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

Opera 44.0.2510.1449 - High-performance...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
Skim 1.4.29 - PDF reader and note-taker...
Skim is a PDF reader and note-taker for OS X. It is designed to help you read and annotate scientific papers in PDF, but is also great for viewing any PDF file. Skim includes many features and has a... Read more
FontExplorer X Pro 6.0.2 - Font manageme...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more
1Password 6.7.1 - Powerful password mana...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
Vivaldi 1.9.818.44 - An advanced browser...
Vivaldi is a browser for our friends. In 1994, two programmers started working on a web browser. Our idea was to make a really fast browser, capable of running on limited hardware, keeping in mind... Read more
Vivaldi 1.9.818.44 - An advanced browser...
Vivaldi is a browser for our friends. In 1994, two programmers started working on a web browser. Our idea was to make a really fast browser, capable of running on limited hardware, keeping in mind... Read more
Skim 1.4.29 - PDF reader and note-taker...
Skim is a PDF reader and note-taker for OS X. It is designed to help you read and annotate scientific papers in PDF, but is also great for viewing any PDF file. Skim includes many features and has a... Read more
1Password 6.7.1 - Powerful password mana...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
FontExplorer X Pro 6.0.2 - Font manageme...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more
VOX 2.8.24 - Music player that supports...
VOX just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features and support for all audio formats you should ever need.... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Fire Emblem Heroes event announces new m...
As reported yesterday, Nintendo was gearing up a live press event for their popular mobile game,Fire Emblem Heroes. While the stream revealed a lot of new things, the event was entirely in Japanese. Luckily we have a rundown of what was announced... | Read more »
Best games we played this week
Another week, another slate of new mobile games. Although there weren't as many big name releases as last week, there were plenty of unique video game titles that came out that's sure to keep you interested over the weekend. Everything from classic... | Read more »
Olli by Tinrocket (Photography)
Olli by Tinrocket 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Get drawn in with Olli by TinrocketOlli instantly turns your everyday moments into hand-drawn art and animations. • Watch... | Read more »
Penarium (Games)
Penarium 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Fire Emblem Heroes is way more profitabl...
Profits for Nintendo's mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes are apparently impressive enough to beat out other Nintendo titles likeSuper Mario Run, despite having 10 times fewer downloads. [Read more] | Read more »
Classic series Robot Unicorn Attack 3 no...
The classic Adult Swim browser game, Robot Unicorn Attack, branched off into a series of popular mobile games. Now, the latest entry into the series, Robot Unicorn Attack 3, is available for iOS and Android mobile devices. [Read more] | Read more »
Sudoku Sweeper (Games)
Sudoku Sweeper 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A minimalist mashup of Minesweeper and Sudoku. Logic puzzle perfection. Every row, column and zone contains a bomb and one of... | Read more »
Under Leaves (Games)
Under Leaves 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Journey into the forest, the jungle or the depths of the deep blue sea. Find chestnuts for the pigs, a caterpillar for the... | Read more »
Ninja Pizza Girl (Games)
Ninja Pizza Girl 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: In the not-so-distant future, rampart traffic congestion has resulted in only one way to deliver pizzas across town in thirty... | Read more »
SCRAP (Games)
SCRAP 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: That day, for no apparent reason, SCRAP decided to wake up and run. He had to, because his activation was a mistake the "Factory" could... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

15-inch 2.7GHz Space Gray Touch Bar MacBook P...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.7GHz Space Gray Touch Bar MacBook Pro in stock today and on sale for $2599…$200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz... Read more
13-inch 2.9GHz/256GB Space Gray Touch Bar Mac...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.9GHz/256GB Space Gray Touch Bar MacBook Pro in stock today and on sale for $150 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/256GB Touch... Read more
21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $151 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $151 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 3.1GHz iMac 4K: $1348 $151 off MSRP - 21″ 2.8GHz iMac: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP... Read more
Weekend deal: Up to $420 off new MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros available for $230 to $420 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2.6GHz... Read more
Price drop: 15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro...
Amazon has dropped their price on 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros (MJLQ2LL/A) to $1709.99 including free shipping. Their price is $290 off MSRP for this model. Note that stock may sell out quickly at... Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini on sale for $899, save $100
B&H Photo has the 2.8GHz Mac mini (model number MGEQ2LL/A) on sale for $899 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Check Apple prices on any device with the iTr...
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more
New System Clock for macOS by B-Eng Now Avail...
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based B-Eng has announced the release and immediate availability of System Clock, the company’s new system monitor and information app developed exclusively for macOS. System... Read more
DEVONtechnologies Celebrates 15th Anniversary...
DEVONtechnologies celebrates its 15th company anniversary with a 30% discount on all its software products from May 1st through 5th, 2017. In spring 2002, DEVONtechnologies opened its website and... Read more
WaterField Designs Invites Customers to Help...
San Francisco based WaterField Designs invites customers and air travelers to participate in developing the next generation in-flight travel case, the Air Porter. Frustrated with limited legroom,... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Mac Computer Technician - GeekHampto...
…complex computer issues over the phone and in person? GeekHampton, Long Island's Apple Premium Service Provider, is looking for you! Come work with our crew Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**501846BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Location Number:** 001126-South Bay Center-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Read more
Consultant or Sr. Consultant, *Apple* Allia...
…improve our business and your clients will be heard.Project Manager, Apple AllianceLocation:San Francisco preferred, open to other locationsLevel:Consultant or Sr. Read more
*Apple* Mac Computer Technician - GeekHampto...
…complex computer issues over the phone and in person? GeekHampton, Long Island's Apple Premium Service Provider, is looking for you! Come work with our crew Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**501505BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000849-Gurnee-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master do?** At Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.