No, Mr. Bezos, We Want Devices not Services

| Particle Debris

During presentation of the new Kindles by Jeff Bezos on Thursday, he proposed the idea that Amazon wants to make money when people use Amazon services, not when they buy the hardware. The problem with that is that the device really doesn’t belong to the customer and control is lost. Examples are becoming alarming.

Imagine that you’re out bike riding with a friend. He’s hit by a driver, knocked down and injured. The car speeds away, so you try to take a picture of his license plate. The iPhone suddenly shuts down the camera. The GPS system says you’re near a concert hall, and IP law says you can’t photograph there. Or you’re at a political convention. You try to take a photo of a politician patting a female delegate on the fanny. Again, by government request, your camera is disabled in the convention center. These are not fantasies.

The ability of the government or powerful, wealthy entities to control what you can do with your device is becoming frequent and pervasive. Apple is even patenting this technology, although that one is not based on GPS. I surmise that’s coming next because I read another article, which I can’t find, about identifying geolocations, like gyms, to also block photography.

Money is everything. Right?

The problem with the service oriented approach is the sense of entitlement the makers have when they trade manufacturing cost against revenue from services and ads. That is, the device isn’t really considered under your authority anymore because it was bequeathed to you by a benefactor, for the purpose of delivering content that you may chose, but don’t really have any control over. Not to mention those non-removable ads. (See the link above.)

The precise, insidious phrase from Mr. Bezos was, “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices.” And we know what that means. If Amazon makes money from you using the device, the implication is that, to make more money, they need to further dictate how you use your device. See the Apple patent discussion above.

I submit, as further evidence, a story about a surveillance robot, a copybot, that recently snuffed out the Ustream delivery of the Hugo Science Fiction Awards when it detected copyrighted material. That was despite the fact that the award show had permission from the corresponding studios to show excerpts. Oh, the irony for the SciFi crowd. Harlan Ellison must be having a fit. (But then, he still uses a typewriter.)

My preference is to buy a tablet, acquire a book reader, and download any book, unabridged, that I might want. But the interleaving of hardware, heavy R&D costs, content delivery, and IP protection is so convoluted these days that I expect, at some point, I may not be able to buy certain books or photograph certain things based on who I’m thought to be or where I may be. It’s not out of the question, and here’s a hilarious punctuation of the fix, via Star Trek, that we’re getting ourselves into.

Of course, don't read me wrong. Products like the iPad and Kindle have succeeded where others have failed precisely because they offer services instead of stand alone hardware. So I'm speaking to the plentiful prospects for abuse, not the initial, modest and sincere efforts.

Tech News Debris

Volumes have been written about what Steve Jobs brought to Apple. Many terabytes more will be written. But this one is worth a look for insights in how to conceive of a product and may explain why some companies have failed to successfully compete against Apple. The author discusses the overlap of product frameworks for Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability. Fascinating reading. “Does every startup need a Steve Jobs?

IDEO’s product framework for Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability

The Department of Health and Human Services is finally focusing on the security of mobile devices when it comes to electronic health records (EHR). Ryan Fass takes a look in: “New Federal Rules Show The Impact of the iPhone and iPad on Healthcare.

I think two of the links above apply to this next article. The link on Amazon and services and the link on product design. It seems that some companies have a hard time marrying concept with engineering and manufacturing in a race with current competition. So they announce products you cannot yet buy. The result is the infamous “soft launch.” Here’s the analysis: “Nokia and Motorola and the failed art of the soft launch.

Meet the man who will build Google, the Next Generation, Dr. Eric Brewer, a professor at U.C. Berkeley. From the Wired article: “The web giant believes much of its success stems from its ability to craft software and hardware capable of juggling more data, more quickly than practically any other operation on Earth. And, well, that’s about right.”

Put in that perspective, Apple may rue the day they got head, hands and feet out of supercomputing. The future wars of the world, in business and between nations, will be fought with powerful supercomputers, and Apple falls into the defenseless babe category compared to the power of Google. To wit, "Is a cyber-9/11 looming?"

There are two perspectives on Java. One is from the perspective of the individual and personal computing devices. The other is the business world of Java and enterprise Java development and huge databases, a world few iOS or OS X developers, or even Apple engineers, know about. Taken with the right perspective, this article is food for thought about personal Java. But I sure wish the author had shown evidence of a broader perspective. Still... "Is it time to say goodbye to Java?"

Before you read this final entry, put your coffee down.... Ready?

Every writer has his or her experiences and perspectives, so I try to show respect for all. But, for the sake of your reading pleasure, I direct you to the comment Rob Enderle made after Amazon’s announcements of its new Kindles. “We may have just seen Amazon steal the market from Apple... Waiting until next month to launch the iPad Mini looks stupid."

See? I saved you from coffee through the nose.

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11 Comments Leave Your Own

Lee Dronick

“Imagine that you’re out bike riding with a fiend.”

Critical Mass” smile

Lee Dronick

“We may have just seen Amazon steal the market from Apple… Waiting until next month to launch the iPad Mini looks stupid.”

Remember what happened to Marcus Brutus and his fellow conspirators when they allowed Marc Anthony to have the last word after they assassinated Julius Caesar.

Jamie

Definitely one of my major gripes with Amazon content (iBooks too). Not being able to do what I will for my own personal use with the content I purchase is maddening. Just as the music industry did, Amazon and others seem determined to alienate the people who are their actual paying customers with this behavior dictation, the ability of many companies to destroy their own long-term revenue never ceases to amaze me. Do they still teach business in business school?

I think I’ll be steering clear of their ecosystem altogether. Ultimately a futile gesture as we plod along, perhaps, but money is pretty much all they understand. They aren’t getting any of mine. wink

mrmwebmax

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Every writer has his or her experiences and perspectives, so I try to show respect for all. But, for the sake of your reading pleasure, I direct you to the comment Rob Enderle made after Amazon’s announcements of its new Kindles. “We may have just seen Amazon steal the market from Apple… Waiting until next month to launch the iPad Mini looks stupid.”

See? I saved you from coffee through the nose.

I’m reading this on a Friday night, so you saved me from martini through the nose. smile

While it simply amazes me that publications rely on Enderle to talk about anything remotely related to Apple, journalists relying on Enderle for his opinions on computers and tablets has just taken a back seat to the most amazing journalistic folly I may have ever seen: having Rob Enderle provide information on quantum teleportation.

I’m not making that up: Quantum teleportation.

That’s what Allen tells Sam Flynn that his dad, Kevin Flynn, said that he cracked right before he (Kevin Flynn) disappeared. From the movie Tron: Legacy.

Apparently there is a real-world quantum teleportation. And while it won’t beam you up to the Enterprise or zap you onto the Grid for a lightcycle death match, is is something very real being developed for communications—something that could replace, say, the seven-minute communications gap between Earth and Mars with pretty much real-time communication.

TechNewsWorld ran an article on it just yesterday. As you can imagine, this is extremely heady stuff. Yet who do they call in for expert analysis? None other than the guy who claimed iMacs would launch flying glass everywhere during an earthquake, Rob Enderle. How did this guy get this gig anyway? It’s like his lack of credibility makes him ever more-credible.

Thus, we have the ever-Apple-Doomsayer explaining quantum teleportation as thus:

So, while that trip to the moon without a spaceship is likely not in the cards, the technology could vastly improve communication around the world. And that is just the beginning.

“Quantum communications provides two very powerful benefits,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “It is zero latency, and you can tell if the information has been observed before you get it.”

It could also provide a greater level of security that is simply not available in most wireless communications today.

“Even quantum-level encryption could be decrypted with similar technology—but if you know the information is being observed without permission, you can act instantly to stop the exposure,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

Whether he is 100% accurate or not here is beside the point, IMHO. Having a tech columnist of his caliber weigh in on quantum teleportation—I say again, quantum teleportation—would be like quoting me on conservation strategies for endangered Snow Leopards and other big cats, just because I’m good at rescuing and raising their smaller domestic/feral counterparts.

How did he get that gig, and how can I apply???

Link to article here:

Quantum Teleportation Could Let Earth Phone ET’s Home

mrmwebmax

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I was just told that my comment to this article might be SPAM, and was sent for moderation. I know I used a lot of BBCode in it, including a hyperlink. My apologies to TMO if such is not permitted in article comments.

FWIW, my comment was about Rob Enderle, and why anyone would trust him to comment on the tech industry. I then pointed to an article, just published yesterday on TechNewsWorld, where they go to Enderle and get his “expert opinion” on….

Quantum teleportation.

I’m not making this up. Hopefully my original post makes it. I mean, Enderle can’t even get consumer electronics right, and people go to him for information on quantum teleportation???

jfbiii

To be fair…Nobody is better positioned than Mr. Enderle to know what stupid looks like. He can’t help but see it in every mirror.

webjprgm

Apple’s idea uses some infrared code?  OK, so I put an infrared light on my license plate holder broadcasting the no-photos signal, then I can run over bikers without getting my license plate photographed.

I don’t like it at all.

geoduck

Amazon makes Apple’s “Walled Garden” look pretty good.

geoduck

For a serious laugh, go to the Star Trek video mentioned above, watch it once so you know what they are saying. Then watch it again with the sound off and Closed Captioning on. They did a really, really bad job of it. It’s hysterical.

iJack

“Remember what happened to Marcus Brutus and his fellow conspirators when they allowed Marc Anthony to have the last word after they assassinated Julius Caesar.”

Weeel, in the grander scheme of things, he didn’t have the last word, did he?  While Antony was evening scores with Brutus, Cassius, et al, Octavian was well on his way to becoming Augustus, and eventually finished off Antony at Actium.  I think Octavian had the last word.

Just sayin’.

wab95

John:

One thing that strikes me about Amazon’s tablet reboot is the gamble that Bezos et al are making, unless they’ve done some background analysis that they have not shared (which could well be the case). What do I mean by that?

Simply, not only are Amazon making an important assumption about how the tablet will be used, in this case, essentially only content consumption, but because PC sales are slumping, in part due to tablets (primarily the iPad) eating into PC market share amongst buyers opting to replace an ageing PC with an iPad, Amazon are making an assumption about how consumers are using their old PCs, for which their tablet purchases are a replacement. That might be a huge leap.

If Bezos and company have done their homework, and have some background data on how their average client uses that older PC (they would be targeting the private consumer over the enterprise, for obvious reasons), and it turns out that they are largely consuming content and shopping online - and enjoy shopping online), then they may have a ready market and a runaway success. That online sales still comprise a lesser fraction of overall commercial sales in the USA and Europe, and given that, following an initial burst of sales around the winter holidays last year, with relatively few thereafter and no substantial internet KF presence for the post-holiday season, that assumption may not hold.

If Amazon have not done their homework, then they could be pitching their products to a much smaller market, and consumer nod may instead go to their competitors, in this case, Google’s Nexus 7. I don’t see the revamped KF being a true competitor to the iPad, in terms of the market to which the iPad is pitched. That market, though representative of the casual consumer, as your section on the US Department of Health and Human Services and iPad medical and allied health services use indicates (a phenomenon to which I can personally attest), is increasingly represented by high-end content creation professional and enterprise users. These are not Amazon KF clients. They may not even be Google Nexus clients, as prior Android tablets made no inroads here. This remains to be seen.

It would be good to see a product from Google, Samsung or MS give the iPad real competition, but this will require more than just a hardware spec-fight. The iPad is firmly ensconced as the reigning post-PC device champ. Just as with prize fighting, for a contender to take that crown, they cannot simply tie the champ in contest, they have to convincingly beat him. For the iPad, that is champ comprised of both products (beyond the iPad itself) and services. No mean feat, that.

Kendrick’s piece on the soft launch is telling for the contrast between Apple vs almost every other major tech industry leaders’ ultra-portable (smartphone, tablet) product launch of late, and, in my view, is indicative of no small amount of desperation, as well as an attempt at cunning timely product announcement, intended to ride the public interest wave of Apple product release. MS have used this tactic with varying, but undeniable, degrees of success. The question is, how long with the public and press allow these companies to get away with it.

I knew that Apple had become Earth’s largest company by market cap, but hadn’t realised that its influence was galactic in scope - certainly enough to snuff the likes of Federation and their flagship. On a more serious note, I think the reverberations of Apple’s victory vs Samsung in California continue to rock to the planet, and the competition have taken note; ergo the discussions between Apple and Google this past week.

As for Enderle…what can one say. Enough said.

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