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/

 
AAPL
$517.96
Apple Inc.
-3.72
MSFT
$39.75
Microsoft Corpora
+0.57
GOOG
$536.44
Google Inc.
+3.92

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty 1.1.1.180...
Download the patch by launching the Starcraft II game and downloading it through the Battle.net connection within the app. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is a strategy game played in real-time. You... Read more
Sibelius 7.5.0 - Music notation solution...
Sibelius is the world's best-selling music notation software for Mac. It is as intuitive to use as a pen, yet so powerful that it does most things in less than the blink of an eye. The demo includes... Read more
Typinator 5.9 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more
MYStuff Pro 2.0.16 - Create inventories...
MYStuff Pro is the most flexible way to create detail-rich inventories for your home or small business. Add items to MYStuff by dragging and dropping existing information, uploading new images, or... Read more
TurboTax 2013.r17.002 - Manage your 2013...
TurboTax guides you through your tax return step by step, does all the calculations, and checks your return for errors and overlooked deductions. It lets you file your return electronically to get... Read more
TrailRunner 3.8.769 - Route planning for...
Note: While the software is classified as freeware, it is actually donationware. Please consider making a donation to help support development. TrailRunner is the perfect companion for runners,... Read more
Flavours 1.1.10 - Create and apply theme...
Flavours is a Mac application that allow users to create, apply and share beautifully designed themes. Classy Give your Mac a gorgeous new look by applying delicious themes! Easy Unleash your... Read more
Spotify 0.9.8.296. - Stream music, creat...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.475 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
S.M.A.R.T. for USB and FireWire Drives 0...
S.M.A.R.T. for USB and FireWire Drives is a kernel driver for OS X external usb or firewire drives. It extends the standard driver behaviour by providing access to drive smart data. The interface to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

148Apps Live on Twitch: Pivvot’s Looper...
On our latest Twitch stream, we’ll be playing a pair of minimalist arcade games, one that just got a big content update in Pivvot, and another that was inspired by it in 15 Coins. Whitaker Trebella, creator of Pivvot, will discuss the new modes... | Read more »
Word Cubes Review
Word Cubes Review By Jordan Minor on April 15th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SQUARESVILLEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Word Cubes is fine, but it is barely any different from any other word game.   | Read more »
PAX East 2014 – Desert Fox: The Battle o...
PAX East 2014 – Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein is Coming to iOS Soon Posted by Rob Rich on April 15th, 2014 [ permalink ] Shenandoah Studio has become one of the go-to developers for war games on iOS, with | Read more »
Tank of Tanks Review
Tank of Tanks Review By Carter Dotson on April 15th, 2014 Our Rating: :: TANKS A LOT!iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad This multiplayer game played on a single iPad is simple, chaotic fun.   | Read more »
PAX East 2014 – Dungeon of the Endless J...
PAX East 2014 – Dungeon of the Endless Just Might Have a Shot at an iPad Release Posted by Rob Rich on April 15th, 2014 [ permalink ] I think it’s fair to say that | Read more »
SideSwype Review
SideSwype Review By Carter Dotson on April 15th, 2014 Our Rating: :: ON YOUR SIDEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad SideSwype is a puzzler that takes inspiration from Threes, but becomes its own incredibly fun game.   | Read more »
PAX East 2014 – Bigfoot Hunter Invites P...
PAX East 2014 – Bigfoot Hunter Invites Players on a Wild and Wooly Photo Safari Posted by Rob Rich on April 15th, 2014 [ permalink ] Yeti. Sasquatch. Wendigo. | Read more »
Dungeon Quest Review
Dungeon Quest Review By Cata Modorcea on April 15th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NO STORY, BUT GOOD FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Dungeon Quest does a lot of things right, but ultimately forgets about one of the core... | Read more »
Tempo AI and Speek Join Forces to “Kill...
Tempo AI and Speek Join Forces to “Kill the Conference Call PIN” Posted by Rob Rich on April 15th, 2014 [ permalink ] Today Tempo AI, makers of Tempo Smart Calendar, and | Read more »
Fighting Fantasy: Starship Traveller Rev...
Fighting Fantasy: Starship Traveller Review By Jennifer Allen on April 15th, 2014 Our Rating: :: A SIGNIFICANT VOYAGEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Continuing the release of Fighting Fantasy titles, Starship Traveller... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save $50 on Mac mini Server
B&H Photo has the 2012 Mac mini Server on sale for $949 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Read more
PhatWare’s “Ultimate Writing App For iOS” Ren...
PhatWare Corp. has announced it has renamed its new WritePro word processing app for iPhone and iPad: WritePad Pro. The decision to change the app’s name to leverages the strong brand awareness and... Read more
Full Resolution Photo Editor Tint Mint 1.0 Re...
California based independent developer, Jeffrey Sun, creator of the iOS app Modern Editor, has released Tint Mint, a new photography app for editing enthusiasts. The app costs a dollar, and it packs... Read more
16GB iPad mini (Apple refurbished) available...
The Apple Store has refurbished 1st generation 16GB iPad minis available for $249 including free shipping. Both black and white models are available. Read more
Save $120 on the 27-inch 3.2GHz Haswell iMac
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1679.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is about $120 off MSRP. Read more
Using a Mac Doesn’t Eliminate The Heartbleed...
Low End Mac’s Dan Knight notes that any time you visit a website with an https: prefix or see that secure lock icon on your browser, some type of security software is busy trying to protect your data... Read more
AirPrint Basics Tutorial Posted
A new Apple Knowledge Base article helps get you started using AirPrint, the Apple protocol that enables instant printing from iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac without the need to install drivers or... Read more
Speed Tips For Running LibreOffice On The Mac
LibreOffice is my favorite of several free, open-source application suites, and the one I have configured on my Mac as my default app for Word documents that one frequently has to deal with. It also... Read more
Snag a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro for $115 of...
B&H Photo has 2013 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $115 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.3GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $2489.99... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for $50 to $100 off MSRP
Several resellers are offering $50-$100 discounts on 11″ and 13″ MacBook Airs today, including Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, and others. See the breakdown of deals on our MacBook Air Price Tracker,... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Market Leader - Cincinnati...
…challenges of developing individuals, building teams, and affecting growth across Apple Stores. You demonstrate successful leadership ability - focusing on excellence Read more
*Apple* Retail - Manager - SoHo - Apple (Uni...
Job SummaryKeeping an Apple Store thriving requires a diverse set of leadership skills, and as a Manager, you're a master of them all. In the store's fast-paced, dynamic Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Every day, business customers come to the Apple Store to discover what powerful, easy-to-use Apple products can do for them. As a Business Leader, Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…challenges of developing individuals, building teams, and affecting growth across Apple Stores. You demonstrate successful leadership ability - focusing on excellence Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.