June 4, 2012
Apple and Google's Map Battle

An interesting article about Apple and Google’s falling apart, an excerpt below:

Maps added to the rancor. That same year, Apple executives including Mr. Schiller sat down with Google executives, including Vic Gundotra, then a vice president in charge of Google’s mobile apps, to renew the agreement over the iPhone’s mapping app.

New tensions emerged when Apple grew concerned that Google was aggressively gathering data from the app, according to people familiar with Apple’s thinking. Mr. Schiller worried it could compromise users’ privacy, these people said.

Google executives felt Apple was unreasonable in insisting on controlling the look of the maps app and enabling only some of its features—like an “a la carte menu” where Google provided only the “back end” technology that powers it, according to a Google executive.

The two sides bickered over a Google Maps feature called Street View, which lets people see an actual photo as if they are standing in the street. Apple wanted to incorporate Street View on the iPhone just as Google already offered it for Android phones. Google initially withheld the feature, frustrating Apple executives, according to people on both sides of the debate.

Apple executives also wanted to include Google’s turn-by-turn-navigation service in the iPhone—a feature popular with Android users because it lets people treat their phones as in-car GPS devices. Google wouldn’t allow it, according to people on both sides. One of these people said Google viewed Apple’s terms as unfair.

Overall, the fight is looking to be bloody.  When google decided to encroach on Apple with the release of Android, they opened up a few floodgates.  Namely:

  • Mobile Ads: Apple’s movement into mobile ads seems to be a retaliatory response
  • Siri: Indirectly attacks google’s search functionality by changing user behavior with searching (by encouraging users to use voice commands for search instead of google)
  • Apple’s New Mapping Feature: Apple’s new default mapping feature will affect more than just directions.  It means that Google Offers will get faded out (which in many ways is symbiotic with with the location based features).

Controlling the mobile search market is very valuable - I’m not yet convinced that the development of Android was worth the cost of controlling the entire mobile search and ad market which Apple was willing to concede to google prior to the development of Android.

10:59pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlVyHyMnG6Jf
Filed under: tech apple google 
August 18, 2011
"In other words—and I never thought I’d say this—Steve Ballmer was right. Android isn’t free. In fact, it’s not even cheap. As Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out, the $12.5 billion that Google is spending for Motorola amounts to almost two years’ worth of the search company’s profits. No company—not even Google—can throw around that kind of cash without envisioning a direct return on its investment."

Rafer sez:
The phone manufacturers can’t just wave their hands and make that happen. Microsoft needs to rally a bunch of mobile developers, either by performing a bunch of app magic that they’ve not yet shown or by doing something radically useful with their mobile browser. My particular choice for that latter is making all the hardware peripherals (camera, compass, etc.) available cleanly from the browswer. Neither appears in the offing.

(via rafer)

This might be an opinion that I’m alone on.  But I really don’t think most consumers care about the mobile OS of the phones they are purchasing.  You have a portion of the market that are Apple loyalists or buying it because of the general halo around Apple products portrayed by most media sources.  There is a contingent of enterprise users that will stick to Blackberry just to avoid the hassle of changing systems.

Then you have some developers that like the “open nature” of Android.  But the actual contingent of consumers that are making purchasing decisions based off of an Android OS is small (for the time being).  The phones they are purchasing happen to have Android embedded, but it’s not a key factor in purchasing decisions.  They are buying those Android phones because they find the hardware attractive physically.  What I’m trying to say is that even though there are a lot of Android based phones out there, I don’t think the average consumer cares that they have an Android OS on their phones or even know what it implies.

I still get the sense that most users are buying smart phones based on how they look and are paying only minor attention to the OS / mobile apps at the time of purchase. For the average Android owner, they are only using their phones to play simple games, send text messages, engage in social media.

I acknowledge that Windows mobile OS is clearly behind (by a large margin).  However, I get the sense that the average consumers will still be content getting a “prettier” Samsung phone with a clunky Windows mobile OS over an “uglier” Motorola Android phone with better functionality.  I don’t expect this to last indefinitely, but for the time being purchasing decisions are made purely on hardware appearances. 

If tomorrow, Samsung, HTC and LG all switched completely to Windows mobile, consumers won’t bat much of an eye at all.  They won’t choose a Motorola phone over a competing brand just because the Motorola phone has Android.  There is a segment that will, but they are the minority for the time being.  So that still gives Microsoft a great gap to fill, if they are content giving away their mobile OS for “free” just to weaken Google’s influence.

(Source: Slate, via rafer)

12:59pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlVyHy8TTQMX
  
Filed under: tech google Motorola HTC Samsung LG 
August 18, 2011
"In other words—and I never thought I’d say this—Steve Ballmer was right. Android isn’t free. In fact, it’s not even cheap. As Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out, the $12.5 billion that Google is spending for Motorola amounts to almost two years’ worth of the search company’s profits. No company—not even Google—can throw around that kind of cash without envisioning a direct return on its investment."

Google’s Motorola Mobility acquisition will make it more like Apple. - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine

I can’t envision other smart-phone manufacturers pushing Android based phones exclusively while Google is concurrently competing against them in the smartphone market.  Hardware can indeed be profitable, however it does come at a price of neutrality.

Would so many social media sites use Amazon’s cloud solutions if Amazon attempted to create a competing social media website?  I bet all the social media platforms (twitter, tumblr, quora, foursquare) would transition away from Amazon EC2 to Rackspace immediately.

The same holds true for Samsung, HTC and LG.  If they keep propping up Android based OS’s while Google strengthens Motorola, they are building a grave to their own demise.  Something has to give, which is why I think this is the perfect moment for Microsoft to swoop in as an alternative third party mobile OS.

(via rafer)

7:15am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlVyHy8T0LSa
  
Filed under: tech google Motorola HTC Samsung LG 
August 17, 2011
Tech Thoughts (August 17, 2011) - Microsoft is the largest beneficiary of Google’s acquisition of Motorola

If Microsoft plays their cards right, they stand to reap the largest rewards relating to Google’s acquisition of Motorola.  Microsoft can now tell smartphone manufacturers that unlike Google, “We’re not competing with you on the hardware front, we just want to be your dedicated mobile OS provider.”

Microsoft can also play on fears that Google will give priority to Motorola, despite any claims of independence by Google.  After all, since Google owns Motorola, they stand to directly benefit from Motorola gaining marketshare (over other Android based phones such as HTC, LG and Samsung).

Outside of what I’ll call techies, most consumers really don’t have any attachment to specific mobile operating systems at the moment.  They are getting phones that visually appeal to them from the hardware perspective.  This could change, but for the time being, average consumers don’t place a value on mobile OS’s when making purchasing decisions.

If smart-phone manufacturers split mobile OS integration among their products, they stand to gain leverage over both Google and Microsoft.  Up until now, going with the leading independent mobile OS (Android) made sense.  However, things have changed.

If I were Microsoft, I might be willing to even pay the smart-phone manufacturers to use the Windows mobile OS over Android.  This would be the perfect moment to strike.  It would weaken a competitor and broaden the usage of Microsoft’s ad network.  Having a Bing app pre-loaded onto mobile apps by default would also weaken Google’s search monopoly.  If users find the search results useful, they might also be more inclined to use Bing on their personal computers as well.

The opportunity is there, I’m interested to see if Microsoft takes advantage of it.

August 15, 2011
Continuations: Google Buys Motorola: Patent (and UX) Defense

continuations:

Google buying Motorola is a strong defensive move against both Microsoft and Apple on two fronts: patents and user experience. Apple is vertically integrated and Microsoft controls Nokia (without having had to buy it). Between that and having filed or acquired a lot of patents, these two pose…

Google purchasing Motorola is just a defensive maneuver for patents in my opinion.  I agree with the analysis here.  As for vertical integration, I’m skeptical of the idea as well.  Apple and Google are both better off spreading adoption of their mobile OS (by not competition with carriers) for greater market share at this point in the ball game.  The mobile ad / apps market / mobile data is the prize to be won here.

There might be a point in the future where that changes, but at the current time I think that market share has to be the number driver strategy wise (for both Apple and Google).  Vertical integration to the carrier stage carries too high a risk of losing ground by missing out on users that are on opposition wireless carrier networks (instead of the in-house carrier platform).

July 14, 2011
Tech Killing / Entrepreneurship killing Protect IP Bill moving through Senate

It must be pass stupid legislation month in congress or something.  In addition to the idiotic S. 978 Bill, the U.S. Senate is also considering passing the Protect IP Act.  There are a lot of bad things about it that you can read about independently below.

Here’s what you need to know.

People Against the IP Bill

  • Over 50 VCs including Andreessen Horowitz, AOL Ventures, Draper Richards, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, Softbank Capital, Venrock
  • Google
  • Senior Citizens that buy generic drugs online for low prices (the bill would force generic drug sellers to be shut down)

People For the IP Bill

  • The RIAA
  • Microsoft
  • Unions

Take a look at who supports this legislation and who is against it and you’ll understand quickly whether or not this bill is awful or not.  The people supporting this terrible bill might as well call themselves Axis of Evil.

Opposition to the PROTECT IP Act — Hollywood-supported legislation intended to reduce content piracy and block counterfeit goods — is growing among the tech community, with a letter blasting the bill released Thursday by more than 50 venture capitalists from 40 firms that have funded many top Internet companies. They argue that the methods embodied in the proposed law would create untoward burdens and endanger the Internet.

A wide range of Hollywood trade associations and unions disagree, calling the legislation a critical step toward prevention of unauthorized downloading and streaming, problems that have proved near-intractable to date.

Also speaking out in recent weeks against the law is a completely different constituency: groups concerned that the broadly drafted act would endanger U.S. consumers’ access to pharmaceuticals from Canadian and other foreign pharmacies. They contend that such access, which is generally at lower-than-U.S. prices, is vital for uninsured consumers or those with limited coverage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently passed the bill, but Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) immediately put a hold on the legislation, on the grounds that the act was “overreaching” and would “damage … speech, innovation and the very integrity of the Internet.”

The bill’s prospects are uncertain: Wyden’s move prevents further action, at least for the time being, and the House has not introduced similar legislation.

In Thursday’s letter, the venture capitalists say the bill will “will stifle investment in Internet services, throttle innovation, and hurt American competitiveness.” They assert three problems:

— The bill burdens “countless Internet services” by requiring sites and search engines to remove links that point to sites offering pirated content.

— The bill endangers the security and integrity of the Internet by requiring DNS providers to block access to such sites. (The Domain Name System is the Internet mechanism that enables software such as web browsers to connect to websites.)

— The bill creates a private right of action that rights holders may use in ways that create significant burdens, even on companies acting in good faith. 

The venture capitalists work at such high-profile firms as Andreessen Horowitz, AOL Ventures, Draper Richards, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, Softbank Capital, Venrock and others. According to an accompanying statement by an organization opposing the bill called Demand Progress, the firms collectively manage over $13 billion and the VCs were early investors in Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, among others.

Demand Progress also said that more than 350,000 people have signed its petitions against the PROTECT IP Act and a predecessor version of the bill.

Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, took particular exception last month to DNS domain blocking, noting that this is the same approach that China takes to censoring websites. Blocking “seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent,” he said.

Microsoft, in contrast, supports the legislation, though it suggests that some modifications are necessary to address various concerns.

Hollywood too has been broadly supportive of the legislation, with trade groups such as the MPAA, IFTA,and the National Association of Theatre Owners, and unions such as the American Federation of Musicians, AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, SAG and the Teamsters, all speaking out in favor. The RIAA favors the bill as well.

July 11, 2011
Social Network Review (July 10th, 2011): Why Facebook should be afraid of Google+

I just created an account on Google+ and so far I’m impressed.  Facebook has good reason to be worried about losing users.  I can easily imagine user migration to Google+ leading to significantly reduced use of Facebook (based off my experience in the beta of Google+).  I don’t think it will be a complete migration (with Facebook accounts being deleted in significant numbers).  However, page impressions per user could easily be reduced on Facebook’s end.  Google+ has a lot of things going for it and I’ll write some of my ideas.

Many users will join Google+

  • Gmail Factor: The biggest thing google has going for it is gmail.  Every user of gmail can easily be given an offer to join Google+, this offer can be low-key and gradually become more prominent if users don’t create an account.
  • Lack of Sign In/Account Creation: If you are logged into google for  your personal gmail account you are automatically signed in.  The convenience of no additional sign in means that migration is seamless.

The biggest problem with encroaching upon Facebook is dealing with network effects related to Facebook’s large embedded user base.  How do you get people to join?  How do assure that enough people will be on your platform so it is worth their time?

Google doesn’t have any problems with this because google can push Google+ using its gmail platform.  Additionally account creation is a breeze since your account is created with a click of a button since users are already sinced into gmail.

Reasons why users might spend more time on Google+ relative to Facebook

  • Google Search Factor (aka people can use google at work): Facebook is blocked at many workplaces, google isn’t.  This is an obvious but important distinction.  The fact that google’s search functionality is so useful for research purposes means that google is allowed in most work places.  This is why gchat functionality took off while facebook chat is relatively more stagnant.  This advantage also plays a role for Google+; the increased availability during work hours could potentially lead to relatively larger amounts of content (word, photos, ideas) being shared on the Google+ platform.
  • Reputation and Privacy: Facebook has a lot of bad PR points.  This is mostly attributed to the fact that Facebook has largely ignored user privacy concerns with each iteration of their changes.  The process of setting sharing options is deceptively vague and changes are made at a whim with user input being ignored.  Despite this, few users have migrated because there was no viable alternative for what Facebook services.  There is now a viable alternative where you can easily find everyone you will ever know and meet.  Facebook took advantage of its market strength and this is where they potentially reap the damage of being overconfident.  There is a population of users who will join Google+ for no other reason than a gripe they had with Facebook during one of their UI or privacy changes.

User Experience

  • Google+’s UI is clean and simple: Grouping people in Google circles is simple and intuitive.  You can organize your networks easily by dropping boxes of gmail contacts into procreated or customized social networks.  Like google search and gmail, the interface clean and lacks clutter.
  • Content Sharing Customization: Google allows customization of what content you want to share (to which specific contacts).  Zuckerberg’s self imposed share everything to everyone mandate for Facebook is coming back to bite Facebook in the butt.   With Google+, you can specify what content you want to share.  It’s a feature Facebook should have implemented a long time ago but didn’t because they had a broad mandate on forcing users to share with all (instead of allowing them to customize).  Below is an image showing how it works:

  • Content Reading Customization: Google+ took twitter’s idea of allowing users to customize what content they want to read.  With facebook, you have to choose broadly to block all content from your news stream or allow them to post constantly.  You can’t group them.  With Google+ you can now read content from people you value highly when you are short on time.  You can also group everyone else for when you have free time.  Again, this is something facebook should have done a long time ago but didn’t.  The image below shows how this works.

Closing Thoughts

Facebook will be losing lots of page impressions per user to Google+.  This is attributed to fact that it is so easy to join with gmail’s sign in system.  Additionally, you can use it in more places (namely at work).  The user experience is also better because Google+ allows for more customization.  I don’t think people will outright delete their facebook accounts in the short-term (one year or less).  However, I can see page views dropping as more users try out Google+.

July 7, 2011
thommyc:

This is one telling graph. Guess where app developers are putting their money…

Microsoft is throwing good money after bad at this point with their mobile OS efforts.  They would be better off if they spent the same resources to integrate Office into Android and iOS with optimized custom apps.

thommyc:

This is one telling graph. Guess where app developers are putting their money…

Microsoft is throwing good money after bad at this point with their mobile OS efforts.  They would be better off if they spent the same resources to integrate Office into Android and iOS with optimized custom apps.

(Source: thommyc)

June 30, 2011
teradome:

Organizational charts for tech companies. (via @mrandre)
Actually, I think they got it exactly right.

I found this amusing, it features org. charts of major tech companies.

teradome:

Organizational charts for tech companies. (via @mrandre)

Actually, I think they got it exactly right.

I found this amusing, it features org. charts of major tech companies.

(Source: teradome)