Friday, April 23, 2010

Microsoft and Apple quarterly results

Microsoft's 3Q results
Apple's 2Q results

Microsoft's net income over 12 months was about US$4 billion. Apple's was US$3 billion over a QUARTER. And this is the period before iPad was available for sale, whereas Windows 7 has been out on the market for some time.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Adobe should learn from Apple

So there's a huge flap about Section 3.3.1 of the new iPhone 4.0 SDK agreement. The summary is that Apple doesn't want Flash on the iPhone and set out in legal language to prevent it from getting onto the platform, and a lot of other 3rd party tools are receiving collateral "splash" damage.

The takeaway from this is that Adobe really should've learned one of the operating principles at Apple: secrecy. Do not pre-announce products. It could've developed the iPhone-target feature furtively and sprung it as a surprise announcement on CS5 launch day. Of course Apple still wields veto power over app approval in the App Store, but by then it would have to be on the defensive and contend with irate Flash developers. Adobe would've made money from sales of CS5 and rightfully lay the blame on Apple.

Of course, if Adobe pursued this strategy, the losers would be developers, so it pays to do one's homework. Not everyone who insists on freely-available (as in: free of any entity's control, freedom to tinker, gratis etc), development platforms or languages is entirely insane.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nicholas Carr writes about The iPad Luddites

Nicholas Carr writes about The iPad Luddites.

If it were possible to reach as far back as the introduction of the GUI, I'd be willing to bet that the same thing was being said by people who were most familiar with the CLI.

"What is this GUI thing? What is it good for? What can it do that can't be accomplished by the CLI?"

And it would be wise to see how that played out. And the more rational among us would see that there would be certain situations where a CLI or a GUI and now a touch-based interface would be the appropriate means to accomplish certain tasks.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

iPad and content

Scott Rosenberg thinks the iPad is the equivalent of the CD-ROM in 1994 for the media industry. In summary he thinks the iPad, while a nice device hardware-wise, is not going to revitalize the media businesses that the iPad is (supposedly) pitched at.

I disagree and here are my reasons why.

Optical drives i.e. CD-ROM/DVD-ROM/VCD/Super VCD/BD-ROM and their ilk have been around a long time. They continue to hold vast quantities of useful content, and free and commercial software are still primarily distributed using them. Content owners/producers were able to extract value from this tight integration between the content itself and the physical media. In other words, MS Word or Adobe Photoshop, for all intents and purposes, IS the CD-/DVD-ROM that came in the box. The requirement of a valid serial number is tangential to all this.

Three things conspired to change the situation rapidly. First, better computer hardware meant that it was now possible to transcode content from one medium to another in a reasonable amount of time. Second, user sentiment and pressure began to grow for mobile and unfettered consumption of media regardless of the underlying device. Third, the unabated development of the Internet into a low-cost distribution network with relatively cheap access fees pretty much ensured that there would be a ready audience of customers who were ever-ready to consume, and store, previously unimaginable quantities of information. Thus the content was forcibly divorced from the media upon which it existed, and there was much gnashing of teeth.

The knee-jerk response was Digital Rights (Restrictions?) Management. The content owners disregarded the mathematicians and insisted on initiating a war that could never be won. True enough, we are currently in a pitched battle and after years of expensive litigation, there is still no clear victor.

And this is where the iPad fits in. The iPad really is a compromise; it is a ceasefire treaty offered to both parties. iPad serves up content in a few ways. The obvious way is through web browsing as it is conventionally practiced. Aside from the lack of Adobe Flash, Apple effectively has no control over how the Internet is experienced by the vast majority of the population. The second way is through the App Store. Applications acquired through the App Store can be paid or free. Either way, additional content can be purchased through the App Store. It is essentially a frustration-free subscription model that can be processed in the form of micro-payments over an arbitrary length of time, yet the end-user is still able to influence the terms of consumption. The fact that iTunes Music Store is the #1 source of music in the US means that this model is not only workable, it is the winning formula.

Because only iPad runs iPad software, technically speaking, iPad does mean "vendor lock-in" and CD-ROMs "all over again", but only for content meant to be consumed on iPad. The fear-mongering pundits are claiming it’s the end of the world because they know an iPad-optimized app will beat any run-of-the-mill-browser-based one, in terms of native features, responsiveness etc, and so posit a false dilemma. You are either an iPad developer or you are not and thus you are morally reprehensible because, via a series of non-sequitur arguments, you are somehow causing the Internet to be restricted.

But as explained earlier, iPad really offers choice. Choice for the content owner/producer, and choice for the consumer. And that is why I think iPad really does have the potential to change the media industry for the benefit of both parties.