Friday, April 1, 2011

What is Google to do?

John Gruber is truly at his Apple-fanboy, Google hating best today.    Comments like:

"Andy Rubin, Vic Gundotra, Eric Schmidt: shameless, lying hypocrites, all of them."  

He pulls out many quotes from the above people about Android being Open, and is now pointing and laughing like an immature little schoolboy.  One can almost hear him yelling "neener neener neener".  It must be nice to have a blog where you get PAID to act utterly childish.  

My problem with Gruber's crowing is not so much over the accuracy of what he says.  Certainly Google is having to pull back because of the consequences of just letting Android become the wild west of phone operating systems.  No, my problem is with the vitriol, hate, and assumption of nefarious motives that is becoming all too popular today.  The same Gruber who not long ago dived into the political pool to decry violent and hateful rhetoric now employs a strategy which could be called, oh, I don't know, hateful rhetoric?

And he certainly has no particular insight into the motives of the people he rails at in his posts.  But once you've decided someone is an enemy, I suppose you are free to attribute nothing but the most base of motives.

For what it's worth, I believe that Google is suffering the consequences of giving Carriers too much power over Android.  I think they made the mistake of believing that whatever Android looked like and acted like would be good enough, that carriers would just drop it into their phones, and everyone would be happy.  Unfortunately, the vanilla Google interface often fails to wow the way, say, an iPhone interface does.  It's supremely functional, arguably more so than it's Apple competition, but it's not always polished.  So, HTC, Motorola and Samsung happily made their own variants of Android, largely by burying in a customer user interface that cannot be removed without rooting the phone and flashing a custom ROM.  Then, they try to prevent users from doing THAT by locking the phones, encrypting the bootloaders, etc.  Samsung then embarrassed Google by putting out a tablet based upon Android 2.2, an OS that was clearly not a good fit for tablets.  So, what was Google to do?

Unfortunately, they are realizing that 100% pure openness has it's price, and we Google Android fans have paid it in fragmentation, slow upgrades, carriers that want to wrest control of Android from Google, etc.  Of course, now that they have realized they need to take a little more ownership of the Google Android experience and have pulled back a bit from the big openness strategy, they are being called every name in the book, often by people like John Gruber, who has spent the last couple of years telling everyone how awful fully open Android was, and how Apple's tightly controlled approach is superior.  In short, he needs to have it both ways.  So he does.  No matter what Google does at this point, Gruber will point and jeer and laugh and mock and carry on.

I enjoy reading his blog, because really, it's an interesting psychological analysis of a fanboy who is utterly blind to the deficiencies of his own beloved iOS devices, while somehow spotting and harping on about every deficiency in those of Android.

So, John...wax on buddy.  I am amused by your posts.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

SPB Shell 3D - Cha Ching?

Really, $14.95 for a home screen replacement?  And thanks to Android Market, you get all of 15 minutes to figure out if you're going to want to keep it...

I'm going to go with ... NO.

C'mon, SPB, you can easily double or triple your sales at a $5-$10 pricepoint.  $14.95 is a non-starter.

I'll wait.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Can Apple really get away with this?

Apple is now doing their best imitation of Microsoft.  Let's look at what they are doing:

  1. Charging 30% for all in-app subscriptions
  2. Ordering app makers to remove links to their sites where they could subscribe outside of the app store
  3. Ordering app makers to charge the same or better amount in the app store as they do in their own site.
I think they can get away with item 1 and maybe even 2, but 3?  Remember when Microsoft used to charge OEMs like Dell and Gateway Windows licenses per CPU sold, regardless of whether the customer chose Windows?  I see this as similarly pernicious.  The FTC stepped in and looked at antitrust implications and basically told Microsoft that you can't charge Windows licenses for computers where Windows is not installed.  Microsoft had to back down on these Draconian licensing schemes, because they were killing competition in the Operating System market.  The OEMs could simply not afford to be paying the "Microsoft Tax" or encourage the development and sales of alternate operating systems.

Now Apple is doing something which, although technically different, amounts to the same thing.  They are holding the App Store approval hostage for iOS devices.  They are in effect saying, "If you want to sell your stuff in the app store, we get some say over what you charge OUTSIDE of the app store."  This is a bridge too far, and given Apple's dominant position with tablets with the iPad, should draw close antitrust scrutiny.  Apple should have no right to tell any business how to conduct its affairs or price its products outside of the App Store.  Apple's argument is, of course, that the user who subscribes outside the app store would then be able to download the company's app, and access their subscription, without Apple getting anything more than the possible price of the app itself. 

To this I say: so be it.  Apple has no business trying to collect subscription fees for in-app purchases, in my opinion.  The app store exists as a store for (bear with me now) APPS.  Now, I recognize that this doesn't stop Pandora from making a free app and charging subscribers outside the App, and Apple gets nothing.  I get it.  So, if you're Apple, and you want your cut so bad, you simply make a rule that says that a content producer providing an App in the App Store must charge the user enough for the app so that Apple 30% gets the cost of a single subscription.  What this does is pass on to the consumer the Apple tax...but it limits that cost to the APPLE CONSUMER, not all consumers.  Because make no mistake, if a company has to charge the same amount for both in app and out of app subscriptions, they will simply raise the price of ALL subscriptions, meaning that an Android customer is effectively subsidizing the Apple tax.  Think about that.  You own an android device and you now are paying a 30% higher price for your Android subscription to cover the expenses of that company having to give Apple a 30% cut in the App Store.  That's ABSURD.  

Of course, Apple won't bend on this matter, because Apple is power and money hungry.  They are obsessed with profit and will get it regardless of who they tick off (at least until someone stands up to them or pushes them into being a niche provider again).  Apple wants to pretend that this is customer friendly, because of the convenience to the customer of an in-app purchase, but the reality is Apple wants to make the rules for the entire content distribution market.  Apple is betting that the content publishers are just going to bend over and take it.  That's why we need competitive devices and OS's.  Android is already there as a phone.  Now the Android tablets need to take root.  Once content providers see enough money in the alternate landscape, there will be competition, and once Apple users finally say "Enough" and start bailing, Apple will be brought to heel.  But as long as the sheep-like Apple fans continue to just drink the kool-aid and take this nonsense, they will end up paying the Apple Tax, because the content providers will just pass it on to you.

The ball is in your court, Apple customers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blogging from my Nexus One

Google finally released a blogging app for my phone.  Life is about to get more interesting in this space. Stay tuned.