Particle Debris (wk. ending 8/27) The Googlized Brain

Even before I joined Apple, I saw demos at WWDC by the Advanced Technology Group in the 1990s. The demos were cool, but some got off track by trying to duplicate each of the core elements of the Knowledge Navigator. The ATG was famous for developing some products that never shipped, but also brought us QuickTime, ColorSync and AppleScript among others.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he axed the ATG, claiming that it was a waste of effort, but I think he really wanted to shut down a group (and its VP) that wasn’t focused 100 percent on shippable products, at least according to his own vision. Ever since, Apple has been known for spending very little, as a percentage of revenue, on pure R&D. Here’s a chart from SAI that confirms that trend even today.

Microsoft is routinely, roundly criticized for spending a large percentage of revenue on R&D but not having much to show for it in terms of drool worthy products. Alternatively, note that HP’s CEO, Mark Hurd, who was recently ousted was very unpopular with longtime staff and the board of directors because he slashed R&D money in half. That left the company, according to some, ill prepared to meet the iPad challenge. Striking an efficient balance remains an art form for any CEO.

It’s certainly refreshing when a U.S. Senator appears to be honestly trying to do something positive on behalf of the tax payers. That’s what Al Franken (D., Minn) is doing with Net Neutrality, so I found this story refreshing: “Franken goes ballistic on Verizon, Google, Comcast, and NBCU.”

I have come to like the writing of Jonny Evans — he’s being doing some good work lately. Here’s his very credible take on “Why ‘open’ Android may lose the Apple iOS wars.

Some writers, with a short memory, will have you believe that open software was the reason why Windows beat Mac OS in the 1990s. That wasn’t the reason for its success, and so asserting that Android will beat iOS because it’s open is baloney. It’s 2010, and the Internet is a vicious place for the naive and ill-prepared. Apple knows that. Its customers know that.

Remember the Open Handset Alliance? It was a consortium of companies that was supposed to promote harmony, cohesion and competition for its smartphone building members, befuddled by Apple. But that hasn’t worked out so well, and someone at Motorola finally got a clue. Here’s some background on why Moto bought 280 North. Lesson: never believe executives who argue that its possible to depend on someone else to solve your company’s problems.

Worried about Apple (AAPL) stock these days? Here’s some historical data about how AAPL has done in the past in the month of September. Maybe when the dog days of summer are over and the renewed spirt of back to school, new computers, cool autumn and football lifts people’s spirits, Apple’s stock goes up. Now if the overall economy would just cooperate a little.

Finally, have you ever wondered if there are synergistic parallels between how the the brain physiology works and some kinds of software? Apparently, researchers have found that the human brain tends to light up when it’s in search mode. This article, “Wired For Information: A Brain Built To Google” explains a lot, including our well known obsessions with the Internet. It’s only through introspective research like this that we can step outside ourselves and really understand what the Internet, search, advertising, and behavioral targeting are doing to our culture. Caveat emptor.