. I expect Android to ultimately have about 60 – 80% market share in the developed world, especially the U.S., within 2 years; and Apple to have 20 – 40% share. Other offerings (Bada, Meego, WinPhone, RIM) will be rounding error.

    Apple’s exact share depends on a lot of factors, including whether they decide to pursue somewhat lower-end phones at some point, how the carrier battles play out, whether prepaid becomes a larger fraction of total supplies, etc, etc. Therefore I am leaving large error bars in the prediction. But Apple is never going to have a majority share of smartphones, period. I certainly don’t see Apple’s share going below 20% unless some kind of “disruptive collapse” occurs.

  185. @PapayaSF:

    Apple and Google used to be buddies…

    I used to work for a company that was “buddies” with Apple. That company is no more. There is no question that relying on the kindness or good nature of Apple is corporate suicide, so the timeline is immaterial, except to the extent that Google managed to make sure there are lots of non-iPhone smartphones before Apple did anything that would really hurt them.

  186. BTW, a free iPhone requires a 3 year, $45/month contract with China Telecom.

    IIRC, China Mobile — the planet’s biggest carrier — currently has an aggregate ARPU of around $11. This is the network that doesn’t offer or fully support the iPhone but has 15 million iPhone users anyway. Apparently a lot of people in China are happy to pay extra for equipment and then a lower monthly cost. It will be interesting to see how well Apple manages to westernize their thinking.

  187. “There is no question that relying on the kindness or good nature of Apple is corporate suicide”

    This statement is probably true for any value of $company. It’s why contracts were invented. There’s no use rehashing the Google/Apple drama of who tried to screw who first. I do find this notion of Google being so afraid of Apple while having their CEO on the board of directors somewhat odd but, then again, I’m not a corporate guy.

    “except to the extent that Google managed to make sure there are lots of non-iPhone smartphones before Apple did anything that would really hurt them.”

    This may also have the happy side-effect of helping other Google competitors (er, “alternatives”) like the aforementioned OSM and Vimeo.

  188. Of interest in the TMobile link: “I don’t think it is healthy, frankly, for there to be kind of a one OS industry dominance. And that’s why I think it is going to behoove us all to watch Windows and hopefully the application ecosystem will follow, and I think that will really help the overall industry balance.”

    I wonder if everyone has counted out Windows Phone 7 too soon. 2012 is the make or break year I think. MSFT is supposed to make a giant marketing push this year.

    I’m not making any predictions though. I really don’t know if there is anything there or not. Hasn’t been so far.

  189. @wlad
    >Apple is planning to drop Google Maps (or at least offer/use an alternative)
    > *because* Google started Android. If Google had not started Android (or at least
    >if they had kept it as the Blackberry clone it originally was). we would not be seeing this.

    I don’t think this is quite accurate. I am absolutely positive that while Google’s entrance with Android accelerated Apple’s move to jump ship, you’re missing two very important things.

    1) Apple is about providing what they see as the best user experience, regardless of the overall politics. Consider how long Apple has continued to use the Google services where appropriate. See also their continued use of Samsung as a supplier, despite ongoing legal battles. Steve Jobs may have been a hot head, and a very stubborn man, but he was also practical when it came to doing what was best for Apple in the long run, even if that meant conceding the end of the desktop wars and bringing Bill Gates on stage.

    2) Apple is not afraid to jump ship when a newer and better idea comes along. I seem to recall hearing that IBM found out about Apple’s decision to go Intel about 10 minutes before Jobs got on stage to announce it. Even if there were no bad blood at all between Google and Apple, Apple is loyal to Apple first, and if they thought a new map service would be better, they would jump ship.

    > Apparently a lot of people in China are happy to pay extra for equipment and
    >then a lower monthly cost.

    I think this is a key component for why pre-paid service (and the original iPhone pricing model) hasn’t really worked here in the US. The carriers don’t seem to understand (or don’t want to provide service to) people who want to pay less for service and no contract, in exchange for absorbing their own hardware costs. Heck, up until T-Mobile started with their Everything plans a few years back, at most carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Suncom) you actually had to pay more per month for a contract free plan, even though you bought the phone up front.

  190. >I think Android’s market share will top out before iOS’s, and not achieve the network-effect dominance that Windows had in the ’90s.

    I think it will really depend on whether something like Ubuntu on Android takes off. (I’m not sure Ubuntu on Android itself will, because Ubuntu is a fairly heavy distribution). If someone manages to put out a successful smartphone that offers both a touchscreen interface for mobile use and a WIMP interface for when you’re sitting down at a desk with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor available, I predict that the operating system that that device runs will enjoy significant network effect benefits in both the PC and mobile device markets, likely dethroning Windows and causing significant, if not fatal damage, to Apple in the mobile device market (Of course, if said device uses Windows or iOS, Microsoft/Apple won’t suffer said dire consequences).

  191. Most interesting to me is the paragraph where he explains the internal storage cache that causes the limits on the app store. I mentioned before how saying that “internal storage on Android phones doesn’t matter because of SD cards” ignores a number of problems causes by minuscule storage, apparently there’s another one.

  192. Jon Brase: Interesting idea, but isn’t it likely that Apple is already pouring vast resources into a similar iOS/OS X linkup? We know Apple touchscreens grew out of a desire to replace the mouse/keyboard interface. I won’t say Ubuntu on Android won’t happen, but I suspect Apple will do something similar, but with superior integration.

    tmoney: Yes, all Android cheerleaders here should read that link.

  193. @PapayaSF:

    I read the link. Again, what happened in (less than) a year?

  194. > “Every time someone buys an Android device that won’t load Android apps, or has a screen that can barely be used for reading, or turns out to have a crappy two-megapixel camera, they’re less likely to buy another Android device. ”

    Disney sues the pants off anyone who draws a character that looks suspiciously Disneyish. Yamaha corporation lets anyone draw a vocaloid character. As a result You tube has millions of fan made shorts featuring the vocaloid characters, especially Hatsune Miku, millions of them horribly bad, a handful of them quite good. We are getting a generation that is more familiar with Hatsune Miku and the rest of the vocaloids than with Mickey Mouse. Fan generated characteristics and music feed back into the official Hatsune Miku, who now officially has a leek which she uses as a conductor’s baton, adopted from a crudely drawn and crudely animated, but extremely popular, fan video, and officially refers to her composer as “master”, a characteristic adopted from crudely made child porn fan videos: We are seeing the birth of open source entertainment, despite the fact that 99% of the fan content is utter rubbish. I am pretty sure that people see Miku more in fan content than in official content, and they see Miku more than they see Micky Mouse.

  195. Is that a rhetorical question? It’s in the post: “We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android in one way or another – porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc. I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn’t go through. We spent thousands on various test hardware. These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android. Meanwhile, Android sales amounted to around 5% of our revenue for the year, and continues to shrink.”

    As for the Android /iOS revenue change, I’d guess: 1) an initial surge of Android sales to early adopters and geeks, but not as many to later Android buyers, who are just getting a cheap smartphone and rarely buy apps, and 2) continued growth of iOS sales.

  196. Apple already does rule the world. Those sparkles glimmering way ahead of the computer industry since 1976 are Apple’s taillights. Every PC, MP3 player and smartphone is a commodified piece of Apple kit. All laptops are PowerBooks, and soin they’ll all be MacBook Airs. All smartphones are iPhones now; before that they were shrunken Newtons.

    As for whether Retina Displays are an Apple thing or a general hardware thing, the patents for Suoer High Aperture LCDs, a key component of the Retina Display, were filed by a man named John Zhong in 1995. Guess where he works now. You can use Google; it shouldn’t be hard to find.

  197. @PapayaSF:

    > Is that a rhetorical question?

    No, it’ not. But it is a (perhaps cryptically) shortened version of my original question, which you neglected to answer.

    > It’s in the post:

    No, it’s not. Go and look at my link again, and my first question “I wonder how/why Android went from 80% of iOS revenue for them to less than 5% of total revenue?”

  198. And btw, you can make those guesses. I can make the equally unsupported guess that Apple paid them to drop Android support.

  199. @Jeff Read:

    > Every PC, MP3 player and smartphone is a commodified piece of Apple kit.

    Um, yeah, it’s amazing how they were ahead of the curve on all sorts of things. Picking the right processor. High resolution graphical displays. Devices that don’t break the bank account. And of course, as you mentioned, the MP3 player. Funny how they “invented” that several years after anybody else. Same with the smartphone.

  200. Oh, come on. Let’s not get all conspiratorial. Has Apple ever been proven to have ever paid any company to drop support for the competition? Buying an entire company and dropping support doesn’t count, obviously. I mean bribery.

  201. Apple usually does not “invent” things, in the sense of “nobody has ever done this before.” What they do is develop and refine something much better than what previously existed, so much better that the earlier examples tend to become answers in trivia contests. Probably to the average MP3 listener, a portable MP3 player is either an iPod or “sort of like an iPod.”

  202. @PapayaSF:

    I’d just like to see something more concrete between “this is absolutely swell!” and “this sucks donkey dicks!” before I take the reason for the suckage at face value, especially when it seems to directly contradict the reason for why things were swell.

    I’m sure if they cared to, they could elucidate, and it might even be that your speculation is spot-on. But maybe not. The 80% of iOS was for a single game. I have no idea if they did a worse job of porting another game, or made one that only really appeals to iOS users, or what.

    With the way the guy is carping about not being able to download enough stuff and some of his other issues, I have to wonder if they managed to make the other game not work as well on Android. I have no idea.

    But just as the health of the platform doesn’t depend on whether any particular phone vendor makes money, it also doesn’t depend on whether any particular app vendor makes money. And for that matter, if you read the stats closely, you will see that even most iOS app vendors are throwing money down a rathole. Nothing to see here.

  203. They thought things were going well a year ago, but it turned out not so well. That’s not a contradiction, just a learning experience.

  204. @tmoney

    Question: How do you backup an iPhone? / How do you backup an Android Phone?

    Answer: Plug it in to iTunes, click Backup. / It depends.

    @phil

    What mechanism does android have for backups anyway?

    Plug phone into usb port of computer. Copy files just like you would like you would any other usb drive. If you fell jiggy, you can root your phone and do a nandroid backup but that’s not at all necessary. Plus, google automatically backs up your contacts to your google contacts which is accessible anywhere the web is accessible. Anything that uses google’s services are backed up by google’s regular services. That includes emails, search suggestions based upon history, apps, etc., etc.

    @PapayaSF and other apple fans: It’s really obvious that you’re not familiar with how users interact with Android phones. That’s normal. Few people can afford or have reason to buy both an Android and an iPhone.On top of that, almost nobody has the time nor the inclination to use both types of devices intensely enough to understand how both incorporate into your life as your primary device.

    If an Android user is unhappy with their Android, they’ll know of devices which will make them happy. How does this happen? People talk to each other about their lives. When someone buys a new device they’ll talk to their friends and coworkers and interested people will ask what they think of the device. How do I know this? From my observations of fellow coworkers at a call center a couple years ago. For example, me and a non-technically minded coworker compared my Samsung Epic 4g with his HTC Evo. He wasn’t happy with the Evo and switched to a different Android maker. Another coworker who’s not technically minded, no college degree, and mother of two and was happy with her phone.

    The take aways? Don’t discount how tech savvy the average consumer is. These are no longer the days when no one could figure out how to set a VCR. This is the age where the popular kids spend most of their free time using game consoles and everyone uses a computer. Also, don’t discount, “It’s good enough.”

    The “It’s good enough” isn’t some abstract concept about price/performance. I work in a mac shop and even my boss, who’s an apple fan, mentioned that he thought that paying an extra $250 for an apple device versus whatever device he saw an ad for was too much. The article about, “Why not buy a cheaper tablet” which discussed a difference of $300 for an Android tablet versus an iPad. Even if I were to concede that the iOS is better than Android (which I don’t), is it hundreds of dollars better? You can do a lot with a few extra hundred dollars in your pocket. An hour in the champagne room with your favorite stripper, payoff a credit card bill, or buy your kids nicer clothes for starters.

    Also consider the “hip” factor. Among my acquaintances in various music scenes, Android is hip for a significant group of people. iPhone is sort of hip, but usually only among Apple fanboys or with people who are followers of fashion. It’s sort of like how during disco’s heyday, everyone who was cool was into Led Zeppelin and hated disco. If you want a current example, it may be more like how all the cool kids hate Pop and are into Indie instead. Unless you’re talking to someone who is a techie, buying an iPhone represents a willingness to spend extra money to let a corporation define your user experience and to keep you within a walled garden in an attempt to fit in with popular people. Android is the badge for people who appreciate the DIY ethos and would rather spend their money on living life.

    And remember how I didn’t concede the better iOS user experience? The iPhone is a nice device. To an Android user, it damages iPhone brand to hear the hoopla about over the air updates, 4G capability, and the new fangled drop down menu. These are all things Android users have had for at least the last couple years. If they chose to pay for an upper end Android device (which is still cheaper than the cost of getting an iPhone), the display is not that much different from the iPhone. Plus, it’s not clear how easily a person can customize iOS in case he/she don’t like a design decision Apple made.

    Is an iPhone a nice device? Yes.
    Would I like to try it out so I can be more informed about the iPhone experience? Yes.
    Would I pay hundreds of dollars more to take the risk of being trapped in a walled garden I may not enjoy? What am I stupid?
    Would I pay a lower price, have the option that if I’m not happy with my experience I can either modify my OS or switch to another device that fits me better without the need to relearn a new OS, and get to spend difference in price on something else? Of course!

    I haven’t found esr’s original post about why mobile devices are susceptible to the network effect, but I believe part of the reason is that there’s a cost for people to learn a new platform. The choice for someone who already decided to choose Android isn’t just to buy the iPhone and learn a new system, The choices also include buying an Android device which does fit his/her criteria.

  205. Of course there are many people happy with Android, Windows, iOS, etc. I never meant to say otherwise, just that iOS’s higher user satisfaction is a distinct advantage, one that works in Apple’s advantage in the long run, and which will be hard for Android to duplicate. OS polish, hardware quality, and excellent hardware/software integration all contribute to customer satisfaction, are all the result of (and reason for) Apple’s tight control, and all are very difficult for any Android device to achieve.

    Most people don’t mind the idea of a walled garden. They have more fun at Disneyland than in a city park or at Burning Man.

    Like many, you misperceive Apple. It’s not just marketing glitz/trendiness. Their design philosophy and their vigilance in maintaining it has been their core strength from the start, long before they were very popular. (The popularity of Apple grows out of, and comes after, their design philosophy.)

    Back in the days of Apple’s struggle, there was a cheaper, more flexible, less elegant alternative: Windows. Businesses went for Windows, employees had to learn and use it, so if they bought a PC for themselves, Windows was the clear favorite. And because computers cost thousands, and software cost hundreds, switching was hard. Thus the network effect that nearly killed Apple in the ’90s.

    But times are different, and are smartphones aren’t quite the same. They are cheaper, their software is cheaper, there’s less business lock-in with BYOD policies, and iOS and Android are more similar to one another than Windows and Mac seemed to ’90s eyes. Thus, less of a lock-in/network effect, and thus a distinct advantage to the one that’s got better user satisfaction.

    Add in the facts that Apple beats Android makers in profits, economies of scale, and long-term planning, all of which help take advantage of Moore’s Law, which means cheaper and better over time. And the world’s poor keep getting richer over time. Hmmm… suddenly the predictions that Android will rule the world and that Apple will never make billions of phones seem questionable….

  206. @Jon Brase:
    “If someone manages to put out a successful smartphone that offers both a touchscreen interface for mobile use and a WIMP interface for when you’re sitting down at a desk with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor available, I predict that the operating system that that device runs will enjoy significant network effect benefits in both the PC and mobile device markets.”

    If I were running Microsoft, this would be the place I’d dump lots of $$$. It’s a long shot, but if you could sell a full-function WinPhone that could also run desktop Windows and Office just by attaching a keyboard, mouse and monitor…well, I can see a market for that. Certainly it would have much more potential than a WinPhone that’s just a poor imitation of an iOS or Android phone.

  207. Cathy, you should be running Microsoft. Now all you have to do is merge Windows with the new Metro interface…!

  208. Just as another example of how the vaunted iOS ui isn’t that great, when I compared my Android (an almost two year old Epic 4G running CyanogenMod) with my coworker’s iPhone today, she was impressed with Google Gestures. For those who don’t know, Google Gestures is a cool app which uses gestures to search for apps, contacts, music, settings, etc. on your phone. It learns your handwriting and your behavior so that after a few times of using a gesture, the apps that you usually choose after your first gesture populates on top. I used Gesture Bar to set the long press search button to launch Google Gestures. Now all it takes to launch apps that are not important enough for my dock is two to three strokes of my finger. The first is a long press on the search button. The second is a single smooth gesture for the first letter of the app. Most of the time I don’t need the third gesture. In fact, I find I don’t even use ADW’s hidden dock because it’s just easier to remember to use Google Gestures and it’s the same number of strokes.

    Now Google Gestures is something that’s not standard on the phone, but even a common user places value on having the choice to modify their device if they choose to.

    As I said in a previous comment. The iPhone is a nice phone. Great display and very responsive. I was still surprised by what it lacked. Is it really true, that the home screen has app icons on it by default? That’s incredibly messy compared to the App dock on Android. About a year ago, I read a series of articles about an author’s 30 day experiment with Ubuntu. He kept mentioning something about needing iTunes because of his iPhone. I couldn’t understand the constant back and forth between the author and the commenters until I realized, “Omg, he needs to plug his phone into the computer for system updates?!” Poor guy was stuck because his phone was useless without access to iTunes.

  209. @PapayaSF You missed my point. Even if iOS is the best gorram design, it still would not be sufficient. “Good enough” with extra money to spend on things I care about would beat it. Except the iOS is not the best ui design. The network effect comes into play because it’s a cost to the consumer to switch device after they’ve made a choice. Part of Android’s design is the choice it offers to consumers to have a device that suits their purposes.

    You’re right that people people who are already in the walled garden of corporate pop culture, will spend extra money for the iPhone to signify that they are a follower. Those who have the counterculture mind set or who don’t care about using phones for cultural signalling will get Android. That’s because due to Android’s diversity, it’s easier for consumers to find an Android device that meets their needs at a price they are willing to pay. In other words, most people aren’t itching to spend more money than they need to into an electronic device. That’s the mechanism by which esr’s disruption from below argument drives the dominant firm into oblivian.

  210. Come on, counterculture types do their own cultural signaling with their phones. You’re doing it here. ;-> But you’re not giving people credit. I have an iPhone because I’ve been a Mac user since 1986. Their design philosophy fits with mine. I know what they do, on very subtle levels, that has always made them better than their competitors. I am not being trendy, or a follower. People are now starting to follow me. I don’t care who has iPhones, as long as I have one. I’d have one if it had no status at all.

    “Good enough” works both ways: many people don’t care about Android’s advantages, and find iPhones good enough in those areas.

    Cheaper will always find some market, but it doesn’t always win, or we’d all be getting by with Swanson frozen dinners and wearing secondhand clothes.

    I don’t think iOS is the be-all and end-all, and perfect for everyone. Some will insist on forms of customization it won’t do. I do miss some of the old customization I could do with the old Mac OS, but OS X has its own virtues, and I’ve adapted. It’s better in some ways, and good enough in others.

    I’m just saying that iOS’s virtues (including tight integration with excellent hardware) will prevent the “catastrophic collapse” predicted in these parts. I’d bet it won’t be below 10% worldwide smartphone marketshare in the next five years. I’d be surprised if it was under 20%, and 50% is not out of the question. Plus, OS X and iOS will integrate with iCloud for a self-reinforcing halo effect, something else Android doesn’t have.

    In short, Android will not drive Apple into oblivion, or vice versa.

  211. @PapayaSF
    “I’m just saying that iOS’s virtues (including tight integration with excellent hardware) will prevent the “catastrophic collapse” predicted in these parts.”

    An insightful comment. Apple’s “excellent hardware” is stock Windows compatible. The mass market has driven down the costs of PC parts to such a level that Apple could not compete anymore using it’s own hardware choices. Apple creates well designed (for some values of “well”) products from parts that exist due to mass markets in what you call “inferior” products. And these parts include both hard and software.

    Apple is a marketing miracle in their ability to create new mass markets for existing products. The Xerox Star was trail blazing, the MacIntosh was just the first mass market product that was able to cash in on that idea. Palm and Blackberry blazed the trail in Smartphones. The iPhone was just able to steal their thunder with a better design. Tablets have been around for years, just as have touch screens and ARM chips (the history of the Acorn is one of trail blazing innovation).

    Without the existing “inferior” and failed products, there would be no new Apple Iconic products.

    @PapayaSF
    “In short, Android will not drive Apple into oblivion, or vice versa.”

    Just as no amount of good wine and clothing will drive LVMH (Louis Vuiton Moët Hennessy) into oblivion. Not because their products are so excellent, but because they will always make luxury versions of existing products. But the market share of LVMH will never be large, exactly because they are producing only luxury products.

    I see this as a repeat of the early Mac history, where Mac users were eternally frustrated by the way Apple refused to make obvious improvements to create a better product and a bigger market (eg, a 4MB Mac in the 1980s, or at least an expansion port for memory).

  212. Apple has taken the design *decision* that 3.5 inches is the right size for a smartphone. Android manufacturers are obviously obsessed with making their screens larger and larger. It has become a joke. But I don’t think it has come as a result of any well-thought-out design process. It is the result of simply trying to find some way to differentiate their handsets. ‘Bigger is better’ is what they are thinking.

    Now you’re talking screen size.

    In my opinion they are completely wrong. I want my phone to sit comfortably in the palm of my hand and be controllable with only the thumb of that hand. 3.5 inches is perfect for that.

    Now you’re talking handset.

    You are making a major error. You are conflating two different things here- the size of the screen, and the size of the phone itself (handset, chassis, whatever you want to call it). The ratio between the two is not necessary fixed, except in the Apple world, which is my whole point. So long as the handset is properly sized for your hands and your preferred usage, bigger screen is better- no question.

    The iPhone is sized according to Apple’s determination of what will work best for its customers. That’s fine. The screen size they decided on (3.5″) seems to be about the best they could fit into that size handset in 2007. What for the time, was GREAT. Not so much now.

    Say it’s due to the crudity of the original design all you like, but http://phone-size.com/?s=100%2C35 this shows you the sort of form factor evolution (improvement) that the Android world is used to. From G1 to G2 you get slightly wider, very slightly taller, *noticeably* thinner, and the difference in screens is spectacular. Not just the greater resolution/ppi, but the extra size makes a great difference in the quality of the user experience. Whereas with Apple, http://phone-size.com/?s=43%2C4%2C1 this is the evolution in form factor you get. They could do better. (Yes, the extra ppi is very pretty, but they don’t DO anything with it. Yes there are other tradeoffs involved, but still.)

  213. Can you point me to a better designed Android phone? Seriously, I want to see it.

    Try the HTC Sensation. *shrug* It’s been out a while. Or the HTC One X and S, depending on whether you prefer a 4.3″ screen or something larger.

    I think they could probably squeeze out a bit of a larger screen in the current form factor, and good chance they will in iPhone 5. But you have to realize the iPhone is mostly battery. They are cramming a ton of stuff int here and didn’t want a larger device. This notion that the chin/forehead is “preposterously large” is silly. Android phones have a similar layout, and have since they first copied the iPhone’s design. Take a look at the latest flagship: http://www.google.com/nexus/

    Your example has me laughing. You kind of walked into something. Remember I mentioned being in a discussion in another forum? Well I was in that discussion on the side that was bashing the GN. See, there were these ‘ICS/GN/anything-that-doesn’t-use-onscreen-buttons-is-archaic-now’ fanboys, claiming the onscreen buttons give you more usable screen (indirectly they CAN by potentially allowing better packaging, but directly it’s just the opposite) and others of us were pointing out that the GN ia the worst of both worlds, it has this giant useless chin AND loses usable screen area to onscreen buttons. We found the HTC Rezound far superior in comparison, capacitative buttons and all, proven with pictures.

    As for “copying the iPhone’s design”, don’t make me laugh.

  214. If I were running Microsoft, this would be the place I’d dump lots of $$$. It’s a long shot, but if you could sell a full-function WinPhone that could also run desktop Windows and Office just by attaching a keyboard, mouse and monitor…well, I can see a market for that. Certainly it would have much more potential than a WinPhone that’s just a poor imitation of an iOS or Android phone.

    This would certainly help to explain some things about Windows 8.

  215. Cheaper will always find some market, but it doesn’t always win, or we’d all be getting by with Swanson frozen dinners and wearing secondhand clothes.

    Starting to get a little off topic but the fact that you don’t know what a vintage clothing store is, explains a LOT. To me, anyway. Hint: it’s where people go to pay metric buttloads of money for used clothing. The uglier and more dated the better.

    There’s a cultural aspect to this whole thing that everyone seems to get but you. And it’s not simply about more or less money.

  216. Winter, I don’t see this as a repeat of early Mac history at all. Apple is making regular improvements, and users don’t seem terribly frustrated.

    As for Apple as luxury goods: clearly less true over time. Anything sold by the scores of millions doesn’t seem like a exclusive luxury item to me, and Android phones and tablets of similar specs sell for similar amounts of money.

  217. @papayaSF
    Frustration?
    How many years did it take before you could download a file directly into an iOS device?

  218. I don’t know, I’ve never needed to download a file directly into an iOS device.

  219. The rumor mill is all abuzz that Google and Asus are collaborating on a 7″ tablet. If true, this could be awesome. Might even be the nudge I need to actually buy a tablet.

  220. @PapayaSF
    Disingeneous. But many people did want to break the link between iTunes on that one special computer and their iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

  221. I wonder how much of Android’s success is due to the screens being bigger and shinier than iPhone. (The iPhone screen has been stuck at 3.5″ for some time while Android is available above 4.5″).

    Most people’s buying decisions are very simplistic after all.

  222. @Patrick Maupin:

    I used to work for a company that was “buddies” with Apple. That company is no more.

    That wouldn’t be Applied Engineering, now would it? If so, you just added several points to your “cool factor” in my book. :)

  223. @Cathy:
    >If I were running Microsoft, this would be the place I’d dump lots of $$$. It’s a long shot, but if you could sell a full-function WinPhone that could also run desktop Windows and Office just by attaching a keyboard, mouse and monitor…well, I can see a market for that. Certainly it would have much more potential than a WinPhone that’s just a poor imitation of an iOS or Android phone.

    I think this is what they’re *trying* with Metro. But from what I’ve read, they’re trying to find a compromise interface that will work with both touchscreen and WIMP, and the things I’ve heard about how the interface will work suggest to me that it will be significantly less usable from the WIMP perspective than their current interface. So I’m wavering between fear that they’ll manage to pull it off and extend their PC dominance into the smartphone market, and delight that they might well not manage to pull it off, and that Win8 may be their biggest flop ever.

  224. @Patrick
    I read a column in the newspaper today claiming the wrong, hillbilly, people are cueing up for Apple. A sure sign they are becoming uncool.

  225. @Greg (my request for an example of a better design than iphone)
    “Try the HTC Sensation.”

    I said *better*, not worse. But I guess it comes down to taste. I like metal and glass and a real button. You like plastic and being reminded every time you look at your phone that it’s HTC and TMobile (in case you forgot).

  226. I said *better*, not worse. But I guess it comes down to taste. I like metal and glass and a real button. You like plastic and being reminded every time you look at your phone that it’s HTC and TMobile (in case you forgot).

    Snobbery fail…. a real button. Tee hee.

    Seriously, you need to get out more. Logos are what they are (your precious has one too, in case you forgot it was from Apple). HTC did a good job with that model in putting a nice screen in a well-sized package. They also have a well-deserved reputation for, if anything, overbuilding their phones (structurally speaking). If you like cheap-feeling plastic and flimsy things that flex, there’s always Samsung. They (HTC) also have some nice metal unibody phones, for people who care about that sort of thing. And none of them shatter! I like phones that don’t shatter.

  227. @Maupin

    “Apparently, Apple’s worried the lines for the new iPad won’t be long enough, so they have a fix for that:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/10/us-apple-ipad-idUSBRE8290EJ20120310

    Seriously? For starters, the article is incorrect/incomplete. If you order an iPad online today, yeah the ship date is currently March 19th. But that’s not because they’re trying to make the lines long, it’s a result of SELLING TOO MANY. I ordered mine on 3/8 and my arrival date is 3/16.

    You’re so blind in your hatred of Apple that you can’t see the forest for the trees. The iPad is so popular that the online Apple Store was hammered when the new iPad was announced. It’s so popular, that people are ordering it sight unseen, and of COURSE it’s not going to be able to ship all of the orders by the 16th. Obviously, as time passes, the ship date for new orders will have to be moved further into the future…

    So much cognitive dissonance.

  228. And the eWeek article is just as much linkbait. Other than the iPhone, Apple doesn’t iterate most of products; you have the iPod, the Mac Pro, the Apple TV, the Mac mini, the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac etc. The idea that this implies that future updates will only be software based is just stupid. Another in a long list of stupid commentary by analysts who have no clue about what makes Apple tick, but need to get paid for either links or consulting fees.

  229. >Except that Windows 8 can’t run x86 apps on ARM.

    Granted. If they’re smart, though, they’ll compile Office for ARM and push for docking capabilities on Win8 phones. I have no idea if they plan to do that. But whatever their actual plans are, Metro seems to be an attempt to leverage their dominance in the PC market to get Windows to take off in the mobile market by blurring the lines between the two. Whether it’s a workable strategy for doing so, and whether they’re doing other things that need to be done to make it work, is another question, to which I think the answer is “no”, based on what I’ve seen so far. The possibility that it could be “yes” still scares me a bit.

  230. @Patrick

    Patrick says- “Apparently, Apple’s worried the lines for the new iPad won’t be long enough, so they have a fix for that:”

    Not sure what you are implying here? I believe what has happened is they have “sold out” the iPads which will be available for a March 16th delivery date. Apparently the next available ship date is the 19th. The Reuters article you linked to sure makes it sound like Apple “moved” the shipping date from the 16th to the 19th.

    They certainly don’t have any data showing an original ship day of the 16th being moved to the 19th. I think maybe Reuters ‘duped you’.

  231. “Apple is a marketing miracle in their ability to create new mass markets for existing products.”

    oh here we go…

    ” The Xerox Star was trail blazing, the MacIntosh was just the first mass market product that was able to cash in on that idea.”

    you make it sound like all Apple did was to take the Star, put a coat of paint on it, put out a couple of tv commercials and voilá! The Macintosh was born.

    ” Palm and Blackberry blazed the trail in Smartphones. The iPhone was just able to steal their thunder with a better design.”

    how sneaky of them! all they do is this “better design” stuff which is the easy part!

    “Tablets have been around for years”

    and yet, we had to wait for Apple for them to sell by the tens of millions. probably because of the commercials, right?

    ” Not because their products are so excellent, but because they will always make luxury versions of existing products.”

    when was the last time you looked at the prize differentials?

    either we have wildly divergent definitions for “marketing” and “luxury” or you have some sort of apple derangement syndrome

  232. @Argosy:

    Not sure what you are implying here?

    Oh, you must be new. I’ll come out and state it: Apple theater requires long lines at all costs. Preferably online as well as in the real world.

    I believe what has happened is they have “sold out” the iPads which will be available for a March 16th delivery date.

    If they were sold out, then there wouldn’t be any available in the stores on the 16th, now would there? (Or are you implying that Apple’s logistics aren’t good enough to redirect shipments?) Much better to have both long store lines (with actual products at the end for some comers) and lots of news articles about how preorders are sold out, to whip even more people up into a frenzy to go stand in line.

    I think maybe Reuters ‘duped you’.

    And I think maybe you’re an ignorant slut.

  233. Hmm, apparently calling somebody an ignorant slut causes moderation problems.

  234. Reuters is being dumb. I ordered my new iPad on Wednesday; it’s still showing as shipping soon with delivery March 16th. A friend of mine ordered one at the same time; it’s already shipped.

    (No, actually. This is the first time ever I’ve ordered or bought an Apple product on the first day it was available. I wouldn’t swear to it in a court of law, but I think this might be the first time I’ve bought an Apple product within the first two months it was available.)

    Patrick’s pretty smart; I expect he knew that and he’s just trolling.

  235. The tl;dr version of my comment that’s stuck in moderation is that practically any other company would redirect units slated for stores to preorders, and it’s impossible to believe that Apple has less than world-class logistics, so it’s pretty fucking obvious they want both the publicity of being sold out on preorders and of long lines on opening day. It’s just a bonus that the former helps stoke the latter.

  236. @ Patrick

    If they redirected store sales to pre-orders, they’d still be sold out of pre-orders and still have long lines (of now pissed off customers) on opening day. And of course, that would be followed up by accusations that they deliberately shorted the store sales into pre-orders so that they could manufacture the long lines.

  237. @tmoney:

    If they just told everybody to stay home, there wouldn’t be an issue, at least in the US or Western Europe.

    Seriously, Apple pioneered the concept of creating lots of demand and then filling it. They got a bit behind on the iPhone 4, but in general news of Apple not having enough stuff is just PR designed to make people want it more.

    Having said that, they may actually have a problem here if the rumors are true that 2 out of their 3 screen manufacturers aren’t really on-line yet. But having said that, what was the rush to announce the product and then get it out the door? Creditors pounding at the door? Behind on accounts payable? Sheesh. We know they’re willing to delay past what the public “expects” of them — look at the 4S rollout.

    If any company stands a chance of controlling their own destiny in the short term, it’s Apple. Jobs was masterful at playing this. It will be interesting to see if this is more of the same, or really is caused by a shortage somewhere.

  238. Back in the Bad Old Days of the ’90s, Apple regularly came out with new products they could not make enough of. The shortages really hurt them. I have a hard time imagining that they are intentionally engineering shortages now. They get plenty of media coverage for anything they release with artificially restricting supplies. (Because they have very few models, and each one is notable and successful.) But shortages will happen when you have “luxury” products that millions rush to buy….

  239. @PapayaSF:

    If it really is AT&T corporate policy to diss the iPhone, it’s all about the money. Whether it’s because of Apple contracts that don’t allow them to sell the phones for more, simple competitive marketing that doesn’t allow them to sell the phones for more, or the ability of LTE to generate more revenue, it’s all about the money.

    And it just goes to show that when all your enemies (well, most of your enemies) have the same weapons you do, the weapon value is greatly reduced.

  240. @PapayaSF:

    > I have a hard time imagining that they are intentionally engineering shortages now.

    I never said or implied that they were intentionally engineering shortages. Pay attention.

  241. To be clear, my thesis is that:

    a) if Apple has true shortages then it is (as you imply) a fuck up, but one that is of their own making.

    b) If they don’t have true shortages then they are doing what they have done a lot of recently — engineering the appearance of shortages. Which is not at all the same thing as engineering a shortage.

    c) We should be able to tell in a few weeks which one it was.

  242. @wlad
    “either we have wildly divergent definitions for “marketing” and “luxury” or you have some sort of apple derangement syndrome”

    No, it is your own “derangement”. I was praising Apple for bringing technology to the masses (Good!) but criticizing fanboys (and Apple marketing) for pretending these were all due to Apple technical genius (Bad!).

    There was quite a level of technical wizzardy involved in getting Apple’s integrated products like the Mac or the iPhod Touch, on the market for a reasonable price. But Apple did not invent the personal computer, WIMP interface, nor the Smartphone.

    And Apple never produced for the people from the shanty towns. MS and Nokia did. Google tries to do it now. They always produced luxury goods for the well off and “Cool” people. Not for the LVMH crowd, but pretty well off Apple’s customers are.

  243. @ Patrick

    >Seriously, Apple pioneered the concept of creating lots of demand and then filling it. They
    >got a bit behind on the iPhone 4, but in general news of Apple not having enough stuff
    >is just PR designed to make people want it more.

    Clearly you (which I expect, this isn’t slight) nor the reporter in your original article has followed Apple pre-sale / online sales of any previous product announcements. It was a regular occurrence during my time at Apple that when a new product was launched, the estimated arrival dates would push back for new pre-orders as orders came in. It should not be at all expected for anyone that’s followed this before that current iPad online orders are now showing later ship dates. Apple’s policy (to me, obviously I was never privy to the actual decisions) was to always make sure that there was a steady (if constrained supply) in the retail channels, even if that meant some delays in the online channels.

    And to be honest, that’s not an unreasonable thing to decide to do. The few times we didn’t have any stock of new product, we usually had a lot of pissed off customers. People still like to get their hands on the products they buy as quickly as they can. I’d also suspect that they get a lot more secondary sales from retail visits than they do online. And really, why should they treat their retail sales channels as the red headed step child? That was explicitly what they were trying to avoid when they launched the retail stores. They wanted the stores to be as much a place you would go to buy a mac as their online site, and for the most part they have succeeded.

  244. @tmoney:

    Clearly you (which I expect, this isn’t slight) nor the reporter in your original article has followed Apple pre-sale / online sales of any previous product announcements. It was a regular occurrence during my time at Apple that when a new product was launched, the estimated arrival dates would push back for new pre-orders as orders came in.

    Clearly, in thinking that I wasn’t paying attention before, you’re not paying attention to what I’m saying. Yes, they’re doing the same thing as always.

    It should not be at all expected for anyone that’s followed this before that current iPad online orders are now showing later ship dates.

    Did I act at all surprised about this?

    Apple’s policy (to me, obviously I was never privy to the actual decisions) was to always make sure that there was a steady (if constrained supply) in the retail channels, even if that meant some delays in the online channels.

    Which is more than reasonable. But everybody keeps explaining over and over how Apple has this whole thing down. Which I absolutely believe. And they have the tools to cope. They don’t have to release to umpteen gazillion countries simultaneously. Nobody except them pushed them into a March 16th date. Etc.

    You can’t deny that the perception of shortages gives them more press. You can’t deny that Jobs was a master at generating and using press coverage. The question is whether or not you can connect the dots and realize that Apple always attempts to have at least a perception of shortages?

  245. Of course apple wants lines. Why deny it? Its good business.

    They want the publicity, they want the perception of a hot new device that everyone wants.

    They probably will have a legit shortage of devices for a while, but I can’t imagine they mind all the publicity when people line up around the block

  246. But lately, the wrong people are standing in the lines. At least here in the Netherlands, there are reports of “uncool” people waiting for a new iPad.

    I do not mind at all. But the papers are ruining the marketing about it.

  247. You can’t deny that the perception of shortages gives them more press. You can’t deny that Jobs was a master at generating and using press coverage. The question is whether or not you can connect the dots and realize that Apple always attempts to have at least a perception of shortages?

    I believe the word you’re looking for is “rationing”.

    Everyone, everywhere seems to be in agreement that Apple is a master of logistics and supply chain management. Apple also gets praise for how well it manages product introductions, they don’t rush anything, they’re wise enough to stockpile product before launch, etc, etc. So how can people who praise Apple’s prescient wisdom on one hand then deny that these so-called shortages look like carefully stage-managed product rationing with the other?

    Mind you, I’m not making any moral judgments w.r.t Apple’s behavior. It’s clever as hell, works the press like a rented mule, etc. But for fans to both praise Apple’s brilliance *and* point to these ‘shortages’ as something meaningful (even on a product that turned out to not meet expectations, like iPhone 4) seems a bit dishonest. And people really should be catching on to the trick by now…

  248. Jeez, Winter, would you drop the crap about “cool” and “fashionable” and “trendy”? Apple is now a mass-marketer. There are far fewer cool people in the world than there are Apple customers, so by definition most of their sales are to the uncool. Sure, Apple has refined designs and top-notch marketing, and they don’t (yet) have the shantytown market that you want for Android, but they are not “ruined” if the uncool buy their products.

  249. @PapayaSF
    Sorry, but that is how the papers, radio, and news portrait Apple products. And Apple ads are still of the be different kind.

  250. For heaven’s sake, I hope you don’t normally judge technology based on how the news media portrays it! Do you go by how the news media portrays Linux?

    And Apple long ago dropped the “Think Different” campaign. Their ads are now more of the “this is amazing” sort, if that: the iPad 2 billboards around San Francisco just say “iPad 2″ with a picture.

  251. @PapayaSF
    I am not in California. And I am talking about the people around me. Just observing.

  252. @Patrick Maupin @tmoney

    You can’t deny that the perception of shortages gives them more press. You can’t deny that Jobs was a master at generating and using press coverage. The question is whether or not you can connect the dots and realize that Apple always attempts to have at least a perception of shortages?

    Why does it even matter? So, Apple likes to at least apppear to have shortages. They took a tactic from Sony’s playbook. So what? Creating the appearance of artificial demand allows them to charge more money and milk the press. Of course, it’ll only work for so long. Eventually it will backfire on them.

  253. @Morgan Greywolf:

    It doesn’t matter, except for the reason Greg pointed out. And it seems to have been working for years now, so I’m not sure your conclusion follows.

  254. It’s worth noting that the makers of the iOS game Battleheart recently announced that they would drop Android support. Why? The same damn reasons us “fanbois” have been harping about for years now. Android is too fragmented, making support a nightmare, and it’s difficult for devs to make money on the platform.

    Don’t be naïve. Apple’s “locked down” platform strategy is much friendlier to developers. Android’s “open architecture” is a sop to the carriers and handset makers — nothing more. Google doesn’t give a shit about its user or developer base, and until it massively changes its syripes, all the excitemrnt un the mobile development space will be on iOS.

  255. Of course, it doesn’t work as well everywhere. Apparently they take their shortages so seriously in China that Apple doesn’t sell iPhones in their stores there any more:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-11/iphone-fails-to-gain-china-share-as-samsung-lead-triples-tech.html

    I wondered why new Samsung devices never seem to show up very quickly in the US. This article might partly explain that — while HTC, LG, ZTE, and Motorola are busy duking it out over leftovers in a highly subsidized market where Apple has a really high penetration, Samsung’s busy trying to take over the rest of the world, in markets where the main competition consists of the remnants of Nokia’s carcass.

    It makes good sense. They can wean people off of Symbian, to either Bada or Android, and stand a chance of keeping them. Other manufacturers are busy keeping Apple at bay in the states, so expending too much energy here won’t help that much in either growing Samsung global market share, or even growing Android global market share, which I would assume Samsung considers important, because it helps to contain Apple by keeping more users in a Samsung-friendly ecosystem.

    The article claims that China’s smartphone market is expected to surpass the US market this year.

  256. “I wonder how/why Android went from 80% of iOS revenue for them to less than 5% of total revenue?”

    Simple. The Android app wasn’t achieving 80% of the iOS app over the entire history of the app or a comparable timeframe from its release, it was doing so a few weeks after launch, when Battleheart was in the Top 50 downloads versus the iOS app that had already been on the market for 5-6 months and had slipped from even the Top 200 downloads.

    Comparing like-for-like time periods, the first month after launch, the iOS version outperformed the Android version by a factor of 20 — which is remarkably close to their estimated 5% of annual revenue.

    http://mikamobile.blogspot.com/2011/06/android.html

  257. I was just at SXSW in the Google Dev House located inI cenhauer at #83 Rainy Street. Google was sponsoring a free Mindstorms NXT build event/contest to compete for a free Google G Slate tablet.

    Rules this year were that you had to bring an Android device to run the Mindstorns app.

    Everyone I saw, including the LEGO and Google reps had an iPhone 4. Only the required Android devices were within view.

    Down the street, RIM had a “come in and port your Android app to the Playbook in an hour” sign in front of a different house. The lot was empty, except for the Austin POs standing guard. No takers at the RIM house. Sad, really.

    Say what you wish, I know what I saw.

  258. @Winter

    But lately, the wrong people are standing in the lines. At least here in the Netherlands, there are reports of “uncool” people waiting for a new iPad.

    I do not mind at all. But the papers are ruining the marketing about it.

    Apple’s marketing has nothing to do with their products being ‘cool’. Their marketing is about their products being great.

  259. Apple’s marketing has nothing to do with their products being ‘cool’. Their marketing is about their products being great.

    For example, here is Apple’s new TV ad for the iPad:

    http://www.apple.com/ipad/#ad

    From start to finish it is about nothing other than how great the screen is. This is typical.

  260. @Tim F.:

    Comparing like-for-like time periods, the first month after launch, the iOS version outperformed the Android version by a factor of 20 — which is remarkably close to their estimated 5% of annual revenue.

    Except it doesn’t sound like that’s a real comparable either:

    2) Battleheart on iOS had a MUCH stronger first couple of months due to prominent featuring by Apple, and since that initial rush has had a steady decline in sales.

    Not every app will get this, and apparently the Android app didn’t. Kind of muddies the issue.

  261. Sure, it is. Battleheart was featured on the Tablet segment of Android Market as Mika Mobile was writing the post in June. And why are we discounting a platforms ability to market worthy apps when discussing a platform’s attractiveness to developers? And do you honestly think the success of Zombieville (2 years earlier) and Battleheart (6 months earlier) on iOS didn’t actually act as free promotion for the Android version? For the first month, it did 1/20th of what it did on iOS. Six months after launching on iOS and falling off the Top 200 Games board, it was only doing 80% of the performance that the iOS version was currently doing, even though it was the peak for its reception on Android, even though it too was featured by the Market. Six plus months later, Android only accounts for 5% of Mika Mobile’s annual revenue and iOS accounts for 95%. That sounds to me like Android was pretty consistently at approx. 5% of Mika Mobile’s revenue versus 95% for iOS.

  262. “Tablet segment of Android Market”

    You crack me up. That’ll be meaningful within a year or two, but not last summer.

    “And why are we discounting a platforms ability to market worthy apps when discussing a platform’s attractiveness to developers?”

    Do you live in Lake Woebegone where all the apps are above average? In the real world, most app developers struggle on any platform. Even the good ones.

    “And do you honestly think the success of Zombieville (2 years earlier) and Battleheart (6 months earlier) on iOS didn’t actually act as free promotion for the Android version?”

    Umm, yeah, sure. Android people knowledgeable enough to know about Zombieville knew it was over two years old by the time it got ported. That’s good advertising. Shows how the developer values the platform and all.

  263. “That’ll be meaningful within a year or two, but not last summer.”

    Isn’t that part of the point? Even with promotion, the Android community isn’t as developed so the customer support isn’t there? (I’m not arguing that the two platforms are equal after all; I’m arguing that one is actually more costly than it’s worth developing for.

    “Do you live in Lake Woebegone where all the apps are above average? In the real world, most app developers struggle on any platform. Even the good ones.”

    And? So what? Are you advocating such an entitlement culture that every app ever made, good or bad, deserves promotion for a week? I could care less if a bad app doesn’t do well. I care that a quality app, that is thoroughly covered and well reviewed, still can’t reach a viable market.

    “Umm, yeah, sure. Android people knowledgeable enough to know about Zombieville knew it was over two years old by the time it got ported.”

    More like: every single Phandroid web site, particularly those reviewing games, is very much aware of the quality games that aren’t on Android and absolutely do cover their arrival on the platform. Yes, Zombieville and Battleheart were highly anticipated and thoroughly covered by Phandroid sites. Based on almost three years of Mika Design’s iOS reputation (free promotion).

    It is perfectly legitimate to say that all small/independent/garage developers will not be able to support cross-platform dependent apps/games. It’s perfectly legitimate to say that some developers will succeed on both platforms or have greater success on one or the other platform. It’s not legitimate to say that Mika Mobile’s different experience on each platform aren’t comparable in terms of platform desirability, or that his criticisms of Android development and the Android and Amazon marketplaces aren’t valid.

  264. Isn’t that part of the point?

    Not at all. The game works on phones and tablets. “Android TABLET market” != “Android Market.” But you knew that.

    And? So what? Are you advocating such an entitlement culture that every app ever made, good or bad, deserves promotion for a week?

    So are you trolling or stupid?

  265. The point is: a developer finds it completely useless to develop for Android because it is more resource intensive and yields less revenue. This is relevant to the issue of whether or not a larger user base inherently means greater network effects. Several of us argue that it does not.

    Lack of promotion, lack of tablet success ARE factors in platform success or the lack there of. They aren’t excuses; they are negatives! No shit, Google doesn’t do a good job promoting quality apps; no shit Google isn’t creating a successful tablet platform. This is part of the point. For some reason, you think this is an excuse that disqualities the example. It’s not, it’s part of the example.

  266. Arguing that something was featured in a market that at the time addressed a very small user base and that being thus featured didn’t do much for sales, is a weak way to claim that a large user base doesn’t necessarily yield greater network effects.

  267. The point is: a developer finds it completely useless to develop for Android because it is more
    resource intensive and yields less revenue.

    And that’s a great anecdote. Google should certainly take note of that and try to figure out how relevant to the growth of the google platform the fact that the development path chosen by this vendor for the product created by this vendor didn’t work for the vendor is.

    This is relevant to the issue of whether or not a larger user base inherently means greater network effects. Several of us argue that it does not.

    Certainly any group of users is composed of subgroups, some of which are not interesting to some vendors. Divisions can include things like language, country, OS version and device, although for a lot of apps, apparently OS version and device aren’t that difficult.

    Lack of promotion, lack of tablet success ARE factors in platform success or the lack there of.

    You can’t promote every single app. Not possible. We really don’t live in Lake Woebegone. You’re the one arguing that this particular app was practically self-promoting. To the extent that’s true, then it was also promoting Android and the loss of the app on Android is a loss for the Android platform, albeit, I would wager, a small one. Fortunately, there are enough independent Android developers at this point who have their own experiences and can make their own decisions that this news item itself won’t materially affect the platform much (unlike, say, if it came out while Android was still struggling). If the anecdote is representative, then of course the anecdote is the canary in the coal mine, and the underlying issues might eventually cause loss of market share.

    They aren’t excuses; they are negatives! No shit, Google doesn’t do a good job promoting quality apps;

    Sounds like they’re not distorting the playing field to me. Why is it their job to pick winners and losers?

    no shit Google isn’t creating a successful tablet platform.

    Yeah, because there’s no money writing for phones.

    This is part of the point. For some reason, you think this is an excuse that disqualities the example. It’s not, it’s part of the example.

    For some reason you think the example is dispositive, even though we don’t have much real information on the example. But if, for example, Rovio were to drop Android, I’d agree Android has serious issues.

  268. @Patrick

    You post:
    Apparently, Apple’s worried the lines for the new iPad won’t be long enough, so they have a fix for that:

    and a link to a Reuters article which alludes to Apple moving ALL pre-order ship dates out a couple of days, when it is simply orders placed on that day looking forward. You were either duped or trying to dupe others. You’re smarter than that. Certainly the audience here is smarter than that.

    There is no disagreement on these two ideas: ‘demand begets more demand’ and ‘any manufacturer would love long “lines” of people seeking out their product’. But, do you truly believe a company spends significant time and resources on this type of ‘theater …… at all costs’? There are better ways to ‘whip even more people up into a frenzy to go stand in line’ than actively creating the need to wait and wait to buy a product!

    This tired idea gets tossed out every time some consumer electronics company has ‘shortages’. Didn’t Nintendo have trouble meeting demand for the Wii for almost a year (or two)?! Was that ‘theater’? Do you think Nintendo seriously would have loved to push the ‘easy button’ and double/triple production overnight? Wouldn’t an even better way to promote a product in a competitive market is to actually make it available and easy for every one to purchase! Not make them wait and wait. Engineering the perception of scarcity works for things like the diamond industry, not so much in the competitive consumer goods market.

    Look at Google, they aren’t stupid. They can’t really create the ‘theater’ of OEMs waiting in line to put Android on their phones, so Andy Rubin periodically tweets, ‘hey we’re activating 550K…700K…800K devices a day’. Smart! ‘hey we’re still selling a lot of this Android thing, maybe you should check it out…..’

    What alternative would you suggest? They meet initial demand AT ANY COST? If you want to corner some one into saying ‘they fucked up’ and it’s Apple’s own fault that’s fine. I think most posters here are intelligent enough to realize no company has a crystal ball. Some production decisions are made a year in advance if not more. As far as I know even the mighty Apple doesn’t have an iTime machine (not to be confused with there back-up feature ;v) at it’s disposal to make sure their suppliers have adequate facilities.

    (Or are you implying that Apple’s logistics aren’t good enough to redirect shipments?)
    No, I am not implying Apple logistics isn’t sophisticated enough to re-direct shipments from their stores to fulfill online orders. Why would they do that? As others have already pointed out there are great business reasons to allocate a finite number of products in the way they do. Has Apple ever engineered the perception of shortages with the AppleTV, iPod Touch, iMacs, etc.? None that I recall. Apparently, Apple doesn’t agree with your assertion that ‘Apple theater requires long lines at all costs’.

    Framing this as either ‘theater’ or ‘they fucked up’ smells of axe grinding. You seem smart enough to realize this ‘theater’ would be ridiculous. Making me think you wouldn’t employ same theater if it were your company. Yet you seem to think big companies like Apple (or Nintendo) do this as part of their ongoing marketing strategy. In some ways I agree with you, I’m sure they work the silver lining of free publicity of the dark cloud that is demand outstripping supply. Where I guess we disagree is that the dark cloud (real or perceived) is some how manufactured to get that silver lining. I would think even better theater would be to simply have a press release about how many ‘tens of millions of product ‘X’ you sold in a week OOOooo’ or maybe ‘we’re breaking sales records Oooo’.

    Is that it ‘ignorant slut’ ? At least I’m gettin some ;v)

    By the way,

    ‘Hmm, apparently calling somebody an ignorant slut causes moderation problems.’
    Apparently not, it does however call into consideration maturity level.

    Cheers – Argosy

  269. @PapayaSF

    Come on, counterculture types do their own cultural signaling with their phones. You’re doing it here. ;->

    Actually, I bought an Android because I had a chance to look at one a coworker had and I didn’t have to switch carriers. Plus I was hesitant to lock myself into Apple products.

    Part of my job as a concert promoter was to go into clubs, bars, and concerts and figure out what type of music people were into, how they related to music in their life, and who the opinion leaders were in a group. Discovering how people followed cultural trends and who the opinion leaders were important aspects of knowing whom to buy drinks for and how to advertise for shows. I don’t promote concerts now, but I’m still good at figuring out how people relate to technology and pop culture. When iPhone first came out, a lot of first movers latched onto it. That’s why I was surprised to see about a year and a half ago that Android was increasingly adopted by people I ran into at shows.

    I have an iPhone because I’ve been a Mac user since 1986. Their design philosophy fits with mine. I know what they do, on very subtle levels, that has always made them better than their competitors. I am not being trendy, or a follower.

    I never said you were follower. Because other comments by you or other Apple fanboys dismissed “geeks and the poor” as relevant groups, I deliberately did not mention the third category of users who are people willing to pay extra for the Apple design philosophy. I grew up using Macs, maybe a year or two later than you did. I started with the Mac Plus and continued using a PowerPC when I first went to college. I only stopped using Mac when I had to buy a computer with my own money. As much as I enjoyed Macs, I have to admit that even then I noticed that my friends with Intel machines could do more than I could. The reason I went with a wintel for my first computer that I purchased myself is because dollar for dollar, the wintel machine’s performance won hand down.

    That’s why I don’t buy into the whole vaunted Apple design. They have some great features, but they fail at the overall customer value. Yes, I could have continued to buy Macs, but it would have cost double the price for a similar Wintel model. Plus the hardware is not standard and there isn’t the diversity of programs. Maybe all of that’s changed with the new OS X. I’ve only started to use OS X because I work in a mac shop, but nothing I’ve seen so far would convince me to spend extra money just to get a Mac. Take the Magic Mouse. I love slinging those windows around in Safari. It’s a nice feature that makes me more productive, except that I have to fight the lack of basic features (such as duplicate tabs or even having tabs as default) that other browsers have. Unfortunately the Magic Mouse sucks at the basic mouse function of moving my cursor around the screen when I use the ergonomic mouse pad at work, even though I have the mouse speed at the highest setting.

    “Good enough” works both ways: many people don’t care about Android’s advantages, and find iPhones good enough in those areas.

    Maybe, but are they willing to pay more just to have iPhone “good enough”? “Good enough” is only an advantage if the price is lower. We won’t know until we see how people respond. So far, Android seems to be doing well. Will that hold up? Only time will tell. But we already see the similar phenomenon of what happened with Windows vs Macs. After at time, the choice for consumer is to spend more money on Apple machines for similarly powered machines.

    I’m just saying that iOS’s virtues (including tight integration with excellent hardware) will prevent the “catastrophic collapse” predicted in these parts.

    The vaunted “integration” promoted by Apple and pundits just means that you need to pay more money for extra hardware to get the true value of the iPhone. As the sales figures point out, it may be a nice feature but it’s not going to convince the masses to buy iPhones. When I bought my Android, I didn’t even know that I needed iTunes to sync an iPhone. Now that I know that, I’m glad I didn’t get an iPhone because iTunes is such a bloated piece of software on my Windows machine that I dreaded using it since it took forever to start.

    Plus, OS X and iOS will integrate with iCloud for a self-reinforcing halo effect, something else Android doesn’t have.

    It’s comments like this that tells me that you really don’t know what it’s like to use an Android and that you missed my second big point in my original comment. Almost nobody has extensive experience using both Android and iPhone so everyone talks past each other. Google is a cloud company and Android was built to integrate with whatever cloud service you use. The calendar integrates with Google Calendar and Facebook Calendar seamlessly. Email’s a no brainer. Contacts was always backed up by Google Contacts. Music or books, you can use whatever service you were already using. What exactly is this iCloud supposed to bring to the table to convince me to spend more money on worse hardware than I can get elsewhere? I’m glad that because I started working at a Mac shop that I can get my hands on an iPhone to see what I’m missing. But so far, nothing I’ve seen has convinced me that it’s better than my Epic 4G, which i sa high end Android, from a year and a half ago.

    Will Apple go into oblivion? So far they’ve been good at moving onto other markets when they’ve started losing in the old one. Maybe that trend will continue. But if you look at the smartphone market, the consumer can already get an Android that is at the right price and features for them at a better value than an iPhone and Apple is not winning the market.

  270. You were either duped or trying to dupe others.

    It’s this sort of comment that makes me label you an ignorant slut.

    This tired idea gets tossed out every time some consumer electronics company has ‘shortages’. Didn’t Nintendo have trouble meeting demand for the Wii for almost a year (or two)?!

    Completely irrelevant. Apple doesn’t want you to wait that long. They want to make the sale now. They want the appearance of shortages, not actual shortages. After you wait in line for a few hours, they want to be able to hand you a phone.

    What alternative would you suggest? They meet initial demand AT ANY COST?

    There are obviously a lot of ways around this. Samsung sells 4 times the number of smartphones in China as Apple. They’ve figured it out. I already listed others. Apple doesn’t have to roll out to a zillion countries simuntaneously. They don’t have to try to make a new product introduction such a big deal. The thing is, IT’S NOT A PROBLEM. IT’S WHAT APPLE WANTS. So obviously I don’t have to suggest anything. I just suggest, as does Greg, that we don’t be fooled by this.

    Framing this as either ‘theater’ or ‘they fucked up’ smells of axe grinding.

    Hey, someone else said it was a problem for them to have real shortages. I was just paraphrasing that. And if they don’t have real shortages, then it’s theater. How does that make this axe grinding?

    ‘Hmm, apparently calling somebody an ignorant slut causes moderation problems.’
    Apparently not, it does however call into consideration maturity level.

    Actually, my comment was stuck in the moderation queue for awhile. OFten, alluding to such causes esr to take a look in the queue and unflag a comment. I assume this happened here. As far as maturity levels, calling someone an ignorant slut is, IMO not as bad as claiming that they’ve been duped, or even worse, that they are trying to dupe. YMMV.

  271. I am not surprised that you see Android phones increasingly adopted. What would surprise me is if a significant proportion of those people had switched from iPhones.

    You can set Safari to have tabs as default, and have duplicate tabs.

    Do *all* Android phone integrate well with Google cloud services? I thought there were Chinese (and maybe other) versions that did not have Google services on them.

    Apple is not “winning” the smartphone market in terms of market share. They are winning in terms of revenue and profits, which is no small advantage. (E.g.: the iPhone now brings in more revenue than all of Microsoft.) Obviously neither trend will continue forever. What I’ve argued here is that Android has problems down the road that are as least as bad as Apple’s, and with fewer solutions to them that I can see, and that Android’s network effects are much weaker than some believe.

  272. “Certainly any group of users is composed of subgroups, some of which are not interesting to some vendors. Divisions can include things like language, country, OS version and device, although for a lot of apps, apparently OS version and device aren’t that difficult.”

    Sure, and we have evidence that a major subgroup is going to face substantial obstacles on Android in comparison to iOS: small, independent game developers. You know, one of the the largest, most revenue-generating subgroups of developers for mobile platforms.

    “You can’t promote every single app. Not possible. We really don’t live in Lake Woebegone. You’re the one arguing that this particular app was practically self-promoting.”

    Sure, you can’t promote every app, and I’m not suggesting you can. And, yes, this app was self-promoting and should have done better than 5% of total performance of his iOS apps performance if Android was a viable platform for indy games (remember, it was a top-rated, top-downloaded app on Android). But, yes, I do think it is a major failure on Google’s part not to promote a well-regarded and successful iOS developer who produced a string of 4 top selling and well-reviewed iOS apps over 3 years, decided to experiment on Android, wrote a hgh-profile and widely read blog post about the revenue potential on Android, and who had 2 top-rated and top downloaded app in the Android Market for 6 months. Or at least, should have done more than only promoting it within the Tablet section. Yes, that is a failure. When I do see the crappy games being Recommended on a daily basis, to f up with the Mika Mobile apps is a Google failure. As we are now seeing. They have lost a developer of quality games. Likely for good.

    “Fortunately, there are enough independent Android developers at this point who have their own experiences and can make their own decisions that this news item itself won’t materially affect the platform much (unlike, say, if it came out while Android was still struggling). ”

    You can dismiss is as anecdotel and claim that this isn’t a shared experience but all of his criticisms are real and valid: 1) The Android Market/Google Play produces more download errors and places support for these errors on the developer. 2) Google Checkout/Google Wallet produces more download/payment errors and places support for these errors on the developer. 3) The download cache issue is a significant problem for games and is exacerabated beyond Google’s own restrictions by individual devices that support even smaller download caches due to hardware choices; again, the developers are often left to troubleshoot/support this issue. 4) There is greater need to support individual devices/drivers to get basic GPU/gaming functionality. 5) Developers are forced to commit more resources or focus on a subset of the market. 5) The widest sold and most popular devices (Samsung, including Samsung Nexus devices particularly) tend to be the most problematic in regard to GPU driver support and the download cache issue — the implication being that you can’t even focus on the largest, most popular subset of Android devices because these are actually the most problematic.

    I’m not denying that some developers can’t make a better go of it than Mika Mobile did, but I am also saying that these technical issues are most certainly obstacles for all small, indy game developers.

    “Sounds like they’re not distorting the playing field to me. Why is it their job to pick winners and losers?”

    Yeah, somehow achieving 5% of the sales of the same app (again, a 4+ star reviewed app that was a top download for several weeks) on iOS is a good thing because they’re keeping a level playing field — but an iPad order backlog is bad for Apple and/or Apple .

    “Yeah, because there’s no money writing for phones.”

    Huh? How is this not just a deflection and an excuse? Because Mika Mobile didn’t just have a tablet app, and it didn’t see the phone version make up the deficit. Again, I do see it as Google’s failure not to promote a quality app written by a developer who was attempting to prove publicly that there was an opportunity to successfully make money on Android. If you want to somehow argue that if Google had only promoted it for the phone, it would have somehow made up the 90+% difference in revenue — well, that’s just laughable; again, it was a top download for several weeks.

    “For some reason you think the example is dispositive, even though we don’t have much real information on the example.”

    I only think its dispositive in regards to the technical issues enumerated above. And, yes, I think it’s a strong anecdote for the subclass of developers that are indy game developers. I also think that’s an important class of developers. Do I think Mika Mobile’s #s are necessarily prescriptive for all indy games? No. I don’t think the 95/5 ratio of platform revenue or the 20% time sunk on Android is necessarily the same for all game developers, but because of the technical issues they raise and the relative quality of their games versus the majority of Android games I have seen and played, I would think this is highly suggestive that without solutions to the technical problems enumerated, Android is an untenable platform for Indy game developers when compared to iOS.

    “But if, for example, Rovio were to drop Android, I’d agree Android has serious issues.”

    And I would argue that, although hundreds of indy game developers combined may never have the revenue of 1 Rovio, their fate as a whole counts for more than 1 large, heavily-financed, fluke of a startup.

  273. And I would argue that, although hundreds of indy game developers combined may never have the revenue of 1 Rovio, their fate as a whole counts for more than 1 large, heavily-financed, fluke of a startup.

    The real question is not if any particular group of talented people decide that Android is too difficult and decline to participate; the question is if all talented people decide that. I sincerely doubt that’s going to happen.

    Some people play the lottery. Some apps developers play the Android lottery. Some of them will win. It will be well-publicized. Some of them will fail. Some of those failures will be well-publicized, along with lots of arm-chair quarterbacking. But the question is: will this stop enough developers from playing the lottery that the quality of apps available declines enough that the average user notices and this starts to snowball into the Android platforming declining?

    I don’t see that happening. But google could surprise me and be clueless enough to not take care of the most important things.

  274. The lottery is an apt metaphor for development on Android.

    I have been and would still argue there is already a wide disparity between the quality of developers and apps so it’s not a question of a decline. It’s already a worse development platform with a smaller target user base (because it’s very resource intensive and a drag on adoption of new, useful APIs to fully target the entire Android user base).

    “But google could surprise me and be clueless enough to not take care of the most important things.”

    Again, Mika Mobile was promised a solution to the download cache and APK size issue — months later, their “solution” does not solve the problem. You have not addressed any of the technical issues raised. So as far as I can tell: Google is being clueless.

  275. Again, Mika Mobile was promised a solution to the download cache and APK size issue — months later, their “solution” does not solve the problem. You have not addressed any of the technical issues raised. So as far as I can tell: Google is being clueless.

    Just because there are technical issues (real or perceived) doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t good reason for them. If fixing the cache problem would cost, e.g., $0.20 per device and obsolete lots of old devices (even worse than they already are), why would Google do that? Especially when an enterprising developer could work around the limits, and a developer of a smaller app wouldn’t even notice them. It’s quite possibly a mistake born of a myopic engineering-centric viewpoint to think that a failure to fully satisfy the most ambitious developers (who should be the most technically savvy) is due to cluelessness.

  276. “If fixing the cache problem would cost, e.g., $0.20 per device and obsolete lots of old devices (even worse than they already are), why would Google do that?”

    The majority of Android devices are already fragmented or obsoleted so I don’t see why they wouldn’t. Moreover, Google doesn’t make devices so I don’t see why 20 cents would concern them when it comes to platform health.

    It’s quite possibly a mistake born of a myopic engineering-centric viewpoint to think that a failure to fully satisfy the most ambitious developers (who should be the most technically savvy) is due to cluelessness.

    I think it’s cluelessness AND myopic engineering to more heavily value user expansion of storage space over enclosed storage space without the proper technology to take advantage of that theoretically-added-by-the-user storage space in meaningful, useful ways for developers.

  277. I think google is agnostic about whether an Android device has lots of internal storage or a little internal storage and external storage, or even just a little internal storage.

    Could they think it through a bit better? Probably. Would the answer change all that much? Maybe not. Depends on what they’re optimizing for.

    My understanding is that you can download huge amounts of stuff. Just not all at once in the initial download. This is analogous to the boot sector problem. There are other similar problems. They are all easy to solve. Would it be more fun and maybe more productive to be doing other things? Sure. Would the cost per-’n’-devices to let ‘n/10000′ developers do such a thing be prohibitive? Perhaps, when you consider google’s ambitions to take over the world.

    There is no question that any limit always looks silly to some people, and 10 years from now will look silly to everybody, just like the infamous 640K limit. But without more insight into google’s tradeoffs, it’s hard for me to disagree with their decisions. Certainly, this developer example notwithstanding, they seem to be doing well in the marketplace for a company that is both clueless and myopically engineering stuff.

  278. “Perhaps, when you consider google’s ambitions to take over the world.”

    Ah, yes, I forgot. Worse than Google’s cluelessness and myopia on one technical issue is their general hubris and arrogance that they can be everything to everyone.

  279. All the discussion about whether Apple’s more tightly controlled ecosystem is better for developers is skipping an important question: *which* developers is it good for?

    It is obviously *not* good for one class of developers: Developers whose products Apple deems threatening (whether that’s threatening their user experience, their differentiation, their profits or something else). These, of course, aren’t usually small, independent developers – they are large visible ones. And those matter to a platform too.

    There have been two Android app releases where I clearly remember many iOS users visibly unhappy that they were missing out: Amazon Cloud Player and Chrome Beta. iOS has good alternatives for these apps, but they both have distinctive features that some iOS users want and are *never* going to get (unless Apple has a change of heart about their app store’s policies). And there are plenty of other apps that Apple won’t let iOS get. That has an impact on iOS as a platform.

    Along the same lines, it isn’t an accident that every prominent ebook vendor other than Apple makes an Android tablet (including Google once the Motorola acquisition closes). Ebook vendors are responsible for the two most successful Android tablets to date (Nook Color and Kindle Fire). That helps the greater Android ecosystem and, given that Apple is still a small player in the ebook market (and an even smaller player with respect to the ebook “installed base”), this is an issue for iOS. Ebook vendors are very likely to keep supporting iOS (at least as long as Apple will let them), but they are encouraging their customers to go in a different direction.

    I don’t know how big an advantage this will be for Android over time, but I suspect the impact of Apple’s policies on large developers will be a notable factor.

  280. unless Apple has a change of heart about their app store’s policies

    Which, as I’ve predicted around here before, is quite possible. That’s an example of an Apple problem that’s relatively easy for them to solve, should they decide it was a good idea to do so.

  281. @TimF
    All app development is a lottery. Not every app can be a success. Look at Zipf’s distribution to see how app income is distributed.

    It does not matter whether it is Android, iOS, Windows or PS3

  282. @ Patrick

    >why would Google do that? Especially when an enterprising developer could work
    >around the limits, and a developer of a smaller app wouldn’t even notice them.

    Because the best way to ensure that your developers are developing great applications is to reduce the number of things they have to work around that aren’t at all related to the core functionality of what they want to do. I realise this is something of an ironic statement given how it’s only recently that ARC / garbage collection became a core component of cocoa development (and is still limited/missing on iOS), but if you look at the development environment Apple provides, it’s about trying to abstract away anything that isn’t directly related to what you want to do in your app, including worrying about whether or not the particular phone your potential users have will even have enough internal storage (by default mind you) to download your app. I’m looking at my LG Optimus and if I uninstalled every application on the phone, I might just have enough space to download an app that uses the whole 50MB cache. But god help me if I install any applications, especially since so many can’t be moved to the SD card, and even the ones that can still use internal storage.

    >I think google is agnostic about whether an Android device has lots of internal storage
    >or a little internal storage and external storage, or even just a little internal storage.

    Sadly, this is probably true, when it’s clear they should be favouring and promoting large internal storage. Which users are benefited by limited internal storage? As I’ve pointed out before, even having massive SD cards is no cure for limited internal storage which is where all new apps download to, and is used regardless of whether an app is on the SD card or not.

  283. @tmoney
    But Google not only has to think of the developers, they also have to think of the handset producer. It is all well if you design your own hardware to go with your OS. It is quite different if you have to develop your OS to go with hardware people actually want to produce.

  284. @ Ravi

    I can’t imagine too many iOS users are upset over not having access to Chrome considering 99% of Android users don’t have access to it either.

  285. @tmoney:

    Because the best way to ensure that your developers are developing great applications is to reduce the number of things they have to work around that aren’t at all related to the core functionality of what they want to do.

    Actually, barriers to market entry, real or perceived, large or small, tend to have positive as well as negative benefits. Some developers will develop for smaller markets or harder platforms, where they believe (rightly or wrongly) that they will have less competition and higher ASPs and market share.

    I realise this is something of an ironic statement given how it’s only recently that ARC / garbage collection became a core component of cocoa development (and is still limited/missing on iOS),

    It’s an ironic statement overall considering Apple’s history. The original Mac was orders of magnitude more difficult to develop for than the DOS PC of the day. It turned out to be a good thing. A crappy programmer couldn’t make the Mac work at all and the quality of programs tended to be higher.

    I’m looking at my LG Optimus and if I uninstalled every application on the phone, I might just have enough space to download an app that uses the whole 50MB cache.

    We tend to forget when we had to make such decisions on desktop computers as well. This is a simple economic equation.

    But god help me if I install any applications, especially since so many can’t be moved to the SD card, and even the ones that can still use internal storage.

    This is mostly a matter of categorizing apps according to memory usage. Google could probably help here, but they (their search engine) probably already does a bit.

    Sadly, [google not caring] is probably true, when it’s clear they should be favouring and promoting large internal storage.

    I don’t think there is anything sad about it. Getting the lowest-level phones into the ecosystem, even if they can’t do as much as more expensive phones, is probably a priority. No, it’s not the same as Apple’s strategy, but it is a viable strategy. Maybe just not one that most app vendors benefit from.

    Which users are benefited by limited internal storage?

    Users who couldn’t otherwise afford any smartphone.

    As I’ve pointed out before, even having massive SD cards is no cure for limited internal storage which is where all new apps download to, and is used regardless of whether an app is on the SD card or not.

    This architectural issue might prompt google to mandate some minimum size. Or they might provide some sort of option to tie the SD card into the internal storage where, if you remove it, you’re screwed. Or they just might let the market have its way. Time will tell.

  286. All the discussion about whether Apple’s more tightly controlled ecosystem is better for developers is skipping an important question: *which* developers is it good for?

    It is obviously *not* good for one class of developers: Developers whose products Apple deems threatening (whether that’s threatening their user experience, their differentiation, their profits or something else). These, of course, aren’t usually small, independent developers – they are large visible ones. And those matter to a platform too.

    Sigh. This is industry standard practice. For years, the EULA to Microsoft Visual Studio had a clause expressly forbidding you from using the Microsoft tool suite to develop a word processor or spreadsheet. That didn’t stop Visual Studio from being the best tool suite, nor Windows from being the best desktop environment, for desktop app vendors to target.

    Platforms are not completely neutral territory. They are owned and controlled by vendors. Developing on a platform constitutes starting a business relationship with the vendor. You can expect repercussions to that relationship if you stab the vendor in the back.

  287. >Platforms are not completely neutral territory. They are owned and controlled by vendors.

    Closed-source platforms are controlled by vendors.

    This is why closed-source platforms must die.

  288. @ Patrick

    >Actually, barriers to market entry, real or perceived, large or small, tend to have positive
    >as well as negative benefits. Some developers will develop for smaller markets or
    >harder platforms, where they believe (rightly or wrongly) that they will have less
    >competition and higher ASPs and market share.

    Which does nothing to change the fact that you get better applications (or at least a better application ecosystem) when you abstract away the crap work from your developers. The less time they have to spend on making the fiddly bits work for each user’s specific hardware configuration, the more time they can spend on making their application better. It’s the same reason web programming sucks so much. You design something and then you have to make special cases for every damn browser because each one does something different. Just look at the CSS rendering comparison on wikipedia if you need proof.

    >The original Mac was orders of magnitude more difficult to develop for than the DOS
    >PC of the day.

    Difficult because of fiddly bits or difficult because of a different design? Honest question because I didn’t do any programming then, but I can certainly imagine that the jump from CLI to GUI was quite a significant hurdle, but that’s not the same thing as having to write 10 different iterations of your code to solve different problems for different phones all running the same software.

    >We tend to forget when we had to make such decisions on desktop computers as well.
    >This is a simple economic equation.

    Yes, we had to make such decisions 20 years ago, when a mere 1GB of internal storage was thousands of dollars. Today you can buy an iPod with 2GB of internal storage for $50 and you can buy 2GB SD cards at retail for $6. I highly doubt you’re going to significantly impact the final price by adding 2GB internal storage as compared to 128MB, especially given the number of low internal storage phones that come with an SD card anyway. If you have evidence to the contrary, I’d like to see it though.

    >Users who couldn’t otherwise afford any smartphone.

    Again, I’d like to see some evidence that better internal storage would significantly alter the price of cheap Android phones.

  289. >The EU disagrees.

    Even if we accept the EU’s verdict (which we should not; it is falsified by actual existing forks of Android), the proposition “Some open-source platforms are controlled by vendors” does not falsify the proposition “Closed-source platforms are controlled by vendors”.

  290. Of course, ESR. When I said the EU disagrees, I was stating mine and their disagreement with my presumed implication of your statement (i.e. open-source systems are not controlled by vendors). If that’s not your implication, my apologies. Of course, I think it’s pointless and illogical to single out close-sourced platforms for their vendor control when the same may be true with open-sourced platforms. Why not say, “Any vendor controlled platform must die.”? Oh that’s right, because you’d also be advocating the demise of your latest hobby-horse.

    Also the relevant passage:

    64. Google claims that the code for the Android mobile OS is released under an open source
    licence and anyone is free to use, distribute or further develop it. Moreover, it states that
    the use, distribution, and further development of Android mobile devices do not require
    Google’s approval.36 As a result, Google claims that it does not control Android and
    therefore Android’s market share ([40-50]% of smart mobile devices in the EEA currently
    run on Android) should not be attributed to Google but to each of the various OEMs
    building Android based phones.
    65. The Commission notes that a smart mobile device (i.e. a smartphone or tablet), which
    needs a mobile OS, is far more likely to be commercially successful if, in addition to
    design and functionality, it has a mobile OS that allows consumers to access various
    applications and services (for example, search, maps, e-mail, multimedia services, games,
    etc.). Furthermore, the commercial attractiveness of a mobile OS also depends strongly on
    the surrounding ecosystem specific to it. As regards Android, the ecosystem is built by
    Google (Google proprietary services and applications), third-party developers (who mainly
    distribute their Android applications via the Android Marketplace37), OEMs (who can also
    develop specific add-ons) and chipset manufacturers (who may develop specific functions
    of the chips to better support the Android mobile OS).
    66. The Commission does not accept Google’s view that Android’s market share cannot be
    attributed to it for all the following reasons combined. First, Google owns the IPR to the
    Android mobile OS. Second, Google is responsible for releasing each new version of the
    Android mobile OS. Third, Google effectively has to approve each smartphone or tablet
    running on Android which is built as an Android device and has to approve the
    implementation of its applications on devices that ship with Google applications preinstalled.
    67. Fourth, for the reasons set out in paragraph 25 above, even though the source code for the
    Android mobile OS is released by Google for free under an open source licence, Android
    OEMs still remain highly dependent on Google.
    68. Fifth, a Google internal document shows that Google exerts control over Android. In this
    presentation […], Google addresses the issue of control over the Android mobile OS and
    entire Android ecosystem (”[…]”). Google’s internal analysis in this document describes
    the whole mechanism that ensures its control over Android through cumulatively […].
    36 Paragraph 121 of the Form CO.
    37 Access to the Android Marketplace is controlled by Google.
    69. It should be noted that the great majority of respondents to the market investigation have
    confirmed the view that the Android ecosystem is controlled by Google and that all of the
    market share corresponding to Android mobile devices should be attributed to Google on
    the OS level.
    70. As one market participant explains, an OEM must go through the following process in
    order to comply with Google’s Android compatibility assessment and get a smart mobile
    device approved as an “Android device”:
    ”- Google publishes a CDD (Compatibility Definition Document) that describes the
    product features that must be supported.
    - Google publishes a CTS (Compatibility Test Suite) a software suite that will test the
    compatibility of a device.
    - The OEM develops its product based on the CDD and its ideas of what the product
    should be.
    - The OEM run the CTS on the product. This automatically generates a test report. If
    the test passes, we proceed to the next step. If not, we need to solve the failing tests.
    - The CTS test report is sent to Google.
    - Products samples are given to Google.
    - Google performs manual tests of the device with a set of about 50 applications
    (including the Google applications) and based on the results decides to certify the
    device.
    - Subsequent versions of the firmware of the device need to pass the CTS. (test report
    sent to Google).”
    71. Another market participant explains that: ”Prior to the approval process […] must comply
    to both AFA and MADA.38 […]”.
    72. For all the above reasons, the Commission concludes that Google controls Android and all
    of the market share corresponding to Android should be attributed to Google.”

  291. >Of course, I think it’s pointless and illogical to single out close-sourced platforms for their vendor control when the same may be true with open-sourced platforms.

    But it isn’t. You can fork Android or Linux any time you like. Try doing that with iOS and see how far you get.

    Even if I granted your premise, however, it would still be logical for open-source advocates to support Android against iOS, and to want closed-source platforms to die. Because even granting your premise, closed-source platforms in general (and iOS in particular) are more controlling, more treacherous, and deny more choices to users and developers than open-source platforms in general (and Android in particular) do.

    You can delude yourself into a false-equivalence position on this score all you like, but we won’t. And attempting to talk us into sharing that delusion will only motivate us to dismiss you as a shill or an idiot.

  292. @Tim F
    This is about market power, part of monopoly control.

    The EU is most definitely not referring to legal or exclusive control over the code. What they are talking about is the way Google has practical control over a large fraction of the installations and can therefore, dictate terms to the market.

    That is the same control Linus has over Linux, Guido over Python, and Andrew over Samba. Most definitely NOT the same as Apple over iOS or MS over Windows.

  293. I could care less about convincing you of anything, ESR. And, yes, I think it is delusional to claim that vendor-controlled platforms must die, but that Android is not vendor-controlled.

  294. Google has both legal and exclusive control of the code and it has market control, Winter. Anything not controlled by Google is not legally Android.

  295. “Because even granting your premise, closed-source platforms in general (and iOS in particular) are more controlling, more treacherous, and deny more choices to users and developers than open-source platforms in general (and Android in particular) do.”

    My premise, what I think is the implication of your premise, is that all vendor-controlled platforms must die. My premise isn’t that when the control is weakened by degrees, the death should be lessened by degrees. Now, if you want to modify your premise along the lines of: vendor-control of a platform is okay if it is by any measure less controlled than alternative platforms… Well, that is fine. Not a very compelling argument, but fine.

  296. @tmoney:

    Which does nothing to change the fact that you get better applications (or at least a better application ecosystem) when you abstract away the crap work from your developers.

    Sure, but this can (and often is) done with add-ons (libraries, etc.)

    The less time they have to spend on making the fiddly bits work for each user’s specific hardware configuration, the more time they can spend on making their application better.

    Except that sometimes, the fiddly bits are the only bits that really matter and make a difference.

    It’s the same reason web programming sucks so much. You design something and then you have to make special cases for every damn browser because each one does something different. Just look at the CSS rendering comparison on wikipedia if you need proof.

    Exactly. And it’s such a terrible problem that nobody ever does any web programming and the web is losing to the desktop, right? :-)

    The original Mac was orders of magnitude more difficult to develop for than the DOS PC of the day.

    Difficult because of fiddly bits or difficult because of a different design?

    Fiddly bits. There was no way to get away from memory/resource management.

    … the jump from CLI to GUI was quite a significant hurdle, but that’s not the same thing as having to write 10 different iterations of your code to solve different problems for different phones all running the same software.

    10 slightly different phones, 10 slightly different menus. Really, what’s the difference?

    Again, I’d like to see some evidence that better internal storage would significantly alter the price of cheap Android phones.

    I think the evidence is that vendors are shipping what you consider to be insufficient storage or download cache size. But assuming, arguendo, that you are correct, what is the minimum required? History shows that there is never enough. I’m sure some iOS apps struggle with storage. If you apply the Pareto principle, if 80% of the apps aren’t having problems, it’s probably enough storage.

  297. “Anything not controlled by Google is not legally Android.”

    This is a trademark matter. FLOSS is not controlled through trademarks, but through copyright. And Android code is FLOSS by copyright.

  298. >Not a very compelling argument, but fine.

    Closed-source platforms must die.

    After that, it will be appropriate to exert pressure against any remaining vendor control points associated with open-source systems, such as the Android Market. Getting that order reversed or confused would be a recipe for failing to increase user control of devices as fast as we will if we pursue those goals in the correct order.

  299. “After that, it will be appropriate to exert pressure against any remaining vendor control points associated with open-source systems, such as the Android Market.”

    Meh: I’d rather attack what you claim is the core problem as the core problem (control) rather than establishing an arbitrary order based on secondary conditions that have little direction correlation to the proclaimed problem.

    “Getting that order reversed or confused would be a recipe for failing to increase user control of devices as fast as will if we pursue those goals in the correct order.”|

    Presumes there is one correct ideology: your own. I disagree. Need to construct a better argument than: All closed-source must die (not because of control, because that would make me inconsistent and illogical, but some other reason) and then all open-source points of control must be eradicated only after such destruction of proprietary control, this order is the required order because I philosophically believe in it, even though I can’t explain why.

  300. @Tim F:

    Presumes there is one correct ideology

    And in this case, there arguably is. Doesn’t even require religion or faith to come to the conclusion, just a bit of simple reasoning.

    Need to construct a better argument than … even though I can’t explain why.

    The explanations should really mostly be self-evident. To the extent they’re not, remember that google’s “control” is much less than Apple’s even after accounting for open source/non open source (app sideloading, anyone?).

    And by definition, open source vendors are (even if partially or reluctantly) cooperating with their own loss of control. Why make that more painful than, or even as painful as, complete non-cooperation? If a vendor on the fence about open source feels that he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, why on earth would he open his software?

  301. >an arbitrary order based on secondary conditions

    You believe (or claim to believe – I have trouble believing anyone could be that stupid) that open-source is a “secondary condition”. I don’t. I think you’re dead wrong. Fortunately, lots of people agree with me and disagree with you.

  302. >If a vendor on the fence about open source feels that he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, why on earth would he open his software?

    Well put. In fact, some “free software” activists have already made this mistake, and shut down all open-source development at Cisco as a result.

    When I say we have to kill the closed-source platforms before challenging vendor control points over open-source platforms, I’m speaking from experience of the consequences of getting this wrong, not mere theory.

  303. “And in this case, there arguably is. Doesn’t even require religion or faith to come to the conclusion, just a bit of simple reasoning.”

    Nope. Please, it is simple. So go ahead and explain it.

    “The explanations should really mostly be self-evident.”

    Nope. Not self-evident. Please, explain.

    “To the extent they’re not, remember that google’s “control” is much less than Apple’s even after accounting for open source/non open source (app sideloading, anyone?). ”

    Disagree. App sideloading is cute (and also possible on jailbroken iOS devices). But Google is also seeking to control the OS distributed by the majority of manufacturers (and Apple doesn’t have such ambitions) and in so doing is actually dictating what services they can and cannot add to the device. The degree of control is relative and depends upon your perspective.

  304. “If a vendor on the fence about open source feels that he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, why on earth would he open his software?”

    False premise. If a vendor feels like he can maintain control of the value in their property while still getting the ideological support by open sourcing, why not? I see no reason to see damnation from either open- or closed-source and plenty of opportunities with either to maintain control of your property/advantages/code/platform.

  305. “You believe (or claim to believe – I have trouble believing anyone could be that stupid) that open-source is a “secondary condition”.I don’t. I think you’re dead wrong. Fortunately, lots of people agree with me and disagree with you.”

    No, I think we have a misunderstanding. Maybe not. I don’t know. You keep flopping between “control” being at issue and the license of the code being the issue. If the issue is control, then, yes, open source can be controlled as well and is a secondary issue. In other words, we should be railing against Google Android (which can dictate location services, payment options, device features, included services, competing services, etc.) and only supporting AOSP provided in an open fashion (I’m not even sure if there is any vendor of note doing so?). Yes, I do think that is a logical premise if the concern is a single proprietary entity controlling the code of a platform.

  306. “Fortunately, lots of people agree with me and disagree with you.”

    I’m pretty sure if we asked a fair sample pool of both “real world” people and those in the technology industry if they were more likely to agree with the statement “all closed-source software must die” or “both open- and closed-source software have a place and role”, I’d win hands down.

  307. >You keep flopping between “control” being at issue and the license of the code being the issue.

    If you think I’m “flopping”, you don’t get it. Open-source licensing is a means to specific ends, and I do not value the means over those ends. What may be confusing you is that I speak of open-source licensing as a primary condition because I believe on evidence and reasoning that it is necessary to those ends. Not sufficient, but necessary. Thus, it is also correct to speak of open-source licensing being necessary even though that necessity is derived from the ends in view.

  308. @esr

    Closed-source platforms must die.

    Yeah, you keep saying that, but having listened to your arguments (and the arguments of other open-source advocates) I have never heard a compelling reason to agree with you.

    You can fork Android or Linux any time you like. Try doing that with iOS and see how far you get.

    So what? Users don’t have any interest in forking their operating systems. This is completely irrelevant.

    closed-source platforms in general (and iOS in particular) are more controlling, more treacherous, and deny more choices to users

    There are a few examples of how iOS denies choices to users. Sometimes (although they have got much better at this) Apple has stupidly refused permission for an app to be sold in their store without good justification. I guess Flash is another example, although I for one am still very glad that it is not allowed on the platform.

    All in all, though, there are very few things that users want to do on their iOS devices that they can’t do.

    Furthermore, there are plenty of things that Google has done to restrict choice on the Android platform. The most recent example is trying to force Android apps to use the Google Wallet technology instead of PayPal or other payment services.

    Again, though, in general there are not many restrictions that really matter to users in the real world.

    Restricting choice isn’t the main thing that users are looking for when choosing a phone. They are looking at utility, reliability, performance, and the overall user experience.

    There are a lot of factors that go into making a platform good or bad. To focus on just one (choice) is rather foolish and not representative of the general public’s priorities.

    How would you react if I argued that all platforms that do not have great typography “must die”?

    You would think I was an idiot who was trying to restrict market choice and force everybody to share my taste and priorities. And you would be right to think that.

    Not everybody wants complete freedom to tinker with their devices. If *you* want that freedom then you are free to use Linux and Android. And I wish you the best of luck. But most people don’t care about that, and there is no good reason why they should.

  309. @Tim

    I agree that all closed platforms must die. Does that convince you?

  310. “What may be confusing you is that I speak of open-source licensing as a primary condition because I believe on evidence and reasoning that it is necessary to those ends.”

    And you have not, nor has anyone, ever presented an argument that I find even remotely convincing of that.

  311. >All in all, though, there are very few things that users want to do on their iOS devices that they can’t do.

    A few is enough. Besides, there are large risks associated with the fact that Apple could impose more control than it has yet. The way to keep your liberty is to ensure that others lack the capability to infringe it; trusting others not to do so when they have that capability is naive and doomed.

    >Restricting choice isn’t the main thing that users are looking for when choosing a phone.

    No, it isn’t. But they won’t get many things they do care about (privacy, security, reliability, freedom from crapware) without it. Without openness and choice they’re on the wrong end of the power relationship with the vendor, and the vendor’s choices will ratchet towards more control for the vendor and more spying on and interdiction of the user. It is not even necessary to assume evil intent on the vendor’s part to expect this, just the goal of maximizing the profit they extract from each user. When you’re a closed-source vendor answering to stockholders, being evil will eventually be required by your fiduciary responsibilities.

    >The most recent example is trying to force Android apps to use the Google Wallet technology instead of PayPal or other payment services.

    Which isn’t working very well, and can’t because Google’s business model and licensing deny it the leverage to actually force such a requirement down its partners’ throats. When you’re an open-source company, “don’t be evil” is an operating requirement – otherwise, somebody will clone your source tree and serve its userbase in a less evil way.

    It is because close source prevents that escape option, that check on vendor power, that closed-source platforms must die.

  312. privacy, security, reliability, freedom from crapware

    In theory, open source may win in those areas, but in Android vs. iOS today? No way. Not for the vast majority of users.

  313. @esr

    A few is enough. Besides, there are large risks associated with the fact that Apple could impose more control than it has yet.

    This is the main problem, and always has been, with your argument. It’s always “they *could*” do this bad thing or “they have *the power to*” do that bad thing. In reality though these terrible outcomes never emerge.

    It it really ever comes to pass that Apple (or whomever) starts acting contrary to my interests then I’ll consider switching to an alternative platform.

    When you’re a closed-source vendor answering to stockholders, being evil will eventually be required by your fiduciary responsibilities

    This is based on an extreme misunderstanding of what ‘fiduciary responsibility’ means. It doesn’t mean you have to fleece your customers for all they are worth. That would be very shortsighted. If Apple has taught us anything it is that you can make huge profits by focusing on what is best for the customer. Of course, I know that you will scoff at this.

    No, it isn’t. But they won’t get many things they do care about (privacy, security, reliability, freedom from crapware) without it.

    This argument is obviously completely falsified by the evidence, because iOS offers all those things at least as well as Android (and in my opinion a lot better in certain aspects). In fact, Apple is in a unique position to offer certain security features (such as its sandboxing technology) precisely because of its closed model.

    It is because close source prevents that escape option

    No, it doesn’t! I could switch to another OS any time I wanted. In fact, as an experiment last year I used Linux exclusively for more than a month. It wasn’t really to my taste, and I missed a lot of things, but there is no doubt that I could easily switch to it and get work done if I ever needed to.

    Apple products are not ‘jails’, well-decorated or otherwise.

  314. “Which isn’t working very well, and can’t because Google’s business model and licensing deny it the leverage to actually force such a requirement down its partners’ throats.”

    The universe of partners in the Android Market/Google Play is larger than the universe of partners outside of it — Google seems to be doing just fine controlling its platform.

  315. >Apple products are not ‘jails’, well-decorated or otherwise.

    Fortunately, neither I nor the consumers who are voting for Android over iOS with their dollars share the delusions of your cult.

  316. @esr

    Fortunately, neither I nor the consumers who are voting for Android over iOS with their dollars share the delusions of your cult.

    I wonder how you can know this. More Android devices have been sold than iOS devices, but do you have any evidence at all that consumers are choosing Android because it is open-source, or that they consider Apple’s closed system to be potentially dangerous?

    I am HIGHLY skeptical of this idea. Most people don’t even know what open-source is.

    And, of course, it hardly needs to be mentioned (because everybody will have noticed) that once again you have utterly failed to substantiate any of your arguments that closed source systems are bad for customers.

  317. And it should be obvious that people are not buying Android as a result of its ‘open’ nature. If that were so then Linux should be doing far better on the desktop against OS X and Windows.

    I have never in my life heard a normal non-technical person worry that their phone or their computer has a closed source system. This issue isn’t even on their radar screens. Nor should it be.

  318. >failed to substantiate any of your arguments that closed source systems are bad for customers.

    Lock-in. Higher prices. Censorship. Arbitrary app-rejection policies.

    There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. But it doesn’t matter that you live in a cultic dreamland, because the market speaks louder than you.

  319. @esr

    Lock-in.

    How is there more lock-in on an iPhone than an Android phone?

    The only lock-in is that once you have some apps you might want to stay on the platform to avoid having to buy more apps or learn more apps. But that is true of any platform, including Android.

    Higher prices.

    Higher prices obviously has nothing to do with being closed-source.

    There are expensive Android phones and cheap iPhones (the 3GS is $199 unlocked).

    You can buy a cheap laptop that runs Windows (closed) or an expensive lenovo laptop that runs Linux.

    Censorship.

    Can you name one book, song, film, or website that I can access on an Android phone that I can’t on an iPhone?

    Arbitrary app-rejection policies.

    The policies actually are not arbitrary. They are designed to make the app store as reliable and friendly as it can be to customers.

    Sometimes Apple makes mistakes in how it applies those policies, and usually reverses wrong decisions. It happens less now than it used to.

    Google also operates oversight over its store. It has probably made fewer glaring mistakes than Apple because it exercises less control.

    Finally, I will note that NONE of the points you mention actually has anything to do with open vs. closed *source*.

    Your points are only to do with open/closed platforms.

  320. @esr @tom “Lock-in. Higher prices. Censorship. Arbitrary app-rejection policies.”

    I don’t really see how iOS has more lock-in than Android other than customer satisfaction is higher on iOS so I guess people may be less to jump.

    Higher prices: yeah, mostly. Not as much in US with the fat subsidies.

    Censorship: I agree with @esr here. Too many instances of free speech being censored or “controversial” apps being pulled.

    Arbitrary app-rejection policies: I don’t think they are arbitrary. Some policies are misguided, but I think there are reason behind all of them.

    I think iOS is largely better for customers as iOS devices are more like appliances than android devices. Android is headed towards the windows experience. Look at how backups are performed. Or music sync-ing. Task managers. Very different philosophies.

    HOWEVER, it’s a damn good thing that Android came along. I have every confidence Apple would have gone off the deep end with onerous policies if they didn’t have any decent competition. Notice how Apple backed off of many App rejection policies in the past 3 years. Most stuff makes it in these days, they are becoming much more lenient as time goes on (alt browsers, alt email clients, other programming langs than obj c to name a few reversals).

  321. @phil

    Too many instances of free speech being censored or “controversial” apps being pulled.

    I agree that Apple has sometimes made mistakes with the odd app here or there.

    However, in the real world the actual harm done to customers by these slight transgressions is vanishingly small, and completely insignificant in the mind of the customer, who is far far more concerned with having a phone that works the way they want it to.

    @esr

    market speaks louder than you

    1. the ‘market’ is sending way more dollars to Apple than any other phone vendor.
    2. Again, do you have any evidence that the reason people are choosing Android phones is that they run open source software?

  322. 1. the ‘market’ is sending way more dollars to Apple than any other phone vendor.

    The market is currently sending more dollars to Apple for iPhones than it is to Microsoft, period. All of Microsoft.

    Carriers are pushing Android hard. I’ve got an iPhone on AT&T, and they send me junk mail offering free Android phones.

  323. @Papaya SF

    The market is currently sending more dollars to Apple for iPhones than it is to Microsoft, period. All of Microsoft.

    Yeah, but all those dollars are being sent by people who are living in ‘a cultic dreamland’.

  324. @Tom:

    the ‘market’ is sending way more dollars to Apple than any other phone vendor.

    Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how long they keep their current market share/ASP balancing act. But I suppose with Sprint committed to give them upteen billion dollars over the next few years, they’re set until Sprint runs out of money.

    @PapayaSF:

    Carriers are pushing Android hard. I’ve got an iPhone on AT&T, and they send me junk mail offering free Android phones.

    If it’s worth a $450 subsidy to give a free iPhone to a customer, surely it’s worth a $300 subsidy to give a free Android phone to the same customer a few months earlier. Especially if some percentage of the customers will take the offer and be happy and be weaned off the iPhone upgrade treadmill. After all, in two years, the upgrade Android phone will only cost the carrier $200, but the Apple will still be $600.

  325. @Tom:

    > Yeah, but all those dollars are being sent by people who are living in ‘a cultic dreamland’.

    No, all those dollars are being sent by the carriers. Haven’t you been paying attention?

  326. >Again, do you have any evidence that the reason people are choosing Android phones is that they run open source software?

    Yes. Open source directly is not a large consumer draw, but the consequences of open source – including hundreds of different devices tailored to differing consumer needs and addressing many more use cases than the iPhone line, and lower prices due to absence of license fees and supplier monopolies – are a huge draw.

    Yes, Apple is making more money than the Android army – but it’s started to lose market share, too. This month’s loss may be a staistical fluctuation, but the fact that it’s within noise range of zero is bad news for the “superior value” theory.

  327. @Tom:
    “It’s always “they *could*” do this bad thing or “they have *the power to*” do that bad thing. In reality though these terrible outcomes never emerge.”

    You badly need to read a detailed history of Microsoft. These terrible outcomes have emerged over and over again.

    And please don’t say “Microsoft bad, Apple good” — even if you are fine with Apple’s behavior to date, companies change, leadership changes, and pressure to maximize revenue continues unabated.

  328. Apple has their own way of maximizing revenue: producing a limited model line of the best products they can design and manufacture. Their partially “closed” nature is merely a side effect of that strategy, not the goal itself. This strategy is working quite well, of course. On the other hand, the Android OEMs are following the traditional consumer electronics model: a plethora of models, inconsistent design and build quality, following the trends, pandering to resellers. That’s producing a lot of sales right now, but not much profit, less user satisfaction than the Apple model, and probably not a lot of R&D. I don’t disagree about the virtues of open source, but I just don’t see those virtues as decisive in smartphones or consumer electronics.

  329. “Open source directly is not a large consumer draw, but the consequences of open source – including hundreds of different devices tailored to differing consumer needs and addressing many more use cases than the iPhone line, and lower prices due to absence of license fees and supplier monopolies – are a huge draw.”

    Microsoft achieved the same consequences without being open source and with license fees and a supplier monopoly.

  330. @Tim F.
    “Microsoft achieved the same consequences without being open source and with license fees and a supplier monopoly.”

    Never wondered why PCs in 2012 are hardly different from PCs in 2000?

    PCs are the same, just faster and with more storage. Compare that to routers, mobile phones, tablets, servers (virtualization), and super computers. Even TV and recorders are now radically different from 2000.

    That is Microsoft, preventing all progress.

  331. Hmmm, so tablets and mobile phones are a lot different than they were 12 years ago. I think I recall that one company had a lot to do with that… some villainous closed-source firm, accused of impeding progress, and doomed to implode any day now….

  332. @PapayaSF
    I am not sure what it is, but somehow, I get the feeling you are obsessed by Apple.

  333. @ Winter

    “@PapayaSF
    I am not sure what it is, but somehow, I get the feeling you are obsessed by Apple.”

    Ad hominem. Either he’s a cultist, or obsessed, or an ignorant slut, or a fanbois, or a troll. Or he’s not paying attention. Blah, blah, blah. I find it interesting that on a site where facts and evidence are usually considered the important thing in a discussion, the common tactic when it comes to anything Apple related is to dismiss facts and evidence, and routinely, routinely resort to ad hominem attacks. Couldn’t be that his arguments have any merit, could they?

    I think that Apple’s success is causing a lot of confusion with people who are assuming that what has happened a priori must happen again.

  334. @Pinhead
    “Ad hominem. Either he’s a cultist, or obsessed, or an ignorant slut, or a fanbois, or a troll.”

    Not at all. But if a commenter will only talk about Apple whatever the subject, it projects an impression.

    @Pinhead
    “Couldn’t be that his arguments have any merit, could they?”

    Of course. But if the answer to every question is Apple, the information content drops to zero.

    @Pinhead
    “I think that Apple’s success is causing a lot of confusion with people who are assuming that what has happened a priori must happen again.”

    I am not confused by Apple’s success. I have even never met people who are confused by Apple’s success. But when we discuss Apple’s success over here, the definition of success seems to be restricted to net profit. That I find a rather limited view of “success”.

  335. Apple gets bashed a lot around here, and I think I understand them in a way many don’t. I think I have something to contribute, so I speak up. On other topics that I know little about, I just listen. Other topics I may know about, but they don’t come up.

  336. @esr

    Yes. Open source directly is not a large consumer draw, but the consequences of open source – including hundreds of different devices tailored to differing consumer needs and addressing many more use cases than the iPhone line, and lower prices due to absence of license fees and supplier monopolies – are a huge draw.

    So, we are down to:

    1. A greater variety of handsets
    2. Cheaper

    Before I go on, I’d just like to ask you something. Does this mean that if *my* use case is met by the iPhone, and if the cost for me is not a problem, then I can use the closed-source iOS platform without any other bad consequences (from it being closed-source)?

    If so, why does the platform have to ‘die’? It may not serve everybody’s needs, or fit everybody’s budget, but if it fits the needs of some people then what is the problem?

    Anyway, as Tim F. pointed out, the greater variety of Android handsets is not due (at least not primarily due) to its open-source nature, but rather to the fact that Google has licensed the OS. Same thing happened with Microsoft. Apple kept the Mac OS for its own machines and Microsoft licensed Windows. This resulted in the proliferation of all sorts of different Windows computers.

    Windows was not open-source.

    And, yes, open-source probably does make cheaper products possible (although I wonder if you would be as happy if a company produced a closed-source system and gave it away for free, thus producing the same effect). That’s all well and good, but I don’t see why it means that closed-source systems must die.

    @Cathy

    You badly need to read a detailed history of Microsoft. These terrible outcomes have emerged over and over again.

    And please don’t say “Microsoft bad, Apple good” — even if you are fine with Apple’s behavior to date, companies change, leadership changes, and pressure to maximize revenue continues unabated.

    Well, I am willing to listen to examples of the bad effects that has resulted from Windows being closed-source.

    As for the second part of what you said, people around here seem to think that the only way to maximise profits is to act stupidly and suck customers dry by treating them badly. I suppose it is impossible that, having had a decade of overwhelming success by focusing on the customer experience, that Apple will continue to see the big picture and continue to serve the customer as a means to maximise profits. Seems to have worked pretty well so far!

    Again, let’s get back to reality here. Apple hasn’t done much of anything that has caused any significant harm to its customers. If you want to convince me that using Apple’s closed-source system is really a bad thing then you need to point to something real, here and now, that is causing me a disadvantage. Not some potential far-flung future dystopia where Apple turns evil for no reason. Something real.

    @Pinhead

    a priori

    I might be misreading you, but…

    That term, I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  337. @Tom
    “Well, I am willing to listen to examples of the bad effects that has resulted from Windows being closed-source.”

    Stagnation in PCs (see my earlier comment).

    Forcing the use of FAT file system on all peripherals because Windows will simply refuse to support any other filesystem. That way, MS force the limitations of FAT onto everyone.

    Stagnation in Office Software, because of their joined monopoly in OS and Office Software stack.

    Stagnation in development of lightweight computers (netbooks) because MS uses their PC OS monopoly to force netbook producers to to load XP on these. If they don’t, the producers pay for an XP license anyhow and pay extra for their Windows licenses on other computers. Note that MS has forced crippling conditions on netbook computers.

    For more, read the “Microsoft findings of facts” from their 2000 verdict:
    http://toastytech.com/evil/fof.html

  338. @Winter

    Stagnation in PCs (see my earlier comment).

    Is this a joke? Personal computers have advanced more than practically any other consumer product over the last twenty years.

    Forcing the use of FAT file system on all peripherals because Windows will simply refuse to support any other filesystem. That way, MS force the limitations of FAT onto everyone.

    What? NTFS? ReFS?

    Stagnation in Office Software, because of their joined monopoly in OS and Office Software stack.

    Sure, because Open Office is soooooo much better.

    The best alternative to Office for consumers is Apple’s iWork suite, which is closed-source.

    For professionals the Excel spreadsheet is still light years more advanced than anything else. It’s actually a remarkable product.

    Note that MS has forced crippling conditions on netbook computers.

    I’m not really sure what you’re talking about here, and you don’t go into detail, but it seems to me that if you look around there are plenty of netbooks. In my opinion the are shit, but the answer to that is—wait for it!—the iPad. A closed-source product.

  339. Winter is talking about the small flurry of Linux netbooks a few years ago, before OEMs went to Windows and the whole category withered. (I have no idea what the cause and effect was, though.)

  340. @ Winter

    >Stagnation in PCs (see my earlier comment).

    Of course, it’s also likely that PCs in general are similar to the PCs of 10 years ago because PCs as a general commodity have matured. A car of 2012 is pretty much just a more efficient version of a car from 2000. Why is it then so surprising that PCs would reach that point? Of course, PCs have only stagnated assuming that you only consider a box with keyboard and mouse to be a PC. Otherwise, since 2000 we’ve seen a number of other “PCs” that have emerged, from the rise and fall of the netbook, to the tablet, to the smart phone, to the PS3, to the TV, to the router itself.

    As for office software stagnation, that has more to do with how businesses work than anything else. Businesses need to be compatible with other businesses, and businesses hate upgrades because upgrades have or reveal new bugs, incompatibilities and changes to process. Trust me, I’ve tried very hard to help convert my company to Open Office, but it’s a losing battle. It’s just so much easier to use MS Office.

    As for netbooks, let’s face it. Most of the netbooks sucked, regardless of what OS they ran. And of the ones that didn’t suck, people didn’t want netbooks that wouldn’t run their software, so linux was a non starter.

    In that sense, Android and the iPhone has been a huge boon for Linux since it required the purchase of new and different software anyway. If there ever is a year of linux on the desktop, it will be the year that you’re running Android on your desktop.

  341. Netbooks suck because’e MS forced stupid hardware limitations on them for the privilige of running XP. If they sell them without XP, their Windows OEM contracts let them pay (several times) for the licence anyway.

    TVs and cars changed dramatically in the last decade. They often run more advanced software than PCs and laptops of their owner.

  342. @Winter:

    You do realize you are now going on and on and on about Microsoft simply because ESR made the absurd argument that people are buying Android because it is open source because there is variety and options?

  343. @Tim F.
    “because ESR made the absurd argument”

    Nope, I was reacting to:
    “Microsoft achieved the same consequences without being open source and with license fees and a supplier monopoly.”

    I simply spelled out what the effects of a closed source monopoly are on innovation and technical progress: They kill it.

    ESR made a very good argument which you misunderstood: Closed source is bad for everyone but the producer of the closed source. And event they miss out on the opportunities they have nipped in the bud.

    And MS is a very good example of how bad closed source works out for everybody.

  344. I don’t think that one can say “closed source is bad for everyone” when there are scores of millions perfectly satisfied with it. It’s a huge stretch to claim that (e.g.) the fact that a Windows user can’t use a different file system is bad for more than a handful of people. Different strokes for different folks.

    Similarly, I would not say “open source is bad for everyone.” Clearly that’s not the case. However, I would say that a world of pure open source, in which closed source “dies,” would be bad for everyone. I don’t think it’s possible for open source to do the R&D and create the level of design refinement and hardware/software integration that we see from Apple. Plus, Apple performs the critical function of being something for Android to strive for. Without the iPhone, Android phones would be open-source Blackberrys. Without the iPad, tablets would be ebook readers with some web surfing ability.

  345. “Nope, I was reacting to…” Yes, MY rebuttal of ESR’s absurd argument. Demonstration of wide availability of choice is not proof that that availability was caused by open source.

    “ESR made a very good argument which you misunderstood: Closed source is bad for everyone but the producer of the closed source.”

    I think it is you who is misunderstanding, and what you are stating is merely begging the question. Closed source is bad because it’s bad. There is no argument there, no logic.

  346. >Does this mean that if *my* use case is met by the iPhone, and if the cost for me is not a problem, then I can use the closed-source iOS platform without any other bad consequences (from it being closed-source)?

    No. You are at the wrong end of an asymmetry in power and information, and that will exact a cost from you eventually (economists call this “rent” using the term in a sense somewhat different than the colloquial one). Furthermore, the cost will rise as investors press the vendor for margin improvements.

    This is not theory talking; we’ve seen it over and over again in technology monopolies (and any economist will tell you it is general to all monopolies). The reason technology monopolies are unstable is because pressure for higher returns causes the monopoly vendors to jack up their rents to the point where customers find it less expensive to pay the transition cost to get out of the vendor’s jail. As a notable example, this is exactly how TCP/IP over Ethernet clobbered proprietary LANs.

    >If so, why does the [closed-source] platform have to ‘die’?

    To eliminate power asymmetries in the vendor’s favor. These are bad for customers. Fortunately, they’re also bad for efficiency (they increase deadweight, look up that concept if you don’t get it), so markets tend to hammer them out.

  347. the cost will rise as investors press the vendor for margin improvements

    Is there any evidence this is happening with Apple? Not only are their margins high, I see little evidence that customers are fleeing the “jail.” (Yes, Android sales are high and rising, but those aren’t people abandoning iPhones.) I also think that Apple’s vast economies of scale make a huge difference, allowing good margins while keeping retail costs down. (Though not down all the way to the bottom, of course.)

  348. “This is not theory talking; we’ve seen it over and over again in technology monopolies (and any economist will tell you it is general to all monopolies).”

    Problem is: you just jumped from “closed source” to “monopolies”. Closed source code is not, per se, representative of a monopoly.

  349. >Closed source code is not, per se, representative of a monopoly.

    WTF? Closed source is exactly a supplier monopoly. Nobody else but the closed-source vendor can update or maintain the core software of your “ecosystem”. All the economic analysis related to monopolies and monopoly rents applies exactly. I may have been the first to write about this in detail, but that was fifteen years ago and not a single economist has failed to agree with me on this point since. Do try to keep up.

    In fact, a closed-source vendor’s position is stronger than most classical examples of monopoly because potential competitors are not merely closed out by the incumbent’s market power but actually legally barred by IP law from competitively modifying the platform software. The intensity of rent-seeking to be expected (and which is actually observed) rises accordingly.

  350. “Nobody else but the closed-source vendor can update or maintain the core software of your “ecosystem”.”

    And? That’s not a monopoly.

    Again, this is begging the question. Closed-source is a monopoly because I’m saying a monopoly is this (even though it ain’t).

  351. @Tim F.:

    esr didn’t mention the obvious piece because it’s, well, obvious. He’s assuming a piece of software (we’ll call it ‘fred’) that everybody uses. (The obvious part is that if not enough people use it, there is no possible monopoly.)

    If ‘fred’ is closed-source, then its vendor is a monopolist. If ‘fred’ is open-sourced, its vendor may very well be a monopolist, but that would only be by dint of being really, really good at taking care of customers. The vendor can’t possibly engage in those shenanigans that get monopolists in trouble, because it has no leverage over its customers other than treating them right.

  352. @Tim F. PapayaSF
    Missing out on a decade of technological innovation because that would not suit MS’ rent seeking is a genuine opportunity cost. An immense cost at that.

    That you are unaware of the innovations we missed out on tells me a lot about you. Mainly about a lack of imagination. That people do not miss what they cannot immagine does not make the cost less.

  353. Winter, first of all, all paths have costs. Microsoft did some things to create progress in PCs, and other things that retarded it. If Apple had won in the ’90s, the same could be said. And though you and Eric and co. would disagree, if open source had won, the same could be said yet again.

    From the hacker point of view, the costs of the open source path are non-existent or negligible, but for most people, they are not. To mix metaphors, they’d rather their computer or phone was more of a walled garden than an anything-goes bazaar.

  354. “esr didn’t mention the obvious piece because it’s, well, obvious. He’s assuming a piece of software (we’ll call it ‘fred’) that everybody uses. (The obvious part is that if not enough people use it, there is no possible monopoly.)”

    I don’t think that’s either obvious or intended. He’s saying all closed source is a monopoly unto itself. He’s not saying: only closed source software that achieves market dominance is a monopoly nor is he saying that all closed sourced software inevitably leads to a market dominant monopoly.

  355. @ Winter

    It’s not like OSS doesn’t have it’s own drawbacks that retard development. The downside to everyone being able to fork your project is that people might just do that if they don’t like you or your ideologies, leading to wasted time spent reinventing the wheel. Look at Open Office vs Libre Office. A bunch of talent now split between two factions, rather than making a single product better for all.

    Equally, open source doesn’t solve the inertia problem. Let’s say that the business world instead of standardizing on MS Office instead standardized on Libre Office. If the Libre Office guys started getting crazy, you’d still have to overcome the inertia required to switch everyone off of Libre Office onto FreedomOffice, and every time Libre Office did something slightly different that made conversion to or from FreedomOffice rough, it would be one more reason for most businesses to stay with Libre Office, not to switch.

  356. @TimF

    I don’t think that’s either obvious or intended. He’s saying all closed source is a monopoly unto itself. He’s not saying: only closed source software that achieves market dominance is a monopoly nor is he saying that all closed sourced software inevitably leads to a market dominant monopoly.

    No, it was obvious.

    @esr

    WTF? Closed source is exactly a supplier monopoly. Nobody else but the closed-source vendor can update or maintain the core software of your “ecosystem”. All the economic analysis related to monopolies and monopoly rents applies exactly. I may have been the first to write about this in detail, but that was fifteen years ago and not a single economist has failed to agree with me on this point since. Do try to keep up.

    Emphasis on ‘supplier monopoly’. With closed source, once you’ve committed to a platform you’ve given your vendor a monopolists power over you. Which is kind of Eric’s point, I do believe. With open source, once you’ve committed to a platform, well, you’ve committed to a platform. Anyone can support it, or supply updates/improvements/etc.

  357. Equally, open source doesn’t solve the inertia problem. Let’s say that the business world instead of standardizing on MS Office instead standardized on Libre Office. If the Libre Office guys started getting crazy, you’d still have to overcome the inertia required to switch everyone off of Libre Office onto FreedomOffice

    That’s why you have modern system management tools.

    Frankly this is made almost trivial by the fact that you don’t have to relearn anything, retrain anyone, or “convert” document one. All knowledge and skills transfer, and the existing base of documents is compatible.

  358. All euphemisms for stagnation and rent seeking.

    TV, routers, phones, tabelts, and super computers run linux. Every technology leaps ahead. Except the lands dominated by the barons of Redmond. Stuck in 1999.

  359. I don’t know what computers you were using in 1999, but my computer today is a lot better than it was in 1999. Of course, I use a mac.

  360. @tmoney:

    I don’t know what computers you were using in 1999, but my computer today is a lot better than it was in 1999. Of course, I use a mac.

    Well, Macs are clearly better now than they were in 1999 because they’re now using the same components as other computers.

  361. Anyone can support it, or supply updates/improvements/etc.

    And there’s the rub. (Or one of them.) If there had been no iPhone or iPad, who would have updated and improved smartphones and tablets to the point where they are now? Like I said upthread, without the iPhone all Android phones would be little more than open source Blackberrys today. Some improvements (like a touchscreen OS and the phones and tablets for it) require a huge leap with plenty of research, and I’m not convinced open source can do that sort of thing as well as Apple. (If you say Android was done without Apple, that’s technically true, but it wasn’t done without Apple’s example, which is one reason why the death of closed source would hurt open source.)

  362. >He’s saying all closed source is a monopoly unto itself.

    That’s correct. All closed source has the traits and consequences of a supplier monopoly, whether or not the product is also an effective monopoly in its software product category (which of course can also happen).

  363. >Well, Macs are clearly better now than they were in 1999 because they’re now
    >using the same components as other computers.

    They’ve always used the same components as other computers. But even if we take your snark generously and assume you’re specifically referring to the usage of x86 processors, the argument still holds. That transition happened in 2006, and macs today are better than macs in 2006. So again no stagnation. I can only conclude that if Winter feels PCs of today are the same as they were in 1999 I can only conclude he’s running a PC with Windows 98 installed on it. Not even Linux is as bad as it was in 1999, though admittedly some parts (damn you copy and paste) are still that bad.

  364. @esr

    No. You are at the wrong end of an asymmetry in power and information, and that will exact a cost from you eventually (economists call this “rent” using the term in a sense somewhat different than the colloquial one). Furthermore, the cost will rise as investors press the vendor for margin improvements.

    Eventually

    But when?

    Sorry, Eric, but I have really tried to be sympathetic to your arguments again and again. Over the years I have tried to immerse myself in the open-source mindset and understand where you guys are coming from. But every time I do I eventually come back to the reality of what it is actually like to use proprietary systems. I have been using such systems all my life, and I know dozens of people who use them every day. And nobody ever seems to have a problem. I have experienced more than twenty years of using Macs and iPhones and the like. I see no tangible downsides to these systems being closed-source.

    So, on the one hand I have all this first-hand experience. Two decades of happy computing with no ill-effects. And on the other I have you giving me economic theory and telling me why I am wrong. But it just is not reflected by the reality of closed-source computing.

    Can you understand this?

    Can you at least accept that, even though you believe closed-source to be detrimental to users, there is a huge explanatory gap that needs to be filled? The gap is between the everyday experience of millions of users (who see no problems with their software) and an economic theory on the other that is telling them that they are doomed (any day now!). It’s just not credible to me or to most people.

    Can you try to put yourself in my position and understand that disconnect?

  365. “That’s correct. All closed source has the traits and consequences of a supplier monopoly, whether or not the product is also an effective monopoly in its software product category (which of course can also happen).”

    Right, as I understood you to be saying, ESR. You are wrong.

    But before addressing that, let’s go back…

    “Nobody else but the closed-source vendor can update or maintain the core software of your “ecosystem”.”

    Before addressing “close-sourced equals monopoly,” let’s focus on this statement. I’m unsure what you think is “ecosystem.” To me, the very definition of “ecosystem” is updating, modifying, augmenting, supporting, servicing, and vending the product. Close-sourced or not. Whether or not this is occurring pre-compilation (still happens in the close-sourced world), via APIs, plug-ins, mods, or hacking, it occurs. Ecosystems can form around close-sourced software that form markets at every levels of updating, modifying, augmenting, supporting, maintaining, servicing, and vending the product. “Ecosystems” support competition among competitors within sub-markets that may or may not update, modify, augment, support, maintain, service, or vend within the sub-market segments (and sometimes even within the primary product market where a different set of “values” is brought to the relationship/”core software”).

    I also don’t understand your intention for “core software.” Do apps, drivers, control panels, plug-ins, codec packs, fonts update, modify, and maintain “core software”? I’d say so. Closed-source software does not prevent the updating, modifying, or maintaining of “core software” on its face or otherwise. (Again, closed-source software doesn’t prevent the vendor from allowing the “ecosystem” some license to modify the closed code pre-compilation for their licensed needs. This happens all the time. Hell, just one example: there is competition amongst closed-source vendors of flight simulators built on top of open source software supporting sub-markets that compete at vending planes, maps, landmarks, physics, and other mods — while still allowing the user the same freedom to update, modify, and maintain the “core software.”)

    It seems to me, you are merely saying: no one else but the owner of the code can choose how they want their code to be updated, modified, or maintained. (Or at the least, you are saying that access to source and the ability to update, modify, or maintained, wholly-unfettered by the owner’s intent, and compile in any manner you see fit is just, satisfactory, and necessary — I don’t want to presume; this is how I see your argument.) And this is circulus in probando, begging the question. Only Company A is able to vend the products of Company A. Again:

    “Nobody else but the closed-source vendor can update or maintain the core software of your “ecosystem”.”

    Taking exception to your terms “core software” and “ecosystem” aside, you are restating a tautology with the implication that you’ve proved the point. Yes, a vendor of their own product or service is legally and morally the only vendor of their product or service. But that is not a monopoly. This applies to every physical product or non-technology service as well. Even if you can have a non-Ford mechanic service your Ford with non-Ford parts, or you can modify existing Ford parts, yourself, or maybe you could even machine your own exact replica “Ford” parts yourself. You wouldn’t be able to compete against Ford with your homemade “Ford” parts without ultimately being re-absorbed into the legal market of parts who are complying with patent and other legal rights afforded to the owners of associated “IP.” You wouldn’t be able to make “a better Ford” and race it in NASCAR and Formula 1 without legally comply with Ford’s ownership rights to some measure. You might be able to do this on your own as a hobbiest/enthusiast, and you may be even able to sell a few, but once you “compete” or interact within the broader “ecosystem” Ford has ownership rights. I can’t open a Starbucks if I want to while not complying with them legally. Etc…

    To say that any vendor of their products of the market for that vendor’s product is nonsense. Not proof that all closed source software vendors are monopolies that must be destroyed.

    And, again, hacking is included in these ecosystems and markets. Just as you can build a “replica” Ford for your own use; you can hack away at close-sourced software within your legal fair use.

  366. “To say that any vendor of their products of the market for that vendor’s product is nonsense. Not proof that all closed source software vendors are monopolies that must be destroyed.”

    Should be:

    To say that any vendor of their own products is a monopolist of the market for that vendor’s own product is nonsense. Not proof that all closed source software vendors are monopolies that must be destroyed.

  367. @TimF

    To say that any vendor of their own products is a monopolist of the market for that vendor’s own product is nonsense. Not proof that all closed source software vendors are monopolies that must be destroyed.

    You’re either being deliberately obtuse, overly literal for rhetorical purposes, or dimwitted.

    Anyway, to say this is not actually nonsense. It’s trivially true, at least for closed source but it has implications that are not trivial at all (and it’s not actually true for open source, which is extremely important). It means that, due to the very nature of closed source, the power relationship between a vendor and a customer corresponds closely enough to that between a traditional monopolist and their captive market for all the undesirable behaviors and attributes of the latter to also manifest in the former. Which makes closed source, by its very nature, something to be avoided. I got that right off, it’s not hard.

    @esr

    All closed source has the traits and consequences of a supplier monopoly, whether or not the product is also an effective monopoly in its software product category

    Bears repeating, because you only seem to be seeing strawmen.

  368. I misinterpreted what esr was saying, and others somewhat more correctly interpreted it, but disagree with him.

    I think one problem is that “monopolist” is a loaded word that has some expected antecedents that are independent of the bad effects under discussion. Being a traditional monopolist is sufficient to cause these bad effects but not strictly necessary.

    Let me give an (almost) non-software example. When electronics got cheap enough, car manufacturers started having proprietary on-board electronic diagnostics. It eventually got painful enough that the US government stepped in and defined an extensible standard, OBD-II. Essentially, they forced the car manufacturers to open their kimonos a little bit because it was obvious, even to a legislator, that when somebody spends tens of thousands on an automobile, leaving them at the mercy of manufacturer-anointed service shops is not fair.

    Now, nobody claims that the car manufacturers are monopolists, yet here they were engaging in exactly the sort of behavior that typically gets monopolists in trouble, and this behavior was then reined in somewhat by regulation. Of course, regulatory capture being what it is, they are still allowed some private, undocumented PID codes, but there was a problem and we have at least a partial solution.

    There are several issues with extrapolating this behavior to software companies, but they are all a matter of degree. In the most egregious cases such as Microsoft, there really is a monopolist, and its behavior arguably causes a lot more damage than Ford refusing to release PID codes. But even in the trivial case of a game maker cornering the market for add-ons, the principles are the same even if the damages and number of people damaged are lower.

  369. >Can you try to put yourself in my position and understand that disconnect?

    Oh, I understand the disconnect perfectly well. You, like most other victims of proprietary software, have a sort of Stockholm syndrome – you identify with your oppressor, and make excuses for behavior that you would readily categorize as oppressive if it were analogized in other areas of your life.

    Here is what owning a car would be like if cars were controlled the way proprietary software is.

    For many models, you would only be able to drive your car on vendor-approved roads. Exceptionally indulgent automobile vendors might let you use anyone’s road but refuse to repair your car if it breaks down in an unapproved location, leaving you stranded.

    The hood of your car would be welded shut. In fact, you would never be able to hire car repairs in the normal sense at all – almost every time your car developed a problem, no matter how minor, you’d have to go back to the car’s vendor, who would charge you exorbitant rates and often fail to fix the problem. I say “almost” because there would be a small population of independent consultants that would charge you slightly less, then “fix” things by hitting carefully selected points on the exterior of your car with hammers. Occasionally this might even work.

    Vendor fixes to your car would often come bundled with new restrictions, like a governor that lowers the maximum speed at which you can drive. Occasionally such restrictions would be forced on you even when your car was operating perfectly well.

    Many models of car would be fitted with surveillance devices that you cannot remove or disable; you would not know who is receiving the take from these devices. Other models of car would come with advertising painted on the exterior and interior; removing the advertising could be done only with an unlocking procedure that costs money, or risks damage to the functional parts of your automobile, or both.

    The purchase and service prices for your car would differ depending on how many people you wanted to put in the seats. You might literally not be able to afford to carry passengers in your back seat or put anything in your trunk.

    If you objected to any of these restrictions, you would be informed that under the fine print in your contract you don’t actually own your car but just license it from its vendor, so shut up.

  370. Eric, I think your car analogy goes overboard. Yes, various closed-source companies have done analogous things, but that doesn’t mean every closed-source company does all of those things.

    All design is a compromise. By locking down software in some ways, companies sacrifice flexibility in favor of (in Apple’s case) user experience and brand maintenance. It’s working like gangbusters for them, and not causing anything like the degree of problems a monopoly is supposed to cause, as far as I can see.

    Let me ask this: what do you (and anyone else here) see as examples of the worst limitations of iOS? I mean more specific than “it’s a walled garden,” and even more specific than “it won’t let me modify the OS.” I mean things like “direct access to the file system.” Better yet, “I want direct access to the file system so that I can do X.”

    List as many as you’d like. What I’m trying to do is to get a sense of the practical objections to iOS as a specific case, rather than general and philosophical objections to a category in which Apple belongs.

  371. @esr:

    Here is what owning a car would be like if cars were controlled the way proprietary software is.

    FWIW, I believe, especially these days, it would be possible (though difficult) to have proprietary software sold in such a way that the vendor gives up the ability to abuse his customer in most of these ways. This would require the vendor to (among other things):

    - Deliver source
    - Deliver a working build system (also including source)
    - Sell, rather than license, a copy of the software, so that first sale rights apply (transferable, etc.)
    - Explicitly give permission for a derivative work to be used in place of the copy
    - Explicitly give permission for customers (and customer-hired contractors) to share any code necessary to create these derivative works.
    - Explicitly give permission for temporary copies to be made for derivative work development and testing.
    - Allow the customer to buy additional copies for no more than he paid for the first copy.

    Still no good for a widely used platform, but something like this might be a useful model for some software that has too small of a market to completely open source.

  372. @esr

    Here is what owning a car would be like if cars were controlled the way proprietary software is.

    I don’t recognise your analogy in any of the systems I use.

    For many models, you would only be able to drive your car on vendor-approved roads.

    Ok. On the Mac of course you can put any apps you like on your computer and it doesn’t compromise your warranty at all.

    On the iPhone you can only install apps approved by Apple. But a closer analogy would be if the car was only allowed to drive on safe, high-quality roads, and all the places you want to go are included in the set of allowed roads.

    It would be like a car that could go everywhere you wanted, but if you accidentally tried to drive down a disused road that might collapse at any time and send your car falling down the side of a cliff, the car would stop you from doing so. I would have no problem with such a car.

    Again, if we go back to reality for a second, people are not worried by such restrictions if they don’t in practice find the restrictions restricting.

    If I’m told that I can’t drive on some deathtrap road my response isn’t going to be ‘well I’m an autonomous individual, I object on principle to being told where I can go’, it’s going to be ‘why are you even telling me this? I would never want to drive on such a road, give me my car so I can get on with my life.’

    The hood of your car would be welded shut.

    Fine by me, I have no idea how the engine works anyway so all I would do is mess things up.

    If a real car nut who wants to tinker with the engine was sold such a car, then that would be a problem, and they should get a different car.

    But for most people? No issue at all.

    Vendor fixes to your car would often come bundled with new restrictions, like a governor that lowers the maximum speed at which you can drive.

    You are actually going to have to give an example here. I can’t remember ever getting such an update on any of my computers. Perhaps you can dredge up an example, but ‘often’? No way.

    Many models of car would be fitted with surveillance devices that you cannot remove or disable

    The only example I can think of is the CarrierIQ thing. I don’t believe there was any nefarious intent there, but I suppose it would qualify. But what happened? It came to light and Apple has now removed it from the system. The market worked.

    And, by the way, it was on Android too! An ‘open’ system.

    I suppose you’re going to tell me that the difference is that on an open source system the user can remove it.

    That is not true for 99.99% of users.

    Other models of car would come with advertising painted on the exterior and interior

    Not on the Mac or iOS devices. In fact Android is far more plagued by this than proprietary Apple products.

  373. @PapayaSF

    Let me ask this: what do you (and anyone else here) see as examples of the worst limitations of iOS? I mean more specific than “it’s a walled garden,” and even more specific than “it won’t let me modify the OS.” I mean things like “direct access to the file system.” Better yet, “I want direct access to the file system so that I can do X.”

    List as many as you’d like. What I’m trying to do is to get a sense of the practical objections to iOS as a specific case, rather than general and philosophical objections to a category in which Apple belongs.

    Yes, thank you.

    This is what I am trying to get at: *practical* real world limitations that result from iOS/OS X. I see a lot of philosophy and a lot of theoretical economics, but I rarely hear specific practical issues.

  374. @PapayaSF:

    Let me ask this: what do you (and anyone else here) see as examples of the worst limitations of iOS?

    This has been discussed before here. For a start, the lack of the ability to bypass the app store is, in and of itself, enough to disqualify iOS as a serious computing platform. The extortion of a percentage of in-app purchases is just icing on the cake.

  375. @Patrick

    For a start, the lack of the ability to bypass the app store is, in and of itself, enough to disqualify iOS as a serious computing platform.

    But what, specifically, do you want to put on your phone that isn’t in the app store?

  376. “Bypass the App Store” is too general. What, exactly, do you want to do once you bypass it?

    As for the percentage: they’re a retailer, and retailers generally get 50%, while Apple only gets 30%. Doesn’t seem like extortion to me.

  377. >But a closer analogy would be if the car was only allowed to drive on safe, high-quality roads, and all the places you want to go are included in the set of allowed roads.

    This is such a perfect example of what I mean by Stockholm syndrome that I’m not sure I see any point in trying to reply to the rest. But I’ll try one question: do you believe that the set of books a censor allows you to read is all the books you’ll ever want to read?

  378. @Tom:

    > But what, specifically, do you want to put on your phone that isn’t in the app store?

    I don’t have an iPhone, so I don’t have this issue. But, for example, if I developed an application that I wanted to share with my friends on Android, I could. iPhone, not so much unless I give Apple money and go through the approval process and put it in the store for everybody to see. I have done this with computers many times before. It is hard to imagine that I won’t ever do that on a smartphone once I start carrying one, which is one reason why it is hard to imagine that I will carry an iPhone.

  379. @PapayaSF:

    As for the percentage: they’re a retailer, and retailers generally get 50%, while Apple only gets 30%. Doesn’t seem like extortion to me.

    Look up Standard Oil.

  380. >Eric, I think your car analogy goes overboard. Yes, various closed-source companies have done analogous things, but that doesn’t mean every closed-source company does all of those things.

    It is because all those things are possible under any closed-source platform that closed-source platforms must die.

    Objecting that random closed-source vendor A doesn’t engage in random abuse B doesn’t address the fundamental power inequality I am pointing out. All those abuses occur from some vendors, and could become characteristic of all closed-source vendors at any time.

    Furthermore, history and analysis of incentives leads us to expect that the level and frequency of abuse will increase over time.

  381. > When electronics got cheap enough, car manufacturers started having proprietary on-board electronic diagnostics. It eventually got painful enough that the US government stepped in and defined an extensible standard, OBD-II. Essentially, they forced the car manufacturers to open their kimonos a little bit because it was obvious, even to a legislator, that when somebody spends tens of thousands on an automobile, leaving them at the mercy of manufacturer-anointed service shops is not fair.

    This isn’t why OBD-II happened.

    OBD (1) was only a law in California. (CARB implemented it via administrative fiat.)

    OBD-II happened by administrative fiat. The EPA’s own words:

    “OBD,” is a computer-based system built into all 1996 and later light-duty vehicles and trucks, as required by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. OBD systems are designed to monitor the performance of some of an engine’s major components including those responsible for controlling emissions.

    and

    The first generation of On-Board Diagnostic requirements, called OBD I, was developed by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and implemented in 1988. As technology and the desire to expand On-Board Diagnostic capability increased, a second-generation of On-Board Diagnostics requirements was developed. This second version of On-Board Diagnostic capabilities is called “OBD II”. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 mandated that, beginning with the 1996 model year, all light-duty vehicle and trucks made available for sale outside of the state of California must also be equipped with OBDII. In addition, EPA also requires that medium duty vehicles up to 14,000 pounds must also be equipped with OBD II systems beginning in the 2004 model year. In the future, EPA expects that all heavy-duty vehicles over 14,000 pounds will eventually be equipped with OBDII systems.

    The OBD II system monitors virtually every component that can affect the emission performance of the vehicle to ensure that the vehicle remains as clean as possible over its entire life, and assists repair technicians in diagnosing and fixing problems with the computerized engine controls. If a problem is detected, the OBD II system illuminates a warning lamp on the vehicle instrument panel to alert the driver. This warning lamp typically contains the phrase Check Engine or Service Engine Soon. The system will also store important information about the detected malfunction so that a repair technician can accurately find and fix the problem.

  382. > It is because all those things are possible under any closed-source platform that closed-source platforms must die.

    Unfortunately, this isn’t happening.

  383. IDC claims Apple’s tablet share dropped from 61.5% in Q3 to 54.7% in Q4, while Android’s rose from 32.3% in Q3 to 44.6% in Q4.

    Their prediction that “Google’s OS will overtake Apple’s in terms of worldwide market share by 2015″ seems heavily sandbagged, except they follow it up with “We expect iOS to remain the revenue market share leader through the end of our 2016 forecast period and beyond,” which seems quite improbable to me. Why do they believe Apple is going to hold on to such a great share for so long?

    http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23371312

  384. Look up Standard Oil.

    A more apt example would be United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., a major reason for the death of the classic Hollywood studio system, which produced many of the greatest films of all time.

    Why do they believe Apple is going to hold on to such a great share for so long?

    Track record, happy users, economies of scale, profits….

    Eric, I know you wouldn’t accept such a general argument against firearms ownership. (“But guns are often used to murder and rob people! You could use yours that way!”) Closed-source can be misused, but I see no evidence that misuse is inevitable.

    Furthermore, history and analysis of incentives leads us to expect that the level and frequency of abuse will increase over time.

    And yet OS X and iOS have gotten more (not less) open over time. Even MacOS did.

    Of course there are power inequalities. There almost always are, everywhere. It’s part of the inevitable trade-offs that happen in markets.

  385. >Eric, I know you wouldn’t accept such a general argument against firearms ownership

    I wouldn’t. Because personal firearms reduce inequality of power rather than increasing it. Further, the historical record is clear about the net consequences of civilian firearms ownership – good; tending to suppress crime and civil violence. On the other hand, the history of closed source is rife with predation and rent-seeking.

    >And yet OS X and iOS have gotten more (not less) open over time.

    I don’t see increasing openness in either system. iOS is less open than MacOS was, and we know why – the ratchet effect of increasing abuse of consumers motivated by increasing need to capture margin is clearly exhibited by Apple’s app-store policies.

  386. MacOS got more open over time. OS X is more open than MacOS in many ways. iOS, while more closed than either, has gotten better. Recall that when the iPhone first appeared, the only way to write apps for it was to write web apps. And some App Store policies have been relaxed over time.

    And I don’t see iOS being more closed than MacOS/OS X as a ratchet effect. It’s partly the requirements of cellphones (you don’t want one rogue phone to take down cells), and partly a user experience question (many smartphone owners are not computer savvy, and many iPad owners are far worse than that).

  387. Just to put this discussion in perspective, look at the graphs (market share and unit) at this link:

    [Updated] The rise and fall of personal computing
    http://www.asymco.com/2012/01/17/the-rise-and-fall-of-personal-computing/

    Especially, the lower panels show how much the mobile market is influencing the personal computer market. What is also illustrated is the explosion of models in the 1980s and the rise of Windows to monopoly status and the onset of stagnation around 2000.

    Then, during the dark ages of MS stagnation in the 2000′s comes the rise of a new computing platform with an explosion of models. The fall in the share of MS in personal computing is nicely illustrated in the last-but-one panel:
    http://www.asymco.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Screen-Shot-2012-01-15-at-1-15-8.45.58-PM.png

    This data was used by “Dylan’s Desk: Microsoft is about to drive a wedge into the mobile market”
    http://venturebeat.com/2012/03/14/dylans-desk-microsoft-is-about-to-drive-a-wedge-into-the-mobile-market/
    They predict:

    Once Windows 8 emerges from its beta period and starts shipping as an actual operating system, however, the game will change. The competition will increasingly become one of how much reach these companies can maintain among their developers.

    The PC platform wars ended with the dominance of the platform that supported the widest variety of software. The same thing is likely to happen in mobile.

    True, there are hundreds of thousands of iOS and Android apps out there already, but if there’s one asset Microsoft has, it is an army of developers and a massive ecosystem of Windows software, both for consumers and on the enterprise side. Having access to that ecosystem will make an enormous difference for many people, because it will allow them to ease into the tablet world with a friendly, Metro-style interface for new apps, without having to give up the ability to run their older Windows software.

    But this misses the point. MS are late, not because they wanted to wait. MS are late because they show the monopolist features Eric talked about. MS is geared to rent seeking and control, and they are closed source. They simply cannot extend in the new market. Apple was always put under pressure by MS and was squeezed into new markets for pure self preservation.

    MS missed the ARM boat because they did not want to develop anything that could distract from PCs. Rent seeking means to not invest in new technology, only in control. So no efforts were made to actually make a good ARM product. Classical monopolist behavior. Their early tablet efforts failed because they wanted to make a tablet that could do exactly what a PC could do. Most certainly, the tablet should not be able to do things a PC could not.

    And now MS are up against half a billion smartphones+tablets. They must wedge into a filled market. They are going the way of IBM, DEC, and Silicon Graphics.

    Apple now is repeating the same strategies it used against MS in the 1980s. And we see the same pattern emerge: Apple makes a nice profit on hardware people like. But the “cheap and (not so) clunky” competitor runs off with the market.

    Contrast Linux. The mere existence of Android proves the point Eric is making about closed source being bad.

    All distributions, especially the market leaders, were focused on the PC. But some developers used Linux on ARM, so there was decent ARM support.

    Being FLOSS, Google could simply take Linux and build a UI on top of it, added some security stuff for phones and they had a better OS for phones than MS ever had. (actually, MS did have a better OS for phones than their current offerings, but they killed the project, being closed source, no-one else could develop it so now it is lost). And now it is the most used mobile OS.

  388. @Tom:

    > The only example I can think of is the CarrierIQ thing.

    You do realize the *only* reason we know anything about CarrierIQ today is because of Android and the Android modding community, right?

    As I understand it, people were trying to develop custom ROMs for a particular Android phone (I think it was an HTC phone on Sprint, but I could easily be misremembering) and discovered there was a component they didn’t understand, so they poked at it a little more and discovered CarrierIQ. Then people started looking for it and found it in more places, including on other platforms. In the case of iOS, once people knew there was something to find, the iOS jailbreaking community found some CarrierIQ bits in iOS relatively quickly but, unlike the Android community, until they knew there was something to look for, they didn’t notice anything.

    To me, that’s a simple demonstration of the benefits of open-source vs closed-source platforms.

  389. >To me, that’s a simple demonstration of the benefits of open-source vs closed-source platforms.

    And yes, CarrierIQ was deployed on the iPhone 4. Apple promised to turn it off under public pressure, but because they are closed source it is not possible to actually verify that they have done so.

    A perfect example of information asymmetry and why closed-source platforms must die.

  390. >IDC claims Apple’s tablet share dropped from 61.5% in Q3 to 54.7% in Q4, while Android’s rose from 32.3% in Q3 to 44.6% in Q4.

    Very interesting. At that rate of change, Android tablet share will cross 50% going up before the end of 2012Q1. The squirming and excuse-making from the Apple fanboys should be loads of fun to watch.

  391. @esr
    “At that rate of change, Android tablet share will cross 50% going up before the end of 2012Q1.”

    I see large amounts of Android tablets on display in shops. That alone should point to more sales. Anyone in the market for a 7″ eBook reader will very seriously consider buying a cheap Android tablet instead.

  392. @esr

    This is such a perfect example of what I mean by Stockholm syndrome that I’m not sure I see any point in trying to reply to the rest.

    Just saying ‘Stockholm syndrome’ is not an answer. It’s not an argument.

    But I’ll try one question: do you believe that the set of books a censor allows you to read is all the books you’ll ever want to read?

    The answer is that I don’t know.

    First of all, I am against state censorship in all its forms. But that is completely different from using a device that only allows certain apps to be run on it, because I can choose to stop using that device at any time.

    For the most part I trust Apple and have no expectation that they are going to start banning a lot of apps that I might want to use. But in this low-probability scenario I would have to look at the utility of the apps I was being refused access to, and balance that against the utility I get from the phone. If that equation ever swings far enough from where it is now I will look at other platforms.

    @Patrick

    I don’t have an iPhone, so I don’t have this issue. But, for example, if I developed an application that I wanted to share with my friends on Android, I could. iPhone, not so much unless I give Apple money and go through the approval process and put it in the store for everybody to see.

    If you are a registered Apple developer then you can do this. You can either send the project file to your other Apple dev friends, or if they are not Apple developers then you can use something called Ad Hoc Distribution.

    However, if you are unwilling to pay the $99 a year to become a registered developer, and it is essential for you to be able to write programs for your phone and give them to your friends, then the iPhone is not for you. And that’s completely fine, and I wish you the best of luck on an alternative platform. I certainly don’t claim that the iPhone is perfect for everybody or that Android ‘must die’. It’s great to have competition.

    However, I think you will admit that for the vast majority of customers, this issue is not a problem. So why does this restriction mean that the platform must die? I don’t know.

    @esr

    And yes, CarrierIQ was deployed on the iPhone 4. Apple promised to turn it off under public pressure, but because they are closed source it is not possible to actually verify that they have done so.

    A perfect example of information asymmetry and why closed-source platforms must die.

    Actually it can be detected and has been detected.

    But let’s concede that it’s possible for Apple to hide something in the OS if they wanted to.

    First of all, it it ever came to light that something like carrierIQ was still running on the phone then I would be annoyed with Apple and it would lessen the trust I have in them. But this alone would not be enough for me to switch away, because in practical use, day-to-day, I will not experience any actual bad effects from such a piece of software. I wouldn’t *like it*, but I’m a pragmatist. To me, the utility cost of downgrading to an Android phone would be far greater than the gain I would get from being rid of something comparatively harmless like carrierIQ.

    However, what it really comes down to is that I *trust* Apple to do what is in my interests most of the time. This is because of long experience as a customer of the company, and an understanding that their interests are aligned with mine because they get all of their profit from people like me.

    And *you* trust people as well. You trust the dev community around the linux kernel, and whatever linux distro you use, and a million other little communities making all the software you use. Why are these people more deserving of trust than Apple? At least with Apple I know who they are and can hold them accountable.

    We all have to trust people. You can’t live in the world without trusting a lot of people not to be constantly trying to screw you. I trust Apple, you trust the open source community (actually, I trust them as well for the most part). It’s basically the same thing.

  393. >All in all, though, there are very few things that users want to do on their iOS devices that they can’t do.

    HMMM not so much.

    See the review of the $99 NOVO Basic 7–MIPS tablet in brightsideofnews.com.
    This underpowered, small screen, lower resolution device with a smaller android
    application base is finding a niche in factory, warehouse and food processing
    automation and management. The target is windows based hand helds at $700
    a pop. Classic attack from below disruption that does not appear in any product
    brochure for the Novo. This is possible because of Android (free, open source),
    MIPS (cheap licensing costs) and low manufacturing overhead in China. If Ingenic/MIPS/Android secure this beach head they will sally forth per Clayton Christensen.
    On queue Gordon E. Moore makes his appearance this year with an update to the
    processor that doubles the cores and bumps their speed 50% for the same cost.

    For all of Apples vaunted innovation and market cap this is a big and strong
    verses fast and agile contest. Apple is not in competition with Google. Apple is in
    competition with the 10 to the N Android/Arm/MIPS/Intel/Cloud start ups and
    established companies that will market products Apple never engineered and
    IOS will not accommodate.
    In fact some companies will market products to meet needs they never dreamed of. That is the power of open source and collaboration versus silos.
    If Google screws the pooch then Android gets forked or another project takes over.

  394. @batguano

    HMMM not so much.

    See the review of the $99 NOVO Basic 7–MIPS tablet in brightsideofnews.com.
    This underpowered, small screen, lower resolution device with a smaller android
    application base is finding a niche in factory, warehouse and food processing
    automation and management.

    You’re basically saying that this NOVO tablet is cheaper than an iPad, therefore more people will be able to buy it.

    That’s fine!

    But that is not a limitation for people who have bought an iPad. What I said was that there were very few practical real-world limitations or problems for iOS users that are the result of the iPad being closed-source.

    There are some sets of users who will not be well served by iOS. Hobbyists who want to dive deep into changing the OS source code, people who want to develop for their device without signing up with Apple, people who cannot afford the product. All this I accept gladly.

    But why does that mean that the millions of users who love their iOS devices and use them every day without problems should stop using them, and that their platform must die?

  395. >You trust the dev community around the linux kernel, and whatever linux distro you use, and a million other little communities making all the software you use. Why are these people more deserving of trust than Apple?

    For three reasons: motives, history, and transparancy.

    Transparency: I can see all the way down to the bottom of the Linux’s community’s code and their process. I can’t do that with Apple. I won’t trust what I cannot at least in principle verify. Verification may be difficult in practice but the possibility of performing it is a crucial guarantee.

    Motives: the kernel gang doesn’t desire or claim the right to control what software I can use on my Linux devices. They don’t seek any kind of power over me because they couldn’t use it for anything interesting to them if they had it. Apple, on the other hand, does seek control over me so it can extract rent on its own behalf and on behalf of its business partners.

    History: The Linux community has a history of behavior that increases my autonomy and choices. Apple, not so much. The fact that they got caught implementing CarrierIQ is a good recent example. The Linux community will never do that to me – in fact, it will exercise vigilance against such intrusions in my behalf.

    Trusting Apple, or any other closed-source vendor, is strictly for idiots and masochists.

  396. >The Linux community will never do that to me

    Except that it was in Android too. You could argue that was an action of the vendor, not the “linux community” per se, but most people are getting their linux via some vendor, so to them, there is no difference.

  397. >You could argue that was an action of the vendor, not the “linux community” per se, but most people are getting their linux via some vendor, so to them, there is no difference.

    No, except that the Linux community fixed the problem.

  398. @esr

    Transparency: I can see all the way down to the bottom of the Linux’s community’s code and their process. I can’t do that with Apple. I won’t trust what I cannot at least in principle verify. Verification may be difficult in practice but the possibility of performing it is a crucial guarantee.

    In principle

    Exactly. Not in reality.

    In reality you cannot verify what your software does. No single person can. You couldn’t even come close to inspecting and understanding a fraction of 1% of the code that is running on your computer.

    And *you* are an expert programmer. For most people it’s impossible to inspect even a single line of code, because they are not coders.

    So, again, we are back to trust. You have to trust the thousands of people who have written the software you use. You don’t know who they are or what their motivations are.

    That’s fine. You have to trust somebody. You trust the open-source community. I trust Apple.

    Motives: the kernel gang doesn’t desire or claim the right to control what software I can use on my Linux devices. They don’t seek any kind of power over me because they couldn’t use it for anything interesting to them if they had it. Apple, on the other hand, does seek control over me so it can extract rent on its own behalf and on behalf of its business partners.

    Apple’s motives are very simple. In the most mercenary interpretation their goal is to make money. The way they do that is by making widgets for their customers to buy. They have built up a customer base by focusing on making products that people love and trust. It is therefore not in their interest to start making products that do not serve the customer’s interest.

    History: The Linux community has a history of behavior that increases my autonomy and choices. Apple, not so much. The fact that they got caught implementing CarrierIQ is a good recent example. The Linux community will never do that to me – in fact, it will exercise vigilance against such intrusions in my behalf.

    Apple has a history of behaviour that increases my autonomy and choices. I can do more now than I have ever been able to with Apple products. Without those products I would have less power and fewer choices. My history as an Apple customer is the main reason I trust them. For two decades I have used their products, and in all that time they have continued to get better and better, and I have never experienced any problems related to their software being closed source. They have never demonstrated to me that they are acting against my interests.

  399. @esr

    I won’t trust what I cannot at least in principle verify

    And, by the way, if we are talking *in principle* then you can in fact inspect what even a proprietary OS is doing. Anything can be reverse engineered. Everything you need is right there in the compiled binary.

    Of course, it would be *in practice* impossible. But then again, so would inspecting all the open-source code that runs on your computer. But you apparently are only concerned with what is possible *in principle*, so you should be happy with this.

    In principle it is possible to verify both closed- and open-source software. And in both cases it is in reality impossible.

    And even if somehow you managed to read and understand all the code on your computer, you are probably still trusting a proprietary BIOS. And most certainly you are trusting proprietary processors, memory, network cards and so on that are built and controlled by profit-seeking companies.

  400. >But then again, so would inspecting all the open-source code that runs on your computer

    Well, if you want to go that far, consider the Halting Problem.

    But the difference in practicability of verification between proprietary and open source is very large. This is something we know from experience; in fact, that experience is the reason there is an open-source movement and not a reverse-engineer-the-proprietary-binaries movement.

    You can fool yourself that there’s a false equivalence if you choose, but don’t expect others to follow you down that garden path.

  401. Well, if you want to go that far, consider the Halting Problem.

    n = any positive integer
    while n != 1:
    if n % 2 == 0:
    n = n / 2
    else:
    n = 3 * n + 1

    Does it terminate?

    But the difference in practicability of verification between proprietary and open source is very large.

    The difference in the amount of work to verify closed- and open-source code is very large. But the *effective* difference for a single person with a normal life span is zero, because both are impossible tasks.

  402. WordPress deleted my indents, but I am sure you can figure out where they should be.

  403. >But the *effective* difference for a single person with a normal life span is zero, because both are impossible tasks.

    But I’m not just me. There are lots of us, and we’ve evolved a social process that distributes the load. Other open source developers trust GPSD because they know somebody competent is running it, that somebody has no motive or means to screw with them, and in an emergency where that trust breaks down they can read source.

    Without the “in an emergency, they can read source” to build on, none of the other levels of trust are sustainable. Source code is ground truth; it’s where the bullshit stops.

  404. @esr

    But I’m not just me. There are lots of us, and we’ve evolved a social process that distributes the load.

    That’s my whole point. You have to trust other people.

    Other open source developers trust GPSD because they know somebody competent is running it, that somebody has no motive or means to screw with them

    And I trust Apple for the same reasons.

    in an emergency where that trust breaks down they can read source

    And we’re back to the effective impossibility of truly being able to audit all your software.

    Not to mention that none of this even remotely applies to the 99% of people who aren’t programmers and who don’t have any sort of knowledge of who is writing open-source code.

  405. @esr “Very interesting. At that rate of change, Android tablet share will cross 50% going up before the end of 2012Q1.”

    Are you making a prediction?

  406. @Tom
    “In reality you cannot verify what your software does. No single person can. You couldn’t even come close to inspecting and understanding a fraction of 1% of the code that is running on your computer.”

    A classical fallacy. We do not have to do the check ourselves. Economic theory has established centuries ago that collaboration and specialization leads to enormous increases in productivity.

    Your statements that human society can only exist with trust is correct, but it seems that you do not understand what this actually means. Read Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity by Francis Fukuyama if you want to know more.

    The question is not “Should we trust someone?” but “Who should we trust? And to what extend?”. Any analysis of trust-relations comes down to reciprocity and transparency. Healthy trust relations must be two-way and the trusting person must be able to check the trusted behavior, either by herself or by others.

    Apple fails on both accounts. Your trust in Apple is a one-way street, Apple most certainly does not trust you. And, you are completely barred from checking whether or not your trust in Apple is warranted.

    FLOSS is almost perfect on both accounts. They trust you with their stuff and they let you check their work to your hearths content.

  407. >Are you making a prediction?

    Not one I’d bet money on. I haven’t been tracking the tablet market closely enough to feel like I understand how IDC’s numbers connect to reality. Also I’d have to have seen history on their share measurements, not just one isolated number.

    Unlike comScore’s smartphone numbers, I don’t personally see enough Android tablets in use to make IDC’s 44% seem plausible to me. I suppose that could be because they’re all living in homes and offices rather than being carried in public, but it inclines me to skepticism.

    I will note that I do expect a serious surge in Android tablet sales in the very near future (as in, later this month) due to general availability of 4.0 and tablet hardware finally reaching the point of non-suck where I want to buy one – that I will predict. But 44% last quarter seems too soon; if true, it would have exceeded my most optimistic scenario.

    I do find it interesting that, if IDC’s figure is correct, Android tablet and smartphone share are tracking each other almost exactly.

    But no. When I say “At that rate of change, Android tablet share will cross 50% going up before the end of 2012Q1.” take it literally as a conditional. I don’t have a mental model that actually predicts rate of change in that market – insufficient data.

    And if I did have such a model, I’d be in a state of relatively low confidence about it, because 4Q2011 was screwy. Worst mismatch from my projections since I started tracking. RIM actually gaining share? Incroyable! It doesn’t look, now, as though whatever hiccup took place is going to matter in the long term – we’re back on the previous trend curves after that three-month bobble – but the episode inclines me to be cautious.

  408. @winter

    Healthy trust relations must be two-way and the trusting person must be able to check the trusted behaviour

    The trusted behaviour is checked by millions of people using these products ever day, getting work done on them, and loving them. No problems due to closed-source.

    Once again, I still haven’t heard anybody tell me what specific, practical, real harm is supposed to be befalling me due to my use of closed-source.

    either by herself or by others.

    But, if it’s checked by others then you are trusting those doing the checking, aren’t you? How can you check on their work?

    Apple fails on both accounts. Your trust in Apple is a one-way street, Apple most certainly does not trust you.

    What, and the linux dev community trusts you? What does this even mean?

  409. >Weirdly, IDC now predicts Android tablets will cross 50% in 2015.

    That is indeed pretty strange considering the figures they just published. I was sort of vaguely expecting it to be early 2013 myself, which is why that 44% took mwe by surprise.

    >And apparently MSFT will be a complete non-player

    Well, yeah. WP7 phones are bombing so badly that it suggests nobody really wants any part of MSFT in mobile. Their trend curves whisper “heavy channel-stuffing here” and since introduction I’ve seen exactly one (1) outside an electronics store.

  410. >Today must be a rough day for the android fan boys

    Cultlike displays of devotion are normal at Apple product releases. Somehow they never seem to translate into actual problems for Android.

  411. What, and the linux dev community trusts you? What does this even mean?

    Seems obvious enough to me. The linux dev community trusts you enough to let you see their code (Apple? not so much) and to do mostly whatever you want with it. Even fork it which is pretty damned trusting.

  412. “That is indeed pretty strange considering the figures they just published. I was sort of vaguely expecting it to be early 2013 myself, which is why that 44% took mwe by surprise.”

    IDC counts Kindle Fires and Nooks as Android, even though Google does not.

  413. @esr “Cultlike displays of devotion are normal at Apple product releases”

    just people excited about a cool new product. why does it have to be a “cult”?

  414. @Tim F

    “IDC counts Kindle Fires and Nooks as Android, even though Google does not.”

    I think KF should be counted. But they don’t offer that much to the Android eco-system. They don’t use android app store and they pretty much are on an android fork. Everyone else will develop tablet apps on ICS. But given that the KF is the #1 android tablet, so seems like it can’t be ignored.

    Nooks seems like they shouldn’t be counted to me. They are on Android 1.5 and are more suited to just be a reader. Not suitable for browsing IMO.

  415. @phil: We’ve gone down this road a number of times before… I just wanted to explain the data.

    Your logic, however, seems particularly nonsensical: you agree that it largely does nothing for Google, but you want to count it as Android just because it actually sells unlike every other Android tablet? Does not compute.

    Rather than rehashing all of the old arguments again, I think it simply suffices to say that Google doesn’t count the Fire as Android.

  416. @Tim F. Well I started writing it *shouldn’t count* but then talked myself into it *should count*.

    Perhaps the relevant question is: is it an iPad competitor?

    For KF, I say yes. Nook I say no.

  417. Nooks seems like they shouldn’t be counted to me. They are on Android 1.5 and are more suited to just be a reader. Not suitable for browsing IMO.

    On what grounds? My NC was a great browsing device, even before I paved it over with CyanogenMod. And the NC ran Android 2.1 at the start; up to 2.3 now so the bit about them being on 1.5 is false.

    From a platform perspective, they should be counted as Android devices. They run apk’s. The apk for, say, the Nook version of Angry Birds is little more than trivially different for the Google Store version.

    Besides which, a significant number of NCs are probably rooted/reflashed.

  418. @phil:

    > just people excited about a cool new product. why does it have to be a “cult”?

    Cult may or may not be the right word. But there is a fairly common behavior I have noticed in a lot of people — they require significant validation. They go to restaurants that aren’t all that much better than others, but where lots of people are. They go at a time when there are lots of people there, when they could have gotten the same food half an hour earlier without any wait. (Sometimes this is of necessity but I have significant first-hand evidence that it is often on purpose — people like to wait in line because it validates their choices.)

    Being where lots of other people are doing the same thing — that validates their choice. It’s the same thing with ebay, and why sniping is the only valid strategy — all these insecure people want to bid on those things that others are bidding on, apparently for the sole reason that others are bidding on them. So I am a bit hesitant to call it a cult, but to the extent it is a cult, it’s just wanting to be part of something bigger — the same phenomenon that leads people to go to a concert in an overpriced, smoke-filled, claustrophobic crappy venue with watered down drinks and a lousy sound system, so they can get occasional glimpses of the band, when they could have stayed home and enjoyed the same music with a better sound system and better drinks for a lot less money.

    I hate crowds and I hate signalling what I am going to do on ebay to someone who is only going to drive my price up. I go to lunch at the same restaurants as the cool kids but at different hours. Perhaps I am a misanthrope. In any case, my analysis of what is going on (insecure/gregarious) is perhaps a bit kinder than esr’s analysis (cult) or the Business Insider analysis (stupid):

    http://www.businessinsider.com/in-case-we-needed-more-evidence-that-apple-zealots-arent-the-sharpest-tools-in-the-shed-2012-3

  419. The J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey is out for 2012:

    http://www.jdpower.com/content/press-release/py6kvam/2012-u-s-wireless-smartphone-and-traditional-mobile-phone-satisfaction-study–v1.htm?utm_source=loopinsight.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+loopinsight%2FKqJb+%28The+Loop%29

    And guess who tops the chart?

    That’s right. For the seventh time in a row, and not by a small margin.

    But I guess all these people must be wrong, because they are using Apple’s software and therefore must be suffering the ill-effects of using terribly dangerous closed-source software.

    Again, millions of people are using this stuff everyday and they love it. Until somebody points to tangible real-world harm that results from Apple’s stuff being closed I remain completely unconvinced.

  420. Slight correction: I go to lunch at some of the restaurants as the cool kids, but at different hours. Some of their choices completely mystify me, with indifferent (at best) service and food at high prices, and some of the places they won’t go have awesome food and service at great prices.

  421. @Tom:

    > The J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey is out for 2012

    They must be prognosticators par excellance! We’re not even 1/4 the way into the year!

    But speaking of customer satisfaction surveys, apparently being satisfied isn’t necessarily the best thing for you:


    What’s more, recent research suggests that judging care in terms of desirable customer experiences could be expensive and may even be dangerous. A new paper by Joshua Fenton, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, and colleagues found that higher satisfaction scores correlated with greater use of hospital services (driving up costs), but also with increased mortality.

  422. Eric,

    Here is a little perspective on the IDC numbers.  I didn’t independently verify, I’m assuming Colin Crawford was able to find IDC’s past predictions without borking them up.

    Here is what he said:

    “…I recall at the iPad launch IDC analysts noting that the iPad would do remarkably well if they sold 5MM units by the end of 2010. IDC subsequently estimated the total number of all tablets to be sold in 2010 at 7.6MM units. But when the final numbers were reported, Apple alone had sold nearly 15MM units. IDC’s forecast for 2011 was set at 44.6 MM units (the final sales for 2011 came in at nearly 69MM units with Apple selling 40 MM units). IDC first predicted 2012 sales of 70.8 MM units – this forecast was increased to 88 MM units and now stands at the 106 MM number announced by IDC a few days ago.

    Based on the historical sales growth and the launch of the new iPad it is hard to believe that Apple will sell less than 60MM units in 2012….

    ….IDC is hardly the only analyst firm underestimating Apple’s potential but is one of the most conservative….”

    http://techpinions.com/why-the-latest-ipad-forecasts-are-wrong/5996

    Being such a recent category (ignoring the MS tablet effort prior to Metro), no one seems to get close to predicting tablet sales numbers.  Even Apple itself.  Of course that is all part of their manufactured theater according to Patrick ;v)

    Cheers, Argosy aka “Ignorant Slut”

  423. Speaking of cult/validation/stupidity/whatever:


    Of the twenty people Hudson Square Research spoke with, all but three already owned an iPad. Last year, 69% of those waiting in line already owned one of the tablet computers.

    So in this small sample of people standing in line, 85% already own an iPad. It’s an interesting statistic. There are a lot of possible reasons for this, but you can’t discount the fact that you could have bought one online for delivery today, or the fact that there are a lot of stores where you can just wander in and buy one off the shelf even today, yet we have these long lines. Which apparently aren’t as long as they used to be, so we have to look to online lead-times to predict demand now.

  424. @Patrick

    They go at a time when there are lots of people there, when they could have gotten the same food half an hour earlier without any wait.

    the same phenomenon that leads people to go to a concert in an overpriced, smoke-filled, claustrophobic crappy venue with watered down drinks and a lousy sound system, so they can get occasional glimpses of the band, when they could have stayed home and enjoyed the same music with a better sound system and better drinks for a lot less money.

    It’s called being social! People like being around other people. It’s fun. And of course human beings derive a lot of their self-worth from how they interact with other people. If somebody thinks I did something well then I am going to feel good about that. It’s human nature.

    sniping is the only valid strategy

    I’m totally with you on that one. I can’t understand why anybody would bid in an ebay auction before the very end. It’s insanity. I’m not sure it’s got anything to do with being insecure though. It’s just that people buy into the idea that it’s an auction and haven’t thought it through properly.

  425. @Argosy:

    no one seems to get close to predicting tablet sales numbers. Even Apple itself. Of course that is all part of their manufactured theater according to Patrick

    I have said before that the iPad came in at a great price. And that Apple could sell about as many as they wanted to. And that Apple’s genius is in picking the right price point, having faith that they have the right product for that price point, and building and selling enough to have economies of scale from the outset. And in generating huge interest on day 1 of release in a country.

    But they also control how many countries they release in and when. They don’t have to do them all at once. (And in fact, they don’t — they stage them. But these days, they stage lots of countries on the first day.) They also have a much better idea of demand than any of the analysts. So yes, I still think that it’s mostly theater. There have been a couple of times when they’ve screwed up and shortages lasted for awhile, but I think they try really hard to avoid that. I think all (certainly the majority) of those standing in line for hours today will walk away with an iPhone and think better of Apple for it.

  426. @Patrick Maupin the examples you are describing are what many people consider to be “fun”

    I personally don’t want to go stand in line at the apple store, but some people like it. it’s a social occasion. I ordered my iPad to be delivered via FedEx. And there probably are some people seeking “validation”, I dunno.

    But others are just excited about the product.

    anyway, I’m still waiting for someone to line up for an android product.

  427. “Perhaps the relevant question is: is it an iPad competitor?”

    I have no problem saying: yes, the Kindle Fire competes with the iPad. That’s a completely different question from: does it get counted as part of Google’s Android platform? (In other words, Android does not have 44% of the tablet market.)

  428. Patrick,

    I was working on a reply to our earlier string but abounded it when the discussion moved on before I was able to finalize my post, but I’ll try to hit the highlights here.

    I think you and I would be about 90% in agreement on the topic of “theater”. I mostly disagree with the message implied by your original post “Apple theater requires lines at all costs…” IIRC. Maybe I’m missing your point. I don’t see any company spending significant resources to create the perception of demand as a strategy.

    Apple undoubtedly has bet big (contracted for huge quantities of parts) with their suppliers on the iPad and iPhone. They have to “shoot for the moon” on creating demand. You don’t really get a second chance to make an introductory big splash with technology which is moving this fast. Think shelf life. So if you are saying that ‘Apple theater’ is creating as much demand as possible with the chance it will outstrip their ability to supply, then we really are in agreement. If on the other hand, you mean to say Apple (or any other company) delays shipment of an available product just so people have to wait in line physically or on the Internet, simply to create the perception of huge demand, then I think you would need better evidence than your original link to Reuters to convince me and there’s of that premise.

    Your orignial statement does not jibe with the fact there are seldom “shortages” on iMacs, Apple tv, iPod Touch, etc. even duing launch. So if it is a strategy, they only target the products which are experience “explosive” growth (in sales not market share ;v)

    However I think we will always disagree that “dupe/duped” is worse than “ignorant Slut”. So there’s a possibility of 99% agreement in our exchange.

    Cheers- Argosy

  429. @phil:

    > anyway, I’m still waiting for someone to line up for an android product.

    Personally, I think this is much less likely to happen as often or in a big way because there are lots of good Android models at lots of different price/performance points always available in the market. But certainly, when a new model appears that scratches a unique itch, you might expect a line.

    Like this:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/galaxy-nexus-lines-2011-12?op=1

    Or this:

    http://androidcommunity.com/massive-lines-form-as-meizu-launches-m9-android-froyo-phone-20110102/

    I’m sorry, what were you waiting for again?

  430. @Argosy:

    If on the other hand, you mean to say Apple (or any other company) delays shipment of an available product just so people have to wait in line physically or on the Internet, simply to create the perception of huge demand, then I think you would need better evidence than your original link to Reuters to convince me and there’s of that premise.

    Part of what Apple relies on is (almost) instant gratification. You wait in line for a day, and get your phone. Not a week, not a month. Once you start investing time in the process, you will be rewarded at the end. So it’s absolutely true that they delay shipments of available products — some of the products that they are shipping today must have been inside the country at least a month ago. Although they can turn thousands of workers on a dime, they still can’t just flip a switch and go from zero a day to 5 million a day. And they have to worry about customs, etc.

    Other companies will sell things as soon as they have them to sell. Apple absolutely waits until they think they have enough for an orgasmic product release.

  431. BTW, this idea that a store can’t sell a product before an official date has been used for electronic products before (mainly game consoles) and software (Windows 95 maybe), but seems to have its roots firmly in the entertainment industry (movies, songs, and Harry Potter books).

    It’s absolutely good business when you are worried that your product is so faddish that if people can’t get it on the first day they might decide later that they don’t really need it after all.

    Note that not all your potential customers have to be in this fickle group for it to be a worthwhile marketing strategy, but certainly you have to have enough customers in this group to make it worthwhile to sit on inventory for awhile and give youself a major logistics headache.

    Or, as Apple seems to have figured out, the publicity helps create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Your orignial statement does not jibe with the fact there are seldom “shortages” on iMacs, Apple tv, iPod Touch, etc. even duing launch. So if it is a strategy, they only target the products which are experience “explosive” growth (in sales not market share ;v)

    There are products where the strategy would work well, and products where it wouldn’t. There is no question that there is some tendency of people to want to be first for certain products. As I have explained, there are different ways of handling this. Apple has chosen to do so in a manner which amplifies it and generates tremendous publicity. This is not a criticism; if anything, it is admiration (of Apple, not the people giving up their day just to buy the damn thing from the official store).

  432. @Patrick Maupin: yeah, the the lines for the nexus galaxy didn’t look like much (20 people)? But the one in China for Froyo looked more like an Apple line.

    I think the Android market is commoditized, so the new models don’t matter as much (which is what I think you were getting at)

  433. @phil:

    > I think the Android market is commoditized, so the new models don’t matter as much

    Yes, but this designation is a simplification that masks multiple things going on. The obvious thing is that you don’t usually have to wait for a commodity — that’s the whole point of it being a commodity. But as discussed, many people stand in line even when they don’t have to because it’s “fun.” For those people, the thing they are standing in line for has to be special, and a commodity won’t cut it and won’t make them feel like a special part of a special crowd.

    Obviously, you can get people to queue up for anything if you drop the price enough (see TouchPad firesale). Which might be (probably is) what is going on in that China picture.

    There is no doubt it takes Apple’s special finesse to get people to queue up for something that is (for most of them — 85% according to one so-small-as-to-probably-be-completely-unscientific-survey) simply a somewhat upgraded version of something they already own.

  434. Patrick

    So we agree, that having a big launch roll-out (a “unified” release date for most/all outlets, pre-building stock to help meet initial demand, and big public introductions), is expected, almost necessary in the competitive, fast moving mobile electronics market. And they do this knowing their supply chain does in fact have a daily production limit they may have tried to calculate several months ago (if not over a year ago) and very well risk creating demand which will outstrip their ability to meet? This we can agree on, Good!

    While to accomplish a “single” launch day, there were/are obviously stock piles in the US for physical outlets. From what I hear and read, online orders come directly from China. Unless UPS and/or Fedex is doctoring their tracking system just to help Apple create this illusion, I would have to be convinced “any” of the online orders were/are sitting around in the US. Initial pre-orders obviously come from a pre-built stockpile of units. I would be very surprised, however, if there are weeks/months worth of production sitting in warehouses waiting to be shipped to fulfill existing orders in the name of theatrics and you offer no evidence of this (I’m not sure how any of us could, even if it were happening?). Again the bottle neck could be shipping capacities from China. It really doesn’t matter. No company would purposely delay shipment of stock when there are existing orders. I’m sure it happens for many reasons, but not on purpose. Yes companies hype up demand, so much that they can’t physically fulfill orders. “No” consumer electronics company (that stays in business) chooses not to fulfill orders when they are physically able in the name of some marketing scheme. You offer no evidence this has (ever) happened. And by “this” I mean willingly delay deliverable products.

    I’m not sure I follow your statement. If a company is worried some subset of “faddish” customers will buy something else if they cant get it the first day, why would you delay ANY orders? Or are you saying people who order online are not part of that subset?

    So let me get this straight. You feel Apple is delaying online orders (2-3 weeks is what is being quoted now) in order to get some people to go to a physical store instead where they can wait in line for a bit (not too long of course) to get an iPad/iPhone. This is done for theatrical/marketing purposes only. If that is the case we can agree to disagree and be done with it. I will certainly change my mind when there is some/any evidence to the contrary. Evidence which doesn’t equally support “demand outstripping supply”. Building the infrastructure to build X amount and then “hyping up” demand for >> X is not the same as being able to supply X and choosing not to supply it when demand is < or = X.

    I would love to here which (Apple) products this strategy wouldn’t work on and why?

    Cheers- I.S.

  435. @Argosy:

    So we agree, that having a big launch roll-out (a “unified” release date for most/all outlets, pre-building stock to help meet initial demand, and big public introductions), is expected, almost necessary in the competitive, fast moving mobile electronics market.

    Where the hell did we agree to that? I disagree they have to do it all over the world at once; even within a single country I only agree to the extent that it helps them to get some fickle customers who might not buy it later. (Admittedly, a lot of Apple’s customers might fall into this category.)

    From what I hear and read, online orders come directly from China.

    That very well could be. I haven’t been keeping up, but it wouldn’t surprise me if global shipping had gotten to the point where stockpiling things in China makes more sense than stockpiling them here.

    No company would purposely delay shipment of stock when there are existing orders.

    How do you explain Harry Potter releases? Most companies wouldn’t do this, but Apple isn’t most companies. I’ve read they had 4 million iPhone 4S on hand for launch, and probably between 2 and 3 million iPads 3s I already said this, but even Apple can’t build that many in a day. They obviously built some of them over a month ago.

  436. For a counterexample to rolling everything out everywhere, take a look at how/where Samsung rolls out its phones.

  437. > Transparency: I can see all the way down to the bottom of the Linux’s community’s code and their process. I can’t do that with Apple.

    Ken Thompson says you’re wrong.

  438. Everyone here is still talking about Apple. (Patrick and Eric included.)

    quell surprise.

  439. @patrick maupin “There is no doubt it takes Apple’s special finesse to get people to queue up for something that is (for most of them — 85% according to one so-small-as-to-probably-be-completely-unscientific-survey) simply a somewhat upgraded version of something they already own”

    Hmmm. If this is true, what does this tell you? Perhaps that people who own apple products really like them? Although I think the iPad 3 is a huge upgrade. Much bigger than iPad 2 was

  440. Also, iPads are making huge strides in the business world, and apparently hospitals are interested because doctors can now view X-rays etc. at an extremely high resolution.

  441. @phil:

    Hmmm. If this is true, what does this tell you? Perhaps that people who own apple products really like them?

    Obviously the majority of iPad owners didn’t queue up today. By your logic, does that mean they think the iPad sucks? :-)

    Certainly the result implies that some people who own apple products really like them, so much so that you don’t find many outsiders around. A conclusion not inconsistent with the view that it’s a cult…

    Although I think the iPad 3 is a huge upgrade. Much bigger than iPad 2 was

    I absolutely believe that. Which still doesn’t explain why they are all standing in line at big stores rather than quietly going to Best Buy or Radio Shack. So the conclusion is not inconsistent with the Business Insider view that they’re not too bright, either.

  442. Perhaps they don’t know Best Buy or Radio Shack have the new iPads. Perhaps they want to buy from Apple because Apple offers excellent support. Perhaps they want Apple to have the entire purchase price because they’re grateful and supportive. The “not bright/cultist” charge still seems like sour grapes to me.

  443. @Patrick

    I absolutely believe that. Which still doesn’t explain why they are all standing in line at big stores rather than quietly going to Best Buy or Radio Shack.

    It’s because they wanted to have fun! They wanted to have a shared social experience. It’s not all about just getting the product. Personally it’s not my idea of fun, but for a lot of people it is. What’s wrong with that?

    So the conclusion is not inconsistent with the Business Insider view that they’re not too bright, either.

    Come on, Patrick. That is a stupid conclusion. That idiotic Business Insider piece was typical bullshit from them. Just link bait.

    Like I said, these people are not merely seeking to buy the product. For a lot of them it is a fun social occasion.

  444. @PapayaSF:

    Perhaps they don’t know Best Buy or Radio Shack have the new iPads.

    Okaaaay. These leading edge trendsetters who already have iPads (85% of people lined up) don’t know how to use them to figure out where to buy something? What do they need new ones for? Old ones don’t work right? Can’t surf the internet?

    Perhaps they want to buy from Apple because Apple offers excellent support.

    So they don’t know that you can take a product to the Apple store for warranty work no matter where you bought it? Just how stupid are these Apple customers, anyway?

    Perhaps they want Apple to have the entire purchase price because they’re grateful and supportive.

    Yeah, let me waste 4 hours of my time to give an extra $100 to the richest corporation on the planet. I was trying to defend those guys, but you’re right — it really is a cult after all.

    The “not bright/cultist” charge still seems like sour grapes to me.

    And yet, you’ve somehow just given scenarios that match it perfectly according to Occam’s Razor.

    @Tom:

    Come on, Patrick. That is a stupid conclusion.

    I’m the one who said it was an interesting data point I drew no conclusions from. Others decided that conclusions had to be drawn and needled me, e.g. “Hmm, what does that tell you?” after I already explained IT TELLS ME NOTHING. So if you guys insist on drawing conclusions, I’ve given some that fit the observed facts at least as well as any others.

    Like I said, these people are not merely seeking to buy the product. For a lot of them it is a fun social occasion.

    Which, again, is not inconsistent with the observation that it’s not a normal retail transaction between a normal retailer and a normal customer.

  445. @Patrick

    Which, again, is not inconsistent with the observation that it’s not a normal retail transaction between a normal retailer and a normal customer.

    I just don’t understand what you’re trying to prove here. That Apple inspires enthusiasm about its products? That their customers like to socialise? That they sometimes don’t act like perfect utilitarian robots and that they like to have some fun?

    Are these supposed to be bad things?

  446. Not everyone who has or wants an iPad is some sort of self-conscious “leading edge trendsetter.” Why should they know or care what Radio Shack has? Wanting a favorite corporation to benefit from your money is not necessarily cultish. The “hours” social aspect was covered by Tom, and what’s this extra $100? I don’t think iPads are discounted anywhere.

    Finally, people who buy at retail stores often want to have a pleasant retail experience. In the group of Radio Shack, Best Buy, and Apple, would you admit that one of those three offers a distinctly superior experience?

    See, this looks to me like another instance of geek insensitivity to design. A geek buys an item at the cheapest and most efficient place, period. To him it makes no sense to prefer a place that has better “atmosphere” or which is more fun to be in for silly social reasons. That’s the engineering way to look at it. That’s how good code is written: efficiency! Plus, Best Buy and Radio Shack are more flexible! More choices! No manufacturer lock-in! To that mindset, anyone who prefers an Apple store must be a brainwashed cultist, just like anyone who prefers iOS to Android. If this sort of geek can even perceive the design aspects that others prefer, he sees it as superficial “glitz” or “marketing.”

    But Apple has learned how to do something that nobody else has: how to use design, economies of scale, and customer service to make a limited range of cutting-edge mobile computers that scores of millions want to buy. And their experience is so good that they often rush to buy the next one. Or if they don’t (like me with my 3GS), they wait until they have to upgrade, but aren’t interested in anything other than the next Apple iteration. (For me: iPhone 5. I don’t know anything about it except that it’ll be my next phone. Or maybe a discounted 4S if money is tight, but one of those two.)

    Scores of millions of people aren’t all brainwashed cultists. They’re just responding to qualities that you dismiss or don’t perceive at all.

  447. @PapayaSF:

    Not everyone who has or wants an iPad is some sort of self-conscious “leading edge trendsetter.”

    And I never said all of them, or even most of them, were. Pay attention.

    Why should they know or care what Radio Shack has?

    We were discussing people who absolutely had to have the new iPad on the first day even though they already have one (85% of the interviewed people in line). These people know what they want. They knew they could have gotten it online, but some people even lined up two days in advance. Which raises the question: are they stupid? Or do the really, truly only want to go to the Apple store for the experience? Those possible answers aren’t mutually exclusive, but there aren’t many other reasonable answers.

    Wanting a favorite corporation to benefit from your money is not necessarily cultish.

    By what metric? A corporation is, by definition, an amoral entity that is out to part you from your money. Any money you give them should be based on perceived value they give you, not because you “want them to benefit.” Especially when they’re a hell of a lot richer than you are.

    The “hours” social aspect was covered by Tom,

    Sure, any excuse for a party. The band was great, the drinks were good. Wait, that was somewhere else.

    and what’s this extra $100? I don’t think iPads are discounted anywhere.

    It’s my understanding that that’s about how much extra Apple gets if you buy it from their store. C’mon, pay attention.

    Finally, people who buy at retail stores often want to have a pleasant retail experience. In the group of Radio Shack, Best Buy, and Apple, would you admit that one of those three offers a distinctly superior experience?

    Absolutely. Radio Shack, hands down. Best Buy frisks you on the way out, and the Apple store is a madhouse. How the fuck anybody could think of is as a “pleasant retail experience” is beyond comprehension. The only downside to Radio Shack is you have to lie about your address and phone number and get yet another catalog sent to the white house.

    See, this looks to me like another instance of geek insensitivity to design. A geek buys an item at the cheapest and most efficient place, period. To him it makes no sense to prefer a place that has better “atmosphere” or which is more fun to be in for silly social reasons.

    I’ve been to the Apple store. It was suffocating. If that was “atmosphere”, no thanks.

    That’s the engineering way to look at it. That’s how good code is written: efficiency! Plus, Best Buy and Radio Shack are more flexible! More choices! No manufacturer lock-in!

    Funny.

    To that mindset, anyone who prefers an Apple store must be a brainwashed cultist

    C’mon. There’s a difference between “preferring” the Apple store, and “preferring” the Apple store on one of the two days of the year when you know they won’t have any time for you and you know it’s going to be a fucking madhouse, even worse than usual. Even if you wanted to learn about Apple products or get one repaired, you’d do best to stay away that day, and even if you weren’t paying any attention to the news you’d probably figure it out as soon as you saw the line, if you werent stupid or a brainwashed cultist. But I guess that’s just my efficiency talking.

    , just like anyone who prefers iOS to Android. If this sort of geek can even perceive the design aspects that others prefer, he sees it as superficial “glitz” or “marketing.”

    Actually, when I was in the Apple store, it was rows and rows of the same thing, with overwhelming hordes of people. “Numbing” might be a better adjective.

    But Apple has learned how to do something that nobody else has: how to use design, economies of scale, and customer service to make a limited range of cutting-edge mobile computers that scores of millions want to buy.

    And part of that, whether you believe it or not, is their ability to tap into the religious parts of peoples’ brains.

    And their experience is so good that they often rush to buy the next one.

    See, that’s the confusing part. If it’s so good, why do you have to get rid of the old one right away?

    Or if they don’t (like me with my 3GS), they wait until they have to upgrade, but aren’t interested in anything other than the next Apple iteration. (For me: iPhone 5. I don’t know anything about it except that it’ll be my next phone. Or maybe a discounted 4S if money is tight, but one of those two.)

    The inability to acknowledge that, maybe, just possibly, something might be better, or that there won’t be anything with that phone that you need, brands you as a cult member in good standing.

    Scores of millions of people aren’t all brainwashed cultists.

    Sure they are. Have you seen how well all the major religions are doing?

    They’re just responding to qualities that you dismiss or don’t perceive at all.

    Right. I don’t take much on faith.

  448. You keep proving my point. To a geek, any corporation is a “rich” and “amoral entity.” To a geek, the concept that one can have better feelings towards one corporation over another based on anything intangible can only be explained by hypnosis or dim-wittedness. But yes, a perfectly reasonable person who enjoys their Apple product might prefer to buy it directly, and have that $100 retail profit go to Apple instead of Radio Shack.

    The esthetic experience is connected with the spiritual/religious experience (though not identical to “faith”), so you’re not entirely wrong, but you are distorting all this to fit your worldview.

    In your view, Android is better, and I’m not disagreeing: for you, and for many others, Android is better. No question. Fine, you don’t like Apple stores, and prefer the Radio Shack experience. (I suppose the Android Army will consist of that vast majority of people who agree with you there, right? LOL. Well, I certainly won’t accuse Radio Shack fans of following trends!)

    The fact that I’m sure there will not be a better phone for me this year is not evidence of cultishness, just a knowledge of my needs, my experience with Apple, and my belief that the best that competitors can do is come up with imitations that might have some extra features I don’t particularly care about. I know that iOS and iPhones will have the level of design excellence I appreciated with my first Mac Plus. For reasons I’ve stated around here, the hardware/software integration and overall design integrity that Apple achieves is something I doubt any open source OS plus standard consumer electronic manufacturer thinking and practices can ever achieve. That’s the fundamental flaw of the open source model for me. Design integrity is perhaps as important to me as openness is to you. Different strokes.

    My point is just that the scores of millions (and growing) who prefer Apple aren’t all brainwashed, or trendy, or dim-witted. Yeah, there’s a very enthusiastic fraction who will line up, but it’s not some huge mystery or bizarre pathology.

  449. @Nick Raggio
    “Ken Thompson says you’re wrong.”

    Interesting observation on two levels.

    1) For absolute trust and truth, you have to visit a church. So why bring this up in a discussion about human relations? It sounds paranoid. Or is this simply a non-sequitur to mess up the discussion?

    2) On a CS angle, this riddle has been largely solved by David A Wheeler in his PhD thesis. So this demon has been banished too.

    Fully Countering Trusting Trust through Diverse Double-Compiling (DDC) – Countering Trojan Horse attacks on Compilers
    http://www.dwheeler.com/trusting-trust/

    An Air Force evaluation of Multics, and Ken Thompson’s Turing award lecture (“Reflections on Trusting Trust”), showed that compilers can be subverted to insert malicious Trojan horses into critical software, including themselves. If this “trusting trust” attack goes undetected, even complete analysis of a system’s source code will not find the malicious code that is running. Previously-known countermeasures have been grossly inadequate. If this attack cannot be countered, attackers can quietly subvert entire classes of computer systems, gaining complete control over financial, infrastructure, military, and/or business system infrastructures worldwide. This dissertation’s thesis is that the trusting trust attack can be detected and effectively countered using the “Diverse Double-Compiling” (DDC) technique, as demonstrated by (1) a formal proof that DDC can determine if source code and generated executable code correspond, (2) a demonstration of DDC with four compilers (a small C compiler, a small Lisp compiler, a small maliciously corrupted Lisp compiler, and a large industrial-strength C compiler, GCC), and (3) a description of approaches for applying DDC in various real-world scenarios. In the DDC technique, source code is compiled twice: once with a second (trusted) compiler (using the source code of the compiler’s parent), and then the compiler source code is compiled using the result of the first compilation. If the result is bit-for-bit identical with the untrusted executable, then the source code accurately represents the executable.

  450. Hot rumor du jour: Google 7″ tablet at $150 price point. Probably not a quad core chip any more. That’d undercut the Kindle Fire, price-wise, and we’re pretty sure Amazon isn’t making any significant money on those, so if that rumor is anywhere near accurate I’m really interested in how Google drove the price down so far.

  451. @ Maupin

    The reason people don’t queue up to buy iPads/iPhones at Best Buy or Radioshack is because their stock is too low. Same with Walmart. The one near my house only got 8 in total, and those were gone quickly. The Radio Shack near my house had 3. For a device that will probably sell in the neighborhood of 5 million in the first week, informed buyers know there are two ways to definitely get an iPad; online, and at the Apple Store.

    Now why go to the Apple Store when buying online is so frictionless? Some people want to a) actually look at the device before plunking down north of $500, and b) pick up some appropriate accessories. Apple Stores have cases etc that actually work with the new iPad, as opposed to ones that are designed for the slightly smaller iPad 2.

  452. @ Bryant
    “Probably not a quad core chip any more. That’d undercut the Kindle Fire, price-wise, and we’re pretty sure Amazon isn’t making any significant money on those, so if that rumor is anywhere near accurate I’m really interested in how Google drove the price down so far.”

    There are two ways to lower prices; user lower quality components, or accept a lower profit margin (even going negative for loss leaders).

    Google hasn’t done that with the Nexus phones, so I don’t see it happening with a mythical Gtablet. Now they could, and then they’d be competing with the Pandigital cruft I see every now and then. Good luck with that strategy…

  453. @PapayaSF:

    > You keep proving my point.

    And you, mine.

    @Bryant:

    Yeah I saw that.

    > That’d undercut the Kindle Fire, price-wise, and we’re pretty sure Amazon isn’t making any significant money on those

    Price pressure on electronic components is inexorable. Perhaps Amazon is even turning a profit by now on those things. In any case, an iPod Touch is only $150, and we know that Apple only sells at margins that others would kill to have, so it wouldn’t surprise me to find there is profit on a decent 7″ at $150, especially if they sell lots over the internet. A high dollar phone like the Nexus that has to be activated on a carrier was a tough direct sell for Google. A low dollar plug and play tablet, maybe not such a problem.

    Then there’s always the possibility of retail tie-ins. For example, what if B&N (which has been acting surprising enlightened overall for the last couple of years) realized that, like google, its interests lie more in keeping others (Amazon in its case) from locking in potential customers on the Kindle platform than in locking in customers itself? What if Best Buy realizes that, since on Apple stuff it (a) only gets whatever product allocation Apple dictates, and (b) only makes money on accessories, it might actually make sense to stock something that doesn’t provide it any higher margin than an iPad if (a) it can stock and sell lots of them, and (b) the accessories can be both cheaper and higher margin than the Apple equivalents since no licensing fee will need to be paid for those?

    If google and Asus want to emulate Apple’s success, they could do worse than to do a few of the things that contributed to it: execute a good design, think big, and bet big, and make lots of expensive commitments to buy components an do whatever it takes to get the cost down. If that happens, I could easily see a google tablet at that price point. And despite what some others here seem to think, while Apple has managed to synthesize a lot of best practices into a huge cash generating engine, it’s not rocket science and not a completely unreplicatable success. But it does require good design and Steve Jobs’ cojones to get started. Does Larry Page have what it takes? Stay tuned.

  454. @pinhead:

    There are two ways to lower prices; user lower quality components, or accept a lower profit margin (even going negative for loss leaders).

    They certainly will need lower profit margin than Apple to hit the price point. But if they believe in themselves and do what it takes to get the component suppliers on-board (like Apple did), they can have much lower cost than otherwise. I don’t think they will need to go negative on margin.

  455. @ Maupin

    “They certainly will need lower profit margin than Apple to hit the price point. But if they believe in themselves and do what it takes to get the component suppliers on-board (like Apple did), they can have much lower cost than otherwise. I don’t think they will need to go negative on margin.”

    If they believe in themselves? What kind of magical thinking is that? Apple got the component suppliers on board by providing immense amounts of capital to build the factories needed to produce millions of those components; often locking up the supply for X number of months.

    And now Google is going to “believe in themselves” and magically jump to the head of the line for parts. Or excess capacity will magically appear.

    No, the more likely scenario, and one demonstrated by all of the other craptastic cheap 7″ tablets is to use less memory, smaller batteries, and crappier displays.

  456. @pinhead
    “No, the more likely scenario, and one demonstrated by all of the other craptastic cheap 7? tablets is to use less memory, smaller batteries, and crappier displays.”

    Let them eat cake.

  457. @ Winter

    It’s not a matter of being disrespectful/dismissive towards people who can’t afford an iPad or a Galaxy etc. For the majority of the world that can’t afford even a Kindle or Nook, sure there’s a market for low low end merchandise. I just don’t see that as being a particularly interesting or economically viable market for most companies.

    But this again comes to the ephemeral definition of “winning” that seems to be the big conflict on this site. If some small company (Archos comes to mind) wants to own that market segment, and can do so profitably, good for them. But their impact on the market as a whole is infinitesimal.

  458. @Pinhead

    And now Google is going to “believe in themselves” and magically jump to the head of the line for parts. Or excess capacity will magically appear.

    I think what Patrick meant was that they need to have confidence in their strategy and go all-in on committing a lot of money in order to secure better deals on components. If they pussy-foot around and go at it half-heartedly then they won’t be able to secure those deals.

  459. @pinhead:

    If they believe in themselves? What kind of magical thinking is that?

    Are you incapable of reading simple English? Only a SINGLE POST BACK I wrote:

    If google and Asus want to emulate Apple’s success, they could do worse than to do a few of the things that contributed to it: execute a good design, think big, and bet big, and make lots of expensive commitments to buy components an do whatever it takes to get the cost down.

    and that sentence you partially quoted said in full “But if they believe in themselves and do what it takes to get the component suppliers on-board (like Apple did)”. What part of LIKE APPLE DID do you not fucking understand?

    Apple got the component suppliers on board by providing immense amounts of capital to build the factories needed to produce millions of those components; often locking up the supply for X number of months.

    A bit of a simplification, but yes, it requires significant capital injection. And, in general, they didn’t manage to “lock the supply up.” There were a few specific cases of this for machining tools, and other cases where Apple’s poor planning fucked the entire market (including themselves) by not letting suppliers know how big their orders are. But in general, and even in the general case for Apple, you don’t have to buy your supplier a factory. You just have to place a big order backed by cash.

    And now Google is going to “believe in themselves” and magically jump to the head of the line for parts.

    No, silly. Google has to “believe in themselves” to make a major commitment to get the price down. They have the muscle. I know you think Apple is untouchable, but if you open your eyes you will see that other companies have miraculously managed to create and sell good electronics at reasonable prices for years.

    Or excess capacity will magically appear.

    The miracle of the free market means that more and more smartphone component and assembly capacity is coming online every month. All google needs to do is buy some of that and have the discipline to do the right thing with it.

    Anyway, this comment of yours was one of the ones where your moniker seems particularly apt.

  460. @Pinhead
    The combined buying power of the poor is largeer than you seem to think. She who sells 100 million tablets controlls the market fo tablets.

  461. @Tom:

    > [What Patrick meant was google needs to go all in and not pussy-foot around]

    Exactly. I just noticed that you posted this while I was busy writing my reply to pinhead.

  462. @pinhead:

    It’s not a matter of being disrespectful/dismissive towards people who can’t afford an iPad or a Galaxy etc. For the majority of the world that can’t afford even a Kindle or Nook, sure there’s a market for low low end merchandise. I just don’t see that as being a particularly interesting or economically viable market for most companies.

    Actually, it’s much more interesting and viable than trying to compete head-on with Apple for most companies.

    Speaking of low-end merchandise, you can now get a no-contract Android phone for $99 at Virgin Mobile:

    http://gigaom.com/mobile/99-now-gets-you-in-the-android-game-without-contract/

  463. @Winter ” She who sells 100 million tablets controlls the market fo tablets.”

    you mean Apple after 2 more quarters?

  464. @Phil
    You want to say Apple does not dominate the tablet market, yet?

    If any Android (the software) tablet producer sells 100M tablets, tablets will go like phones.

  465. @Winter You are giving a number with out a time range. Doesn’t mean much. 100m this year? What’s your time range?

    Apple will hit a total of 100m this year easily.

  466. sorry, hit post too soon. 100m total sold since iPad introduction. probably 60+m this year.

  467. @Phil
    My comment was too cryptic I see.

    Apple currently dominates the tablet market. Others here make fun of cheap and inferior Android tablets for poor people.

    My understanding is that the first cheap tablet maker who can sell 100 million cheap and cluncky tablet will take over the market.

  468. @Patrick
    The soccer team in my home town hardly ever wins a game. That never shortened the lines of the fans for tickets.

  469. @Patick Maupin I don’t understand your fixation on people who are irrationally buying the iPad. Sure there are some overly enthusiastic people lining up. You think they are sheep and Patrick Maupin Does Not Approve. So?

    What will be your excuse for great selling iPads in the next quarter? Is anyone actually predicting iPads will fade any time soon?

    BTW, retina is as good as advertised. I passed over the iPad 2 as the feature I wanted was higher res. Reading on an iPad 1/2 simply wasn’t a pleasant enough experience (it was OK). iPad 3′s Retina is the best screen ever produced on any mass market device. That’s a fact.

  470. @phil:

    Let’s review a short timeline, shall we?

    esr: Cultlike displays of devotion are normal at Apple product releases

    phil: just people excited about a cool new product. why does it have to be a “cult”?

    me: Cult may or may not be the right word. But there is a fairly common behavior I have noticed in a lot of people — they require significant validation.

    Then lots more discussion with others criticizing my analysis and me defending it.

    phil: I don’t understand your fixation on people who are irrationally buying the iPad.

    I don’t actually have a fixation on people who are irrationally buying the iPad. However, when presented with repetitive silly arguments criticizing my observation that documented widespread behavior correlates well with a need for validation and/or greater belonging, I become fixated on finding evidence to figure out whether or not those silly argments really are silly, or it’s just my imagination.

    So far, it hasn’t been just my imagination that those silly arguments are, in fact silly, but I would be happy to review other evidence you find.

    And, unlike papayaSF, I trust that you’re smart enough to realize that I’m not describing every single Apple iPad user/purchaser. Some of them have really good reasons for their choice (and for some applications, the enhanced screen resolution is compelling, and there’s no real competition at the moment.)

  471. @phil:

    You think they are sheep and Patrick Maupin Does Not Approve. So?

    You will not find my disapproval of this in any comments on this post.

    What will be your excuse for great selling iPads in the next quarter? Is anyone actually predicting iPads will fade any time soon?

    Hmm, should have read past the first sentence in your comment. I would retract the “I trust you’re smart enough” but I really think you are. You’re either pissed or having a bad day for some reason. Where on earth did I say that Apple was going to have a bad quarter?

  472. @patrick maupin. I think you’re giving this issue more talk than it’s worth is all. IMO there are many other points of discussion that are more interesting/relevant. I’ll leave it at that.

    Winter/esr seem to think iPad is headed towards doom. Haven’t seen you say that. I don’t think esr is even convinced of the usefulness/long term viability of the tablet.

  473. @Patrick

    But there is a fairly common behavior I have noticed in a lot of people — they require significant validation.

    It’s fairly normal for humans. People like to be validated and feel like they belong to something.

    Even hackers:

    there are people out there for whom getting a “hacker” ribbon from ESR is a kind of gold star that they want and deserve. Little social rewards and identity validations like that are important to every culture, including ours

    -ESR (http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=4183)

  474. @phil:

    > I think you’re giving this issue more talk than it’s worth is all

    And I think Tom and papayaSF spent way too much effort defending an indefensible position.

    And you yourself instigated the whole thing with your comment about not understanding why people refer to it as a cult, and then restarted it with statements about nobody queueing up for Android phones. If you want something to die down, then just let it. If you keep poking it, it’s like you’re trying to prove a point yourself. By painting me as fixated over irrational behavior and even ginning up some strawman about how I disapprove of this behavior, and then talking about how Apple is going to do next quarter, it appears that you’re fixated about making sure Apple’s doing OK, e.g. maybe that you’re not missing anything and your Apple shares aren’t going to tank any time soon.

    Which is all well and good, but is a topic I personally don’t really give a rat’s ass about. So don’t give me grief about analyzing the behavior of some of Apple’s customers, and I won’t give you grief about worrying about their stock price next quarter, OK?

  475. @Tom:

    > It’s fairly normal for humans. People like to be validated and feel like they belong to something.

    Absolutely true. But for the most part, I think that shopping for the “in” thing is not the best way to achieve this. I don’t tell others how to self-medicate, however.

  476. @Patrick

    I think that shopping for the “in” thing is not the best way to achieve this

    It wasn’t the shopping per se that we were talking about. It was the going to the Apple store and hanging out with other people in line. That *does* make you feel as if you are participating in an event with other people.

  477. @Tom:

    > It wasn’t the shopping per se that we were talking about.

    Sure it was. “Shopping” doesn’t necessarily mean just “buying stuff” as you would know if you ever saw a couple of teenage girls “shop.”

    > It was the going to the Apple store and hanging out with other people in line.

    True. OTOH, we should get someone to do a poll of people in line and find out how many of them actually aren’t going to buy the thing.

    > That *does* make you feel as if you are participating in an event with other people.

    Yeah, but part of the shared experience is going home with a shiny new iToy.

  478. @Patrick

    Yeah, but part of the shared experience is going home with a shiny new iToy.

    Certainly.

    Again, I’m really not sure what you’re trying to get at though.

  479. @phil
    “Winter/esr seem to think iPad is headed towards doom.”

    What I mostly see is people talking past each other. In this specific case, “winning” and “losing”, and “success” and “failure” are defined in orthogonal terms.

    So what is winning/success and what is doom or losing/failing?

    When pressed hard, Apple adepts mostly admit winning and success is making gazillions of money. Losing and failure is just making a little money. Often, it is added that making the shiniest, coolest, or most advanced gadget is “winning” too. Hence these endless discussions about customer satisfaction and the length of lines in front of Apple stores.

    On the Android side, mostly market share and number of devices sold are mentioned as criteria for success. Whether Android wins or loses, in this view, is decided by how many people end up with an Android device. Whether these devices are the most advanced or make the biggest profit is irrelevant in this view. It is generally also irrelevant whether it is Google that ends up in control of those device or not, nor whether it is actually Android or another FLOSS system. It is never a Google versus Apple game, but a FLOSS versus Closed Source game.

    So, both Apple and Android can both win at the same time. Apple making the gazillions of money selling 500 million gadgets and Android selling 5 billion appliances at razor thin margins outside the control of Google.

    My prediction for Apple is that they will lose and end up with 15% or less of the market. I understand that Eric thinks that Apple will lose their stellar profits too and collapse in the end. I myself have no opinion on whether Apple will be profitable or not in the future. I also do not care.

  480. @Tom:

    me: I think that shopping for the “in” thing is not the best way to achieve [self-validation]

    you: It wasn’t the shopping per se that we were talking about. It was [the experience].

    me: Yeah, but part of the shared experience is going home with a shiny new iToy.

    you: Certainly.

    you: Again, I’m really not sure what you’re trying to get at though.

    What do you mean, “again?” First you disagree, then you agree and say “but what’s the point?” Whatever.

  481. @winter:

    Absolutely true, except: esr and I and you and greg and SPQR and numerous other commenters on the blog have been exceptionally clear about what we mean by winning, reiterating most of what you just said multiple times. The very fact that we could even have such a definition of winning and not agree that it’s obvious that Apple is winning by every conceivable useful metric is apparently quite objectionable to some, and the fact that we attempt to analyze who will buy Apple and who will buy Android and conclude that at least some of those buying Apple are doing it because it’s trendy is apparently blasphemy. The arguments that people like papayaSF use against this conclusion are so inept that the realization dawns that there really is a cult and a few of its outspoken members comment here on a regular basis, trying in vain to convert the great unwashed. I don’t know if they have to do that for two years when they turn 18, or what.

  482. Samsung apparently has around 41% of the Indian smartphone market, with their lowest priced model at around Rs 7000 ($140). They are facing increasingly stiff competition from the Chinese and even domestic manufacturers, with models starting at Rs 4000 ($60). Their response to this competition?

    “The firm is planning to capture 60 per cent by the end of 2012.”

    http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/samsung-smartphones-india-galaxy-y-galaxy-s2-galaxy-s3/1/23300.html

    Numbers from a different source (IDC) from last summer show Samsung with 21% of the market, but Nokia with 46%. Perhaps Nokia imploded or the new definition of smartphone doesn’t include those. IN any case, the IDC numbers which showed Samsung at 21% also showed Apple at a paltry 2.6% of the market:

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Apple-loses-to-BlackBerry-in-Indian-market/articleshow/10226952.cms

    The Indian market is an outlier in another way as well. Apparently, Samsung enjoys 2.5 times the market share of Apple in tablets:

    http://www.themobileindian.com/news/3273_Samsung-trumps-Apples-tabs-in-India

    Will Apple try harder for increased share in the second most populous country in the world? Will Samsung make good on its promise to dominate the market, and develop economies of scale at the low end it can leverage in other markets? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “As the smartphone turns!”

  483. @Patrick

    The very fact that we could even have such a definition of winning and not agree that it’s obvious that Apple is winning by every conceivable useful metric is apparently quite objectionable to some,

    No. If you guys want to talk about how Android has a high market share, then that is absolutely fine. That Android has a high market share is just a simple fact, and obviously I have no objection to that. If you want to define that as ‘winning’ then that’s fine also.

    What I, and others, object to is ESR going a step further and making these constant predictions that Apple is doomed , or that Apple is uncompetitive. That is not supported by the data.

    Furthermore, I take issue with the idea that for some reason Apple’s systems (iOS, OS X) ‘must die’ for some completely nebulous and ill-defined reasons related to being closed. I have repeatedly tried to get to the bottom of what real-word practical harm is supposedly befalling users of these systems, and why they ought to be abandoned. I have never had a satisfactory answer.

    I have heard a lot of ‘well it’s not right for *me* because of x’. That’s fine. If it’s not right for you then don’t use it. There are choices. But why does that mean that the platform ‘must die’?

    Those are the two main points I have problems with: 1. That Apple is doomed/uncompetitive and 2. That iOS ‘must die’.

    A slightly smaller issue is this idea that some Apple users exhibit ‘cultic’ behaviour. I think that you are failing to distinguish ‘cult’ from ‘collection of people with some similar opinions and ideas who like to get together sometimes’.

  484. @Tom:

    We’ve already seen that competition and public outcry can curb some of the worst excesses of Apple’s behavior. I personally believe that if they were the only game in town, they would be bad enough that they “must die” as well, and that they must not be allowed to be the dominant smartphone ecosystem. Fortunately, google has paved the way, and there are other linux variants (and reports that Samsung is considering open-sourcing bada).

    So while I think it would be good if iOS died, I think that things are going well enough for Android that this isn’t strictly necessary at this point. The question then becomes whether or not the market really is, for all intents and purposes, “winner take all.” If so, I agree with esr that iOS must die, because the alternative is unthinkable. If not, then sure, if there’s room for secondary OSes, iOS can be one of them.

    A slightly smaller issue is this idea that some Apple users exhibit ‘cultic’ behaviour. I think that you are failing to distinguish ‘cult’ from ‘collection of people with some similar opinions and ideas who like to get together sometimes’.

    They like to get together twice a year in a linear outside venue? That’s interesting. In any case, if you go back and look at my original post on the issue, I allowed for lots of options besides cult, but papayaSF’s impassioned if illogical defense of the behavior is what led me (at least for the purposes of argument) to opt with the “cult” label for now. It’s a useful shorthand for the observed behavior that only bothers those who need to be bothered.

    But whatever you call them, if the smartphone market’s natural state is one large ecosystem (like the desktop) those are the very people who will keep Apple alive.

  485. @Tom
    “There are choices. But why does that mean that the platform ‘must die’?”

    Because we have good reasons to assume the world would be a better place for everybody if Closed Source would die. Just as we have good reasons to assume that the world would be a better place if the North Korean Communist Party would be ousted from power. Even though we might find people that would claim Kim Jong-un “works for them”.

  486. @Patrick

    I personally believe that if they were the only game in town, they would be bad enough that they “must die” as well, and that they must not be allowed to be the dominant smartphone ecosystem.

    If *any* company completely dominated the market then that would be a bad thing. We need competition for a healthy marketplace to exist.

    The solution would not be for that one company to ‘die’, though, it would be to introduce new products from different vendors.

    So while I think it would be good if iOS died,

    But why? That would just decrease competition, which I think we agree would be a bad thing. And it would also deny tens of millions of users a systems that they love and use productively everyday. I just can’t understand this mentality of wanting to deny people choices.

    It’s a useful shorthand for the observed behaviour

    I think it is a misleading and deliberately inflammatory and derisory label for behaviours that every human on the planet exhibits to one degree or another.

    @Winter

    Because we have good reasons to assume the world would be a better place for everybody if Closed Source would die.

    But what? What specific, present, real-world harm is befalling me as an iOS user due to the system’s closed nature?

    Still. No. Answer.

  487. @Tom:

    What specific, present, real-world harm is befalling me as an iOS user due to the system’s closed nature?

    Since you don’t mind Apple curating your experience, most likely none we can point out that you would agree with.

  488. @Patrick

    Since you don’t mind Apple curating your experience, most likely none we can point out that you would agree with.

    Thank you.

    So, since many, many people share my choice to let Apple curate apps for them, and since you admit that using iOS isn’t doing them any harm, can we finally agree to just let the system live and stop dramatically insisting that it ‘must die’ or even that it would be good if it died?

  489. @Tom:

    > and since you admit that using iOS isn’t doing them any harm,

    I think you need some remedial reading comprehension lessons.

  490. @Patrick

    I think you need some remedial reading comprehension lessons.

    Ok, then, what is the harm that iOS users are suffering?

  491. The harms have already been thoroughly discussed, including your opinion that they aren’t.

    You’re welcome to hold that opinion, but you’re not welcome to insinuate that I have somehow inadvertently agreed that your opinion is correct.

  492. @Tom
    “What specific, present, real-world harm is befalling me as an iOS user due to the system’s closed nature?”

    It is called “opportunity cost”. Things that could have been developed, were it not for iOS being closed source.

    Just as an example, years of not being able to load podcasts without linking up to a computer and using iTunes means a lot of content was never created. Friction in the Apple App store means a lot of apps were never created. Higher prices of iPhone Apps means many people did not get an App they would have gotten on an Open Source system (eg, Android).

    But most of all, iOS being closed source means another OS had to be developed for Smartphones. And there are now two incompatible App stores. Each with less Apps at higher prices than when iOS had been FLOSS.

    And extra risks. Like the decade long stagnation in PCs due to MS inability to absorb innovation in their business model. Or like the “$100 piece of hardware which could be, with Samba 4, an active domain controller for $100″ that Tridgell showed the European court as what would have been possible had Samba been able to implement Windows Active Domain server software.
    http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20070919214307459

  493. @Patrick

    The harms have already been thoroughly discussed, including your opinion that they aren’t.

    No. What has been discussed is something that *you* might like to do on a phone and that can’t be done on iOS. Namely developing apps and giving them out to your friends without being part of the Apple dev program. That is not an example of something that is harming iOS users though, because iOS users don’t care about this. The vast majority of them can’t even program, and the rest are happy to be a part of the dev program. If they aren’t happy with this, then they should buy another phone.

    Imagine if I had a book that I was reading, and a Chinese guy came up to me and said ‘That book should not be sold, because it is only in English and I cannot read it. It’s forcing you to read in only the language the author decided on!’. Well, that’s a disadvantage for *him* and no doubt *he* should not buy the book. But not having a translation of the book in Chinese has no downside for me, because I don’t even speak Chinese.

    @Winter

    Just as an example, years of not being able to load podcasts without linking up to a computer and using iTunes means a lot of content was never created.

    Sorry, but how on earth are you coming to this conclusion? This is nothing but baseless speculation. You can’t possibly know what would have happened had iOS not been developed.

    Friction in the Apple App store means a lot of apps were never created.

    Like what? Again, how do you know this?

    Higher prices of iPhone Apps means many people did not get an App they would have gotten on an Open Source system (eg, Android).

    For one thing, prices of apps on the app store are generally very low. Most are just a few dollars. For another thing, what is preventing people from developing apps for the Android platform?

    Some apps are only available on the apple store, some are available only on the Android store.

    But most of all, iOS being closed source means another OS had to be developed for Smartphones. And there are now two incompatible App stores. Each with less Apps at higher prices than when iOS had been FLOSS.

    Sorry, but you actually object to there being more than one OS? Isn’t that exactly what we don’t want?

    Yes, there are two incompatible app stores. It’s called competition.

  494. @Winter “But most of all, iOS being closed source means another OS had to be developed for Smartphones.” Just as iOS is better because Android exists, Android is better because iOS exists. this is the nature of competition. A competitor tries to one-up other competitors.

    this notion that the world would be better with *ONE* OS is crazy! That’s pretty much what we had with Windows for 15 years and look at what happened. Nothing interesting. Only now is MSFT even attempting something interesting

    Besides, even if you open-sourced iOS – what would that give you? Do you really mean FOSS?

    FOSS has pros and cons. Pros: you can do whatever the hell you want (yes, this is a big pro) Cons: it’s messy and fragmented

  495. @Winter I see you did say FLOSS, so disregard that remark ( I want my edit command!)

  496. @Winter complaining about high prices in the AppStore is strange. Most apps are < $5. Is that really too pricey? You should ask for a raise!

    If you want to complain about Apple, I'll give you some ammo, you are shooting blanks:

    -30% commission to apple on every app sold. That's a lot and puts a lot of cash in Apple's coffers that you could argue should go in developer's pockets
    -can't export iBooks output to use elsewhere
    -can't link to stores from an app (like Kindle) – this rule results in *worse* products and *worse* user experience
    -can't setup different default browsers or email client than the stock ones
    -Objective C is an out-dated language. Time to join the 2000s
    -ban on political/controversial dialogue in apps stifles free speech, and for what purpose?
    -apple doesn't have to play by their own rules (mail client can run in background, competitors can't)
    -developers don't know for sure until they submit an app/book whether it will be approved given their somewhat opaque approval process could result in huge waste of time/effort for dev

    See? there's some legitimate material for you.

    What I would like see from Apple is a more benevolent dictator role. They need to clearly define the rules, assure they won't change towards being more onerous, and explain why the rules exist. They do seem to be becoming more benevolent/clear as time goes on, but they have a LONG ways to go IMO. And every once in awhile they revert to idiocy (the iBook/epub fiasco most recently).

  497. @Tom:

    No. What has been discussed is something that *you* might like to do on a phone and that can’t be done on iOS.

    There were several other concerns raised by esr, me, and winter that you blew off as hypothetical or exaggerated.

    That is not an example of something that is harming iOS users though, because iOS users don’t care about this

    This is a nonsequitur. There are a lot of things that people don’t care about that harm them nonetheless.

    If they aren’t happy with this, then they should buy another phone.

    Android is changing this, but a replacement phone is still quite expensive for some people.

    Imagine if I had a book that I was reading, and a Chinese guy came up to me and said ‘That book should not be sold, because it is only in English and I cannot read it. It’s forcing you to read in only the language the author decided on!’.

    Stupidest. Analogy. Ever.

    Look, to the extent that a phone is just a phone, it really doesn’t matter what Apple does. But to the extent that it’s a general purpose computing platform that people actually use to do other stuff that’s important to them, it matters. Let me ask you this: did you think it was a problem that Microsoft made it damned difficult to get stuff out of the word format and kept changing the default save format to make continued upgrades the path of least resistance?

  498. Winter,

    The issue with the “alternative universe” argument is it can be played both ways.  Cause and effect isn’t always that straight forward.  I mean my tiger-away-charm has kept me from being attacked by a tiger for over 40 years now! ;v)

    I could be wrong, but I’m certain you could load audio content directly from a web site with iOS (at least you have been able to for sometime, I’m not 100% certain that was true from day 1, but I think so).  It was not conveniently put into the “music app”, but once loaded it was stored locally, no connection required.  There are several iOS podcast aggregator/streaming apps as well. 

    One could easily argue few if any people were able to load podcasts on their phones prior to 2007, right?  Most people couldn’t even listen to music on their phones, or it was so cumbersome few people did.

    If  by “content” you mean podcasts, then the boon in podcast content since 2007 doesn’t support your premise so much.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that the examples you give (I know nothing about Samba, etc. so I’ll trust you on that one ;v) aren’t exclusively supported by real world evidence.   Or at least one could use the same evidence to equally argue the opposite (ie iTunes enabled a boon in podcast content, not that I’m arguing that, just that one could equally draw the same conclusion from the data available).

    I totally agree Apple’s control of their App market (through sometimes unclear/broad, evolving or arbitrary rules) has hindered certain developers and certain classes of Apps (I’m looking at you Swype).  But, one could also argue the open, multiple un-curated to semi-curated markets also hinder some app developers.  I’m not going to argue either side here because it is nearly pointless.  I’m sure we could all come up with arguments to support either side.

    The biggest thing to me is freedom of competition.  I wouldn’t want a world without Android, nor would I want one with only Android.  Same with Apple.  Whether a system is closed or open is less of an issue to me. I can always leave either system. The only substantial barriers I see are financial and “educational” investments. There will always be some resistance in abandoning the financial investment one has made in apps and peripherals as well as personal time invested in learning how to use either system.  These two barriers could still exist in an all open software world, right (actual not rhetorical question)?  If Apple were to open source iOS tomorrow iOS apps still would “never” work on Android and vice versa?

    Is there some utopian universe to set our sights upon, where OSS OS(s) and corresponding apps work on every device?  Sure, that would be great.

    An even bigger barrier today (at least in the US) is control by carriers/OEMs, even with an open OS in Android.  Yes i know there are ways around this (Nexus line of phones, and jailbreaking), but obviously that is not the route taken by the overwhelming majority of Android users.Let’s face it what, maybe 10% of phones are jail broken?  The industry has definitely taken some steps forward, but it would be difficult to argue Google has done a better job than Apple to wrest control from the carriers. And, yes Apple has taken some of that control and kept it for themselves.  So far, it has been a net benefit for most users who choose iOS.

    Many could say I’m not paying attention, don’t get it, not following along, a cultist, a lemming, a fanboy, ignorant slut, what have you, but that doesn’t really move this discourse (or Eric’s message) along.  I have yet to be convinced we would be much better off with only OSS.  I’m all ears though.

    It seems we could get around the closed -vs- opened issue by mandating some user “rights” which promote competition.  Let’s say: no closed file formats, open web standards, open communication/networking protocols, ???  Software development and standards are way out of my wheelhouse, so I hope I’m getting my point across clearly.  

    This probably isn’t the best analogy to post, for many reasons, but it seems it is kind of like “those against abortions” would better serve their cause by working to reduce unwanted pregnancies instead of working to forcibly abolish abortions.  I’m not sure “all closed software must die” will actually convince many to rally with a cause.  

    I’ll apologize now to Eric since I realize this is far from the best analogy, and I do not mean offense or hold you in the same camp as “those against abortions”, if you get my drift.  What I’m saying is, there needs to be a path from here to OSS “utopia” so to speak.

    As you undoubtedly realize, you will face an uphill battle getting the Apple users here (or elsewhere) to abandon the system which they feel bests suits their needs to support this cause.  I would gladly switch when I see something else which suites my needs better.  There must be another way there, maybe we can find it here.

    Cheers-Argosy

    Ps- sorry for this long post, I’m home sick this afternoon so a lot of time on my hands…

  499. @Patrick

    Android is changing this, but a replacement phone is still quite expensive for some people.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean buy and additional phone. I meant they should buy a different phone in the first place.

    Stupidest. Analogy. Ever.

    The point of the analogy is to demonstrate that an essential feature for one person might be a completely irrelevant feature for another person.

    Microsoft made it damned difficult to get stuff out of the word format and kept changing the default save format to make continued upgrades the path of least resistance

    Yes, I certainly recognise that non-standard file formats can create problems. I try to avoid them. On the other hand, sometimes they are the only way to add new features and drive things forward.

    There were several other concerns raised by esr, me, and winter that you blew off as hypothetical or exaggerated.

    Like what? You mean all that stuff about ‘power asymmetry’ and the like? Or ESR telling me that ‘eventually’ I will suffer some great evil? Yes, I regard these things as unreal until I see some hard evidence that they are causing me or other iOS users real world harm.

  500. @Tom:

    Sorry, I didn’t mean buy and additional phone. I meant they should buy a different phone in the first place.

    But what if you don’t realize until after you’ve bought the phone that it limits your capabilities?

    The point of the analogy is to demonstrate that an essential feature for one person might be a completely irrelevant feature for another person.

    The whole point of a general purpose computing device is that it’s general purpose. I’m not talking about 4WD vs 2WD, I’m talking about having a steering mechanism or not. Now, it’s fine to make an appliance phone that just makes calls and plays video and snaps pictures, but in that case the first result google search brings up shouldn’t be a link to you bragging about the processor and the OS.

    Yes, I certainly recognise that non-standard file formats can create problems. I try to avoid them. On the other hand, sometimes they are the only way to add new features and drive things forward.

    But there’s a big difference between a “non-standard” file format and a “deliberately poorly documented and uninteroperable” format. Arguably, whatever MS produces is the de facto standard, but that doesn’t make it desirable.

    You mean all that stuff about ‘power asymmetry’ and the like?

    Yes. And we disagree. And that’s fine. And it’s equally fine for you to say you don’t buy the argument. But it makes you look really silly when you keep saying that no argument has been advanced.

    Yes, I regard these things as unreal until I see some hard evidence that they are causing me or other iOS users real world harm.

    And as discussed, we probably have different definitions of harm, as well.

  501. @Patrick

    But what if you don’t realize until after you’ve bought the phone that it limits your capabilities?

    Usually I think it is up to the customer to look at the feature set and see if the product is for them. Especially if you have unusual needs like wanting to distribute custom apps to your friends. It is pretty clear to everybody that the iPhone only lets you install apps from the store, but just in case you somehow were unaware of this you can always return the phone within 14 days for a full refund.

    But really, if I buy a sports car and am then surprised that it can’t go off-road, who is really to blame here?

    The whole point of a general purpose computing device is that it’s general purpose.

    No, the whole point of a device is to provide functions to the user. People buy iPhones because they want to browse the web, do email, use maps, play games etc etc.

    I’m talking about having a steering mechanism or not.

    Being able to distribute apps to your friends is not a central function of the device. The steering mechanism would be more akin to email, web browsing, or the phone app itself. Almost nobody is interested in being able to write and distribute custom apps to their friends while also not being interested in being an apple dev. If they are then they should buy an Android phone!

    But there’s a big difference between a “non-standard” file format and a “deliberately poorly documented and uninteroperable” format.

    Fair enough, but this sort of thing is not the inevitable result of a closed system. I agree that these file types are bad news, and I avoid them wherever possible because I recognise the real world harm. Indeed, I have been the victim of it.

    I use a closed OS, but I use plenty of open and standardised file formats. These are two separate things.

    The situation is a bit more complicated though. I also recognise that in order to add advanced functionality to an app, it is sometimes necessary to create proprietary file formats. For example, something like Adobe Photoshop. You really *have* to develop some kind of special format for this type of program. Adobe does provide the specs for its programs, though.

    There is a middle ground between the MS strategy of deliberate obfuscation on the one hand, and total adherence to community standards on the other. I don’t think being closed necessarily leads to the former. What leads to the former is a company that relies on its monopoly position to maintain revenue rather than innovating.

    Now, it’s fine to make an appliance phone that just makes calls and plays video and snaps pictures

    I don’t really see why it’s fine to create an appliance phone that does calls, video, and pictures, but not one that also does email, web browsing, games, music and apps. What is the relevant distinction? Why is one going to cause me harm, but the other (which is actually *less* open!) won’t?

    But it makes you look really silly when you keep saying that no argument has been advanced.

    I didn’t say that no argument had been advanced. I said that nobody had given me specific real-world, present examples of harm to the user that results from iOS being closed.

  502. Usually I think it is up to the customer to look at the feature set and see if the product is for them.

    I just explained that Apple’s landing page touts the processor and the OS. Makes it sound like a general purpose computer.

    It is pretty clear to everybody that the iPhone only lets you install apps from the store,

    But the limitations of that restriction may not be fully apparent for awhile. You might rely on an app. Then it has a critical bug. Then for whatever reason, Apple won’t let the app maker update it for a long time. That’s just one example, even assuming you find apps that do absolutely everything you need.

    But really, if I buy a sports car and am then surprised that it can’t go off-road,

    I just explained that IMO it wasn’t a difference between 4WD and 2WD, but the lack of a steering wheel.

    Being able to distribute apps to your friends is not a central function of the device.

    That’s but a single example of a behavior that is not allowed by Apple’s regime. I only presented it because you asked for something concrete. There are other concrete issues, and other possibilities that have not yet come to pass.

    Fair enough, but [non-standard file formats] is not the inevitable result of a closed system

    It’s the inevitable result of companies that want to control their users. Like Apple.

    I use a closed OS, but I use plenty of open and standardised file formats.

    Absolutely! It is possible to have a closed OS that allows users to execute programs of their choosing. There is no question that Apple has out-Microsofted Microsoft here.

    What leads to the former is a company that relies on its monopoly position to maintain revenue rather than innovating.

    Those are two completely orthogonal things. Microsoft innovates (Kinect anyone?) too, and Apple did plenty of relying on monopoly position with iTunes when it managed to get essentially an exclusive deal for the longest time from the RIAA.

    Why is one going to cause me harm, but the other (which is actually *less* open!) won’t?

    Because it’s easy to replace something that just makes calls and browses the web, much more difficult to replace something that has a bunch of software that you rely on. C’mon, that should be pretty obvious.

    I didn’t say that no argument had been advanced. I said that nobody had given me specific real-world, present examples of harm to the user that results from iOS being closed.

    They did. You just disagree with the specifics or claim they’re too specific to affect enough people to matter.

  503. @Patrick

    I just explained that Apple’s landing page touts the processor and the OS

    So what? You might think of the iPhone as just a smaller version of a PC, but most people do not. It’s a fundamentally different type of device and people have different expectations about what it will do.

    But the limitations of that restriction may not be fully apparent for awhile. You might rely on an app. Then it has a critical bug. Then for whatever reason, Apple won’t let the app maker update it for a long time.

    In reality Apple is not in the habit of blocking updates for stupid reasons. I know that if you just judge everything from what you read on tech blogs it might look like Apple is blocking everything left and right for arbitrary reasons, but in reality the day-to-day experience of being in the ecosystem is very different. Updates come out very promptly. It’s not in Apple’s interest to jeopardise the stability of the apps on the store.

    And anyway, what if you bought an Android phone, thinking it was as well protected and curated as your friend’s iPhone, but then a month later you download an app from ‘Google Play’ only to find that it is riddled with malware due to the store’s lax filtering policies? Oh no!

    I just explained that IMO it wasn’t a difference between 4WD and 2WD, but the lack of a steering wheel.

    In know that *in your opinion* that is the case, which is why I have said repeatedly that you should not be using an iPhone. But most people don’t give two shits about being able to side-load apps.

    There are other concrete issues

    What are they!? For the love of God, WHAT ARE THEY?

    Because it’s easy to replace something that just makes calls and browses the web, much more difficult to replace something that has a bunch of software that you rely on.

    I would find it perfectly simple to replace my iPhone. I would just get an Android phone or a Windows Phone 7 Phone Phone, or whatever. What’s the big deal?

  504. > What are they!? For the love of God, WHAT ARE THEY?

    Well, let’s see if I can come up with a short list. Bricking iPhones. Keeping iWhatevers from working with other software than iTunes (see realNetworks). Keeping iTunes from working with other hardware than iWhatevers (see Palm). Keeping Adobe from putting flash on the device after they spent a lot of time and energy on it. Arbitrarily censoring political cartoons (oh, yeah, you don’t care about censorship). carrierIQ (found because Android was open). Suing competitors over silly design and functional patents to help keep prices up. Disabling google voice. Retroactively changing app store policies to disallow any sort of interpreter. Banning all books from a publisher because they dared to publish an unauthorized biography of God Jobs. Issuing bogus DMCA takedown notifications for people discussing how to work around Apple’s restrictive policies. Invanding random strangers homes to retrieve property they don’t properly keep track of. Banning apps because they have innovative new features that Apple didn’t think of, and wants the world to think it figured out all on its own. Aiding and abetting AT&T and other carriers in keeping iPhones locked after the contract expires. Taking the lead in colluding with eBook publishers to keep prices up by using “agency pricing.” Forcing magazines and other media to give it both “most favored nation” pricing and a cut of all ancillary revenue.

    Now, technically, not all of these actions directly impact Apple consumers. But a lot of them directly affect not just your wallet, but everybody else’s wallet as well, and even the ones you think are irrelevant help to show (IMO) the evil mindset of a company that simply can’t be trusted. But nevermind that — you just go ahead and live in your little cocoon and take whatever Apple gives you.

  505. Oh, and btw, Apple wouldn’t be nearly so successful with most of that shit if YOU COULD JUST SIDELOAD APPS. Just sayin’.

  506. @patrick

    OK, I am going to respond to those points relevant to the question of real-world, practical harm caused to the user as a result of iOS being closed/closed-source

    If you’re curious, the items that did not make the cut were:

    Suing competitors over silly design and functional patents to help keep prices up

    Banning all books from a publisher because they dared to publish an unauthorized biography of God Jobs.

    Issuing bogus DMCA takedown notifications for people discussing how to work around Apple’s restrictive policies.

    Invanding random strangers homes to retrieve property they don’t properly keep track of.

    Taking the lead in colluding with eBook publishers to keep prices up by using “agency pricing.”

    Forcing magazines and other media to give it both “most favored nation” pricing and a cut of all ancillary revenue.

    Let’s take the others in order:

    Bricking iPhones

    I don’t know what you mean by this. Some kind of bug? Does it have anything to do with being a closed system?

    Keeping iWhatevers from working with other software than iTunes (see realNetworks)

    First of all, you don’t any longer have to use iTunes at all. I haven’t so much as loaded the program in months.

    I’ll note again that you haven’t actually identified what *harm* has resulted from not being able to use other music management programs in the past. These days there is a plethora of different music and podcasting apps on iOS.

    Keeping iTunes from working with other hardware than iWhatevers (see Palm).

    This is the best point you have come up with so far.

    I think you are right that back in the days when DRM was commonplace in the iTunes store this might have caused some harm. I can imagine that if somebody had built up a collection of DRMed music then they would have been stuck on their iPhone/iPod. They would not have been able to switch to an alternative device.

    However, this is really more of an indictment of DRM than anything else. I agree that this is a Bad Thing, but it’s certainly not restricted to iOS, or to closed systems. Android implements a DRM framework as well.

    We should separate the two issues. I agree 100% that DRM can cause harm, and that it should be avoided. I have actually never bought any music or video from the iTunes store for this reason (and the fact that the quality is not high enough). However, DRM is no longer prevalent in the store, so we are making progress there.

    Also, I should point out that there has never been anything to stop you putting music from other sources on your devices (I have been ripping CDs to lossless formats for years and putting them on my iPod and then my iPhone).

    As with proprietary/obfuscated file formats, you can avoid them and still use closed systems and you can also use open systems and still fall victim to them. Different issues, strictly speaking.

    Keeping Adobe from putting flash on the device after they spent a lot of time and energy on it

    The ‘after they spent a lot of time and energy on it’ part is irrelevant.

    However, it is true that some people do want Flash on their devices. In fact it is just about the only complaint I have ever heard from people in person about their iOS devices.

    Whether to include a certain feature is always a compromise though. You are weighing different factors. On the one hand we would like to have Flash media accessible, but on the other we would like to have good security, good performance and good battery life. Flash adversely affected all three, as a lot of Android manufacturers have discovered. A lot of them ended up not shipping Flash with their devices, and no Adobe itself has discontinued the product.

    So, was this perfect? No, but you can’t always have everything you want. I would rather have security, performance, and battery life than Flash.

    And I’m kind of surprised that you would bring it up, since it is, after all, closed software.

    Arbitrarily censoring political cartoons

    This was a mistake, no doubt. Apple recognised that it was a mistake and reversed it. Jobs actually talks about it in the Isaacson book, and acknowledges that they screwed up. Since then I am not aware of any other similar incidents, so it looks like a one off.

    Some minor temporary harm there, but fixed now.

    carrierIQ

    You haven’t demonstrated harm here, but I’ll quickly address it anyway.

    1. It’s gone now.
    2. It was on Android too.

    Disabling google voice

    I’m not familiar with the service (I don’t think it’s available outside the US), but I just looked on the US store and the app is there, so I’m not really too sure what you’re talking about.

    Retroactively changing app store policies to disallow any sort of interpreter

    Right. What is the harm to users here?

    The whole point of this decision (again, see the Issacson book for some entail on the process that lead to this) was to make sure that developers were developing with the full set of features and APIs available to them. Apple lives and dies on its ability to make platforms that go above and beyond commoditised systems with extra features and capabilities. If you have cross-platform interpreters then developers are forced to use the minimal feature set that is common to all platforms, thus eliminating all the cool stuff that Apple users want.

    I don’t believe that any users lost out here. The point was to make sure that the apps they use continue to make the best use of the iOS platform.

    Banning apps because they have innovative new features that Apple didn’t think of, and wants the world to think it figured out all on its own.

    OK. You know what? You’re absolutely right. This was wrong on Apple’s part.

    In their defence the app was in violation of their policies that disallow you from making use of the physical volume buttons for some purpose other than volume. You can probably see how this is a good idea. You don’t want your down-volume button suddenly doing something unexpected.

    So, in general this is a reasonable policy. In the case of this app they should have made an exception, because it made eminent sense, and because the app made it obvious what the button was going to do.

    So I think there was some harm to users for a while here. And certainly the app developer got screwed. They should have bought her.

    What was the real-world harm to users? Well, they lost out on being able to use the volume button as the camera shutter button for a while, before Apple incorporated it into the OS. So the harm has now passed.

    Aiding and abetting AT&T and other carriers in keeping iPhones locked after the contract expires.

    I’m not familiar with this, but I didn’t put it in the ‘irrelevant’ pile because I wanted to give you an opportunity to explain why this is related to iOS being closed, and to tell me whether it is possible for HTC, Samsung etc to be doing the same thing with their Android phones.

  507. Apple sold three million iPads in the first three days that the new model was available. For a bit of perspective, it took 28 days for the original iPad to hit one million units. Once again, despite building a massive inventory for the launch, sales are still constrained by capacity.

    DOOOOMED!

  508. @Tom
    You obviously do not know what opportunity costs are.

    With your reasoning, books not written due to censorship cause no harm. Because no one will miss a book never written.

    Inventions not made due to patent suits cause no harm neither, because no one will miss an invention never made, a cure never developed, nor a solution never found.

  509. “Bricking iPhones – I don’t know what you mean by this. Some kind of bug? Does it have anything to do with being a closed system?”

    IIRC, the claim is that if you modify the software or “root” the phone, it may become permanently inoperable at the next update. Furthermore, the claim is that this a deliberate punitive measure, rather than being a bug. I say this without commenting on whether it is accurate, because I have not looked into the evidence one way or the other.

    If true, it’s entirely relevant to it being a closed system because it is part of how it being a closed system is enforced.

  510. Of course, I’ve argued in the past that it’s a poor argument. Ignoring the fact that every single “how to root your android phone” post on the internet comes with similar bricking warnings, the simple fact of the matter is that if you change the underlying assumptions of a piece of software, it is only reasonable to assume that an indiscriminate application of an update to that software may break the software. For example, if I take an ubuntu installation, and then dig down deep and start moving system files, and changing how things work at the low levels, then then blindly apply the next binary update from Canonical, I should expect that update to break things, if not render my system unable to boot.

    Similarly, if I install dd-wrt to my router, then start changing the underlying system of dd-wrt and then apply the next dd-wrt patch, I should expect my routers to equally become bricked.

    Arguing otherwise is to argue that Apple (or Google, or anyone) has a responsibility to build their updates and patches to support ANY configuration of your device and software installation, regardless of how far outside the scope of support that configuration may be.

  511. @tmoney
    “Arguing otherwise is to argue that Apple (or Google, or anyone) has a responsibility to build their updates and patches to support ANY configuration of your device and software installation, regardless of how far outside the scope of support that configuration may be.”

    There is a very big difference between bricking a phone by accident caused by an unsupported configuration and intentionally bricking a phone when detecting an unwanted configuration.

    I cannot imagine you are unaware of that difference.

  512. @winter

    intentionally bricking a phone when detecting an unwanted configuration.

    Is there any evidence of this?

  513. >There is a very big difference between bricking a phone by accident caused by an
    >unsupported configuration and intentionally bricking a phone when detecting
    >an unwanted configuration.

    And yet there is zero evidence to support the position that phones are being intentionally bricked.

  514. @Tmoney tom
    The two cases are different, whomever did or will perform them. My comment was on principle.

  515. @Patrick Maupin “Oh, and btw, Apple wouldn’t be nearly so successful with most of that shit if YOU COULD JUST SIDELOAD APPS. Just sayin’.”

    I agree, they should allow side-loading. Would eliminate most the techie complaints, and the “average schmoe” wouldn’t bother as it’s so much easier to do things the Apple way – so Apple wouldn’t suffer much.

  516. @Winter

    The two cases are different, whomever did or will perform them. My comment was on principle.

    I’ll take that as a ‘no’.

  517. @Phil, @Patrick

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple implemented something like they have in the latest OSX. Three separate settings concerning the installation of software.

    1) only load apps from Mac App store.
    2) only load apps from app store or with “signed apple certificate”
    3) load anything you want from any where you want.

    The the ‘signed certificate’ was a suggestion from the developer community implemented by Apple. It allows developers to work outside of the tighter rules required for inclusion in the Mac app store and yet still gives some level of security to the user. These apps are not reviewed by Apple but they must provide verifiable contact info. It gives Apple the ability to pull the certificate at any time if there is an issue discovered (security or otherwise). This doesn’t prevent a user from using an installed app, only prevents other users (who have opted for the ‘certified app’ level of security) from installing the app. Kind of a quarantine.

    The only evidence of “bricking” an iPhone I was able to find were early jailbreak attempts for the iPhone 4 it left the phone stuck on the apple logo screen, but was easily restored to factory conditions through the two finger salute method of ‘reboot to restore mode’.

    Cheers-Argosy

  518. @Argosy

    Kind of a quarantine.

    I think of it more like ‘herd immunity’. If everybody is quickly updated to disallow a nefarious program, then the group collectively becomes immune, even though one or two individuals may fall victim before the immunity can spread.

    It’s a cool idea.

  519. @jeff

    I believe, here, it is referred to as the ‘network effect’. /s. I kid Patrick!

    To be fair, the qtr. to qtr decline could be ‘noise’, but the last three points do show a definite trend line.

  520. > The the ‘signed certificate’ was a suggestion from the developer community implemented by Apple.

    Apple already has this (and had since 2008) in the form of the Enterprise developer program.

    Should Apple decided to implement this for mainstream iOS, you’ll see a huge two-vector response from the Android community.

    First: crowing, “look, Apple now lets you do what we’ve been doing forever! Android is superior.”

    Second: a renewed réponse about Apple being “more closed” than Android.

    But the lack of side-loaded apps isn’t slowing down sales of iOS devices, so Apple has no current reason to allow it.

  521. @Phil

    >and the “average schmoe” wouldn’t bother as it’s so much easier to do things the Apple
    >way – so Apple wouldn’t suffer much.

    This isn’t quite true. Once you (as a commercial company who sold a product) support something (by way of making it an option) you suddenly find yourself in the position of supporting it from a technical support standpoint as well. Apple learned this lesson with Bootcamp, where they made official a feature and capability that had been unofficially available for a few years. Despite the admonishments and the letters and the memos declaring that “No Apple will not support Windows on your mac”, reality soon set in (in the form of angry customers in the middle of your store), and most Apple repair folks were doing at least basic windows setup and troubleshooting support.

    Additionally, too many people know a well meaning geek or two who doesn’t have to bear the burden of their “helpful” decisions. My personal experience with this came in the form of a nice middle age lady who came into the store one day, very angry. She wanted her money back for this macbook she had because everything she had heard about macs was a lie. It wasn’t easier to use, it wasn’t simpler to set up, she still needed 5 different anti-malware programs and it still crashed. The more I listened to her though, the more it became apparent that she wasn’t describing using a mac, she was describing using a windows computer. So I asked her to demonstrate for me the issues she was having. Sure enough, when she booted the computer it booted right into Windows. It turned out that her well meaning nephew had “set up” the computer for her, by which I mean he installed bootcamp, shrunk the Mac OS partition to the smallest size possible (5GB) and set the computer to boot into windows by default. She had never once even seen the Mac OS side of her computer, and had no idea that it was an option to her.

    So while I agree that allowing side loading would certainly alleviate the concerns of a segment of the geek population, it isn’t without its own costs, both to the customers and to Apple.

  522. But the lack of side-loaded apps isn’t slowing down sales of iOS devices, so Apple has no current reason to allow it.

    And iOS’s lack of “openness” certainly isn’t diminishing developer interest. Indeed, Android’s much-trumpeted openness is what engendered the fragmentation that’s causing Android to lose traction amongst developers. But then again, neither developers nor end users are Android’s target market. OEMs and carriers are.

  523. Forking and fragmentation, we also get them promised, but they never really happen.

    Linux guru: re-merging of Android into kernel eases sysdev a bit
    https://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/linux-guru-re-merging-of-android-into-kernel-eases-sysdev-a-bit/10635

    “It makes it easier for people creating Android-based systems to use a standard kernel.org. kernel. It also allows the Android code to get better, as a number of fixes have been made now that the code is easier to review and change.”

    “For application developers, I fail to see how this has any effect on
    them at all,” he wrote.

  524. The appcelerator report is a survey of their own customers, who are presumably using their tools for cross-platform app development. So not necessarily a sample of developers in general. Maybe android developers aren’t bothering with appcelerator and are just writing native apps instead. The same could be true for iOS. The point is that this data doesn’t tell you what “developers” are thinking, just what developers that use appcelerator’s tools are thinking.

  525. >Forking and fragmentation, we also get them promised, but they never really happen.

    Sure they do. Open Office or Libre Office? Which version of the Tomato Firmware? Should one use Ubuntu, or Xubuntu, or Kubuntu, or Debian, or Red Hat, or Cent OS, or Fedora, or Slackware, or SuSE or maybe just pick one randomly from here (http://distrowatch.com/). How much effort is wasted on bundling your software for two different packaging systems, plus a generic installer, plus then taking those packages and maintaining them for the various distros?

  526. @tmoney
    “Sure they do. Open Office or Libre Office? Which version of the Tomato Firmware? Should one use Ubuntu, or Xubuntu, or Kubuntu, or Debian, or Red Hat, or Cent OS, or Fedora…”

    I know, like the car market: Ford or Opel? Toyota or Mercedes? Economy, sedan, diesel or gas?

    They all are so different. We should go back to that Ford Model T: One car, One color.

  527. @tmoney
    “Red Hat, or Cent OS”

    I missed the joke. Stupid of me.

    Obviously, these two are bit compatible.

  528. @tmoney
    “I’m not saying that forking is always bad, but I am saying it’s not always good and has its own costs. ”

    Then you have picked odd examples. In all cases the choice is obvious when you need to make it:

    Red Hat and CentOS are bit compatible with only the trademarked graphics removed from CentOS.

    Red Hat and Fedora differ like pickup and sedan.

    LibreOffice and OpenOffice are at the moment next to indistinguishable

    Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Xubuntu differ only in their desktop. That is like the difference between 2, 4, and 5 doors in your car

    There are much better examples.

  529. @Winter

    In all cases the choice is obvious

    But…

    LibreOffice and OpenOffice are at the moment next to indistinguishable

    So, how does that make the choice obvious again?

  530. @tmoney
    “So, how does that make the choice obvious again?”

    Simple.

    Those who ever heard about LibreOffice will know why to chose it.

    The rest knows only about OpenOffice and will chose that one.

    And those who know neither will hear of one before the other, and use that one.

  531. @ Winter

    >Red Hat and Fedora differ like pickup and sedan. Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Xubuntu
    >differ only in their desktop.

    And SuSE? Slackware? Gentoo? Debian? Knoppix? And that doesn’t even begin to get into some of the lesser known distributions such as Puppy and it’s hundred some varients. Come on, we deride microsoft for having 20 different versions of Windows, specifically because it increases overall confusion and makes things needlessly complicated, but somehow having 100′s of heartbreaker Linux distributions doesn’t? Every hour of developer time spent making something work for a slightly different distribution, is an hour of developer time that isn’t being spent making the software better.

    >Those who ever heard about LibreOffice will know why to chose it.
    >The rest knows only about OpenOffice and will chose that one.
    >And those who know neither will hear of one before the other, and use that one.

    So how is the world made better by having developer time split among two nearly identical pieces of software rather than making one piece of software better?

    Look, again you’re mistaking me for someone saying that all choice is bad, it isn’t. But there’s a reason why Linus rolled the Android stuff into the Linux kernel, and it isn’t because he has microsoftian delusions of world domination.

  532. @tmoney
    “And SuSE? Slackware? Gentoo? Debian? Knoppix?”

    I wrote there are better examples.

    @tmoney
    “Every hour of developer time spent making something work for a slightly different distribution, is an hour of developer time that isn’t being spent making the software better.”

    I never hear that argument with cars. Why?

    @tmoney
    “So how is the world made better by having developer time split among two nearly identical pieces of software rather than making one piece of software better?”

    Very instructive example.

    In a few words, because the “group” developing OpenOffice was bought by a company that refused to further improve OpenOffice. So the developers forked to be able to improve the software again. If MS Windows would have been FLOSS, better versions would exist now. I am pretty sure there would be improved versions of iOS if that would have been FLOSS.

    I once was near people involved in a case where a company creating some essential software was acquired by MS. MS needed the developers, not the software, so the package was discontinued. The users asked MS to release the software so they could maintain and develop it themselves. MS refused. All users switched to FLOSS software for that task.

    @tmoney
    “But there’s a reason why Linus rolled the Android stuff into the Linux kernel, and it isn’t because he has microsoftian delusions of world domination.”

    Yes, we all know that reason. We also know that Linus will tell everyone to fork Linux to their hearths content. He even build trivially easy forking into his version system. Linus does know the importance of forking too.

    Back to LibreOffice and OpenOffice. All developers (and users) hope they will eventually be able to merge OpenOffice back into LibreOffice. But Oracle and IBM appear to have plans that seem to require a level of control in the future of OpenOffice that make a full merge unlikely.

  533. Interesting analysis of the destruction of Nokia market share and the doom of Microsoft Phone (and hence MS itself). And here is the quote of doom:

    There is no coming back for Microsoft, not with or without Nokia. Meanwhile, Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop has admitted that the retail channel is not supporting Lumia sales. I reported here just last week that in Nokia’s home country, Finland, the retail channel so hates Nokia Lumia, they will not show the device even when asked by name, and will sell Androids instead – all this while the stores have the biggest Lumia sales displays.

    Brutal Truth about Lumia – cannot sustain even 1 to 1 replacement of Symbian: Windows Phone strategy doomed for Nokia
    http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/03/brutal-truth-about-lumia-cannot-sustain-even-1-to-1-replacement-of-symbian-windows-phone-strategy-do.html

    Remeber that joke about when you add two turkeys, you do not get an eagle? By Q4 of 2011, when we add all Nokia branded smartphones on its 3 operating systems now (Symbian, MeeGo and Windows Phone) plus all other Microsoft smartphone makers on both Windows Mobile and Windows Phone – have a guess how much the partnership controlled the global market around Christmas? So this was after Nokia had introduced already two of its Lumia phones for sale in many of Nokia’s best and most affluent markets in Europe and Asia? Have a guess. The two turkeys alone had 39% just before Elop announced this partnership. What was it in Q4 less than 11 months later? 14%.

    ….

    Secondly, look at the last two periods. Just before Lumia launched, in September 2011, Nokia only selling Symbian smartphones, had 6.7% of the UK market. Now that Lumia has launched, after Nokia’s most expensive launch campaign ever, combined with massive Microsoft marketing push including giving away free Xbox 360 gaming consoles for buyers of Lumia 800 smartphones, Nokia did not manage to convert the existing Symbian market share 1 for 1 to the share now with Lumia devices. From September, after Lumia launched for Christmas, Nokia has now lost another third – another THIRD – of its existing customer base, going from 6.7% just on Symbian, to 4.6% market share when the Microsoft Windows Phone based Lumia smartphones are ‘added’.

  534. >I never hear that argument with cars. Why?

    Because your choice of car doesn’t preclude you from a certain gas stations, roads and parking lots. On the other hand if every one who built a road or made a gas station had to tweak their design a bit to accommodate different models of cars, or had to have a different process to fill your car up, I imagine you’d have quite a few people decrying any new upstarts. Then there’s also the fact that from my perspective, the auto market is consolidating, not forking.

    >If MS Windows would have been FLOSS, better versions would exist now.
    >I am pretty sure there would be improved versions of iOS if that would have been FLOSS.

    Better for who? You can certainly argue that if Windows had been FLOSS, things would be different now, and that perhaps some things might be better, and I would agree with you 100%, but that’s a huge step from Windows itself would be better. Given the FLOSS community has a tendency to fork and split resources over often-times mere political issues, I’d say it’s more likely we’d have 3 or 4 versions of Windows that are “good enough” and about a thousand half assed attempts. Much like the way the Linux distributions look now.

    Of course, we are off on a complete tangent here, given that the original point of contention was your assertion that forking or fragmentation “don’t really happen” in OSS, when it’s quite clear, even by your own arguments here, that it does.

  535. @tmoney
    “your assertion that forking or fragmentation “don’t really happen” in OSS, when it’s quite clear, even by your own arguments here, that it does.”

    My original assertion was targeted at claims that Android would fragment out of control. But my intention might not have communicated.

    But even then, for two decades I have been promised that Linux (the kernel) or Android (which is running on a Linux kernel) would fork and splinter into oblivion.

    But all these promises never materialize. We are still essentially stuck with the one kernel branch of Linus and the one Android branch of Google. There are derivatives, but they keep coming back to mainline.

    So much for promises.

  536. And now for something completely different. Another show on why sideloading is so important.

    But I already hear the LOL’s and ROFL’s. Who wants X-server on his phone?

    He does. And it opens up a lot of possibilities for the rest of us. iP* users do not need it? Obviously, or else they would not have bought an iP*.

    Android X server
    https://my20percent.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/android-x-server/

    There are a few parts of the X protocol it doesn’t implement …

    Dynamic colourmaps. Android only supports a 24-bit static colourmap.
    Dashed lines, tiles, and stipples. There’s no native support for these in Android, and seriously, does anyone use them?
    Drawing operations other than Copy and Xor. That’s all Android supports.
    Queueing keyboard and pointer events during grabs.
    Any extensions. There are hooks provided in the code, so if you’re feeling ambitious, try implementing RENDER and SHAPE. Quite a few applications use them.
    Key click, auto-repeat, and keyboard LEDs.

  537. Apple won the $400-1000 market for now. If there’s an opening for Android, it’s under $300. But Google has to beat Amazon there. Yes, Google doesn’t want Kindle winning that battle — think about why Google’s rumored tablet would be a 7″ tablet at $150-250? The Kindle Fire is doing pretty well in that niche; if that was an acceptable outcome for Google, they wouldn’t need to do their own tablet.

  538. @Bryant
    “Why would you assume that there wasn’t an X server for iOS?”

    I didn’t, actually. But I was just anticipating some responses along the line “Android has X. Who needs X?”. That is the common response on anything Android has. Obviously, if iOS has it, it must be useful.

    My point was about the importance of side loading for things you miss. X server for Android in this case. Will be different for iOS.

  539. While Google’s chief executive Larry Page recently described an $2.5 billion annual run rate for the company’s mobile revenues, the company has testified that it has earned less than $550 million from Android across four years from 2008 to 2011.

    Google doesn’t publicize its Android revenues, but has called out the the growing minority of its revenues attributed to mobile devices. Compared to the $2.5 billion it expected to earn on mobile devices this year, Google reported $38 billion in total revenues for 2011, most of which comes from paid search results presented to desktop PC users.

    In figures presented to the court overseeing Oracle’s patent and copyright infringement case, however, Google reports that very little of its mobile revenue actually comes from Android.

    The last four years of Android revenue amounted to less than $550 million, the company’s documents stated, according to a report by The Guardian. Spread across four years, that indicates that Android contributes very little toward Google’s mobile revenues.

    Google previously described a $1 billion run rate for mobile revenues in just 2011, which includes both mobile ad revenue and Google’s 30 percent cut on paid Android app sales through Google Play (formerly Android Market).

    Many observers had mistakenly interpreted Google’s mobile revenues to mean Android revenues, but the majority of Google’s mobile search, maps and YouTube traffic come through Apple’s iOS devices, which make up more than half of all high end mobile devices and more than 80 percent of all tablets.

    Despite Android being widely used by smartphone makers, Google has struggled to gain traction for app sales in Android Market. Apple’s iOS platform continues to eat up around 90 percent of mobile software revenues.

    Google’s efforts to take over Apple’s iPhone sales with Android licensing and its attempts to blunt Apple TV with with its own Android-based Google TV in 2010 and eat up iPad sales with Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablets last year have all helped to sour the once close partnership the search giant formerly maintained with Apple.

    Apple has subsequently scaled back its support for Google services, ignoring many of Google’s enhancements to Maps (including navigation) and YouTube (including movie rentals) in its iOS client apps. Apple appears to be working to develop its own maps services, as evident in the new iPhoto app for iOS, following several acquisitions of smaller mapping companies.

    Apple has also added Microsoft Bing and Yahoo search to its desktop and mobile Safari browsers (albeit as optional search engines), and appears tilting toward making Baidu the default search engine for Chinese users.

    Apple is also resisting efforts by Google to force Safari users into web advertisement cookie tracking, something Apple has opted Safari users out of by default since its original release.

    In addition to developing its own mapping services, Apple has also launched iAd as its own mobile advertising unit to help developers monetize their free apps.

    Despite scathing predictions of death from competing ad networks and marketing organizations, iAd has successfully retained 15 percent of all US display ad revenue in 2011, despite only being available on iOS devices, which make up roughly half of all mobile devices.

  540. @daniel

    Apple’s iOS platform continues to eat up around 90 percent of mobile software revenues.

    Wow! Is this really true? Can you provide a source?

    Apple is also resisting efforts by Google to force Safari users into web advertisement cookie tracking, something Apple has opted Safari users out of by default since its original release.

    I think this is the broader story that is developing out of the Apple-Google rivalry of the last few years. The personal computing universe is dividing into two camps. One camp wants free products and services, and is happy to have their personal information aggregated by Google in order to pay for them. The other camp prioritises privacy and an ad-free experience.