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

Skype 7.9.746 - Voice-over-internet phon...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
Apple GarageBand 10.1 - Complete recordi...
The new GarageBand is a whole music creation studio right inside your Mac -- complete with keyboard, synths, orchestral and percussion instruments, presets for guitar and voice, an entirely... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.7.7 - 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
OS X Server 4.1.3 - For OS X 10.10 Yosem...
Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, develop software, host your own website, publish wikis, configure Mac, iPhone,... Read more
Firefox 39.0 - 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
pwSafe 4.1 - Secure password management...
pwSafe provides simple and secure password management across devices and computers. pwSafe uses iCloud to keep your password databases backed-up and synced between Macs and iOS devices. It is... Read more
Kodi 15.0.rc1 - Powerful media center to...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
Coda 2.5.11 - One-window Web development...
Coda is a powerful Web editor that puts everything in one place. An editor. Terminal. CSS. Files. With Coda 2, we went beyond expectations. With loads of new, much-requested features, a few surprises... Read more
Bookends 12.5.7 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Access the power of Bookends directly from Mellel, Nisus Writer Pro, or MS Word (... Read more
Maya 2016 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more

This Week at 148Apps: June 29-July 3, 20...
Into July With 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the... | Read more »
Sonic Runners Guide
Despite its flaws, Sonic Runners' platforming action is actually quite fun. Though it can be a little more complicated than old-school Sonic games. Here's how to make sure you're up to speed when jumping in. [Read more] | Read more »
Rage of Bahamut is Giving Almost All of...
The App Store isn't what it used to be back in 2012, so it's not unexpected to see some games changing their structures with the times. Now we can add Rage of Bahamut to that list with the recent announcement that the game is severely cutting back... | Read more »
Adventures of Pip (Games)
Adventures of Pip 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** ONE WEEK ONLY — 66% OFF! *** “Adventures of Pip is a delightful little platformer full of charm, challenge and impeccable... | Read more »
Divide By Sheep - Tips, Tricks, and Stre...
Who would have thought splitting up sheep could be so involved? Anyone who’s played Divide by Sheep, that’s who! While we’re not about to give you complete solutions to everything (because that’s just cheating), we will happily give you some... | Read more »
NaturalMotion and Zynga Have Started Tea...
An official sequel to 2012's CSR Racing is officially on the way, with Zynga and NaturalMotion releasing a short teaser trailer to get everyone excited. Well, as excited as one can get from a trailer with no gameplay footage, anyway. [Read more] | Read more »
Grab a Friend and Pick up Overkill 3, Be...
Overkill 3 is a pretty enjoyable third-person shooter that was sort of begging for some online multiplayer. Fortunately the begging can stop, because its newest update has added an online co-op mode. [Read more] | Read more »
Scanner Pro's Newest Update Adds Au...
Scanner Pro is one of the most popular document scanning apps on iOS, thanks in no small part to its near-constant updates, I'm sure. Now we're up to update number six, and it adds some pretty handy new features. [Read more] | Read more »
Heroki (Games)
Heroki 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: CLEAR THE SKIES FOR A NEW HERO!The peaceful sky village of Levantia is in danger! The dastardly Dr. N. Forchin and his accomplice,... | Read more »
Wars of the Roses (Games)
Wars of the Roses 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 1.6GHz MacBook Air on sale for $849,...
Amazon has the 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99 including free shipping. Their price is $150 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
RamDisk4Mac App Helps Run Your Mac Faster And...
Ever use a RAM disk? If you’ve come to the Mac in the OS X era, likely not. The Classic Mac OS had a RAM disk function built-in, but that was dropped in the conversion to OS X. What is a RAM disk?... Read more
13-inch 1.6GHz MacBook Air on sale for $849,...
Best Buy has the 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99 on their online store this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders... Read more
Apple Refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac – $1949 $... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 13-inch Retina MacBook...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off original MSRP, starting at $979. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Seagate Backup Plus Drives Feature 200GB of C...
Seagate Technology plc has announced that its Backup Plus family of external storage offerings will now include 200GB of OneDrive cloud storage, a major added value, and the addition of Lyve’s photo... Read more
Canon PIXMA MG3620 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One...
Canon U.S.A., Inc. has announced the PIXMA MG3620 Wireless (1) Inkjet All-in-One (AIO) printer for high-quality photo and document printing. Built with convenience in mind for the everyday home user... Read more
July 4th Holiday Weekend 13-inch MacBook Pro...
Save up to $150 on the purchase of a new 2015 13″ Retina MacBook Pro at the following resellers this weekend. Shipping is free with each model: 2.7GHz/128GB MSRP $1299 2.7GHz/... Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2149, sav...
Best Buy has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2149.99. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary. Their price is $... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2015 11-inch...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2015 11″ MacBook Airs as well as 13″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
Senior Payments Security Manager - *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple , Inc. is looking for a highly motivated, innovative and hands-on senior payments security manager to join the Apple Pay security team. You will 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
Sr. Payment Program Manager, *Apple* Pay -...
**Job Summary** Apple Pay is an exciting environment and a…devices in a simple, private and secure way. The Apple Pay Team is looking for an experienced Senior Read more
Project Manager - *Apple* Pay Security - Ap...
**Job Summary** The Apple Pay Security team is seeking a highly organized, results-driven Project Manager to drive the development of Apple Pay Security. If you are Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.