The Northern Spy: Motoroogle, TANSTAAFL and more
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: Motoroogle, TANSTAAFL and more

By Rick Sutcliffe

Motoroogle is the oldest/newest player/casualty in the mobile market, though perhaps not for the reasons some might suppose. On the one hand, the passing into new hands of the mobile telecom portion of Motorola represents more blood on Apple's click wheel.

On the other, the US$12.5B Google spent on the acquisition is more a defensive measure than a bold new step. When Google failed to win the bidding war for the Nortel patents, and worse, lost to Apple, Something Had To Be Done. This purchase is not about overspending on an entity that was about to pass from the scene. Rather it is about stocking up on patents.

The high tech landscape just now is reminiscent of the elementary school yard.

"Get out of my way or I'll punch you.

"Oh, yeah, if you do, my patent lawyer will hit you with ten suits."

"Nyah, nyah. My patent war chest is ten times the size of yours."

"Wanna bet? I just bought another ten thousand. I'll get you back, see if I don't."

"Techno-bully."

"Dweeb."

In a few years, the big players will get over it, the only way they can--by cross-licensing agreements not to waste money on legal spats that no one wins. Meanwhile, a lot of lawyers are about to become very wealthy at the consumers' expense. Trouble is in this case, that the Spy isn't at all convinced Google bought a very high quality patent portfolio.

The ones who should be worried are are RIM, Nokia, and Samsung. The latter has been aggressive already, adding regularly to the almost daily lawsuits filed against Apple. The other two, and especially RIM, seem suddenly very vulnerable. RIM recently announced Android apps for the Blackberry, but that seems a weak response.

Hmmm. How about RIM as an Apple subsidiary, its phones able to run iPhone apps. Naw. They'd be too slow. Meanwhile, back at the Nokia ranch, market share slowly declines without much sight on a creative response. Look for it to be swallowed. Look for other large-scale patent holders to become takeover/merge targets as well.

The Spy wondered in this space at the time why HP was wasting money on Palm and WebOS. Someone there seems to have decided he was right after all, for HP is returning to its roots by divesting itself of its computing and mobile businesses. This move was inevitable, but comes a couple of years late to avoid huge losses in share price. Brave words about the future of WebOS notwithstanding, it appears to the Spy that WebOS is dead, dead, dead. Who would buy it? Of course, he asked that question before.

But what is worse, by tanking its own shares, HP has transitioned itself from predator (Compaq and Palm) to prey. Sans any PC or mobile business, it might make a good fit for Apple, provided they care to return to the printer business, which seems at first blush unlikely. Then again, HP does have a few patents that might be worth something.

The bottom line here is that North American companies simply cannot compete in the generic me-too PC computer commodity market. Apple owns the high end, and its iPads are squeezing out the low end. The middle is none too profitable, and manufacture can be handled by low cost Oriental and South American shops that sell into the North American market via dollar stores and other mass merchandising outlets. For such a machine, corner stores and big box retail will do.

There is no need for an outfit like HP to make such machines. Now follow that logic, Michael Dell, and tell me about your survival strategy? Wind up the company and give the shareholders' money back?

Yet another recent casualty is the Microsoft book reader, and despite assurances to the contrary, ultimately the .lit format. Back in the day, the Spy was an early adopter of the Gemstar reader. But it got terminated, its IP taken over by Fictionwise, who kept it going for a while. But face it folks. The market has told us repeatedly that there is little future in proprietary book readers and file formats. Even Apple is having a hard time gaining traction with iBooks, which is an indifferent reader program at best, and poor for PDFs compared with other iPod apps.

A superb book reader is an essential component of the Spy's fictional PIEA (Personal Intelligence Enhancement Appliance), used daily by Hibernians of all classes, and written about by the Spy since the mid 1980s. (The Fourth Civilization.) When I spoke at length with Tim Cook concerning book readers at the 2001 WWDC, he told me that Apple hadn't yet figured out how to "do an ebook reader right" and would not do one at all until they could.

The iPad and better software might be the right answer, but his comment is still true. Apple has not yet done a book reader. Again, the first company that does "do it right" will obsolete every textbook publishing company on the planet, that latter being the most broken industry of all. (Though perhaps the pulp and paper industry is the most suffering.)

And as for MS continuing to support .lit, we've heard that one before. Give it a year or so, and it'll be forgotten.

TANSTAAFL, or so they say. The Spy has two corollaries. The first employs a greedy algorithm, and goes like this: "Every once in a while, there is a free lunch. Sit down and eat." The second is the more thoughtful and conservative: "When someone offers you a free lunch, ask who's paying the bill.

This latter is a question the "free world" should have been asking of the totalitarian regimes it has tolerated for their oil exports (or other political goodies). It is a question every populace in a nation running a current accounts deficit should be asking.

In our industries, it is a question the consumers of flat screen TVs and DRAM should be asking, as both sectors starve themselves just to sell product at all, even at a loss. Look for major consolidation in this industry, and for Apple, when it does take a jump in this direction of TV, to think very different, thus accelerating the demise of some big players.

But of more interest to the Spy, it is a question the whole industry ought to be asking about the supply of talent--notably that of trained professional programmers. Their education isn't free, but the industry has done little to partner with education in the last decade, and it shows. Yes, there is scant evidence that enrolment in first year programming classes has begun to turn around, but the big technology companies need to take care lest the university computing science department geese that lay their golden software eggs die of starvation.

Such was a theme of this column in the early 1980s, and for a brief time, Apple (U.S. only) took note and made friendly with higher education in a haphazard sort of way. But in more recent years, and despite the Spy's urging better things on the movers and shakers of the big money high tech industry, Apple and Tim Cook personally both included, they have paid little attention to higher education.

With CS enrollment in the tank these last five years, the shortage of programmer talent in North America is about to become extreme--good news for the pay cheques of those already writing commercial code, but the harbinger of desperate times for those hoping to do the hiring. The free lunch is over, 'cause no one ponied up to foot the bill and promote the profession.

There's just one more thing as iSteve would say, and there's a good reason for leaving him to last in this month's column. The Spy has seen hundreds of columns of print and virtual ink on his passing the CEO baton to the aforementioned Tim Cook, together with a mountain of speculation about the future of Apple, whether it means a new lease on life for its competitors, and the like -- all this having the flavour of a eulogy or obituary for iSteve or his little company.

Let the Spy make of that mountain a molehill. First, Steve Jobs isn't going anywhere. He will be an active and involved Board Chairman with far more influence and say than usual for such a position. Second, he worked a full day at Infinite Loop before making the announcement, and can be expected to work many more. Let his obituary be (when the time comes to write it) that he went out with his boots on. Third, the Spy is convinced that this move is not at all about Jobs' health, but rather calculated to maximize benefit to the corporation.

Consider: who was until that announcement was made, the single most marketable iCEO on the planet? Suppose Nokia, HP, Sony, or IBM had offered Tim Cook a few bazillion dollars and shares to jump ship? What would happen to Apple's share value then? Exactly. As confirmed Apple CEO there is no "up" on the planet to go to in corporate life. With the offer of a million shares after ten years (could be worth over $1B by then) he's got it made in the shade, and so has the company. This was the right move, made at probably at the best time, that is a month plus before the next iPhone announcement, which your read in this space some time ago would be in October, the Spy will suggest, before the tenth.

The difference to daily life at the Loop? Where do the brightest and best talents in the industry already work, or aspire to? Exactly. Apple will be insanely greater than any other company in its space for a long time yet. You read it here first.

Personal note #1

relates to Abigail Grace Sutcliffe, born Friday August nineteenth. to son Joel and daughter-in-law Jen. Don't grandchildren make up for a lot?

Personal note #2

Once again the Spy is running for the board of CIRA (the Canadian Internet Registration Authority), a non-profit corporation set up to run the .ca domain here in the frozen north. He previously served on the board for three years. See the link below for more information on how to become a member, find his platform, show support, and vote.

P.S.

What word did you use to fill in the title?

-- The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author's own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor and chair of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada's Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several organizations, including in the corporate sector, and participated in industry standards at the national and international level.

He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and six novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe's fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon's Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Arjay Enterprises:

Arijay Books: http://www.ArjayBooks.com
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Books:
Booksurge: http://www.booksurge.com
Fictionwise: http://www.fictionwise.com
URLs for items mentioned in this column
Synology: http://www.synology.com/

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Firefox 37.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more
Arq 4.11 - Online backup to Google Drive...
Arq is super-easy online backup for the Mac. Back up to your own Google Drive storage (15GB free storage), your own Amazon Glacier ($.01/GB per month storage) or S3, or any SFTP server. Arq backs up... Read more
MacFamilyTree 7.3.4 - Create and explore...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: it's modern, interactive, incredibly fast, and easy to use. We're convinced that generations of chroniclers would have loved to trade in their genealogy... Read more
Yummy FTP 1.10.2 - FTP/SFTP/FTPS client...
Yummy FTP is an FTP + SFTP + FTPS file transfer client which focuses on speed, reliability and productivity. Whether you need to transfer a few files or a few thousand, schedule automatic backups, or... Read more
VueScan 9.5.08 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.0.1 - Powerful imag...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
Air Video Server HD 2.1.0 - Stream video...
Air Video Server HD streams videos instantly from your computer on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple TV. No need to worry about converting or transferring files. We took everything that was... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.7.5 - Find and d...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator... Read more
BusyContacts 1.0.2 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
Capture One Pro 8.2.0.82 - RAW workflow...
Capture One Pro 8 is a professional RAW converter offering you ultimate image quality with accurate colors and incredible detail from more than 300 high-end cameras -- straight out of the box. It... Read more

2K Announces WWE 2K, Mobile's First...
It seems like this month has been pretty big for wrestling. First Wrestlemania, then 2K has announces that they're releasing  WWE 2K for iOS. It's a simulation-based WWE game where you'll get to play with several WWE superstars such as John Cena, ... | Read more »
How the Apple Watch Could Change the Fac...
The Apple Watch is still a ways out, but my previous musings on the wearable’s various features got me thinking: what might it be like a year after launch? Two years? Five years? What if it becomes a symbiotic part of the iOS framework to the point... | Read more »
Pie In The Sky: A Pizza Odyssey (Games)
Pie In The Sky: A Pizza Odyssey 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A game about delivering pizza. In space. | Read more »
Chosen Gives Hopeful Singers, Songwriter...
If YouTube videos and reality TV shows like The Voice have taught us one thing, it’s that there are a lot of people out there who are anxious to show the world their talents. And if they’ve taught us a second thing, it’s that there’s an almost... | Read more »
Android's Popular OfficeSuite Now A...
Once only available for Android devices, OfficeSuite has finally landed on the app store. The Mobile Systems app lets you view, edit, create, and share Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents as well as convert them to/from PDFs. It's touted as being... | Read more »
Warhammer: Arcane Magic is Coming Soon,...
Turbo Tape Games has announced that they're joining forces with Games Workshop to bring the turn-based strategy board game, Warhammer: Arcane Magic, to life on the iOS. | Read more »
Fast & Furious: Legacy's Creati...
| Read more »
N-Fusion and 505's Ember is Totally...
| Read more »
These are All the Apple Watch Apps and G...
The Apple Watch is less than a month from hitting store shelves, and once you get your hands on it you're probably going to want some apps and games to install. Fear not! We've compiled a list of all the Apple Watch apps and games we've been able to... | Read more »
Appy to Have Known You - Lee Hamlet Look...
Being at 148Apps these past 2 years has been an awesome experience that has taught me a great deal, and working with such a great team has been a privilege. Thank you to Rob Rich, and to both Rob LeFebvre and Jeff Scott before him, for helping me... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 2.4GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
MacMall has the 2013 13″ 2.4GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro available for $949.99 for a limited time. Shipping is free. Their price is $350 off original MSRP, and it’s the only sub-$1000 new Retina... Read more
Adobe Brings Powerful Layout-Design Capabilit...
Adobe today announced the availability of Adobe Comp CC, a free iPad app that enables rapid creation of layout concepts for mobile, Web and print projects. With Comp CC, designers can rough out and... Read more
13-inch 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro avail...
Best Buy has clearance 2014 13″ 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pros available for $1199.99 including free shipping. Their price is $300 off original MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model.... Read more
Updated Mac Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more
21-inch 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999, save $1...
Best Buy has the 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for online orders only, in-store prices may vary. Their price is... Read more
2.6GHz Mac mini on sale for $649, save $50
Amazon has the 2.6GHz Mac mini on sale for $649.99 including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
Textkraft Professional 3.2 Powerful iPad Text...
Finally it’s springtime, at least theoretically in my neck of the woods, where we’re still navigating canyons between towering snowbanks with temperatures well below freezing in winter weather that... Read more
Apple offering refurbished 27-inch 5K iMacs f...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMacs for $2119 including free shipping. Their price is $380 off the price of new models, and it’s the lowest price available for... Read more
16GB iPad mini on sale for $199, save $50
Walmart has 16GB iPad minis (1st generation) available for $199.99 on their online store, including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Online orders only. Read more
New 128GB MacBook Airs on sale for $50 off MS...
 B&H Photo has 128GB 11″ and 13″ 2015 MacBook Airs on sale today for $50 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (Model #MJVM2LL/A): $849 $50 off... Read more

Jobs Board

DevOps Software Engineer - *Apple* Pay, iOS...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail...
**Job Summary** Job Summary The Lead ASC is an Apple employee who serves as the Apple business manager and influencer in a hyper-business critical Reseller's store Read more
*Apple* Pay - Site Reliability Engineer - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.