iDon’t Flash, say the Steves

May 9, 2010 by · Comments Off on iDon’t Flash, say the Steves
Filed under: Technology 

To start off with a cliché, it is true that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  But to have the Steves ( Balmer -Microsoft’s CEO and Jobs – you know who he is) agree on bashing a competitor is unheard of, at least for this humble blogger.  Apple has been criticized not only for not supporting Adobe Flash video player in the iPhone, iPod, and iPad (i’Ve had it with Apple’s naming) but for banning apps that have their roots on it.  To make matters worse, Silicon Valley’s more revered deity sent out a letter saying that Flash sucks – battery, that is, as well as making devices crash and causing other problems.  Balmer agrees.  They both are in favor of the open standard video version called html5 video.

Hey, we’re all for standards, even better if they are open, but is it realistic to essentially ban all Flash designed websites from your mobile iProducts?  Microsoft definitelly adds some muscle to the fight, but Shantanu Narayen (Adobe’s CEO) got there first.  An estimated  70% of websites with video use Flash.  It has a great advantage over html5: it exists today.  It has also a huge  installed base,  works across browsers, and makes it easier for non-geek developers to use.  The question is: will the the explosion of browsers (especially mobile) makes an open standard needed even more? Indeed, but it will not happen overnight, even with the Steves’ weight behind it.

Claiming that Flash crashed devices and drains battery is a bit too extreme, unrealistic, and quite frankly arrogant.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But when you consider that the iPad has a 6000 mAh battery compared to the 1200 mAh battery in the iPhone 3GS sure, I’ll give you 10 hours of video too!  Simply put, battery problems are solved with batteries.  You want more battery life? put a bigger battery in.  Granted, it drives the device’s weight, but so does the display. Palm Pre, RIM, Windows Mobile (and soon Android) devices that support Flash lite are roughly the same weight than the iPhone, and crash just as often. Reality is, Flash provides the programmer control over the video experience and that makes Jobs angry.  He wants to control it all!  As per Microsoft’s motive?  Well, it just sounded like a good idea to blame computer crashes on somebody else’s software for a change.

Flash’s biggest limitation is the lack of mobile platform support.  It is a heavy weight platform that so far only works well on “big” desktop OS’s.  There is a Flash Lite out there but it is not 100% compatible with all Flash’s features.  But that will have to change soon, if Narayen wants to stay on top.   But then again, with more powerful processors and graphics coming to a mobile device near you will make this limitation a thing of the past.  In any case, it is this bloggers opinion that html5 video will eventually take over video on the internet.  The timing is the unknown.  But I don’t think one should start to short Adobe (ADBE), at least not because of Flash.  Au contraire mon fraire, this makes them a pricey acquisition target for cash rich software companies.

Enjoy.

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Palm got a hand

April 28, 2010 by · Comments Off on Palm got a hand
Filed under: Business, Technology 

Well apparently there is some hope for the nearly dead.   One more time I’m wrong and someone did find enough value for Palm, unlike I had predicted before.   Although in this blogger’s humble opinion $1.2B seems a little excessive.  Sure, HPQ has the cash to spare, but a Webkit browser on top of Linux does not take that much money.  Granted Palm has a good device or two, but in this environment it takes more than a good device to unseat the emperor.  I guess they’d figure they’d offer a sign-on bonus to Palm employees ($5.70 / share is a bit too distant to the $17+ back in October 2009) since they would really struggle to assemble a team like that on their own.

Sure there’s some intellectual property and some innovation left in the inventor of the category.  And it is the fastest growing and one of the most profitable markets in the industry but the world does not need that many mobile Operating Systems (OS) to choose from.  I’m sorry.  As I’ve pointed out before, to unseat the iPhone it will take more, a lot more than multitasking, a cool form factor, and a clever UI.  I’m sure HP will make products people want to buy, but the question in my mind is will HP be able to create the ecosystem that will finally challenge Apple?  I quite frankly doubt it.  Not because it is impossible, or because HP doesn’t have the skills, it is because it is not in their DNA and Palm does not bring that to the table.

Other bloggers (the real ones) are talking about tablets and netbooks using WebOS.  Now that is even crazier.  If a stretched out iPhone makes little sense, a bloated Pre (will they call it HP-Pro or the Maxi?) doesn’t make much sense either.  A clever-phone OS will make a tablet look like a dumb keyboardless PC (no offense Steve).  Besides, with no app store, no cult to follow you, no content delivery, no store chain, no Steve (sorry Mark) things don’t look too promising.  Besides, HP is a much more powerful brand than Palm, so it’s not that they’re bringing that to the table.

So, my dear follower (singular).  Let’s just regret having covered our short a day too late and wait for their next move.  An app delivery company? video distribution? or perhaps music delivery?  We’ll see.  But one thing is certain: there will be more of these moves (some may be really big).   Microsoft, Dell, HTC, RIM, and others will be on the M&A news soon.

Enjoy.

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Microsoft Getting Smart about Smartphones

February 3, 2010 by · Comments Off on Microsoft Getting Smart about Smartphones
Filed under: Technology 

Well, it was just a matter of time.  PC World reported that Microsoft will announce its own smartphone in the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona this month.  I guess the pandemic of iPhone envy is hitting everyone hard.  This one promises to be interesting since it will allegedly be based on the Zune music player and the Windows 7 Phone platform.  All good.  Until now Microsoft’s strategy was OEM friendly.  LG, Samsung, HTC, Motorola and others have introduced Microsoft based smartphones of varying success positioning Microsoft’s mobile OS as the 4th player (soon to be 5th thanks to Android) in the smartphone category (after RIM, Apple, and Symbian).

This strategy represents a hardware/software branded device from Microsoft in a sense competing with its own OEMs.  All those companies however have not shown any loyalty to the Redmond folks since they have diversified or totally migrated to the Android platform.  So I guess Balmer decided: Screw them I will go Google … sorry I will do like Apple … not really, I will do my own hardware and control my own destiny.   Good move?  We’ll see.  But definitely not a bad one or a move that will damage any OEM relationships.  The world is ready for a diversity in OSs and the smartphone category is the fastest growing category in the industry.  Microsoft cannot afford to be the fifth.

The question is:  Will this make a difference?  Not likely.

Microsoft has by far the largest market share in the enterprise – with “big Windows”, not smartphones, that privilege belongs to RIM.  It boasts millions upon millions of applications and it is the “standard” enterprise Operating System.  These are not 99 cent apps, no! These represent real money for enterprises and Microsoft.  A simple copy of Office may go for hundreds of dollars.  Why? because it is the defacto standard (for now).  The smartphone world behaves very different.  With the exception of email and a couple of minor “connectors” to ERP systems there are very few apps for the enterprise.  In fact Windows Mobile today has the largest number of  enterprise ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) but they specialize in niche applications like inventory, supply chain, delivery, fleet management, etc.  The devices these apps run on are not your typical HTC smartphone Fender edition but very specialized hardware made by Motorola and others.

The thing is:  The Microsoft name, which carries a lot of weight in the enterprise, does not represent a mayority choice for the consumers as it does in PCs or in those niche applications.  The perception of a “standard” OS with millions of applications does not exist in the Smarthphone world.  There are millions of apps for several OSs, in fact lots of apps are available for most smartphone OSs (paradoxically Windows Phone is typically the last one to be developed).  So my contention is that even if Microsoft comes up with a killer device it is an uphill battle to go after RIM, iPhone, Symbian, and Android.  It may much better than OEM versions since Microsoft has intimate knowledge of hardware and software to make it so, but it will hardly take the world by storm as its competitors have.

Good luck Microsoft and thanks for giving us all something to write about and for another great opportunity for a clever Apple commercial.  I’m sure there’s a map for that somewhere.

Enjoy.

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Android’s ways to win over users

November 7, 2009 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Technology 

Android - Apple As well anticipated, and (may I even say) masterfully the Motorola Droid lunched yesterday. Besides its impressive spec it is really one of the first devices that can truly be considered smart, unfortunately it is mostly thanks to Google (author of the Android OS in which it is based) than Motorola, and the name Droid is really Verizon’s (it will launch in Europe with the lame – not a typo I did mean lame with an “l” – Milestone) . Other bloggers have said it falls short of a true “iPhone killer”. I don’t think it is really about that (in spite of the fact that it looks to be better than the iPhone – i happen to be an iPhone user myself- and on a better network – at least in the US). Of course, Motorola and others want to take away a piece of the Apple pie (I hate puns) but the Droid is really taking advantage of the growing pie. Smartphones is the only category of mobile devices that grew this year and it it expected (according to ABI Research) to triple by 2013 to (are you ready?) 650 million phones per year worldwide!! Thankfully in part to the variety in the marketplace. Each contender in this battle will appeal customers in a different way and their cultures are a clue to their methods and target markets.
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Blackberry running out of juice?

June 18, 2009 by · Comments Off on Blackberry running out of juice?
Filed under: Technology 

Blackberry 957

Research in Motion, responsible for those of us “thumb-typing” all day long and undoubtedly king of the smart phone market announced quarterly results today. Impressive!! They beat analyst estimates again. Yet, the stock traded at some point after hours almost 10% below yesterday’s close (it has then recovered all but the last 2% or so). Is the Blackberry is running out of juice (I hate puns!) at last?

People buy things because of the things these things do (whaaat?). Applications are what sell devices, not the devices themselves. Sure a sexier iPhone will sell better than an ugly one but first and foremost you have to want to do what the iPhone does before you consider it.

Continue …

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