Particle Debris (wk. ending 4/22) A Caboodle of What Ifs?

| Particle Debris

Dice - all question marksBecause it’s Good Friday, this will be a somewhat abbreviated edition of Particle Debris.

Mac OS X 10.7. “Lion” will launch this summer, according to Apple. Whenever a new OS ships, some Macs get left behind. Which ones? Here’s a list from FairerPlatform that shows the list of Lion-compatible Macs. Speaking of aging Macs, I’ve been seeing rumors that inventory of iMac is drying up, and that means new Sandy Bridge iMacs with ThunderBolt may be imminent.

Along those lines, there are also rumors of Sandy Bridge MacBook Airs to ship in June. Good-bye Core 2 Duo. Apple, now your MBA has my attention.

What would be the impact if Apple were declared a “Common Carrier”? At Forbes this week, Bill Davidow asks the question and it could have serious consequences for Apple.

What, exactly, is a common carrier? It is any vendor with a monopoly advantage in a market. And because of that advantage, the carrier must provide access to customers without discrimination. A common carrier is legally bound to carry all passengers or freight as long as there is enough space, the fee is paid, and no reasonable grounds to refuse to do so exist. A common carrier that refuses to carry a particular person or cargo without sufficient justification may be sued for damages.”

Does Apple qualify in some modern respects? It’s something to think about.

A jury in Texas has determined that Google has infringed in a Linux patent and awarded Bedrock Computer Technologies US$5M. Florian Mueller, after describing the basis for the suit and the verdict, ponders the implications for other Linux distributions as well as Android. As always, Mr. Mueller takes his time and lays out the important legal details for you.

How did the bloggers and the professionals do when it came to forecasting Apple’s earnings on Wednesday? Philip Elmer-DeWitt made a list of all the amateurs and professionals and showed their performance. He points to some winners — and hall of shamers. Special mentions went to Turley Miller and Horace Dediu who had spot-on forecasts.

As for me, well, my loyal readers will no doubt recall that I forecasted 9+ million iPad sales, and Apple fell well short of that. Now, in hindsight, I think I understand what happened, and I explained it in an editorial on Wednesday. No matter. I guess I won’t be getting that job with Goldman Sachs after all. And now… this is your cue to dump on me in the comments as I promised you could.

Go ahead. I can take it.

Okay. I’m back, chastened. Moving on.

You know I love sand charts, and here’s an update from Business Insider showing the latest Apple Revenue by Segment. What’s interesting here is the upward trajectory of Apple’s iPhone sales. Apple’s revenue from the iPhone has “gone from zero to half of Apple’s revenue in less than 4 years.” This is a hallmark of a great company.

Here’s a neat news tidbit. Pingdom recently reported that iPads alone now account for more usage share on the Internet than Linux. The numbers come from Statcounter and are averaged from over 3 million websites. There’s an informative chart you’ll want to look at that also compares Mac OS X to various Windows editions.

Have you been wondering what’s happening with Apple’s iWeb. It hasn’t been getting much love from Apple lately. Steve Sande, who has written a book on iWeb, thinks he knows what’s going on, “Three reasons iWeb may be doomed.” Basically, Apple believes that customers no longer need iWeb because Facebook now serves the same function of serving up family data, photo, videos etc. If Mr. Sande is right, this is alarming because everyone knows that websites are under the user’s absolute control and there’s some measure of security and privacy. You pay for that. On the other hand, Facebook is a hive of scum and villainy that completely compromises your privacy for bucks under the counter. So for Apple to explicitly make this move, Apple would have to be saying, we don’t care about providing valuable tools for the web savvy. We’ll cut our costs and throw you to the Facebook wolves. More or less. We’ll see if they do it.

Have a great holiday everyone.

_______

Teaser image: thanks to iStockphoto.com

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8 Comments Leave Your Own

Nemo

Dear John:  Yes, you blew it trying to forecast Apple’s sales of iPads, but I, as I think is true of most, depend on you for your expert knowledge of tech in general and Apple’s tech in particular.  I have other people to pick securities and to try to forecast companies and economies’ performance.

Facebook is a hive of scum and villainy that compromises privacy for filthy lucre is colorful language.  I, however, would have gone with: a den of iniquity, worshiping and sacrificing all to Mammon.

The death of iWeb will be a loss; though there are substitutes that provide greater control and privacy, they do require greater sophistication and a bit more money.  WordPress, especially the paid version, using Wordpress’s templates or WordPress combined with Freeway Express or Freeway Pro web-design software can substitute.

webjprgm

I never did get tools like iWeb.  Anyone who can’t build their own web site from scratch has plenty of choices, from WordPress to Facebook and Flickr.  I had a couple clients that used MS FrontPage or nuView, since they are totally non-technical people and that works for them.  But I hate those tools, and prefer to hand-code my own HTML.  So I won’t miss iWeb, and everyone in my family uses the non-private evil stuff so they won’t miss it either.

Average consumer:
  Facebook + Flickr, etc.—compromises your privacy, but most people seem not to really care, they just are concerned but use these with reckless abandon anyway.
Consumer with privacy concerns:
  WordPress, FrontPage, or some other web site building tool
Advanced/Tinkerer Consumer:
  the above, plus Drupal, site templates, Dreamweaver, etc. that take more know-how to use
Developers:
  any of the above, plus MVC / Rails frameworks, hand-coded HTML / PHP / Ruby / etc.

I guess there’s also home vs. business involved, since a business consumer could also hire a web developer but for home use you wouldn’t.  iWeb is definitely targeted at home use.

Here’s some quick Googling for web site builder tools:
-GoDaddy, bluehost, and other hosting companies have tools, though I haven’t used them.
-plenty of tools targeted at Real Estate agents, photographers, or other professional niches, like
  - http://www.realestatesites.com/
  - http://www.sitecube.com/
  - http://www.theredx.com/home/products_agentsites

wab95

John:

Intriguing picks, as ever.

Bill Davidow’s question about whether Apple is a common carrier is clearly more rhetorical than real at this stage, but it is one that Apple and others are well advised to ponder, and Davidow’s concluding advice is sound; the more quickly these companies adopt a revised view of ‘carriage’ and ‘territory’, and act accordingly, the less likely their business models are to be impinged upon by government regulators. 

I may have to re-read Florian Miller’s post to appreciate the detail, but the gist of this having industry-wide implications is not lost. I wonder, however, if in the interest of Google’s install base, even if courts find against Google on any of the 41 Android-related patent infringement suits, mechanisms will not be found to permit Android-related products and services to continue unimpeded (not unlike the suit against RIM not long ago). I should add, I would be interested in Nemo’s thoughts on the same, particularly regarding Android.

Another observation on Business Insider’s chart is the relative seasonal fluidity of Apple’s revenue fraction attributable to iPods and iPads, with the winter holiday spikes displayed by both. It will be interesting to see more than one year of data when available, and whether the iPad continues to behave seasonally like the iPod in terms of sales.

A final thought about the Pingdom piece; what is more interesting than the fraction of iOS (iPad only) to Linux operating systems, in my view, is the that of the Mac OS, which is clearly above single-digit user share.

Nemo

Even though one side or the other may win, judges don’t wreak havoc on the economy or important industries.  But in most cases, after a strategic victory for one side or the other, judges usually trust market forces to result in some negotiated settlement post judgment.  If you recall, that is what happened to RIM.  The judge said that he was going to enjoin RIM’s operations on a date certain.  RIM then had no choice but to settle on Plaintiff’s terms. 

However, sometimes the parties can’t reach a post judgment settlement.  Then the court is faced with a dilemma.  It must respect the winner’s constitutionally protected property interests in its IP, but it can’t destroy industries either.  Especially, where innocent third-party interests are at stake, a court may use its broad powers in equity to fashion a remedy, usually some licensing agreement, that will adequately compensate the winner without harming the interests of innocent third parties.  However, this step will likely result in the winner appealing, unless it is satisfied with the remedy. 

And courts also have other choices.  One favorite for a lower court judge is to stay all or part of his order pending the outcome of settlement discussions or an appeal to a higher court on the legal issues or, in rare cases, the factual issues too.  Judges can also jawbone and threaten the uncooperative/unreasonable party by threatening to exercise some appropriate judicial prerogative in a way that the unreasonable party won’t like.

But usually after a victory, there is a settlement on the winner’s terms.  For example, if Google loses to Oracle on some or all of Oracle’s significant IP claims.  Google and its OEMs will simply have to take a license from Oracle and abide by that license’s terms.  That is, among other things, they will have to pay Oracle royalties and fat damages.  The fate of Dalvik would be uncertain, but even it might survive as Oracle’s property or subject to Oracle’s license.  But, of course, that would mean the end of Android as we know it.  But we are a long way from any of that, if it ever comes to that.

But my God, 41 different IP infringement lawsuits from some of the wealthiest and most powerful firms in the tech industry, which are represented by some of the most talented IP litigators in America, all focused on Android.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  The lawyers on Google and the Android OEMs’ side are excellent too.  So it won’t be a matter of legal skill, but these suits are more likely to be decide on a basis that is close to the merits.  But can there be no fire where there are 41 instances of billowing smoke?

wab95

Even though one side or the other may win, judges don?t wreak havoc on the economy or important industries

Many thanks, Nemo.

Very informative. Much of this is what one might expect, but your concluding question is a good one, to which one can only reply, ‘Usually not’.

macjeffff

Thank you, John, for using the memorable quote “hive of scum and villainy” in referring to Facebook. Not only is it a great line from the original Star Wars movie, it’s stunningly accurate on several levels. A literate and literary gem. Bravo!

JohnW

Interesting info as usual, thanks John. One small nit: Florian Miller is actually Florian Mueller.

geoduck

I would be sorely p****d if iWeb went away.
I started with Clarus HomePage. It went away and I had to rebuild my site
Went to DreamWeaver. Got too expensive (and they might have even dropped the Mac version for a while.) Either way I switched again and had to rebuild my site, again.
Went to GoLive. Worked great. Then it went away and I had to rebuild my site, again.
Now I’m using iWeb. It’s cheep and easy but a bit long in the tooth. If they drop it though I’ll have to rebuild my web site again.

I’m getting really really sick of having to recode my site from scratch because every editor I move to gets discontinued. Facebook, Flikr, etc are DOA in my book. I want my page under my control and not mined by greedy cretins. I have NO private data on my Facebook page and it’ll stay that way.

RE webjprgm:
I actually know HTML and used to code in it quite a bit. When WYSIWYG editors came along I liked them because I didn’t have to type so much. One missed ] or / can screw up a whole page and be a pain to track down. I like to do the overall layout in the GUI, letting it write the majority of the code and then tweak bits directly in HTML. Now iWeb doesn’t let you do that but it was adequate because it interfaced with my .mac account so seamlessly. I’ll take a look at WordPress. Frontpage would violate my MacBooks MS-free zone.

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