Particle Debris (wk. ending 4/1) Singing in the Rain

| Particle Debris

I can hardly ever understand what RIM CEO Jim Balsille is saying. He speaks in broad, metaphorical strokes that don’t seem to click with the technical community. Fortunately, we have Horace Dediu to translate for us. Here’s what Mr. Balsille said at RIM’s quarterly earnings report, side-by-side with Dediu’s translation. Thanks Horace.

One key to understanding the current competitive situation with Apple is to remember the industry’s mistakes of the past. And Steve Jobs is certainly old enough to have seen it all, so you don’t want to go up against Apple unless you’re well schooled.

I was intrigued and pleased with this analysis by Mark Reschke who points out a critical flaw with RIM’s Playbook OS strategy. Mark takes us through the history of IBM’s OS/2, a fine OS from the 1990s, but it had a problem. It ran Windows apps, so there was no incentive to write native apps for OS/2. As a result, OS/2, good as it was, died. That’s exactly the hole RIM has dug itself into with QNX and Android. Here, just go read it, and you’ll see the point Mark is making. “RIM’s Playbook - DOA: IBM Shows Us Why.” It’s hard to feel sorry for Mr. Balsille after reading this, and actually, I just smiled.

You may have noticed that I seldom call out other tech journalists by name. I have, on occasion, when the offense was egregious, but day-to-day, we all have our opinions and we all make mistakes. I consider it rude to fire journalistic bullets at someone just because I disagree with them. However, as I said, when the offenses are so bad and so frequent that they create a pattern, then they get named. Fortunately, the Macalope has done that for us, and the list isn’t just individuals, but bad behavior by companies as well. So on this day of frivolity, I give you: “The Macalope Weekly Special Edition: Fools of the Year.

“Playtime is over in Android Land,” according to Ashlee Vance and Peter Burrows of Bloomberg Businessweek. Google’s Andy Rubin, an Apple veteran, had anticipated the Android fragmentation and is now doing something about it. That means that Google is placing more constraints on Android, for example, holding back the source code for Honeycomb.

It’s come down to this, according to the authors. “Over the past few months, according to several people familiar with the matter, Google has been demanding that Android licensees abide by ‘non-fragmentation clauses’ that give Google the final say on how they can tweak the Android code—to make new interfaces and add services—and in some cases whom they can partner with.” Read it here: “Do Not Anger the Alpha Android.

I can only smile as I sip my green tea.

Most of us know that Windows 7 is not a great OS for a tablet. That doesn’t keep Microsoft from trying to seduce partners into shoehorning Windows 7 onto their tablet hardware, but when all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.

And yet, there may be some who see an opportunity for a tablet OS that leverages music and video. So with that concept in mind, CNET’s Joshua Goldman came up with a looney idea: A Zune tablet. Kinda makes your skin crawl, doesn’t it? Say it out loud. Zune … tablet. Oh, my. And it doesn’t seem to be an April Fool article, published as it was on March 30. Anyway, here’s a fun coffee through your nose article: “How a Zune tablet could beat Apple and Android.”

The buzz about Google Buzz is that it got Google into a lot of trouble because Google violated its own privacy policy. That got the attention of the FTC, and, as a result, Google will be audited by the FTC for the next twenty years. “Google settles with FTC over Buzz; Privacy policies to be audited for two decades.”

Help still wanted: Adult supervision at Google.

Last week, I wrote a speculative article abut how Apple may have to delay the iPhone 5 for a few months. “Why Apple Might Delay the iPhone 5.” It garnered some attention, and so I was amused when I saw this article a day later by Larry Dignan: “Apple’s iPhone 5 this fall: Is it all about the LTE?” I haven’t figured out whether this is echo chamber journalism, or whether we’re both reading the same tea leaves. But it was nice to see that Mr. Dignan and I were on the same wavelength.

Speaking of being on the same wavelength, have you ever wondered how your Mac compares in speed to the world’s fastest supercomputers? I was looking for the gigaflops numbers for a Mac Pro last night, and I scoured the Internet with Google. I kept coming up empty handed. After an hour or so of searching in vain, the best article I could come up with was one I wrote myself. Gulp. Amused by all that, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you once again. “The Fastest Mac Compared to Today’s Supercomputers.

My good friend, Steve Sande with TUAW, lives not far from me. This week, he did us all a favor and jumped headlong into the AT&T personal hotspot, at not inconsiderable expense, and wrote about his experiences. If you’ve been curious about using your iPhone to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot while you’re out and about, and you have US$45/month to throw at it, read: “iPhone 4 Personal Hotspot put to the test.

If you’re a technical columnist, and you’re at a loss to come up with a story by deadline, you can always go hunting for a horror story about Android malware. No less than Gregg Keizer decided to do that, but even though I have mixed feelings about excessive sensationalism, it is sometimes helpful to remember what Android users are up against. And by users, I don’t mean tech journalists, I mean Mary Smith, bank loan manager, Anytown, USA, who may not be as up to speed as we are.

Here’s reason number 1,278 to be an iPhone user, if you’re not an expert: “Rogue Android app texts humiliating messages.

Potent legal problems require a potent defense, and Google can use that about now. So the company has enlisted the services of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner Charles Verhoeven. According to the AM Law Daily, “Verhoeven, who, The Recorder notes, led Google to victory in several patent trials last year, has appeared on behalf of HTC Corp. or Motorola Inc. in almost all Android-related suits filed at the International Trade Commission, and in more than a half-dozen suits in federal district court.”

As the article points out, Apple’s ITC case against HTC is coming up, and heavyweight Verhoeven will defend HTC. HTC will need all the help it can get, but the fact remains that Google, by virtue of the way it has developed Android, has gotten some of its partners into serious trouble. While all that gets sorted out, Apple just keeps selling truckloads of iPhones and iPads. I wouldn’t want to be the CEO of a company competing directly with Apple.

Finally, Hewlett Packard has just now shipped its WebOS 3.0 SDK, according to InfoWorld. The company is “hoping that they [developers] will start working on applications for the company’s upcoming TouchPad tablet,” due to be released this summer. HP has a tough hill to climb and not much time do do it. And HP faces the same dilemma as RIM: how do you sell a tablet that has relatively few native apps out of the box compared to Apple? HP can’t waffle like RIM and kludge Android app compatibility, so it’ll be interesting to see how HP fares with developers over the next few months.

It’s raining in tablet-ville for everyone but Apple. To paraphrase Gene Kelly’s “Gotta Dance,” (Singing in the Rain), I say: “Gotta smile.

Just gotta smile.

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RIM CEO Jim Balsille is saying. He speaks in broad, metaphorical strokes that don?t seem to click with the technical community. Fortunately, we have Horace Dediu to translate for us


You’re a gentleman. This is a euphemism for ‘The man makes no sense’ (or worse). Horace Dediu’s side-by-side is hilarious. One cannot make this up. Still, I think an additional problem for RIM’s Playbook is that, tech-challenges aside, it was initially being touted as the enterprise version of a tablet (productivity-intensive capabilities), yet has consistently emphasised its consumer-friendly capabilities, presumably to compete with the iPad. This is a strategic error, in my view. Worse, I think it’s symptomatic of the company not having its own viable tablet vision and plan. This is supported by Mark Reschke’s article, which illustrates how their QNX decisions are yet other ways in which RIM are sabotaging themselves. They could no worse divining their tablet strategy by Ouija board.

The Macalope piece was even funnier than Dediu’s, but Goldman’s Zune tablet article beat them both. OTOH, I would be curious as to how Redmond would respond.

And Google concerned about fragmentation and wanting to exercise greater control over Honeycomb’s source code? I’ll raise my glass of green tea to yours.


Steve Smith

I wouldnt bet against microsoft just yet.  They have a working platform which has been well received which is avoiding the Android platform fragmentation issues.  This, combined with it’s position of corporate strength wrt Windows, Office, AD and exchange, methinks they could pull it out of the bag.

I remember when Lan Manager and early NT was a poor competitor to Novell.  MS now pretty much has the corporate infrastructure.  I also remember Lotus/Wordperfect vs Word/Excel on the Office productivity side.  And then we have exchange. 

I notice that MS are already making much of Winmob 7 with office capability.  They are starting to leverage their corporate muscles again.


I wouldnt bet against microsoft just yet.? They have a working platform

Indeed, which is why I would be curious as to how they (MS) would receive Goldman’s suggestions. I just think that, from a marketing perspective, they would need to re-package a Zune OS, so as to avoid the image of failure warmed over (e.g. ‘Windows 7’ vs ‘Windows Vista 2 - The Sequel’).

Steve Smith

Far be it from me to advise the great marketing machine (although they’ve had their share of foot shooting recently)  but like with NT, they should be having the conversation with CEO rather than CFO and the simple message is windows 8 will unify all of this stuff.  Cloud, IAC, Mobile, Office.  Why would you buy from Apple now when this is just round the corner.

Oh, and Winmob 7 will be the platform to develop on NOW.

And I’m an Apple Fanboi who was also MCNE and CNI.  I work in microsoft and use apple.

Steve Smith


  Meant CIO.

And I have collaboration in the cloud before anyone mentions Exchange.

And, to answer the curiosity above,  ditch Zune, people laugh.  Windows 8 is where it’s at.  Needs to be a product family rather than a product.

Incidentally Apple will probably need take this route with the unification of OSX/IOS at some point.  They just need to work out how to tell the world.  Mobileme being bought into the fold on this one is my prediction.


they should be having the conversation with CEO rather than CFO and the simple message is windows 8 will unify all of this stuff.

Yeah, but people have to believe them. That’s a shrinking number at this point.

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