The Northern Spy: looking at HP, RIM, Nokia and more
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: looking at HP, RIM, Nokia and more

By Rick Sutcliffe

Hewlett Packard appears to have taken comments made here last month seriously enough to take defensive measures. But let's be realistic.
First, changing CEOs at this juncture (nearly 50% share value lost) is like tossing a single sandbag into the raging torrent pouring through a broken dyke.

Second, hiring Goldman Sachs Group to plan a takeover prevention strategy is a whistling in the wind. As the Spy said, they have transformed themselves from predator to prey. What remains to be seen once the various interested parties have done their due diligence is whether the takeover attention will come from a turnaround specialist, a breakup artist, or someone in the industry for whom the technology, talents, and patents have residual value.

Third, when you are but reactively defending against the consequences of your own errors and failures, you tend to create more new problems than you fix old ones.

Fourth, can HP (or whoever takes it over) really divest itself of its consumer products and go head-to-head with the now re-invented and well-positioned IBM in servers and services? The Spy suspects not. IBM saw a wave coming years ago, divested itself of small computers and decisively altered its entire business model. HP appears to be merely wallowing in doubt and indecision.

And fifth, it all seems too little and too late. The greatest damage is not so much to today's business, but to tomorrow's. HP has tossed away considerable assets of mindshare, trust -- faith if you will. As the Spy has said here many times before, marketshare lags mindshare by two to five years. That's as reliable a predictor on the down side as it is on the up side -- perhaps more so once the slippery slope brings out the vultures in the press to devour the weak.

The new CEO at HP is reputed to be making only a dollar in salary and the rest in performance bonus promises. She could come very cheap indeed.

Which brings us to RIM, Nokia, and MS, where the steady erosion of mindshare to Apple over the last few years is yielding the inevitable defection of customers and influx of short sellers today. RIM is in so much trouble that it appears ripe for a hostile takeover by a breakup artist. Perhaps Apple will buy the patent portfolio at auction. The only other asset of value there is the network and residual good will -- no longer much. RIM's tablet was ill-conceived, and the company did not itself know to whom it was being marketed. Colour it extinct.

Meanwhile, Nokia slides steadily toward oblivion, hurried along by the deadly embrace decision to adopt Windows in place of its own OS. Again, Apple could easily buy the whole company from spare change. But, why?

Microsoft was once able to get away with countering Apple's innovation by imitating its OS and pawning off an inferior product as the choice for business to run on "IBM-compatible" PCs. Even that strategy would not work today, for technology is now mass market and consumer driven. In the current arena one can only counter innovation by offering better innovation the next day (or, better yet, the previous day.)

With Apple seemingly having a lock on technological creativity (or at least the perception of same) the purely reactive competing enterprise is doomed. Worse than that, one could well argue that none of these three former leaders has lately been very good at executing even a reactive strategy.

Ironically, the now resurgent IBM saw its market cap surpass that of Microsoft this past week, as it pushed past its floundering and leaderless former ally into second place in the technology sector.

Winners, on the other hand can be found at Google (Android, now with over 40% of the smartphone market) and Amazon (the respected, if pedestrian, Kindle). In one sense, Google seems to be trying to imitate the once-upon-a-time Microsoft route--lever connections with sufficient partners and throw enough marketing muscle behind a fairly good imitation with a few bells and whistles of its own, and you may succeed for a time. Is Apple up to meeting that kind of challenge? Ask rather whether the Pope is Catholic, though the Spy does note some slippage in Apple's quality control over the last few years that might widen this small opening.

The case of Amazon is more complex, and for the longer term hinges around whether they can re-invent the Kindle -- the most successful eBook reader yet made -- as an iPad competitor. The Spy gives that prospect a definite maybe. Amazon has the infrastructure and the customer mindshare to pull it off. After all, no one else has come this close to a satisfactory electronic reading experience. But can they produce a superior product? Their first attempts at a kPad seem weak, but first attempts always are. Give it a year.

If they cannot trump the iPad in that time, they never will. On the the other hand, could the news reports that Amazon is interested in buying WebOS from HP really be credible? The Spy's first reaction is decidedly otherwise, but bizarre things seem to happen daily in the fantasy land that is the high-tech executive suite. Why would they want to? And on the final hand, Kindle is good but not great, so no one has yet gotten the electronic reading experience excellently right. Should someone else do so in the meanwhile, it is curtains Kindle.

That someone could be and should be Apple, but so far iCupertino does not seem interested in that market, for its software efforts on the iPad/iPhone/iPod have been anemic -- no way to build mind share in this market against such a lead. Too bad. The paper publishing industry is sick unto dying, and ripe to have someone issue the coupe de gras.

The stock market is passing judgement on more than just sovereign debtors and their misguided banks, but on the high-tech industry. Amidst a global rout, Apple's shares have held their value, even flirting with the $400 level, while those of their competitors have tanked. This too is a mindshare barometer, a harbinger of sales a couple of years down the road. Expect things to get better for Apple and worse for the others. One is tempted to make comparisons between the high-tech losers and the sick countries of Europe, excepting that a failure by, say RIM, would discomfit only stock holders, not bring down banks and other nations' economies as will that of Greece.

Other harbingers of note include Apple's decision to cease sales of boxed software for the download from its online store. This is more than a "create a new trend" decision -- it makes business sense, it is green, and it acknowledges the inevitable. Boxed software sold over the counter in a brick and mortar store is going the way of the passenger pigeon, as will the paper publishing industry as soon as someone gets the eBook reader right. True, it may mean the demise of many small stores, but it's a big win for both manufacturer and consumer, for costs will fall dramatically.

A mention of the (as of this date) upcoming October announcements from Apple seems in order for this section. Yup, first part of the month. Yup, iPhone products. You read it here some time ago. Right. consider it mentioned. Consider it doubtful it will be further discussed here after the fact, as such incremental upgrades to existing products, while they may further cash in mindshare to marketshare, do not fundamentally change a well-established market direction fed by previously earned mindshare.

Such would require a dramatically new market entry, such as an Apple television, an Apple network, an Apple telephone company, an Apple chip design and manufacturing facility, an Apple book reader done right (say, complete with a seven-inch iPad form factor product), an Apple e-ink touch screen foldable into one's pocket to obsolete newspapers and magazines, an Apple micro cloud for home and office (complete with a line of cloud enabled hardware of the kind that perhaps could be made by the remnants of what is today called HP), or an Apple foray into the services and server market (also purchasable via an HP break up auction or by merger with IBM if the anti-trust people would allow the latter.)

Oh, all right. That last crack was an ironic jibe at the company that could once have bought the whole of Apple for a song, but passed up the opportunity. 'Course, Apple would never have become what it did under the steady but unimaginative hand of the pin stripe suits.

Moving right along, the Spy was quite interested in the Thunderbolt announcement a while back, but notes that though it may operate at dramatically faster speeds than any previous interface, its actual arrival on the market is one of the slower advents in recent years. Indeed, before much has even begun to be sold, we learn it can support optical cables that could be even faster than the previously announced speeds. But when can the Spy actually buy a new pocket drive with a TB interface (among others), a cable to hook it up, and an adapter card for his existing Mac Pro? How about a way to connect it to his laptop?

Personal note PS

Last month the Spy mentioned 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. In the preliminary round of voting he finished about twelfth in a field of nearly seventy, but for good or ill it wasn't good enough as only eight or so will move on to the next round. Thanks for all the votes.

P.S. reprised from last month

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:
Arjay 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

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.16 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
Spotify 1.0.4.90. - Stream music, create...
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 puts... Read more
djay Pro 1.1 - Transform your Mac into a...
djay Pro provides a complete toolkit for performing DJs. Its unique modern interface is built around a sophisticated integration with iTunes and Spotify, giving you instant access to millions of... Read more
Vivaldi 1.0.118.19 - Lightweight browser...
Vivaldi browser. 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 that users are... Read more
Stacks 2.6.11 - New way to create pages...
Stacks is a new way to create pages in RapidWeaver. It's a plugin designed to combine drag-and-drop simplicity with the power of fluid layout. Features: Fluid Layout: Stacks lets you build pages... Read more
xScope 4.1.3 - Onscreen graphic measurem...
xScope is powerful set of tools that are ideal for measuring, inspecting, and testing on-screen graphics and layouts. Its tools float above your desktop windows and can be accessed via a toolbar,... Read more
Cyberduck 4.7 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
Labels & Addresses 1.7 - Powerful la...
Labels & Addresses is a home and office tool for printing all sorts of labels, envelopes, inventory labels, and price tags. Merge-printing capability makes the program a great tool for holiday... Read more
teleport 1.2.1 - Use one mouse/keyboard...
teleport is a simple utility to let you use one single mouse and keyboard to control several of your Macs. Simply reach the edge of your screen, and your mouse teleports to your other Mac! The... Read more
Apple iMovie 10.0.8 - Edit personal vide...
With an all-new design, Apple iMovie lets you enjoy your videos like never before. Browse your clips more easily, instantly share your favorite moments, and create beautiful HD movies and Hollywood-... Read more

Use Batting Average and the Apple Watch...
Batting Average, by Pixolini, is designed to help you manage your statistics. Every time you go to bat, you can use your Apple Watch to track  your swings, strikes, and hits. [Read more] | Read more »
Celebrate Studio Pango's 3rd Annive...
It is time to party, Pangoland pals! Studio Pango is celebrating their 3rd birthday and their gift to you is a new update to Pangoland. [Read more] | Read more »
Become the World's Most Important D...
Must Deliver, by cherrypick games, is a top-down endless-runner witha healthy dose of the living dead. [Read more] | Read more »
SoundHound + LiveLyrics is Making its De...
SoundHound Inc. has announced that SoundHound + LiveLyrics, will be one of the first third-party apps to hit the Apple Watch. With  SoundHound you'll be able to tap on your watch and have the app recognize the music you are listening to, then have... | Read more »
Adobe Joins the Apple Watch Lineup With...
A whole tidal wave of apps are headed for the Apple Watch, and Adobe has joined in with 3 new ways to enhance your creativity and collaborate with others. The watch apps pair with iPad/iPhone apps to give you total control over your Adobe projects... | Read more »
Z Steel Soldiers, Sequel to Kavcom'...
Kavcom has released Z Steel Soldiers, which continues the story of the comedic RTS originally created by the Bitmap Brothers. [Read more] | Read more »
Seene Lets You Create 3D Images With You...
Seene, by Obvious Engineering, is a 3D capture app that's meant to allow you to create visually stunning 3D images with a tap of your finger, and then share them as a 3D photo, video or gif. [Read more] | Read more »
Lost Within - Tips, Tricks, and Strategi...
Have you just downloaded Lost Within and are you in need of a guiding hand? While it’s not the toughest of games out there you might still want some helpful tips to get you started. [Read more] | Read more »
Entertain Your Pet With Your Watch With...
The Petcube Camera is a device that lets you use live video to check in on your pet, talk to them, and play with them using a laser pointer - all while you're away. And the Petcube app is coming to the Apple Watch, so you'll be able to hang out with... | Read more »
Now You Can Manage Your Line2 Calls With...
You'll be able to get your Line2 cloud phone service on the Apple Watch very soon. The watch app can send and receive messages using hands-free voice dictation, or by selecting from a list of provided responses. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Intel Compute Stick: A New Mini-Computing For...
The Intel Compute Stick, a new pocket-sized computer based on a quad-core Intel Atom processor running Windows 8.1 with Bing, is available now through Intel Authorized Dealers across much of the... Read more
Heal to Launch First One-Touch House Call Doc...
Santa Monica, California based Heal, a pioneer in on-demand personal health care services — will offer the first one-touch, on-demand house call doctor app for the Apple Watch. Heal’s Watch app,... Read more
Mac Notebooks: Avoiding MagSafe Power Adapter...
Apple Support says proper usage, care, and maintenance of Your Mac notebook’s MagSafe power adapter can substantially increase the the adapter’s service life. Of course, MagSafe itself is an Apple... Read more
12″ Retina MacBook In Shootout With Air And P...
BareFeats’ rob-ART morgan has posted another comparison of the 12″ MacBook with other Mac laptops, noting that the general goodness of all Mac laptops can make which one to purchase a tough decision... Read more
FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone: Over 1.5 Mi...
FileMaker has announced that its FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone app has surpassed 1.5 million downloads from the iTunes App Store. The milestone confirms the continued popularity of the FileMaker... Read more
Sale! 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $...
 Best Buy has the new 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1099 – $200 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price for online orders only, in-... Read more
Minimalist MacBook Confirms Death of Steve Jo...
ReadWrite’s Adriana Lee has posted a eulogy for the “Digital Hub” concept Steve Jobs first proposed back in 2001, declaring the new 12-inch MacBook with its single, over-subscribed USB-C port to be... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $1234 w...
Adorama has the 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro in stock for $1234.99 ($65 off MSRP) including free shipping plus a free LG external DVD/CD optical drive. Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $999...
 Adorama has the 13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more

Jobs Board

*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
*Apple* Support Technician IV - Jack Henry a...
Job Description Jack Henry & Associates is seeking an Apple Support Technician. This position while acting independently, ensures the proper day-to-day control of Read more
*Apple* Client Systems Solution Specialist -...
…drive revenue and profit in assigned sales segment and/or region specific to the Apple brand and product sets. This person will work directly with CDW Account Managers Read more
*Apple* Software Support - Casper (Can work...
…experience . Full knowledge of Mac OS X and prior . Mac OSX / Server . Apple Remote Desktop . Process Documentation . Ability to prioritize multiple tasks in a fast pace Read more
*Apple* Software Support - Xerox Corporation...
…Imaging experience Full knowledge of Mac OS X and prior Mac OSX / Server Apple Remote Desktop Process Documentation Ability to prioritize multiple tasks in a fast pace Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.