Greg's Bite: The high tech race to mediocrity
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Greg's Bite: The high tech race to mediocrity

By Greg Mills

I just read an article where the author listed both the smart and stupid moves Microsoft made for the year. I was struck by the lack of anything revolutionary coming from the intellectually challenged Redmond campus. The Kinect video game sensor more or less topped the list of recently smart moves made by Ballmer. Even Kinect was purchased technology rather than innovation that came out of the massively funded R&D efforts at Microsoft. Microsoft has entered the "declining to irrelevance" phase of tech company evolution.

Steve Jobs famously declared the PC dead and predicted the mobile OS in tablet form was the future of computing. Many would beg to disagree, but the falling numbers in the PC industry prove him right as rain. HP came close to pulling the plug on PCs due to a declining profit margins that may entirely disappear soon.

I was furious that my daughter's school spend money on new PCs rather than iPads. I told the principal that, had she asked me, I could have done a bit of dumpster diving behind the Apple store and retrieved a bunch of more recent PCs than they were currently using, for free. My daughter laments that the computers at school are "so dumb" compared to our Macs at home.

When the principal told me the PC platform choice was due to the computer teacher not being "familiar" with anything but PCs, I sarcastically suggested they ought to fire him and get someone who could teach something useful to our kids. My daughter will soon inherit my iPad 1 when I buy an iPad 3, and I have already told her to take it to school and use it there. Her teacher has already asked her to please dumb down some of her graphics projects assignments she did on the iMac, as "it was not fair to the other children for her to use a Mac when they were stuck with PCs." Hum, explain that comment away Microsoft.

Kodak, as another example of the tech business life cycle, might not be a living noun much longer. Who would have thought 10 years ago that the main brand name associated with photography would have been allowed to fade to black? Two or three years ago Blockbuster was the big gun in video rental with massive video rental stores on street corners around the country. Sears, the biggest retail store chain in the history of the US, is apparently in a rapid market decline that likely will see it go belly up. Even NetFlix recently shot itself in the foot. Apple could screw up, but that seems remote since they are clearly the industry leader and seem to be making all the right moves.

Companies go through distinct stages of development and can survive or fail during technologically challenging times brought on by innovation that didn't happen in their house. Radical competition in the high tech industry tends to be fostered by start-ups, Apple currently being the only major exception. Even the eternal "foot in the mouth," court jester of high tech writers John C. Dvorak, is going long on Apple stock and admitted that Apple is doing all the right things.

Microsoft has been a follower for so long that the company culture has developed there where a "just acceptable" level of product performance is okay. Unfortunately, the culture of innovation is hard to learn and elusive to teach. Entrenched managers can encourage out-of-the-box thinking or kill it outright, without a second thought.

Case in point: the Windows Mobile OS. While most reviewers agree that the very late-to-the-party, Windows Mobile OS is okay, no one has been able to find any killer features in it that compel consumers to demand a Windows smartphone. Apple long ago discovered the killer feature that drives sales had to be easily understood and heavily advertised to push viral sales. Siri, for example, isn't the first voice activation software, but it sure is the best. No article I have ever read that was written by someone outside of the Microsoft sphere of employment (MSNBC for example) says of Windows Mobile "that it wasn't the first, but sure is the best." That simply isn't true and everyone knows it, including Microsoft.

One of the amazing headlines over the last year was also tremendously revealing was, "Microsoft pays Nokia a billion dollars to ditch the Android OS in favor of Windows Mobile." Ballmer knew Nokia wouldn't choose to go with his new Mobile OS without a lot of "encouragement" or outright bribery. Actually, many at Nokia were furious and think their CEO, who came to them from Microsoft, made a mistake that will take Nokia down. That may well be true, as the long awaited Nokia smartphones that run Windows Mobile have not been selling worth a hoot.

Apple is poised to continue to eat Nokia and RIM's lunch as their smartphone market share continues to slide towards Apple and Android. While Microsoft recently announced that they are up to 50,000 apps for Windows Mobile, one has to wonder how much money developers are getting from their efforts. As I have blogged before, the infrastructure of a valid mobile OS is complicated and has critical elements that are required for the OS to survive. The HP Palm platform crashed and burned for specific reasons that might also doom Windows Mobile.

Hardware is important but at the end of the day, any of the big electronics companies can create acceptable handsets. The OS has to be solid, but even a solid OS isn't a slam dunk foundation for success, as there has to be a valid assortment of apps and a developer community that is making money creating content for the platform. How many platforms is there room for? Microsoft hopes the answer is three. I am not so sure it isn't two.

What good is great hardware without useful apps? Ask RIM that question. The reason the RIM PlayBook crashed was not for lack of good hardware, but for lack of useful features we have been taught to expect by Apple's successful iPhone/iPad platform. Who needs a tablet that can't even do email? How about a tablet that can only hook up to the Internet by tethering with just one brand of smartphone? Even die-hard BlackBerry users revolted, and the PlayBook disaster may actually take RIM down.

Rumblings in the TV manufacturing business segment foretell a shakeout there that may see Sony tumble from being the defacto industry leader to somewhere much lower in the TV market share index. Sony has tended to push quality and features as the reason to pay more for the virtual commodity flat screen TV. Newcomers like Visio have captured a significant share of what used to be Sony's chunk of the market. Sony failed to make the transition from the cathode ray "Trintron" to flat screen TVs that were competitive price wise. Even today, cruise a Wal-mart electronics department. While Sony is still selling TVs, the price is as much as 50% more that volume leaders such as Visio. Can Apple break into the declining TV market? It will take something so revolutionary, I can't think what it might be. Apple, I want to be amazed.

Amazon and Microsoft both claim to have an iPad killer in the wings ready to steal the bacon from Apple this spring. The problem for them is that the iPad 1 and 2 they are still trying hard to match will soon be eclipsed by iPad 3 and send them back to the drawing board. While the $200 Amazon tablet is selling, compared to the iPad, it is crappy and perhaps not worth less than half what an iPad is worth. The Android patent infringement situation is about to blow up in Google's face. 2012t will be an interesting year with a lot to write about.

That is Greg's Bite for today.

GregMills@Mac.com

 
AAPL
$99.76
Apple Inc.
+2.09
MSFT
$44.08
Microsoft Corpora
+0.45
GOOG
$520.84
Google Inc.
+9.67

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

TechTool Pro 7.0.5 - Hard drive and syst...
TechTool Pro is now 7, and this is the most advanced version of the acclaimed Macintosh troubleshooting utility created in its 20-year history. Micromat has redeveloped TechTool Pro 7 to be fully 64... Read more
PDFKey Pro 4.0.2 - Edit and print passwo...
PDFKey Pro can unlock PDF documents protected for printing and copying when you've forgotten your password. It can now also protect your PDF files with a password to prevent unauthorized access and/... Read more
Yasu 2.9.1 - System maintenance app; per...
Yasu was originally created with System Administrators who service large groups of workstations in mind, Yasu (Yet Another System Utility) was made to do a specific group of maintenance tasks... Read more
Hazel 3.3 - Create rules for organizing...
Hazel is your personal housekeeper, organizing and cleaning folders based on rules you define. Hazel can also manage your trash and uninstall your applications. Organize your files using a... Read more
Autopano Giga 3.7 - Stitch multiple imag...
Autopano Giga allows you to stitch 2, 20, or 2,000 images. Version 3.0 integrates impressive new features that will definitely make you adopt Autopano Pro or Autopano Giga: Choose between 9... Read more
MenuMeters 1.8 - CPU, memory, disk, and...
MenuMeters is a set of CPU, memory, disk, and network monitoring tools for Mac OS X. Although there are numerous other programs which do the same thing, none had quite the feature set I was looking... Read more
Coda 2.5 - One-window Web development su...
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... Read more
Arq 4.6.1 - Online backup to Google Driv...
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
Airfoil 4.8.10 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more
Apple iMovie 10.0.6 - 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

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This Week at 148Apps: October 13-17, 201...
Expert App Reviewers   So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just... | Read more »
Angry Birds Transformers Review
Angry Birds Transformers Review By Jennifer Allen on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: TRANSFORMED BIRDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Transformed in a way you wouldn’t expect, Angry Birds Transformers is a quite... | Read more »
GAMEVIL Announces the Upcoming Launch of...
GAMEVIL Announces the Upcoming Launch of Mark of the Dragon Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 20th, 2014 [ permalink ] Mark of the Dragon, by GAMEVIL, put | Read more »
Interview With the Angry Birds Transform...
Angry Birds Transformers recently transformed and rolled out worldwide. This run-and-gun title is a hit with young Transformers fans, but the ample references to classic Transformers fandom has also earned it a place in the hearts of long-time... | Read more »
Find Free Food on Campus with Ypay
Find Free Food on Campus with Ypay Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 20th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
Strung Along Review
Strung Along Review By Jordan Minor on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: GOT NO STRINGSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A cool gimmick and a great art style keep Strung Along from completely falling apart.   | Read more »
P2P file transferring app Send Anywhere...
File sharing services like Dropbox have security issues. Email attachments can be problematic when it comes to sharing large files. USB dongles don’t fit into your phone. Send Anywhere, a peer-to-peer file transferring application, solves all of... | Read more »
Zero Age Review
Zero Age Review By Jordan Minor on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MORE THAN ZEROiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad With its mind-bending puzzles and spellbinding visuals, Zero Age has it all.   | Read more »
Hay Ewe Review
Hay Ewe Review By Campbell Bird on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SAVE YOUR SHEEPLEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Pave the way for your flock in this line drawing puzzle game from the creators of Worms.   | Read more »
My Very Hungry Caterpillar (Education)
My Very Hungry Caterpillar 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Care for your very own Very Hungry Caterpillar! My Very Hungry Caterpillar will captivate you as he crawls... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

2013 15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro availa...
B&H Photo has leftover previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros now available for $1599 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $400 off original MSRP. B&H... Read more
Updated iPad Prices
We’ve updated our iPad Air Price Tracker and our iPad mini Price Tracker with the latest information on prices and availability from Apple and other resellers, including the new iPad Air 2 and the... Read more
Apple Pay Available to Millions of Visa Cardh...
Visa Inc. brings secure, convenient payments to iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3as well as iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Starting October 20th, eligible Visa cardholders in the U.S. will be able to use Apple Pay,... Read more
Textkraft Pocket – the missing TextEdit for i...
infovole GmbH has announced the release and immediate availability of Textkraft Pocket 1.0, a professional text editor and note taking app for Apple’s iPhone. In March 2014 rumors were all about... Read more
C Spire to offer iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3,...
C Spire on Friday announced that it will offer iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, both with Wi-Fi + Cellular, on its 4G+ LTE network in the coming weeks. C Spire will offer the new iPads with a range of... Read more
Belkin Announces Full Line of Keyboards and C...
Belkin International has unveiled a new lineup of keyboard cases and accessories for Apple’s newest iPads, featuring three QODE keyboards and a collection of thin, lightweight folios for both the... Read more
Verizon offers new iPad Air 2 preorders for $...
Verizon Wireless is accepting preorders for the new iPad Air 2, cellular models, for $100 off MSRP with a 2-year service agreement: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi + Cellular: $529.99 - 64GB iPad Air 2 WiFi... Read more
Price drops on refurbished Mac minis, now ava...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation Mac minis, with models now available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Refurbished 2013 MacBook Pros available for u...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros available starting at $929. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros (4GB RAM/... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** At the Apple Store, you connect business professionals and entrepreneurs with the tools they need in order to put Apple solutions to work in their Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other - uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences. As an Expert, you introduce people Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As businesses discover the power of Apple computers and mobile devices, it's your job - as a Solutions Engineer - to show them how to introduce these Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.