Re: After last week...
4026 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009
I don't see the problem with oxidisation. So your statue turns a nice pink colour. Lovely.
Obviously the price is a bit more of an issue. But if you're going to be the global scandium monopolist, then you need to make a dramatic gesture. Lowering the price might create more demand, so it's up to you to go and find more sources of the stuff. Then turn it into a nice statue, laugh your diabolical laugh... Profit.
Africa is getting much richer already. For example quite a few countries haven't employed sufficient economists. So they've been guessing their GDP based on surveying a few big companies, and then guessing the rest. This was based on the idea of having this level of subsistence agriculture that only supported limited services, and basically hadn't changed much in years/decades/centuries. Several countries have now re-assessed this, Nigeria being one big example, and discovered that they now have a lot more trade going on than they thought.
For example lots of goods (sometimes second hand from the West) like clothes and mobile phones now get right to even the remotest villages. This is why whenever you see documentaries that take cameras into the middle of rainforests, loads of people are wearing the same Chinese, Vietnamese and Banglasdeshi made tshirts as everyone else in the world.
Globalisation is still going. Not that it won't be a bumpy ride. If the next door country suddenly becomes rich, and your repressive government is seen not to be letting you join the party, then revolution looks attractive. But revolution doesn't always lead to a better government. The French are on their 5th Republic, plus having had 3 Empires and an ancien regime - all since the 1780s. Just going from memory, they went through serveral revolutions and 15 different constitutions between 1789 and 1870.
On the other hand, only a few countries have managed to jump into the "1st World" camp in the last 50 years. Not that anyone calls it that anymore. Lots have got into the middle-income group though. Which is a much nicer place to be than the other alternative. It'll be interesting to see if globalisation will improve things for them, or leave them where they are. Countries like Chile, Brazil, Argentina (who are the only one I can think of to drop out of the top group last century), Thailand etc.
Remember that Germany is the world's second biggest exporter of stuff, and yet has some of the highest environmental and employment standards.
I suspect that economies of scale and the network effects of having an industry in once place, and therefore support services, hit the law of diminishing returns at a certain point. So any reasonably sized industry is able to have more than one base of operations, without much loss in efficiency.
The relevant factors are changing so fast that it's hard to keep track. Cost of dealing with difficult governments, wages, transport, environmental standards, availability of sufficiently educated staff etc.
Remember though that not everything is transported. People always sneer at the services sector. I guess because they think of waiters and call centres. But services can also be incredibly high value. I speak to building design people in the Middle East all the time, even though our company is based in South East England. This is because most of their architecture and building engineering is done by British and American companies. They've even outsoursed the building regulations. I don't think the Saudis or UAE even bother with building regs, they simply specify on the contract that the building conform to US or UK regs, depending on the company that gets the job. To my eternal shame, I did some of the design for one the Eurovision venues...
Remember the caveat on equalisation was that it would be more like pre-industrial revolution equality. Where no part of the world was more than say 5 times better off than any other. As opposed to the 50 times that happened over the preceeding couple of centuries.
This rought equality might mean the average wage in every country being no lower than say $5k - $10k, in today's prices. Which is achieveable much more easily than getting every country in the world up to Western standards of living. That's what, Western living standards from the 50s and 60s?
At which point transport and set-up costs come into things at least as much as wage costs. But specialisation is likely to happen, at least in some industries. Take Silicon Valley for example. Wages can be incredibly high there, even compared to just moving down the road within California, or to another state. But there's an infrastructure of universities, lawyers, venture capitalists and specialist services. Plus people who've done it before, and an expectation that you can start your own company. Or London and insurance. Or Malaysia and hard disk manufacture.
It doesn't mean you'll necessarily end up with just one place in the whole world where an industry specialises. But it might be just a few areas, and so everyone else will outsource to one of those.
Couldn't you at least have had a statue of yourself made out of scandium...
Surely you just cut a hole in the side of the station (or open a window?), and stick your rear end into the vacuum of space. Then your bottom will come back in pristine, clean and smooth as a baby's.
No need for space toilets, or space loo-roll.
Can I have my Nobel Prize now please?
Don't be silly! Of course the moon exists.
It's just that there was a huge explosion in 1999 - that sent it hurtling through space. And the government has been covering this up ever since.
Can't you sign up for a month's free trial of Prime, and then cancel after you've watched the show?
I've had at least 2 free trials of Prime over the years, when it was just cheap postage, and Amazon have offered it to me again this year.
I was rather impressed with Google Chromecast. I needed a quick and dirty solution to watch American Football, as my brother was coming over. I could have lugged the computer over to the sitting room, but I also want to watch iPlayer on it. I used to have Sky, but cancelled. Now I have a Chromcast button on the BBC iPlayer app on my iPad. Access to Netflix, should I choose to sign up plus YouTube and other things, should I care.
The NFL Gamepass app doesn't yet support Chromecast, so it was a quick walk to the office, bung on the PC, launch the video player, tell Chrome to turn it back into a normal browser window by right-clicking, and there was the chromcast button. I admit that's not the best, and some proper old-schook standing up from your chair, instead of a remote control. But I could have set up the tablet for RDP, if I hadn't been hitting the margaritas with my mexican (yum).
One of the faults, back when I read the first reviews of Chromecast, was how limited it was. I'm sure that's still the case, but when the NFL turned out to have not got round to supporting it, like they'd promised, it was a matter of a few minutes to get the PC to do the job instead. I'm impressed. Especially for a £30 gadget.
When the invisible man's sleepin' in your bed - Who ya gonna call?
And how are they gonna get there, if they're unable to buy their Ghostbusters costume from Argos?
This are events of earth-shattering importance!
I've paid for the site. I've decided it's time to join the online gambling boom. Poker is passe, roulette is silly, what we need is a new online game.
I propose Tombola!
Now I can't trademark that. So my online tombola is of course called an ebola. How was I to know that I'd suddenly get all this competition for my trademark? Can I sue a virus?
Are there any grandchildren?
I've just had a look at the memory on my (rather full) 64GB version. I've got some chunky games on there, taking up around 1GB each. I was just looking at the 3.5GB that Baldur's Gate wants the other day! But my guess was correct. The Lego Star Wars and Lego City game are 1GB each. And another 500MB for the CBeebies app. So a few grandchildren playing with it might easily knock out 1-5 GB.
In which case, don't forget the photos. Still a couple of gig of photos and another couple of games, still doesn't get anywhere close to 12. I've got 22GB of music on mine, which is the biggest memory hog.
That is true. It seems increasingly common in tech stocks to have massive amounts of the voting stock, concentrated in very few hands. So for example Zuckerberg held 51% of the voting stock, with only 10% of the total stock. A mis-match that I believe isn't allowed under the London Stock Exchange listing rules. This gives him total control of the company, for only 10% of the risk - and is another good reason not to own FB stock. I know nothing about the Amazon structure.
As you say, just because a whole bunch of shareholders want something, doesn't mean they can get it. Even if each share had equal votes.
However, once you've pissed off a bunch of major shareholders they can start making life awkward. Particularly if they can force representation on the board. And in the long run the people with the majority of voting shares get to decide who's on the board, and how much they get paid.
The moral and legal obligations change when you sell shares. It's no longer your money. It's no longer your company. There are limits on what you can do.
Remember also that your personal fortune is still tied up with the company. You're a paper billionaire. Your money is mostly tied up in those preference shares. Every time you sell some, your super-votes get more and more diluted. And if you piss off your big shareholders, they'll sell, and possibly have a public hissy-fit. Then your paper billions get devalued, and that yacht (or volcano base) requires the sale of more shares, and therefore the loss of more control.
The legalities are complicated. But what it boils down to is you sold the company. Or at least a share of it. The people you sold it to want something in return. Deal with it. Or do what Michael Dell did, and buy your company back. Then you're in charge again, and can do what the hell you want.
When you sell your company to shareholders, you lose some of the right to choose how you measure success. The shareholders who now own the company get the right to tell you to make profits. In order to compensate them for the vast amounts of money you chose to take from them in exchange for selling shares.
A majority of those shareholders even have the power to sack you, or change the objectives of the company.
Why would they do that? They've only just got out of that market. As fast as their little legs could carry them. And they were pretty keen to do so, given the board began the sale to Microsoft without asking their own CEO.
Now they don't have any of the staff or infrastructure. So they'd virtually be starting from scratch. Only two companies are making reasonable profits from mobiles, Apple and Samsung.
The auditors I know, and my experience from my old job with a mid-sized multi-national, would disagree with you. That dinner I described happened in about 1998.
Audit is there partly to protect the shareholders. A proper audit should also challenge management to back up certain decisions, as well as to check the accounts aren't fiddled. Not all accounting questions have cut-and-dried answers. Audit must also check that the limited liability guarantee isn't being abused, and that the company is solvent. Trading insolvently is fraud. Hence profitability is an important issue.
Amazon somewhat gives the lie to constantly-repeated saying that the markets can't cope with long-term investment.
However, it's the shareholders' company. In the end they have to be rewarded for their investment. If Bezos wanted a personal plaything with which to do cool stuff, then he should have kept control of the company. But he didn't. He sold it. and probably became rather wealthy in the process. With that transaction comes the nast responsibility to other people, whose money you are now custodian of.
Not that investment in the future is a bad thing. It's important. But selling shares is the alternative to borrowing money. That's one of the reasons these tech company structures are so bad. There should be a downside to doing an IPO and getting rich. And it's the loss of total control over your pet project.
Google needs another revenue stream, or two. They still make more than 80% of their cash from online advertising (that figure's from memory though).
Now I believe they're making cash on Android, and they've invested hugely into that. And that might start them making decent money from the Play store - not just in software but also films/books/audio. But then it might not.
But the advertising market is very cyclical. And quite fickle. Maybe online advertising will fall out of fashion, given how ineffective it seems to be. And how some browser maker could just decide to kill it at a stroke. Maybe search might start working in a different way, that doesn't allow for the same level of profit for Google.
Google aren't shy of chucking huge amounts of cash after long-term bets. See Android for details. They probably blew well over $10 billion on that before it turned a profit. And it's now part of Google's core business. The question isn't whether cloud is part of Google's core business now, but whether Google management thinks it will be soon.
As a quick thought-experiment: I think smartphones are now massively over-priced. When a Motorola G or Lumia 730 is well under £150. Can there still be much room to pay £500, except for specialist customers? I don't think for much longer. Except maybe for Apple. So who's going to make the money off this market? The manufacturers will turn into commodity sellers, fighting over scraps, just like the PC market. Maybe the people who design the software, if they can get people to want theirs. But there's going to be a big market in data. Who's going to manage my photos, email, important documents, e-tickets etc? Now I might say, me. But 95% of the population aren't currently capable of it. And I know just as many young people who don't understand computers, even if they use Facebook and Skype more. That's a lot of small, but regular cash, along with some quite juicy personal data. But requires huge infrastructure and a trusted brand. I personally think Google are risking their brand by being too creepy, but they're currently still a well-loved brand with a few detractors. Like Apple.
If they have positive cashflow and they're investing their money in stuff that has value, then things look different. So if I can tell my auditor that I just spent $1bn on an asset that's still worth $1bn - they aren't going to get angry with me, and do horrible things to me. What they might tell me to do is to close or sell loss-making parts of the business.
At which point standard procedure, from my experience, is that you go out for a nice dinner (which the auditors pay for) and have a polite but bitter argument about it all. Then you come back and decide that they will sign off on your books, because that bit they told you to close is expected to make a profit in future, honest guv. The auditors then go back to their office, and send you an invoice for the cost of their time checking up on you, and telling you how to run your company, and adding a charge on for the dinner, which is about twice the cost of the meal.
In our case we'd just spent several million opening a couple of new shops, and the auditor informed us that as they weren't yet making profits, they should be shut down 6 months later! Although they did have a fair point about store number 3, which never seemed to make any profits at all.
It would be interesting to see if the shareholders ever revolt though. Assuming they're allowed to. A lot of these modern tech companies have stupid share structures, where the bosses own such high percentages of the voting stock, that they can pretty much do what the hell they like. I seem to remember that Zuckerberg has 51% of the Facebook voting stock, but owns less than 10% of the company.
the $14Bn they are making selling electronics.
Yet Another Anonymous coward,
You mistake turnover for profits. Something I am beiginning so suspect that Jeff Bezos may be doing too. They don't make $14bn on sales of electronics. They buy about $14bn of electronics from other people, and sell them for hopefully a higher number. That difference is their gross profit. From which you take their costs to work out how much cash they have left to blow on winning market share in other markets.
They may have mostly killed the large book and music chains, but that doesn't mean they can massively up their prices. There are plenty of other online companies around, and as Amazon proved, it's much easier and cheaper to set up online, so they'll never be safe from competition.
So I'm sure they can outspend Rackspace, but not Google or Microsoft. Remember Google and MS have to have huge datacentres already, to do the other that makes them profits. So they are only adding to infrastructure they've already built and must maintain to survive.
Amazon make losses (or sometimes break even) every quarter, and say it's because they keep re-investing it into new bits of the company. MS and Google also invest lots of money in bits of the company and yet they make profits each quarter. MS about $5bn, Google about half that.
Which means that either of them could invest as much money as Amazon does on cloud infrastructure again, and still be making healthy profits, despite the fact they already invest as much or more than Amazon do.
One certainty is that Amazon cannot outspend them. And that's to ignore IBM, Oracle, HP and I suppose even Apple. Any of those could afford to blow a few billion a quarter on datacentres if they want to.
Sure, this may not be Apple's fault. But the banks are huge cloud players too. After all, what is a High Street bank? It's a huge database with some customers' money attached. And when the bank systems go titsup, they wheel out the same dishonest-non-apologies.
But obviously here Bank of America got it right, that a small number of customers really was. It'll be interesting to see if they come out with a number if they have a bigger outage though...
I was going to deploy my favourite rant (not used in a while) about the weasely apologies that technology companies seem to have all adopted these days. Their cloud system goes down for a day and they apologise for the inconvenience to a "limited or small number of customers". Which you know is a big fat lie, as it was probably the majority of them.
Although limited is a great word, as it doesn't actually mean small, it's just often used that way. It really means not all, so as long as you can keep one customer's service up, only "a limited number of our customers were affected" is still true.
However, small number was about 1,000 I can accept.
Although with my cynical hat on, I might wonder if there have only been 1001 transactions so far on Apple Pay. In which case the wording would be strictly truthful, but wildly inaccurate..
I wouldn't quite say meaningless. I still look down on companies that have a .co at the end of their names. Unless they genuinely are Colombian of course. We specifically wanted a .co.uk because we're a small player, trying to look bigger, in an industry full of small companies with the rather obvious .biz at the end of their names.
But I guess you're right. When everyone searches for companies on Google, they just click the first link. And despite my best efforts, never look at what they clicked on first to see where they're going. Also I've told my Mum how to get to www.bbc.co.uk, but still found her typing it into Google's search box.
Definition: The Address Bar - archaic term - What your Grandad looked at, when he wanted to avoid all his money being stolen by Nigerian fraudsters.
The only time people might notice is when being given email addresses. I'm constantly surprised by the number of decent sized companies I talk to, where people have @btconnect.com after their names.
That's .tosspot to you...
That's not the ROI though. $50 x 50,000 = $2.5m. So that pays for your domain. Now you need some servers, some staff, an office, perhaps a call centre. Then you have to add in the cost of your capital, which you could probably get 5% sticking into corporate bonds. Or of course, you may have to borrow it, in which case it's costing you 5% + the opportunity cost of not investing it in something else.
I suspect that's one reason why it's not worth buying just one. There's a large risk of having zero registrants. Remeber .tel? Nobody else does.
However if you've registered a few tens/hundreds of these, and some pay off, then it's only one lot of infrastructure to run them. After all, the ones that fail will put almost no load on your system, as you watch your initial investment evaporate away.
I was even more confused. I persistently read the word as reality - probably because I don't use the US term realtor. And I was trying to work out who'd pay for a .reality address. God? Stephen Hawking?
I got an email this week offering our company the prime opportunity to register yet another version of our addresses. In this case it was .xyz - which is apparently for those who don't want to be tied down by being an org, a me, a com or any of the other myriad options.
I wonder how much I'd have to pay to become registrar for .bugger-off! And how many people I could get to register with me?
You just unsubscribe from the email, send a reply saying the account holder has changed or create a rule to automatically delete emails from those senders.
I'd have thought that knowingly logging into someone else's account without permission has already broken your intersting legal puzzle, by being illegal in itself.
I'm having a similar problem, having taken over a work colleagues email, now they've left. They were using it for personal, as well as work stuff. As so many people do. So I'm still forwarding on quite a few emails, and hitting unsubscribe on his instructions to everything else. Even there, certain sites won't allow you to unsubscribe without logging in with a password - so they also have to be forwarded on for him to deal with. After a month, it's down to a couple a day now. Perhaps the better answer would have been to bounce it, but we wanted the work ones, so didn't.
That's what I was thinking. Other than to post what people above had beaten me to, that percentages without some idea of actual numbers are meaningless. I've seen them in PC World, but I've never seen a customer even look at one. In my local one, they're in the unloved corner, with Surface where nobody goes.
My Mum has just got rid of her desktop. Since we got her an iPad, I don't think she sees much reason to be arsed to get off the sofa and walk to the office. I fixed something on her PC for her the other day, and it hadn't been booted for over a month, yet she gets more emails in a day than I do. In her case she's gone for a hand-me-down Macbook Air - but had one of the family not had that, a Chromebook might have suited her equally well. Something with a keyboard, that can be used on sofa or table, for typing longer emails. And in her case, the odd report.
Myself, I find the ergonomics of a desktop unbeatable. But I'm in a small minority.
Well if you don't want to go to Mars, why not send your ass?
If we gave spirit a tow to a hilltop, the solar panels might blow clear and get it working again. A small donkey ought to be able to do that easily...
What you need is the opposite of noise cancelling headphones.
A phone (as an easily pocketable mobile computer will do). This should be set up to recognise your voice, then do the clever out of phase noise cancelling thing whenever you speak. Probably with some other sound, just to make sure. This then cancels out what you say, then flashes up the text for your review and then rebroadcasts a few seconds later (if you don't stop it).
I guess to make this even better, you could have a huge bushy moustache, so people can't get confused by your lips moving, or even lip read. Result while busy you're on a delay, like a sweary musician on the radio, and you can override if for those times when you're actually concentrating on talking.
What could possibly go wrong...?
The boy who always cried wolf comes to mind.
So are you suggesting a new fairytale, called 'The Boy Who Cried Fuck'?
I'm sure it would be popular with children. Not so convinced the parents will be willing to read it as a bedtime story though...
At least now that Doctor Who and Malcolm Tucker are the same person, we have the correct actor in place to do the job properly.
Oh bugger! Did I just prove you right?
Oy! I resemble that remark!
I like his shoes that weigh the person wearing them. Do you think it speaks your weight, or upadates an app?
At 08:00:00 you weigh 16 stone, you fat bastard.
At 08:00:02 you weigh 16 stone, you fat bastard
At 08:00:04 you weigh 16 stone, you fat bastard.
At 08:00:06 you weigh 15... Nah only kidding. You weigh 16 stone, you fat bastard. Why haven't you lost any weight yet?
at 08:00:08am you weigh 16 stone and 2oz. Have you just bought a Twix?
At 08:00:20am I am walking to work barefoot as I have thrown my shoes in the nearest bin
Ah, but now you could stop carrying your phone around, and start wearing a watch that tells the time and is a phone. Well I say watch, obviously Will.I.punctuate tells me to say cuff. This is down to the mobile company's 15 year contract...
big, gold, and worn around the neck
Why thank you. I shall market this idea forthwith. The gold bling-phone that you wear. But who wants stuff weighing down their wrist? Who can be bothered to hold their arm up to their mouth to talk into it? Who wants to look like David Hasslehoff in Knight Rider?
Welcome to the new: Torq
Isn't it about time you had a report ad button, as a way to catch mis-behaving ads? There are quite a few of them, and it's bad for your reputation - and yet does no harm to the reputation of the unknown ad network that foisted them on you. Your button should push a complaint to you for action, and maybe copy in the network as well - to let them know they're pissing off potential customers. Maybe the final ad client as well?
You had that O2 campaign a few months ago that went wrong. Yet you were contracted to run the bugger for a whole week - and it made the site un-visitable. I did read a few stories in whichever browser I found the ads didn't bugger up (my iPad I think). Obviously a nice report to the ad network had no effect - why would they give a fuck, it was your reputation that got damaged? But a few grumpy and possibly pithy comments from El Reg commentards via a complaint button may have woken O2 up to the damage they were doing their own brand image. Even if not, it would have allowed a few of your denizens a chance to have a good old vent. Satisfying at least.
P.S. - I see no cleavage. I have a chap in a polo shirt, and an odd constipated expression with a cat and an O2 logo. He's apparently an O2 Guru.
Would sir like a trilogy?
The Bored Identity
The Bored Supremacy
The Bored Ultimatum
Sometimes I even work on my motor vehicles in there...
Have you considered installing a bar in there, instead?
From where can I get one,
Dear @Handle, dear @Handle?
From where can I get one,
Dear @Handle, from where?
From Tesco dear R-C-H, dear R-C-H, dear R-C-H,
From Tesco dear R-C-H,
Dear R-C-H. Tesco.
As The Beatles said, All You Need is Hove.
Hove Is All Around Us
Thanks for joining the discussion. I did wonder about that Symbian thing, because Nokia always seemed to want to keep selling it, and drop it down to replace S40.
Does anybody know what Nokia's Symbian pre-orders were looking like, before the burning platforms statement. Or had any inside information about what the carriers were thinking? I suppose it's hard to get that now, as everyone's wise after the event, but would the carriers have dumped Symbian at that pace anyway, given that Android was now viable on much cheaper handsets? I remember buying a Lumia 710 quite early, to replace my under-powered HTC Wildfire - but at the time you could pick up decent top-end 'Droids from the previous year for £250 and there were various low-end 'Droids at the £100 mark. They were still 'landfill Android', but it was obvious that within a year or two that would no longer be the case, as the chips got cheaper, and so it proved.
Thanks for an excellent post. I hadn't read anywhere that killing S60 was part of the Microsoft deal. I still can't decide if I think the burning platforms was the right thing to do. Nokia wanted to keep milking that for cash until they could get Windows Phone products out there. But, they also had to announce they were going Win Pho, so everyone would know or suspect that S60 was doomed. Also he had to make huge internal changes at Nokia, which needed a sense of urgency and an understanding of the threat to the company. Those S60 sales, and the S40 sales too, were already doomed. It was just a matter of time as to when the market moved on, and a race to see if Nokia could get something in place in time.
However I'm not sure I buy your argument that Nokia's experience in mobile Linux was much use to them. They were no longer the leader in mobile Linux, that was Google - who had far surpassed them. They didn't have a product ready to market using it. And given their previous failures to produce any Linux-based phones that were actually ready, why would they do better now? Could you honestly call the N800 and N900 finished?
Also remember that Amazon succeeded in the tablet market, due to their enormous existing market lead in films/music/books. That content is what sold their tablets, despite a disappointing operating system. Whereas their first attempt to get into the tougher phone market has so far failed, and came 2 years later.
Elop literally bet the company on this deal with Microsoft and arguably burned several magnitudes worth more in existing assets and investments than he recovered with the ultimate sale to Microsoft (5 billion $) while simultaneously decimating revenue. Ultimately, he bet wrong and he destroyed billions of investment and market cap.
I agree that Elop bet the company on Windows. I can't personally see any better choice. Whatever he'd done was a gamble with the company though. At the point he took over, there was no safe bet.
I think all the other choices would have failed too. The difference was that MS had a stake in saving Nokia, and had to. Had MS done their job properly, Nokia might even have succeeded. But as usual MS seem to have only committed resources to their mobile divsion half-heartedly. As with wasting their investment in Windows Mobile. Rather than going all out to catch up, and surpass the opposition. They went slowly to catch-up.
But the really sad thing is that he didn't destroy billions of value in R&D. There was no value in that R&D any more. Too much of it was half-finished. Too much had been made irrelevant by the market changing so fast. If Nokia could have brought some of their R&D to market in 2005-2010, they'd almost certainly stilll be a major player in mobile. But they didn't. The world moved on. And all that time, money and effort poured into R&D was pissed away by previous management. And it fell to Elop to dump it. What a waste.
UIQ was great. I had a Sony Ericsson P800 in 2003. But it was dead by what, 2005? Sony had given up on it well before the iPhone was even rumoured. And even in its heydey, whenever I found a good app, the bugger was always for S60.
Even when the best Symbian phones by far were the P800 and P900, Symbian was still Nokia. Which is one reason why Sony Ericsson decided to dump it, and abandon smartphones.
It's also the reason that I decided that smartphones weren't worth the hassle, and went back to a dumbphone. Motorola RAZR V3 as happens, my favourite phone. Didn't get another smartphone until 2010, I'd had enough of being an early-adopter.
"He was wrong, but could anybody have reliably predicted it at the time?"
A huge number of Reg readers predicted it. Well extrapolated from MS EEE approach that has existed since they got bigger than a shed.
A large number of Reg readers predicted the failure of the iPhone and iPad. The triumph of netbooks. All sorts of other things. You can always find someone to say "I predicted that". But unless they're consistent about being right most of the time, why would you listen to their opinion beforehand? A stopped clock is right twice a day...
Microsoft aren't a hardware company (even though they sell quite a bit of it). Why would they want to own Nokia? It's clear their board didn't, even after Ballmer decided he did. So that blows the trojan-horse bollocks out of the water. As if anyone believed they were capable of the machiavellian plot under Ballmer anyway.
Microsoft are a software company. It's how they see themsevlves. And they therefore want to sell software. This meant that they'd never give Nokia total control or priority. As they'd always be hoping for other partners to join the Windows Phone ecosystem. But it was clearly in their own self-interest to do everything they could to help Nokia.
It was perfectly valid for Elop to believe that his connections at Microsoft should get him some leverage. Remember Microsoft were paying Nokia well over a billion dollars in marketing support as well. So it's not as if he didn't get a commitment out of them. And everyone in both companies knew if Nokia failed, that Windows Phone would fail. Which is why Microsoft just bought a failing phone company they didn't even want for $4 billion. Although I suppose that's still a better purchase than $10bn for Autonomy...
Finally, the people who argue that MS weren't a suitable partner fail to say who was. Google weren't offering free money. They were offering to buy Nokia's patents off them, i.e. buy their crown jewels for cheap. Bearing in mind the Nokia board haven't even sold those patents to Microsoft, only given them a ten year license. So Google's deal was pretty shit. And Google don't give a damn about their hardware partners. Notice how only Samsung is making any money?
So Elop's options were to go MS, or keep on trucking with Nokia's internal development, and see if he could get something out the door from all their wonderful innovation. Which presumamably meant taking a couple of layers of management out into the forest and shooting them, then finding some more management that could pick a winner from all the competing projects, push more engineering resources into actually finishing one of them - and actually shipping some product. Nokia had failed to do this for the last 5-10 years, so although I think Elop was a wuss for not trying it, I can well understand that he thought it was too much of a gamble, and decided to bet the shareholders money on something a bit safer. And his bet paid off. They got to sell their phone division to MS. That was always a likely (if by no means certain) plan B, as MS would have to buy Nokia or see their entire mobile strategy go up in flames. Rather like Nokia, they were doing well in mobile up until 2003. But then masively dropped the ball.
The most telling thing from the article for me is the bit from Nokia's ex CEO. I very much doubt that it's unprecendented in the whole of history for two outside players to come and take over another industry. He seems to be drawing the lesson from that, "well what do you do?" Whereas the lesson I'd draw is that a large industry's leading players had failed so spectacularly that two outside companies had managed to come in, and kick seven bells of crap out of the incumbents, because the incumbents were crap. If theyve been well managed, there would have been less opportunity.
Also MS were a new player as well. Those with longer memories will recall how MS were going to fail, when they entered the mobile industry in the late 90s. And how Nokia and Sony were going to cooperate over Symbian, so that Windows Mobile wouldn't do to them what MS did to IBM. And yet by 2003, MS had half the smartphone market, and Sony and Nokia had totally failed to cooperate over Symbian. As I well know, as a former Sony Ericsson P800 owner. Great phone, but the software was crippled by the fact that Sony and Nokia had made their two versions of Symbian incompatible, so whenever you found a good app you wanted, it was always for the other version.
So my conclusion from the fact that Microsoft, then RIM, then Apple, then Google then Samsung entered the mobile market and all came to dominate (to various degrees) in their turn, is that the incumbents in the industry were shit. And managed by useless tossers. As they had all the patents, and all the contacts. Where are the mobile giants of Sony, Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia now? Admittedly Sony are still going, but there seems to be a rumour every year that they're going to give up on phones, and I don't think they've turned a profit in the last 5 years. Maybe more.
No chance. I believe it's in Sky's Ts&Cs that you have to connect your Sky box to the internet. But it works perfectly fine without it. I rather foolishly plugged mine in, in order to be able to record stuff from my phone - and in fact use a phone/tablet as a nice remote control. And my reward was for them to update the software and make it slightly worse... But it worked perfectly well for months without.
I guess the worry is if there's ubiquitous WiFi out there, or 4G gets incredibly cheap. Then the buggers will be able to log themselves on without your permission. But while they have to connect to my WiFi router, they stay offline, and expecting connection would be an unreasonable term in the contract that would be struck down by UK and EU law.
Anyway, the appliance makers want to charge extra for it. Like the TV makers have this bizarred idea that people want to pay extra for smart TV. My Panasonic cheapy has the same panel as some of the smarties, but is missing about £5 worth of chippery that would make it smart and have put £300 on the price. Of course by only giving me 2 HDMI connections, and RCA stereo sockets that only take input (rather than output sound), they've severely limited the connectivity. So if I needed more than that I'd have been forced to buy a smart telly, but it's way cheaper to have some sort of cable switcher thingymajig.
In the case of a smart fridge, it's going to need a display screen and a way to interact (something already built into a telly), so there'll be a genuine extra cost. Or a smartphone app, in which case it'll all be managed via the manufacturers website. I wonder at what point will it be impossible to buy a dumbphone - so that manufacturers can assume that everyone has a smartphone to act as controller?
"Computer. If you don't open this airlock immediately, I'm going straight to you rmajor databanks with a large axe. And I'm going to give you a reprogramming you'll never forget."
I used to be an ex-pat. Now living back home in dear old Blighty. Does that make me an ex-ex-pat?
Or just Pat?