Tag Archives: microsoft

History is Not Repeating Itself. And it Often Doesn’t

I tend to believe that the main thinking affecting investors with a negative sentiment in Apple’s long term future is one of historical perspective. Apple with their closed and vertical model lost to the more open model of Microsoft long ago. So the conventional thinking would be that both Google or Microsoft with their more open platform approach will again rise to dominance if history does repeat itself. There are, however, several things I believe are wrong with the thinking that history will repeat itself.

(via TechPinions)

I’ve been trying to figure out for years why so many analysts get this wrong. If you can’t see the obvious diffences between the tech industry of the 1990s and today, you have no business predicting the future of any tech company, let alone Apple.

Also, if you believe that anything Microsoft or Google does is ‘open,’ you’re completely eating their marketing crap and not thinking critically at all.

Which would be fine, except that you’re playing with other people’s money.

Om Malik gets more details about the Motorola acquisition

The high-level talks between Google and Motorola started about five weeks ago. Google CEO Larry Page and Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha were talking directly, and only a handful of executives were brought into discussions. Our sources suggest that Android co-founder Andy Rubin was brought into the talks only very recently.

Like I said earlier, this move was more about defense than any sort of long-term mastermind plan, as suggested by the delusional Dan Lyons.

The short span of time suggests that this was a REACTION to losing the Nortel bid, not part of the Nortel original plans. And the fact that they didn’t even bring in their key Android executive until late in the process suggests that it was, as I said before, a gut reaction, rather than a well-considered tactical move. They are panicking over there, and it’s starting to show. Honeycomb 3.0 was a disaster. Google is gaining no traction in the tablet space. Mobile phone market share growth—the only stat where Google was clearly winning—has slowed (even after rigging the numbers by counting cheap Chinese knockoffs as Android phones.) Microsoft is clearly still trying to muscle its way into the space, and could even still carve a niche for itself, especially if it keeps trying to buy more of Google’s partners. And even with strong market share, Google is still making little money with the Android initiative.

This Motorola purchase could very well backfire on Google, or it could turn out well, if they play their cards right. The problem is, Google has never been any good at the cards.

So it all depends on whether Google is ready to take Android into the territory of a “walled garden” as so many like to call the Apple approach. Drop the other partners, start making “Google” phones for real. Didn’t work for the Nexus series, but then again, the most dedicated Android fans all say that the Nexus phones were better than anything else out there. Maybe they can pull that off, but I doubt it. Not without a retail strategy in place.

That does seem to be the eventual plan, though. The question is, what happens in the short term to Google’s numbers if HTC, Samsung, etc. see the writing on the wall and jump ship before Google can get a decent line of Motorola Android phones going?

And what will all those Google fanboys say when Android suddenly becomes available on only one brand of phones?

The most important thing we can take away from all of this is that Google is not playing on its own turf. It no longer controls Android’s destiny, if it ever did. Apple is still the only company in tech playing offense.

Dan Lyons is delusional—but you knew that already, didn’t you?

And today it all makes sense. Google just sandbagged its rivals. The whole thing was a rope-a-dope maneuver. Google never cared about the Nortel patents. It just wanted to drive up the price so that AppleSoft (those happy new bedmates) would overpay. Today, with the Motorola deal, Google picks up nearly three times as many patents as AppleSoft got from Novell and Nortel. More important, Google just raised the stakes in a huge way for anyone who wants to stay in the smartphone market.

Better yet, Google got its rivals to spend a few weeks defending the practice of using patents to attack other companies. Apple fanboys bent over backward to say that Apple was doing the honorable thing here by suing everyone in sight. All this slimy patent warfare that is so despicable when others do it becomes magically noble when Apple does it. Teaming up with other companies, including the evil Borg, to gang up on Google is all perfectly legitimate, par for the course, smart business practice, blah blah.

So now Google fires back, makes a huge acquisition, gets into the hardware business, buys up the best IP portfolio in the mobile space — and can position itself as a victim that’s just trying to defend itself against this gang of bullies.

And people say Apple fanboys drink the Kool Aid.

Let’s start with “nearly three times the patents.” Yes, Google acquires nearly three times the patents in this deal than they would have from Nortel. They also paid nearly three times as much. (12.5 billion vs. 4.2 billion. AND they wouldn’t have been on the hook for that entire 4.2 billion; they could have joined the consortium and paid a fraction of that.)

Next: “Google just raised the stakes in a huge way for anyone who wants to stay in the smartphone market.” Huh? They’re playing catchup here. Nothing more. Our broken patent system and the recent influx of patent troll companies raised the stakes over a year ago, and Google was losing—badly. Remember, this is the company that claims to not believe in patents; in order for Google to “win” on its own terms, or to “raise the stakes” it would have had to do something that made patents irrelevant, not just drop a bomb of cash to play along by everyone else’s rules.

I’m not faulting Google for playing along, mind you; they really didn’t have any choice. But to say this is some brilliant maneuver is silly. It’s defense, plain and simple. And it’s a risky defense at that, considering how it will certainly strain Google’s relationships with other hardware partners.

Next: “Apple fanboys bent over backwards to say that Apple was doing the honorable thing.” NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE has said that any of Apple’s behavior when it comes to patents has been “honorable.” I’ve seen lots of defenses along the lines of “well, the system is broken, and Apple just has to play within the confines of the system” type arguments. But that’s a long shot from calling any side in the patent war “honorable.”

And finally: Google can “position itself as a victim that’s just trying to defend itself against a gang of bullies.” Yeah, that, or they can position themselves as a bunch of whiny hypocrites who once claimed that patents were evil, but now are going to start using the very evil they once denounced to kill off smaller competitors like Microsoft, HP, RIM. Once again, Google does what is best for Google, and everyone else can go stick it. “Don’t be evil” my ass.

My guess is that most Apple fans will see Google’s move as interesting, albeit unimaginative. They lost HUGE in the Nortel thing, so they turned around and made a somewhat bold and probably not completely well thought out acquisition to remedy their mistake. They dropped a lot more money and added baggage to already strained partner relationships because they don’t know how to play the game properly.

It fits into Google’s usual pattern. Smart people, lousy at politics. The question is whether the long-term benefit of having better legal defenses will outweigh the strain this move will put on partners like HTC, Samsung, etc.

Remember, not too many people were suing Google, anyway. Most of the suing has been between Apple, Microsoft, and Google’s partners. This acquisition doesn’t protect HTC or Samsung at all. If Google starts filing motions to intervene in those lawsuits, than I’ll be happy to call that move “honorable.” Somehow, I don’t see that happening, though.

An Interesting take on the Nokia/Microsoft Deal

I have absolutely no qualms about calling this new regime at Nokia a puppet government. This is far and away the most brilliant move of Ballmer’s tenure. Whether it pays off is another question entirely.

[UPDATE: Former Microsoft exec Chris Weber has just been named President of Nokia Inc. (US). This is a coup, folks.]

No doubt this new deal between Microsoft and Nokia is a lot more about saving sinking ships than taking over the world. And it was certainly the cheapest way for Microsoft to get back into the game. So agreed, it was a great move by Ballmer.

I don’t think long term that the fate of either Microsoft or Nokia will change much as a result of this, but it will get interesting for a while.

My thinking is that this deal will do a lot more to stall Android than it will Apple.

Android:phase one was all about killing off Windows Mobile in order to keep Bing Search from doing well. Phase two of Android seems to be about taking on Apple, though with recent events including this one, I’d say Android still has a lot of others to contend with before it can dream of taking iOS down even a notch.

HP made some interesting announcements this week that lead me to think they have as good a chance as anyone of seriously contending for the few people who want a tablet but not an iPad. Microsoft was getting nowhere, predictably, with WIndows Phone 7, but this Nokia deal will change that, particularly in Europe. With the iPhone on Verizon in the US, and Nokia peddling Windows Phone in Europe, and HP taking whatever is left of the tablet market after the iPad, I’d say Android’s “world domination” scenario is looking more and more like a pipe dream.

And RIM is definitely not coming back. I don’t see how.

There’s still a lot of market share to go around for everyone, but that’s my point. There’s plenty for everyone. We’re far from a two pony race here, folks. Google is fighting a war on several fronts, and at least so far in 2011, it’s losing a lot more battles than it’s winning.

This is the perfect scenario for Apple to thrive. In a world with many choices, Apple always does better than in a world with only two.

Microsoft TV – Another box running Windows (because that’s worked so well in the past)

Microsoft will reportedly announce a new Windows-based $200 set-top box using Windows Media Center as its primary interface, according to the
Seattle Times
. The company, which has been trying to put a Windows box in living rooms for more than 10 years with little success, is expected to make the announcement during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

I can’t believe that Microsoft’s strategy this year is going to be a box running Windows. Again.

When is someone going to fire Ballmer?

And the comparison here shouldn’t be Microsoft TV vs. Google TV. Both products are DOA. The set-top box battle is closer to Roku vs. Apple TV, but even in that case it’s way too early for anyone to have full success with this kind of product.

Jobs wasn’t wrong when he said that this category is never going to be a blockbuster market until someone kills the cable companies. That’s not going to be easy. And whoever does it is either going to have to partner with or buy Netflix.