Why Hasn’t Google Mopped the Floor with Apple?

The mobile space is very competitive; but how why hasn’t Google killed it? Let’s explore that a bit…

aaaIntroduction

Every now and again, even the best of us get hit with a moment of clarity. You know, that moment right after you lay your head down to sleep, you find it…you see it, and it hits you.

BAM!

THE reason, despite ALL others why Google, in spite of their huge vendor penetration and installation base, hasn’t totally mopped the floor with Apple and sent the iPhone packing…and it call comes down to one word –

Ecosystem. Or is it Fragmentation…? In many ways the two are so irreparably intertwined, it’s depressing. However, anyway you slice it, its totally Google’s fault.

Fragmentation

A couple years ago, I wrote an article titled, Opinion – How Google can Trump the iPad. Back in 2010, no one had ever said, heard or understood what an ecosystem was. I was kinda close, but didn’t quite close the loop.

I got about 98% of the way there. Yes, the ecosystem is all about your content on your device; but its more about capturing the consumer and keeping them and their business regardless of what device they’re using. They keep coming back to YOU as the source of truth.

They use your productivity services. They use your applications. More importantly, they purchase those services and applications from sources YOU control, continually providing you with a revenue stream.

Is this starting to sound familiar? Good. Hold that thought… I want to clear something up first.

This is NOT an article about how totally eff-ing awesome Apple is. This is really an article that asks, “how the hell could Google miss the damn boat?!”

Google is partners with Samsung, LG, HTC, and bought Motorola so they could create and sell Android devices of their own. There are more worn out Android devices in land fills now-a-days than there are iPhones in active use, yet iOS and Android are virtually even in market share.

Android Takeover

Can ANYONE tell me why that is?

If you go the fragmentation route, you find that there are so many different versions of Google’s mobile OS out there that it kinda gives you a headache. As of 2013-08-01, you can see the spread of Android versions currently in use. I’m not certain what’s most frightening, the fact that Honeycomb was a total loser, or that Android 2.1 Eclaire still commands a 1.4% share of all devices currently on the market today.

Including Key Lime Pie, there are 35 active versions of Android. That’s all of them, folks. To some extent, you can find every version of Android ever released by Google active somewhere; and Android devices are like grains of sand – numerous to uncountable, even from a single vendor.

To be honest, that figure includes every major, minor and point release of the mobile OS to be made available to end users, and not every version made it to every device.

To contrast this, iOS has seen about 1/2 as many releases in only 6 devices. In the Apple camp, OS releases are highly controlled. Many changes are rolled up to an annual major, release cycle. Minor releases are only introduced as needed. Point releases are used to address crucial, showstopper bugs. The OS simply doesn’t have the level of releases (in software, we call this “churn”) that its competitor’s does. iOS appears to be much more stable and organized as a result.

So, I think its safe to say that there are a bajillion Android devices from numerous vendors running a bajillion versions of Android. The perception here is not just fragmentation, but complete and utter chaos when it comes to devices and OS releases.

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Oh snap! Apple ITC Ban Vetoed by the Obama Administration

South Korea to the US regarding the veto – “I find your lack of faith disturbing…”

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The ITC announced that it would ban imports of the iPhone 4 as well as the iPad 2 due to patent infringements that the ITC found Apple had committed.  While Apple insists that it did nothing wrong and that the patents in question were SEP (standard essential patents) needed in order to conduct business, Samsung praised the ban.

Then the only thing that could disrupt Samsung’s brief, mental party happened – The Obama administration vetoed the ITC ban – the first such veto in over 25 years.

The US has the ability to overturn an ITC ban when it feels said ban conflicts with US Policy and is against the public interest.

The ban did a couple things outside of allowing Apple to continue selling the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 in the US. Briefly, it

  • Weakened the ITC
    If the US can so easily, so casually veto the ITC’s decision to ban these products, it may discourage other companies to seek relief via the ITC. Historically, it’s been easier to gain these types of injunctive relief through the ITC, as it didn’t require the burden of proof that other legal avenues did.
  • Caused a $1B Market Cap Loss for Samsung
    The market responded negatively and Samsung lost a great deal of operating capital and value as a result.
  • Strained Relations between the US and South Korea
    The South Korean government issued a statement expressing worries about the ITC ban veto. The Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy says that the decision could harm Samsung’s patent rights.  The Ministry said it will be paying close attention on Friday, when the ITC is expected to rule on a possible ban of some of Samsung’s Galaxy devices; and that [they hoped] “to see a fair and reasonable decision on the matter.”

It’s clear from the South Korean statement that they aren’t happy with the US government’s decision to back Apple. If it were any other country on any other volatile peninsula, it might strain relations between the two countries. However, South Korea is dependent on US support against an aggressive North Korea, so the rhetoric from the South may just end up being that – rhetoric.

The banned items are likely to be discontinued in a few months as Apple introduces the anticipated iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C (the budget iPhone) and the iPhone 5, sometime this Fall.  As I understood the ban, it was an import, not a sales ban.  So Apple, AT&T and other resellers would have been able to continue to sell what stock they had of each device.

In the end, I’m not certain how effective the ban would have been, had the US not vetoed it. I actually think the veto sent a louder message than the ban would have.

According to the published dissenting opinion by ITC commissioner Dean Pinkert, the ban has a few major flaws. Among them are:

  • The patent in question was only a small part of an international standard.  As such Samsung had agreed to make it available for licensing under terms that are fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms.
  • Samsung had made no effort to demonstrate that the licensing terms it offered to Apple were reasonable
  • That the only time Samsung made such an offer was during an oral discussions in December 2012; and it came with strings attached that Apple simply could not agree to
  • What those strings were have been redacted (blacked out) in the document, but Pinkert adds in the next sentence: “it is neither fair nor non-discriminatory for the holder of the FRAND-encumbered patent to require licenses to non-FRAND-encumbered patents as a condition for licensing its patent.”

It may be that the ban was implemented due to politics. There seems to be some evidence that suggests the commissioners kicked this one upstairs hoping the President would veto it. Now that that’s happened, and issues like these have gotten executive attention, perhaps some serious patent law changes can be implemented.

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Apple Releases iOS 7 Beta 5 to Developers

Apple just recently made the latest beta of iOS7 available to developers.

Since the Apple Dev Center went down a number of days ago, I’ve been doing my best to follow the story.  There has been a lot of developments reported as functionality comes back online, (but very little on what’s going on with the security engineer rumored to have caused the outage in the first place.)

As such, during a routine check of the iOS Dev Center, I was recently greeted with a wonderful surprise. iOS7 Beta 5 has been released to developers today (and as early as Noon Central Time).

iOS7 Beta 5

The beta still has a number of known issues with

  • Address Book
  • AirDrop
  • Exchange
  • iCloud
  • etc.

and a number of other areas as well. Beta 4 was a dramatic improvement over Beta 3, but it still has its issues. I’ve reported bugs that are still open at this time.  There are issues that have been resolved according to the release notes, but I’m certain that a number of different issues are still lurking about.

Its clear from the release notes that there will be at least TWO more beta releases before the software RTM’s.  Given the number of active issues, however, my QA manager experience is telling me that it’s unlikely that the currently expected beta 6 and then RTM/GM release will occur. There seems to be a bit more work needed in order to insure that all issues and developer notes are addressed, implemented and understood.

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Should I Remove It ?

Get rid of unwanted add-on-ware with this awesome Windows tool.

imagesWhen I use my computer, I have specific goals in mind. I usually don’t have too much time to must play around. I require peak performance from my rig, and when I don’t get it, there are really just a few things that are the likely cause, malware being one of them. With malware so prevalent in today’s computing world, it’s a good thing that there are apps like Should I Remove It available. It’s a malware scanner and removal tool for Windows that just might be able to keep your PC at peak performance.

With computer programs today relying on advertisements to pay many of their bills, every app install can bring unwanted application extensions and components on to your hard drive. This is where Should I Remove It comes in.

SIRI-01

With Should I Remove It, you don’t have to worry about what you should remove or keep. The app identifies and removes bloatware and trialware along with crippled versions of commercial software on a new computer in the hope that some will upgrade to paid editions.

Should I Remove It is a decent uninstaller, but aside from its ratings and removal percentage information, it doesn’t offer much value. The app does a decent job of removing software, but you’re completely dependent upon the information the app and its vendor provides for accuracy.

download Should I Remove It

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Run Windows apps in a new OS with ReactOS

reactosIconI’ve always been big on trying new computer operating systems and such. Heck,  I have beta tested every Windows beta since Windows 95 as part of Microsoft’s Technical Beta Team.  I’ve got the golf shirt to prove it.  However, the recent months have produced a lot of uncertainty, and finding a suitable replacement for Windows has crossed a number of people’s minds. That’s where ReactOS comes it. It’s a Windows compatible, alternative operating system that you might want to keep your eyes on.

ReactOS is a free open source operating system based on the architecture found in Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2012. Written completely from scratch, ReactOS is not a Linux variant and does not share any of UNIX’s architecture. ReactOS is its own animal entirely.

The main goal of the project is to provide an operating system that is binary compatible with Windows, allowing you to run Windows applications and drivers. It also has a similar look and feel so that familiar with Windows will find familiar and easy to use. With ReactOS, you get to use all of your Windows apps and device drivers without having to actually run the Microsoft operating system they were intended for.

ReactOS is a free open source operating system based on the best design principles found in the Windows NT architecture (Windows versions such as Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Server 2012 are built on Windows NT architecture). Written completely from scratch, ReactOS is not a Linux based system, and shares none of the UNIX architecture.

reactos-x264

ReactOS comes just at the right time. With all of the uncertainty that is oozing out of Redmond right now, having a Windows compatible alternative operating system is a GREAT idea.  There’s a lot that is going to be good here, however, by the dev team’s own admission, the OS is not ready for everyday use yet.  There is a live CD image, but I couldn’t even get that to run, and I tried booting it on 3 different machines.

There’s a bit of information out there about the OS, and it looks like it will REALLY be cool…someday; but not yet. I couldn’t even get the OS to start so I could take screen shots.

ReactOS is still in an Alpha stage, meaning it’s new, very buggy, much of the hardware that you might install on it won’t work right, and don’t even think about installing things like Microsoft Office on it.  It likely WON’T work…or even install.

HOWEVER, this is something that most everyone here should keep an eye on. Depending on how things go for Microsoft, having an updated, current alternative to Windows that will allow you to install and run all of the software you want and need to get your job done, is going to be important.  This is a good first effort, but it needs time to cook…

download ReactOS

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Converseen – Convert And Resize Your Digital Images

Convert and resize your digital images with this convenient Windows-based tool.

converseen-24I recently got a “new” digital camera.  My father passed a few years ago, and my mother sent me dad’s Nikon D70 early last week. I’ve got another Nikon, a D3000 and a number of lenses that fit, but didn’t fully work (the auto-focus motors didn’t work with the D3000 but do with the D70. I’ve got some really nice lenses, and really enjoy taking close ups of my granddaughter. I took well over 150 pictures over the weekend in 2 different shoots.

When you have so many photos, it can be difficult to go through them individually. The amount of time required to prep that many photos for posting to the internet can require hours of work.  This is one of the reasons why I like apps like Converseen. It’s a multi-platform, batch photo editor that works on Windows.

Converseen is an open source batch image converter and resizer. It supports more than 100 image formats; and you can convert and resize an unlimited number of images to any of the most popular formats like DPX, EXR, GIF, JPEG, PhotoCD, PNG, Postscript, SVG, and TIFF.  Converseen allows you to convert, resize, rotate and flip automatically an unlimited number of images.

CVS-02
Converseen can handle multiple file conversions, resizings, and compressions. It can rotate and flip images.  It can also rename a bunch of images using a progressive number or a prefix/suffix. After you get familiar with its interface, selecting a resampling filter to resize images will become second nature.
Converseen is a great app for handling batch conversions, resizings, renames or rotations. It handles the post-processing work, pretty well.  It would be nice if it also did the retouching in batch-style, but this will work very well with other, recently reviewed (as of July 2013) apps on Soft32.

download Converseen

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Share photos with your friends and loved ones with Ashampoo Photo Mailer

photomailerOf all the things that I do on my computer, sharing pictures is perhaps the one thing that I do most often. I also think it’s the thing that most people do most often on their computers.  While sites like a Flickr, and Picasa and Facebook are great, but if the person you want to share with doesn’t do social networking, or if all you really want to do is shoot someone a couple of quick easy shots, then Ashampoo Photo Mailer is probably the app for you. It’s a cool photo utility for Windows.

Today, there are numerous ways to share your images online. However, what should be the simplest way still remains a pain in the rump – sharing images via email. Images have to be manually resized, trimmed and often split up into several mails to meet email provider constraints. Many times, you have to send, tweak, and resend in order to get everything sent.

Ashampoo Photo Mailer handles all of these tasks – the trimming and resizing, and turns photo sharing through email into a joyful experience. You can use any number of images.  Image splitting between emails occurs automatically, and then only when required.  You can send pictures to any number of recipients.  Ashampoo Photo Mailer has simple and efficient contact management built in.  You can send images at any quality level.  Trimming and resizing occurs automatically, and again, and only when required.

APM-03

The nice thing about Ashampoo Photo Mailer, is that it’s built around a rapid, step-by-step process.  You pick your images and adding recipients to dispatching your emails. The approach is highly intuitive and self-explanatory and requires no lengthy learning process.

Setting up existing email accounts is easy.  All you need is your name, email address and account password. Ashampoo Photo Mailer automatically recognizes different email providers and adds the required server settings.

At $20 bucks, the app seems a bit over priced for an app that optimizes photos for easy sharing via email, though its photo optimization slider is pretty cool.  What would be nice, is if this integrated with Gmail, Yahoo mail Outlook.com on the web and Outlook on the desktop, allowing you to call the app directly from your mail app or from within your open browser. It would also be nice if this allowed you to share photos via Flickr, Facebook and other social network sites.

download Ashampoo Photo Mailer

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HTC Needs…Something

Back in the day, the company could do no wrong. Today, it’s a different story…

htcI’ve been an HTC device user for years. Back in the day, HTC made devices for a company called imate. imate was a device OEM out of Dubai, UAE, and back in 2004…they were the BOMB. Their devices were unlocked, well designed, high performing, high margin products. I remember saving money for an entire YEAR so I could buy an imate PDA2k, a Windows Mobile 5 powered, EDGE based, smartphone. It cost me $930. Unfortunately, the review of the PDA2k I wrote and posted on 2005-06-09 seems to evaporated. There’s nothing left but a small shot of the actual device. It’s too bad. It was a great device and a good review, too.

It turns out that the company behind all of imate’s devices at the time was HTC. Since then, the company came out on its own, established its own brand, made a huge splash in the market and was a total success. Lately, however, they’ve hit some really hard times.

Samsung seems to be able to introduce new Android devices every time it sneezes. Their Galaxy S line of smartphones is a worldwide success, despite any disputes with Apple or accusations of patent infringement. The competition they have been providing in the Android camp is pretty stiff.

As such, it’s been difficult for HTC to gain much traction in this space. I saw an interesting article on WSJ.com, indicating that HTC may need to consider a merger if it wants to survive.

htc_one14

Many analysts that share this point of view have suggested either Huawei or Lenovo as potential merger partners. It’s unclear whether HTC will consider partnerships with either organization. Both companies are Chinese, and a Chinese partner could really open up sales opportunities for a struggling HTC, who posted their first operating loss on record. Unfortunately for HTC, this loss, coupled with a “gloomy third quarter forecast” is powering an eight year low in HTC’s stock price. Many brokerages are targeting a NT $100 share price in recent weeks. HTC was priced at NT $160 as of early this morning, 2013-07-31.

HTC’s problems aren’t engineering based. Their devices are well designed, and well manufactured. The HTC One is simply stunning by all accounts. HTC’s issues are sales and marketing related, and its seems that a merger may be the best and easiest way to resolve those issues and hitch a ride on someone else’s well-oiled machine.

Any way you slice it, it’s clear. HTC needs…something. If they want to stay relevant and stay in business, they better figure out what that is and get it done, or the HTC One may be the One and Only.

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