No, Mr. Bezos, We Want Devices not Services

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.