By Greg Mills
The uproar was tremendous when Apple refused to support Adobe Flash with the iOS. I will admit some frustration as web pages loaded on iPad with the admonition to load Flash to view the content. I knew I couldn't do that. Oh, well, I figured I didn't need to see that content any way or bother with web sites that didn't support compatible graphic display software.
Steve Jobs took the extraordinary step of explaining why Adobe Flash wasn't up to the standards Apple required for content players in great detail. While everyone has to admit that Jobs is as anal as you can get, that means Apple product users don't have to be that way to get products that are completely polished and just work. Jobs has taken the frustration out of our experience for us. Thank you, Steve.
Adobe wrung its hands in anguish, claiming everything from industrial warfare to malicious slander. Recently, Adobe launched an updated version of Flash that hopefully fixes the problems. In addition to being a chip cycle hog running down battery life, there is also an irregularity in special Flash cookies that are essentially hidden from users in a different place than regular browser cookies. Apple had just cause to ban Flash. Let's see if the new version passes muster and, if so, future iOS updates will certainly support it. Apple is deliberate, not defiant.
Video codec standards really matter. The other day I built a web site with a 30-second movie in it and it used up so much memory it just about filled up my .Mac account memory allotment (I hate the MobileMe name). I use my Apple hosted, online web space to temporarily mount web sites under development to show clients until we are ready to put the site online.
I loaded the offending movie into iMove and "shared it" as an MPEG and shrunk the movie from 150 to 5MB. Then, I posted the slimmed-down movie, and the difference in memory required to host the site was amazing. My client whined, "Why do I have to load QuickTime to see the movie?" I told her why, and she did. Some PCs don't come with QuickTime loaded, but they should. Microsoft has a history of ignoring competitive elements for its browsers and then screaming the loudest when other companies don't support their codecs.
AT&T Dumb as Hammers saga, part 2. Rather than simply close an existing post pay account and open a new post pay to support his wife's new AT&T iPhone 4, AT&T so frustrated my brother-in-law that he returned the perfectly good iPhone and walked down the street to Verizon. I have supported AT&T's customer service despite the "No Bars in More Places" problem. That is over. It is absurd that it should be so hard to fix an account issue.
The Daily has launched a newer app to support their online newspaper. It is reportedly designed to load the content faster and make the experience better. I will load it and report back.
Nokia has taken drastic steps to counter the Apple iPhone and iPad's iOS by firing their software team. Nokia slashed R&D to zip and plunged into bed with Microsoft. Nokia Stock dropped off 10% overnight and is poised for further erosion today. They still hope to sell 150,000,000 Symbian-based dumb phones despite announcing their OS is a dead end. They threw the MeeGo OS into the open source pot and raised the white flag.
Nokia investors are appalled as billions of dollars of R&D spent on proprietary operating systems have effectively been flushed down the toilet. Even Nokia figures it will take at least two years to mount a recovery. Two years in the fast developing cell phone industry is a very long time and spells doom for Nokia. Who can catch up with Apple, with what would then be a four-year head start? Dumb phones and dumb phone manufactures are history and will soon be irrelevant.
If nothing else Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive who came on board a seriously troubled company last September, is a realist. For a long time the company has been pumping phony sunshine out to the media. The numbers showing Nokia's rapid decline in market share finally woke them up. In a recent speech Elop compared his companies situation as being like a man on a burning off-shore oil platform. Do you wait and get burned to a crisp by Apple and Android or jump into the frigid sea and partner with an off the shelf smartphone platform? They jumped into the sea (the arms of Microsoft's Steve Ballmer).
Finland is a small country and the footprint of Nokia is huge there. Nokia, as were the rest of the cell phone manufacturing companies around the world caught with their pants down when Apple launched the iPhone. Two or three years ago the fundamentals of the market were suddenly changed, and dumb phones' days were numbered. Nokia failed to move quickly enough to counter Apple and then Google when the Android handsets were launched by every competitor but RIM.
Microsoft is poised to benefit from the huge move by Nokia in making the Windows 7 Mobile OS their platform. As RIM also is falling off, the three remaining players are Apple, Google and Microsoft, in that order. The touch screen OS patent shakedown by Apple will really get under way soon ,and I expect Android to get the silver bullet from Federal Court cases already filed by Apple against every single Android handset manufacturer.
At a minimum, Android handsets and the OS will be changed, if possible, to avoid infringement of Apple's patented technology. However, should Apple prevail, the decision to license Apple technology to Android handset companies or Google is for Apple alone to make. My money is on the patent infringement-based order to cease and desist infringement with multi-billion dollar damages. Apple is as likely to license the iOS as they have been the Mac OS.
To further darken the gloom at Nokia, there are rumors that Apple has developed an iPhone Mini which will offer the basics of the iPhone experience at a lower price than the full blown iPhone. Hitting a price point where the cell phone companies can give them away with a two-year contract would nail the coffin shut on Nokia and other dumb phone companies. It would match the low entry investment of the Android.
There is a pincer action going on, as Apple is well aware of the surge in the Android. One side of the pincer is the market that Apple will support by offering universal iPhones in more markets and to more cell phone networks. The other side of the pincer is the patent infringement issue. Android is a dead man walking despite what you read in the press.
That's another Greg's bite for today.
(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He's also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: www.CottageIndustySolar.com Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg's art web site at
www.gregmills.info He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)