Particle Debris (wk. ending 9/9) You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Image

| Particle Debris

Okay, this isn’t one of my beloved sand charts, but it is a very informative chart about the proliferation of mobile platforms and OSes. And it’s beautifully presented by Horace Dediu — a fellow who has a knack for making his points with style and color. What I thought was interesting is the emergence of new mobile OSes, literally topping the list, as consumer electronics companies seek to become vertically integrated like Apple.

George Santayana said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But in technology, those who fixate on the past can never properly explain the present. Here’s an explanation, for those who need it, “Why the Open OS Model Failed in Smartphones.

Have you ever noticed that Apple itself never publicly refers to the iPad as a tablet? Ben Bajarin explains that there’s a specific reason for that in “There Is No Tablet Market: Why Consumer Experiences Matter.” It’s amazing to me that companies who want to benefit from Apple’s work have no interest in duplicating Apple’s hard work — namely the generation of that unique experience. It’s almost like Apple engineers think like homo sapiens and the competition thinks like Australopithecines.

 Jobs & iPad

Donald Norman, Ph.D., was a former vice president at Apple, just before Steve Jobs returned in 1997. Before that, as I recall, he was a professor of cognitive science at UCSD. I admired him greatly when he was with Apple because he was an expert at how humans interact with objects, indeed computers. But he had to go when Mr. Jobs returned because Dr. Norman was never a fan of UNIX, at least UNIX as he knew it in those days, and was steering Apple away from UNIX. Of course, when the NeXT team arrived, they had big plans to consumerize UNIX, and the rest is history. Anyway, Dr. Norman had some interesting things to say about Google this week “Google doesn’t get people, it sells them.” It seems that alarm bells are going off in every quarter related to Google this summer. How do you treat a customer who is actually the product to be sold? Has Google, like RIM, lost control of its image?

Speaking of Google, here’s a handy list (and a great graphic) of the products Google is going to terminate or fold into something else. The explanation by CEO Larry Page is fascinating. Certain speculative projects have to be trimmed now and then. So this is why we need a life strategy. One can’t just jump into any speculative enterprise without knowing its value to us and where it’s going. Sort of like Apple’s, ahem, Ping.

On the other hand, Google is engaging in some Very Big projects lately, namely Apple envy. Here’s an analysis of “Google’s Expensive Attempt To Be Apple’s Clone.” One problem: how do you become like  Apple when you’ve already ruined your image in the process?


Another company in the news this week was Netflix. For awhile, it appeared that Netflix was throttling customers down to one video stream at a time, and then Netflix, perhaps, strategically retreated. Anyway, what I found interesting was the Netflix growth, published this week by Business Insider, contrasting with problems related to content agreements, pricing and delivery. With all that growth and, for the first time, customers visibly grousing, Netflix will also have to be careful to maintain control of its image. It’s easier said than done these days.

Have you ever tried to save a Terms of Service (TOS) agreement to disk and couldn’t? Or wished that the publisher would make the agreement easier to understand? Even Apple’s leave some room for improvement. A graduate student, Gregg Bernstein, thought about this and has proposed an improved format that we’d love to see Apple use for its own TOSs. Would Apple ever bother? It would be very cool indeed.

Star Trek phone

This week, we were reminded that it was the 45th anniversary of the first network showing of Star Trek: The Original Series, which launched on September 8, 1966 with “The Man Trap.” While the special effects seem a bit cheesy by modern standards, the gadgets that the crew used were an inspiration. (Some of that inspiration, as I recall, came from Gene Roddenberry having seen the movie  Forbidden Planet.) And have any of those gadgets become reality? Indeed they have, and the iPad is merely one of them. You must read: “8 Star Trek Gadgets that Are No Longer Fiction.” With video clips too.

There’s a more important anniversary this weekend. I hope everyone remains safe and mindful of our blessings. We’ll hope to see you back here Monday with more tech talk.



The Pad is not a Tablet; my favourite tirade. It is indeed not! So here we go again.

First there was the mainframe computer, then the desktop computer, the laptop computer, the PDA computer, the Tablet computer, the netbook computer, the phone computer, the pod computer, the pad computer, the Ultralight computer. The order may be a mess and something might have been missed, but the fact that the pad form is not the tablet form is here to stay. Call me in thirty years if I am wrong.

Bill Gates claims ownership to have invention of the tablet computer. He’s got it. Apple invented the pad which does not use a stylus. That should give Bill the finger.

And to Steve: The experience is the message. I like it.

Pashtun Wally

Great stuff as always, John!  A real pleasure to get your perspective on things (since we so seldom disagree!)

MHIKL:  “The experience is the message” - LOVE it!!


It?s amazing to me that companies who want to benefit from Apple?s work have no interest in duplicating Apple?s hard work ? namely the generation of that unique experience. It?s almost like Apple engineers think like homo sapiens and the competition thinks like Australopithecines.


This quote made me laugh out loud, on a day relentlessly somber for reasons well-known.

Once again, there seems to be thematic convergence in many of the articles you have selected here, namely the relative strategic advantages and merits of closed vs open systems, particularly as they apply to the mobile and (with apologies to Ben Bajaran) ‘tablet’ markets.

Steve Wildstrom’s argument that RIM’s success with the Blackberry was based on its being a closed system, competing superiorly to both Palm and MS, is well thought out; although he may be premature in casting a pall over Google and its ‘open’ Android OS, which even he acknowledges has been both a ‘blessing and a curse’. Admittedly, to the extent that Android mobile succeeds, I would put it on Cameron Kaine’s thesis of Google attempting to be more of an Apple clone, purchasing 30% of the US Android market via its purchase of Motorola, and thereby becoming Android’s 2nd largest manufacturer. Should Google’s gambit succeed, however, it will not prevent proponents of the ‘open’ system attributing that success to the merits of openness. My admittedly inexpert read of the field, including a statements from a number of analysts on Bloomberg and other mainstream media, is that Google are aggressively imitating Apple’s vertical integration. Perhaps they have been studying some of the analyses coming out of Creative Strategies, Inc.

Regarding Star Trek and real technologies, one can only marvel at the influence of art and fiction on fact and reality. Another site published ten (10) technologies that are no longer fiction, as well as an infographic chart linking Forbidden Planet to the show. As I recall, that was one of Roddenbury’s inspirations.

John Martellaro

wab95: That’s a great Star Trek infographic!  Thanks!

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