Apr 112013

John Kirk over at Techpinions has an excellent piece dissecting Google’s sleight of hand when divulging its Android numbers. When Google wants to represent its dominating presence of total “activations”, it uses the number of Android devices that check into Google’s servers; when it wants to tell a feel-good story about the climbing percentage of devices running the latest versions of its OS, it switches the metric of how many devices connect to Google Play store.

I’ve probably written this a hundred times: Google is a supremely disingenuous company, one that could give Microsoft from 15 years ago a run for its money. Whether we’re talking about the company’s laughably dishonest economic impact report, its incredibly hypocritical views on patent abuse or how it represents the strength of its ecosystem, they have no problem telling people what they want to hear – regardless of its basis in fact.

Apr 262012

I’m married, so that means I’m never right. It was one of the subliminal vows I took at the altar. Thank God I have a blog.

When Verizon announced their intent to carry the iPhone, I made a prediction about what that would mean for Android. I was pretty aggressive about what the market would look like a year after the announcement, once a substantial number of peoples’ 2-year Verizon contracts expired.

Gave RIM WAY too much credit

Back to my being right, the market share numbers for the first quarter were released and – wouldn’t you know it – the iPhone holds a 59% share. I’d say I should work for Gartner, but I think my being right about things would wreck their curve.

Apr 262012

No one with any reasonable sense of the smartphone timeline still thinks that Google didn’t pull an about face with the design of their Android handsets when the iPhone was released. There’s ample photo evidence.

As if another nail was needed in that coffin, during yesterday’s testimony at the Oracle v. Google trial, mock-ups for the 2006 vision of the Google Phone were introduced into evidence.

Not an iPhone

Google intended to release a BlackBerry-like device that eschewed a touch interfaced in favor of soft keys. So they were planning to knock off the most popular phone at the time – until a better one was announced in 2007. So what did the first Android shartphone, the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1, look like?

Nothing like the iPhone

Now the Dream also had a slide-out keyboard and hardware keys, but there’s the handy home screen icon layout and touch interface. Imagine that. Subsequent versions of Android are even more derivative of the iPhone. Although Creepy King Eric Schmidt says “Most people would agree that Google is a great innovator, and I would also point out that the Android efforts started before the iPhone efforts.”, it’s pretty clear now, even more so than before, that Schmidt is a disingenuous shit. You need only watch 10 seconds of Senate subcommittee testimony to know that anything hanging out of that guy’s mouth hole is bullshit.

So Apple has an additional little something for its back pocket should it decide to ever go after Google itself. Thanks for the bullets, Mountain View. Not that Apple needs them.

Apr 262012

Writing in his parislemon blog:

Probably around late summer every year going forward, iPhone sales will dip ahead of the expected new device and some Android manufacturer will find a way to capitalize, rising the entire ecosystem’s share as a result. But it will always be short-lived. The new iPhone will come along and crush it.

I also said that Verizon was the only thing keeping Android competitive in the U.S. When you looked at markets where the iPhone was on more than one carrier at the time, it was obvious.

People are over Android, and Android’s ecosystem has as much to do with this as the quality of the iPhone’s offerings. Google can’t push its latest operating systems to devices even 6 months old, their market is a malware minefield, and their manufacturers offer undifferentiated hardware and software that only differentiates itself from the next guy by the way it worsens the user experience compared to stock Android.

People are over the gimmicks like HDMI out and Beats(off) Audio. Consumers never gave a shit about “free and open”; when they were stuck on Verizon’s network, they settled for a phone that was pitched as being just like the iPhone. They no longer have to settle for “just like an iPhone.”

Between Oracle and Apple, Android is starting to look a lot like the middle segment of The Human Centipede.

Mar 292012

The Android proposition sends somewhat mixed messages. On the one hand, you pay the same amount of money for the top-tier Android shartphones that you would for an iPhone; on the other, once you open the box, chances are it will be the same device when your contract expires. I’ve banged this drum for what feels like forever: Android is made by a company interested in getting a device into your hands; the iPhone is made by a company that extracts value from the experience of the consumer. One makes its money in ways you don’t see and no one really understands; the other through the devices it sells. Anyone who buys an Android device expecting the same level of attention to their experience is deluded and destined for a disappointing epiphany. Take the case of Jason Perlow: ZDNet columnist, devout Android user and the latest battered spouse to realize that the only way out of the relationship is to light the bed on fire.

His problem is the same as anyone who has an expectation that an Android device will be treated like an iOS device: currency. Sure, Google spits out Android updates at a respectable rate. The problem is that no one else in the “experience chain” gives a shit. Carriers and manufacturers are far more interested in getting you to buy the latest XIOR Xtreme Nebula S II Pro than keeping its existing customers current. That’s why Android isn’t current on Google’s own flagship phone. That’s why less than 5% of handsets have received Ice Cream Sandwich updates. People who still defend the “free and open” nonsense love to point out who’s at fault in the relationship instead of finding ways out of it. I’ll illustrate using a point only tangentially related.

I have the misfortune of being a commuter into New York. Because I don’t want my life to end due to a road rage-related shooting, this means I have to rely on NJ Transit to deliver me to work every day. I also have the misfortune of using NJT’s “Northeast Corridor” line, the tracks of which are actually leased by NJ Transit from Amtrak. Amtrak is responsible for all of the maintenance of the rails and the overhead power lines that power the trains, a task they don’t appear to take all that seriously. This leads to a dependency issue which frequently results in trains almost never being on time as well as several hours-long catastrophic delays every year. NJT, in all of their delay announcements, is quick to blame Amtrak for these delays. There’s a point here, I swear.

During one of these catastrophic, hours-long delays, one NJT employee had the bad luck of running into yours truly. This poor soul made a comment to someone within earshot about how badly Amtrak was screwing them. What follows is a rough transcript of the conversation after that point:

Me: It sounds like you guys are getting very comfortable blaming Amtrak for NJ Transit delays.

NJT: Because it’s their fault.

Me: To a point. I’ve been riding you guys for 2 years now and I’ve been hearing the same story. I work in a building that leases space from another party. Do you think that I can go to a client and blame my not turning a proposal in on time on the landlord inadvertently shutting off the power to my floor? Or the faulty air conditioning that brought down our servers? At some point, it’s just me and my customers. You guys appear more interested in making excuses than finding solutions. You should thank God you have a monopoly on rail service into New York and don’t have to run this thing like a business.

I don’t think this poor NJ Transit employee appreciated the customer’s perspective on providing service, but it’s a good illustration of why Apple strives to control every element of their products’ experience. At some point, blaming the carriers or blaming the manufacturers is bullshit. At least to the average consumer. When defenders like Jason Perlow fly the coop, you can bet consumers won’t be far behind.


Jan 232012

Verizon’s been taking a couple of stabs at advertising the second-best smartphone operating system and I have to say, the latest tie-in kinda nails it. Ladies and gentlemen, R2D2:

What better way to advertise Android than with an actual droid? The resemblances between Lucas’s reboot of the Star Wars franchise and Android don’t stop there, however. To wit:

  • Both bastardize popular original ideas to turn a buck with vastly inferior offerings
  • Both substitute eye-catching features to cover for their lack of substance
  • Both feature lead characters that have the likability of wet cardboard
  • Both have successfully suckered in millions, only to have them regret the experience

Android: the Episode I of smartphones.


Jan 132012

In an attempt to provide some unification to the cornucopia of ass that the apps in the Android Market resemble, Google announced a framework of design principles for the latest  version of the Android operating system. “Design principles” are a lot like “Mission Statements”: pretty words intended to signal some sort of unification, but really only as consequential as the means of enforcing them. And Google doesn’t really have the means. Samsung is going to continue with TouchWiz and HTC will keep slapping Sense over the base Android UI/UX. In terms of app developers, they fall into 3 camps. The vast majority produce cut-and-paste and/or knock-off shit and don’t give a whit about Android’s design principles. The ones who currently employ good design and make good apps for Android (both of them) are probably insulted by the principles’ obviousness, so it won’t effect them either. I suppose there is a small group of earnest developers seeking some direction that stand to benefit, so congrats to Google and artisan Matt Duarte on reaching those souls who are artistically gifted, yet in need of guidance.

This is Google’s latest attempt to address the rampant fragmentation that is encouraged on a Wild West platform like Android. If the mandated inclusion of the Holo theme on all ICS handsets is a stick, this is its analogous – and equally inconsequential – carrot. But I do hear ICS comes with some sweet new wallpapers.

I'd f*ck me.

Jan 122012

The Corporate Vice President for Corporate Communications at Microsoft (Redundancy Division), Frank X. Shaw, may well be the anti-Christ, but man I love it when he gets in Google’s shit. Remember when the Chief Shyster at Google started whining about the nature of patents and claimed that Redmond was “out to get” Android by teaming up with Apple, RIM, Sony and others to swipe the Nortel patents out from under them? Remember when Shaw tweeted the actual email that Google sent to Microsoft about a potential partnership that said “thanks, but no thanks“? Shaw may bear the mark of the beast, but he’s fucking hilarious.

Shaw’s latest dig refers to all the scratch Microsoft is making off of Android’s OEMs through the license agreements that all of the big manufacturers have been signing:


Redmond tipped the 70% point after signing up LG for the “extended we won’t sue your ass warranty”. The only major manufacturer not paying out to Microsoft? Hint: they duped Google into overpaying for them. Motorola gets to hide under Larry’s skirt while everyone else pays their tithe. That deal just gets better and better.

It’s a shame we don’t know how much these manufacturers are ponying up for the privilege of having Microsoft do nothing for them, but for the companies making Google’s kit, it’s as free as it is open. It has to be especially tough for suckers like HTC, which just announced that their October-to-December profits fell 41%.

So shine on, Frank X Shaw, you crazy diamond. The enemy of my enemy is…well…still my enemy. But Apple is stomping your hapless corpse in PC growth and in every category of consumer electronics where you two compete, so it’s easy to laugh at your tweets.

Jan 112012

I’m starting to love MG Siegler almost as much as I love Daniel Eran Dilger. His explanation of why he hates Android gives some nice historical context, and I only disagree with one clause:

Because Google sloppily decided to do the Motorola deal (driven by the full-on patent war, for which Apple and Microsoft, and not Google, are largely to blame)…

Microsoft has a nice business collecting license revenue from Android OEMs. That’s not Apple’s motivation. Apple “started” the patent war – and yes, may have escalated it, in some cases unreasonably – because Android was such a blatant rip-off of the iPhone.

Maybe it’s the use of “blame” in a sentence structure that seems to exonerate Google – I don’t know. Other than that incredibly shallow gripe, I heartily recommend it.

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