Jan 142011
 

Free shit will buy you all kinds of goodwill. Why do you think they give you toasters when you open checking accounts? Apparently Google is looking to cash in a chunk of it by announcing that they will be phasing out support for H.264 in its Chrome browsers and throwing its development muscle behind WebM, a codec they bought with OnM last year. Ars Technica’s Peter Bright lays out a number of reasons why this is bad for the Open Web, and a minor consistency problem Google seems to have with their application of “freedom”:

“At the very least, there appears to be a significant inconsistency between the company’s actions regarding video support, and the rest of its browser. If it’s going remove features for poorly-articulated ideological reasons, it would surely make sense to apply that ideology consistently.”

That would include removing support for Flash, MP3, AAC and H.264 support for its Android devices – to name a few. Or Google could just admit this is an attempt to stymie the use of HTML5

And I’m sure the timing of the announcement: basically simultaneous with the Verizon iPhone. You know, the thing that will crush Android’s market share in the U.S? Anyone who thinks Google’s announcement to ditch H.264 is about the “Open Web” and not about making a power play against Apple’s mobile devices has their head up their ass.

Jan 112011
 

Someone finally did the legwork to test TMA’s hypothesis about Android’s competitiveness on a multi-carrier network in the U.S (shout outs to (gulp) Silicon Alley Insider for their original graphic and asymco’s addition of iPhone data). For every Android phone on AT&T’s network today, there are 15 iPhones. Fifteen. AT&T also carriers eight flavors of Android phone versus Apple’s two (the 3GS and 4).

What do you think is going to happen to Android’s 7 million units on Verizon?

Jan 042011
 

Happy New Year to the TMA readership. My resolution: 2560 x 1440.

/boom-tish. Try the Salisbury steak.

With a new year, writers across the land feel compelled to make a bunch of baseless predictions and tech is no exception. I came across some from Google employee Tim Bray in his “ongoing” blog. I didn’t find any of the prognostications in “Year-end View of the Mobile Market” particularly insightful or interesting, but they do speak volumes about how Google thinks. Mercifully, Bray does prepare readers for how patently obvious many of his predictions are. I’ve taken up the challenge of summarizing each of his “things that seem obvious” in 5 words or less. You can click through to see how I did.

In 2011, the smartphone market will/be/continue to (OK, I cheated a bit):

  • Sell a lot of phones
  • Further squeeze “dumb” phone sales
  • Apple, Android > RIM, Nokia, Microsoft
  • Windows 7 Phones: Verdict Unclear

Then he says something about a $500 contract free phone being less than a $199 phone with a contract and wonders when someone will offer financing. Like they have for appliances. Really.

So what are Bray’s not-so-obvious things?

  • The major barrier for tablets replacing laptops? “High-speed low-friction text input”. Translation: the opposite of Android’s touchscreen input.
  • “I’m increasingly coming to think that people buy phones based on the quality and volume of old-fashioned advertising put behind the products. Not coincidentally, not only are the iPhones and iPad excellent devices, they have what is to my eye probably the best advertising in the mobile industry.” Ladies and gentlemen: our first moneyball. The difference between Apple’s and Android’s relative success is marketing. You can see this theory expanded on over at Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite.
  • Apple is going to do a 7″ device. That’s certainly not so obvious. In fact, that’s about 3 colors of the rainbow into Fantasyland. Why will Apple do a 7″ device? “(It) still fits in one hand and you can use for four hours in a row sitting up.” Does Bray mean you can’t use an iPad sitting up for 4 hours? I certainly can. Does he mean having a device that can be extended at arm’s length for 4 hours? Try doing that holding nothing. He concludes emphatically with “This argument is over“, and by the italics you can tell he means it. They should bring Bray in for closing arguments. He could be a Mariano Rivera-esque consultant to defense attorneys. James Spader’s character in Boston Legal just peed his pants a little.

But Bray is at his most compelling in the section titled “Apple vs. Android”, where he pits the advertising powerhouse in Cupertino against the Open Source champions in Mountain View. Who wins?

“I think Apple will sell a ton of devices because they’re good, and superbly marketed. I think a bunch of people will sell a ton of Android devices because they’re good and there are so many options for different needs and networks and price-points.” Emphasis mine

Both are good devices, but that goddamn marketing – those fucking unicorn tears – that’s what lands Apple those insanely high margins EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE ON ONE CARRIER IN THE U.S.!

Let me break it down for you, Tim. The difference – that most obvious of obvious factors you allude to but don’t quite concede – is Verizon. Here’s an illustration of Verizon’s current smartphone unit sales, a period of time I like to call “Before iOS” or “BiOS”, or as you’ll come to remember them: the Salad Years.

This is what will happen at “Zero Hour”, which is immediately after the iPhone becomes available on Verizon. This is also the beginning of “In the year of our Jobs” or “AiOS”.

Finally, once most people are able to rid themselves of their existing contracts and avoid cancellation fees, the landscape should be pretty-well stabilized. Until the iPhone 5…

To wrap up the piece, Bray waxes optimistic about future of the Android platform”

“And there’s nothing fundamental in Android that would get in the way of a industrial-design and user-experience rock-star team, whether at Google or one of the handset makers…”,

And there’s nothing fundamental in the way of my becoming the next Justin Bieber. I can inflect my speaking voice in a way that qualifies as singing, even though I’m not something you’d pay to listen to – or stick around for long if it were free. I have a blog, so there’s really minimal distance between, say, an entry in Douchebag’s Row and some hit single that makes sane people claw at their eyes. I can play chopsticks on the piano, so I am musically inclined – fundamentally. Everything between here and the Top 10 is details.

“…testing the hypothesis that these things are central to Apple’s success.”

Testing the hypothesis that something besides the snappy songs in those ads are what make Apple the most valuable brand in the technology sector. Because – you know – they’re engineers. They need to test all hypotheses, no matter how unlikely.

I’m picturing the Android team’s faces when smartphone unit sales are announced for the first and second quarter of 2011. The genuine looks of befuddlement will be the best part.

Oct 012010
 

After years of sitting on their Windows Mobile operating system and watching their market share become smartphone segment cage liner, Microsoft announced its Madonna-like reinvention in February: Windows Phone 7.

Resistance is futile.

The OS that drew heavily from the less shitty Zune UI began to build buzz, with several dozen Gizmodo and Engadget commenters anxiously awaiting a definitive announcement. The armies of loyal IT drones received their transmissions from the Collective and stood ready to recommend Windows 7 phones as the “enterprise solution” mobile device. Today, Microsoft finally released the details of their first Windows 7 phones…

…which will be available exclusively on AT&T’s network.

The same carrier that has an exclusive agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone. Continue reading

Oct 012010
 

ChangeWave, a company that asks people stuff then charges a lot of money for what they say, released a report today which showed that people are developing more of a preference for the Android operating system on their mobile phones, stealing preference share away from the iPhone. I’ll save you the $1,500 to purchase the report and quote you the relevant statistics:

Wow – looks like people are really starting to warm up to Google’s mobile OS, right? Ummmm…no. Continue reading

Jul 202010
 

After Apple’s “Antennagate” press event on Friday left the tech press J-School flunkies murmuring about having no carcass left on the horse to kick, there was still an air of apprehension going into Tuesday’s earnings conference call. Would the 3 day window between the release of the iPhone 4 and the end of the quarter significantly cut into sales? Would iPod sales continue to flag? Would the desktop Mac models continue to pull their weight, or would the spike from the refresh have run its course?

The answers: hell no, meh and hell yes, respectively.

Oh – and Apple destroyed the most bullish of estimates for what seems like the 20th quarter in a row. Seriously, Street: when are you guys going to get a fucking clue?

Highlights:

Revenue: $15.7 billion (vs. $14.75 billion predicted)

Earnings: $3.25 billion or $3.51/share (vs. $3.11/share predicted)

iPads: 3.27 million units sold (tough for analysts to blow that one since Apple has been announcing sales)

Macs: 3.47 million units sold (vs. 3.2 million predicted)

Lowlights (courtesy of WSJ Marketwatch):

Francisco Jeronimo, a mobile analyst with IDC, said Tuesday that the antenna issue may still impact results for the fourth fiscal quarter. His firm’s research indicates that 66% of current iPhone owners were delaying their upgrades until a solution was announced.

My research indicates that IDC is a shill rag and 66% of Francisco Jeronimo’s family thinks he’s a jackhole. I don’t know the compensation basis for IDC analysts, but being right is not among them.

Just goes to show despite the efforts of frothing media putzes and characteristically clueless analysts, Apple just keeps printing money.

Jul 152010
 

On June 7, John Ciancutti, VP of Personalization Technology for Netflix announced the availability of Netflix for the iPhone “this summer”. A month later, not a word more about the port. The topic’s discussion thread on the Netflix board is filled with “where is it?” posts with nary a peep from management in reply.

So what could be the holdup? I mean, the app exists for the iPad; it’s essentially the same port. These announcements are usually followed by a product in relatively short order. What could be responsible for the delay?

Unlimited. Data.

You see, there’s a shitload of iPhone users out there (present company included) that didn’t think a $5/month savings on their AT&T bills was worth it – especially when 3G streaming media options were in still their infancy.

There are 14 million Netflix subscribers and over 35 million iPhone users. This is in no way scientific (and doesn’t account for Microsoft’s Silverlight abomination, which doubtless adds overhead) but while monitoring my Netflix stream on my laptop, the smallest pull I could achieve was about 250kb/second. If this is even close to what an iPhone app would pull, AT&T’s network would be toast.

AT&T may be stonewalling until more people switch to capped plans or new users join (unlimited data is no longer an option for new accounts); it may have no intention of allowing the app it at all. I don’t believe the company is in any position to allow its network to be jammed up any further, and that’s exactly what Netflix on the iPhone would do.

Update: On August 26, Netflix finally released their iPhone port. In my testing, it played flawlessly over WiFi and just about as flawlessly over the black hole of 3G also known as Manhattan (there was a 2 second period of stutter when I first started “Objectified”). The only 2 drawbacks in my limited experience: you can’t manage your DVD queue from the app and for some reason the “Resume” button means “Start me over”, which is annoying. All in all, a great addition to the iPhone and a huge win for people who decided to stick with unlimited data on their AT&T plans.

May 212010
 

The thing any serious performance artist fears most is being typecast. Newsweek columnist and Fake Steve Jobs pen Daniel Lyons knows this all too well. It’s one thing to be pigeonholed as a writer; it’s much worse when your hole comes off the backside of someone else’s accomplishments. Initially a clever bit of satire, the FSJ schtick is Lyons’ only popular writing, so I imagine he feels a good deal of resentment. This explains the blog’s transformation into a series of petulant screeds against Apple. How would you feel if your only professional accomplishments were entirely dependent on someone else’s success?

Daniel’s latest Newsweek foot-stomping tantrum explains why he’s moving to an Android phone. Using sound bytes from Google’s I/O keynote and a healthy dose of misinformation, Dan serves up his argument thusly:

The new version of Android—version 2.2, a.k.a. Froyo—blows the doors off the iPhone OS. It’s faster, for one thing.

Faster…how? Is it more responsive touch-to-feedback? Does it boot faster? Surely a description of a product “blowing the doors off” its competition will have some very specific performance descriptions.

/crickets

What Dan is probably referring to was Google’s Froyo demo to developers, which was limited to a Javascript performance. So: a home-field demo of a browsing feature subset. Let’s be specific, shall we Dan? You write for Newsweek, after all.

It also will support Flash,

*yawn* This movie again? /changes channel

something Apple refuses to do, mostly out of spite.

Yes, that’s the reason, Dan. Thoughts on Flash is actually pretty concise, even for someone of your attention span.

Froyo also will let you buy songs over the air and download them directly to your phone. It will also stream songs from your music library to your phone. I don’t really use my phone as a music player that much, but still, it’s impressive that Google has this feature and Apple still doesn’t.

I’m assuming that Apple could have done this already, but chose not to. Who knows why? Maybe they want to keep people locked into their old way of doing things. Or maybe because they were a market leader with no real competition and just got lazy.

Ummm. This is Dan Lyons, the person who made a ton of scratch off of Apple’s success and someone who writes articles for Newsweek’s “Techtonic Shifts”, so you’d think he’d have a decent grasp of product features and shortcomings, right?

The iPhone has supported over-the-air music purchases since Day 1, version 1. There are at least half a dozen apps that allow you to stream audio – and video – over the air. The reason Apple “didn’t do this already” is because Apple’s very healthy developer ecosystem has numerous products serving that niche. Seriously, at this point in the reading, if you didn’t see this asshole smirking next to the byline, you’d swear this article lifted from the comment section of a third-rate tech blog. This is Newsweek’s top tech writer. Embarrassing is an understatement.

The Android OS is already outselling iPhone OS in the United States.

The quarter before a major iPhone release (that everyone knows about thanks to Gizmodo) and during a quarter where every other carrier is basically fire-hosing the market with buy-one, get-ones. APPLE = PWNED.

Now it’s blowing past Apple in terms of the technology it’s delivering.

You mean the technology it’s announcing. Fixed that for you.

We’ve seen this movie before. In the 1980s, Apple jumped out to an early lead in personal computers, but then got selfish. Steve Jobs, a notorious control freak, just could not play well with others.

You mean the movie where Apple ousted its CEO and then ran itself into the ground under the leadership of a Pepsi salesman? I think maybe your grasp of tech history is about as astute as your grasp of basic features of popular tech products, Dan.

Dan goes on to claim that Apple’s refusal to use flash, its revenue sharing model for apps and ads, its ban of porn (apps I assume, but it’s tough to tell with Dan’s shaky knowledge base) is all “about Apple wringing every last dime out of its ecosystem and leaving nothing on the table for anyone else”. I honestly don’t even know what that means. If I weren’t busy stuffing my ears with cotton balls to prevent my brains from running out, I’d give it a shot.

I think this hissy-fit thinly disguised as lousy journalism may signal a new phase in Dan’s hatred of Apple. Once he was content to jab at Apple as FSJ, and occasionally be funny in the process, but his contempt has outstripped his satiric capabilities. The fact that his only morsel of success has come from the work of a company he hates, only makes it worse. As a typecast writer, Dan Lyons has reached the Paul Rubens breaking point. Pee Wee wants out of the Playhouse. This article is the journalistic equivalent of masturbating in the back row of a porn theater.

Mar 232010
 

This is what TMA gets when he fusses around with Verizon phones (aside from better 3G service in NYC):

Those are the two “Clock” apps in the HTC Eris and the iPhone, respectively. Aside from the passing similarity between the 2 Timer tabs themselves, the 4 tabs across the bottom, World Clock, Alarm Clock, Stopwatch and Timer, use the same text and almost identical icons. Wow.

Now I realize the freetard chuckleheads want to scream about how the patent system sucks because such nebulous things like “naming a World Clock” and “sliding Hours and Minutes placeholders” get undeserved protection and that the winner is always the person with the biggest patent portfolio and litigious crappy blah, blah….

/BOOM

Excuse me while I reassemble my head.

As I was saying, kudos to the Obvious Brigade and their comments about the patent system. The shittiness of the system itself belies a pretty important point. Someone – probably a team of someones – spent months developing a way to represent 4 important things you might want to do with time on the iPhone. They came up with the names, the icons and the functional elements of each individual tab – in short, they put more work into it than anything you’ve ever worked on.  Android 1.5 comes along and says “that’s pretty cool” and absconds to a degree that’s almost comical: 4 almost identical icons in the same order, with the same names. Android’s “cut and paste” routine also extends vertically: notice from the top down the input for the timer, the alert sound when complete, the “start” button and the 4 icons are all in the same order.

There are a lot of things short of this comparison that would make innovation more competitive and less litigious. This exceeds that point. This is theft, plain and simple.

I had attributed a lot of the negative press around “Apple vs. Google” as just a way for hacks to drum up page hits (which it still is) and perhaps a little bit of the Jobster pissing on the fence posts along his property line, however poorly the USPTO lets him define it. When I see stuff like this (which is not one of the documented claims against HTC by the way), I can understand why Apple is dropping napalm too.

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