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back to article One day we'll look back and say this was the end of the software platform

I was once told by an editor not to waste too much time following Apple and other companies that sold hardware and software together. He was reflecting the conventional wisdom in the late 1990s: any manufacturer that dared to "add value" by integrating its software into its hardware would be destroyed. Microsoft and Dell would …

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Waiting ...

I'm waiting to see what happens ...

1. when Google believes it has achieved complete domination with Android and tries to peel off the "open source" gloss and make their competitors pay a market price for it. Having let their OS development teams dissolve away, will they be able to fork Android, as should be theoretically possible?

2. when Amazon believes it has acheived complete domination with online shopping and tries to fatten its margins to profit from the lack of competition. Will any other supplier be able to step in in any reasonable timescale? Or will it be Amazon's way or the highway?

It could be that a business model is over, or it could be that it's just part of a cycle. When/if Google/Amazon get too dominant/greedy then other more agile competitors might change the business model (back) again. But I think it might get a wee bit expensive for the customers while its happening.

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Re: Waiting ...

1. The fact that google don't sell Android doesn't mean they don't make money from it. Remember they are an advertising company that makes money from knowing what people are doing. The best way to do that is to put a phone in their pockets. They don't sell it because then we'd be the customers and not the products.

2. You're not really up with the times are you. Amazon are a cloud computing provider with a website that sells a bit of stuff too. In everything they've done it has always been about minimising margins. If they started fattening those margins others would do what amazon did and come and undercut. On the web the cheapest price is just a click away.

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Re: Waiting ...

1. The "open source" was never a significant factor in Android. They carefully avoided packaging any software owned by anybody with a GNU philosophy, and the Google Apps were never open source. I don't think they'll charge for it. Controlling the Google Play platform within the Android platform is probably enough.

2. Note how Amazon has already forked Android. Forking Android is legal and possible. I think Amazon will be in a dominant position when there are no other national retailers. They're already almost the only national bookseller, and they're starting to use differences in pricing to try to extract profit from rich/careless customers. Not to mention that Kindle book sales are almost pure profit.

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How much has Xbox lost over the years?

It's billions of dollars, isn't it?

It's far from certain that the new one will buck that trend.

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Anonymous Coward

Incomplete analysis

a) I hope not, software platforms have a fundamental role in delivering flexible solutions and,

b) Can't see open source platforms , either cloud or OS based going this way.

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Gimp

Rotten UX?

This should make for an interesting and entertaining Friday topic

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Re: Rotten UX?

Or at least it would if this wasn't being Moderated to death!

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History repeating

There is an irony that Android's success comes from being cheap and "good enough" for a generation brought up with the low expectations of a (non-technical users) Windows PC's reliability and longevity. After all, that is largely how MS succeeded over other, and technically better, platforms to achieve Windows' current desktop dominance.

It will be interesting to see if MS can move away from the "Windows + Office" cash cow and deliver products that users want to have, and not to use said products to push only MS' legacy profit centres.

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Re: History repeating

Being cheap and "good enough" built MS's real competitive advantage: Ubiquity. If you send somebody a Word/Excel/PowerPoint document, they can open it and read it. Most of them because they are running Windows with Office installed, some because the niche players were forced to implement the MS "standards" for their programs. The irony is, that ubiquity now makes progress more difficult for them. They have to move the whole base. And when the base doesn't want to move, it doesn't.

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Re: History repeating

> If you send somebody a Word/Excel/PowerPoint document,

It is not primarily the format that is the problem it is the "send somebody a ... document" that causes the problem.

Why would anyone do that (apart from sheer laziness) ? If you want to send them something to read then it should be a PDF or similar so they can't change it. If you want them to change it then it should be done on a _shared_ copy (Office352 or Google Docs or similar), then several can access and revise it when allowed to and control is not lost.

The real problem is that .doc and .docx are likely to have additional data, such as deleted text, that should not be sent to a reader.

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I know it's Friday and all, but hey.

>> a standalone Nokia under Elop, which has been going great guns for the past year.

Since Elop's infamous "burning platforms" memo, Nokia have gone from being the number one mobile supplier (and projected to stay there), the world's biggest smartphone supplier (and projected to stay there) to an industry joke. In the 2 years from 2010 to 2012, Nokia's business fell back more and more on the featurephone market, with smartphones dwindling from 35% to 14% of their output. They currently have around 2% of the smartphone market. That's "stellar"* performance.

If standalone Nokia under Elop had been going "great guns", they wouldn't have been bought out for pennies on the Pound by Microsoft. The only gun they've been wielding is the footgun, and Elop's been using it with great precision.

* as in "brown dwarf"

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Anonymous Coward

Orlowsky''s well known...

...for being a hater of Nokia. Not that Nokia wasn't full of it, but what MS/Elop have done to Nokia is illegal. And what people have been commenting on all along. The plan was to make Nokia cheap (10% of what it used to be worth) in preparation for the acquisition.

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Re: I know it's Friday and all, but hey.

"Since Elop's infamous "burning platforms" memo, Nokia have gone from being the number one mobile supplier (and projected to stay there), the world's biggest smartphone supplier (and projected to stay there) to an industry joke."

But the platforms were actually burning in 2010. The world was going all-smartphone. The best-selling ever "smartphone" that Nokiaites state as their champion, didn't even have WiFi. You should probably read the Innovators Dilemma, which tracked multiple technological cycles, and how well run companies, become jokes. It turns out the bad decisions, were all made when you were thought they were well managed.

Nokia miscalculated on many fronts: they didn't predict an all smartphone environment and were heavily dependent on low margin dumb phones; they didn't recognize the importance of mobile apps (Symbian was an app development joke, and everybody else had more apps, even Blackberry); didn't recognize the importance of touch interfaces; didn't have a clue about content (Ovi was too little, too late), and somehow forgot the North American market entirely, which was initially the largest smartphone market (Symbian was DOA in North America). Not to mention, Nokia had horribly inefficient R&D, that used too many people to design too few products.

Let say Elop never worked at Nokia, and they kept selling Symbian... they sold about 28 million Symbian devices in 2010. But in 2011, Samsung sold 95 million, and Apple sold 92 million. Even is Symbian had continued, they would have been crushed. Nokia hadn't even completely updated Symbian for touch yet, and wasn't planning to release their new "UI Extensions for Mobile" until 2011, as part of Symbian^4.

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Re: Orlowsky''s well known...

You are absolutely correct.

Elop's "mistakes" were just too impossibly unlikely for anyone with half a brain. It was too obviously on purpose to announce all existing products as dead, without having any new products to sell for two years.

I hope this conspiracy will be cleared up by the Finnish authorities and the parties involved will serve long jail sentences.

And this meandering article is so full of slant, at the same time panning Android as it is subtly shilling for Microsoft.

I've tried iOS, Windphone, BB and Android and Android is hands down the best, when it comes to flexibility and the user being able to exert his will over how he wants things to work on the phone.

At the same time, I'm far from being a Google fan, I find it atrocious that they tell every manufacturer who wants to make a Nexus device that they have to make it without Micro-SD card slot in order to force people into the cloud. As expected, the more successful corporations get, the more asinine they get.

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Nearly managed it!

"For now, Android doesn’t have to be much better; and only a widespread consumer revolt (which is hard to envisage) will force either Samsung or Google (or both) to improve the rotten UX and performance with well-written native code, and better design."

You were doing so well until then.

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Re: Nearly managed it!

I wouldn't say "well", but he at least had a thesis I was willing to doubtfully consider.

It seems like old companies will try to move to a combination of software and hardware that lock in the customer. The problem is, once the customer is set free, he rarely wants to return to his cell.

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Linux

"For now, Android doesn’t have to be much better; and only a widespread consumer revolt (which is hard to envisage) will force either Samsung or Google (or both) to improve the rotten UX and performance with well-written native code, and better design."

Somebody is not a fan of Android.

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Megaphone

Ballmer?

I suspect that the acquisition of Nokia was more due to bids that were made from other companies than Ballmer's "brilliant vision"...let's face it, contrary of what the reporter says about Nokia selling well, it only looks good compared to other WPhone OEMs. And without the marvellous image tech, what's left on a Nokia Lumia compared to the other offerings on the WPhone camp?

Microsofts needed more Nokia than the opposite. As for the internal changes announced by Ballmer, if he says that he didn't planned stepping down from CEO so soon, I wouldnt be surprised that the changes were pushed by someone else.

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What shifted Apple into the mainstream?

"integrating its software into its hardware"

Whilst Apple do this, the iPod did not - iTunes given away for free on Mac and PC to create your own digital music library. This turned Apple into the major consumer company.

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Re: What shifted Apple into the mainstream?

You're saying that Apple owes its success in the digital download market to iTunes and not the iPod? Pass me some of what you're smoking! iTunes is merely a tool that enables the iPod, that's why its free. Yes, it is functional on its own, but how many people do you really think use iTunes but do not own an iPod (or iPhone or iPad which can operate as an iPod)

\For a long time iTunes was quite hated in by Windows users. I'd say Apple succeeded in the digital download market DESPITE iTunes, not because of it. Obviously the iPod would not have been successful without iTunes - that was the only way to load songs on it. But if there had never been an iPod and Apple released only iTunes it would have been discontinued years old and dimly remembered in the way Plays For Sure(tm) is.

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This is asinine. To assess that software platforms are dead because consumer devices are more and more integrated software/hardware/services bundles completely ignores the fact that underneath that integration are thriving and diverse SOFTWARE PLATFORMS: Linux and windows (yes, from that devices company, Microsoft) aren't going anywhere. You scrape the surface of the history of business platforms in the pre computer, then pre-pc eras and somehow analogize that into an argument for the end of the software platform. This is nonsensical. Without going into detail, you brought up evidence directly contrary to your argument. These could be considered precursors to the modern software platforms, but they are certainly not historical parallels supporting an argument that software platforms and packaged software will die.

A software platform may die. The windows operating system and its manifold Apis may fade away. Same for Linux. However, as long as there are complex problems that can be solved with consistent and broad based and interoperable foundations, the presence of pervasive software platforms isn't going anywhere.

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The author's point was that none of that matters. Yes, Linux is thriving as a platform, but most of its success these days (in the form of Android) it is simply an enabler for the hardware being sold with it. If Google decided to replace the Linux kernel in Android with the Mach kernel, 99.9% of the buyers of Android phones wouldn't care in the slightest. Those who would would be those GPL/BSD license fundamentalists - not rejecting it because it isn't Linux but rejecting it because it isn't GPL.

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Wow...

Wow... there are just so many things wrong with this "article"... it's not even funny.

Xbox as a product was an abject failure. Sure, it got market share, it sold... but had it not been financially supported with BILLIONS from Microsoft... it would have totally failed within 2 years.

If XBox had been a standalone company... it would now be a small blip in the history of gamind consoles... like the Sega Genesis.

And technologically... XBox WAS A PC!... No innovation there...

Android is FAR better than "good enough"... which is a lot more than can be said about Win8...ew...

The ONLY guns going at Nokia are the ones pointed straight at their FOOT!... the first shop came when they hired Elop... the second, and fatal one was when they decided to partner with Microsoft... remember tham? Embrace, extend...extinguish... the only thingm left at Nokia of any value are the patents... which Microsoft just gracefully freed from the hardware division so that they can now troll the market without fear of reprisals since they no longer have products to protect.

I could go on... but I know a rebuttal would be pointless. I hope your check cleared...

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The new Xbox will run Outlook and Office

Seems they have brought their wild child back into the fold.

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"Redmond would do well to leave the team alone"

But (in the tones of Alan Bennett) they won't, will they?

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Who has the 90% ?

"Apple and Samsung have 90 per cent of the smartphone market."

No, that is just not true. Apple and _Android_ have 90% - in round figures: Apple 20%, Android 70%, but Samsung has only half of the 70%. There are several makers of Android with around 5%: Huawei, Sony, ZTE plus many smaller.

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Microsoft is licensing a major hardware brand

> Microsoft is licensing a major hardware brand and buying an expert hardware team

No it isn't - anymore than Google became a HW company when they bought Motorola

It's about your lawyers being able to make money off other people's sales

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Anonymous Coward

I know he's trolling... but it's friday, and I'm bored... so...

"force either Samsung or Google (or both) to improve the rotten UX and performance with well-written native code, and better design."

Their "crap" UX has been winning awards.

http://www.androidcentral.com/ice-cream-sandwich-wins-gold-prize-best-platform-experience-parsons-2012-ux-awards

"Redmond would do well to leave the team alone, and simply do what it did with Xbox"

You mean nurture and grow a large fanbase with barely "good enough" hardware (I've had 4 360 via RMAs) & software (2 major UI redesigns), bought-in exclusives and half decent in-house content... then as they start making some actual profit, MS management get involved and in a single announcement alienate the fans by bending them over and attempting to take them for a ride with the next gen console? Maybe. :(

"Microsoft has made more money from Android than Google, but Google doesn’t really care."

They do care, if they didn't their business model would be going down the crapper and they'd be pulling the plug. Microsofts $10-13 scam they have going with HTC/Samsung/others seems substantial, but if Google weren't making money hand over fist by maintaining android they wouldn't be heavily subsidising the nexus range. Ignoring the cost manufacturers pay google for licensing the play services and be "Android trademark compatible" - google will make much more from app/content purchases, advertising, and the benefits of a google-centric android ecosystem that now holds nearly 80% of the smartphone market worldwide. Granted, Microsoft is doing next to nothing to get their cut (other than threatening to smash the kneecaps of anybody who dare use a FAT filesystem and make money).. but still.

"As a result the quality of Android is exactly what you’d expect from a Java OS rushed to market by a large advertising company."

A good portion of what makes up the OS is actually native... the java part is very optimised too. They also have what I'd consider a better multitasking/memory management model than iOS or win mob.

The sneer at Google for being a large advertising company like somehow that makes them a terrible software company is retarded - they are a company made up of very smart software/hardware people who love tinkering and inventing.

Microsoft also have smart people working for them - the difference is microsoft is run by marketing exec's who breed a culture that stifles good decision making. So I guess in that respect, providing they don't piss about with windows phone too much, you're right - leaving Nokia alone might just work - as they can keep experimenting and innovating with their phones, and have an acceptable consumer OS running on it... assuming Windows 8/8.1 for desktop doesn't give consumers a phobia of using the (not) metro ui.

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Hard and soft platform?

The truth is the hardware manufacturers own the industry, what's puzzling is why the allow them selves to be herded round and dictated to by a software company?

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Re: Hard and soft platform?

Most hardware manufacturers don't own any industry. Customers don't buy hardware because it has great specs. They buy hardware to run software. The developers of the software own the industry.

If the manufacturers had pushed harder for Linux, then the hardware manufacturers would have been part of a community developing their own software and owning their own industry. But, for most companies, the transition would have been painful because most of the programs that customers need are developed for proprietary platforms. So, to avoid short-term pain, they allow software companies to push them around.

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We'd first need a propper mobile hardware plattform before we can even think of software

Seriously at the moment every SoC and every device built around it requires a separate port of the operating system. Even if you have 2 devices with just different display resolutions you cannot just run the same OS on both and probe what display you have. This is trivial on PCs of course.

Having to port everything to each platform causes lots of work. Work that could be better spent actually improving the system.

Once we have an open platform we can have multiple operating systems available on the same device. Suddenly there would be competition and progress. Just like when Linux gradually became available on PCs and Microsoft was forced to actually get out some decent software.

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"Nokia miscalculated on many fronts: they didn't predict an all smartphone environment and were heavily dependent on low margin dumb phones; they didn't recognize the importance of mobile apps "

Well, there were several factors I think killed Nokia:

1) They actually were well aware of Symbian being antiquated, but (per recent Register article) they had competing projects working on a replacement. But, with no technical management outside these teams to stop the dead ends from just soaking up resources. This was pre-Elop.

2) Elop, instead of doing this type of assessment, killed everything off (so they spend all that time on development and ship *one* phone based on it...) and went with Microsoft.

3) Indeed, Symbian was antiquated and ready to be put out to pasture by 2010, BUT, they were still selling well in the low end market, and making Nokia enough money to get by for a while. Until Elop said that Symbian phones were crap and everyone should stop buying them and buy the phones they'll have eventually instead -- all of a sudden, no sales! And they didn't have a replacement product actually ready yet -- brilliant! Once Windows phones didn't sell how they hoped, that was that.

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Roo
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"Until Elop said that Symbian phones were crap and everyone should stop buying them and buy the phones they'll have eventually instead "

I wonder how Microsoft shareholders will view what Elop did to Nokia's share price in a few short years. I am fairly sure they are not hoping for a repeat at Microsoft, but here in the peanut gallery we'd love to see that unfold. :)

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Re: He was reflecting the conventional wisdom in the late 1990s

So he was absolutely right, just the names were changed - Microsoft to Google and Dell to hordes of Chinese manufacturers.

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what you’d expect from a Java OS rushed to market by a large advertising company

"Large advertising company" is a bit silly. It's a tech company that makes its money from automated advertising distribution, but that's almost the simplest technical accomplishment it has achieved.

Not a Google fan particularly any more, but this sort of simplistic phrasing isn't great.

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