The smartphone Wars: Finally, Android breaks 50%

The newest comScore figures, for February 2012, are out. Android has finally achieved majority market share in the U.S.. This is three months later than a linear fit to most of 2010 and 20111 predicted, but whatever happened in 4Q2011 to throw everybody off their previous long-term trend curves seems to be over. Android, in particular, is back to pulling about 2% of additional market share per month – actually, its growth rate seems to have increased a bit from before the glitch.

I was right not to overinterpret Apple’s very slight loss of market share last month. The iPhone is back to very, very slowly gaining share. Apple fans should resist the temptation to overinterpret that, though, since the gain is within statistical noise level.

RIM and Microsoft continue to go down in flames, losing not just market share but total userbase as well.

What does it all mean?

The main thing I see in these numbers is that despite all the sound and fury about Apple’s record quarter, the 4S has failed to improve the iPhone’s competitive posture against Android. The fourth or fifth iteration of “this time for sure!” fizzled yet again. I’m sure we’ll hear the same breathless hype when the iPhone 5 issues, though, it seems to be evergreen.

In fact, the pressure on Apple has increased. What we know about winner-take-all effects in markets with positive network externalities suggests that when you’re facing supermajority competition, even slight erosions in market share tend to turn into self-reinforcing cascades as users defect to the safe majority choice.

Now, this could happen to Apple at any time. Apple no longer has margin for screwing up; it can’t even afford a stumble. To be specific, just one botched product launch could easily cost it 15 points of share that it will never get back.

RIM has given up, withdrawing from the consumer market with high-ranking execs fleeing the sinking ship. Dead company walking, not that this will be any surprise to anyone following my analyses. Last June I predicted seven months plus or minus two to a crash or buyout; I was a little off, but not by much.

Microsoft is just bleeding cash and credibility at this point. There is zero possibility that they can recover against competition as strong as Apple and the Android army. And, as predicted here, they’re taking Nokia down with them.

483 thoughts on “The smartphone Wars: Finally, Android breaks 50%

  1. “What we know about winner-take-all effects in markets with positive network externalities suggests that when you’re facing supermajority competition, even slight erosions in market share tend to turn into self-reinforcing cascades as users defect to the safe majority choice.”

    In what manner is a 5:3 ratio remotely close to a “supermajority”?

  2. >In what manner is a 5:3 ratio remotely close to a “supermajority”?

    Anything over 50% for one competitor is what triggers this instability. I suggest you not try to start an argument over the threshold of “supermajority”, because at Androd’s present growth rate it’s going to get there sooner rather than later.

  3. Well, then say “majority” if you think it appropriate. Supermajority is certainly not greater than 50%; however, greater than 50% is precisely the definition of majority.

    I’ve been listening to you say “sooner rather than later” for more than 6 months.

  4. Be careful what you wish for.

    The PC market is completely commodified right now, and the x86/PCIe/USB system architecture is accepted pretty much by everybody, and margins are razor-thin.

    Except for one company: Apple. Apple is currently the largest PC vendor, Macintosh market share is growing against Windows, and they make a tidy profit on every Mac unit sold (though it’s no longer the largest profit center for their business).

    If you get everything you asked for — commodified phone hardware, timely and cruft-free Android updates — the result will be a sea of mediocrity in the cellphone space, within which Apple will be able to make some serious waves.

  5. @esr so now we see if your magic 50% has any magic. My money is on NO. If it’s really magic we should start to see iPhone market share to tank, no?

    I think trends are in place, iOS continues up for next few quarters or so. And Android does too. At some point they both can’t go up any more though as BB and WiMobile will be almost gone, this can’t be too far off.

    But it’s absurd to characterize the iPhone 4S as a failure. They were at 25% US market share a year ago, now 30%. I think Apple will be ecstatic if they can maintain 30+%. In September their share prices was below $400, today it closed at $629. They have a higher market cap than any other company on the planet. They had a $13b profit in the 4th quarter, largely due to iPhone 4S. And BTW, one of the reasons that Apple doesn’t do multiple releases in a year is to ensure they don’t botch a product.

    It’s like the only metric you think that counts is market share. It is an important one. But it isn’t everything. Dev interest, customer satisfaction, eco-system, actual device usage, app store revenues/profits, device profitability, quality, innovation, and many other factors also matter.

    I never see iPhone going above 50% in the US. I doubt it will ever hit 40%. But it’s at an all time high right now at 30%. So even as it’s selling more than ever with it’s higher market share ever – you think this is a sign of weakness?

  6. @phil

    I never see iPhone going above 50% in the US. I doubt it will ever hit 40%. But it’s at an all time high right now at 30%. So even as it’s selling more than ever with it’s higher market share ever – you think this is a sign of weakness?

    In fairness to Eric, I don’t think he actually said that Apple’s current marketshare was a sign of weakness. Actually, I think this was one of his most restrained and reasonable Smartphone Wars posts. He merely said that Apple could suffer collapse brought on by an Android ‘supermajority’. That’s much tamer and more reasonable that his previous posts.

    He actually comes close to suggesting that Apple provides strong competition towards end of the post! We’re making progress.

  7. @esr

    The main thing I see in these numbers is that despite all the sound and fury about Android’s record growth, ICS etc. has failed to improve Android’s competitive posture against Apple. The fourth or fifth iteration of “this time for sure!” fizzled yet again. I’m sure we’ll hear the same breathless hype when Jelly Bean is released, though, it seems to be evergreen.

    I haven’t heard anyone in the Apple camp here saying that Android is doomed, blah blah blah. Just a lot of sound and fury about how Android hitting 50% marketshare will be the tipping point in the destruction of Apple. And this based on a theory that doesn’t seem to be applying to any facet of Apple’s growth in smartphones.

    Oh, and odd that ICS is only on 3% of Android phones?

  8. @esr

    The fourth or fifth iteration of “this time for sure!” fizzled yet again.

    This time what for sure? That iOS marketshare on smartphones will leap ahead of Android’s? I don’t think I have ever seen anybody intelligent claim that this is likely. Maybe you are reading some sort of extremist Apple forums?

  9. >He merely said that Apple could suffer collapse brought on by an Android ‘supermajority’.

    Because people have been confused about this in the past, I’m going to point out that Apple now has to fear two different failure scenarios.

    One derives from an Android supermajority and users defecting to Android because of corresponding positive network externalities. This is the one that would replicate the outcome of the PC wars in the 1990s. It’s why Android crossing 50% is a big deal.

    The other is Christensen’s disruption-from-below scenario. In that one market share is only of secondary importance as a driver; the question is whether Apple’s price and performance is too goldplated for what the market actually wants.

  10. >I don’t think I have ever seen anybody intelligent claim that this is likely.

    I used to have an awful lot of stone-stupid commenters, then. They’ve mostly slunk out of sight the last six months, but your memory shouldn’t be that short.

  11. @esr

    I used to have an awful lot of stone-stupid commenters, then. They’ve mostly slunk out of sight the last six months, but your memory shouldn’t be that short.

    I said anybody intelligent. ;)

    Seriously, though, the mainstream of the Apple community has no expectation that the iPhone is suddenly going to surge in marketshare past Android. You can always find a few people on the internet to represent any position, but it’s a bit annoying when those extreme views get represented as being the voice of the whole community.

    Almost all Apple fans and iPhone users I know are quite happy for Android to exist, and for the platform to be doing well. We don’t call for Android to die, and we don’t really care that much about relative marketshares. As long as Apple is doing well enough to continue making great products we’re happy.

  12. I suggest you not try to start an argument over the threshold of “supermajority”, because at Androd’s present growth rate it’s going to get there sooner rather than later.

    Yes. Eventually Android will have 150% of the market!

  13. @esr

    the question is whether Apple’s price and performance is too goldplated for what the market actually wants.

    What sort of product do you see precipitating such disruption?

    We already have a very rich market full of all sorts of different grades of phone, from high-end iPhones and Androids, though the cheaper Android phones, down to bargain-basement smartphones from China and even non-smartphones.

    If the iPhone is too ‘gold-plated’ then there are plenty of options available—at every price- and feature-point imaginable—for people to make other choices. Given this environment, and given that Apple has a very nice 30% chunk of the market, I am rather sceptical of the probability of imminent disruption from below.

    That’s why I ask what sort of product you envisage doing the disruption. What would make this happen that we don’t already have?

  14. >That’s why I ask what sort of product you envisage doing the disruption. What would make this happen that we don’t already have?

    I don’t know. That’s never been a question that was readily answered before previous disruptions, either – but they happened anyway.

    This is a special case of a very general problem in economics, which is pointed at by the term “revealed preferences”. Because people are not in general very conscious about their utility function, it’s extremely difficult to predict what specific circumstances will trigger a large change in revealed preferences.

  15. 1. I’d be willing to wager Apple surpasses LG as the second largest mobile phone vendor before Google achieves “supermajority” (60-65% by most common definitions). (LG will see slow erosion of their dumbphone share worldwide in 2012, but the US will see a rapid decline of dumbphones. LG will be not be able to benefit from that market shift in the US while its core market remains tied to dumbphones.)

    2. I’d love to discuss these positive network externalities (addressable market for developers, profitability of platform, APIs, data syncing across platforms/devices, content, accessories, component pricing, etc.) and try to determine metrics to evaluate each platform’s respective degree of “winning.” (Moreover, I’d love to discuss the negative externalities as well.)

    3. Christensen discusses disruption from below in the context of entrenched incumbents dominating the market at a moment in time. Apple is not and has never been entrenched, the incumbent, or dominant in either the mobile, or specifically the smartphone, market at any time since the iPhone was introduced. Apple will probably never be the dominant market supplier in terms of market share for mobile devices.

  16. I still believe Android will have relatively weak network effects, unlike the 90′s PC market, for a number of reasons. 1. Smartphones are less “sticky”: cheaper hardware and software, shorter life cycle. 2. No need to “get one like I have at work.” 3. Android hardware and software fragmentation. 4. Carrier behavior such as cruftware, slow or non-existent upgrades, etc.

  17. I think it’s obvious but I guess I should make clear: I mean #1 in the context of the all-important U.S. comScore data.

  18. @Tom

    If a disruption hits Apple, I think it will come from the carriers.

    A quick review of the Verizon website illustrates what I think can happen. (I only researched Verizon since it is my carrier, this is very informal.)

    There are a total of 31 models of new smartphones offered for sale. If one takes the difference between the retail price and the two year contract price as an indicator of the magnitude of the contract subsidy, here’s what you get…

    Total phones: 31 average subsidy: $303
    Android phones: 21 average subsidy: $321
    iOS phones: 4 average subsidy: $450
    Blackberry phones: 5 average subsidy: $250
    WP phones: 1 average subsidy: $200

    If those numbers are indicative of the subsidy magnitude, then this is where Apple’s problem will come from imho. Dan Hesse’s comments not withstanding, I haven’t seen any conclusive evidence that indicates iOS users are that much more profitable to the carriers. At some point, the carriers will tire of eating higher subsidies and try to force some of that cost either on to the consumer or back to Apple.

    I think Apple has done a masterful job of playing the carriers against each other and leveraging their strengths. I’m questioning how long they can keep it up, and what the effect will be on iPhone sales in the US if the price of the phone on contract goes up by $100 or more.

  19. @Kevin Snyder:

    If anything, I think your quick analysis probably understates the problem. It is highly likely that the carrier margin on an unsubsidized iPhone is much less than the carrier margin on an unsubsidized Android phone.

    And, unfortunately for Sprint, they probably can’t raise the price and still hit their contractually obligated target. Dunno about the other carriers, but if Apple can always make sure that different carrier contracts expire at different times, that probably helps tremendously in keeping the carriers in line. You’d think companies that ostensibly make money by leveraging exceedingly large, exceedingly long-term investments would be better at figuring this stuff out.

  20. > We’re making progress.

    Or Eric is coming to a new understanding, that Android can’t beat iOS anywhere but ‘market share’, and therefore softening his rhetoric.

    There is a lot of sizzle today on a post explaining why Google is about to submerge the ‘Android’ brand. Basically: they’ve lost control of the branding of Android. “Google Play” is the new, rising branding, along with Plus.

  21. Here is a scenario for Apple failure: they quit making great products.

    If the bean-counters take over like they did in the 80s and they quit hiring A-Players and quit letting product people run the company – they will start to suck.

    And if they suck, why not go Android?

    It’s tough to keep up what Apple is doing right now. For now I see no weakness. We’ll see if they can maintain.

  22. @Kevin Snyder

    At some point, the carriers will tire of eating higher subsidies and try to force some of that cost either on to the consumer or back to Apple.

    Yeah, I keep hearing this, but it never materialises. The iPhone has been around for almost five years now, and yet we see no signs of carriers abandoning it.

    This makes me think that there is a piece of data we are missing. Maybe iPhones actually *are* that much more profitable. Or maybe a certain significant proportion of users won’t accept anything other than an iPhone, and therefore not having the iPhone available is too much of a competitive disadvantage.

    I don’t know. But one thing we do know is that the number of carriers offering the iPhone just keeps going up.

  23. >If the bean-counters take over like they did in the 80s and they quit hiring A-Players and quit letting product people run the company – they will start to suck.

    I agree. I mean, I think any closed-source platform sucks pretty much a fortiori, but I understand what you’re driving at. In this respect, Tim Cook’s known background and strengths should not exactly reassure you.

  24. @phil

    Yep. If Apple starts churning out the equivalent of Performas etc, they’ll gut themselves. And that’s why Android is great for Apple; it provides competition. Imagine if Android hadn’t come along. Apple would have had RIM and Microsoft to compete with. As much as I think Win Phone 7 looks interesting, and the Lumia 900 nice hardware, I think that Apple wouldn’t have seen them as serious competition. And the products, software and services they created would have reflected this.

  25. >Or Eric is coming to a new understanding, that Android can’t beat iOS anywhere but ‘market share’, and therefore softening his rhetoric.

    Only in your wish-fulfillment fantasies, cupcake.

  26. @esr

    In this respect, Tim Cook’s known background and strengths should not exactly reassure you.

    Apple losing its edge in product quality and innovation is THE major threat to Apple. I agree.

    I don’t think that Tim Cook is too much of a worry though. We are coming out of a period of time at Apple where the CEO has dominated the company to an extreme. We’ve come to think of this as normal when it comes to Apple. Steve Jobs created the Apple we know today, and had such a huge influence on its products that we now assume that the company will continue to be defined by its CEO.

    But that is not the usual case for most companies. Most companies do not have their products defined by the CEO. I think that we are going to see Apple’s CEO take on a much more normal role, consisting of operations and strategy.

    Apple as a company is still extremely well equipped to create great products, it just won’t be the CEO that is directing their day-to-day development. That responsibility will likely fall most directly on Jony Ive, Steve’s spiritual successor.

    The company as a whole matters much more than the guy who sits in the CEO’s chair, and the company as a whole seems to be doing pretty well so far. It’s still early days, but there haven’t been any obvious blunders yet.

  27. Just wait until the Qualcomm MSM8960 phones start hitting the market. Single SoC with LTE on the chip and made with a 28nm process. If done right, the battery life should be amazing — addressing the biggest drawback of every smartphone on the market, and helping to deal with the extra battery drain that “real” multi-tasking exerts vs. “fake” multi-tasking in iOS.

    Since I’m on Sprint, I’m awaiting the expected announcement (tomorrow) and delivery (June) of the HTC One X (Sprint HTC EVO One?). It’s biggest drawback is an Apple-like non-removable battery. I’ll also miss a physical keyboard, but most seem OK with that.

    So far, I haven’t seen too many MSM8960 phones announced other than this and Windows phones. If anyone knows of Android 4.0 MSM8960 phone planned, do tell.

  28. @phil

    However it’s only been 6 months since Jobs exited the scene.

    But it’s been much longer since Steve was really in full-time control. Cook has been the de facto CEO at Apple on and off since 2009, and pretty much full-time since the beginning of 2011.

  29. Apple losing its edge in product quality

    Really? Other vendors are finally doing something about their quality issues? It’s about time!

  30. If a disruption hits Apple, I think it will come from the carriers.

    If push comes to shove, Apple can become a carrier.

  31. >From king to pauper in twelve months

    Ahonen’s analysis is perceptive and sharp. Or maybe I just think so because it reads a lot like something I might have written… :-)

  32. To the extent the theoretical underpinnings given for the cliff theory are correct, Apple is somewhat protected by its store, and Samsung might be somewhat protected by its proliferation of offerings.

    I have expressed my admiration before for Samsung’s ability to maintain and/or extend market share in the face of rapidly declining dumbphone sales. It will be interesting to see if they keep it up.

  33. @Some Guy:
    “…and it still sucks to be an Android developer: http://www.papermill.me/firstweeks/

    “After you go through the pain of putting up with Java, even with a well-received product that gained considerable publicity, you’re lucky to break even.”

    Does anyone have public data showing the equivalent figures for iOS apps? My gut says that while there are some big winners, the majority of apps in the iOS market must sell next to nothing. The reality is that both the Android and iOS markets are saturated, and there are limited opportunities to make significant profits there.

    I’d love to see an open source community grow up around Android, with app developers (even just hobbyists) sharing their code freely (free speech, not free beer). I could see that going to some interesting places, where hackers find an app that they like but is missing some key feature, so they add the feature and toss their code back into the pool. So far I haven’t seen signs of this, but I may not be looking in the right places.

  34. >If push comes to shove, Apple can become a carrier.

    Apple has the financial mass to make a go of this, but not the cultural capital. Same’s true of Google, I think.

  35. > I’d love to see an open source community grow up around Android, with app
    > developers (even just hobbyists) sharing their code freely (free speech, not free beer).

    Many of the popular open source libraries that have been around – SDL for games, for one example – are already offering Android (and iOS) versions of their libs. It has taken some time to gain traction, but the deskop-level open-source forest is finally reaching down into mobile in a good way.

    A positive side-effect of iOS in this case (in my rather un-humble opinion) is that a lot of those libraries are now or are planned for future versions to be either non-GPL or dual-licensed, so that their libraries can see actual use on that platform. Quite a boon for my own purposes; no doubt for others as well.

  36. @esr
    Time to relabel the Smartphone Wars to the Computer World War II.

    The war is now on in Tablets and Netbooks. Actually, we will get tablets with and without keyboards. These will combine with Smartphones to completely dominate personal computing in the near future.

    I think Bennett said it best:
    Eventually Android will have 150% of the market!

    This is too, conservative, think 1200% ;-) .

    Current market is ~200 million smartphones, but the ultimate market is more close to 6 billion or even more.

    Apple’s pricing and structure (micro-management) limits it to a market of (well?) under 500M high-priced handsets. Apple already has difficulty to keep its market share in markets without heavy subsidies.

    That would mean that Apple will end up with less than a 8% share of the total installed base. Still making boat loads of money, sure.

    Next stop: Android will clean out the feature-phone market. That is 1.2 billion phones. I expect every feature phone to be replaced by a (cheap) smartphone in the next 18 months.

  37. Working in the Windows division between ’96 through ’02, I played a tiny role in implementing Microsoft’s strategy vs. Apple in the desktop wars, and nowadays I can’t help seeing Google’s strategy vs. Apple in the mobile space through the same lens. I expect Android to achieve dominance, and for Apple to survive as a boutique player in mobile, just as they are in desktop, for largely the same reasons. Let me explain:

    Apple, then as now, aimed to ensure a superior user experience through ironclad control of the total product. Every component in the box, hardware and software, was Apple-supplied, as far as the customer was concerned. Quality integration was a hallmark of the brand, and Apple products commanded premium prices.

    In the competing world of PC’s, Microsoft made money on only the OS, so it sought to commoditize the rest of the components in the desktop PC by making it as cheap and easy as possible to bring compatible devices to market. Aggressive competition among component manufacturers, turbocharged by Moore’s law, drove down the cost of PC components (– except the OS, until Linux took off –), and Windows eventually prevailed.

    Not because it was a better product*, but because it was a better value. Apple never commanded anything close to a majority share of the desktop, and the server guys all got disrupted from below.

    (* The abundance of blue screens in the late ’90′s was a direct consequence of Microsoft’s “come one, come all” attitude towards hardware vendors, who wrote their own device drivers without much in the way of quality education or support from Microsoft early on. It took until around 1999 or 2000 for Microsoft to undo the damage it had fostered within the Windows ecosystem, eventually turning back the nasty blue tide with Windows Update, improvements to the driver developer’s kit, and various economic incentives for the OEM’s.)

    So, it’s tremendously ironic to me to see Google playing Microsoft’s role vis a vis Apple in the mobile space ten years on. (Seriously, Ballmer – wtf?) The same dynamics are in play as were in the desktop game, for the most part: Moore’s law enables the manufacturers to bring newer and more powerful handsets to market at ever cheaper prices, relegating Apple to the boutique niche it seems to prefer anyway.

    The only real differences I see between MS vs. Apple on the desktop and Google vs. Apple in mobile are, #1, data service is now an essential feature of the overall product, which for my money makes the carriers a component supplier more than anything else, #2, Google monetizes their component differently than Microsoft did, and #3, Google maintains far less control of the OS component which it supplies.

    Having said all that, the thrust of my reply is, even if Android does come to dominate in mobile, which I agree that it will, why should Apple disappear? Why won’t it settle into a small but stable premium niche in mobile as it does on the desktop?

    (Oh, and on a separate note – navigate to att.com, sprint.com, or verizonwireless.net and see which phones get first billing… it’s not iPhone for any of them. I’ll take this as early evidence of the carrier revolt against the iPhone subsidy.)

  38. Apple has the financial mass to make a go of this, but not the cultural capital.

    There was a time when they had no retail operation at all. There was a time when they weren’t in the music business.

    If Apple decided to get into the carrier business, they’d get the right person to run it, and disrupt that industry like every other one they’ve gotten into.

  39. I just read the piece by Tomi Ahonen
    http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2012/4/3/introducing-the-cliff-theory-how-handset-makers-die.aspx#disqus_thread

    It appeared to me that Android as a platform does not have the features that make handset makers so vulnerable. For every handset that bombs, there will be different models from other handset makers. If a new version of the OS proves to be unpopular, handsets can be sold with the previous version. Furthermore, a software problem can easier be solved than a hardware problem.

    On the other hand, Apple has these problems in full: If the new iPhone bombs, there is only the old model to go back to. And a complete disruption of the production. The do have the money, at the moment, but how would it damage the next release?

  40. >Microsoft is just bleeding cash and credibility at this point.

    Yeah. Microsoft’s strong point has always been integration… with itself. But if I can adequately open Excel files on my HTC Desire with formatting and all, and I can, just what exactly is their key selling point here?

  41. iPhone fanbois who continue harping on the “Android is teh fragmented!!!11″ narrative are hereby put on notice to sit down and shut up. Yes, it is true that phone makers add some of their own crapola to Android before their devices go out the door. So what? PC makers do the same thing, and you don’t see anyone complaining about Windows fragmentation.

    It’s nice to see Linux winning.

  42. @Ignatius T Foobar

    fanbois

    Can anybody explain this ‘fanboi’ word I have seen crop up a few times? Is it supposed to be some sort of gay slur?

  43. Ignatius T. Foobar,

    Actually, you do see a lot of people complaining about Windows fragmentation. Game developers in particular, which is why consoles lead game development now.

    And game developers have been complaining loudly about Android, where the fragmentation situation is actually worse than for Windows. On Windows each version of DirectX specified a minimum of what shaders and effects had to be supported, so you can write your game to the feature set of a DX9, DX10, or DX11-compatible card and it will pretty much work with the featureset specified in those DX profiles.

    On Android, there is no such thing. Android supports OpenGL ES 2.0, sure, but the spec has nothing to say about which kinds of shaders are required to be supported. Accordingly, the wide variety of GPU parts in Android phones means that some phones will support some shaders and others won’t, and there’s no real way of knowing except to test the app on every phone.

    Which is enough to make a developer of a high-end mobile game go “Fuck this, we’re going iPhone-only.” Which a lot of mobile game developers have. And continued to make lots of money.

    So yes, Android is fragmented, and if you think that’s not a problem you are hereby put on notice to sit down and shut up.

  44. On the other hand, Apple has these problems in full: If the new iPhone bombs, there is only the old model to go back to. And a complete disruption of the production. The do have the money, at the moment, but how would it damage the next release?

    What makes you think the new iPhone will bomb? I suppose it’s theoretically possible but it is highly unlikely. Apple is that committed to quality, and I think they learned their lessons from the G4 Cube.

    People (like Eric) have been anticipating a major slip-up for Apple’s new iPhone release almost since the iPhone came out, and it hasn’t happened. Remember “Antennagate”? The iPhone 4 still sold better than its predecessor.

  45. @Jeff Read
    “What makes you think the new iPhone will bomb? I suppose it’s theoretically possible but it is highly unlikely.”

    The last Antenna-gate came close. You can wail all along that there did not exist a problem. That is beside the point. If the public thinks it is a lemon, it will bomb.

    And all the other companies that went over the cliff could have said the same, and still went bust.

    So, your unlikely is premature.

  46. Pingback: Out And About 04/04/2012 » All Things Expounded

  47. @Winter

    The last Antenna-gate came close.

    Actually it didn’t come anywhere near close. In 2010 (the year of ‘Antennagate’) Apple sold more iPhones than in 2007, 2008, and 2009 combined. The iPhone 4 was by far Apple’s best selling iPhone to date. The return rates on the 4 were actually lower than those of the 3GS. Whatever your perception of the issue, and whatever the press’s perception, the perception of normal people was that it was not a problem.

    Antennagate was a huge media fandango about nothing.

  48. Tomi Ahonen has been wrong for the last 5 years about Apple. He does accurately point to some factors that help lead to collapse but he completely fails to acknowledge why those who have collapsed did or how to prevent collapse, he puts very little value on the OS, applications, ecosystem.

    Motorola had horrible UIs and no ecosystem to speak of — they were dependent on the device being fashionable. Palm’s and Nokia’s OS became irrelevant, so did Windows Mobile. RIM failed to develop an ecosystem beyond enterprise push and consumer messaging.

    Apple leads in every category for a sustainable ecosystem — these factors can erode over time but they are not mooted overnight. I see no risk to Apple via Ahonen’s analysis. In fact, I merely see a pretty poor analyst with a very bad track record in this modern age of mobile telephony.

  49. This notion that the carriers will push back and this will be Apple’s “disruption” is nonsense.

    Firstly, this would not be a Clay Christensen’s “innovator’s dilemma”-type “disruption” so simply saying “disruption” does not carry the weight of the analysis by Christensen that we should all know. (We wouldn’t have a dominant market player being subverted by a lower-cost competitor utilizing lesser but cheaper technology to put the market leader into a decision which forces them to lose their existing base or pivot to a new audience that is lower margin (it would involve lower margins, but it wouldn’t require a change of strategy or the base of customers.)) So if you want to say the “carriers will disrupt Apple,” you can just pretend that using the word “disrupt” makes an argument.

    Secondly, let’s presume for some reason that 300 carriers in more than 100 countries all decide to lower Apple’s subsidy to the same levels as others. Big deal. Instead of 60+% margins, they’d have 40+% margins — still greater than all of their competition — at the exact same pricing. Would that hurt Apple financially and on Wall Street? Sure. Would it change their audience, lose their audience, force them to radically alter their strategy? Absolutely not. It’s not a disruption whatsoever.

  50. “PC makers do the same thing, and you don’t see anyone complaining about Windows fragmentation.”

    Firstly, Microsoft barred skinning and alternate desktops to the degree that is possible on Android. Secondly, manufacturers and carriers have far more ability to lock or interfere than was possible on PCs. Thirdly, the fragmentation of Android is an order of magnitude greater than it ever was on Windows (i.e. you can still release products with Android 1.5 if you’d like, and the majority of devices are more likely to have 2.3.7 than 4.0).

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to point out that the network externalities in this case are negative: the largest addressable market of Android is only 63.2% of the total market, and they are on API level 10, two years old, and five API levels behind the current release. Targeting the newest, most capable API level means you are only targeting 2.9% of the market. Yes, the latest versions will run apps built for 2.3.7 but they will not include any new features and most likely will not match the newer UI.

  51. “…you can just pretend that using the word “disrupt” makes an argument.”

    Should be “…you CAN’T just pretend…” of course.

  52. @Tim F.

    Firstly, this would not be a Clay Christensen’s “innovator’s dilemma”-type “disruption” so simply saying “disruption” does not carry the weight of the analysis by Christensen that we should all know.

    Exactly right. I almost pointed this out myself.

  53. How about the rest of the world?

    Nokia is really in a bad place in US. What now? And Elop? The board? Wasn’t it one of the stupidest CEO decisions? Or was it intentional?

    Android version fragmentation: v2.x; v2.3.x; v3.x; v4.x.x. Version 2.3.x is the most used and is growing with new models being released with it. Version v4.x is 1.3% only. New iOS versions see a lot more penetration when they’re released.

    “Android” device makers do a lot of customization. This increases fragmentation because it stops (the most common case) or slows down upgrading to the new version. No device maker is good at it. Customization of the UI slows down and increases the cost which is bad for the consumer. Wasn’t that what Android (being free and all) suppose to avoid?

    How about platforms?

    Android vs iOS (vs. Windows Phone!?)

    Android is Google (software+hardware+content) 100%
    Android is Device Makers (no_software+hardware+no_content) %33

    iOs is Apple (software+hardware+content) %100

    Windows Phone is Windows (software+no_hardware(Nokia!?)+content) %66-100%

    Frankenstein Android is B&N/Amazon (software(yes+no)+hardware+content) %66-100%

    What will be of WebOS, Tizen, B2G (Mozilla)? Are they completely lost? Missed their chance?

    Hardware?

    Apple vs. Samsung vs. Motorola

    Almost every other device maker is doomed. Perhaps Sony can be saved by building an platform on top of Android with PlayStation branding. But with mobile devices (smartphones/tablets) becoming more and more powerful we have a device that can do everything. Why do we need a dedicated gaming platform, like PSP and PS3.

    If Microsoft can’t enter into the mobile devices world with big numbers, doesn’t it mean that the XBOX platform is also at risk for the same reasons?

  54. Now that Android has the marketshare will Google input more control over the platform?

    They will need a more uniform platform so that they a successful platform for content: video playing; gaming; etc.

    Is their 7′ Tablet and Google Play the first sign of this? Android devices as consumer devices?

    Now that they have an hardware division is only logical to do so.

    They are doing very little money directly of Android. They need to create an successful economic content platform to rival iOS, to do so they need to control the platform much more that they do now.

    When and how will they do that?

    These comments are not an apologism of either Android(Google) or iOS(Apple). They end up being derivative and intellectual and morally insulting and i’m not interested in that!

    I’m really interested in what will happen in this new mobile computer world. I see a lot of convergence and consolidation with will result in only a few very big players in the game.

    An article with yours thoughts on that (a post marketshare world) will be very welcome.

  55. Slightly off-topic question, but since this is an Android thread:
    Does anybody know of a good way to buy a used phone? I’m currently using a dumbphone with a crappy pay-as-you-go carrier and would like to switch to a pay-as-you-go smartphone on T-Mobile, but all of the devices available are either expensive, suck, or both. It’s hard to justify spending $300 on a phone which you use for ~30 minutes a month, or which doesn’t support Android 4.0. I’d like to keep it about $100, but T-Mobile’s offerings at that point are laughably bad.
    I’m just looking for something with wi-fi support and hopefully the ability to use T-Mobile’s free-calling-over-WiFi feature. I can pretty much make everything else I need work in software. Thanks for any suggestions.

  56. @Tim F.

    Firstly, [carriers dropping subsidies] would not be a Clay Christensen’s “innovator’s dilemma”-type “disruption”

    Subsidies distort the market. The removal of subsidies wouldn’t be the proximate cause of any disruption, but could certainly reveal one in progress.

  57. Tim F.
    I see no risk to Apple via Ahonen’s analysis.
    Never do.

    We will not have long to find out. All the pretenders are close to dead.
    Just the heavy hitters left.
    By the end of this year the disruption will have happened or not.

  58. Does anybody know of a good way to buy a used phone? I’m currently using a dumbphone with a crappy pay-as-you-go carrier and would like to switch to a pay-as-you-go smartphone on T-Mobile, but all of the devices available are either expensive, suck, or both. It’s hard to justify spending $300 on a phone which you use for ~30 minutes a month, or which doesn’t support Android 4.0. I’d like to keep it about $100, but T-Mobile’s offerings at that point are laughably bad.

    I went from a feature phone on contract with AT&T to a smartphone on a prepaid plan with Tmobile a few months ago, so I know what you’re saying. IMO you need to find a used device as you get much better value from an older high-end device compared with the low-end crap you’d find new at the same price point. I bought a G2, but the Sensation has since come down to a much more affordable level. swappa.com can be tempting, but prices are absurdly high. Find a reputable business selling refurbs on ebay is my advice.

  59. @Garrett:

    > Does anybody know of a good way to buy a used phone?

    Would also like to know this. In some ways it’s apparently easier here than in Europe (no blacklisting of stolen phones to worry about), but in other ways it’s probably more difficult (carrier-specific handsets and locking).

    If I knew the model I wanted, I’d certainly try to buy it through Amazon — my anecdotal evidence is that they’re pretty good about making their vendors do the right thing.

  60. “The removal of subsidies wouldn’t be the proximate cause of any disruption, but could certainly reveal one in progress.”

    I thought removing the larger subsidy was a braindead, obvious, perfectly sensible business move that only completely idiotic carriers under the spell of the mind-controlling Apple would not be willing or able to do? So which is it? Have the larger subsidies always been bad business that perfectly and obviously should be removed irrespective of a disruption and, therefore, if it did occur would not be indicative of a disruption in progress? Or is there a genuine reason that the subsidies are larger and in the future that advantage may be disrupted so the carriers pushing back on subsidies would be a leading indicator of disruption?

    (To be clear, I don’t buy either proposition.)

  61. “We will not have long to find out. All the pretenders are close to dead.
    Just the heavy hitters left. By the end of this year the disruption will have happened or not.”

    I disagree. Look how long Microsoft has managed to prolong the agony in its Windows Phone line, even without starting from a strong position. That shows what a cash-rich company like Microsoft — or Apple can do, while a more marginal player could be forced out quickly a mistake that would represent a speed bump to the bigger player. And Apple is in a much better position in early 2012 than Microsoft ever was in phones.

    Whether “The Cliff” theory is right that there is no recovery from a bump in today’s fast-moving market remains to be seen.

  62. Whether “The Cliff” theory is right that there is no recovery from a bump in today’s fast-moving market remains to be seen.

    I find The Cliff plausible, precisely because of one factor the author identified- the ratio between product design lead times and the duration of the replacement cycle being so much higher in the mobile business. One miss and you’re really boned, unless you have some other factor to help hold your customers and limit the damage while you retool.

    However being rich would certainly help you endure a bump without entering a death spiral where the fall off the Cliff becomes self-perpetuating (you’re losing money so you cut expenses with layoffs which guarantees you can’t recover with improved products which means you lose more money, etc etc then bankruptcy). I’m not sure whether status as a positional good being part of your success would help or hurt you if you were to ever take a bump.

  63. @Patrick Maupin

    part of the popularity of Apple’s products is because they are positional goods

    Does this actually make sense? Isn’t a positional good one whose value is mostly dependent on the fact that it is desirable? You’re therefore saying “Apple’s products are popular because they are desirable.” Seems almost tautological.

    I don’t know. Maybe I am misinterpreting you. Sorry if this is the case. Could you clarify precisely what claim you are making?

  64. @Tim F.:

    I thought removing the larger subsidy was a braindead, obvious, perfectly sensible business move that only completely idiotic carriers under the spell of the mind-controlling Apple would not be willing or able to do?

    A lot of things are braindead and perfectly obvious, yet difficult to manage. I suspect that subsidy removal falls into this category, but there may be mitigating factors why it doesn’t. I have discussed these thoroughly in the past, and you know that, so you’re just trolling here. Having said that, I’m seeing more and more evidence lately that carriers are trying not to push Apple so hard.

    So which is it? Have the larger subsidies always been bad business that perfectly and obviously should be removed irrespective of a disruption and, therefore, if it did occur would not be indicative of a disruption in progress? Or is there a genuine reason that the subsidies are larger and in the future that advantage may be disrupted so the carriers pushing back on subsidies would be a leading indicator of disruption?

    When AT&T had an exclusive, it very likely made sense. Especially at the start, when there weren’t any Androids, and when the iPhone was the one sure way to sell an expensive data plan. When Verizon could get it too, that made sense for them. Now that everybody has it, perhaps not so much. Apple leveraged this quite successfully, apparently (from some reports) threatening to have inventory shortages for carriers who don’t play along. The fact that the three major carriers and a few of the minor carriers have the iPhone makes it no longer a competitive advantage for those carriers (except, perhaps, as against poor T-Mobile, but you can’t build a successful business around doing better than T-Mobile.)

  65. By the way, that CNET story is so pathetically manufactured. If they don’t have anything better to write about they should just shut the website down.

  66. @Patrick

    The fact that the three major carriers and a few of the minor carriers have the iPhone makes it no longer a competitive advantage for those carriers

    Of course it’s no longer a competitive advantage, but, as has been repeatedly pointed out on this blog, not having the iPhone would be a big competitive disadvantage.

  67. Does this actually make sense? Isn’t a positional good one whose value is mostly dependent on the fact that it is desirable? You’re therefore saying “Apple’s products are popular because they are desirable.” Seems almost tautological.

    A positional good is one whose value (to an given person) is dependent on the perception that it is desired by other people.

    I’m pretty sure you know this.

  68. @Tom:

    You’re therefore saying “Apple’s products are popular because they are desirable.” Seems almost tautological.

    No, that’s not exactly what I’m saying, and it’s not at all a tautology. See if you can figure out why.

    By the way, that CNET story is so pathetically manufactured. If they don’t have anything better to write about they should just shut the website down.

    On this we agree. I originally saw the story on a different website, but couldn’t find it again. I wouldn’t exactly say “manufactured” but the spin is more than palpable. Nonetheless, there have been lots of tweets from people who are upset that the unwashed masses can now do something that should by all rights be reserved solely for iPhone users.

  69. @PapayaSF:

    Five regional carriers will be carrying iPhones. I guess they didn’t get the word that this would be bad for their businesses….

    Carrying the iPhone is good for business. Especially if you can do it like Alaska Communications and get $100/month for doing so. The question is whether or not it makes sense for Sprint to hand Apple $450 in order to take a preexisting customer who is paying $80/month and convert them into a customer who is paying $80/month. (The answer, obviously, on a one-off basis, is no, so the real question is whether the iPhone brings in enough new customers to make it worthwhile. Time will tell — if Sprint lives that long.)

    @Tom:

    Of course it’s no longer a competitive advantage, but, as has been repeatedly pointed out on this blog, not having the iPhone would be a big competitive disadvantage.

    How big is debatable, and depends on other factors. For example, US Cellular says not having the iPhone increased their churn from 1.52% to 1.63%. FWIW, they are planning on carrying the iPhone once it supports LTE, but US Cellular (and the other regional carriers) are probably not in the position Sprint is where they feel have to accede to lots of demands from Apple in order to guarantee first-class citizenship in the new handset availability club. (A couple of third-tier carriers got the 4s same time as the big boys. These others — obviously not.)

  70. “I have discussed these thoroughly in the past, and you know that, so you’re just trolling here.”

    No, I’m just saying that it is just as likely, as you say, “The removal of subsidies wouldn’t be the proximate cause of any disruption, but could certainly reveal one in progress”, that if “[t]he removal of subsidies [were to happen, it] could certainly reveal [that a "disruption] WAS NOT in progress,” and largely using your past arguments, there is little reason to see causation, early indicator, or even coincidence between a change in subsidies and some form of disruption.

  71. > No, I’m just saying that it is just as likely

    No, you’re writing silly words as if I said them.

    largely using your past arguments, there is little reason to see causation, early indicator, or even coincidence between a change in subsidies and some form of disruption.

    So you really don’t think the fact that, around the world, unsubsidized Android does a lot better than unsubsidized Apple would have any bearing on what would happen here if the carriers dropped subsidies?

  72. Antennagate was a huge media fandango about nothing.

    I’ve heard through the grapevine that the return rate on the iPhone 4 was significantly lower than than the return rate for the previous model. I know from my own experience that my iPhone 4 performed noticeably better w/r/t keeping connected in marginal signal areas than my iPhone 3GS did.

  73. Don’t unsubsidized iPhones sell for about the same amount as unsubsidized Android phones of similar specs?

  74. @PapayaSF:

    Even if you got agreement on what similar specs were, you’d find that the price of Apple’s latest offering stays relatively constant, while the price of its competitors declines with age. But for my purposes, I’d say that I can easily find something “comparable” for at least $100 less.

  75. @Some Guy

    I’ve heard through the grapevine that the return rate on the iPhone 4 was significantly lower than than the return rate for the previous model.

    Steve Jobs presented this data in his antennagate press conference.

  76. @Patrick

    Nonetheless, there have been lots of tweets from people who are upset that the unwashed masses can now do something that should by all rights be reserved solely for iPhone users.

    This feels to me like one of those things where there were a handful of tweets making stupid half-joking remarks, and then the blogs grabbed hold of it and blew it up into a huge deal because they wanted to generate controversy. Then a lot more people started tweeting in response to the controversy that the media had generated. From that point on it’s a self-sustaining story.

    The whole thing is silly. No doubt there are a handful of genuine examples of insecure hipsters worried about barbarians at the gate, but I really don’t think they represent a significant proportion of the iPhone user base.

  77. @Tom:

    I’m not an expert at looking at twitter’s timeline by any means, but judging from the tweets I’ve seen, to me it looks quite plausible that many more than a handful of people independently voiced their displeasure at this news before any media traction about the displeasure.

    And though most of them couch it as “ha ha” when pressed, it’s telling that the initial reaction is that negative.

    No doubt there are a handful of genuine examples of insecure hipsters worried about barbarians at the gate, but I really don’t think they represent a significant proportion of the iPhone user base.

    It’s a gradient. And I would argue that yes, a significant portion (almost certainly over 10%) of iPhone users view and use their iPhone as a social signifier.

  78. I am seeing $120 androids with satisfactory hardware, no plan, and no lock in. The software is unsatisfactory, perhaps because the devices are so new, but that will be fixed soon enough. Against that, no one can win.

    Apple will survive in smartphones, as it survives in personal computers – as a minor player selling overpriced status symbol equipment.

  79. I have to say that CNET article is a bit of mountains out of mole hills. The forum posts were down right idiotic….

    @ Patrick

    I would agree there is a portion of users who consider an iPhone as part of their “poser accouterment”, but I think that goes in general for smart phones (diminishing as all phones become “smart”). Nothing new or significant.

    I would also propose there is a significant portion of the Android purchasing population who carry an Android as a social signifier as well: “geek” status, and to make certain one is not mistaken for a “poser”. Kind of an anti-signifier “signifier”. Either way, goods purchased for their “positionality”. Same thing.

    What happen to “status symbol”? I guess it doesn’t have enough positionality…

    Cheers – Argosy

  80. >And I would argue that yes, a significant portion (almost certainly over 10%) of iPhone users view and use their iPhone as a social signifier.

    LOL. Anybody who doubts this needs to get out more…

  81. > So yes, Android is fragmented, and if you think
    > that’s not a problem you are hereby put on notice
    > to sit down and shut up.

    You sound like a global warming alarmist. I will neither sit down nor shut up simply because you’ve declared the argument over and plugged your ears like a child, thank you very much.

    The type of irrelevantly minor fragmentation you are claiming will have little to no effect on Android market share. Commoditization is a far more powerful force than that. To prove so you need only look to how PC users put up with a decade and a half of CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT when the Macintosh and Amiga computers of the time required no such nonsense.

  82. @Argosy:

    > I would also propose there is a significant portion of the Android purchasing population who carry an Android as a social signifier as well:

    I doubt it’s anywhere near as high.

    > “geek” status

    Sure, some of those.

    > and to make certain one is not mistaken for a “poser”.

    This idea is a bit problematic. The easiest way to avoid being mistaken for an iPhone poser is to simply not carry a phone.

    > What happen to “status symbol”? I guess it doesn’t have enough positionality…

    I think you’ve essentially already answered this. An Android phone might be a signifier for a certain population, but probably isn’t a status symbol.

  83. @Ignatius:

    Don’t forget the DIP switches, IRQ jumpers, and incompatible drivers!

  84. The implication seems to be that because social signifiers and status symbols can change, then Apple will take a huge hit when all their just-following-the-trend users inevitably realize that Android is the new hotness. I don’t think it will work that way for a number of reasons.

    First, what’s widely perceived as a top consumer product will always become a signifier. (Yes, iPhones may not be best for everyone, but they’d still win the popular vote for “best smartphone.”) I don’t see anyone near to creating anything the general public perceives as better than an iPhone. And if one did somehow appear, it’d soon be obsolete for lack of OS updates. ;->

    An iPhone can be a status symbol because it’s a specific model. (Or two or three similar models at most, if you include previous generations still on sale, but still all from one company known for quality products.) The immense variety of Android phones means that they can’t really be “a symbol” (except to geeks, who can see the OS itself as a symbol).

    Finally, this immense variety means that any Android OEM would have a hard time creating even creating the next status symbol phone. The big companies like Samsung and HTC just aren’t hip brands, because their low-end mass-market focus and standard consumer electronics manufacturer mindset precludes it. And if they did move upmarket with a new brand (like Toyota did with Lexus), they still have to stand out from the rest of the Android Army, justify a higher price tag, compete with partial focus (having their low-end models to also think about), fight squarely on Apple’s turf, while facing the immense resources Apple concentrates on one model at a time. A gussied-up Vertu-like monstrosity from a small company would have no chance, nor would a perfectly open and flexible geek dreamphone from any company, because it would be too difficult for the average user (hipster or not).

    So I think iPhones will keep their well-earned status for the foreseeable future.

  85. @Eric
    >LOL. Anybody who doubts this needs to get out more…
    Good thing no one here doubts Patrick’s premise!

    @ Patrick

    me >> and to make certain one is not mistaken for a “poser”.

    you >This idea is a bit problematic. The easiest way to avoid being mistaken for an iPhone poser is to simply not carry a phone.

    I said poser aka ‘hipster’ not “iPhone poser”. I would think that is some one who wants you to think they have an iPhone. A ‘poser’ would be some one who is focused on how they look and what others think of them.

    me >> What happen to “status symbol”? I guess it doesn’t have enough positionality…

    you >I think you’ve essentially already answered this. An Android phone might be a signifier for a certain population, but probably isn’t a status symbol.

    You’re thinking too hard. I was making fun of the use of a $10 word. Seems to run rampant in these part ;v)
    Just between you and me, I’m pretty sure Eric has a new-word-a-day-calendar, and likes to use the fancier ones in public as a sort of personal challenge. I’m just tired of having to look up so many words….

    Argosy

  86. Ignatius T. Foobar:

    Again, be careful what you wish for. A commodified phone market means Apple wins. Not in terms of market share but in terms of being the only OEM able to differentiate themselves, and thereby exert dominant influence over the rest of the industry. That’s what’s happening in PCs now.

  87. @Jeff Read
    “A commodified phone market means Apple wins. Not in terms of market share…”

    This is the only type of “win” I am interested in. There are 7 billion people out there that could use internet access and smartphones. Commodization and FLOSS are the only way they can get it.

    Rich people might want to get their own, private garden. The rest of humanity will be happy if they have public parks to go to.

  88. @James A Donald

    Apple will survive in smartphones, as it survives in personal computers – as a minor player selling overpriced status symbol equipment.

    Apple is actually the most profitable PC maker, so hardly a minor player. And if you include iPads as PCs (which, rightly or not, most research companies who report on industry numbers seem to) Apple is also the biggest PC maker in terms of units sold.

    As for being over-priced, I’m afraid you’re about six or seven years out of date. Apple’s computers may seem expensive, but that’s just because they don’t cater to the low-end. Certainly, you can’t buy a Mac laptop for $500, but that’s just because they don’t operate in that market segment. If you look at the computers Apple does make then you’ll find that they stack up pretty well against a Windows box with comparable components. And it’ll have much better build quality and design.

  89. Just to quickly address the status symbol issue. No doubt some number of Apple users do regard their devices as status symbols, either consciously or unconsciously. These days people often use consumer products with strong brands to telegraph certain things about themselves. And I think some Android users do the same thing. It’s common to any number of categories including cars, watches, clothing, consumer electronics, houses etc etc.

    None of that means that the iPhone (other other Apple products) derive their value mainly from being status symbols. I would say that to be worthy of the term ‘positional good’ a product’s value should mainly come from being a status symbol. Like designer clothing for instance, which usually isn’t much better quality than any other reasonably decent piece of clothing. I don’t think Apple products fit that category. Whatever ‘positional’ value they have is little compared with their true value, which comes from being simply great products to use.

    @Argosy

    I was making fun of the use of a $10 word. Seems to run rampant in these part ;v)
    Just between you and me, I’m pretty sure Eric has a new-word-a-day-calendar, and likes to use the fancier ones in public as a sort of personal challenge.

    Sometimes people use jargon in order to disguise a lack of understanding. I really don’t think that is the case with Eric, who is just well read in certain technical fields and has been accustomed to certain domain-specific language.

    However, I do think that when writing for a general audience it is best to avoid technical jargon as much as possible.

  90. >Just between you and me, I’m pretty sure Eric has a new-word-a-day-calendar, and likes to use the fancier ones in public as a sort of personal challenge.

    Er. No. I laugh at word-a-day calendars, actually – their editors have sadly impoverished vocabularies by my standards. :-)

  91. @Ignatius T. Foobar

    “You sound like a global warming alarmist. I will neither sit down nor shut up simply because you’ve declared the argument over and plugged your ears like a child, thank you very much.”

    And yet you feel free to tell others to sit down and shut up. It’s asshat FOSS proponents like you that make the rest of us look bad.

    Are you an android dev? No? Then seriously sit the down and shut up about whether or not fragmentation is an issue for us. Answer: It is. Sometimes minor, sometimes really annoying when it bites you unexpectedly. Which it did on my app with Sense. HTC devs evidently can’t read a spec. Or test. Or something.

    I haven’t bothered to update past 2.2 because 20% of devices are still at 2.2. ICS on a pathetic 6% of devices.

  92. @winter

    I don’t think any one (including me) is arguing people don’t see the iPhone as some sort of status symbol. I’m agreeing, this is nothing new, nor particularly significant. And if that is what you think I’m arguing, we are not communicating very well.

    People make purchasing decisions based on many factors, “rarely” are they purely based solely on meeting their funfunctional needs.

    Argosy

  93. I’m contemplating a tablet app. If I bother I’m going to just target the Fire and the DoD reference tablet whatever that happens to be at the moment.

  94. @Eric

    >Er. No. I laugh at word-a-day calendars, actually – their editors have sadly impoverished vocabularies by my standards. :-)

    Thanks, I understood every word in your post!

    I had a boss who liked to find and use words few people use. It was fun as a spectator to watch in meetings every one agreeing to what ever he was saying, too embarrassed to ask what the hell he was actually saying.

    Delayed, forum type communications takes the fun out of it, you don’t get the entertainment of seeing the puzzled look on my face ;v) just so you know $10 word usage is a pet peeve of mine, but don’t let that stop you.

    Cheers-Argosy

  95. @nigel:
    “I haven’t bothered to update past 2.2 because 20% of devices are still at 2.2. ICS on a pathetic 6% of devices.”

    Is there a killer app that requires ICS? If so, what is it? If not, what is the great driver to rush into moving beyond Gingerbread?

  96. @Cathy

    Is there a killer app that requires ICS? If so, what is it?

    The whole point, Cathy, is that nobody is free to develop anything that depends on ICS (and takes advantage of its features) because so few devices are running it.

    Google is pushing hard and improving Android all the time, but their efforts are being frustrated because they are unable to get people to upgrade to the latest version. This is a problem.

  97. @cathy

    There are some nice API features in later versions of Android just like there are for iOS. Android 2.2.3 is circa May 2010 in terms of feature set.

    Many iOS devs can safely support just iOS 5.x and have access to all the latest API features. We did on our latest iOS app.

    Are there “killer” features? Depends on the app you want to build. But the point is version fragmentation is a significant hindrance to android developers in exploiting the OS to it’s fullest. Pretty much we’re stuck on 2.3 at best, 2.2 if you’ve got some legacy users on older devices.

    Something that iOS developers largely can ignore as an issue. Heck, iOS 5.1 adoption hit 65% in 15 days.

  98. I think that Android and iOS are OK, in that they use decent operating system platforms, namely Linux and UNIX, but I have problems with the closed nature of both systems. Surely a lot of the potential of these little gadgets is going to be unrealised as long as they require complicated jailbreaking or rooting procedures just to circumvent the limiting nature of the environments. I have to jump through hoops every time I get a new iPhone if I want a shell command prompt and ssh, ifconfig, traceroute, ftp and all the good stuff that I need in order to be a happy person. Why should it be so hard to get a decent C programming environment set up on these things? Why should one have to be forced to use those horrible APIs? I mean, Java! Yecch! Just saying….

  99. “So you really don’t think the fact that, around the world, unsubsidized Android does a lot better than unsubsidized Apple would have any bearing on what would happen here if the carriers dropped subsidies?”

    Yes, I do not think a change in subsidy in the US (which I see no evidence of occuring or reason to occur) would change nothing because Apple would take the margin hit — not start selling devices at $100-200 more than they already are.

  100. @Duncan Anderson

    I have to jump through hoops every time I get a new iPhone if I want a shell command prompt and ssh,

    http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/issh-ssh-vnc-console/id287765826?mt=8

    ifconfig

    Admittedly, I don’t think you can use ifconfig. I suggest you do your network config using the built-in settings app. Much easier.

    traceroute,

    http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/nice-trace-traceroute-monitoring/id322722672?mt=8

    ftp

    http://itunes.apple.com/app/ftp-on-the-go/id286479936?ign-mpt=uo%3D6&mt=8

  101. @tom:

    Thanks for those links. In fact I do have the ssh app thingy to which you refer.
    It demonstrates my problem exactly, since in order to get a shell prompt on my own phone, I have to ssh to localhost, after having “jailbroken” the thing and assigned a half decent password(to prevent unwanted visitors). Fortunately there is Cydia which allows one to install a type of GNU-ish environment. My original point was that I should like to be able to use my phone as the powerful little computer that it is, rather than be forced to use rigidly circumscribed proprietary superstructures which force me to buy stuff when I am fully capable of porting everything that I need myself, assuming that I can get a simple thing like a C compiler and asm to work. Anyway, I am quite happy that I am able to write and execute shell scripts on the thing and that I can use awk, grep, vi, etc. I would be ecstatic if I could find a way to get GNU C to work on an iPhone 4.

  102. My wife and I switched to android phones and tmobile to save money, and we have been very unhappy with our phones. The Iphone was not just better but was and order of magnitude better. We are switching back as soon as our contract expires.

  103. More people who should sit down and shut up: People who claim that there aren’t substantive differences in quality, smoothness, and overall user experience between iOS and Android. Just five minutes fiddling with the two side by side would reveal that compared to iOS, Android is a clunky, laggy mess. Even Ice Cream Sandwich has lag that’s intolerable to a seasoned iOS user.

  104. @Jeff Read
    > People who claim that there aren’t substantive differences in quality,
    > smoothness, and overall user experience between iOS and Android.

    You’re right! My user experience on Android is leaps and bounds better than in iOS! :-)

  105. @PapayaSF:

    The implication seems to be that because social signifiers and status symbols can change, then Apple will take a huge hit when all their just-following-the-trend users inevitably realize that Android is the new hotness.

    I don’t think anybody implied that. Certainly nobody here.

    @Argosy:

    I said poser aka ‘hipster’ not “iPhone poser”.

    I understood that and that’s what I was responding to.

    I would think that is some one who wants you to think they have an iPhone.

    Now you’re thinking too hard. If you want to really be pedantic, I suppose an iPhone poser would be one of those cheap chinese knock-off phones. Obviously, I meant “iPhone-carrying poser”.

    A ‘poser’ would be some one who is focused on how they look and what others think of them.

    Which is exactly what I was addressing. For years, I carried no cellphone, but now that stance is apparently chic in certain establishments. I started carrying a dumb clamshell in January (actually had it for a couple of years but never carried it). Will probably go to Android some time before the end of the year.

    @Tim F.:

    Yes, I do not think a change in subsidy in the US would change nothing because Apple would take the margin hit — not start selling devices at $100-200 more than they already are.

    We’re not exactly on the same page, or not at the same place on the page, anyway. I’m discussing the hypothetical extreme edge case where the carriers decide they’re not going to subsidize phones any more. In that case, it would certainly be apparent whether a disruption is happening or not. Subsidies distort the market and can mask this. Certainly any distortion/masking is worse if iPhones are subsidized more heavily than Android phones, but would probably exist to some extent even if the subsidy is the same.

    > (which I see no evidence of occuring or reason to occur)

    More and more people are using smartphones on prepaid plans these days, and T-Mobile has already started offering postpaid plans with more transparency (costs go down after you’re off contract with your mobile device).

    From the carriers’ perspective, subsidies are a way of propping up ARPU. But as more people discover prepaid, the carriers will find increasing price pressure on their postpaid offerings. Having a flagship iPhone only on postpaid is a stop-gap measure. Yes, you can lather-rinse-repeat to some extent (partly because of the discussed status implications) but at the end of the day, the carriers are fighting a losing battle — they are effectively extending credit for smartphones and trying to charge everybody extra per month whether they take a new smartphone periodically or not.

    The carriers don’t want to give credit to the people who really need it, but a lot of the people who really don’t need credit are starting to realize that the credit rates offered by the carriers are usurious. Here’s an article you’d probably agree with:

    http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/are-iphone-subsidies-destroying-carriers/

    It correctly notes that a customer who can’t afford an extra $20/month for a phone subsidy probably wouldn’t be able to buy an iPhone outright for $650. OTOH, I think that the division of people into, essentially, “price-sensitive” and “price-insensitive” buckets completely misses the boat. I think there is a lot more nuance to it than that, particularly among the people in the “price-insensitive” bucket. Most people who are well-off didn’t get that way by giving away money at any opportunity, and as more people realize that “prepaid” no longer means “have to pay big bucks per minute by buying a card down at Walmart and entering the long card number into the phone” but instead can mean “increased competition among the carriers to attract people who have done their research and who don’t like to just bend over and take it,” I think the migration to prepaid will accelerate.

    According to this article, “Prepaid services now represent an average of 29.2 percent of total service revenues, up from 22.5 percent in the 2010 survey.”

    At the point where an average consumer decides that AT&T’s postpaid voice/data offerings are right for him, taking the subsidized iPhone makes perfect sense — the customer “wins” by reducing the carrier’s total revenue. But once that same consumer realizes that nominally the same service is available for much less per month and without a commitment, then the postpaid offering becomes less attractive. Long term, it is most attractive to those people who need credit to buy the phone — exactly the same consumers the phone companies don’t want to offer credit to. (This is why Sprint warned in its SEC filings that it might have to go after less-qualified customers.)

    The carriers so far are keeping people on postpaid by playing games such as making it difficult to move phones and making it difficult (or at least uncertain) to port phones to prepaid offerings. But this FUD can’t last much longer, either. If it comes out in the open, the FCC and FTC will probably squish it dead like a bug.

    So, while subsidies will probably exist for a long time, they won’t be a panacea for the phone company. When you consider that postpaid ARPUs have been rising due to data plans and iPhones and prepaid ARPUs have been shrinking due to stiff competition, a YOY increase of prepaid service revenues from 22.5% to 29.2% of total revenues is phenomenally huge in terms of absolute numbers of customers. And when enough credit worthy customers have caught on that the carriers need to either reduce monthly postpaid ARPU in order to salvage some of that good business or loosen credit standards to bring in more customers with worse credit, subsidies won’t be nearly as attractive to the carriers any more.

  106. If that’s the case, Patrick, then why all the talk about iPhones as status symbols? Is it just simple-minded taunting and mockery? I thought that this was a discussion about smartphone trends, and that it was brought up because it had some bearing on the topic….

  107. “I’m discussing the hypothetical extreme edge case where the carriers decide they’re not going to subsidize phones any more.”

    I’d rate the likelihood of this occurring at .000000001%. Basically not even worth exploring as a hypothetical.

    “In that case, it would certainly be apparent whether a disruption is happening or not.”

    I don’t see how. If it occurs across the boards for all manufacturers why would it indicate or make it more visible if one or more manufacturers were specifically disrupting Apple? It might force YOU to come up with some new logic for why the iPhone “inexplicably” succeeds, but I don’t see how the elimination of all subsidies across the board for all devices by all carriers would make an iPhone disruption apparent or not.

  108. @PapayaSF:

    If that’s the case, Patrick, then why all the talk about iPhones as status symbols?

    Well, for one thing there are a whole universe of possible implications. For example, I don’t know that Android will ever be the new hotness, but at some point I certainly expect something-not-a-phone to be the new hotness.

    Is it just simple-minded taunting and mockery?

    No, that would be the twitterers disparaging Android.

    I thought that this was a discussion about smartphone trends, and that it was brought up because it had some bearing on the topic….

    It must have some bearing on the topic, or people wouldn’t get so bent out of shape every time it’s mentioned.

  109. @Tim F.:

    I don’t see how. If it occurs across the boards for all manufacturers why would it indicate or make it more visible if one or more manufacturers were specifically disrupting Apple?

    Are you really asking how the removal of a market distortion might help to reveal whatever other market forces are currently in play?

  110. Funny. It’s market distortion when it favors apple. It’s free market when it favors android.

    Carrier subsidies distort the market no more than google using desktop search revenue to subsidize android and dumping it to neuter nokia, rim and Microsoft. Carrier subsidies change the market far less actually.

    They are both free market and simply alternative business models and not distortion unless you’re a zealot.

    One does makes more money and achieves the strategic goals better than the other though. Google seems well positioned to lose control over their ecosystem.

  111. @Cathy:
    “Is there a killer app that requires ICS? If so, what is it?”

    @Tom:
    “The whole point, Cathy, is that nobody is free to develop anything that depends on ICS (and takes advantage of its features) because so few devices are running it.”

    The definition of “killer app” is one that is so desirable, so necessary, that buyers will buy or upgrade in order to be able to run it.

    If an app came out that met a key need sufficiently well, quite a few Android buyers (many of whom are not, I’m sure, completely price-sensitive) would upgrade to a newer phone in order to use it. So far I’m not sure I’ve seen any app on any smartphone that would qualify.

    That said, I do agree with you that the failure to upgrade quickly does limit the market size for products that require newer versions. Windows survived this phenomenon, and Android will too. The solution has to be largely in the hands of the device manufacturers, not Google.

  112. @PayayaSF “why all the talk about iPhones as status symbols? Is it just simple-minded taunting and mockery? I thought that this was a discussion about smartphone trends, and that it was brought up because it had some bearing on the topic….”

    I think this keeps coming up because the FOSS/”everything should be a commodity” people 1) don’t approve of the behavior of people who choose Apple products 2) they need an explanation why Apple products are so popular, so they postulate it’s a “fad” or about “style” or “trends”

    I think there is some of this faddish behavior going on, but it’s a product of good marketing and good products. Most fads based on fluff die out quickly. Where is the Apple fade?

  113. As a follow up to what I just wrote, I think that the “everything should be a commodity” people simply have different values than many Apple customers.

    I’ve noticed a lot of people really do see everything as a commodity. They tend to see a car as something that gets you from point A to point B. Using a crappy trackpad on their laptop doesn’t bother them. Their cable company’s DVR seems “good enough”. They can’t see the difference between SDTV and HD or DVDs and Blurays. Or if they can, they don’t see the big deal. They never buy the “best” of anything, always opt for the cut-rate product to save money. I don’t know what to call these people. It’s not “cheap” as I think these people just don’t value great products. And if you don’t value the “better” product more then why would you pay for it?

  114. @Cathy

    The definition of “killer app” is one that is so desirable, so necessary, that buyers will buy or upgrade in order to be able to run it.

    Okay, fine. But just because an app or feature is not ‘killer’ (so incredibly great that users will flock in large numbers to buy a whole new phone just to use it) it doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable. There’s a crap-ton of new stuff in ICS that nobody is getting to use. It might not be ‘killer’ but it’s still good stuff that Google has worked hard on and presumably thinks is worthwhile.

    The point is that if you can’t get everybody to upgrade then the whole platform suffers. Users aren’t incentivised to upgrade to ICS because there are no apps that take advantage of new features. Devs aren’t making apps to take advantage of new features because people aren’t upgrading to new versions.

    Everybody is stuck in the mud. And if you can’t advance the real-world experience of using Android phones, then it’s going to be harder for you to compete with other platforms that can move more quickly and flexibly to implement new features.

    Windows survived this phenomenon, and Android will too.

    I’m not saying Android won’t survive (far from it); just that it has a problem with fragmentation.

    The solution has to be largely in the hands of the device manufacturers, not Google.

    It doesn’t really matter whose fault it is. Fragmentation is just an inherent weakness of the open model. Even if you don’t like Apple’s closed business model overall, I think you have to admit that, in this area, closed is an advantage.

  115. Given the massive uptake of iOS 5.1 evidently iOS is chock full of killer apps but ICS not so much.

    Something tells me your assertion has some holes in it.

  116. phil, and contrariwise, Apple fans tend to see anything less than the best as absolutely intolerable. After all, if you spent all your time with hardware that’s an absolute joy to use, why would you settle for anything that isn’t a joy to use?

    Somewhere in the middle are the bang-for-buck crowd, which I think make up the vast majority of the people in the world. They will buy the 80% solution for less money; and the marginal value of the absolute best product just isn’t worth the marginal cost to them.
    During the nineties Apple priced itself out of the entire consumer market by ignoring this crowd, but these days Apple computers and phones are priced about the same as similarly-specced computers and phones from competitors — and yet significantly better. There’s almost no excuse not to buy Apple if you’re spending Apple-scale money; if you buy from anyone else you’re almost assured of screwing yourself.

  117. More people who should sit down and shut up: People who claim that there aren’t substantive differences in quality, smoothness, and overall user experience between iOS and Android.

    Indeed. For example, the tiny display and lack of a universal back button result in a noticeably inferior user experience when using an iPhone.

    The whole point, Cathy, is that nobody is free to develop anything that depends on ICS (and takes advantage of its features)

    You can’t yet launch a mainstream app that requires ICS, but you can easily take advantage of its features while remaining compatible with previous versions by querying for the functionality at runtime.

  118. “You can’t yet launch a mainstream app that requires ICS, but you can easily take advantage of its features while remaining compatible with previous versions by querying for the functionality at runtime.”

    Giving you yet another code path to test for 6% of the user base. For some apps and devs that might be worth the effort. But how are you going to gracefully fallback from new features like GridLayout? Implement the UI twice, once using GridLayout and once using an older layout? Lol.

    Some features can be gracefully degraded when ICS isn’t present. A camera app can provide the new focus features when ICS is present and not for earlier versions. But not all features work this way. Even those that do, like using switch widgets and I guess using checkboxes in older versions means significant tinkering unless you don’t really care if your UI ends up looking like/working like ass in some cases.

    That’s also ignoring all the 3.x API capabilities that are now available on the few ICS handsets. Loader and Fragment looks pretty nice to have. You’re not going to bother using these unless the majority of handsets support them. Same for PropertyAnimation and ActionBars.

    These pretty much might as well not exist until much later this year when ICS adoption rates are more meaningful. By then Jelly Bean is out along with the first couple devices. @whee

    Wanna bet we’re still mucking about with over 50% of devices 2.3 or below by then? Christ, you can’t even assume this for tablets since the dominant Android tablet will be the Fire…stuck on 2.3.

    Maybe Amazon will backport in Loader, Fragment and other 3.x/4.x features.

  119. Oh, I forgot. Don’t forget to test your UI on TouchWiz. Been looking at Samsung’s version of ICS.

    Mkay, I understand why they did that but man. You better be testing that from day one along with stock. Heck, given Samsung’s marketshare, you can probably skip testing on stock more safely than not testing on Touchwiz.

    Too bad you can’t just require Touchwiz and say to the heck with it. Hmmm…maybe you can on Samsung’s app store. Then I can use Samsung’s new ad service. And Samsung’s future search service. And Samsung’s future mapping service.

    Google who? Hey, look…no more android fragmentation…

  120. Been looking at Samsung’s version of ICS.

    It’s a skin, so what? What actual code doesn’t work on a device with Touchwiz and does on a Galaxy Nexus, or vice versa?

  121. @Brian

    It’s a skin, so what? What actual code doesn’t work on a device with Touchwiz and does on a Galaxy Nexus, or vice versa?

    The point of testing is to determine the answer to this question, rather than taking it on faith.

  122. @brian

    You mean other than looking like ass?

    I haven’t tested the latest sense but HTC had implemented a boneheaded keyboard implementation back in the day (read, last year). TouchWiz has it’s own little quirks. What? Don’t remember the Galaxy Tab/Touchwiz issues last fall?

    But just making ICS looks like Gingerbread has all sorts of asstastic UI potential if you design for stock ICS. You want to test for that if you actually give a shit what your app looks like to the user.

    Other than that, I recall that TouchWiz has it’s own social support/hub. I wonder how well that plays with ICS’ new social support.

  123. About user interfaces. The worst ever interface I have ever seen was the original SMS texting input. It became the killer feature for mobile phones. So much for “GUX” is everything.

    Here is an update from Larry Page:

    Larry Page Letter Highlights Google’s Conflicts
    http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/253345/larry_page_letter_highlights_googles_conflicts.html

    The acquisition, however, has worried vendors that compete with Motorola who wonder if Motorola will get a leg up as a Google company. Page sought to calm those fears. “But it’s important to reiterate that openness and investment by many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success. So we look forward to working with all of them in the future to deliver outstanding user experiences,” he wrote.

    The CEO plugged some of the company’s most important projects including Search, Google+, Android, Chrome, YouTube and AdSense. Each day, 850,000 Android devices are activated, he wrote. More than 200 million people use Chrome and 350 million use Gmail. More than 100 million people actively use Google+, which is now integrated with 120 services, including Search, YouTube and Android.

  124. >Indeed. For example, the tiny display and lack of a universal back button result in
    >a noticeably inferior user experience when using an iPhone.

    See I find the opposite. I find that the “universal” back button is anything but. The back button seems to behave differently depending on what your previous action was, and even behaves differently from app to app. For example, if I load up K9 mail and check the mail in one of my accounts, to get back to the rest of my accounts I hit the back button, which takes me back to the main accounts menu. Oddly I just tested this and if I hit back from there, I get taken back to my main account instead of the expected destination of the phone home screen. Except of course when I tried it again, and it took me back home. I can only assume that there was some left over bits of information in K9′s back button stack that didn’t get cleared when it exited, but that’s just more confusion. On the other hand, if I get into my mail account by clicking a notification, hitting the back button takes me back to the home page (or sometimes, but not always the last app) rather than back to my accounts. If I want to check other accounts after having navigated by way of a notification, I either have to drill down through the menus (menu – > more – > accounts) or I have to exit back to the home screen (sometimes back, but should probably just use home) and then launch K9.

    And that’s just one app.

  125. >ESR, are you planning to write a review of Prometheus when it comes out?

    Er, what’s “Prometheus”?

  126. The point of testing is to determine the answer to this question, rather than taking it on faith.

    Ah, so it’s FUD. Gotcha.

    You mean other than looking like ass?

    I agree that manufacturer skins are ugly for the most part, which is one of the reasons I’ve only ever bought Nexus devices. But the general public seems not to mind. And my contention, which you’ve done nothing to refute, is that they don’t contribute to fragmentation from a developer perspective. I’ve spent a small percentage of my Android development time supporting different OS versions and screen sizes. I’ve spent zero time supporting Sense or TouchWiz or Motoblur.

  127. You can’t yet launch a mainstream app that requires ICS, but you can easily take advantage of its features while remaining compatible with previous versions by querying for the functionality at runtime.

    This is how OpenGL died to game developers.

    Just sayin’…

  128. You will all rue the day you abandoned Maemo…

    Stop laughing….I SAID STOP

    ;)

  129. @Jeff Read
    > This is how OpenGL died to game developers.

    I’m pretty sure it was a highly-concentrated FUD campaign and (I suspect w/o proof) a considerable amount of graphics-vendor palm-greasing by Microsoft that gave such a blow to OpenGL. Oh, and also Microsoft deliberately gimping OpenGL in their native implementation.

    OpenGL is more than viable everywhere that isn’t Windows, and even there if you jump through the (Microsoft-forced) hoops to enable the vendor OpenGL drivers.

  130. @Tim F.:

    Then please ask again, because that’s what the question looked like to me.

    @Nigel:

    Carrier subsidies distort the market no more than google using desktop search revenue to subsidize android and dumping it to neuter nokia, rim and Microsoft.

    Debatable. Especially since (in theory) Android vendors are paying Microsoft.

    Carrier subsidies change the market far less actually.

    Did you look at the study of those countries where subsidies are rampant vs. those where they are not?

    They are both free market and simply alternative business models and not distortion unless you’re a zealot.

    It’s not the subsidy per se that’s a problem. The subsidy is part of a larger system that (in general) makes it tough to use a bleeding-edge phone except on really expensive postpaid. The consumer “wins” by using the subsidy because it actually lowers his cost for using that phone. But that’s only because the cost of using that phone is inflated in the monthly numbers to start with.

    The carriers are trying really hard to hold onto this system, but cracks are starting to appear.

    One does makes more money and achieves the strategic goals better than the other though.

    That could be taken either way. Sprint is apparently still reeling from giving Apple all that money.

    Google seems well positioned to lose control over their ecosystem.

    Which might not bother them too much. I think they only exert control to keep others from exerting too much control, e.g. Amazon will be very much in their sights right now. But Pan Digital and Archos and all those other crap tablet makers? Not so much.

  131. I disagree with your underlying argument that subsidies are a market distortion.

    I disagree that simplifying carrier accounting would provide greater insight; it would actually lead to greater opacity. Now, with pre- and post-paid some data can be teased out.

    I disagree that it eliminating them would provide much clarity for platform or specific manufacturer dynamics.

    I disagree that looking at carrier financials will be the best way to identify the disruption of an individual manufacturer.

    And if I am following you correctly, now you aren’t claiming the elimination of subsidies would be a cause of disruption or even an early indicator of disruption, but merely that it would make the data simpler to analyze so if a disruption was occurring it would be more apparent (again, I disagree). This is fairly far afield from the discussion of when and how Apple is going to be disrupted from their position as the leading market disruptor but not market leader.

  132. @Patrick:
    “It’s not the subsidy per se that’s a problem. The subsidy is part of a larger system that (in general) makes it tough to use a bleeding-edge phone except on really expensive postpaid. The consumer “wins” by using the subsidy because it actually lowers his cost for using that phone. But that’s only because the cost of using that phone is inflated in the monthly numbers to start with.”

    Well-said, Patrick. I sometimes get hung up on the Android-users-subisidizing-iPhone-users point, but the issue you succinctly outlined above is really the heart of the problem. Ultimately, that business model will be challenged by some variation on postpaid and BYOP.

  133. @Tim F.:

    Ignoring, for now, everything else you wrote:

    I disagree that looking at carrier financials will be the best way to identify the disruption of an individual manufacturer.

    Where the hell did I write this strawman that you’re disagreeing with?

  134. @Tim F.:

    And if I am following you correctly, now you aren’t claiming the elimination of subsidies would be a cause of disruption

    What do you mean “now”? Show me where I ever claimed this would be the case. Let’s review, shall we? Before I even mentioned the “d” word in this post, you wrote that:

    “Firstly, [carriers dropping subsidies] would not be a Clay Christensen’s “innovator’s dilemma”-type “disruption”

    and I wrote that:

    Subsidies distort the market. The removal of subsidies wouldn’t be the proximate cause of any disruption, but could certainly reveal one in progress.

    It’s really pretty simple. The statement doesn’t say Apple is going to die tomorrow or anything like that. It just says that subsidies can help to mask any on-going disruption if there is one.

    but merely that it would make the data simpler to analyze so if a disruption was occurring it would be more apparent

    That’s certainly part of it, but not all of it. Unmasking a disruption in progress would have real financial implications.

    I’m sure you’ll disagree with this too, but at least you’ll be disagreeing with something I wrote instead of something you thought I wrote.

  135. I’m clear on your point, Patrick. I’m making it clear for the rest of the discussion — for people saying, “the carriers will disrupt Apple.”

    And, yes, I still disagree with the notion that subsidies are going away or that it would make the financial realities of manufacturers any more transparent.

  136. I would love to see an analysis of iPhone market share and the relationship to subsidy level.
    I requested @asymco to do this, but he didn’t seem to think it’s relevant for some reason.

    I personally see no indication that subsidies will go away in the US. Why would the carriers ditch them? Consumers seem to want their fancy phones cheaply.

  137. And just to make sure I do get your point, it is that:

    Something that may or may not happen may or may not (but more likely may) reveal information regarding something that may or may not happen.

    Correct? If yes, then, yes, I disagree with that.

  138. I’m pretty sure it was a highly-concentrated FUD campaign and (I suspect w/o proof) a considerable amount of graphics-vendor palm-greasing by Microsoft that gave such a blow to OpenGL. Oh, and also Microsoft deliberately gimping OpenGL in their native implementation.

    OpenGL is more than viable everywhere that isn’t Windows, and even there if you jump through the (Microsoft-forced) hoops to enable the vendor OpenGL drivers.

    Microsoft’s OpenGL implementation is a software-only, reference implementation. If you have an NVIDIA card, you get access to NVIDIA’s OGL implementation when you install the drivers for the card. There’s no deliberate encumbrance or obstruction to using OGL under Windows. The reason why D3D won is because it presents a single, unified API to developers that’s easy to use and incorporates cutting-edge video card features without any extension wrangling.

    As for palm-greasing, that’s how shit gets done at Microsoft.

  139. @Tim F.:

    And, yes, I still disagree with the notion that subsidies are going away or that it would make the financial realities of manufacturers any more transparent.

    It’s not about making the financial realities more transparent. It’s about a real change in the financial realities caused by making consumer preferences more transparent.

    Something that may or may not happen may or may not (but more likely may) reveal information regarding something that may or may not happen.

    No, the case is actually a bit stronger than that. To start with, something that is already happening slowly (the erosion of the system that ties together the device and the service) will (unless the carriers somehow reverse the trend, probably within 2 years tops) reward consumers financially for choosing less costly handsets. This will reveal how much they really value carrying particular handsets, and (unless Apple is prepared to take significantly less margin) will erode Apple’s market share.

    At that point, any Christensen-style disruption (which I haven’t claimed is happening) would certainly be easy to spot. But even before we get there, we’ll find Apple’s share shrinking.

    Correct?

    About as correct as I expected.

    If yes, then, yes, I disagree with that.

    You do not disappoint.

  140. “It’s about a real change in the financial realities caused by making consumer preferences more transparent.”

    I disagree with what you think the consumer prefers.

    ” To start with, something that is already happening slowly (the erosion of the system that ties together the device and the service)…”

    I disagree, or at least, I disagree that subsidies will ever fully disappear.

    “…will (unless the carriers somehow reverse the trend, probably within 2 years tops) reward consumers financially for choosing less costly handsets.”

    I disagree.

    “This will reveal how much they really value carrying particular handsets…”

    I disagree.

    “…and (unless Apple is prepared to take significantly less margin) will erode Apple’s market share.”

    I disagree.

    “At that point, any Christensen-style disruption (which I haven’t claimed is happening) would certainly be easy to spot.”

    I disagree.

    “But even before we get there, we’ll find Apple’s share shrinking.”

    Which means looking at Apple’s own financials would show this hypothetical, mysteriously-caused disruption well ahead of trying to peer into the carriers’s financials which would completely moot the point of whether or not the elimination of subsidies would make “consumer preference” more transparent. In other words, this hugely digressive hypothetical is for naught.

  141. @Tim F.:

    So Android 4.0 is the first version to support kabuki security theater. Really. Is that all you got?

    As an aside, yes I know there are some other issues, but TWC’s decision to not support older versions of Android for streaming features of an app that doesn’t support mobile even on iOS isn’t particularly persuasive.

  142. > I personally see no indication that subsidies will go away in the US. Why would the carriers ditch them? Consumers seem to want their fancy phones cheaply.

    Declining hardware costs would be one reason for subsidies to decline, and perhaps disappear.

    Yours,
    Tom

  143. “Declining hardware costs would be one reason for subsidies to decline, and perhaps disappear.”

    $100 and sub-$100 dollar phones are subsidized to $0 or less today. I don’t see all phones being $0-50 anytime soon. And even if that were the case, the carriers would still likely use subsidies (or at such a point, rebates) to incense customers into higher cost plans and/or devices (with higher revenues associated).

  144. “So Android 4.0 is the first version to support kabuki security theater. Really. Is that all you got?”

    I’d ask the same, “Is that all you got?” Almost all of your arguments begin with the presumption that everyone is incompetent and lying?

    “As an aside, yes I know there are some other issues, but TWC’s decision to not support older versions of Android for streaming features of an app that doesn’t support mobile even on iOS isn’t particularly persuasive.”

    You mean the TWC TC app for iOS that supports live streaming and hence why TWC is getting requests for the feature from Android users?

    “As an aside, yes I know there are some other issues, but TWC’s decision to not support older versions of Android for streaming features of an app that doesn’t support mobile even on iOS isn’t particularly persuasive.”

    Umm: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/twc-tv/id420455839?mt=8

  145. @phil:

    Another article that one references strongly suggests that Apple pressured AT&T into doing this. If true, this is exactly the outcome that Tim F. said last week couldn’t happen. In any case, this is excellent news for Apple customers and a step in the right direction by AT&T.

    @Tom DeGisi:

    Declining hardware costs would be one reason for subsidies to decline, and perhaps disappear.

    And I think we’re seeing this decline on the Android side already, which is one of the main reasons there is a discrepancy between Android and iPhone subsidies. The consumer’s up-front price for a lot of phones has dropped to zero (in many cases after following an onerous rebate procedure), but the carriers seem reluctant to make the rebate push the price below zero. So as the price stays fixed at zero, the subsidy drops with the device cost.

  146. @Tim F.:

    Almost all of your arguments begin with the presumption that everyone is incompetent and lying?

    No, just you.

    Umm: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/twc-tv/id420455839?mt=8

    The app supports mobile (and, btw, has on Android for several months) for controlling your DVR, etc. It doesn’t support streaming unless you’re on WiFi, even on iOS. But just saying “umm” and giving a link in response to my assertion doesn’t give me enough information to figure out whether, in this instance, your mistake is due to lying or to incompetence.

  147. The app supports live streaming on your own home wifi network on iOS. Yes. This is exactly my point. This is the feature they can’t build for Android without ICS.

    Here’s what just happened, Patrick:

    I provided an example of Company A that provides feature(s) X to all iOS devices (iPod touch, iPhone, iPad back to iOS 4.3 — an overwhelming majority of all iOS devices). Company A would like to provides the same feature(s) X to Android but determines that it is too difficult, too time-consuming, or too costly (whatever the case may be). However, Company A determines that the APIs presented by ICS overcomes these factors so they will release an app for Android that only supports feature(s) X on Android 4.0 and later (ICS, less than 4% of all Android devices).

    You say this is invalid or not meaningful because Company A’s app for iOS doesn’t support feature(s) Y.

    What? Why do I care if the app doesn’t support a feature you randomly pulled out of the air? The feature in question, the one that is limited to ICS, is available to the iOS version.

  148. @patrick

    So Android 4.0 is the first version to support kabuki security theater. Really. Is that all you got?

    As an aside, yes I know there are some other issues, but TWC’s decision to not support older versions of Android for streaming features of an app that doesn’t support mobile even on iOS isn’t particularly persuasive.

    This is why I characterize you as zealot. The article clearly states that a developer feels that developing significant apps (in this case the TWC streaming app) is far more of a pain on Android because of fragmentation than for iOS:

    Jeff Simmermon, TWC’s Director, Digital Communications, made a none-too-veiled reference to the fragmentation that Android developers have to contend with:

    “Developing our video product for Android is not unlike tweezing one’s eyebrows while using a disco ball for a mirror. We’re going to get there, but it’s going to happen one facet at a time.”

    And all you can respond with “kabuki theater” and diverting to some other silliness that directly contradicts the dev statment:

    “DEVELOPING AN IOS LIVE VIDEO PRODUCT FOR APPLE DEVICES IS MUCH EASIER.”

    (caps from the article)

    Brian’s response to me regarding skin fragmentation was essentially WorksForMe (TM).

    Great for Brian but I had users on Sense with a borked program because I failed to test my app with Sense (no device to test with). Fortunately as an enterprise dev I got a friendly email rather than a swath of 1 star reviews about having such a shitty app that doesn’t work.

    Any app developer not testing with TouchWiz, Blur and Sense is simply making their users beta testers and is half-assed.

    These devs also don’t give two shakes about how their app might look/work in the real world. That might be true for many/most android users and devs since most apps are free. In my case I had an iOS app as a reference/competition so the bar was much higher in terms of look and feel as well as usability.

    In many ways that’s why iOS apps are generally much better than their equivalent Android version. The bar is set much higher by users, native Apple apps and competitor apps.

    Just playing around with ICS for a short period it seems much nicer from a dev perspective. Which is why the 6% adoption rate is so annoying. Android development as a whole is just more annoying in comparison to iOS even taking into account the XCode 4 vs XCode 3 pain I went through.

  149. @Tim F.:

    You say this is invalid or not meaningful because Company A’s app for iOS doesn’t support feature(s) Y.

    The main reason it’s meaningless is because the primary excuse given (at least reading the article you pointed to) was that DRM would not be good enough on earlier versions of Android. Netflix figured out a way to make it “good enough”, but that doesn’t really matter — Kabuki Security Theater is becoming less and less important on computers as more independent content becomes available.

    What? Why do I care if the app doesn’t support a feature you randomly pulled out of the air? The feature in question, the one that is limited to ICS, is available to the iOS version.

    Hint: it wasn’t at all random.

    Your mileage obviously varies, but to me, a “feature” that lets you consume content on a cutting edge portable device, but only when you are in the comfort of your own home, completely misses the point.

  150. @Patrick Maupin “Another article that one references strongly suggests that Apple pressured AT&T into doing this. If true, this is exactly the outcome that Tim F. said last week couldn’t happen. In any case, this is excellent news for Apple customers and a step in the right direction by AT&T.”

    Right. I didn’t agree with @TimF on this. Apple has huge power. It’s only a question of how they wield it. As I recall you said, they could wield it to force unlocking, but chose to wield it to extract higher subsidies.

    And now that Apple their subsidies locked up, they might be pressuring AT&T to unlock. And AT&T is probably worried about the government getting involved too. Seems like low hanging fruit for regulators to get upset.

    Good for everyone except AT&T. And honestly, AT&T will barely be hurt as where will iPhone customers go? T-Mobile? HAHA

  151. @Nigel:

    As an aside, yes I know there are some other issues

    This is why I characterize you as zealot.

    Really? I admit there are other issues, but state that this article didn’t capture them, and I’m a zealot?

    The article clearly states that a developer feels that developing significant apps (in this case the TWC streaming app) is far more of a pain on Android because of fragmentation than for iOS:

    The article is chock full of inconsistencies. You can’t simultaneously claim that fragmentation is really painful and that’s really going to be slowing you down, and that you decided to completely ignore the fragmentation and focus on the latest version (which, btw, has so few devices on it so far that it’s got to be really easy to test for).

  152. “The main reason it’s meaningless is because the primary excuse given (at least reading the article you pointed to) was that DRM would not be good enough on earlier versions of Android.”

    Again, “excuse.” The only point that needs to be made is that it is more difficult to provide a non-UI feature to pre-ICS Android devices than it is to those which support ICS.

    “Netflix figured out a way to make it “good enough”, but that doesn’t really matter — Kabuki Security Theater is becoming less and less important on computers as more independent content becomes available.”

    Again, the question isn’t: could the functionality be done with a great deal more work unprofitably, or could the functionality be provided to a very small subset of pre-ICS devices (10 phones and 4 tablets targets with unofficial support for more, http://techblog.netflix.com/2012/03/testing-netflix-on-android.html) with a great deal more work, or could you alternatively get similar content at some date in the future?

    The question was: are their apps/features that can only justified by targeting ICS only?

    “Your mileage obviously varies, but to me, a “feature” that lets you consume content on a cutting edge portable device, but only when you are in the comfort of your own home, completely misses the point.”

    But nonetheless it is a feature that a developer determined they can bring to ICS devices but not pre-ICS devices.

  153. @phil:

    Good for everyone except AT&T. And honestly, AT&T will barely be hurt as where will iPhone customers go? T-Mobile? HAHA

    This is mostly true for now. But there are a few AT&T MVNOs now offering pretty good data pricing, and you have to remember that when all the 4s phones start to come off contract in a year and a half, they can go to Sprint or Verizon.

    But by now, AT&T has sold enough iPhones they are used to having much lower margins than Verizon, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them continue huge subsidies to keep their customers on the device upgrade treadmill. Unfortunately, if they do this, unless they lower their monthly, they will be “leaking” older iPhones (gifted or sold) to other networks. Maybe Sprint has a chance after all.

  154. “Another article that one references strongly suggests that Apple pressured AT&T into doing this. If true, this is exactly the outcome that Tim F. said last week couldn’t happen.”

    That’s a lot of inference on your part, both with respect to the article and my views. The article states “complaints from Apple iPhone users” and that Tim Cook was assisting people to get their phones unlocked through AT&T, which I was the first to state. I always stated that Apple opposed this and would happily see it go away and (although probably never stated outright, implied or at least always thought that they could eventually successfully pressure them). I never suggested that they wouldn’t be able to change the status quo for all eternity. I was always exclusively opposed to the notion that because it was so, and Apple hadn’t waved a magical wand to make it disappear, that Apple must approve, benefit, support, and/or be complicit with the practice.

  155. @Tim F.:

    But nonetheless it is a feature that a developer determined they can bring to ICS devices but not pre-ICS devices.

    There are some features that iOS apparently does a lot better than Android that are huge holes for Android. It’s my understanding that real-time streaming audio manipulations falls into this category. For features like this, I certainly hope that Google gets its act together and provides some worthwhile competition.

    There are other features that are “so, what?” DRM support certainly falls into this category. There are enough Android devices out there that a company that cares deeply enough will figure it out (think Netflix) without google’s help. And other companies? Seriously, why should google waste effort supporting Kabuki? I’m not arguing that Android has caught up to iOS in every technical area, just that if I were Andy Rubin, the particular feature stressed in this article would not be anywhere near the top of my list.

  156. @Tim F.:

    > I was always exclusively opposed to the notion that because it was so,

    You explictly stated that Apple coudn’t make this happen, and when I asked why you believed that, there were crickets chirping.

  157. My eyes glaze over. Are you guys sure you wouldn’t prefer the angels dancing on a pin argument? At least that way you could quote Good Omens.

    Yours,
    Tom

  158. @patrick

    “Debatable. Especially since (in theory) Android vendors are paying Microsoft.”

    Not everyone pays and not at the beginning. The zero cost aspect certainly sped Android adoption rate.

    “Did you look at the study of those countries where subsidies are rampant vs. those where they are not?”

    This is immaterial to my point. By dumping significant effort/money into a free OS onto the market it enabled Samsung to quickly overtake Nokia/Symbian and RIM/BB at the cost of skinning. It totally trashed MS/WP6 revenue.

    This is essentially what happened to Sun after IBM and HP dumped large amounts of effort and IP into Linux. Linux hammered Sun revenue and Solaris market share.

    The impact of the Google Android subsidies on the market was IMHO far higher in terms of the extinction rates of Symbian/BB/WP6/Maemo/Meego/etc than any amount of carrier subsidies or even the iPhone.

    The iPhone was always going to be constrained in volume as Apple ramped in capacity. Without the Google Android subsidy Nokia, RIM and MS would have had breathing room to respond before their market share and mobile revenue cratered.

    “That could be taken either way. Sprint is apparently still reeling from giving Apple all that money.”

    I meant that Apple is making far more money with iOS than Google with Android. AND iOS is meeting Apple’s strategic objectives far better than Android is for Google.

    Sprint is not part of this equation. They don’t own either iOS or Android.

    “Which might not bother them too much. I think they only exert control to keep others from exerting too much control, e.g. Amazon will be very much in their sights right now.”

    This is something they have zero control over given the Apache license. They can do butkus to Amazon and Baidu. They can do nothing to Samsung either over AdHub and continued vertical integration plans once Samsung has partners lined up or purchased. Even today, if Google went nuclear on Samsung by locking it out of Google Play it would hurt Google far more than Samsung. Samsung would simply make Bing a mobile search powerhouse.

    They can’t even try to use Moto patents against Samsung or others given the patent grants in Apache.

    Android may be the enabling technology to lock Google out of mobile ad revenue by it’s direct competitors: Baidu, Amazon, Facebook…these all have their own infrastructure and ecosystem and were missing a credible mobile OS platform of their own to brand. Ooops.

    Amazon is in Google’s sights now? I’m sure Bezos is really quaking in his boots.

  159. “The article is chock full of inconsistencies. You can’t simultaneously claim that fragmentation is really painful and that’s really going to be slowing you down, and that you decided to completely ignore the fragmentation and focus on the latest version (which, btw, has so few devices on it so far that it’s got to be really easy to test for).”

    Of course you can. What on earth is wrong with the statement that fragmentation was such a big issue for us that we were only able to service ICS customers on the initial version given our time and budget?

    This is exactly the same thing that Netflix stated in terms of only supporting a limited number of handsets at the beginning.

  160. “You explictly stated that Apple coudn’t make this happen, and when I asked why you believed that, there were crickets chirping.”

    Again, I have other things to do. If I didn’t respond to a particular question, inferring that I didn’t do so out of fear or lack of an answer is a poor assumption.

    You will see plenty of comments by me that Apple certainly opposed it, would like it to change, had assisted customers to circumvent, and (at the least, the inference that) they probably did try to oppose it.

    The simple fact is none of us has knowledge of whether or not Apple was included in the decision (I didn’t state this before but I probably should have: this is a relatively new provision, introduced with the release of the 4 with pre-knowledge that Verizon would soon be getting the iPhone, in an effort to stem churn), if Apple voiced opposition to the decision, if Apple bargained with Verizon to not do so, if Apple has been lobbying for a change ever since the provision was added and only successful now at having it changed, etc…. This was my opposition.

  161. @Patrick Maupin “you have to remember that when all the 4s phones start to come off contract in a year and a half, they can go to Sprint or Verizon.”

    If it’s possible to take an AT&T iphone 4s and move to Spring/Verizon, I retract my “HAHA”. But best I can tell, it isn’t. I don’t really understand how CDMA works with this scenario, so I hope it’s possible.

    Good point on MVNOs, but I’ve never heard of one for AT&T. Google says there are some, but never seen them mentioned in real life.

  162. @Nigel:

    This is something they have zero control over given the Apache license. They can do butkus to Amazon and Baidu.

    I’m not talking about licensing here. I’m talking about building 7″ tablets. As far as Baidu goes, I think Google pretty much gave up on China when they realized how stacked the deck was. Does Baidu have any growth anywhere else?

    They can’t even try to use Moto patents against Samsung or others given the patent grants in Apache.

    They haven’t shown any propensity to do this, but this statement is categorically false. The Apache patent grant only covers patents for what the covered software does.

    Android may be the enabling technology to lock Google out of mobile ad revenue by it’s direct competitors: Baidu, Amazon, Facebook…these all have their own infrastructure and ecosystem and were missing a credible mobile OS platform of their own to brand. Ooops.

    I don’t think it’s going to come down that way, but even if it does, it would have happened anyway.

    Amazon is in Google’s sights now? I’m sure Bezos is really quaking in his boots.

    Bezos shouldn’t really care that much. Amazon will still be available on Android (just as it is on iOS), he’ll just have a smaller set of exclusive eyeballs. But he’s never shied away from old-fashioned competition and certainly wasn’t relying on platform lock-in.

  163. “There are other features that are “so, what?” DRM support certainly falls into this category.”

    Google seems to disagree. Time Warner seems to disagree. Many others disagree.

    “There are enough Android devices out there that a company that cares deeply enough will figure it out (think Netflix) without google’s help.”

    If you consider supporting 10 phones and 4 tablets and praying it works on the rest “figuring it out,” sure. And, again, Netflix disagrees that DRM is not a “feature” that should be supported.

    “Seriously, why should google waste effort supporting Kabuki”

    To encourage and/or make it easier for content owners to support their ecosystem with their content.

    “I’m not arguing that Android has caught up to iOS in every technical area, just that if I were Andy Rubin, the particular feature stressed in this article would not be anywhere near the top of my list.”

    No, you were simply arguing that one of those areas in which Android is behind iOS was irrelevant because you say so — while it was my argument to point out one area where not only Android is behind iOS but to demonstrate that developers are identifying key features that can only be made, or can only be justified from a development perspective, in ICS despite it only having less than 5% share of all Android devices.

  164. “it wouldn’t surprise me to see [AT&T] continue huge subsidies to keep their customers on the device upgrade treadmill. Unfortunately, if they do this, unless they lower their monthly, they will be ‘leaking’ older iPhones (gifted or sold) to other networks. Maybe Sprint has a chance after all.”

    Except that Sprint is now contractually obligated to sell a lot of new iPhones. If their network fills up with all those new iPhones plus older iPhones, they could wind up as an all-iPhone network. Will those new iPhone users be data hogs? Can their network take the hit? Will they continue to support Android at all? What will happen to their prepaid services?

    Interesting times ahead.

  165. “Good point on MVNOs, but I’ve never heard of one for AT&T.”

    Check out H2O Wireless.

  166. @Tim F.:

    “There are other features that are “so, what?” DRM support certainly falls into this category.”

    Google seems to disagree. Time Warner seems to disagree. Many others disagree.

    Google probably put a couple of guys on it a couple of years ago. They will play along, but I doubt they spent much money doing so, and the money they did spend was back when they thought the studios were going to cut them a deal.

    As far as Time Warner and Netflix and the other dinosaurs who think that DRM is anything but waving a dead chicken around while muttering the right incantations, do you really think their priorities are the same as the average developer?

    No, you were simply arguing that one of those areas in which Android is behind iOS was irrelevant because you say so

    I have given reasons multiple times in the past. I even predicted (correctly) that Netflix would come to Android once the eyeballs were there despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth. You can pretend like this is “just because I say so” but the evidence shows that’s not true.

    DRM is at least as stupid as airport “security” and pretending like you have something that does it properly is even stupider. It’s a shame how much effort has been wasted on this over the years — all it does is make it difficult on legitimate customers, when the people intent on piracy just use bittorrent.

  167. @phil:

    Actually, after doing some quick research, I think your “HAHA” might stand. It doesn’t appear you can use an AT&T iPhone on Sprint or Verizon, and it appears that even an unlocked one might work fine on an MVNO.

    The primary beneficiaries of this new policy would appear to be people who want to go to T-Mobile (e.g. cheapskates who bought a used iPhone from somebody who upgraded to the latest and greatest) and people who want to use their iPhone abroad without getting raped by AT&T.

  168. @Cathy:

    > Can [SPrint's] network take the hit?

    That’s a good question. Recent articles quote Hesse as saying that iPhone users use less data than Android users.

    This is diametrically opposed to what people have been saying for years, possibly because AT&T scooped up all the bleeding edge iPhone types years ago, or possibly because bleeding edge Android users on Sprint are using 4G. Assuming it’s true, it is really good news for Sprint, because the network will be able to support all those iPhones they are contracted to buy. At least if they manage to buy them all before the iPhone sports 4G as well.

  169. “Google probably put a couple of guys on it a couple of years ago. They will play along, but I doubt they spent much money doing so, and the money they did spend was back when they thought the studios were going to cut them a deal.”

    This theory is based on what knowledge? And, again, ICS now supports greater encryption of media transport and other DRM schemes, does it not?

    “As far as Time Warner and Netflix and the other dinosaurs who think that DRM is anything but waving a dead chicken around while muttering the right incantations, do you really think their priorities are the same as the average developer?”

    I think supporting the needs of content owners (whether justified or not, right or wrong, consumer-friendly or not) is important to having the best developer platform.

    “I have given reasons multiple times in the past.”

    In this instance, your reason was: even the iOS version doesn’t support a feature not even mentioned, and I don’t care because it’s not important to me.

    “DRM is at least as stupid as airport “security” and pretending like you have something that does it properly is even stupider.”

    Again, this is your opinion. Objectively, it is at least a desired and at most a necessary feature to have broad support of applications from content owners. Objectively, supporting media encryption and media schemes delineates what can be justified doing on ICS and what cannot on pre-ICS versions for some developers.

  170. @Nigel:

    Of course you can. What on earth is wrong with the statement that fragmentation was such a big issue for us that we were only able to service ICS customers on the initial version given our time and budget?

    That’s not what I read.

    “Android 4.0 ‘only version’ of Android secure enough for video streaming” == “we’re not even going to bother with earlier versions”

    “Developing our video product for Android is not unlike tweezing one’s eyebrows while using a disco ball for a mirror. We’re going to get there, but it’s going to happen one facet at a time.” == “We’re still having trouble, even focusing on 4.0″

    So there may be some API issues (perhaps related to the real-time audio I was mentioning) holding them back, but the primary complaint seems to be about something other than the trials and tribulations of developing for multiple versions of Android, even though no Android article is complete without mentioning the “f” word.

  171. “This is diametrically opposed to what people have been saying for years, possibly because AT&T scooped up all the bleeding edge iPhone types years ago, or possibly because bleeding edge Android users on Sprint are using 4G.”

    No, it is not necessarily so. The answer is present in the recent study (http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/4/iPhones_Have_Significantly_Higher_Rates_of_Wi-Fi_Utilization and http://gigaom.com/apple/not-just-iphone-but-ipad-too-uses-wi-fi-more-often/) showing that iOS users use wifi much more than Android users. In other words, iOS users can consume more webcontent/network services (good for developers, consumers, and Apple) while using less of the carriers’s infrastructure (good for the carriers).

  172. Patrick: “Android 4.0 ‘only version’ of Android secure enough for video streaming” == “we’re not even going to bother with earlier versions” … Nigel: “given our time and budget.”

    Patrick: ““We’re still having trouble, even focusing on 4.0? … Nigel: “[because of] fragmentation [...] we were only able to service ICS customers on the initial version given our time and budget.”

    “So there may be some API issues (perhaps related to the real-time audio I was mentioning) holding them back, but the primary complaint seems to be about something other than the trials and tribulations of developing for multiple versions of Android, even though no Android article is complete without mentioning the “f” word.”

    What is “the primary complaint [that] seems to be about something other than the trials and tribulations of developing for multiple versions of Android”?

    They say the features are present for one version of Android, but developing the same features for other versions of Android will require a lot more time, effort, and money. So what, in your mind, is the primary complaint that has nothing to do with developing for multiple versions of Android?

  173. @Tim F.:

    This theory is based on what knowledge?

    I assume that if it were important first, it would have been dealt with first. Apparently, google started thinking about it in late 2010 (when they acquired wildvine).

    And, again, ICS now supports greater encryption of media transport and other DRM schemes, does it not?

    ICS supports lots of stuff most developers won’t use. What’s your point?

    Again, this is your opinion.

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Yes this is my opinion. No, it’s not just because I say so.

  174. @Tim F.:

    They say the features are present for one version of Android, but developing the same features for other versions of Android will require a lot more time, effort, and money.

    The article is not written very well. They say they’re not going to support earlier versions, and that simply finishing up what they need to do for 4.0 will require a lot of time, effort, and money to support. The quote “Developing our video product for Android is not unlike tweezing one’s eyebrows while using a disco ball for a mirror. We’re going to get there, but it’s going to happen one facet at a time.” is placed (by the article author) in the context of fragmentation, but seems to be about what they’re doing on 4.0, not some hypothetical what it would take to support earlier versions, because they already said they’re not supporting earlier versions.

  175. “ICS supports lots of stuff most developers won’t use. What’s your point?”

    That ICS supports features not available on earlier versions. Is this not clear?

    “No, it’s not just because I say so.” “Because you say so”==your opinion poorly supported or completely lacking in any evidence whatsoever or in complete defiance of plain evidence to the contrary to form a rational argument.

  176. And, btw, lots of other developers have already gotten streaming video going on lots of versions of Android, so these particular developers just might not be the sharpest tools in the shed in any case, if they’ve restricted themselves to 4.0, been working on it for several months, and expect to have it out in several weeks.

  177. I have no clue what difficulty you are having in comprehending the post by TWC. I also have no clue what uncertainty you are attempting to inject into it. It seems rather plain to me and I suspect many others.

  178. @Tim F.:

    > That ICS supports features not available on earlier versions. Is this not clear?

    Okaaay. Where/when was that ever contentious?

    your opinion poorly supported or completely lacking in any evidence whatsoever or in complete defiance of plain evidence to the contrary to form a rational argument.

    Feel free to blame your oft-displayed reading comprension problem on my writing ability. I’m happy to let others figure out what’s what for themselves.

  179. “And, btw, lots of other developers have already gotten streaming video going on lots of versions of Android…”

    You’re presuming the only need is to get video streaming. I am not. (What DRM features are they looking to accomplish? Do they have a mandate to prevent piracy or to plug the analog hole that is more taxing than other streaming apps? Etc.) I am starting from the simple position that this developer says that pre-ICS versions require more work to support than ICS for the feature they want to implement.

  180. @Tim F.:

    > It seems rather plain to me and I suspect many others.

    Yes, it is rather plain. They’re not developing for earlier versions because of a lack of DRM. They’re completely focused on 4.0. They’ve been working on it for awhile and still aren’t done yet, despite apparently having every API they might need in the latest version. The article author has an axe to grind about fragmentation so mentions it at every opportunity.

  181. Cathy: “Is there a killer app that requires ICS? If so, what is it? If not, what is the great driver to rush into moving beyond Gingerbread?”

  182. @Tim F.:

    I am starting from the simple position that this developer says that pre-ICS versions require more work to support than ICS for the feature they want to implement.

    The article clearly (about the only thing clear in it) states that TWC isn’t supporting pre-4.0.

  183. @Tim F.:

    Is there a killer app that requires ICS? If so, what is it? If not, what is the great driver to rush into moving beyond Gingerbread?”

    Even Cathy didn’t say that additional APIs weren’t available. And if your “killer app” is a netflix that only works on your tablet when you have it in the same house as your TV that can easily receive the same content, that’s… lame.

  184. And Nigel explored some of the features in Honeycomb and ICS that are more UI-focused:

    “Some features can be gracefully degraded when ICS isn’t present. [Etc...]”

    It’s been a major part of this discussion as to whether fragmentation has real consequences. Also, I didn’t know I had to ask your permission for topic of discussion approval.

  185. “The article clearly (about the only thing clear in it) states that TWC isn’t supporting pre-4.0.”

    Correct. And?

  186. “The whole point, Cathy, is that nobody is free to develop anything that depends on ICS (and takes advantage of its features) because so few devices are running it.

    Google is pushing hard and improving Android all the time, but their efforts are being frustrated because they are unable to get people to upgrade to the latest version. This is a problem.”

    Patrick Maupin: The article clearly (about the only thing clear in it) states that TWC isn’t supporting pre-4.0

    Etc…

  187. **Oops. The prev. post can be ignored. Bad cut-and-paste between windows.**

    Tom: The whole point, Cathy, is that nobody is free to develop anything that depends on ICS (and takes advantage of its features) because so few devices are running it.

    Nigel: Are there “killer” features? Depends on the app you want to build. But the point s version fragmentation is a significant hindrance to android developers in exploiting the OS to it’s fullest. Pretty much we’re stuck on 2.3 at best, 2.2 if you’ve got some legacy users on older devices.

    Cathy: The definition of “killer app” is one that is so desirable, so necessary, that buyers will buy or upgrade in order to be able to run it.

    [This is a subjective definition. I'll cite Wikipedia (yes): In marketing terminology, a killer application (commonly shortened to killer app) is any computer program that is so necessary or desirable that it proves the core value of some larger technology, such as computer hardware, gaming console, software, or an operating system.]

    Tom: There’s a crap-ton of new stuff in ICS that nobody is getting to use. It might not be ‘killer’ but it’s still good stuff that Google has worked hard on and presumably thinks is worthwhile.

    Nigel: Given the massive uptake of iOS 5.1 evidently iOS is chock full of killer apps but ICS not so much.

    Patrick Maupin: The article clearly (about the only thing clear in it) states that TWC isn’t supporting pre-4.0

    Etc.

  188. @LS

    On a (sort of) related topic:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-court-hears-apple-request-184129228.html

    I keep hearing that since Steve’s death Apple seems to have changed its general attitude to these patent suits. They are apparently trying in many cases to settle.

    My feeling is that Tim Cook wants to be rid of the whole business, but feels like he needs to save face. I think the company is unable to simply admit that Jobs was wrong to pursue the lawsuits in the first place.

  189. The last Antenna-gate came close. You can wail all along that there did not exist a problem. That is beside the point. If the public thinks it is a lemon, it will bomb.

    Apple has the engineering and logistics expertise and the supply chain in place to make engineering changes almost literally on the fly. If an iPhone model actually bombs — and that is a big if — Apple will wake up its Chinese workers, retool, and within a few weeks an updated model that fixes the problems will appear and sell like hotcakes. Just a month before the first iPhone’s release, Steve Jobs noticed that the plastic screen was extremely prone to scratching, and demanded it be released with a glass screen. All production iPhones have shipped with glass screens.

    No other company can do this.

  190. Not only can no other company do this, no other company wants to do this. It’s not the way a standard consumer electronics manufacturing company thinks or operates, and that’s what all Android OEMs are. And that’s just one of the reasons the Android Army will not vanquish Apple.

  191. @Jeff Read

    Apple will wake up its Chinese workers

    What makes you think they ever sleep?

  192. “I’m not talking about licensing here. I’m talking about building 7? tablets. As far as Baidu goes, I think Google pretty much gave up on China when they realized how stacked the deck was. Does Baidu have any growth anywhere else?”

    LOL. Amazon is selling their 7″ tablets at cost or below and has the highest volume of all android tablet makers (meaning they can afford to buy higher volume with less risk of a warehouse full of unsold tablets).

    Currently the price point of the Nexus 7″ tablet from Asus is $249 and Google has less content than Amazon Video or Kindle Books to offer.

    If the subsidize the price to meet or beat the Fire the only ones they are screwing are other Android tablet makers. Given they are waiting until July to launch that’s probably pretty close to a Kindle Fire 2 announcement or launch.

    Does Baidu have traction other than China? Does it really matter? It’s one of the largest markets.

    Or you can take Naver who has around 50% share in Korea. Naver is interesting if Samsung wants to replace Google services. Naver + Bing can meet much of their worldwide needs. In Korea itself simply offering Samsung android handsets without Google at all should be pretty trivial using Naver.

    Yandex has been the default search for russian builds of mozilla and win phone and they bought SPB software which does Android skins. So it’s not far fetched to imagine that Yandex will make an android play much like Baidu.

    Android doesn’t prevent Google being locked out of mobile markets at all. Mostly what it does is enable companies without the technical savvy to build their own mobile OS. Before they had to depend on MS and Nokia/Symbian.

    iOS has met and will continue to meet Apple’s strategic needs in that the iPhone and iPad have successfully cannibalized the iPod as opposed to letting someone else cannibalize the iPod.

  193. Regarding DRM…as a user I don’t care if DRM works or not. If I can’t get Netflix, Hulu, etc the device is a non-starter.

    If content owners/providers require DRM then it damn well better work to their satisfaction. Call them dinosaurs if you want but HBO2Go, Comcast, TWC, NBA, NFL, MLB, etc are important parts of the mobile ecosystem.

    Most folks don’t jailbreak, root or torrent. If you have to do any of that it’s a fail.

  194. My feeling is that Tim Cook wants to be rid of the whole business, but feels like he needs to save face. I think the company is unable to simply admit that Jobs was wrong to pursue the lawsuits in the first place.

    It was literally Steve’s death wish that Android be punished hard for stealing Apple technology.

    Publicly announcing intent to go against the wishes of their dearly departed founder would be too boat-rocking for Apple. Among the faithful it would be a sign of disrespect toward Teh Steve; and among stock pickers and analysts showing signs of deviating from a Jobsian track would affect the stock price and confidence in the company.

  195. As an aside, the TWC app probably limits viewing to in home for contractual rather than technical reasons. Comcast Xfinity also limits watching to WiFi.

    DirectTV seems to be the only (?) company to offer streaming via 3G/4G on the iPad. Interesting that they aren’t also a ISP whereas Comcast, Verizon and TWC are.

    Netflix and HBO also have no issues.

  196. @Jeff Read

    Among the faithful it would be a sign of disrespect toward Teh Steve; and among stock pickers and analysts showing signs of deviating from a Jobsian track would affect the stock price and confidence in the company.

    I don’t think it would affect the stock price and confidence in the company at all. Confidence in Apple is not based on an expectation that they will win patent lawsuits, but that they will continue to produce great products that sell.

    I do think you are dead right that they feel like they can’t explicitly say ‘Steve was wrong’ though. Not because it would be bad for the company as such, but just because it would be humiliating to back off after so much bluster and righteous indignation.

    I think they need to get over that. Rip off the plaster quickly. Get these lawsuits over with and move on. It’s already taking too much executive focus and PR focus away from things that matter.

  197. @Jeff Read “If an iPhone model actually bombs…” Also don’t forget: Apple has tricked, duped, hypnotized, marketed, indoctrinated its customers into buying it no matter what — if it’s a bomb or not. (Of course, we are also told the 4 was “this close” to a bomb.)

  198. “I keep hearing that since Steve’s death Apple seems to have changed its general attitude to these patent suits. They are apparently trying in many cases to settle.”

    @Tom: The article I linked was purely speculative, but the speculation I thought was most important was where the judge might rule that the infringement was trivial, and so would be the damages. This might be a practical way to deal with the swarm of bullsh*t patents out there.

    “So what if you invented the one-click toothpaste dispenser…that’s not why they’re not selling.”

  199. @Tim F.
    “, just that if I were Andy Rubin, the particular feature stressed in this article would not be anywhere near the top of my list.”

    I think that if you were Andy Rubin, we would not have Google (anymore).

  200. @Winter:

    Actually, I said that. But you’re probably right :-)

  201. @Patrick
    Sorry, but it works for most values of I.

    This discussion is funny. Android supporters support FLOSS. iOS supporters claim they prefer it over Android because it is better.

    So, if Google had produced iOS and Apple Android, everyone would have supported Google and no one would have supported Apple?

    Somehow, I doubt it.

  202. This discussion is funny. Android supporters support FLOSS. iOS supporters claim they prefer it over Android because it is better.

    So, if Google had produced iOS and Apple Android, everyone would have supported Google and no one would have supported Apple?

    Somehow, I doubt it.

    Funny that you see this through the lens of picking sides. It’s rather sad really. And stupid.

  203. @Greg It is confirmed, and there is no law in the U.S. mandating unlocking of phones.

  204. Google couldn’t have made iOS, and Apple would have been embarrassed to have released something like Android. Can you imagine Steve being shown a prototype iPhone that ran even something like ICS? He’d fling it at the wall and shout, “This sucks! Do the OS over again; I want it perfect in six weeks.”

  205. Very true, Jeff, which reminds me of something I’ve said in other threads here, which not many seem to take seriously. Android’s openness means both strengths and weaknesses, and has a perhaps-impossible task in trying to deal with those weaknesses. By nature it’s difficult for Android to become more integrated with hardware, and less fragmented, and thus better (in many ways) for users and developers. It will always have less hardware integration and more fragmentation than iOS.

    On the other hand, while iOS has its own strengths and weaknesses, it’s easier for them to deal with the weaknesses of the walled garden, because Apple can always take make iOS more open. Sure, it will never be as open than Android, but they’ve already taken steps in that direction: remember, at first iPhone developers were restricted to web apps.

  206. By nature it’s difficult for Android to become more integrated with hardware, and less fragmented, and thus better (in many ways) for users and developers. It will always have less hardware integration and more fragmentation than iOS.

    This is simply not the case. Open systems often accomodate hardware integration and a fast-changing hardware landscape better. This is due to higher quality design of open systems. If you design an open system you have to put a lot of thought into how your system would integrate with wide variety of scenarios. If you design a closed system you don’t pay much attention to these matters and over time brittleness creeps into your system and after X yrs the only solution would be the chuck that entire closed system into the garbage bin and start over from scratch.

  207. I don’t see how that can be true in the smartphone area, at least. Hardware makers don’t know what features Android will support a year from now, and vice versa. The fact that OEMs still come out with new Android phones running old versions of the OS should tell you something about their hardware/software integration abilities. Clearly Apple, working on hardware and software simultaneously, has an advantage here.

    And I don’t think many would agree that either Android as an OS or any Android phone has “higher quality of design” than an iPhone.

    Sure, “brittleness” could creep into iPhones, but I see no evidence of that. Apple is not just any producer of a “closed system”: they are Apple, with an established history of high-quality design. I don’t think problems of past closed-system makers necessarily apply to them, because they are doing many things differently.

  208. @Tim F: Had to double-check that. You’re right… it looks like legislation covering just that has been proposed a couple of times recently in Canada (which must be where my confusion comes in, likely read about it in passing somewhere) but hasn’t been passed into law.

  209. “Google couldn’t have made iOS, and Apple would have been embarrassed to have released something like Android.”

    Evasive answer. Could have happened anyway.

    Suggests to me that you would still argue Apple’s offering was better, whether it was iOS or Android.

  210. @Winter

    Suggests to me that you would still argue Apple’s offering was better, whether it was iOS or Android.

    You have an inaccurate idea of how most Apple fans think. They (and I include myself) tend to be highly critical of Apple’s products. Perhaps more highly critical than any other group. You should hear some of the conversations my Apple friends (and others on the web) have about Apple products. We’re the most hyper-nit-picky bunch out there! Anything the company does that is sub-par *immediately* comes under fire.

    True, we are not critical of their closed business model, their philosophy, or their taste (because we agree with those things), but we are *extremely* critical of the design of their products. And I mean design in its broadest sense, encompassing everything that goes into making the product work.

    If Apple had released Android the biggest wave of criticism would have come from the installed Apple fan base. Apple would have been *flayed*. Apple fans aren’t Apple fans because they are mindlessly loyal to the company, but because the company consistently provides – in our view – the best-designed products on the market. The *second* they break from that you can bet the bank that we will start complaining loudly.

  211. @Tom:

    Did Jobs, on his death bed, appoint you to speak for all Apple fans?

  212. @Patrick

    I said *most* Apple fans *tend* to think in the way I describe. Obviously the group is not homogenous, but I am trying to dispel the idea Winter seems to have that everybody all Apple fans are unthinkingly loyal and supportive of everything Apple does. It’s very far from the truth.

  213. @uma “This is simply not the case. Open systems often accomodate hardware integration and a fast-changing hardware landscape better. This is due to higher quality design of open systems. If you design an open system you have to put a lot of thought into how your system would integrate with wide variety of scenarios.”

    More choices/approaches = more complexity. This is exactly why Apple’s integration model is better.

    How many new cars advertise “Android integration”? It’s too messy of a target. Almost every car has an option for iPod/iPhone integration. And look at the accesseries market for iOS vs Android. Don’t believe me? Go to Best Buy and take a look. There are a ton of case options for Android as cases only fit one model, but not much else. Then take a look at iPhone accesseries.

  214. More choices/approaches = more complexity. This is exactly why Apple’s integration model is better.

    Not necessarily. Complexity is a function of the design itself, not the choices the design makes available. You, and the fanboyz along with you, seem to think that more choice linearly maps into more complexity. Anyone who knows a thing or two about system design knows how much of a horseshit this statement is.

  215. More choice may not necessarily mean more complexity, and I don’t think anyone has claimed that. However, it seems irrefutable that Android’s open nature, the wide variety of OEMs, and the inherent separation between the OS and the hardware, all create problems that iOS does not have (or at least, have as much). These things make app development more difficult, make hardware/software integration more difficult, and degrade the user experience in various ways (e.g. new app X won’t work on new Android phone Y because it shipped with an old version of the OS).

  216. @uma

    Someone who only knows a thing or two about system design thinks that’s horseshit. Folks that’s been around the block a few times know better. Mostly because they’ve been burned and have the t-shirt from the invariable death march that follows.

    Open vs closed has little to nothing to do with “accommodat[ing] hardware integration and a fast-changing hardware landscape better”. What matters is having the resources to address that fast-changing landscape.

    In any case, Google is using traditional “closed”/cathedral development methods anyway for Android and not is not shy on resources.

    More choices may not always equal more complexity but it’s a handy rule of thumb that system designers use…in fact all engineers use under the general KISS principle. Seldom is it not true.

    However, it is seldom true that you can have a grown up conversation with someone who uses words like “fanboyz”.

  217. Fanboy PapayaSF Says:

    More choice may not necessarily mean more complexity, and I don’t think anyone has claimed that.

    Fanboy phil Says

    More choices/approaches = more complexity

  218. OK, I missed that one, but since it’s a shorthand statement in the context of a discussion of Android, it seems perfectly valid. Can you deny that, right now in the real world, the greater choices of Android make it more complex to developers and users? Proof is everywhere. How could anyone with knowledge of system design say otherwise?

  219. @Nigel

    However, it is seldom true that you can have a grown up conversation with someone who uses words like “fanboyz”.

    I’m waiting for ‘fanboyz’ and ‘fanboi’ to come together to form the ultimate in deliberate misspelling: ‘fanboiz’. I think that is the obvious next step in this evolution.

  220. Can you deny that, right now in the real world, the greater choices of Android make it more complex to developers and users?

    The complexity we’re talking about here is system design complexity. No – a system does not have to be more complex even if it caters to two orders of magnitude more usage cases than a closed walled garden system. It is all a function of design. Some designs are rugged and can handle a wide variety of cases that you throw at them. Others are not. In the case of Android. It is a far less brittle system than iOS. It is a VM design which sits on top of the most widely supported unix-like kernel out there. VM’s by their very nature SHIELD developers from all kinds of hardware complexities and proliferate their applications on any platform that is able to run the VM.

  221. Complexity and brittleness are two different things, but what is your evidence that iOS is more brittle? I fail to see how Android in the real world is less brittle and less complex than iOS. Users and developers live here, where there are other factors beyond system design. By all accounts Android phones are (on average) harder to develop for, buggier than iPhones, and more often confusing to users, so where are these supposedly-superior advantages?

  222. @uma

    VM’s by their very nature SHIELD developers from all kinds of hardware complexities and proliferate their applications on any platform that is able to run the VM.

    Although this is true to some extent:

    1) There are still many hardware differences that VMs cannot shield developers from. For example, if you have to develop your app for a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions you are still going to have to provide lots of different size graphical assets, and possibly even different screen layouts, to suit the requirements of each device. You’re also going to have to take into account differential system resources. What might be possible on a high-end phone won’t necessarily be possibly on one with half the memory or CPU power.

    2) None of what you said addresses *software* fragmentation between devices, which is the inevitable consequence of an open system.

    3) Although by using a VM and a ‘write once run anywhere’ philosophy’ you can get your code to run on a range of different systems, you are never going to get the absolute best out of any one of those systems.

    Of course, this is the classic debate of vertical integration vs. open. Each has advantages and disadvantages. I think it is a bit much to call the iOS design ‘brittle’. True, if Apple decided to release iOS to OEMs to run on any hardware they liked, it wouldn’t work as well. No doubt. But the whole point of Apple’s approach is that they don’t have to worry about a lot of different hardware. They can concentrate on a small set of components, and in so doing get the best out of them.

  223. There are still many hardware differences that VMs cannot shield developers from. For example, if you have to develop your app for a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions you are still going to have to provide lots of different size graphical assets, and possibly even different screen layouts, to suit the requirements of each device. You’re also going to have to take into account differential system resources. What might be possible on a high-end phone won’t necessarily be possibly on one with half the memory or CPU power.

    How is that android’s problem. If you want your code to run on everything from a supercomputer to a tiny micro-controller then a) your code should probe for the kind of environment/host you are running from b) your code should be able to handle each environment seamlessly. If your code cannot do that they maybe you should operate in a tiny niche market where you wouldn’t even need to worry about screen size or incorporate that into your code.

    In fact your question shows why the iOS approach is the more brittle one which will sooner or later crumble under the weight of so many assumptions/suppositions that are taken for granted by “developers” which in the real world will prove to be mothers of all kinds of f__kups. I am willing to bet that far more android applications will be running on android 5 years from now than iOS on the iOS of 5 yrs from now – that is of course if iOS does not get relegated to garbage heaps of technology 5 years from now much like OS 9 earlier.

    None of what you said addresses *software* fragmentation between devices, which is the inevitable consequence of an open system.

    Give me examples so that I can think of an answer.

    Although by using a VM and a ‘write once run anywhere’ philosophy’ you can get your code to run on a range of different systems, you are never going to get the absolute best out of any one of those systems.

    Actually, one could argue otherwise especially in this day and age of “abundant hardware”. Sure, if you’re writing in raw C you can squeeze every last bit of performance, but how often do you need that. Not very often. Add to that the fact that VMs can often act as a substrate of a wide variety of powerful higher level languages (think all the languages that run on top of the JVM for example) all of which aid development in a way Obj-C will never be able to compete with.

  224. @uma

    How is that android’s problem.

    I’m not really sure what you mean. Nothing is Android’s problem. Android has no interests or desires. It is an operating system. Android users and developers are the people with the problem.

    If you want your code to run on everything from a supercomputer to a tiny micro-controller then a) your code should probe for the kind of environment/host you are running from b) your code should be able to handle each environment seamlessly. If your code cannot do that they maybe you should operate in a tiny niche market where you wouldn’t even need to worry about screen size or incorporate that into your code.

    Exactly. Developers should not have to go to all the trouble you describe. Operating within the iOS ecosystem means they don’t have to worry about these things.

    I am willing to bet that far more android applications will be running on android 5 years from now than iOS on the iOS of 5 yrs from now – that is of course if iOS does not get relegated to garbage heaps of technology 5 years from now much like OS 9 earlier.

    Argument by wager. Classic.

    Give me examples so that I can think of an answer.

    Just go back and read the comments on this page. We’ve been discussing this.

    Sure, if you’re writing in raw C you can squeeze every last bit of performance, but how often do you need that.

    When you’re trying to render graphically rich, fluid user interfaces and games on resource-constricted devices like mobile phones.

    Again, I acknowledge there are advantages and disadvantages to either approach. But my two objections to what you are saying are:

    1. Although in theory iOS may be brittle, in the sense that it can’t easily run on any old hardware you throw at it, that doesn’t matter in practice because Apple’s strategy is to focus on a small number of components.

    2. The big advantage of the iOS model is that Apple can get the absolute best out of the components it does use.

  225. It’s Android’s problem because we are talking about network effects. Your reply amounts to “developers just have to work harder or accept being in a smaller niche.” Well, there you go: either harder or less profitable for developers plus fragmentation, both of which interfere with the creation of a network effect for Android. (Not that Android doesn’t have some networks effects going for it, just that I think they are often over-estimated.)

    “Every last bit of performance” matters a lot in portable devices, especially in battery life.

  226. @Tom:

    Argument by wager. Classic.

    No arguments by wager here. Read what is before the wager to understand the argument. The wager is the conclusion .. not the argument.

    Developers should not have to go to all the trouble you describe. Operating within the iOS ecosystem means they don’t have to worry about these things.

    This is what I call nonesense. If you want your code to run on a FAR FAR more greater set of configurations than PART OF THE BURDEN rests on you. You, the developer, make the decision on the variety of configurations you want to handle and if you do a good job at that you will find that you are running on everything from tiny screens to dual 27” monitors. If your UI looks like shit on the 27” monitor don’t blame google and/or resort to using apple sales shlub vocabulary such as “fragmentation”.

  227. @uma

    VMs are not the only method of abstraction. Nor are they silver bullets in terms of hardware abstraction.

    Given that iOS’s heritage stretches back to NeXT there’s no brittleness in the core OS/kernel or API. Cocoa/Cocoa Touch has been around in the form of App Kit/Foundation Kit since the 90s.

    Wanting your code to run from anything from a super computer to a micro-controller is an edge case. Designing for that is 99.999% of the time sub-optimal and typically only works for the most trivial or basic of programs anyway.

    Good system designers have more than just VM hammer in their toolbox…

  228. Java is pretty brittle today from a environment point of view. The fact that it’s VM based has little impact on the need/desire to maintain backward compatibility. There are typically two to three ways of doing anything in Java and there’s simply a lot of cruft in the language and APIs. Hence (IMHO) the belated attempt by Sun to do a reboot with JavaFX. That Android is relatively clean is because Google did a partial reboot with Dalvik.

    It started feeling a little crufty…oh around the time Swing appeared in 1.2 (i.e. early on) and definitely by the time Generics were added in 1.5.

    Windows NT has been supported on many different hardware platforms from x86, Alpha, MIPS and Power PC. It’s as closed as closed can be, not a VM and largely maintained backward binary application compatibility (more so than OSX or Linux). It largely doesn’t feel crufty because while MS has maintained binary compatibility (more or less) it has refreshed it’s API stack a couple times with MFC and .NET and from winforms to WPF.

    In fact, Linux, the most open but without a stable kernel ABI, regularly breaks old drivers and apps. The whole freaking oss/alsa/pulse audio fiasco broke lots of apps. Open is at best a wash in terms of supporting lots of hardware configurations and probably a detriment overall for the average developer. And that’s WITH Linus as a benevolent dictator for the kernel. Userland is arguably worse from the perspective of app sustainment over time for anything other than console programs.

    In comparison OSX and Windows is much nicer.

  229. @uma “Not necessarily. Complexity is a function of the design itself, not the choices the design makes available. You, and the fanboyz along with you, seem to think that more choice linearly maps into more complexity. Anyone who knows a thing or two about system design knows how much of a horseshit this statement is.”

    In general, more choices == more complexity. Yes. It’s obvious. I’m sorry I didn’t qualify it with “in general” for the pedantic.

    It seems pretty obvious that if you control/minimize your options properly, you make integration simpler. There are downsides of course in that you may not be able to do everything you want and have to iterate your integration design. Everything has pros and cons.

    BTW, one of the many things I do is systems design.

    And I’m glad I don’t work with you in systems design. You are probably one of the guys who thinks over-engineering everything makes things “simple”.

  230. Early in the thread Jeff Read wrote: If you get everything you asked for — commodified phone hardware, timely and cruft-free Android updates — the result will be a sea of mediocrity in the cellphone space, within which Apple will be able to make some serious waves.

    This attempt to spin an Android dominated phone market as just the opportunity Apple needs is pretty amusing. “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine, Vader”

  231. @phil I think most system architects/designers have a desire to slightly over-engineer systems simply because things are unpredictable and users typically don’t really know what they want anyway. You need a bit of headroom.

    What you don’t want to do is massively over-engineer…and that’s just one of those balance things you learn.

    Using a VM in Android is a reasonable design despite the added complexity, size and performance hit given the wide range of hardware it needs to support that Google has no control over. iOS is also a reasonable design given that Apple has total control over the range of hardware and the APIs safely abstract the hardware from most developers. In return they gained from higher performance and smaller footprint without a VM making iOS devices more performant than hardware equivalent Android devices.

    That Google borked their initial render stack didn’t help matters…but now with hardware acceleration (alas only for 4.x phones) and if you throw enough hardware at the problem it mostly goes away.

    There are many powerhouse java UI guys now working for Google like Romain Guy and Chet Haase. As a desktop java dev that’s a real shame but meh…Java, other then J2EE and Android pretty much died when Sun did. If you don’t adapt in this industry you’re either unemployed, a MUMPS developer, management or retired (or soon to be).

  232. @nigel “What you don’t want to do is massively over-engineer…and that’s just one of those balance things you learn.”

    Yes, it’s a balance. But a good design means you can add features to it fairly easily. And in general, it’s easier to add features to something simple than something complex.

    Usually when a system is over-engineered to accomodate everything you “think” will be needed, you pick the wrong things. So you have to shoe-horn your real use cases into this overly complex design.

    On the other hand, having a plug-in style architecture usually pays off.

  233. “In any case, Google is using traditional ‘closed’/cathedral development methods anyway for Android and not is not shy on resources.”

    This is an interesting point worthy of more discussion. Have there been any attempts to use bazaar tactics on a mobile OS? If not, why? Even Cyanogenmodel strikes me as being developed by a small team in cathedral fashion.

    Are there fundamental issues with a mobile OS that makes it unsuited to bazaar development? Or is it more an issue of corporate control (i.e., Google doesn’t the outside world to see what will be in the next release of Android until it’s announced)?

    I don’t know and don’t even have a workign hypothesis, but it would certainly be interesting to see Linux-style development of Android, or of an Android fork (which might not stay forked, as Google could always roll the results back into the main source tree).

  234. This attempt to spin an Android dominated phone market as just the opportunity Apple needs is pretty amusing. “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine, Vader”

    I’m extrapolating from what actually happened in the PC industry. Now that PC hardware is entirely commoditized, Apple is the last manufacturer standing that’s able to really differentiate itself based on quality and ease of use. And they do it by leveraging commodity hardware, rather than fighting it like they did in the bad old 90s.

    The result is that Apple is the largest PC manufacturer, and Mac OS X has something like 15% market share on the desktop — and growing. Where is desktop Linux? Back to 1995 statistical noise levels, most of its user base having gleefully embraced the Mac or slinked tail-between-legs back to Windows, begrudgingly admitting that at least sound, wifi, suspend, etc. actually work on Windows.

  235. @Cathy

    I’m not sure if this really answers your question, but I think there are certain things that the bazaar model cannot cope with. One of these is UI and UX. If you look programs that have had great success with end-users (and I’m talking about normal people, not geeks) you’ll see that they are almost entirely cathedral structured. Obviously things like OS X, iOS, Windows etc are cathedral. But even when you look at open-source projects, the ones that have had widespread adoption with end-users are those that have corporate backing, or a strong, centralised organisation. For example, Android, Firefox, Chrome.

    Projects that use the bazaar structure only tend to have success if they are not used directly by the end user. For example, Apache or the Linux kernel. If you try to use bazaar development to create an end-user facing product I think it is very hard to have success. For example, Linux-on-the-desktop.

  236. @erbo “Unfortunately, that “cesspool” was an awfully good way of leveraging the Android ecosystem to keep some interest in BB. ”

    The Android market on BB was a hack. And it disincentives devs from creating BB apps.

    What BB should have done (too late now maybe?) is just go embrace android fully and build services/apps on it that only work on the BB phones. Stuff related to enterprise management/security.

  237. sorry – by “embrace android fully” I mean ditch their proprietary OS and use the Android OS

  238. @phil

    I agree. This is what RIM should be doing. Scrap their OS and become an Android OEM with back-end services and support for business. That would take strong leadership, though, and I just don’t see that right now.

  239. @tom, phil

    Strong security isn’t often something you can backfit. It would most likely be a full on fork like for the Fire only more so risking app compatibility.

    The android hack likely introduced all sorts of vulnerabilities which further detracts from their enterprise focus as noted in the ars article regarding malware.

    They truly screwed themselves by letting HP out bid them for Palm.

  240. @Tom:
    “Projects that use the bazaar structure only tend to have success if they are not used directly by the end user. For example, Apache or the Linux kernel. If you try to use bazaar development to create an end-user facing product I think it is very hard to have success. For example, Linux-on-the-desktop.”

    Very interesting point, Tom. I’m trying to think of a counter-example, but haven’t been able to do so. If true, it has major implications for the whole cathedral-and-bazaar paradigm.

    I am hoping to hear other posters here chime in, as I think this is a potentially richer topic for discussion than the endless iOS vs. Android back-and-forth,

  241. @Cathy
    Apache, perl, python, firefox, postgresql, KDE, Gnome, Samba, ssh.

    But these will not be considered true scotsmen.

  242. @Winter:

    I think Tom’s point was really technical users vs. non-technical users. I’ll let the two of you duke it out as to what kind of development paradigm firefox uses, since you seem to disagree about that.

    But I think there are several reasons why cathedral projects are clustered around end users and bazaar projects around developers, and they mostly revolve around resources.

    (Note: One or two or even a half-dozen cranks who don’t let others contribute does not a cathedral make.)

    A cathedral project will, almost by definition, have resources for packaging and testing, and will deliver the canonical version. This is extremely important to end users, not so much to developers. An end user will be put off by hearing that there are 13 different variants of the program he decided to use, and will be further put off by having to worry about dependencies when it doesn’t work out of the box.

    The cathedral project may also have resources for end user support (paid or unpaid) where people can get answers to stupid questions that don’t make them feel stupid, and will usually have a company name behind it.

    Finally, the cathedral project will actually care about its users’ opinions about features, and you won’t see user-antagonistic answers like “the source is there; implement it yourself.”

  243. Also, I think the concept of the Cathedral vs. the Bazaar is not as clear-cut as it used to seem to be.

    Many successful projects (linux kernel, Python, etc.) arguably use a hybrid development model. Feel free to code something up and advertise and promote it and do all the messy bazaar stuff. In an effort to catch the eye of one of the few top decisionmakers…

  244. Apparently Samsung is going to bring out a 10.1″ version of its Note some time in June.

    The stylus catches a lot of flak from the trendy, but personally I think a 10″ tablet with an accurate pressure-sensitive writing device will be killer. At least for my aged demographic — not sure if the kids will know how to use one of those.

  245. The stylus catches a lot of flak from the trendy, but personally I think a 10? tablet with an accurate pressure-sensitive writing device will be killer. At least for my aged demographic — not sure if the kids will know how to use one of those.

    Are you kidding me? It’s what all the teenagers will be using to submit Twilight and My Little Pony fan art to DeviantArt.

    It’ll also be perfect for Draw Something…

  246. @Winter:
    “Apache, perl, python, firefox, postgresql, KDE, Gnome, Samba, ssh.”

    Oh, come on, winter. End-users don’t run web servers (Apache). End-users don’t use programming languages (perl, python). Exceptions notwithstanding, end-users don’t typically set up databases like Postgres. samba is a server-side application, though smbclient is not. ssh is defisnitely used by end-users, but only fairly sophisticated ones.

    That brings us to more interesting examples: Firefox, KDE/Gnome, and KOffice/OpenOffice (which you didn’t list, but would logically fit in this space).

    What little I know of the development processes of these four would put them in the cathedral camp. Perhaps I am mistaken about that.

  247. @patrick:
    “A cathedral project will, almost by definition, have resources for packaging and testing, and will deliver the canonical version.”

    I don’t see how being a cathedral project, as opposed to a sponsored project, automatically gives you resources. FSF has never been resource-rich, but they definitely use a cathedral model. On the other hand, there was significant corporate support applied to Linux under a Linus-run bazaar model.

    “[A canonical version] this is extremely important to end users, not so much to developers. An end user will be put off by hearing that there are 13 different variants of the program he decided to use, and will be further put off by having to worry about dependencies when it doesn’t work out of the box.”

    Here I think you’re right, but it doesn’t have to be either/or. You could easily have a bazaar that revs frequently and always has the latest version available in git/svn, yet has infrequently-released stable versions that are packaged for end users. FlightGear revs every week, but unless you build from the repository all you’d see are the releases (at most a couple a year). For much of its life, the rate of revving the Linux kernel was much faster than the release rate of packaged distributions (e.g., Slackware, Ubuntu).

    “The cathedral project may also have resources for end user support (paid or unpaid) where people can get answers to stupid questions that don’t make them feel stupid, and will usually have a company name behind it.”

    This sounds like a valid reason to get your software from Red Hat, but it seems orthogonal to whether the source development was done by Red Hat in a cathedral or if the company is simply offering support and a company name as a friendly user interface to a bazaar-developed code base.

    “Finally, the cathedral project will actually care about its users’ opinions about features, and you won’t see user-antagonistic answers like ‘the source is there; implement it yourself.’”

    This sounds like less of a cathedral vs. bazaar issue and more of a “developers don’t play nicely with end-users and need a friendly user interface between them and their users.” Or, why Level 1 and Level 2 support exist…

  248. @patrick:
    “The stylus catches a lot of flak from the trendy, but personally I think a 10? tablet with an accurate pressure-sensitive writing device will be killer.”

    Agreed. The latest Samsung offerings have me excited. I don’t mind carrying a larger phone and wouldn’t mind seeing phone+tablet rolled into one device. But I carry a large purse…

  249. @Cathy:

    I don’t see how being a cathedral project, as opposed to a sponsored project, automatically gives you resources.

    It doesn’t. But being a sponsored project almost always automatically imposes some control on top of the bazaar, making it less bazaar-like.

    This sounds like less of a cathedral vs. bazaar issue and more of a “developers don’t play nicely with end-users and need a friendly user interface between them and their users.

    Sure. But my thesis is that people who shell out money usually want some control and usually get it. Red Hat is a great example of a company which can mediate between the bazaar and the customers. It probably has quite a few cathedral-like processes internally.

  250. @Winter

    Apache, perl, python, firefox, postgresql, KDE, Gnome, Samba, ssh.

    The only one of those that is an end-user facing program that has had success among mainstream users is Firefox. Firefox’s development sits mostly inside the cathedral camp.

  251. I agree to some extent with the reasons you give for this phenomenon, Patrick, but I think there are two more that are at least as important:

    1. For whatever reason UI people just don’t seem to be as attracted to working on OSS projects as programmers. Programmers tend not to be that great at UI design.

    2. UI by its nature favours a ‘one vision’ approach. The whole user experience needs to be thought of holistically, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to the user. This means you need strong central control. You need one person, or a small number of people, who has the overall vision for how the user experience should be, and can control everybody else working on the project.

  252. @Patrick

    “The stylus catches a lot of flak from the trendy, but personally I think a 10? tablet with an accurate pressure-sensitive writing device will be killer.”

    I think the stylus has its uses. It is useful for drawing/painting on tablets, and for handwriting.

    However, I think that a tablet should absolutely not *require* the use of a stylus for general control of the device. Styluses add another level of separation between the user and the device. They get in the way of the direct interaction that makes iOS so great. Plus, it adds another point of failure. You can easily lose or break your stylus.

    As an *option* for doing specific tasks like drawing I think they make sense, but I would never buy a tablet or phone that required a stylus for general use.

  253. @Tom:

    I think there may be some truth to that, but also that your #1 is not an independent reason. It follows logically from your #2 (which, btw, is not exclusive to UI — any library can be improved by a holistic approach). Basically, great design is usually not done by committee, and (absent a hierarchy imposed by the almighty dollar) it is tough for a great designer to impose his vision in a bazaar setting. A Linus Torvalds or a Guido van Rossum can rally the troops after proving they can program, but a UI designer who can’t program doesn’t have that luxury.

    But bazaar designs can get there incrementally. It just takes a lot longer, and pisses off a lot more people in the process as everybody has to keep unlearning/relearning how to use the program.

    BTW, there are some counterexamples of good UI design in open source projects that (I think) are bazaar-based. Inkscape and Audacity seem quite reasonable to me.

  254. As I said. No true scotsman.

    You all use these programs. KDE/Gnome are end user programs under any definition. Everybody uses samba and ssl/ssh.

    And any FLOSS program not build by a single company is more bazaar than cathedral.

  255. @phil:

    Yay for dongles! Can you imagine the shitstorm if Apple did something like this?

    Yeah, it’d be bigger and uglier to support the dock connector :-)

    But seriously, there’s no question that Apple’s hardware gets more testing before it gets in the hands of customers. Apple’s business model demands this, because of the tremendous amount of capital they put at risk on every product introduction.

    Asus’s business model demands that they give refunds to customers who didn’t want the device after the GPS was broken, and remove GPS functionality from the data sheet. Apparently they followed this to a tee, and have actually gone above and beyond the call of duty by providing both an extended warranty and a GPS retrofit to people who weren’t bothered enough to send the unit back.

  256. @Patrick

    I think there may be some truth to that, but also that your #1 is not an independent reason. It follows logically from your #2

    Possibly. I also think that there are cultural and historical reasons though. OSS projects can be quite hostile communities for non-technical people. Also, there just isn’t the tradition of open-source within UI design culture. I see that changing a bit. Canonical seems to be making a big push to get UI people involved, so perhaps that will help. But, then again, Ubuntu is arguably the most cathedral-like of the Linux distros.

    Audacity is a good program, but I definitely wouldn’t hold it up as an example of good UI design. It looks horrendously cluttered and complex.

    Inkscape looks okay by the standards of most drawing programs, which isn’t really saying that much. I think ‘pro’ programs like this tend to be a bit lazy with UI design, because the people using them are willing to invest a lot of time and money in learning and mastering a tool that is the source of their livelihood.

    However, neither of these programs is really a counterexample to my point because neither have had big mainstream success.

  257. @Patrick:
    “Many successful projects (linux kernel, Python, etc.) arguably use a hybrid development model.”

    Hmm, I could make an argument that the real line between a cathedral and bazaar is simply whether the general public has repository read access (not write access) to the current tip-of-the-tree development version. Of course, a healthy bazaar would be taking both code and bug reports from user-developers, while a less healthy one might not, but the project could always be forked (perhaps temporarily) if the code is out there.

    But if the only code ever seen by anyone outside of the sponsor (Google) is those infrequent releases (Android), then you are solidly in cathedral space.

  258. @Winter

    As I said. No true scotsman.

    I don’t think you really understand the no true scotsman fallacy.

    KDE/Gnome are end user programs under any definition.

    Yes, but they haven’t had success with mainstream users.

    Everybody uses samba and ssl/ssh.

    But not many people actually interact with them directly, which is what we are talking about.

  259. “You all use these programs. KDE/Gnome are end user programs under any definition. Everybody uses samba and ssl/ssh.”

    We’re not disputing that KDE/Gnome are end-user programs. We’re disputing that they are bazaar-built.

    As to “everybody uses samba and ssh”, I laugh uproariously. Aunt Tilley uses ssh? Really? Sure, she may run a Windows PC that talks to a Linux server running samba, but didn’t install samba and she wouldn’t have a clue what it was if you asked her about it.

    For “end-user”, read “Aunt Tilley”. We are not talking about developers who also need to functional as end-users, but mainstream consumer end-users.

    These are not no-true-Scotsman arguments, despite your rhetoric.

  260. @cathy I think I disagree with your dividing line. One of the open source projects I use heavily is NASA WorldWind Java and we get nightly drops of the source tree…essentially read only access to the repository and if the WWJ community had helped them do so they would give us a git drop vs a zipped copy if we wanted. A svn2git cron script or something. But development is definitively cathedral despite the source code transparency.

    The converse example is for a DoD project where source was very tightly controlled from the user communities (aka general public as far as DoD is concerned) but the various contractors and sponsors collaborated in a very bazaar development style contributing both new code and existing code from other projects.

  261. The converse example is for a DoD project where source was very tightly controlled from the user communities (aka general public as far as DoD is concerned) but the various contractors and sponsors collaborated in a very bazaar development style contributing both new code and existing code from other projects.

    And, to Nigel’s point, we don’t know what the development mode inside google looks like, but we can speculate that it might not be all that hierarchical, based on some of the other stuff they do and the kind of developer you would expect them to attract.

  262. @patrick Mmm…possibly but if you draw your paycheck from the same place you’re pretty much part of the same team…at least for consideration of whether or not you’re doing cathedral.

    Bazaar requires community development in my mind. Community defined as different developers/companies as opposed to the user community.

    Some projects within Google might be bazaar developed but Android seems very doubtful. Too big, too complex and too many devs involved. It strikes me as classically hierarchical with leads with specific visions of their respective parts.

    Built, not grown.

  263. Andy Rubin et al. are ex-Applers. I hear tell their culture is very Apple-like.

    If that’s true, Android is probably the result of closed doors and top-down decision making.

  264. Pingback: Links – New and Old Censorship, Anti-trust, Privacy Violations and Pollution. | Techrights

  265. @Tom

    I don’t think you really understand the no true scotsman fallacy.

    No True Scotsman fallacy

    The no true scotsman fallacy is a way of reinterpreting evidence in order to prevent the refutation of one’s position. Proposed counter-examples to a theory are dismissed as irrelevant solely because they are counter-examples, but purportedly because they are not what the theory is about.

    http://www.logicalfallacies.info/presumption/no-true-scotsman/

    I will not address the way no project is judged “truely Bazaar”, but the Cathedral seems to include every single project with the slightest excuse of hierarchy.

    @Tom

    KDE/Gnome are end user programs under any definition.

    Yes, but they haven’t had success with mainstream users.

    How many users are enough? Is OSX mainstream? Only a fraction of computer users use it world-wide. Or is the line drawn to include OSX and exclude everything Linux/BSD? And why is user base relevant?

    @Tom

    Everybody uses samba and ssl/ssh.

    But not many people actually interact with them directly, which is what we are talking about.

    OSX user until 10.7 all used Samba. And what type of interactions count? Most software runs without heavy user interaction. I think automatic mounting of foreign (Windows) shares is the best UI ever. Automatic encrypted connections too are perfect to me. You prefer more user interaction?

    @Cathy

    Sure, she may run a Windows PC that talks to a Linux server running samba, but didn’t install samba and she wouldn’t have a clue what it was if you asked her about it.

    …..

    For “end-user”, read “Aunt Tilley”. We are not talking about developers who also need to functional as end-users, but mainstream consumer end-users.

    Does $DEITY interfere to prevent women called “Tilly” who have siblings with children to obtain a degree in CS or engineering? Does aunt Cathy not qualify? Nor aunt Ada or Granny Grace?

    You are obviously referring to a fragment of the total population of computer users who do not install, eg, Windows or OSX themselves. So are MS Windows and OSX disqualified too? I know quite a number of people (none of them called Tilly) who have difficulty distinguishing between MS Windows and MS Office, or IE and the Internet. So are both MS Windows and MS Office disqualified too, as is IE?

    “but mainstream consumer end-users.” signifies for me the No-True-Scotsman shift from people who work with computers to some mythical fraction of users who only start up IE and Skype. Not the people who write VB scripts and Excel sheets, nor the people working with Photoshop.

    All this UI eXperience stuff is propaganda. You look at your market and the requested functionality and design the interface accordingly.

    The worst ever User Interface was bolted on the SMS function in mobile phones. It was also the most used interface next to dialing. Kids could text in class blind with their phone hidden under their desk. So much for the priority of the interface.

  266. @Tom

    I don’t think you really understand the no true scotsman fallacy.

    No True Scotsman fallacy

    The no true scotsman fallacy is a way of reinterpreting evidence in order to prevent the refutation of one’s position. Proposed counter-examples to a theory are dismissed as irrelevant solely because they are counter-examples, but purportedly because they are not what the theory is about.

    http://www.logicalfallacies.info/presumption/no-true-scotsman/

    I will not address the way no project is judged “truely Bazaar”, but the Cathedral seems to include every single project with the slightest excuse of hierarchy.

    @Tom

    KDE/Gnome are end user programs under any definition.

    Yes, but they haven’t had success with mainstream users.

    How many users are enough? Is OSX mainstream? Only a fraction of computer users use it world-wide. Or is the line drawn to include OSX and exclude everything Linux/BSD? And why is user base relevant?

    @Tom

    Everybody uses samba and ssl/ssh.

    But not many people actually interact with them directly, which is what we are talking about.

    OSX user until 10.7 all used Samba. And what type of interactions count? Most software runs without heavy user interaction. I think automatic mounting of foreign (Windows) shares is the best UI ever. Automatic encrypted connections too are perfect to me. You prefer more user interaction?

    @Cathy

    Sure, she may run a Windows PC that talks to a Linux server running samba, but didn’t install samba and she wouldn’t have a clue what it was if you asked her about it.

    …..

    For “end-user”, read “Aunt Tilley”. We are not talking about developers who also need to functional as end-users, but mainstream consumer end-users.

    Does $DEITY interfere to prevent women called “Tilly” who have siblings with children to obtain a degree in CS or engineering? Does aunt Cathy not qualify? Nor aunt Ada or Granny Grace?

    You are obviously referring to a fragment of the total population of computer users who do not install, eg, Windows or OSX themselves. So are MS Windows and OSX disqualified too? I know quite a number of people (none of them called Tilly) who have difficulty distinguishing between MS Windows and MS Office, or IE and the Internet. So are both MS Windows and MS Office disqualified too, as is IE?

    “but mainstream consumer end-users.” signifies for me the No-True-Scotsman shift from people who work with computers to some mythical fraction of users who only start up IE and Skype. Not the people who write VB scripts and Excel sheets, nor the people working with Photoshop.

    All this UI eXperience stuff is propaganda. You look at your market and the requested functionality and design the interface accordingly.

    The worst ever User Interface was bolted on the SMS function in mobile phones. It was also the most used interface next to dialing. Kids could text in class blind with their phone hidden under their desk. So much for the priority of the interface.

  267. Arguing that samba is a user facing program and that aunt tilly is some a mythical construct is silly.

    The fact that you believe that this UX stuff is propaganda is why you don’t understand why OSX has a significant consumer userbase and Linux not so much.

  268. @Nigel
    “The fact that you believe that this UX stuff is propaganda is why you don’t understand why OSX has a significant consumer userbase and Linux not so much.”

    I do understand why MS Windows has 20 times (and more) the global userbase of OSX. It is most definitely not because the UX of MS Windows is an order of magnitude better than OSX. And I also know why there are always pretexts to exclude KDE and Gnome from UX discussions with Apple advocates (see above).

    And I understand that you mean only certain values of “Linux”. Other values are No-True-Linux.

    @Nigel
    “Arguing that samba is a user facing program and that aunt tilly is some a mythical construct is silly. ”

    Indeed, Samba, Flash, and the Internet itself, are user facing entities that need invisible interfaces. UX is mostly getting rid of UI’s as much as possible.

    I know people who fall unto the “aunt tilley” category as presented here. They have horrible problems using IE, Safari, MS Word, email, and practically everything on a computer. They habitually have to give up in despair if an icon is moved on their desktop or menu. I know that the less UI they see, the better.

  269. @Winter

    I’m sorry, Winter, but you seem to be behaving in a deliberately obtuse manner, and everybody here can see it. Therefore there is little point in responding to what you say.

    I made a perfectly reasonable and benign observation about what the bazaar model can and cannot achieve. It was not intended to inflame another stupid pissing match, but rather to pick up an interesting conversation that Cathy started.

  270. @tom Seriously.

    Back to the discussion.

    Is Ubuntu Unity bazaar or cathedral? From a UX design perspective I would argue Cathedral driven by the Canonical UX design team leads and the massive bitching when it was launched but I haven’t REALLY been paying attention to them to see how they really work.

    Sure, sure they have their brainstorming session, feedback surveys and usability reviews. But the little I’ve read from Ivanka she really pushes the User Centered Design approach to attempt to herd the cats into a more focused UX approach and the design team is catching flak for their “closed feedback loop” and that one man “is deciding how I use my desktop” meaning Mark rather than Steve…

    Likewise the massive kvetching for Gnome 3 and KDE 4. None of these I would describe as bazaar style from a UX design perspective from the little I’ve read and the responses on the net.

  271. @Nigel

    I think Unity is the most cathedral-like attempt we’ve seen from a desktop Linux distro. Canonical is clearly well aware of the problem we have been discussing. However, as Patrick said, I don’t think it is really possible any longer to sharply divide all projects into 100% cathedral or 100% bazaar. For some you can, like the Linux kernel or iOS. The former is clearly bazaar and the latter is clearly cathedral.

    But for a lot of projects, and I think Ubuntu falls into this camp, we are seeing a mix of the two.

    An interesting question is whether it is actually possible to divide up a project in such a way as to have one part (UX) run as a cathedral and the rest run as a bazaar, and get good results. I think it may be the case that in order to get really good UX you need to have that process firmly integrated with the overall design and development, rather than separated out as its own isolated unit.

    In my mind UX must come first, and everything else subordinates itself to that. In some sense, UX is everything, so to think that you can treat it as a discrete process is misguided.

    For example, a common stumbling block for new Linux users is that they get so far and then realise that some simple thing, like their mic not working, or suspend-resume not working, or some odd issue with their graphics card, prevents them from having a good experience.

    UX guys can pick that up in user testing, but unless they have some way of getting the device-driver people to fall into line and fix it then there is no point. You are still going to have a bad experience.

  272. @Tom:
    “An interesting question is whether it is actually possible to divide up a project in such a way as to have one part (UX) run as a cathedral and the rest run as a bazaar, and get good results.”

    If you take out the restriction that the cathedral part must be the UI, I think that emacs may be an example. The core emacs code is cathedral, but the LISP modes are closer to a bazaar.

    Having done a fair amount of UI design in my distant past, I can say that users don’t really know what they want until they see it. You need a design team (and in the application world where I lived, they were programmers, not dedicated human factors specialists) that can put together a prototype showing what the finished product would look like. You pitch that to the users, make some changes around the edges based on their feedback, and then implement it.

    Going to users and saying “how do you want the user inteface to look?” would be a disaster, whereas asking them “what do you need to be able to do with the software?” and then building something based on good design principles that meets the needs specified, can work well.

    I found that the best approach in the domain space where I played was a hybrid waterfall/iterative model. The requirements phase and initial design was waterfall, then you would iterate towards an optimum solution as you learned more. I think that the requirements/preliminary design should be largely waterfall, while the iterative phases can be bazaar. (ESR hints as much in Cathedral & Bazaar, though he doesn’t use this language.)

    The most frustrating projects were those where the initial requirements given were incomplete or highly misleading. I remember one project (factory process-management software) where were told that the customized products being manufactured “usually” followed certain rules, but that we would have to provide for exceptions.

    After building a prototype, we found more and more exceptions. Eventually the exceptions overwhelmed the cases that followed the so-called rules. The final software design threw away the rules entirely and treated everything as a custom-specified product based on database tables. Our job would have been easier if we’d been told that up front!

  273. In my mind UX must come first, and everything else subordinates itself to that. In some sense, UX is everything, so to think that you can treat it as a discrete process is misguided.

    This should be tattooed across the forehead of each and every programmer:

    THE INTERFACE IS THE PRODUCT

    Period. No exceptions. No one gives a shit how elegantly architected your code is. They care if your program can do what they want it to do, is reliable, and is pleasant rather than frustrating to use. That’s it.

    From this perspective, Apple products are flawless. That is why so many buy, use, and like them.

  274. @Jeff Read “Apple products are flawless”

    don’t get carried away. nothing is flawless. remember pre-iOS 5 notifications?

  275. >THE INTERFACE IS THE PRODUCT

    This is as silly as saying “The piano is its keys” or “The car is its steering wheel, pedals, and dashboard”.

  276. @esr

    >THE INTERFACE IS THE PRODUCT

    This is as silly as saying “The piano is its keys” or “The car is its steering wheel, pedals, and dashboard”.

    I think it is more accurate to say that the user experience is the product. Everything about a program or device should be supporting what the user wants. Therefore you start by thinking about what the user needs to experience in any given situation and work backwards from there.

    In the case of a car, the user wants to be taken to a particular place, so you build in an engine, wheels, gears. The user wants to sit comfortably, so you make a nice chair, etc etc. Everything defers to the experience.

    That’s the way I think about software design anyway.

  277. @Tom

    I think it is more accurate to say that the user experience is the product. Everything about a program or device should be supporting what the user wants. Therefore you start by thinking about what the user needs to experience in any given situation and work backwards from there.

    I am sorry to disagree. It would be nice if the world was this simple.

    In UI design, one thing you must do is evaluate the productivity of the user: How much time does it take the user to reach her goal. There is more to productivity, but this is the short version.

    The best formulation of this principle I know is the story about the The Hole Hawg drill in In The Beginning Was The Command Line of Neal Stephenson.
    http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/theory/Stephenson-CommandLine-1999.pdf

    An example. There have been studies of blind people using 1980s text-to-speech synthesis to “read” papers downloaded over the radio (pre-Internet). Bot the quality and UI of the readers were abysmal.

    The blind users loved it and set the reading speed to twice the normal speed. No one else could understand a word. But they could read the daily papers for the first time, that was the point. You see the same with modern day screen readers. Blind people use them at double speed (or higher) irrespective of speech quality.

    My own case in point is Word Processors versus LyX versus LaTeX. As polished modern UI’s go, MS Word et al are the pinnacle. For real camaera-ready text production, they are rock bottom.

    I have seen countless PhD students writing their (300+ page) thesis in Word and spending the last months before sending it to the printers trying to keep their formatting and layout in a printable state. Trying to print out a 15 year old manuscript is an exercise in masochism. A college of mine wrote books by using Word to type plain text, and only did the formatting after the text and graphics were final.

    On the other hand, LaTeX is as user friendly as coding and compiling a C program. But it is writer heaven. The only thing you need to care about is to just type out text. The layout and formatting take care of themselves. Figures are separate things that you simply store somewhere and forget about. But it has a steep learning curve.

    And do not get me started about formula editors.

    Many users are lured into using MS Word to produce large documents because it has WYSIWYG and looks so pretty. Only to produce sub-standard quality at great pain.

    People who are serious about text printing use LaTeX. And they could not care less about the UI or UX.

    And, basically, this holds for everything. UI/X is only relevant in as far as they increase productivity. Except when you are in the production of entertainment. There you know that if you cannot come up with interesting content, you increase resolution, get better colors, and produce in 3D.

  278. The best formulation of this principle I know is the story about the The Hole Hawg drill in In The Beginning Was The Command Line of Neal Stephenson.

    ITBWTCL was declared obsolete by its author.

    The reason? He runs Mac OS X now.

    Best of both worlds.

  279. @Jeff Read
    “The reason? He runs Mac OS X now.”

    Which is completely irrelevant to our current discussion. It seems you are not interested in UI/UX, but in Apple only.

  280. @Jeff Read
    “ITBWTCL was declared obsolete by its author.”

    Another subject. You do not understand the value of a text (or work of “art” in general).

    I often hear the misconception that the value of a text is in the opinions of the author. This is completely and utterly wrong.

    The value of a mathematical formula, say the Schrodinger equation, is not in what Erwin Schrodinger himself thought it meant. It’s value is in what others can learn from the formula. The same holds for any text or work of art.

    Claiming that ITBWTCL is obsolete because its author said so is just as stupid as claiming quantum mechanics is obsolete because Erwin Schrodinger would have claimed so (he didn’t, the founder of quantum mechanics, Einstein did).

  281. I cannot bring myself to find sorry for neither MS nor Nokia:

    Nokia Finds Glitch In New Lumia 900, Now Offering Phone For Free
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2012/04/11/nokia-finds-glitch-in-new-lumia-900-now-offering-phone-for-free/

    Technology Consultant Matt Ebert says that Nokia is likely willing to eat this cost as it desperately needs the Lumia 900 to succeed to compete against competitors like Apple. As he explains, “WP7 has a very small market share right now. They are barely ahead of Blackberry, but far behind Android and iPhone.” However, he adds that even though “The WP7 operating system is outstanding, until now, they did not have the hardware that could go toe-to-toe with the iPhone. With the Lumia 900, you have a phone with hardware specs pushing high-end,” but with a $99 contract usually found on low-end, entry level phones.

  282. New cutting boards, now with even more room for vegetables:
    Note: Glass cutting boards can blunt your knives</em

    Toshiba Announces Giant 13.3-Inch Tablet
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2402812,00.asp

    The Excite 13 features a 13.3-inch LCD display with 10-finger touch support, a 16:9 aspect ratio, and 1600-by-900 pixel resolution. There’s also a four-speaker sound system, which means it should get plenty loud. An included stand makes it easy to prop the device up on a countertop or table, which means it should be good for watching and sharing media like video.

  283. In UI design, one thing you must do is evaluate the productivity of the user: How much time does it take the user to reach her goal. There is more to productivity, but this is the short version.

    The best formulation of this principle I know is the story about the The Hole Hawg drill in In The Beginning Was The Command Line of Neal Stephenson.

    Yeah, which GUI performance was measured to be equal or faster than using a CLI back in the 80s. The cognitive loading on the user is lower in direct manipulation or graphical interfaces translating into either faster performance or a wash.

    I love this quote:

    “By using GUIs all the time we have insensibly bought into a premise that few people would have accepted if it were presented to them bluntly: namely, that hard things can be made easy, and complicated things simple, by putting the right interface on them.”

    Funny, this is exactly what OSX has done for Unix. It has made what is an artificially arcane CLI based system (very terse and cryptic commands, inconsistent switches, etc) into something usable by the average user.

    Command line proponents are always going on about how superior the command line is when the unix syntax simply sucks. Compare the old VMS commands to the Unix ones:

    http://www.physnet.uni-hamburg.de/physnet/vms-unix-commands.html

    Oh noes, it’s too verbose. Except that in VMS you can just type the unique part of the command. Like say del for delete or dir for directory or even just s for show. Which is easier to remember? Which has consistent parameters/switches? Which requires memorization of arcane commands with often zero relation to what it does?

    There are no well designed CLIs in wide use today because folks that currently like command lines like the arcaneness. Powershell is okay but meant for admins.

    My own case in point is Word Processors versus LyX versus LaTeX. As polished modern UI’s go, MS Word et al are the pinnacle. For real camaera-ready text production, they are rock bottom.

    On the other hand, LaTeX is as user friendly as coding and compiling a C program. But it is writer heaven.

    People who are serious about text printing use LaTeX. And they could not care less about the UI or UX.

    No, it’s not “writer’s heaven” because only a very very small subset of writers need formulas. And most of those are of a personality type that are amenable to code and compile a C program. This is like saying that editors that support writing scripts is best for writers, or markdown editors is best for writers or whatever specialized editor is best for writers.

    I’d rather shoot myself than use latex in any of it’s variants and I’m a coder. Word+Endnote+MathType is a common and very usable alternative for short papers (or Pages if you’re on the Mac). Many journals provide an adequate word template and probably more require word only vs tex only submissions.

    Most people who are “serious about text printing” typeset the final copy in InDesign or Quark anyway and have a functional Word->InDesign workflow. Only publications that cater to formula heavy math publications have any form of latex in their workflow.

    For a thesis, meh. These days it depends on your advisor and what they are most comfortable reviewing/editing/revising. Word is much better at this than latex given that you can comment, highlight, accept/reject etc vs just generating a diff file or some cobbled together addon.

    The key for using Word in a thesis is not to mess with serious formatting until the end.

    And if latex folks don’t care about UI or UX why do many use Lyx or other editors with their menus and toolbars and stuff?

  284. @Winter

    People who are serious about text printing use LaTeX. And they could not care less about the UI or UX.

    Don’t confuse UI with UX. The output of a program like LaTeX is a key part of the user experience. Remember what I said: start with what does the user need to happen at any given time and work backwards from there. Obviously the user wants to see high quality printing.

  285. @Tom
    “Obviously the user wants to see high quality printing.”

    I think we completely agree on this one.

  286. Somehow, my comment seemed to have ended in the bit bucket. Second try:

    @Nigel
    I do not see where I said anything about CLI’s. A CLI is more powerful than a GUI, but so is assembler more powerful than Haskel. Not a reason to use it when you do not need that specific power.

    But your expose about CLI is a straw-man argument.

    @Nigel
    “Most people who are “serious about text printing” typeset the final copy in InDesign or Quark anyway and have a functional Word->InDesign workflow.”

    Serious book publishing in Word indeed requires a complete extra tool chain, with extra specialists, to get from plain text in Word to camera ready copy. Which you can do in one go with LaTeX. So much for a nice and painless UX.

    Most LyX users I know eventually went to plain LaTeX as it was easier if you know what you are doing.

    @Nigel
    “The key for using Word in a thesis is not to mess with serious formatting until the end.”

    Crucial quote. Do not use WYSISYG formatting in Word. So why use it at all? Working with styles under Word is… interesting.

    Word has problems with anything larger than 40 pages that requires a consistent style. I once had word creating a file system corruption every time it saved my document. After restoring the document a few times with Norton, I gave up.

    Your proposed solution is to use Word as a plain text editor and do a separate run for formatting. And then pray to $DEITY that you do not have to do serious changes afterward.

    If that is “Good UX”, please save me from it.

  287. @Nigel,

    My responses to you end up in /dev/null it seems. Maybe the moderator can find them again.

  288. “GUI performance was measured to be equal or faster than using a CLI back in the 80s. The cognitive loading on the user is lower in direct manipulation or graphical interfaces translating into either faster performance or a wash.”

    It depends what the task is. I can edit unformatted text faster in vi than I can do it in any GUI-based word processor, for the simple reason that I am a fast typist and moving my hand to a mouse and back is counter-productive. I can also scroll around faster typing on home-row keys than by hunting-and-pecking for keyboard arrows, which are never in the same place on different keyboards. (This applies not just to editing code, but any code of simple text file. I frequently take notes in vi, for example.) The learning curvie is steep, but once it’s behind you, you get an ongoing benefit.

    On the other hand, I can’t imagine reading the Web via Lynx, or writing corporate presentations (a very frequent part of my day job) in LaTeX instead of PowerPoint. That would be ridiculously unproductive. LaTex is aimed at textbook authors, not corporate presenters or fiction writers. (And yes, I have some experience with TeX from my college days. I’m impressed with its capability, but I wouldn’t derive enough benefit from it to justify the effort of learning it well.)

    The command line is also very handy for moving large numbers of files in a directory. With a few keystrokes, I can do a mv * /some_dir, and it’s much faster and less effort than doing a huge multi-select in a GUI. But if you are searching for an image in a large folder of them, a GUI that shows thumbnails of those images is a powerful time-saver.

    There is no One True Way. We need a range of different solutions that users can pick and choose according to their tastes and the problem to be solved.

  289. @Cathy
    Most people are remarkably productive in LaTeX Beamer. And a powerpoint presentation which uses special characters never ends to surprice.

  290. @Winter

    If that is “Good UX”, please save me from it.

    No! It’s not good UX at all. If you think that MS Word is the epitome of great UX then I suggest you have a look around at some modern apps. Look at Instapaper on iOS, or Apple’s productivity suite. Or Google web search (although they have mucked it up a bit in recent years). That is great UX.

    Microsoft Word gives me a migraine every time I come within a ten miles of it. Thankfully that is not too often.

  291. @Cathy

    It depends what the task is. I can edit unformatted text faster in vi than I can do it in any GUI-based word processor, for the simple reason that I am a fast typist and moving my hand to a mouse and back is counter-productive. I can also scroll around faster typing on home-row keys than by hunting-and-pecking for keyboard arrows, which are never in the same place on different keyboards. (This applies not just to editing code, but any code of simple text file. I frequently take notes in vi, for example.) The learning curvie is steep, but once it’s behind you, you get an ongoing benefit.

    I think it also depends on who the person is.

    A while ago I set myself the task of becoming a ‘vi master’. I spent about three months using nothing but vi to edit text. And editing text is the main thing I do, so I was using it a lot. I got pretty adept with it. At first I thought is was the most horrible thing I had ever encountered, but over time I came to appreciate its power. I can see how some people could never use anything else.

    However, I eventually went back to BBEdit. Personally I just feel more relaxed in a GUI environment. I don’t know why. Perhaps that’s my failing. Perhaps it’s just because I was brought up on the Macintosh, and the Mac way of doing things is deeply ingrained in my way of thinking. I don’t know. But my point is that what is a great user experience for one person might not be for another person. Some people might fly with a CLI, but others may be better served by a GUI.

    I think certainly for non-technical people (almost everybody) a GUI is usually the best answer for most tasks.

  292. NOK 4.22 -0.82 (-16.20%)

    I sold my puts today, just ten days shy of their expiration date. I knew Elop wouldn’t let me down!

  293. @cathy yes, once you have committed to muscle memory specific actions it can become fast again. But typically the cognitive load is much higher for remembering what the right command and typing it is than it is to find and click.

    @winter command line was one example, latex another, etc. If you bring them up then they’ll be discussed.

    As far as serious book publishing goes, if latex was writer’s heaven as you assert, then everyone would be using it. Including the pro typesetting shops. It isn’t and they don’t.

    MS Word is the duct tape of the writing world. Not the optimal solution for anything but provides a solution to most any of the needs in some fashion. (Sorry, watched a Mythbusters re-run last night where they were stranded on a desert island with nothing but duct tape).

    With regard to using Word for a thesis, no you don’t just use it as a plain text editor. You’re using it as a collaboration tool with your advisor for comments, edits, etc. And I bet that the time to make format changes later is far less than learning LaTex in the first place.

    In any case, more publications and conferences require word vs requiring latex format. Most support either which means the final typeset isn’t that big a deal and isn’t done by the author anyway.

    As Tom said, MS Word is not the poster child for good UX. Typically OSX apps are much better in that regard than windows apps. It’s not the pretty widgets but the way they work in terms of things like undo, workflow, etc. Apple sets the bar high in terms of attention to detail for their own apps and Mac apps with a poor UX tend to get shredded in reviews.

    Funny, like some US car models only sold in Europe the Mac version of Office was often better than the Windows one. Aside from that horrid Entourage program that never worked quite right.

  294. @Nigel

    It’s not the pretty widgets but the way they work in terms of things like undo, workflow, etc.

    That’s right.

    One of the things I find hardest in talking to people who consider themselves hard-nosed practical hacker types is that when they hear terms like ‘design’ or ‘user experience’ they automatically think that those terms mean ‘cosmetics’.

    In my mind ‘design’ doesn’t mean ‘how it looks’. Design means ‘how it works’. Now, style and visual clarity and beauty is an important part of that, but it’s by no means the only, or even the most important part.

    Housekeeping note:

    For a long time (months, maybe years, I don’t know) I have been commenting on this blog, and I have gone simply by the name ‘Tom’. Mostly this has not been a problem. However, since I have recently noticed somebody else commenting under the same name I will now add a link to my blog, in order to distinguish myself and avoid confusion. I’ll still be ‘Tom’, but from now on the name will be linked to my site.

  295. @Tom:
    “But my point is that what is a great user experience for one person might not be for another person. Some people might fly with a CLI, but others may be better served by a GUI.”

    Exactly. Different strokes for different folks. It’s not a failing at all.

    I think that one reason the Apple fans annoy the rest of us so much is that they refuse to acknowledge this, and believe that Apple products are objectively better and should be perceived as such by everyone. I have no problem with Apple uses who love their products, but please grant me the freedom to have my own preferences, whether or not they align with yours!

  296. @Cathy

    I have no problem with Apple uses who love their products, but please grant me the freedom to have my own preferences, whether or not they align with yours!

    Totally with you!

    It’s nice when we can bring some inter-userbase love and understanding to the web. ;)

  297. @Nigel
    I did not bring up CLI’s as some kind of “good” interface (although I personally use it half of the time). CLI was part of the title of a book from which I took a metaphor about construction drills, nothing to do with CLI as an interface. Anyhow, MSDOS was a miserable excuse for a CLI, and it still outsold the MacOS of its days. So should we consider MSDOS a “better” interface? I would not.

    @Nigel
    “MS Word is the duct tape of the writing world.”

    No, it is not duct tape. It is greased string. All your faint praise of MS Word comes down to “Might is Right”.

    You did not propose a single UI/X feature of MS Word that even sounded like you believed in it. Maybe the “collaboration” aspect. But that is not a word processing UX.

  298. I think that one reason the Apple fans annoy the rest of us so much is that they refuse to acknowledge this, and believe that Apple products are objectively better and should be perceived as such by everyone.

    Apple products are objectively better, and should be perceived as such by everyone.

    Yet just because I dislike my neighbor being tasteless enough to erect pink plastic flamingos on his lawn, doesn’t mean I would move to deny him his right to do so.

  299. > Apple products are objectively better, and should be perceived as such by everyone.

    Not if you want a slide out keyboard. Then they are objectively worse.

    Yours,
    Tom

  300. @Tom DeGisi

    I’m objectively faster with a real keyboard.

    You might be surprised at how fast it is possible to type on a keyboard like the iPhone’s. I can easily achieve 80wpm, and I have seen people get well above that. The thing is that there is zero travel distance required when hitting the keys, so if you just let yourself go full-speed you can really fly.

    If people want a physical keyboard, then that’s fine. Different people have different needs and preferences, I understand that.

    But I know some people (not saying you) who just *refuse* to even give virtual keyboards a chance. They’re so convinced that their physical keyboards must be superior that they dismiss the iPhone out of hand. To those people I would say: give it a chance for a few weeks. You might be surprised!

  301. Here’s another alternative to a keyboard that I never even realized existed.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/personal_technology.html

    You can dictate many of your emails, short documents, etc., and just use the virtual keyboard to make minor corrections. The capability exists in both Android and iPhone. I gave it a whirl after reading the article and was impressed.

  302. @Cathy

    Yeah, the dictation capability on the iPhone is amazingly good. I haven’t tried it on Android, but I expect it’s comparable. After decades of crappy voice recognition, suddenly it seems to have matured. I know one guy now who uses dictation for *all* his typing.

    It’s like we’re living in the future!

  303. Winter,

    Not a good argument imho. Basically it centers around “Word is for paper, but things are different now because we have the Web”. But I don’t see paper going away. Paper isn’t why Word sucks. Word sucks because it’s cumbersome, eats up memory, and makes your documents look like shit.

    But that doesn’t matter. Word is the de facto standard for document exchange in business. If you work in an office and you want to read the latest memo from the boss, you must have a copy of the Microsoft program. The corporate equivalent to “e-publishing and collaboration” is SharePoint, which readily accepts — and is designed for — Word documents.

    The same goes for Excel, which is probably the world’s #1 tasking and time estimates tool. The boss is expecting a copy of the spreadsheet emailed back to him with the time you took and the percentage complete filled in the appropriate columns at the end of the week. “I use Linux” and “OpenOffice munged the spreadsheet” are not acceptable excuses.

  304. > I do NOT trust the U.S. judiciary to get this one right.

    I actually think they will. The judge has been asking some incisive questions and seems to be ramping up on the relevant tech rather quickly, as judical things go.

  305. @Jeff Read
    “Word is the de facto standard for document exchange in business.”

    Might is not Right. The fact that we are forced to use Word does make it neither a good program, nor a good UX, nor a good UI. The fact that MS product decrease productivity is also not an argument to promote it.

    That holds for all Office products, and Sharepoint.

  306. @Winter

    Might is not Right. The fact that we are forced to use Word does make it neither a good program, nor a good UX, nor a good UI. The fact that MS product decrease productivity is also not an argument to promote it.

    Winter, nobody here is arguing that Word is a good product. And nobody is arguing that it is ‘right’ for it to be the de facto standard. It’s just an unpleasant fact that we all have to deal with in the real world.

  307. Prepaid smartphones are getting a lot more attention in the press.

    Go to google news and enter the word “prepaid” followed by the word “smartphone.”

    The inexorable price pressure on cellular contract pricing is ramping up a notch.

  308. Might is not Right. The fact that we are forced to use Word does make it neither a good program, nor a good UX, nor a good UI. The fact that MS product decrease productivity is also not an argument to promote it.

    That holds for all Office products, and Sharepoint.

    I dare you to find something that integrates as well with business processes. Half of Office’s success isn’t pure might. Half of its success is doing what corporate customers need better and cheaper than the competition.

    Exchange is, by all accounts, a shitty email server. Yet as a general network-ready solution for email, calendaring, contacts, and appointments in a corporate environment it’s unsurpassed, so every company uses it. Its nearest competition is Lotus Notes, and you don’t want Lotus Notes.

  309. @Jeff Read:

    Its nearest competition is Lotus Notes, and you don’t want Lotus Notes.

    Seconded.

  310. I still avoid Office like the plague.

    99% of botnets and spam were spawned by outlook and exchange. Spearfishing goes by word.

    Integration indeed.

  311. Nokia’s debt rating downgraded by Moody’s to Baaa3, the next step above pure junk debt.

  312. @SPQR
    Here is a link:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/16/moodys_downgrade_nokia_junk/

    The beginning of the end? The cliff comes in sight?

    This article links to another Register article:

    Nokia on ‘brink of failure’, warns analyst
    Prepare Plan B
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/12/nokia_plan_b/

    “Nokia’s problem is that Microsoft appears to have stood still. A year-and-a-half after Windows Phone 7′s debut, it has changed little. In effect, the gap in features between Windows Phone and Android or the iPhone has widened and not shrunk as Nokia needed it to.”

    …..

    Microsoft can hardly be accused of delinquency, but it is beginning to look worryingly like a team content to rest on its laurels. The Metro designers are frightfully pleased with themselves – and can’t stop telling the world how their new UI is fresh and exciting and different and fast. So, we recall, was BeOS… and that wasn’t enough.

  313. This quote says it all:
    If you take mediocre hardware and combine it with unpopular software; you can’t have a winning combination.

    Euro carriers knock Nokia: Lumia “not good enough”
    http://www.slashgear.com/euro-carriers-knock-nokia-lumia-not-good-enough-17223208/

    Another big issue that the carriers cite are glitches in the battery and software for early models that make Nokia look bad. The crux of the issue for Microsoft and Nokia is that people are not coming into stores asking for Windows Phone devices. Many feel that Nokia should have thrown its money behind Android rather than stacking all of its eggs inside the Windows Phone basket.

  314. Just to be complete.

    Before, we have mentioned Florian Mueler and his opinions about/crusade against Google, Android, and FLOSS in general. His opinion has always been that all FLOSS projects are doomed to be destroyed by Copyright and Patent suits.
    Note: FM’s track record is perfect up to now, he never had it right ever

    Oracle v. Google trial: evidence of willful infringement outweighs claims of approved use
    http://www.fosspatents.com/2012/04/oracle-v-google-trial-evidence-of.html

    Disclosure of recently-formed consulting relationship with Oracle

    I have been following Oracle v. Google since the filing of the lawsuit in August 2010 and have read pretty much every line of each court filing in this litigation. My long-standing views on this matter are well-documented. As an independent analyst and blogger, I will express only my own opinions, which cannot be attributed to any one of my diversity of clients. I often say things none of them would agree with. That said, as a believer in transparency I would like to inform you that Oracle has very recently become a consulting client of mine. We intend to work together for the long haul on mostly competition-related topics including, for one example, FRAND licensing terms.

    Also note the phrase “independent analyst and blogger”. Not, Legal consultant, nor Patent consultant, nor IT consultant. Nor has he ever claimed or showed to have experiences working in these fields.

    Many who reprint his blogs accidentally attribute such expertise or experience to him.

  315. Update of more bad news at Nokia, the Sales Executive leaves and they want to cut cost by another $1B. It looks doubtful whether Nokia will be around next year.

    Nokia Dips Into Red as Q1 Sales Drop Nearly 29 Percent
    http://allthingsd.com/20120419/nokia-dips-into-red-as-q1-sales-drop-nearly-29-percent/

    Nokia still looks to reduce its operating expenses by $1 billion over the next fiscal year, as compared to 2010.

    ….

    Nokia noted that it did receive $250 million in “platform support payments” from Microsoft during the quarter. Nokia said that while it also pays minimum software royalty commitments back to Microsoft, it expects over the life of the agreement for the payments from Redmond to exceed those it must pay to Microsoft.

    So it is not completely clear yet whether Nokia will shell out a net license payment to MS? Even with the low-low sales they have.

  316. Isn’t Microsoft also paying wireless telcos that carry the phones too? It looks like they literally can’t buy market share.

  317. (moderator, this version is probably easier on the layout and easier to check)

    With Android breaking 50% in the comScore numbers in the USA, the real Smartphone Wars are in my opinion over. Looks like a nice moment to post a list of all Eric’s articles about the “Smartphone Wars” with their dates of posting.

    In total, there were some 64 of articles over a period from June 4, 2010 to April 3, 2012. That is, over 22 months an average of close to three articles a month. There seems to be a decline down to almost 1 post per month since last January. But that could be just statistical noise ;-)

    The smartphone Wars: Finally, Android breaks 50%
    Tuesday, April 3 2012

    The Smartphone Wars: Exit Blackberry, pursued by a bear
    Friday, March 30 2012

    The Smartphone Wars: Back to the Old Normal
    Tuesday, March 6 2012

    The Smartphone Wars: The market share scramble and Apple’s long con
    Wednesday, February 8 2012

    The Smartphone Wars: Mystery of the Android tablets
    Friday, January 27 2012

    The Smartphone Wars: CyanogenMOD Rising
    Tuesday, January 24 2012

    The Smartphone Wars: Dinosaurs mating?
    Thursday, January 5 2012

    The Smartphone Wars: a bit of Christmas cheer
    Wednesday, December 28 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Andy Rubin brings the news
    Tuesday, December 20 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: A Night in the Lonesome December
    Friday, December 2 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Samsung Busts a Move?
    Thursday, November 17 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Signs and Portents
    Saturday, November 5 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Sprint Doubles Down on Dumb
    Thursday, October 27 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: How are the mighty fallen
    Tuesday, October 4 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Short Takes
    Tuesday, September 6 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Alarums and Mergers
    Wednesday, August 31 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Exit Steve Jobs
    Thursday, August 25 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: WebOS, we hardly knew ye
    Thursday, August 18 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Google Buys Motorola
    Monday, August 15 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: 48% and rising
    Sunday, August 7 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Expectation and Surprise
    Sunday, July 24 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Not the expected surprise
    Tuesday, July 5 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Rumors of demise
    Thursday, June 30 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Nokia’s fallback?
    Sunday, June 26 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Circling the RIM
    Tuesday, June 21 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: The invasion begins
    Wednesday, June 15 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: China syndrome strikes!
    Wednesday, June 8 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: The world turned upside down
    Tuesday, June 7 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: No bump, no glory
    Friday, June 3 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: HTC rejoins the good guys
    Friday, May 27 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: More fun with statistics
    Monday, May 16 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Tracking userbase growth
    Thursday, May 12 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Still It Rises
    Wednesday, May 11 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends?
    Tuesday, May 3 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: multicarrier breakout fail
    Thursday, April 21 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Android measured at over 50% U.S. market share
    Tuesday, April 19 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: The Stages of Apple-Cultist Denial
    Monday, April 18 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: NoWin deal “more takeover than deal”?
    Thursday, April 14 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Almost boring now…
    Thursday, April 7 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Microsoft may win after all
    Friday, April 1 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Nod and WinCE
    Friday, February 25 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Bricks and Battiness
    Wednesday, February 23 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Tightening the OODA Loop
    Friday, February 18 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Nokia shareholders revolt!
    Monday, February 14 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Nokia’s Suicide Note
    Friday, February 11 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: iPhone 4V Falls To Earth
    Thursday, February 10 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Elop’s Burning Platform
    Wednesday, February 9 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: Android hits #1
    Monday, January 31 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: AT&T CEO reveals all
    Thursday, January 27 2011

    The Smartphone Wars: The Fall and Fall of Windows Phone 7
    Wednesday, January 26 2011

    The smartphone wars: Samsung folds under pressure
    Monday, January 24 2011

    The smartphone wars: Verizon gets iPhone
    Tuesday, January 11 2011

    The smartphone wars: There’s dross in them thar hills!
    Wednesday, December 29 2010

    The smartphone wars: Fortune catches up with me
    Monday, December 27 2010

    The smartphone wars: Yes, I can call them!
    Tuesday, December 14 2010

    The smartphone wars: Google changes aim
    Wednesday, December 8 2010

    The smartphone wars: Symbian Foundation folds its hand
    Monday, November 29 2010

    The smartphone wars: Android thunders on
    Tuesday, September 28 2010

    The smartphone wars: What Gassée has to say
    Monday, September 13 2010

    The smartphone wars: Google goes Taoist, Microsoft uses the farce
    Monday, September 13 2010

    The smartphone wars: a cautious cheer for T-Mobile
    Friday, September 10 2010

    The smartphone wars: a global perspective
    Wednesday, September 8 2010

    Missing the point: The real stakes in the smartphone wars
    Thursday, June 10 2010

    More dispatches from the smartphone wars
    Friday, June 4 2010

  318. Winter:
    > It looks doubtful whether Nokia will be around next year.

    Ilta-Sanomat (a Finnish tabloid daily) quotes an analyst from the brokerage FIM as saying that Nokia’s market value is now less than the value of their patent portfolio and their cash assets combined. The patent portfolio is said to generate 500 million euros per year. The portfolio is about twice the size of the Motorola portfolio that Google paid approximately 6 billion for. In other words, Nokia is looking increasingly ripe for picking.

    Personal profiles of Stephen Elop have said that his big ambition in life was to lead a major corporation and do a successful turnaround or such. I’ve now seen quotes from several academic types saying that Nokia will be in textbooks as an example of how to ruin a corporation in transition, fast. Elop is still there, though. I believe he’s outlasted Eric’s prediction on his stint at Nokia, but it’s probably not going to be by much, if the Lumia launch continues the way it’s been going.

  319. Somehow, I think this will enamor neither networks not people with Windows Phones:

    Microsoft Launches Skype for Windows Phone
    http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/Microsoft-Launches-Skype-for-Windows-Phone-254573/

    However, not all users or potential users are happy because the 1.0 release does not allow background calling. This means that that this version of Skype for Windows Phone will only allow users to Skype calls if they have Skype open and are using the app.

  320. >Their demise seems more a matter of weeks (days?) than months.

    My prediction won’t have been far off, then.

  321. @esr
    “My prediction won’t have been far off, then.”

    Reminds me of one reason I visit this blog. Below is Tomi Ahonen’s last analysis:

    Certain Road to Death and Definition of Insanity
    http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/04/certain-road-to-death-and-definition-of-insanity.html

    That was just over one year ago. Then came the Elop Effect. CEO Stephen Elop took a lesson from the Osborne Effect. He not only repeated the tragic communciation disaster of Osborne, he even improved up it. He created in effect a series of Osborne Effects. Elop yes, Out-Osborned Osborne. (The Osborne Effect ruined the Osborne Computer company and is studied in MBA classes as one of the classic management blunders leading to certain doom, never to be repeated).

    Elop then decided it was not bad enough, he then copied the Ratner Effect. But just like with Osborne, Elop further made the Ratner Effect worse, by not just calling his own products crap (as Ratner did, factually true, Ratner’s jewelry was of lousy quality), Elop went further, he invented problems Nokia’s products did not have, he in fact called his products worse than they really were. He out-Ratnered Ratner! (The Ratner Company almost died, and was saved by total rebranding and firing of the CEO. The Ratner Effect is studied in MBA classes as another of the classic management blunders leading to certain doom, never to be repeated).

  322. My question is, will MS survive the destruction of Nokia?

    Currently, Nokia is the only “real” outlet of WinPhones. When it crashes, it proves to consumers and networks that WinPhones are a liability. And it proves to other producers that WinPhones are toxic.

    A crash of Nokia would also prove to investors that MS will not have an outlet to sell Windows 8 on mobile computing. That MS will have no presence at all in the future of Mobile Personal Computing. And it shows that the cash and cash-cows MS is sitting on is all there will ever be.

    I (still) think Ballmer will not be CEO anymore at the end of this year, and that MS will start divesting money bleeding units.

  323. >My question is, will MS survive the destruction of Nokia?

    MS is a dead company walking – the Windows Phone flameout kills its future. I’ll probably blog about this after Penguicon.

  324. Here are some comScore like data for Japan where Smartphones outsell feature phones. Android and iOS carve up the market 2:1. MS only declines since last fall. Another data point on the decline into oblivion of NoWin phones.

    In Japan, Smartphones Surpass Feature Phones among Newly Acquired Devices for First Time Ever
    1 in 5 Mobile Phone Users in Japan Now Owns a Smartphone
    http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/4/1_in_5_Mobile_Phone_Users_in_Japan_Now_Owns_a_Smartphone

    More than 19.3 million people in Japan owned smartphones during the three months ending in February, up 28 percent versus November. Android’s share of the smartphone market reached 61.4 percent, while Apple ranked second with 34.2 percent of the smartphone market (up 1.3 percentage points versus November 2011), followed by Microsoft, which accounted for 3.9 percent in February 2012.

  325. Note the number of MS phones. Market grew with 28% to 19.3 million

    November N = 5.7% of 19.3M/1.28 = 859,453 phones
    February N = 3.9% of 19.3M = 752,700 phones

    In a strongly growing market WinPhone lost users in absolute terms. Probably people who simply bought a new phone.

    Not really surprising, as there are hardly any WinPhones available. But then the question is, why did both Nokia and MS abandon the Japanese market?

    And if you cannot sell your gadgets in Japan, why bother to try it elsewhere?

  326. >And if you cannot sell your gadgets in Japan, why bother to try it elsewhere?

    Misleading question. The Japanese are notoriously resistant to foreign products, in electronics as in other things.

  327. @Esr
    I will concede that.

    However, that never harmed MS much before (with some help of the US government in the DOS days). Android, Apple, and Samsung are foreign too.

  328. And another view on Apple’s future post Jobs:

    “Apple will coast, and then decelerate” says Forrester CEO
    Tim Cook can’t replace Steve Jobs’ charisma, vision
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/26/apple_is_the_new_sony/

    “… without the arrival of a new charismatic leader it [Apple] will move from being a great company to being a good company, with a commensurate step down in revenue growth and product innovation. Like Sony (post Morita), Polaroid (post Land), Apple circa 1985 (post Jobs), and Disney (in the 20 years post Walt Disney), Apple will coast, and then decelerate.”

  329. @loco

    Nokia Lumia 900 a success in the US
    http://www.sellmymobile.com/news/nokia-lumia-900-a-success-in-the-us-5080/

    But only at Amazon, it seems. I have no idea how that translates to market share.

    I heard the same for the biggest provider in my country (the Netherlands). But that meant only that it was the best selling model. Given the large number of models on sale, and the number of providers, that still translates into a tiny market share. I have seen quite a number of adds and posters for the Lumia. But I still have to see a single one in the hands of a user.

    Obviously, if the price is low enough (or if you get money for taking it), the WinPhones will “sell”. According to comScore, the number of MS users only declined up to February.

    Buying market share seems to be a reflex at MS. However, it did not work out well for Bing. I would not bet on it.

  330. As Nokia’s situation gets from worse to worst, strange rumors are surfacing. The point against all these rumors is that Nokia has fired all the people who could execute a Plan B.

    Elop seems to have been careful to get rid of anyone and anything who might be used to save Nokia by deserting MS. He has definitely made it sure that there is no possible Plan B.

    Could Linux still usurp Windows Phone as Nokia’s saviour?
    http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/european-technology/could-linux-still-usurp-windows-phone-as-nokias-saviour/560

    The product in development is known as Meltemi, a Linux-based OS, which was referenced in a memo leaked to the The Wall Street Journal last year. Its existence has been neither confirmed nor denied by Nokia, and Meltemi is still more rumour than substance.

    …..

    If the rumours are true and Meltemi comes to fruition, it will utilise Qt and the Swipe UI and replace Nokia’s low-end S40 operating system, revolutionising the market in rich-feature phones.

    The aim is to bring higher specification smartphone technologies to the next billion mobile phone users at a much cheaper price, and thus to revive Nokia’s fortunes at the low end of the smartphone market.

  331. Q1’12: Samsung is world wide leader in Smartphones with 30.6%, Apple second with 24.1%. Nokia has only 8.2% left. In absolute numbers, Nokia lost more than half their sales in a year.

    Strategy Analytics: Samsung and Apple Capture 55 Percent of Global Smartphone Shipments in Q1 2012
    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120426007116/en/Strategy-Analytics-Samsung-Apple-Capture-55-Percent

    Global Smartphone Vendor Shipments (Millions of Units)
    Qarter Q1’11 Q1 ’12
    Samsung 12.6 44.5
    Apple 18.6 35.1
    Nokia 24.2 11.9
    Others 47.6 53.8
    Total 103.0 145.3

  332. Different site, different numbers. According to IHS iSuppli, Apple still beats Samsung in Q1’12:

    Samsung Overtakes Nokia for Cellphone Lead
    http://www.isuppli.com/Mobile-and-Wireless-Communications/News/Pages/Samsung-Overtakes-Nokia-for-Cellphone-Lead.aspx

    Now Samsung only sold only 32 million smartphones out of 92 units total in Q1’12. All the other numbers are the same as above. So, Apple sold a few million units more.

    Smartphones represented 34 percent of Samsung’s handset shipments in the first quarter. In contrast, smartphones accounted for just 14 percent of Nokia’s shipments.

  333. Nokia has $8B in cash FYI. So what’s their burn rate?

    I’m not completely convinced they are dead. And I’m not completely convinced WP7 won’t succeed. But I’m very skeptical. They have 6-12 months to make major progress I’d say, if not they will start being ignored.

  334. @Phil
    In 6 months there will half a billion Android phones and 250 million iPhones. In 12 months these two have sold well over a billion handsets. How is Nokia going to sell hundreds of million Lumias in 12 months?

  335. @Phil
    10 million WinPhones equals 5 times the current Lumia sales in total. That would be less than 1% of the market.

  336. I think moving away from Android at this point would kill off the Nook. Abandoning the Android marketplace ecosystem for Microsoft’s would be a move too stupid for even Barnes & Noble. You won’t see that.

  337. B&N is on the ropes vs Amazon anyway so like Nokia doing a Hail Mary pass is a reasonable course of action.

    With Amazon locking in Fire exclusives (yes, so far only one) staying with the Android marketplace is probably just as bad or worse than moving to having MS Win8 apps.

    The Nook software wise and ecosystem wise just wasn’t going to be competitive vs the Kindle. Amazon has a lot of software talent to draw on and a heck of a lot of cloud experience. B&N, not so much.

    Nokia…eh, the Lumina 900 seems to be selling well. I just wonder why the hell Nokia didn’t make enough to launch in the UK. Eh, if there really are a million 900s out in the wild by June that a good thing for MS and Nokia.

  338. Gosling on Google:

    “My attitude on Oracle v Google Saturday April 28, 2012

    [ Update: he fixed the article to put me on the same side as Scott ]
    In Dan Farber’s recent article on CNET titled “Oracle v. Google: Ex-Sun execs on opposite sides” he got my position on the case totally backwards and totally misinterpreted my comments. Just because Sun didn’t have patent suits in our genetic code doesn’t mean we didn’t feel wronged. While I have differences with Oracle, in this case they are in the right. Google totally slimed Sun. We were all really disturbed, even Jonathan: he just decided to put on a happy face and tried to turn lemons into lemonade, which annoyed a lot of folks at Sun.”

    http://nighthacks.com/roller/jag/entry/my_attitude_on_oracle_v#comments

  339. We were all really disturbed, even Jonathan: he just decided to put on a happy face and tried to turn lemons into lemonade, which annoyed a lot of folks at Sun.

    And that’s a big part of why Sun failed, and got acquired by Oracle.

    Android is in hot shit as Google’s ill will concerning Java licensing becomes more apparent. I don’t know how long we can expect the current Android platform to survive; whatever Google comes up with next will probably not resemble nor be compatible with Android in its current form.

    The Android version of the Nook definitely won’t survive. Microsoft doesn’t invest casually, nor does it engage in partnerships with vendors unless Microsoft gets some measure of platform control out of the deal.

    A Windows 8 e-reader would suck, but a Nook Windows 8 tablet is plausible.

  340. Not followed the case then.

    Oracle has one minor patent left in the suit. Copyright hinges on the API being protected and untouchable. Both require new interpretations oF existing laws.

  341. Not so fast, Winter. The ruling in Whelan v. Jaslow held that only the pupose of a program constituted the noncopyrightable “idea” of a program; and that the nonliteral “structure, sequence, and organization” of a computer program was copyrightable; and that other programs which copied that structure, sequence, and organization without a proper license are infringing. Oracle is claiming SSO copyright over the 37 APIs. Whether or not SSO copyright applies to APIs has yet to be decided, which is why this matter is in court. Google isn’t out of the woods yet. That will be for the judge and jury to decide.

  342. Also, about the Nook thing: Microsoft and B&N settled their patent dispute,, which puts Microsoft in a stronger position regarding their IP rights over parts of Android and means they’ll still collect royalties on every Android phone sold.

    That’s how things go when you play with the big boys.

  343. @Jeff Read
    Oracle even has not proven yet which copyrights they actually own and has truely messed up their registration.

    APIs are lists. A list cannot be copyrighted except as a literal copy of the whole or if the individual items are copyrightable. The former is irrelevant here. The latter requiers a completely new interpretation of the law that would turn programming into chaos.

  344. @Nigel
    A million lumias by June?

    They have to sell that every week to make a dent in the market.

  345. APIs are not mere lists. I’ve seen well architected APIs and poorly architected APIs.

    Writing a good one requires effort and craftmanship. Java’s is so-so. .NET is IMHO better. Cocoa pretty good.

  346. The latter requiers a completely new interpretation of the law that would turn programming into chaos.

    Only because programmers have historically made assumptions about the law with regard to the copyrightability of APIs without testing it in court.

    It’s not that much of a stretch, really; we have case law establishing that SSO is subject to copyright: that if you use the same data formats and routines which do the same thing as someone else’s program, you are infringing. An API is not a mere list; it is a description of data, procedures, and their relationships. Sounds like SSO to me.

    The internal memos from Google show that they were very cavalier about Sun/Oracle’s IP. We already know how they feel about Apple and Microsoft’s IP.

  347. @winter

    “Nokia‘s Lumia 900 is selling at a run rate in excess of 1 million units for Q2, 2012,” he wrote. “In our view, this would significantly exceed AT&T’s and street estimates for the 900 and indicate that the Nokia/Microsoft alliance is showing early signs of success.”

    http://wmpoweruser.com/analyst-predicts-1m-nokia-lumia-900-sales-in-q2/

    That’s on AT&T alone.

    The 900 was the top selling phone on Amazon until stock ran out.

    “One of these have been the Amazon Best Seller sales charts, where the Nokia Lumia 900 has been dominating for the whole week, holding the top 1st and 2nd position for most of the week.

    Today the Black Nokia Lumia 900 is still sitting in the top spot, while the Cyan one has slipped to the 6th position. The reason for this however is not flagging sales – it seems the handset is no longer in stock on Amazon, now being back ordered with shipping dates in 1 to 2 weeks.”

    http://wmpoweruser.com/nokia-lumia-900-spends-a-week-on-top-of-amazon-best-seller-list-cyan-now-also-sold-out-there/

    With the launch in the UK scheduled for May a million lumina 900s in the wild by June is certainly possible given that the device sold out and is still selling out some models like the white and blue.

    The Verge reports:

    “The numbers show in April 2012 Windows Phone surged from 0.42% worldwide to 0.49% worldwide, a growth of 16% in one month, likely attributed to the launch of the Nokia Lumia 900. Given that we expect around 10 million handsets to be in the wild at the beginning of the month, this adds another 1.6 million devices, and suggests the possibility that Nokia Lumia 900 sales may be approaching the 1 million mark.”

    http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/1/2990760/nokia-may-have-sold-1-million-lumia-phones-already

    In terms of ALL Luminas and not just the 900 Nokia already reported 2 million units sold:

    “Nokia this week revealed that it sold 2 million Windows Phone-based Lumia devices in the first quarter, a period that was otherwise “disappointing,” the company said.”

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2402869,00.asp

    Assuming the Lumina 610 sells moderately well this summer with 2M 710 and 810s already plus a million 900s by end of June then 4-5M total Luminas by the end of Q2 is possible.

    That’s not iPhone numbers but not too shabby either. I’m surprised that Nokia has been so tentative with the 900 launch though. They’ve already bet the farm on WP so producing sufficient handsets for a global launch would have been better. I guess with the delays already they preferred to just go as soon as they reasonably could.

    Not too bad timing with the 4S out for a while now so it worked out. Being able to sell out at all is a big coup for Nokia. There still are many Nokia hardware fans just like there still are RIM fans.

    Both companies just need to execute on their next generation handsets. Of the two Nokia made the better move in partnering with MS. RIM made a huge mistake in letting HP buy, then destroy Palm. If nothing else they should have immediately partnered with HP. That would have been good for both companies.

  348. About a year and a half ago Apache resigned from the JCP executive committee. Here’s why:

    The Apache Software Foundation concludes that that JCP is not an open specification process – that Java specifications are proprietary technology that must be licensed directly from the spec lead under whatever terms the spec lead chooses; that the commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem; that it is impossible to distribute independent implementations of JSRs under open source licenses such that users are protected from IP litigation by expert group members or the spec lead; and finally, the EC is unwilling or unable to assert the basic power of their role in the JCP governance process.

    You get that? The Java specs are proprietary. If you implement them without a license, you are infringing.

    Google is infringing on Oracle’s IP. If they didn’t want to license, they should have avoided Java altogether.

  349. @Jeff Read
    As the legal types look at Oracle’s suit, they all predict that the best Oracle can hope for is a few symbolic millions.

    All your folk lawyering does not align with neither the courtroom proceedings nor the legal analysis.

    @Nigel
    Making a good cupboard requires ingenuity. You do not get copyright protection for the result. Everyone else can make their own cupboards. The protection you can get on the design is pretty limited.

  350. @Nigel
    Winphone sales are noise in the market. Until they sell a million a week it stays noise.

    There are 5 million Android activations a week. And half that many iOS.

  351. All your folk lawyering does not align with neither the courtroom proceedings nor the legal analysis.

    Which legal analysis? The heavily biased analysis from CrockLaw?

    As for the court proceedings, Judge Alsup instructed the jury to decide as if the APIs were copyrightable. He wouldn’t have given that instruction if it were some radically crazy new interpretation of existing laws.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned observing the U.S. judicial system, it’s “the law may upset reason but reason cannot upset the law” (a maxim attributed to Ieyasu Tokugawa).

    Besides, you don’t have anything to worry about. All this means is that a process currently underway — the USA losing its tech lead to Europe and Asia — will be accelerated. SF won’t be the tech place to be anymore, it’ll be Berlin or Tokyo or Beijing.

  352. Jeff Read, your analysis seems to be taking every ridiculous Oracle claim at face value. Not impressive. Not least when you appear to not understand what is going on in the Oracle vs. Google case.

    The problem with your happily flinging about the SSO argument is that the case law on what SSO actually is remains largely incoherent.

    And the fact that the Judge gave the jury instructions for a finding on the copyrightability of API does not mean what you claim. It means he’s laid a foundation of having a jury finding on the topic if his own ruling is overturned upon appeal. The best arguments against copyrightability of API’s come from the doctrines of merger and functionality. Arguments you appear to be ignoring.

  353. The functionality doctrine applies to trademark, not copyright or patents. It essentially says that functions can’t be trademarked and is a demarcation between trademarks and patents.

  354. Tim F., not exactly correct. There is a formal “Functionality doctrine” in trademark law. However, copyright law has the concept of “merger” wherein you can’t copyright expression where there is a finite number of ways to express something. Further, copyright law does have its own version of a prohibition on copyright of functionality itself, more often referred to as “useful articles”. These principles can and should be extended to prohibit the copyrightability of the API interface definitions themselves.

  355. >However, copyright law has the concept of “merger” wherein you can’t copyright expression where there is a finite number of ways to express something.

    I have been an expert witness in an IP case where the application of this doctrine to software, including APIs, was important to the legal posture of the party that retained me. I had to learn as much about it as anyone who isn’t a specialist IP lawyer knows.

    While “finite” is language that does occur in the rulings, the important diagnostic of merger is that function constrains the expression of an API (or other work at issue) in such a way that expressive elements are minimal or nonexistent. There is a related concept of scènes à faire which excludes from copyright protection “stereotypical elements” that are required for functional reasons.

    Oracle’s copyright claim on key Java APIs is badly compromised – probably destroyed – by merger and scènes à faire arguments. The fact pattern is quite similar to the one I was involved in litigating. Any competent paralegal, let alone the caliber of lawyers Google can afford, could write the defence brief. Because application of these doctrines is a matter of law, a fact finding by the jury that Google infringed would not prevent Google from appealing and probably winning. But I don’t think it will get that far; Jonathan Schwartz’s representations that Java and its APIs are “forever free” are the sort of fatal hole below the waterline for Oracle’s argument that juries tend not to miss.

    I’ve been in the trenches of very similar litigation, and I know how it played out and why. All this case is doing is wasting Oracle’s money and generating breathless press from clueless reporters.

  356. @phil The first month in half a year (Aug 11) that WP hasn’t lost share. Should be interesting to see if they can hold or even increase for April.

    MS and Nokia have to step up to the plate and promise an upgrade path for at least the 900 to WP8. Then hope to get back to 5% this year.

  357. >Then hope to get back to 5% this year.

    LOL. There’s no reasonable hope for that. Nokia will be lucky to survive the year, let alone increase share.

  358. To elaborate:

    “Tim F., not exactly correct. ” Yes, Exactly.

    “There is a formal “Functionality doctrine” in trademark law.” Correct, as I stated. Conversely, there is no formal functionality doctrine in copyright law despite you stating that it was one of the best legal “arguments” against the copyright-ability of APIs. Merger and functionality doctrines are principles that define the difference between trademark, copyright, and patents just as much, if not more so, than what is and not intellectual rights-bearing products. Both the merger and functionality doctrines, on their face, appear to state similar principles, but it cannot be said that the “functionality doctrine” is a “good argument” in copyright cases.

    “However, copyright law has the concept of “merger”…” Also correct but never disputed.

    “…wherein you can’t copyright expression where there is a finite number of ways to express something.” Completely incorrect. Most copyrights are extremely finite expressions: poems, song lyrics, books, etc. The merger doctrine differentiates between expression and functionality. Again, these principles differentiate copyrights from patents and trademarks — other forms of intellectual rights granted by ownership.

    “Further, copyright law does have its own version of a prohibition on copyright of functionality itself…” But you have yet to demonstrate that the copyrights that Oracle is asserting are simply “functionality”; Oracle has a clear argument that they own the unique expression of a namespace for a complete API, not the ideas of the functionality. I do not know who will win or lose or how great a victory/loss it will be, but your argument fails to address what has proceeded.

    “more often referred to as “useful articles”.”

    Not really. “Useful articles” are much more like Platonic forms — chairs are a “useful article,” you can’t copyright “chairs” but you can copyright a unique expression of the form “chair.”

    “These principles can and should be extended to prohibit the copyright-ability of the API interface definitions themselves.” Wait. “… can and should be extended to prohibit the copyrightability of the API interface definitions themselves”? I thought they already applied. Why does the law need to be extended? You claim one commenter is “not impressive”, then muddle principles applying to different forms of intellectual rights, and then say you want to extend laws beyond existing precedent?

  359. Oh, I should also add: “useful articles” apply only to pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works of copyrighted material. Code is classified as literary works of copyright.

  360. @esr

    Nokia has enough money to survive this year and it still has more than 5% share. Obviously I meant the WP share, not Nokias although as WP’s prime partner it should see the lion share of any WP traction with LG and Samsung concentrating on Android.

    MSFT is in no danger going out of business this year or anytime soon. Nor are they in any danger of not releasing Win8/WP8.

    Will the WP platform see 5% US smartphone share again in a year’s time? A year ago they were at 7%. It’s possible but I’m not going to bet more than a grand or two on NOK stock. At a 52 week low and the appearance of some traction on the 900 and it might be worth a long shot play.

    Man $13B mkt cap. Apple could buy them and RIM with loose change.

  361. >Nokia has enough money to survive this year and it still has more than 5% share.

    Not in the U.S.. If you’re counting Windows phones, a maximum of 3.9% (some are by other hardware vendors). The entire “other” category is only 3.1%; Symbian’s U.S. share dropped below noise level in June 2011. No 5% there.

    Furthermore, “enough money to survive this year” doesn’t signify. Stockholders are going to be looking for a buyout or carve-up well before technical bankruptcy if they think Nokia’s just going to piss away the cash, And that’s what it’s doing, if this review of the Lumia 900 is representative:

    Because of it’s relatively low pixel density of 217ppi, reading text from the web browser can be problematic. Viewing full web pages produces tiny, illegible text, and the low screen resolution and pixel density forces users to constantly zoom in to read, no matter what the case. Without zooming in, text is blocky and often unreadable. Small fonts ruin the internet browsing experience, and neither the phone nor OS do anything to remedy this.

    The overall tenor of the reviews I’ve seen is that the 900 is a crappy, anemic phone in a pretty candy shell. Nokia needed a game-changer; this isn’t it.

  362. That crappy anemic phone sold out and the UK launch had to be delayed so units could be diverted to fill US handset demand.

    Nice cherry pick. I can do the same from your very article…except mine is the actual concluding paragraph of the piece:

    WP7 is really an excellent operating system, as Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak recently stated in an interview. Nokia and Microsoft, however, haven’t pulled out all the stops with the Lumia 900. It’s a large and questionably comfortable phone for its screen size, and a display resolution considered on the mid- to low-end of the smartphone spectrum. Even then, it has the most beautiful screen of any smartphone today. The Lumia 900 is, without a doubt, an excellent handset, but it’s also one that may not outlive its two-year contract. Then again, for just $50, two years may be worth it.

    Where do they say it’s a crappy anemic phone? Nowhere. It’s not perfect but there’s no way to turn “The Lumia 900 is, without a doubt, an excellent handset” with an IGN rating of “Great” and a score of 8 out of 10 into “crappy anemic phone” except by reading what clearly isn’t there.

    Frankly that review IS representative and reviews ARE positive. Whether Elop succeeds or fails the Lumia 900 had a pretty good launch in the US. Lets see how well it does in the UK.

    My long post is still awaiting moderation although I can understand that you may not wish to approve it.

  363. @Nigel
    Whatever the reviews say else, they never say the Lumia is outstanding. Neither is WP7. Both are middle-of-the-road me-too products. They are not better than iPhones, and there are better Android phones. People are simply amazed MS came up with something that worked at all. With heavy subsidies of MS Lumia handsets will be cheaper than Android phones with the same specifications. As a result, there will be people who buy then, certainly.

    But this time, MS are in the position of IBM’s OS/2 when MS routed them with their market dominance. At that time, OS/2 actually could claim to be superior over Windows. Now it is MS WP7 who have to fight back from less than 4% market share. But with a product that has nothing outstanding over iPhone nor Android phones. It is not even cheaper to make, so MS have to pay subsidies to get it sold.

    And “Sold Out” is as much evidence of bad production planning as it is about consumer demand.

  364. >That crappy anemic phone sold out and the UK launch had to be delayed so units could be diverted to fill US handset demand.

    Even a complete shitsicle will sell well if you subsidize the price down to $49, and the L900 is at least pretty on first inspection. Nokia and Microsoft are taking a loss on prompt sales to build marketshare; the tell will be whether it’s selling well in a month after word has gotten out about the defects. I think not.

    The L900′s reviews are hilarious. They do all read the same; shill-speak about how lovely the display is, blah blah blah excellent handset…but the phone is so mis-designed that not one of the reviewers can avoid acknowledging this or that serious problem for sustained use. Different problem in each review.

    >My long post is still awaiting moderation although I can understand that you may not wish to approve it.

    Not sure what you’re referring to. Are you sure akismet didn’t eat it? That happens sometimes.

  365. Meh, it’s above where I basically pulled out and dismembered some of your predictions from that huge list Winter posted. Skip it. It was petty of me.

    We can revisit the Lumia 900 in a couple months. The key is whether comscore shows the WP share hemorrhaging finally stabilizing. If we see it go up then Elop did good. If not, then not so much.

    I think you and Winter too pessimistic. The 900 seems to have launched as well as or better than recent top end Android phones.

  366. @esr
    “Even a complete shitsicle will sell well if you subsidize the price down to $49, and the L900 is at least pretty on first inspection.”

    This is the same approach Hollywood and the TV take on increasing the number of “sales”: Make it look pretty. Movies and TV are screened in HD and 3D. But the real demand is for better stories and better acting. Windows did the same. People wanted a better OS and UI. They got better Eye Candy.

    And WP7 is all about eye candy.

  367. @Nigel
    “I think you and Winter too pessimistic. The 900 seems to have launched as well as or better than recent top end Android phones.”

    Could be. Maybe you are right and MS does manage to get a 10% market share, selling a million handsets a week. Who knows?

    The history of MS prepares me for the worst, though. And there still is nothing in the Lumia that would give people an incentive to drop Android nor iPhone. Not like the N900 of Nokia, which reviewers scored as being better than the iPhone. With the N900, I could imagine Nokia could grab a large market share. With the Limia, I cannot.

  368. @Jeff Read
    “Which legal analysis? The heavily biased analysis from CrockLaw?”

    Those pesky European courts also support Groklaw’s (PJ’s) and Eric’s interpretation of copyright law.

    EU Court of Justice: No Copyright on Computer Functionality or Computer Languages ~pj
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20120502083035371

    On the basis of those considerations, the Court holds that neither the functionality of a computer program nor the programming language and the format of data files used in a computer program in order to exploit certain of its functions constitute a form of expression. Accordingly, they do not enjoy copyright protection.

    Obviously, a USA judge can come to the exact opposite conclusion. Time will tell. But I expect most bets will be on PJ’s prediction, not on your insights.

  369. Winter,

    Those pesky European courts also support Groklaw’s (PJ’s) and Eric’s interpretation of copyright law.

    Indeed, which is why I wrote that people in the EU won’t have much to worry about, especially given the EU governments’ antagonism to big business.

    As for the US, the law is NOT clear on whether APIs are copyrightable in themselves, and where the law is not clear you would do well not to underestimate the amount of crazy the judicial system can exhibit in interpreting it.

  370. Tim F. writes: “Not really. “Useful articles” are much more like Platonic forms — chairs are a “useful article,” you can’t copyright “chairs” but you can copyright a unique expression of the form “chair.”

    Tim, you don’t understand the useful articles definition at all. You cannot copyright a “unique expression” of a chair at all. This is black letter copyright law. (Design patent would be the only realm of IP allowing such).

    You also don’t understand the merger doctrine, which I am arguing would apply to the attempt to copyright the individual names of API functions and their arguments. (Not to mention the exception of titles, short phrases, names, etc. ) The argument about an API as a whole being a compilation might be more arguable but then you have to deal with the limitations of a compilation copyright, which is why Google has been giggling at Oracle/Boies Schiller’s goofs in the trial.

  371. @Jeff Read
    “As for the US, the law is NOT clear on whether APIs are copyrightable in themselves, and where the law is not clear you would do well not to underestimate the amount of crazy the judicial system can exhibit in interpreting it.”

    I never ever underestimate the dysfunctional nature of the US legal system. However, that dysfunction seems to be curtailed by the economic havoc it might cause inside the USA.

    I got the impressions that judges think that US law-makers never intended to destroy a thriving national industry. They often seem to apply the law accordingly. Judges do not seem apply such restrictions wrt foreign industries.

  372. The USPTO disagrees: “Copyright does not protect the mechanical or utilitarian aspects of such works of craftsmanship. Copyright may, however, protect any pictorial, graphic, or sculptural authorship that can be identified separately from the utilitarian aspects of an object. Thus a useful article can have both copyrightable and uncopyrightable features. For example, a carving on the back of a chair or a floral relief design on silver flatware can be protected by copyright, but the design of the chair or the flatware itself cannot, even though it may be aesthetically pleasing.” Maybe you misunderstand that I am addressing the gist of the matter: the chair may not be copyrighted generally, but since the unique expression of it can, this affectively copyrights the chair, only I can make such a chair with such a copyrighted expression.

    Also, I fully understand the merger doctrine. I think you are getting confused by my own use of the phrase “the unique expression of a namespace for a complete API” merely to avoid using the phrase “SSO.”

    Seriously, your understanding of the topic is not very well informed. You should not criticize.

  373. I never ever underestimate the dysfunctional nature of the US legal system. However, that dysfunction seems to be curtailed by the economic havoc it might cause inside the USA.

    Not really. Oracle and Microsoft — American companies both — will benefit from it. Apple will surely love it as they can then claim that Cocoa is theirs alone.

    You don’t actually see too many private vendors unlicensedly going around reimplementing proprietary APIs. Where you see a lot of this is in the open source community. All it’ll take is a strongly worded letter like Gates’s 1976 letter about the moral hazards and economic detriment of API thievery, perhaps another litigatory skirmish here and there, and smaller American ISVs and bespoke developers will fall in line with licensure requirements.

    Besides, Oracle is only upholding a proud and time-honored American tradition: as a large company, lobbying to make illegal those practices which let you get in on the ground floor in the first place, so no one can disrupt you like you disrupted the entrenched players of your era. (Oracle, famously, reimplemented IBM’s SQL language without a license, beating Big Blue to the commercial SQL-based RDBMS market.)

  374. Tim F., I will continue to criticize because you don’t even recognize that the definition you quote contradicts your own, incorrect, attempt at defining the “useful articles” doctrine.

    And your attempt to conflate the SSO of an software implementation with the interface definitions of an API matches Oracle’s own attempt to confuse the issues.

    As the EU court recognized, claiming to copyright the API itself is an attempt to monopolize more than the actual expression of a particular software implementation. That attempt exceeds the scope of copyright, and breaks the idea / expression dichotomy, in its attempt to exclude others from creating a functionally equivalent implementation.

  375. Let’s stick with US law since we are talking about a US trial. Yes, I mistakenly attributed the quoted statement to USPTO rather than the Copyright Office — a silly mistake made in haste while posting at work with more important things at hand.

    In this case, the copyrightability of SSO, to me, seems perfectly clear. Dalvik could implement all of the FUNCTIONALITY of Java (presuming no patents are also infringed) without using the actual copyrighted EXPRESSION of Java and the only thing which would be lost would be compatibility with existing Java code portions (which is what Oracle desires). Google is not entitled to being able to reuse Java code if they are not a licensee. I see no attempt to “monopolize” the functionality — I only see an attempt to control the specific expression which is Java.

    I honestly do not know which way the case will go — I simply understand the issues well enough to not make silly claims of monopolization or killing programming or expressing a philosophy of entitlement. Nor do I pretend that the law is clear cut on the issue, needs to be changed, or is a simple clear matter. We should know soon enough…

  376. “I will continue to criticize because you don’t even recognize that the definition you quote contradicts your own, incorrect, attempt at defining the “useful articles” doctrine. ”

    What contradiction?

    “And your attempt to conflate the SSO of an software implementation with the interface definitions of an API matches Oracle’s own attempt to confuse the issues.”

    No attempt to conflate. Just trying to avoid an awkward acronym that “some” people will act hysterically to — just as I make an effort to avoid “IP” when possible, despite it often being more awkward or less accurate.

  377. @Tim F
    A red flag should be that API copyright only come up now, after decades of use. And only because all other claims of Oracle were defeated.

  378. I only see entitled OSSers claiming that the API copyrights “come up now.”

    Who else besides Google has created a runtime that is compatible with Java code but which is not Java-compliant?

  379. Yes, Nigel, and everyone agreed Microsoft was in the wrong. And, of course, at least Microsoft had the decency to acquire a license so the lawsuit primarily addressed standard contract law.

  380. Tim F., the contradiction between your incorrect understanding of the “useful article” exclusion and the Copyright Office’s definition ought to be clear.

    You wrote: “Not really. “Useful articles” are much more like Platonic forms — chairs are a “useful article,” you can’t copyright “chairs” but you can copyright a unique expression of the form “chair.””

    The Copyright Office explanation specifically states that you cannot copyright the form “chair”. You can only copyright decorative elements that were added to the form. That’s what the Copyright Office is trying to explain to you when they wrote: “For example, a carving on the back of a chair or a floral relief design on silver flatware can be protected by copyright, but the design of the chair or the flatware itself cannot, even though it may be aesthetically pleasing.”

    Likewise, the API itself, a function name and calling parameters, separate from the actual source code implementation of the functions, are not the “SSO”. That exact conflation was the deception practiced by Oracle in the recent trial.

  381. @Tim F
    “And, of course, at least Microsoft had the decency to acquire a license so the lawsuit primarily addressed standard contract law.”

    The lawsuit addressed the use of the word JAVA.

  382. To prove that things can always get more bizarre, here are Miguel and company:

    Mono developers port Android to C#
    http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Mono-developers-port-Android-to-C-1565035.html

    According to benchmarks, a C# application running on the Mono VM performs much better than a Java application running on Dalvik virtual machine. Mono also has the advantage, says Miguel de Icaza, founder of Xamarin, that C# and the .NET virtual machine were standardised at ECMA and ISO and are covered by various patent and community promises.

  383. “Apple Is Beating Android In The U.S., Despite Reports To The Contrary”
    http://www.businessinsider.com/apples-us-smartphone-marketshare-versus-android-for-q1-2012-5#comment-4fa23e066bb3f70534000009

    So I think the “activations” vs “sales” discussion directly applies here. I’m surprised I haven’t seen this mentioned before in the tech press. Either the surveys like comscore/npd are flawed or the number of “activations” is quite a bit larger than “sales”

  384. @phil
    comScore does not count activations, but asks people what they use.

  385. > comScore does not count activations, but asks people what they use.

    MobiLens is an online survey.

    “MobiLens data is derived from an intelligent online survey of a nationally representative sample of mobile subscribers age 13 and older. Data on mobile phone usage refers to a respondent’s primary mobile phone and does not include data related to a respondent’s secondary device.”

    comScore has issued a statement stating that their numbers show iPhone subscriber growth outpacing Android on the “Big 3” US carriers (13% vs. 11% from December to March).

    At each of these carriers, iPhone outsells all Android phones combined.

    But the overall growth Android saw came mainly from other carriers (T-Mobile and regionals) where Android is dominating.

    Logical conclusion: Android is dominating the areas where the iPhone isn’t competing. Yet.

    In other words, the market is speaking.

  386. @winter:
    > The lawsuit addressed the use of the word JAVA.

    Not really, no.

    In 2001, Microsoft paid Sun $20 million and the two agreed to a plan for Microsoft to phase out products that included the older version of Microsoft Java that infringed on Sun’s Java copyrights and trademarks.

    The ‘use of the word JAVA’ would be limited to trademark law.

    In 2004, Microsoft paid Sun another $1.6 billion to settle an anti-trust lawsuit filed by Sun.

  387. “The Copyright Office explanation specifically states that you cannot copyright the form “chair”.”

    Which I said.

    “You can only copyright decorative elements that were added to the form.”

    Which is what I said. Yes, the copyright only applies to the expressive element, but it effectively copyrights the chair with the expressive element. You cannot copy that chair with the expressive element simply because the chair is not copyrighted but the expressive element is.

    “Likewise, the API itself, a function name and calling parameters, separate from the actual source code implementation of the functions, are not the “SSO”.”

    Disagree.

  388. @winter
    “comScore does not count activations, but asks people what they use.”

    of course…. I think the surveys are probably a more accurate way to judge marketshare than activations.

    but activations do show a couple things. they show that there are a lot of iPhone upgraders and that old iphones are re-purposed. they show loyalty.

  389. @Darth Vader jr
    I think Wikipedia got it wrong. Look at:
    http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-01-2001/jw-0124-iw-mssuncourt.html

    The dispute dates back to a Java licensing agreement that Microsoft signed in 1996. In November the following year, Sun filed suit against Microsoft for breach of contract, accusing the company of distributing a version of Java that was not compatible with Sun’s. Sun amended its complaint in May 1998 to include charges of unfair competition and copyright infringement.

    This is all about MS using Sun’s code base from the mid 1990′s (before Java was set free). The original suit was for breach of contract. The settlement was about MS stopping to use the name Java and to stay compatible. It was mixed up with anti-trust complaints against MS.

  390. Nothing weird about Mono. As long as Google doesn’t buy Xamarin I’m happy.

    Was on the MonoDroid beta and playing with MonoTouch now.

  391. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-03/apple-increases-tablet-market-share-as-android-shipments-slump.html

    “Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad widened its lead in the tablet market to 68 percent in the first quarter, while Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)’s Kindle Fire saw sales slump, according to IDC.

    Apple’s market share climbed from 55 percent in the previous three months, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based research firm said today in a statement. The Kindle Fire, which runs Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android, saw its share tumble to about 4 percent, from 17 percent in the fourth quarter.”

  392. more interesting info: http://parislemon.com/post/22211607603/sales-versus-surveys

    Update: comScore has written to clarify things a bit. It turns out their numbers do show iPhone subscriber growth outpacing Android on the “Big 3” carriers (13% vs. 11% from December to March). But the overall growth Android saw came mainly from other carriers (T-Mobile and regionals) where Android is dominating.

  393. Nokia had their annual investor meeting today in Helsinki. Former CEO and departing chairman Jorma Ollila gave his farewell speech, mostly talking about past highs. The proposed new chairman, Risto Siilasmaa (founder and former CEO of F-Secure), tried to convince people that the current strategy and team are the right ones. Stephen Elop was left to defend the products and the state of affairs to the investors. Reportedly he spoke at an audience-numbing length and with the help of four teleprompters, painting pictures of a bright future. The reporter from Helsingin Sanomat (largest Finnish newspaper) wondered whether Elop was trying to convince the investors or just wear them out. After his talk, he got grilled by the investors on the declining stock price, junk-level credit rating etc., but refused to be provoked. The whole meeting lasted four hours.

    News story from Businessweek:

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-03/nokia-s-incoming-chairman-says-its-current-program-will-succeed

    The standard comment on the Finnish web forums seems to be that next year, they’ll be able to have the investor meeting in a corner bar, no need to rent the Helsinki Exhibition & Convention Centre.

  394. I have always disagreed with eric that Apple was an incumbent ripe for disruption from below but have never been able to really articulate well why I disagreed.

    Horace Dediu today wrote what I have been unable to clearly convey.

    http://www.asymco.com/2012/05/03/the-phone-market-in-2012-a-tale-of-two-disruptions/

    There are two disruptions occurring at the same time: the emergence of a new market and the disruption from below of the existing feature phone market.

    “As Apple led and most brands followed the new market, the old market of voice-oriented phones was abandoned to new entrants offering cheap “good enough” phones. Nokia tried to preserve its volumes and margins there but it’s becoming increasingly difficult.

    This is a consequence of feature phones reaching the point of being “good enough”. The feature set and quality are adequate for voice, text, games and even media playback and are priced at $30 or less.”

    Given that we’re still seeing massive spec wars at the “smartphone as a computer” market where Apple and Samsung dominate I feel I can safely assert this segment is in no current danger of low-end disruption from below. Technology is no where close to “good enough” for the needs/desires of this market segment as we push to ever better multi-core ARM processors and higher end GPUs for truly mobile computing where the Atrix may eventually be judged as a prescient product released a little to ahead of the price/technology curve to be a success.

    The incumbents like RIM, Moto and Nokia got hammered from both directions and the only two companies making money are Samsung and Apple.

  395. Tim F. on Thursday, May 3 2012 at 9:19 am said:
    …. (1) Yes, the copyright only applies to the expressive element, but it effectively copyrights the chair with the expressive element. (2) You cannot copy that chair with the expressive element simply because the chair is not copyrighted but the expressive element is.
    (the parenthesized numbers added by me).

    Tim, you really are getting yourself even more lost. You still don’t understand why your original statements on useful articles were in contradiction to the Copyright Office definition you quoted and now you’ve written two statements in succession that contradict each other. And you don’t seem to realize it. Sentence number 1 says something that is contradicted by sentence number 2. The copyright on the decorative element never “effectively” copyrights the chair. You really are getting yourself lost.

    Interestingly, unlike you Tim F., Judge Alsup finds the recent EU decision of interest. He’s asked Oracle and Google to submit briefs regarding the EU decision on API copyright.

  396. @Tim F.
    I think your problem is that you try to come up with reasons to extend copyright protection.

    However, the task of a judge is more to come up with reasons not to extend the reach of laws. The law is understood to be a very heavy handed and blunt instrument. Therefore, it must be applied as little and as narrow as possible.

  397. And another view on Windows 8 as the MS&Nokia savior:

    Microsoft Windows 8: Mostly A Crap Wreck
    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=microsoft_windows_8cp&num=1

    Overall, I really hate Windows 8 much more than Windows 7 due to the Metro user-interface on the desktop. Metro is disastrous on the desktop. There really is not anything new to like about Windows 8, they’re just trying to copy Apple and features like native USB 3.0 support and having a centralized software center isn’t anything new to Linux users.

    ….

    the kind words I have about Windows 8 is mostly the same I have about any other recent Windows release: it boots fast, generally leads on power efficiency, usually there’s no hoops to jump through to get the OS installed, the graphics drivers tend to be a lot better, and it’s usually at least a polished end-user experience.

    This sounds a little damning with faint praise to me.

  398. A linux site calling Windows crap is not entirely surprising nor profound.

    What is funny is that Gabe Newell has never been able to successfully install Linux on his first try.

    Unlike Linux, I’ve never had a display fail to light-up when booting the Windows installer (compared to open-source common Linux graphics driver issues on new hardware), never had an issue with Windows detecting the hard drive, never had to re-configure my BIOS with its settings for items like SATA/AHCI or ACPI, nor have I ever had to pass any special parameters to the Windows installer to get it to detect the hardware to either boot or get through the installation process. Windows 8 continues to be slow to install, but at least it seems Windows can always install. Gabe mentioned he has never been able to successfully install Linux on his first try, due to hardware issues or hitting other quirks.

    My guess is Valve’s interest in Linux has nothing to do with the linux desktop market that doesn’t like paying for any software anywayand everything to do with their rumored console which is likely linux based with AMD GPU using a tuned proprietary driver for that specific hardware.

    They’re going to get flamed for Steam DRM so tossing in some Ubuntu love to placate the masses as ardent Linux supporters that poopoos Windows strikes me as good strategy. I guess their hope is that Linux fanatics will ignore the DRM issue and buy their games on the Valve “linux based” console anyway.

    Gabe is no idiot. I’m sure he realizes that if HE can’t install Linux without some dumbass issue cropping up that the desktop linux market is a non-starter.

    Like say:

    Unfortunately, Linux users cannot upgrade their open-source graphics drivers without having to upgrade much of the stack, including the Linux kernel. Upgrading the Linux kernel could be scary for novice Linux users and sadly may not be regression free or upgrading to the latest kernel for better graphics support could cause compatibility problems with out-of-tree drivers, some virtualization platforms, and just other headaches. Meanwhile for the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards, which have been shipping for months, there still is no fully working open-source graphics driver for Linux.

    Yah, and Win8 is a crap wreck.

    Gabe also criticized Windows 8, but this is not too much of a surprise, especially as it will compete directly with Valve’s Steam software distribution platform.

    Ya think?

    On my main system I still use an Apple MacBook Pro running Mac OS X and then Ubuntu virtualized atop that with VMware Fusion since I sadly get better battery life that way than running Linux bare metal on the hardware.

    OMFG. I’m laughing so hard I’m crying here.

    Other than hating on Metro he ain’t got nothing. Win8 boots faster than Linux (LOL…Shuttleworth must be thrilled). Can be installed by the average user the first time. Has better drivers. Is more polished. Has better power efficiency/consumption (ROFL). Has faster OpenGL Performance.

    All from his article.

    Thanks winter…that article was hilarious.

  399. @Nigel,
    I have never had problems installing Linux Mint. Neither from the hardware, nor from the users.

    But I did not care for the Linux parts (I know how Linux “works”). I wanted to know about the Windows 8 part. I hardly have used Windows 7, and never used Windows 8.

    It says a lot about you that you laugh loudest about failing Linux. I never laugh about failures in Windows. Nor do I laugh at a cat that cannot tie his shoelaces. That is what I expect from Windows and cats.

  400. I laugh over the immense stupidity of calling Windows crap when you have to run your own chosen OS in a VM on another OS to get half decent battery life.

    It’s called not throwing stones or something. That you don’t find it funny is funny too.

    In any case he says very very little about how Windows 8 works or even why he thinks Metro is crap on the desktop. So you aren’t providing the article because you “wanted to know about Windows 8″ as much as liking the headline that said Windows 8 was crap and pushing your little agenda of MS hatred and how it will fail and Ballmer will get fired.

    There are lots of insightful articles about win8 with many points about shortfalls. Alas few of them had “Win8 is a crap wreck” as a headline and therefore of no interest to you.

    So I’d rather laugh than be a bitter little prat.

  401. So I’d rather laugh than be a bitter little prat.

    Now Nigel, give us a straight line like that and you are just inviting observations of how one could do and be both.

  402. It says a lot about you that you laugh loudest about failing Linux. I never laugh about failures in Windows. Nor do I laugh at a cat that cannot tie his shoelaces. That is what I expect from Windows and cats.

    Nigel isn’t laughing at a cat that can’t tie its shoelaces. He’s laughing at the ones who tried to sell us on “Linux the talking dog”, which is only ever asked questions like “What is on top of a house?” and “How does sandpaper feel?”

  403. “And you don’t seem to realize it. Sentence number 1 says something that is contradicted by sentence number 2. The copyright on the decorative element never “effectively” copyrights the chair. You really are getting yourself lost.”

    Of course, it does. At least, it effectively copyrights the chair with the unique creative expression. Yes, legally the chair itself is not copyrighted; yes, in a court of law you are specifically addressing the copyright of the unique creative expression. But, of course, it prevents a competitor from creating the exact chair with the exact creative expression — the desired goal of the copyright holder. I’m not arguing for some backdoor copyrighting of the concept of the chair without the creative expression.

    Judge Alsup is asking questions that compare the EU decision with US law to tease out nuances. People here and at Groklaw are simply saying we should observe EU law (because they prefer it). Moreover, the EU decision does say similar things to US law about the unique creative expression of SSO; what I haven’t seen is the particulars of the case discusssed in depth enough to know whether or not the case is very much analogous to this one.

  404. “I think your problem is that you try to come up with reasons to extend copyright protection.”

    Not in the least. I have said all along that current US law provides enough precedent to decide the case, and no new law need be created or extended.

  405. Winter, in fact, I would ask: if the law clearly states that APIs aren’t copyrightable, why are we even at this phase of the lawsuit, why wasn’t the claim dismissed as a simple matter of law by the Judge?

    Again, it’s only entitled OSSers claiming that APIs cannot be copyrighted, have never been copyrightable, and will destroy the universe if they are found to be.

  406. >Winter, in fact, I would ask: if the law clearly states that APIs aren’t copyrightable, why are we even at this phase of the lawsuit, why wasn’t the claim dismissed as a simple matter of law by the Judge?

    U.S. law makes the utilitarian (non-expressive) parts of an API non-copyrightable; that’s what the doctrines of merger and scenes a faire mean. What Oracle is hoping is that the jury and judge will find substantial expressive elements that can be copyrighted. Should they do so, I think the likelihood that the verdict will be reversed on appeal is high.

  407. And no new laws or an expansion of law is required to determine so. Moreover, your statement does nothing to support the claim that APIs in general are not copyrightable.

  408. >Moreover, your statement does nothing to support the claim that APIs in general are not copyrightable.

    Not the claim I was arguing. They are probably no longer copyrightable in the EU, but the Oracle lawsuit is being tried under U.S. law.

    Historically, U.S. courts have been very reluctant to sustain copyright claims on APIs. The merger and scenes-a-faire doctrines are not mere speedbumps in Oracle’s path, they have real teeth and a history of shredding similar claims.

    In the case I was directly involved with, counter-briefing against API-copyright claims based on these doctrines was so effective that the plaintiff dropped them. I prepared most of the evidence exhibits used in those briefs and even helped write them – I know how this is done. That’s why I consider Oracle’s prospects of prevailing on appeal very dim even if they win this one.

  409. To re-express my point, copyright of the API itself – rather than its implementation – means that a copyright owner can exclude others from creating cleanroom implementations of the API library itself. And that’s simply outside of the bounds of copyright doctrine and becomes the kind of monopoly that copyright law is not intended to create.

    The whole SSO things has always been a hash of bullshit in copyright law, because the courts can’t and don’t apply it correctly the doctrine ends up breaking the idea/expression doctrine. Its needs to be completely uprooted from US software copyright law.

  410. Its needs to be completely uprooted from US software copyright law.

    If you don’t like it, write your Congressman.

  411. ‘To re-express my point, copyright of the API itself – rather than its implementation – means that a copyright owner can exclude others from creating cleanroom implementations of the API library itself.”

    No, it means you can still reverse engineer in a clean room the same functionality but minus the expressive elements of the API, meaning coompatibility with the copied API will be lost but no other functionality. Compatibility with a non-licensed API is not functionality; it is the right of the API owner.

  412. Where you haven’t written an incoherent sentence (specifically excluding compatibility from the concept of “functionality” ), you’ve written a circular argument, Tim F. One which does not address my point at all.

    The very idea that the interface definitions are “functional” rather than “expressive” is the point.

  413. Jeff Read, my congressman? And where in the Copyright statutes do you think I’ll find SSO?

  414. SPQR,

    Jeff Read, my congressman? And where in the Copyright statutes do you think I’ll find SSO?

    It’s a consequence of how the American system works. Separation of powers and all that. It’s not for the judiciary to make new laws but to interpret existing laws. If judicial precedent creates an interpretation of the law that has undesirable consequences, the power lies with Congress — not the courts — to change the laws.

  415. Tim F.,

    You haven’t addressed the scènes à faire question, because that will fuck up any copyright claim over even the purely expressive bits of an API. Scènes à faire applies, broadly, to any otherwise copyrightable elements of a work that are necessary for all works of a given type. Example: I’m writing hardboiled crime fiction. The tropes of the genre: the sardonic, detached detective, the city pulsing with violent criminal activity, corrupt cops, the dame in a pretty dress with the wealthy and recently departed husband — those are all not copyrightable elements even though they’re purely expressive aspects of the work, because all works in the set of hardboiled crime novels must contain some or all of these.

    If all Java programs have calls into Java APIs, those APIs — even if purely expressive — would probably fall under scènes à faire. All working Java programs make use of these APIs and thus contain significant expressive parts of the API work: class and method names, parameter lists, namespace hierarchies, and so forth are all expressed in the consumer of an API just as surely as in the provider of an API.

    The danger is that, for example, Oracle would be able to claim copyright over a significant portion of third-party Java programs. Not a desirable outcome for third parties — or even, really, for Oracle if they want to be an attractive platform vendor. (Somehow I doubt that condition is true; Oracle seems increasingly focused on milking large license and support fees from its installed base rather than attracting new devs.)

    Judge Alsup seems to have his head screwed on straight, and is giving strong indications that he will rule that the APIs are not copyrightable. This was not so clear a few days ago.

  416. Jeff Read, the problem with your snark is that the problems with the original CONTU report and the inadequate legislation it generated in Congress (doing little more than creating sec. 117 of the Copyright act ) have been known for more than three decades.

  417. “Where you haven’t written an incoherent sentence (specifically excluding compatibility from the concept of “functionality” ), you’ve written a circular argument, Tim F. One which does not address my point at all.”

    No, compatibility is not a functional element of the APIs. No, my argument is not circular.

    “The very idea that the interface definitions are “functional” rather than “expressive” is the point.”

    That’s your point. My point is that the APIs may or may not be purely functional, they may are may not contain expressive elements. I do not accept your argument that APIs are strictly functional.

    “The tropes of the genre: the sardonic, detached detective, the city pulsing with violent criminal activity, corrupt cops, the dame in a pretty dress with the wealthy and recently departed husband — those are all not copyrightable elements even though they’re purely expressive aspects of the work, because all works in the set of hardboiled crime novels must contain some or all of these.”

    I think your analogy is flimsy, but I’ll run with it for this case. I have addressed scenes a faire. This is where SSO comes in. It’s the specific structure, sequence, and organization of those “tropes” which is expressive.

    “If all Java programs have calls into Java APIs, those APIs — even if purely expressive — would probably fall under scènes à faire. All working Java programs make use of these APIs and thus contain significant expressive parts of the API work: class and method names, parameter lists, namespace hierarchies, and so forth are all expressed in the consumer of an API just as surely as in the provider of an API.”

    No, the programs do not contain the structure, sequence, and organization of the APIs which is the element being deemed expressive.

    “The danger is that, for example, Oracle would be able to claim copyright over a significant portion of third-party Java programs.”

    No, they would not. I don’t buy bogeyman arguments. Oracle would have copyrights to the structure, sequence, and organization of the APIs only; they would not own the code that uses the names invoked by interfacing with these APIs.

    “Judge Alsup seems to have his head screwed on straight, and is giving strong indications that he will rule that the APIs are not copyrightable. This was not so clear a few days ago.”

    I’ve seen no indication this week that the Judge has tipped his hand in any way whatsoever.

  418. No, you didn’t address SAF; you just kept hammering on “SSO, and yes, you can copyright a chair!” We’re talking about copyrighting lists of method declarations here; whatever is expressed by a declaration is also expressed implicitly by a method call, as any journeyman programmer who’s ever read code can tell you.

    I was wrong. In light of CA v. Altai, it’s very hard to justify copyrights on APIs. The SSO basis alone doesn’t get you a slam-dunk case of infringement. The standard applied in that case is almost universally accepted by American courts, and has influenced copyright rulings abroad.

    If you want to cheer for Oracle, they might still get Google on what remains of their patent suit.

  419. >In light of CA v. Altai, it’s very hard to justify copyrights on APIs.

    That is correct. Anyone who is going to write about the Google lawsuit in public needs to have read that case to have some grasp on how the Abstraction-Filtration-Comparison test is applied. This is still the single most important decision in the case law on software copyright, and the reason I believe that (a) the odds of Alsup ruling for Oracle are very low, and (b) if he does, he’s likely to be overturned on appeal.

  420. Oracle vs Google looks really like SCO 2.0. Starting with grandioze claims of large scale “theft” of precious IP, we are again down to header file (APIs) with unclear ownership.

    But in 2.0 we also have 3 patents, one of which is already determined to be not willfully infringed. For the other two, there is estoppel and the fact that they covered code also licensed under a FLOSS license.

    A genuine SCO 2.0. On to 3.0.

  421. The ongoing saga of the “Fall of Nokia”. An analysis of the underlying market behavior can be found here:

    Study explains how retailers stop Linux from entering the market
    http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Study-explains-how-retailers-stop-Linux-from-entering-the-market-1564385.html

    According to ESOP, the configuration of the retail channel for laptop computers imposes a firewall that is very hard to breach for new companies trying to sell innovative products. This is due to “a disproportionate importance of branding and marketing among retailers, which may prevent suppliers from delivering the best products at the lowest price.” The white paper states that in a different market, Linux, which according to ESOP is well suited for desktop deployment and which has an obvious price advantage, would be a natural choice for suppliers to use when building their products. However, this is negated by the small number of established players in both the retail and supply field and the fact that established branding prevents newer products from gaining entry.

    This is an analysis of the laptop market. But it can be applied equally well to the smartphone market.

    On to the Fall of Nokia

    The ‘I Wish I Had Known This’ List about 101 Things Wrong With Windows Phone Smartphones Like Nokia Lumia
    http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/05/the-i-wish-i-had-known-this-list-about-101-things-wrong-with-windows-phone-smartphones-like-nokia-lu.html

    The unprecedented return rates of Lumia result in its second hand retail prices collapsing. The retail channel refuses to sell Lumia. Even when asked by existing Nokia users to be shown a new Nokia Lumia phone, in stores where Lumia signs are prominently promoting the new smarpthones, independent undercover tests by the press have revealed a clear pattern of reluctance to even show Lumia handsets. Retail staff from Finland to France, for USA to China have been caught by the press as refusing to offer Lumia when asked.

    Links to

    101 Reasons Not to Buy A Windows Phone 7.5
    http://my-symbian.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=44034

    OS LIMITATIONS
    1. No true multitasking for 3rd party apps - they re frozen in the background.
    2. No Divx/Xvid video codec support. Zune will convert with loss of quality.
    3. No mass storage mode.
    4. No micro-SD card support.
    5. Only support up to 16GB storage .
    6. No filemanager. Directory system is totally opaque.
    7. Need Zune to transfer files. Zune will only transfer photos, videos & music. All other files need to email/upload to yourself.
    8. Your contact details are automatically uploaded to cloud service whether you like it or not.
    9. Limited to 800x480 resolution.
    10. Voice search is hardwired to Bing.
    11. Cannot use any MP3 file as ringtone except those with strict constraints.
    12. Cannot set static IP address so no connection to ad-hoc networks.
    13. No VPN support for this “corporate enterprise” phone.
    
  422. @Winter

    I don’t really care about Windows Phone much, but you are listing some things that don’t matter:

    ” No true multitasking for 3rd party apps – they re frozen in the background.”
    A phone that has a dead battery can’t run any apps period.

    “No Divx/Xvid video codec support. Zune will convert with loss of quality.”
    Only thing that matters is H.264

    “No mass storage mode.”
    Dropbox app

    “No micro-SD card support.”
    Prevents user confusion + security implications + PITA. What happens when you install an app on your micro SD and take it out?

    “Only support up to 16GB storage .”
    This is legit. I assume they will fix this

    “No filemanager. Directory system is totally opaque.”
    Haha. That’s what we want – a PC shrunk down to the size of our phone.

    “Cannot set static IP address so no connection to ad-hoc networks.”
    Hahah. My grandmother will be PISSED!

  423. @Phil
    I just copy/pasted the top 13. There are more problems (101 of them). This is just to show that there are real problems with WinPhone. Problems the press tend to ignore.

    What trips me of is when article after article is cheering the shiny interface. That is a reliable sign of fundamental problems with the underlying technology.

  424. A Google+ post from Nicolas Charbonnier on 27 apr. 2012 (found it late)

    https://plus.google.com/106075758531242552855/posts/BiRdRcWs5cT

    Samsung sells over 1 million phones per day. Half of which are smartphones today.

    ….

    Expect Google to announce Android daily activations above 1 million per day soon enough. I expect the 1 million Android activations per day to be reached and announced before Google I/O.

    That would be 1 million Android activations per day in June.

  425. An analysis that seems to support Eric (I am not completely sure whether this has not already been discussed):

    Why Android can never be a closed platform
    by Sameer Singh
    http://www.androidauthority.com/why-android-can-never-be-a-closed-platform-78197/

    Now, Google has a couple of options in front of it:

    1) Sell Motorola’s Hardware Business

    It would make sense to sell Motorola’s hardware business, as it would put other Android manufacturers at ease. There have been rumors of Huawei being an interested acquirer, and the deal would make sense as long as the valuation was acceptable.

    2) Hold on to Motorola for now

    It might make sense for Google to hold on to Motorola for now, because Motorola owns some significant distribution relationships with retailers, carriers & cable TV operators, which could come in handy for Google. Google is making a major push into tablets and television, with the Nexus tablet and Google TV, and Motorola could help with that. This strategy carries the risk of alienating other Android hardware vendors, but considering the success and market penetration some of them have seen on the Android platform, it is not a very big risk. OEMs could always fork Android, like Amazon did, but there are some considerable risks with that strategy.

  426. This just in from the tech business weekly Duh:

    Microsoft is severely botching its Windows tablet strategy.

    Severely.

    Nobody’s going to pay more for an iPad-style walled garden that’s orders of magnitude less cool. Seriously, Microsoft, crippling tablets to WinRT only? What’s the point of buying something advertised as running Windows if I can’t run regular old Windows apps on it?

  427. @Jeff Read
    Eric above said he wanted to write a blog post on the death of MS. Sadly, it seems other pressing matters have prevented it from materializing.

    I am predicting for a year or so, the divestment of MS before the end of this year.

    It started as kind of a joke. But the destruction of Nokia seems to prove my point: MS have no future.

  428. Microsoft aren’t going away any time soon. They’ll shrink and refocus — like IBM did — but not disappear. Eric has been predicting their imminent death for close to a decade now, but they’re just too damn good at what they do (top notch developer tools, enterprise integration, office suite, cloud services (Xbox Live, Azure), plus Windows is still leagues better than Linux on the desktop) to die that easy.

  429. @Jeff Read
    “…but [MS are] just too damn good at what they do”

    You confuse quality with success.

    Here is a report of a study how an “oligopoly” in the retail chain can prevent competition on quality:

    Study explains how retailers stop Linux from entering the market
    http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Study-explains-how-retailers-stop-Linux-from-entering-the-market-1564385.html

    According to ESOP, the configuration of the retail channel for laptop computers imposes a firewall that is very hard to breach for new companies trying to sell innovative products. This is due to “a disproportionate importance of branding and marketing among retailers, which may prevent suppliers from delivering the best products at the lowest price.”

    The same mechanism is now blocking MS WinPhone in the smartphone market. Except that WinPhone is not even on parity with the competition.

  430. Oracle lost the patent suit against Android and Google. Read the news.

  431. IDC gives number that during 1Q12, around 5 Android phones are shipped for every 2 iPhones. MS WinPhone is noise with a market share less than Linux.

    Android- and iOS-Powered Smartphones Expand Their Share of the Market in the First Quarter, According to IDC
    http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23503312

    Smartphones powered by the Android and iOS mobile operating systems accounted for more than eight out of ten smartphones shipped in the first quarter of 2012 (1Q12). According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the mobile operating systems held shares of 59.0% and 23.0% respectively of the 152.3 million smartphones shipped in 1Q12.

    IDC predicts that things will go down for MS if they cannot get more models to market.

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