back to article Memo to Microsoft, RIM, Nokia: Quit copying Apple!

It stinks to be number two in a market. Or worse, number three. But that's the position that most consumer technology companies find themselves in today, at least compared to Facebook, Google, and Apple. Everyone else is an also ran, in large part because they're allowing themselves to be defined by someone else's race. Yahoo …

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  1. JDX Gold badge

    Irony?

    Telling people that copying is a bad move, when Apple got to their strong position place by polishing existing ideas?

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Irony?

      Apple took existing technologies and combined them into devices. The try to make it right, functional ... not feature complete, but what is there, works. Other companies try to get as many features in at launch time as possible ... quality in design matters, in the end!

      Then again I have to say that I am a bit disappointed by Snow Leopard ... Mail crashed on me twice in a fortnight and this is a fresh install. I could not remember Apple apps ever crashing on Mac OS X and I have been using macs for a decade. I just had a one year gap where I hardly used Mac OS X productively (as in doing actual work - not just music/browsing) - I just got a new mac book pro for work. So maybe the tide is changing ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Umm..

        "Apple took existing technologies and combined them into devices. "

        Nope. Sorry. Try the other one, it's got bells on. Apple stole actual inventions that had actual devices and technology - not just taking existing tech, but actual products to boot. They then went on to blithely copy other ideas - yes, improving them along the way, cannot deny that - but did not give even a mention to the originals.

        First graphically-oriented OS: Um, no. Most possibly the Xerox Star; though there is a platform earlier that "qualifies" I believe, cannot recall it's name.

        First device for pointing in a GUI (aka mouse): Ah-ah. Again, stolen from Xerox. Xerox had designed the device, technology and method for interacting with the GUI.

        First touch screen mobile phone: Hell no. Honors goes to several vendors including Palm, Motorola, Nokia, among others. Apple's sole contribution? Using their already considerable market to bludgeon their fans into accepting their offering - even though it was easily a decade behind the current phones on the market.

        First multitouch screen: HP iPAQ, a good few years before Apple hijacked and made it a technique.

        1. Laie Techie

          Apple stole GUI?

          As I've heard it, Apple didn't steal the UI from Xerox. Xerox developed the GUI for internal use. Apple saw it and and asked Xerox permission to use it in their new OS. Xerox agreed. Microsoft stole that GUI from Apple, and when Apple threatened to sue, Microsoft threatened to not release any more software for the Mac OS. Apple relented.

        2. ThomH Silver badge

          @AC

          You have a funny definition of stealing.

          Apple gave Xerox stock in return for IP. That's called a business transaction.

          Touch screen technology? Nobody has ever claimed this to be an Apple invention, it's a straw man. You appear to be arguing that any company that uses any single component that isn't entirely new deserves no credit for anything.

          Multitouch technology? Apple paid for FingerWorks in 2005 to acquire the technology. That's called a business transaction.

          You seem to believe that if someone receives something and pays for it, then that's theft?

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Overreaching, I think

      Take iOS as the example. It introduced the direct manipulation metaphor to the mass market. To 99.99% of people that met one, it was a new idea. They acquired most of the relevant IP by acquiring FingerWorks, but in order to commercialise it to the extent that they felt it could be. What they didn't do was look at what was already number one in the market and copy that. They've actually never done that.

      There's a distinction between being able to spot and develop good ideas before they hit the prime time and running after the market leaders.

    3. Allison Park
      Flame

      HP is competely absent....busy with their palm

      If Apple or Google goes into printer HP is toast....and with every Mac purchase people are buying less HP ink

  2. Giles Jones Gold badge

    So much for RIM

    If they're still working out what to do with the Playbook even now then they have no chance of having a credible product.

    The next iPad can't be far off and RIM are still talking about a vapourware product? it'll look pretty old and tired by the time they get it out of the door.

  3. phillr

    Painless?

    "Microsoft makes enterprise IT relatively painless."

    It does? For who? Certainly not the people who have to implement and support it.

    1. Glenn Amspaugh
      Gates Horns

      painless?

      Nor for the customers. Am so glad I'm moving away from desktop support at a Microsoft shop.

    2. Bugs R Us
      Gates Halo

      Yeah, if you're stupid

      I work with Fortune 500 type organizations. In my 20 year experience, large organization IT services make life diffcult for themselves with complex processes and procedures. The tech Microsoft provides is simple and effective; it is "fit for purpose". It's people that are the complex pieces in the IT puzzle, not the tech. I have also seen large organizations use Microsoft tech and operate it without complex management processes making life easier for sys admins. It's people that make it hard, not the tech. Dont' blame the tools, blame the fools that don't know how to use them. Microsoft created an industry for which many visitors of this site would be thankful for their careers and wealth.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Bugs R Us

        Very well said, bang on.

      2. doperative

        not fit for purpose

        > I work with Fortune 500 type organizations. In my 20 year experience, large organization IT services make life diffcult for themselves with complex processes and procedures. The tech Microsoft provides is simple and effective; it is "fit for purpose" ..

        You have to be kidding. I did tech support in a multinational business consultancy. Their entire IT service consisted of powerpoint docs stored on file servers mapped to the desktop under drive letters. They used a customized form to create unique file names and that was it.

        > Microsoft created an industry for which many visitors of this site would be thankful for their careers and wealth.

        No, Microsoft built its success on the efforts of others and are largely responsibly for the virtual stagnancy in the PC sector. Witness the number of companies who are no longer in the business, including IBM, the originator of the IBM PC.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          WTF?

          @doperative

          "You have to be kidding. I did tech support in a multinational business consultancy. Their entire IT service consisted of powerpoint docs stored on file servers mapped to the desktop under drive letters. They used a customized form to create unique file names and that was it."

          You just proved Bugs R Us' point. Where in any MS Desktop/Server admin book/course does it say that this is acceptible? People who think they know what they are doing but don't are responsible for that setup, not the MS products that they are using.

      3. AceRimmer

        @Bugs R Us

        The problem with Microsoft in the IT world is the perception that implementing it at the corporate level is "Easy".

        2 of the last 3 contracts I've have as a SQL Server developer have been on projects where there has been no dedicated SQL Server DBA. The project managers seem to think that us developers can handle it.

        I've seen the same mistakes made with other microsoft tech. Sharepoint, Biztalk and .net development. The perception is that any monkey can do it so don't pay more than peanuts, which then brings us on to out sourcing.

        Thankfully the tide seems to be turning and companies are starting to realise that its better to have a couple of gurus (with some junior staff in attendance) doing it right first time than 20 certified idiots making a hash job if it and needing to be replaced at even more cost later on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Flame

          Re. @ Bugs R Us

          /Time for a rant

          Absolutely; that's where my last million in fees came from. Fixing a giant cluster fuck perpetrated by programmers masquerading as people with a clue. I rescued said company from impending oblivion, and a few developers found alternative playgrounds to soil. Professional data designers and DBAs with a clue did not learn their trade on SQLServer (phewt..), or from by spending 2 years inside the C# IDE.

          The beauty of the MS development world though is this; once professionals from the "real world" finally decide to get their hands dirty in the grubby little world that is MS bespoke applications development, the opportunities for income for no intellectual effort are endless.

          As a 30 year veteran of this industry with a real education and a very long CV, I have reached the conclusion that MS has unintentionally extended many careers simply because they have convinced people without enough brains to know better, that any idiot can build industrial strength applications, and awarded said idiots with certifications saying so. Install C# and SQLServer and away you go - you too are a "professional developer". My experience in MS based shops is uniformly consistent on this point.

          MS will be around for a while, and squandering a few billion a year on forays into the mobile world are unlikely to break the bank or affect the company longevity. 20 years ago "pundits" were suggesting the demise of mainframes, COBOL and IBM itself. Guys, they are all still with us, making the world tick. Time to find a new melody.

          Note: If anyone reading this has experience with BAL (yes, I know that its not the real name these days) I know an opening, not leading edge buzzword stuff, but it pays good. 20 years from now it will probably still be true. rotfl

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Hats off to 'Bugs R Us'!

        I have nothing but full support for what you have just written and I use Linux and OSX almost exclusively!

        I think MS stuff is good and gets better all the time. Working full time as a Unix SA/DBA I get to sit and watch the MS circus from the stands. The one thing always gets me is that everyone who uses Windows at home for all their doings, gets to work and thinks that their home experience gives them some idea how to be a Windows server admin!

        There are shared components between desktop and server, but server admins on any platform are trained individuals and they know how to tune up and get the best from a box and its O/S. Your desktop experience, Mr Manager, with all your playing with a few Word docs and a bit of Excel, possibly a little bit of Access, is like a 5 year old kid tuning up his peddle car compared to your average dealership car mechanic.

        Despite being an Apple/Penguin fan I do stick up for Windows people, especially hard-working put-upon Windows server admins, who have to deal with know-it-all managers and developers, day-in and day-out.

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  4. ArmanX

    Microsoft

    Microsoft could still do somethign in the mobile market - but it would need to do what Apple is doing now: make its own phones. It would need to make phones with a LOT packed into them - maybe not the best hardware, or the best software, but powerful enough it can make an Android look shoddy and an iPhone look slow. Add in things people don't need, but do want - stuff like USB *server* capable. Make the desktop into a phone.

    That's how Microsoft started, and it's a good strategy - make decent stuff, cheaply, and sell it to EVERYONE. No silly rules in the app market, no "we won't have these types of programs ever". Sure, the phones will be unreliable, but hey, people bought Windows, right?

    1. Alex.Red
      Happy

      Phone desktop

      Have you missed this year CES?

      Phone desktop is called Atrix (by Motorola) with desktop and laptop docking stations.

      Tech specs are good - Tegra 2 from Nvidia.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you'll permit me to annoy you with a factoid:

      Redmond did buy up an outfit that not only had quite a decent phone, it also had quite a nice and innovative software platform and moreover an interested and willing niche in the market. It had quite the product to match their customers, so to speak. That outfit was called Danger, and we all know what happened next.

      Also: Decent stuff? Cheaply? Er, no. That isn't how they started. Not even a little bit. And yes, that still shows.

  5. David Webb
    WTF?

    Am I missing something?

    Nokia are pretty dominant in the mobile market and are number one by a large margin, so why are you comparing Nokia as an "also-ran" against Apple?

    "The figures come from market watcher Strategy Analytics, and they see 2010 closing with Nokia taking 34.2 per cent of the global smartphone biz, RIM 16.7 per cent, Apple 16.2 per cent and everyone else together 32.9 per cent."

    Let me see, 16.7% + 16.2% = 32.9% so Nokia has a greater market share than Apple and RIM combined?

    Source: http://www.reghardware.com/2011/01/27/smartphone_market_2010/

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: Am I missing something?

      No you're not... The Reg regularly think USA = Whole world. (Ignore the .co.uk URL).

      Often figures based on the USA aren't far removed from the rest of world, except unfortunately when it comes to mobiles... The USA view of the mobile market is very distorted. Nokia barely exist. SMS interchange between networks was (might even still be) so unreliable that most people send emails between mobiles instead... That's why the Blackberry became so popular over there.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      Check your numbers...

      Yes, you are correct that Nokia still retains the largest share of the market for overall cell phones.

      But if you do some trend analysis, people are upgrading to smart phones. Its in this market that Nokia lags.

      This isn't news to Nokia and they are working on trying to fix this and remain competitive.

      Looking at Nokia's phones, they have done a lot in terms of hardware. The build quality of the N8 is great. Better than a lot of the android based phones coming from China. While this may not seem like an important thing... without subsidized phones, that 200.00 phone with a 2 year contract would cost between $600 and $800 (US) retail.

      Its the OS.

      Symbian doesn't cut it and now they are moving to meego. (I haven't see a phone with meego on it so its hard to say how competitive it is....)

      Nokia has a new CEO who is just starting to take control this year. It will be interesting to see how well they turn things around.

      1. Dinky Carter

        Don't confuse Symbian with Series 60

        Symbian certainly does still 'cut it', being a lean, mean and extremely capable OS. It's Nokia's bloated, buggy, backward Series 60 which is the problem. Ditching it for Qt was a great move, but getting rid of the Symbian is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, you're missing something

      Nokia used to have something like 60% of the smartphone market, in fact they invented the concept, only to be overtaken by apple and google in mindshare. El Reg did a series of articles on the rise and fall of symbian with lots of background; well worth a read.

      If that wasn't enough, they're still managing to shrink on total shipments in a growing market. That's pretty damning in and of itself. But combine all that, plus the opening and then closing of (some small part of) symbian's source, and a couple other strategic mishaps, in the eyes of just about all analysts, nokia is wearing a pretty large dunce hat at the moment.

      1. Andy Nugent

        re: Yes, you're missing something

        "If that wasn't enough, they're still managing to shrink on total shipments in a growing market."

        No they're not. Sales of smartphones are up quarter on quarter for the last 18 months. They haven't been rising as much as the smartphone market has been expanding, so market share has been dropping.

    4. realitybytes

      Nokia is circling the bowl right about now...

      Nokia does have a greater market share but that matters not, for all the phones they make, they make no money, last year only 221m pounds down 40% by way of comparison, Apple made 14.1 Billion dollars of their profit on iPhones.

      Your math supposes that selling millions of featureless phones in third world countries matters to their bottom line, it doesn't.

      Apple makes more money selling iPhones to less people.

  6. Peter 4

    Yahoo is...

    Yahoo is a pile of steaming turds...

    P.

    1. Anton Ivanov
      Flame

      Was... It is unclear if it still is. I would not go as far as writing it off...

      Bartz has been doing a very interesting dog-n-pony show there. It may have been painful to endure for the yahooligans. It may have been painful to watch for the average techie ponytail who still remember the glory of the pre-google days.

      However looking at the results she may have done something right after all. From a "utility-like" sub-10% margin up to 26% in a year - that is an impressive achievement.

    2. Pigeon

      Wow

      What prompted this? You are right though.

  7. Charles 9 Silver badge

    So, basicaly, it's win or die.

    Capitalism (what I call "Winner Economics") at its most cutthroat. Though I favor Android at the moment, I won't show long-term favortism towards any of the mobile companies, seeing as how things are moving too fast for any loyalties to mean anything for long.

  8. Khephren

    So many errors here I don't know where to start...

    This isn't journalism, it's just an opinion piece.

    "Memo to Microsoft, RIM, Nokia: Quit copying Apple!" You know Nokia pretty much invented the smartphone, I mean, you know that right?

    "The not-Apple market has already crowned Android king of the iOS alternatives. Why fight it?"

    Um, Nokia still have more market share than Apple and Android in the mobile arena. And they have been making tablets for years. You've decided, even though the oposition hasn't launched yet their tablet yet?

    you don't just parrot what you read on american websites do you?

    1. Goat Jam
      FAIL

      Ahem

      "You know Nokia pretty much invented the smartphone, I mean, you know that right?"

      I'm sure he does. I'm also sure he is also aware that when Nokia & MS were the leaders in the smartphone market it was a moribund niche market populated by a few geeks and a handful of executards.

      It is common knowledge that telco's spent the early '00s bemoaning the fact that the majority of people were completely underwhelmed by the entire smartphone user experience and therefore unwilling to pay a premium for a smartphone with bundled internet usage. But you knew that right?

      "Um, Nokia still have more market share than Apple and Android in the mobile arena."

      Selling $50 dollar crap plastic phones to pre teen adolescents, old farts and assorted luddites is hardly the market position that would excite Nokia shareholders. That market is shrinking while the smartphone market is growing. I know where I would rather be.

      "And they have been making tablets for years."

      And they have been crappy, unresponsive, user-hostile shitfests made to suit the demands of the telcos rather than the consumers who would use them.

      This in fact is how Nokia got themselves into the position they find themselves today. They lost focus on who their customers were and decided that slavishly ticking off the feature checkbox list provided to them by the mega telcos was the best way to shift units. They put no thought into making the products more consumer friendly at all. As long as they had Feature X as specified by Mega Telco A and were crippled in Fashion Y because Mega Telco B didn't want users to be have that feature because it meant they might not then use the telcos hamfisted attempt to provide vastly overpriced "value added services" then Nokia was happy. As long as each telco ordered 10K+ units per month all was good and that is exactly what happened for the first 10 years of the mobile industries life. It worked OK because people had no choice. All the phone co's did the same thing and all their products were pretty much crap.

      Then RIM came along and the corporate smartphone market exploded almost overnight. Later, apple came along and did the same for the consumer market. You can bleat all you like about how apple just copies Nokia and Nokia was there first and shifts more phones etc etc but the fact is that they were completely unable to convince the great unwashed that smartphones are something worth paying for despite years of trying.

      In that regard, Nokia was 100% FAIL.

      1. dogged
        FAIL

        Dude, take off the blindfold

        You think Apple made everything better? Better than Nokia or SE?

        It's not true. They made it shinier and they gave it to journalists for free, hence generating huge amounts of favourable press while AT THE SAME TIME pretty much guaranteeing that anything that didn't look like something made by Apple would get slated in hardware reviews.

        The Reg are a bit of an honourable exception. You can tell from the way they actually seem to like WP7, for example. But Apple don't mind; the commentards below every reasonable piece are already brainwashed into hating it anyway.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Re: Ahem

        "You can bleat all you like about how apple just copies Nokia and Nokia was there first and shifts more phones etc etc but the fact is that they were completely unable to convince the great unwashed that smartphones are something worth paying for despite years of trying."

        Uh? The distinction between smartphones and normal phones has been blurred for quite some time, which is why you have bizarre labels like "featurephone" banded around by bored management types (arguably Nokia's real problem).

        My seven year old Sony Ericsson doesn't have the memory or performance to run Linux, Android or anything that would entertain a desktop computing environment with "proper" browsers and the like, but a lot of the features of the smartphone are either there or were obvious extensions once more memory and a faster CPU became available to manufacturers: the ubiquitous matrix of icons on the "home screen", browsing (albeit WAP), Internet e-mail (if your provider hasn't firewalled you), installable applications (albeit J2ME), and so on.

        The problem with the incumbents was that they didn't pursue these ideas further at a fast enough pace, perhaps because like most established businesses, there's no point in giving people something much better too quickly when you can make more money drip-feeding them small improvements. All Apple did, contrary to utterances from the gaping mouths of the easily impressed, was play the new entrant card and get a jump on the likes of Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola and Siemens.

        That those companies were unable to respond says a lot more about their internal inertia and superfluous managerial fat than it does about Apple shining a light on the world's unfortunates.

      3. Khephren

        reply

        "okia & MS were the leaders in the smartphone market it was a moribund niche market populated by a few geeks and a handful of executards."

        Really? The N95 ,82 etc were in a moribund market? Your as bout as clueless as the guy who wrote this article.

        "Selling $50 dollar crap plastic phones to pre teen adolescents, old farts and assorted luddites is hardly the market position that would excite Nokia shareholders"

        Europe & the US are a saturated market, Apple has priced itself out of developing markets. You know where the future money is coming from, and it's not over here.

        "And they have been crappy, unresponsive, user-hostile shitfests made to suit the demands of the telcos rather than the consumers who would use them."

        I suggest you actually try using a maemo tablet, rather than just letting your mouth run away with you.

        "big rant in the middle"

        Some truth there, amonst the frothing.

        "RIM"

        Big in the states, not anywhere else. RIM is going to be the next major casualty (IMHO).

        "Later, apple came along and did the same for the consumer market"

        High end consumer market. They will put themselves in a boutique expensive niche- just like they did on the desktop. And i'll be sorry to see it happen.

        "you can bleat all you like about how apple just copies Nokia and Nokia was there first"

        Don't see how replying to (infantile) article header "Memo to Microsoft, RIM, Nokia: Quit copying Apple!" with truth, is bleating.

        Bad journalism-end of story.

        Your post 100% shite.

  9. LDS Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    It's bad for shareholders....

    "However, modern firms lock up much of their profits in a war chest designed to keep them from dying. This is pure economic loss. It's bad for shareholders...."

    But very good for the workforce. "Maximizing revenues" is not always the best way to keep a company afloat (did you already forget what happened lately?)

    And I really wish "professors" take the same risks the average employee faces, instead of hiding into universities - go and face "creative distruction" yourself, if you're bold enough.

    1. Maty

      Been in a university lately?

      If you think that 'hiding' in a university is any way to avoid redundancy then you have not looked at the UK academic job market lately.

      The amount of slash-and-burn going on there is hair-raising. And since the average "professor" is usually on a short-term contract, having to re-apply for your job every three years or so is standard. So you are right - most academics don't face the same risks as the average employee. Their risks are so much higher.

      And, if you are a specialist in a very technical market, its not as though there are as many jobs out there as there are for, say taxi-drivers, (which is what some academics have become).

      Do try getting a job at a university before you mouth off about it. And here's a hint - learn to spell 'destruction' first.

  10. Bullseyed

    Yahoo?

    You're right, Yahoo isn't seen as a search engine anymore. But that doesn't mean it has moved on to something else, it just means Yahoo no longer has a purpose. It no longer has a core competency. There is no longer a purpose for Yahoo to exist other than the fact that they always existed and get a bit of "by habit" web traffic.

    1. magnetik
      WTF?

      Re: Yahoo

      Re: Yahoo?

      What about all the software Yahoo creates for companies to use in their intranets? Or their equivalent of Hotmail / Gmail? Or things like the javascript libraries they continually develop that are used by tons of big websites? There's a lot of stuff Yahoo does besides offering a public search engine - they have plenty of reasons to exist.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Get your facts right

    You start the article with: "It stinks to be number two in a market. Or worse, number three."

    So, let's get things straight. Worldwide smartphone sales. Number 1: Nokia; number 2: RIM. Before you start seeing Google or Apple you have to get down to number 3 or 4. It really stinks to be down there doesn't it.

    And why is Facebook in an article about smartphone manufacturers? Do Facebook have a new smartphone OS that I don't know about?

    So, let's look at number ones in various spaces shall we. Facebook is clearly ahead in social networking. Google are clearly number one in search. Mobiles we still have Nokia as number one. If we look at trending though it is clear Google and Android are number 1. Microsoft are number one in desktop OS and Office Apps.

    Where are Apple though? Number one in music players probably. But that would appear to be about it. They trended very well in mobile phones, and like RIM, will be left as a very successful also-ran in a few years' time; but Android is already trending better. They have opened a new market in fondle slabs, but we have to wait to see how that market shakes out before coming to a conclusion. Importantly, a lot of people are discovering fondle slabs aren't a great panacea. My next mobile computing purchase will be a laptop, not a fondle slab. A lot of the fondle slab owners I know say the same thing. Fondle slabs won't die, but they aren't going to replace big boy computing any time soon. Not with the dreadful excuse for a keyboard they are all using. Apple have a marginal market in desktops and laptops. Overall, Apple appear to be making an industry from being the 2nd, 3rd or 4th player in a lot of markets. The reason they seem to be doing so well financially is that they generally pick up market share in the premium end of many markets, and the fanbois are exceptionally loyal. But they certainly aren't what I would consider a number one player.

    Finally, look at the headline. "Memo to Microsoft, RIM, Nokia: Quit copying Apple!". Let's see. Uniform grids of icons - Microsoft, RIM and Nokia have been doing that well before Apple on mobile devices. Touchscreens predate Apple, although multi-touch was something that Apple did right. An App Store was also first successfully done by Apple. e-mail and internet on a phone have been done by other people well before Apple. So it seems that you are asking Microsoft, RIM and Nokia not to have app stores and multi-touch on their latest devices. <sarcasm> What great advice </sarcasm>.

    How about thinking about what you say before you say it.

    1. Bugs R Us
      FAIL

      Nokia is NOT #1

      The article is really about perception of market dominance. Whatever the actual numbers may say, Nokia is no longer perceived as #1. That's the point here, that Nokia will, at this rate, become an actual #2. Need to take away more than just the words of the article.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    However, modern firms lock up much of their profits in a war chest

    "However, modern firms lock up much of their profits in a war chest designed to keep them from dying. This is pure economic loss. It's bad for shareholders...."

    On the contrary, it is called investing for the future, investing during good times to insulate the company against the impact of bad times. It is pure, simple,l good management, whether at the level of the home or the multinational company

    "Microsoft is captured by its corporate bureaucracy, a group that is more interested in the continued existence of the company than in maximizing profits." And what is the point of maximising profits as one goes down the drain?

    I've heard some management bollocks over the years. In fact, year by year it tends to just get worse, but this really is rubbish.

    OK, I'm selectively quoting here: the entire article is not garbage, far from it.

  13. Surur
    Thumb Down

    Silly editorial

    So all the second place holders should just quit to make it easier for editorial writers? Every company that ever overtook the old market leader was second at one point, including Microsoft to Netscape or Microsoft to Wordperfect, or Microsoft vs IIS or Microsoft versus Linux netbooks and so on and so on.

    Your article is a recipe for halting progress - competition means things get better after all.

    1. Bugs R Us

      IIS is Microsoft

      Think you mean IIS versus Apache. And depending on whos numbers you prefer, IIS and Apache are almost equal in the real world (outside of academia).

      Also, these examples you give are a totally different situation. Netscape and WordPerfect were market creators. The mobile handset industry has been around far longer is is more well established. Nokia and Motorola would be considered dinosaurs of the industry. At least Motorola is embracing Android, it knows where the future lies. Nokia needs to do the same and accept defeat on the Symbian front.

    2. Stephen Sherry
      Boffin

      Things also get better...

      Things also get better faster, and things also get cheaper faster. Without the "extras" putting pressure on the #1's, a very small percentage of people would be able to afford most of what we take for granted. The power, features, and tech inside almost every computing device, some of which literally was only in the hands of secret gov/mil projects at some point in their development and use, would be slow in coming into most of our hands without the prices dropping. How long were cell phones in the world before most of us were able to afford one, doesn't it suck to have to wait that long for every useful technology? Efficiency can be expensive without there being a lot of people trying to find ways to make it easier, that's what the not #1's do.

      Most of the people who keep a market going aren't the ones who started them, why should that change? Change is good when it is in the right place, really bad if it is in the wrong place, but only when the future becomes the past can we know how that will all turn out. So any predictions aren't anything more than placing bets. And rushing things without understanding as many potential consequences as possible doesn't have a high probability of success, if history has anything to say.

      Sometimes the market leader will change enough to stay ahead of their competition, like Microsoft is actually doing in some markets, competing with their old OS's with what seems to be a finished OS (finally), instead of focusing on what Linux and Mac are doing. While people migrate to the Windows 7, MS can sit back and get a feel of how things are flowing, then spring back into action like they always seem to do, and most successful companies do if they have the chance. It sometimes seems like that's what everyone is doing now, trying to sit back and get a feel of how things are going, instead of doing things. Very few companies, or governments for that matter, can afford to do this without having serious problems crop up while they are doing nothing. During economic times like that, the ones that have been able to afford to sit back, tend to be the only ones able to get everything back in motion, but if they execute their decisions wrong, they rarely have more than one chance to correct it (like MS's past focus on business customers with their good versions of windows, NT, leaving the consumers to wallow in blue screens and crappy tech for a loooong time, and time for people to actually make "Unix easy to use"... I shouldn't even be able to put those words in a sentence in that order, but Apple made it happen).

      That's just my 2p, I'm probably completely off base, I'm no professional economist, I'm just an IT one. As far as the relevance of the statements made in the article, I'm still going to have to wait and see. There's too many companies using tech that overlap in markets that also overlap, and are changing quickly. Without investors educated enough to know who the right #1 is, or should be, the fun future tech we have in store for us will be a long time in coming, as we languish in the ongoing war of standards and interoperability.

  14. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Boffin

    Now Oracle doesn't look so evil anymore...

    "RIM is apparently considering the Dalvik virtual machine, which would allow its Blackberry and PlayBook devices to run Android apps. With Android gaining in the enterprise, according to a report from Good Technology, this move would allow RIM to ride the Android wave while seeking to differentiate itself on hardware, email services, and more."

    This statement alone shows you why Oracle is suing Google over Android.

    Can you hear the sucking sound of revenue slipping away from their Java licensing?

  15. Recaf
    WTF?

    Confused?

    You begin by saying companies should innovate not imitate, but in the same breath say Nokia and others should embrace Android rather than develop their own platforms.

    Make your mind up!

  16. RegisterThis
    Thumb Down

    From a 'Coolness' perspective?

    "It stinks to be number two in a market. Or worse, number three. But that's the position that most consumer technology companies find themselves in today, at least compared to Facebook, Google, and Apple."

    Apple is NOT #1 in 'PC' shipments, phone shipments or OS shipments unless your measure is market capitalisation ... which it clearly isn't because you include facebook? Or your measure is the 'love-o-meter' of all things 'cool' or press column inches? But it would be very uncool to talk of Microsoft or Nokia (or even ZTE as a handset vendor ... gasp... yep more handsets made than Apple!) or Samsung who in much consumer tech have a hang of a lot more customers!

    Sorry El Reg ... article lost me when it started on a premise based on popularity and not consistent measurable numbers!

  17. Lars Silver badge
    WTF?

    So

    There should be only one car maker, I wonder which. Only one producing air planes and so on.

    Good thing there are more than one Assistant Professor.

  18. Dave Griffiths

    Hmm, copying Xerox desktop, using Linux, moving to intel processors

    but of course they don't copy when they are in 2nd place

    and didn't it help them get back on top

    seems to be a flaw in the logic here

    1. Oninoshiko
      FAIL

      Linux?

      Who is using linux?

      Now OSX is based on BSD, but that has nothing to do with Linux.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @onin

        Dumb pedants are still dumb.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A little correction

      Just to correct the 'copying Xerox' FUD once again. They didn't. They bought the rights to the technology from Xerox and employed the staff who originally developed the idea, because Xerox had shelved it thinking that the GUI was a non-starter in a world where operators of computers were happier with a CLI. Xerox failed to see the potential appeal of the interface and Apple capitalised on that business decision.

      So the original MacOS wasn't a copy of the Xerox GUI, it was a direct development of it.

      Other technical mistakes - OSX doesn't use Linux, it uses a BSD kernel. And moving to Intel processors was a purely business supply-line decision because Motorola/IBM had proven time and again that they couldn't manufacture the PPC processors anywhere near fast enough to cope with demand and with Apple's eyes on massive future expansion they needed to guarantee that they could ramp up production when necessary to ensure customers would receive machines upon launch (and not have to wait 3 months!). The processor switch was a shame in many ways, because the Intel machines are much more flakey - the processors really aren't as solid when you hammer them in the real world (but that's anecdotal evidence from personal experience so YMMV).

      1. Pigeon

        I agree, so +1 upvote

        YMMV = Yucca Mountain Michael Voegele, according to acronymgeek.com. Ssorry to be so silly.

  19. dssf

    That should be:

    Yes! Yahoo!. (lol!)

  20. Sean Baggaley 1

    The only company I see slavishly copying Apple is...

    ...Google.

    If Android is there idea of "innovation" or "differentiation", I'd hate to see what they'd consider a flagrant rip-off.

    At least Microsoft, RIM and, yes, even HP / Palm have been trying new ideas, instead of just waiting for a rival corporation's R&D team to produce something, before copying it as closely as the law permits in order to just give it away for free.

    Windows Phone 7, for all its flaws, does at least offer a new take on the GUI, instead of just stealing from Apple. This is such a staggering turnabout for Microsoft, I'm astonished more hasn't been made of it. Even Apple haven't been afraid to admit mistakes, such as the lack of multitasking in earlier iOS releases. (A feature WebOS had from the outset, for example.)

    Android took a little while to gain solid traction. It's been out for two years now, so it's hardly been an overnight success. And it's unlikely to make any company other than Google much profit. Which is, after all, what True Capitalism® is all about.

    I sincerely hope Microsoft, HP, and / or RIM *do* succeed. Because Android is most emphatically *not* providing "competition" for Apple. It's just the software equivalent of a cheap Chinese knock-off.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      @Sean

      "before copying it as closely as the law permits in order to just give it away for free."

      For the consumer, this is often a good thing. If I invent a new function/interface that (somehow) makes your phone 10,000 times better (Serial Killer App!) but then decide I want to charge £3000 for it, you'd have to do without that functionality or cough up. Unless one of my competitors decided they were going to implement that functionality as well and then undercut me. As a company I'd be pissed, but consumers would be happy they could get it for less than my £3000 and it might even bring my prices down.

      That said, the market wont work it that's all that happens. There does need to be innovation (from a number of companies) or things start to stagnate.

      I'd say Android is providing pretty good competition, and certainly wouldn't compare it to a cheap chinese knock-off, but I'd actually prefer it if RIM would stop f*cking up their phones in an attempt to mimic the likes of Apple.

      The bit that gets me about the 'me too' market is, if I wanted an iPhone, I'd buy one. I don't want a phone that pretends to be an iPhone any more than I want the real thing. When my current phone needs replacing, I'm not sure I'm going to have that much choice left as it stands.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: The only company I see slavishly copying Apple is...

      "I sincerely hope Microsoft, HP, and / or RIM *do* succeed. Because Android is most emphatically *not* providing "competition" for Apple. It's just the software equivalent of a cheap Chinese knock-off."

      Not providing competition for Apple? Meanwhile, in the real world of units shipped... But, hey: don't let your largely irrational distaste for anything non-proprietary hold you back from speaking your brains on any matter.

      1. Sean Baggaley 1

        Er, no. They're *not* competing with Apple.

        Android competes with *everyone else*. Apple don't give a toss about the low-cost, low-margin end of the market. Quite rightly, Apple prefer to make a *profit* to ensure their future existence. Adopting Android isn't the way to compete with them, because all you end up with is a race to the bottom.

        Android sales vs. "iOS" sales is apples vs. oranges: Android is a basic licensed platform manufacturers use as the basis for their own devices. iOS is a proprietary technology stack *including a GUI and 'consumer ecosystem'* that is only found on devices from one, single, company: Apple.

        When people say "Android has x% of the market", they invariably fail to break that percentage down into *manufacturer* market shares. For iOS devices, however, we *know* the only manufacturer making those is Apple. How many HTC Android devices are there? How many LGs? How many Samsungs? Give us *those* figures, and we can start making genuine comparisons and see exactly how well Android is doing.

        I have no distaste for "anything non-proprietary". I *do* have a distaste for petty politics. I literally COULD NOT CARE LESS whether a device is "open" or "closed" as long as it does what I fucking want it to do. Programming is just translation, not some fucking religious calling. Get over yourselves already. You're not that important.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Re: Er, no. They're *not* competing with Apple.

          "Android competes with *everyone else*."

          In your head only. There are a lot of people who don't insist on having Apple-branded stuff, who might consider buying it, but who would happily settle for something else. They don't set out to blow £500 or whatever and return empty-handed if the Apple Store didn't provide instant gratification; they'll happily spend £250 on something they feel is good enough instead and save the rest.

          "Quite rightly, Apple prefer to make a *profit* to ensure their future existence."

          And Samsung isn't making a profit from the Galaxy Tab and the like? (And from Apple, given that they make important elements of Apple's kit.) Don't tell us: you read the blog posts about how Apple is very profitable and has the largest profit share in the smartphone market. So did we all, so now you have to make your own point, unless you want to "impress" us by trotting out the "Apple is the biggest IT company by market capitalisation" factoid that went the rounds a while back.

          "I literally COULD NOT CARE LESS whether a device is "open" or "closed" as long as it does what I fucking want it to do."

          So your anything-but-Android moan, where "anything" happened to be the proprietary players, was you not caring? Pull the other one!

          "Programming is just translation, not some fucking religious calling."

          Very deep stuff indeed. It's a shame we weren't talking about programming, though.

  21. Levente Szileszky

    Really low quality article, even by El Reg opinions standards...

    ...which are more often than not written by borderline clueless yet highly opinionated peeps who think proudly claiming some really stupid thing or parroting some weirdo's illogical lines make them sound very authentic, cool, interesting..

    ...but it's NOT.

    You just make a fool of yourself, publicly, that's it.

  22. UBfusion

    All food for trolls is humbly accepted

    The abundance of comments here proves the article's main point - customers want to share winner's glory and the issue is who is perceived as a 'winner' and according to which metric. Just like pub discussions over soccer matches, the above comments indicate a fierce agony to find arguments validating the metric that will make one's team #1. Diverse criteria are deployed like revenues, market share, openness, glorious history, predictions, projections, arguments, agreements, fights, it's all talk. This editor (as any editor, or myself), just wants to feed us trolls, it's his job by definition.

    Perception (as BugsRUs above nailed it) is really the key to power and dominance and my bet is that soon the day will come where the cost of advertising a device will definitely exceed the cost of producing it. And then a time will come, where the devices will become free, meaning that the real product is ourselves (obviously, facebook is on the right track, converting us to cheap bricks on The Wall). After all, it's all part of the planned obsolescence strategy.

    Personally, I REFUSE to pay €550 for any device that has a physical cost of $50 (or less), the rest being hot air used to inflate ad balloons. This is one of my very few opportunities of legal revolt and one of the few rights I have left to enjoy freedom on this planet. It's my own way of being a winner and continue being a person instead of a product.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't believe nobody mentioned Canonical

    I can understand Matt not wanting to badmouth his previous employer, but if anyone is guilty of imitating Apple, it's Mark Shuttleworth. At least Mark has been up front about it, but dammit, his dream of beating Apple at its own game is preventing his baby from growing up. Ubuntu could have been a decent OS by now. I've been using it for 4 years, dreading upgrades, grumbling about icons on the left and stupid eye candy and crappy graphics drivers that can't handle the eye candy, always looking for better alternatives but not finding any.

    I agree with Matt's sentiment, though. If consumers want flashy TOYS that "just work" they'll just buy Apple products, not knockoffs. But, who is going to make TOOLS for those of us with REAL WORK to do?

  24. D. M
    Jobs Horns

    Get your fact straight

    Since when Apple ever admitted mistakes (or defects)? Lack of multitasking, Apple said it is for the "users" own good and they don't need it. You cannot make/receive calls (and calls drop off) you are holding your phone wrong. Scratch/crack back cover, it doesn't exist, it is all made up story.

    I don't think I need to list all, check your fact before you defend your overpriced toy at any cost.

    Now back to topic, Apple is the number one in smartphone market, and it makes tons of money more than anyone else. To Apple's credit, iPhone lifted the bar of smartphones. What iPhone started, were nothing new, but for the first time, mobile internet was made usable. Another big plus was a decent UI.

    Google lifted the bar again with its Nexus one. However, what brought Google down, are retarded phone networks and handset makers. Google had another chance to change the game, but they managed to fuck it up (Nexus S is worse than N1, if you take away the OS difference now). Right now iPhone 4 is hard to beat, unless some makes a phone with decent hardware and most important good software (why it is so hard to have pure Google without any 3rd party crap). Most people want a good phone and hate those crapwares. It is amazing something so simple (to understand and to do), yet no one has done it (except the short lived N1).

    1. Manu T

      The problem is not Google but the handset-makers... especially Samsung.

      "Nexus S is worse than N1, if you take away the OS difference now"

      What did you expect? Samsung, the maker o/t Nexus S, is getting a real bad reputation for itself by combining bad quality devices with lack of long term vision and premium retail-prices. Samsung products never evolve. They get replaced with (usually) something completely different. They never follow up on product upgrades or do anything to enhance the life-cycle of their products.

      E.g.: Samsung Omnia (1) (Windows Mobile) --> Samsung Omnia HD (Symbian) --> Omnia 2. Not only had the Omnia HD nothing in common with the former Omnia product it even has a completely different OS making things more complicated for customers. The next installment of the Omnia product the omnia 2 is in essence nothing more than a Samsung Wave but (in common with the original Omnia) Windows Mobile. It has identical looks, features and specs (OK, the wave has less RAM) like the wave. Nothing o/t original Omnia was kept in the omnia 2, no LED flash, no optical pad, restricted software. That is NOT product progression but replacement. At least about Apple you can say their products evolve, progress and Apple hands out (minor) upgrades to enhance the life-cycle of their older products.

      Samsung is a company with only one (1) strategy: flood the market with devices, no matter what OS, to create the "perception" that there's only Samsung. And yet those morons got appointed by google to build the next generation device. Oh Dear.

      It's obvious that if Google keeps using the wrong partners that eventually things will blow up in their face.

      Although I like the Android OS. There's more than enough to differentiate it from iOS. Again it's bloody Samsung who build the Galaxy S with the looks resembling an Iphone 3G(S).

  25. Dan 55 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Apple's innovations...

    Memo to Apple: Stop copying Microsoft, RIM, Nokia! (Cut and paste, multitasking, battery life, MMS, video recording, video calling, camera flash, 3G, full bluetooth stack, Exchange, etc... etc...)

    Shame they still haven't got round to copying stuff like call quality, tethering, SD cards, USB mass storage instead of iTunes sitting in the way, you know, those little things which don't matter much.

    (Post written in the same tone as the original article, you understand.)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Karl Smith sounds like a complete bozo

    Maximizing profits? Seriously? This is supposed to be an assistant professor?

    Companies pack together resources /taken from society/ and combine them to make something with added value. That you sell back /to society/, to add overall wealth. Maximizing profits means minimising value to society. Since companies are still rooted within society, that's like pissing in your own well. Selling this of course is something that micros~1 excels in, but I digress.

    The more immediate point is that maximizing profits puts the focus on the wrong idea. Companies live by and thrive on the innovations their products and services bring /to society/ again. That war chest a company needs isn't just to fend off litigation or to buy up the competition until you have a monopoly. It's there to fund R&D, to finance the next round of innovation. How our dear Assistant Professor manages to label that "pure economic loss" is a little beyond me. He'd like to see more one-product companies that quickly wither and die, then?

    Of course, micros~1 as a whole is a poor innovator, and they still don't understand "online". All they do is look around and see someone else with a popular toy, and then they'll scramble to make one with their special sauce on it. I don't even think they're stuck in their own bureaucracy as much as stuck in their own little world full of a "we bring such wonderful technology that betters people's lives" techno-cult, which they'll stick to against amassed evidence even if it kills them. As such, I'd rather see them eat flaming death and burn for all eternity.

    But that doesn't change that I can't help but wonder how someone with such a poor grasp on reality manages to become "Assistant Professor of Public Economics and Government". Or maybe I do. He's an academic: Connections to reality as optional as it is for the redmondian board.

  27. Saoir

    Balls, not just Leadership

    Most of these competitors are Administered, they have no leader. Their CEOs are pen pushers and organisation management people.

    To compete at the top the top guy needs some key qualities: Leadership - Vision - Balls.

    Lots of these companies have brilliant technical people and brilliant designers. Lots of them come up with great ideas. But who has the vision to filter out the really important ideas, and who has the BALLS to put their reputation on the line and put them on to the market ?

    Too many focus groups and too many surveys and too much following and not enough leading.

  28. Manu T

    I agree partially.

    "Or maybe Microsoft needs to get out of these businesses altogether "

    Funny remark. Considering the fact that Microsoft's business in the mobile sector is PNA's not smartphones/PDA's. Let's not forget that the low impact of Windows Phone 7 is just a "perception" for the mass. Also don't forget that they still haven't really pulled the plug out Windows Mobile 6.x, so they have a backup-plan if Windows Phone blows-up in their face. Besides it just doesn't matter. As long as third parties keep using WinCE as basis to bold their stuff onto. As long as PNA-manufacturers dont start using Android or iOS-kernels as core component to build their TomTom onto there's no problem for Microsoft.

    The situation offcourse is different for Nokia and RIM. And indeed I totally agree that those manufacturers shouldn't just start copying Apple. Just because Apple is the popular kid on the block today, doesn't mean they're with the in-crowd tomorrow. Nokia should keep following their own path. If the new kid becomes less popular ppl will want to revert back to those old valued standards and products. Not to mention that not everybody want that popular apple product.

    It doesn't mean that I disrespect Apple for what they did. They combined many high-technologies and made a fully working product with it usability as its main driving force. Instead of focussing onto adding features that ppl don't need. The others in the playing field should learn from that without sacrificing their own identity.

    So in aspect the article is right indeed. IMHO.

  29. 32holes
    FAIL

    Yeah...go on mate

    "I work with Fortune 500 type organizations. In my 20 year experience, large organization IT services make life diffcult for themselves with complex processes and procedures. The tech Microsoft provides is simple and effective; it is "fit for purpose"......"

    You must not have had to deal with the pain of trying to console Ex-XP users who were forced to use Windows 7 much i see. Why change the GUI to a point that all that has been learned in the past counts for nothing? I have used computers for 20 years myself and have dealth with support for the last 10 but i will never forgive MS for slapping us with so many changes in 7 that i will NOT buy another OS from MS. To play the games that i want to play, yes, i still play games at my age, I will buy a console.

    You obviously must be a bit higher up on the food chain or simply are talking out of your rear end with that statement of yours.

  30. IronTed

    Google

    Yeah dude! Tell that to google. They are gonna clone iTunes, and have a facebook competitor soon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Backing up to 6.x if 7 blows up in their face?

      That'll go over well. Much of this is marketing, managing perceptions. Do you honestly believe they have a lot of leeway left on that angle? After vista(gate)?

    2. M Gale

      TomTom

      Err, it uses Linux. "Proper" Linux at that, not Android.

      Microsoft threw a sue-ball at them already over that. They settled out of court, and now Microsoft use that amongst other examples of settling rather than fighting to try to persuade other people that their use of the toy unix kernel demands that they pay protection money. It's funny, the only solid example I can see of code that violates any license is Microsoft trying to rip the GPL off with its Hyper V software, being forced to GPL it as a result, and painting it as a public relations exercise!

      Me, as you've probably guessed by now, well I'd rather see Microsoft's attempts to Borg the mobile market explode messily for them. Unfortunately for Microsoft, I'm not the only one.

    3. M Gale

      "They are gonna clone iTunes."

      Oh god I hope not. That pustulent, bloat-infected sore on the arse of software in general is the biggest advertisement not to buy an iToy that Apple could have ever made.

      Plug USB lead in. Mount SD card. Drag and drop your "music" folder over. THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD WORK, APPLE.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Errr . . .

        . . . they sued over the FAT formating of the memory, not the OS, IIRC.

        1. M Gale
          Grenade

          I know there's this pedantry over what an OS is...

          ...but to me, the filesystem drivers are as much a part of the OS as the kernel. I mean, you can try and use a computer without any storage on it if you like. You just won't get very far.

          Anyway, I'll bet a used chewing gum that Microsoft wouldn't have sued if it'd have been any other OS. How many camera manufacturers have been sued by Microsoft so far? What about portable music players? Digital dictaphones? Anything with an SD card in it? They all use FAT as well, despite how hideous it is.

    4. AceRimmer
      FAIL

      XP?

      Did the change from Windows 3.11 to 95/NT4.0 not give you grief? Compared to that the XP/Vista to windows 7 change was, in terms of UI, merely a evolution, not a revolution.

  31. MikeFB

    Android "The King" of the Non iOS Market?

    When the only alternative to Apple's iOS is Android then we will be living in a very very dull world.

    Remember all those promises from Goolge how Android devices would kill the iPhone? It now seems a long time since anyone from Mountain View has made such a statement.

    Google are not interested in providing a technically better solution to iOS just the only alternative.

    They want to be the Microsoft of the mobile device world. Sitting on high handing out what appears to be free candy while they try to dominate the service side of mobile phones and tablets. Can you imagine:

    - the only significant web advertising channel for these devices being Google?

    - all location services being provided through Google maps?

    - all productivity cloud based tools (word processing, file handling etc) through Google?

    And the list goes on.

    Telcos (and other infrastructure providers), device manufacturers etc would be reduced to competitive bit roles fighting for every decreasing margins and the consumer dreaming of things better.

    But fortunately the tide is turning. Notice how the most major players are reacting to this Microsoft wanna be:

    - HP and RIM saw the writing on the wall and went out to buy their own OS.

    - Samsung (the most successful Android device provider) has developed it's own OS.

    - HTC (the former Android prince) is making unhappy sounds about the ability to differentiate.

    - Sony Ericcson and Motorola seen there margins slowly disappear.

    Then there is Microsoft (10/10 on WP7 for trying but still someway to go) and Nokia (still being number one means they get special hate from the Android minions).

    And finally Apple. Who have their finger on the RED button marked MINI (cheaper smaller iPhones and iPads).

    For the truth is Android has been hogging the mount for a long time, making multiple swings at pitches thrown by Apple (missing them all). So far in the game of the best ecosystem Android have struck out and it is time that everyone stop pretending otherwise.

    Ask yourself this question "How does Apple manage to keep such market share when they only release one product per year where as multiple of Android vendors keep releasing multiple products" ?

    We need new challengers who can deliver real "Shock and Awe" not just a bunch of promises, vaporware and Power Point presentations. Otherwise Apple has this game in the bag . .

  32. Rob - Denmark
    Boffin

    Math!

    "It stinks to be number two in a market. Or worse, number three. But that's the position that most consumer technology companies find themselves in today,"

    How is this specific for the technology market?

    If there is more than two companies on the market, surely most of those companies must find themselves being number two or three? Or four or...?

  33. Britt Johnston
    IT Angle

    IT patent swamp drain

    As mentioned in a few posts, the best fit to continuous innovation was HP. Their new manager is announcing an innovation drive. It will be interesting to see if they can find anyone with the engineering and project skills to change the world - their last effort I found interesting was writescribe on disks.

    But all innovation is >90% copying - the IT patent swamp needs draining first. It seems the main reason for purchasing companies today is not new ideas, but old patents.

  34. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Why all the bitching about MS and Apple

    Both provide perfectly acceptable computer solutions.

    Unless you've got someone in your organisation who was around before them and wants to do what was easy 20 years ago and now is an absolute nightmare. Why do you think Cobol is still around? Because it works and the new MS/Apple approach of making it look easy just doesn't work in the long run.You cant make something complicated less complicated by making it pretty - that just adds another layer of obfuscation.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nokia is still the biggest Smartphone seller

    And if they can work out how to get their existing user base into the mindset of buying and using applications, they will have nothing to fear from Google, Apple or MS. As for MS, WP7 doesn't look like a copy of anything. Android OTOH looks like a copy iOS with the control freakery removed. I think it's a mistake to assume that WP can only fail. In fact, if MS follows the App model and puts all of its Live services into WP7, it could be quite an attractive product.

  36. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Pint

    Anyone else pick this line out?...

    "Consumers and enterprises want to buy from a winner"

    I don't, i just want something of a decent price, that works how I want and not the other way round.

    Which rules out apple.

  37. chuckc
    Grenade

    Nokia still #1?

    Read the news:

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/31/canalys-android-overtakes-symbian-as-worlds-best-selling-smart/

    Symbian is finally overthrown.

    1. MikeFB

      Who Is #1?

      One quarters figures does not mean there are more Android phones than Symbian.

      And a closer look at the numbers does not give a clear winner:

      http://moconews.net/article/419-handset-rankings-nokia-leads-and-androids-not-a-panacea-for-competitors/

      Can anyone identify an individual Android vendor who will sell more smart phones than Nokia?

      I don't think so. . . .

  38. Mark .

    Statistics fail - Nokia's sales are increasing

    Not this FUD again - whilst Nokia's market share has fallen, their actual sales have increased. In some recent quarters, their sales figures have increased twice as fast as Apple's! So how can their share be falling?

    Simple statistics - it's due to the market increasing in size (mainly because phones running Android are now counted as "smartphones", where as before they weren't). Imagine if company A sells 1000 units one year, whilst company B sells 10 units. Next year, company A sells 1100 units, and B sells 30 units.

    Company A's market share has dropped from 99% to 97%. Their growth is "only" 10%, whilst B's is a whopping 200%. But no one would suggest that company A is doing badly, or that B is going to overtake them. Company A is still number one, and increased their sales by 100, compared to B's 20.

    Consider, similarly Apple's App Store market share has fallen, since the introduction of Android and Nokia stores etc. But do we hear that statistic? No, all we then hear about is the absolute figures, because again it portrays Apple as looking best. If Nokia's and Apple's situation were reversed in the phone market, we'd be hearing nothing but praise for Apple for being number one.

    The point is that it is a matter of basic statistics that if more companies enter a market, than it is highly likely that the number one company's share will fall, even if their sales increase. Nokia can't outdo basic mathematics.

    The other fallacy is that this only looks at the ill-defined category of "smartphone". Why is the original Iphone a smartphone, and not most feature phones? When you actually look at the market of phones that allow Internet and apps, Nokia dwarfs Apple. They sell more phones every quarter than Apple have ever sold, by a significant margin. The changing nature of "smartphone" causes another problem for the stats - it's not that the market is increasing in size and Nokia are missing out; rather, phones from Motorola etc that used to be not counted as smartphones, are now included in the stats. So even without any change in the success of Nokia or anyone else, their share of "smartphones" will appear to fall.

    Copying Apple? Nokia were producing tablets (and phones) long before Apple; as others point out, we might as well claim that Apple are copying Nokia.

    I'm also confused by "It stinks to be number two in a market. Or worse, number three." Er, it's Nokia who are number one, and Apple who are at best number three.

    And since when did that stink? I've lost track of the number of articles praising article because they are now "number three" in some market!

    "The not-Apple market has already crowned Android king of the iOS alternatives. Why fight it?"

    Er no. You mean the self-appointed media hype has crowned it. When it comes to actual sales of phones, more people are choosing Nokia, and finding the Android vs iOS squabbling rather irrelevant.

    Ian Michael Gumby: "But if you do some trend analysis, people are upgrading to smart phones. Its in this market that Nokia lags."

    No, even in the ill-defined "smartphone" category, Nokia still rule. But as I say above, "smartphone" is an arbitrary marketing tag. People aren't upgrading to smartphone, it's just their old Motorola phone running BREW wasn't counted as a smartphone (even though it may have been high end, expensive, with keyboard, running Internet and apps), where as their new Motorola Android phone is. In the stats, it shows up as a "loss" in share from Nokia to Android, when actually, nothing's changed apart from Motorola changing their OS.

    "Symbian doesn't cut it"

    Works fine for me, and has things I like over Android (good battery life, mapping software that works offline, excellent development environment with Qt/C++).

    Goat Jam: "I'm also sure he is also aware that when Nokia & MS were the leaders in the smartphone market it was a moribund niche market populated by a few geeks and a handful of executards."

    Nokia are still the leaders. And it's only among "geeks" than Android and Iphones seem to be loved. In the real world, Nokia are selling more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: Statistics fail - Nokia's sales are increasing

      "Copying Apple? Nokia were producing tablets (and phones) long before Apple; as others point out, we might as well claim that Apple are copying Nokia."

      True, but the one thing Nokia have completely failed at is what business types call "execution": in this case, getting stuff out to lots of punters that those punters might want to buy. Nokia's Internet tablet people, particularly on the OS side, have spent near on six years (or even more) trying to figure out what they're delivering to those punters in an almost continuous display of pet project indulgence. Had they shipped a mass-market product in 2006 (giving them a year from the N770), we wouldn't be discussing what a mess Nokia have made of the opportunities now.

  39. Jeff 11

    Usability, not technology

    Apple's technological contributions to the world have been negligible, I agree. But for the past decade, Apple's ethos has NEVER been about technological innovation. It's been focussed completely on the quality of the user experience, from the design of hardware to delivery of a stable, intuitive, visually attractive and consistent process flow with a predictable end result. And that's what appeals to people frustrated by the flaky crap other companies pump out.

    If Apple are talking about technological innovation, it's because people don't understand the difference between technology and usability.

    Geeks can stick with Linux and Android because it's a lot more functional, but both sacrifice a lot of the above to be more open, functional and extensible systems.

    1. M Gale

      Usable?

      There's a difference between usable and pretty. Apple are very good at pretty, and at the prices they charge I'd bloody well expect the software to run like greased lightning. I would really not praise the iToy experience for its usability over any half-competent mobile OS though.

      Seriously, iTunes?

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