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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Silverlight to be announced for the iPhone soon?

Interesting announcement this morning from Apple: that non Apple dev tools can be used to create iOS apps:

In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.

Nothing in the release mentions the browser.  In fact the part that says “apps do not download any code” seems to imply not allowing RIA at all.  This part is a bigger pain point for users.

But if the Silverlight runtime (full .NET?) or Flash can be used to built full applications, that is pretty cool.

904 days ago I posted Counting the days till Silverlight announced for iPhone.  That sure was more than I expected, but how many more days now?

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iPhone 4 antenna problem? Blame the users!

Plenty of people are guessing how tomorrow’s Apple iPhone 4 event will go.  I’m pretty cynical about what Apple thinks of us customers, so here are my 2 cents:

  1. The entire event we will be about how users are wrong – that is, there is no problem if you just hold the phone correctly.
  2. A dizzying array of evidence will be presented concluding that the iPhone 4 has the best antenna of anything ever.  And that users are wrong.
  3. There will be a direct attack on Consumer Reports for their apparent flip-flop and the validity of their tests will be questioned.  After all, the Consumer Reports testers are users and, well users are wrong.  
  4. Apple will provide a free bumper to those who request one, but it will be clear that only quitters and the non-worthy actually need one.
  5. No recall will be issued; however, a design change is certainly in the works and that won’t be mentioned at all.

I can sum this up as follows:

The Apple response will be that there is no actual problem aside from user error.  Or as I’ve said to a few people, the real problem is that some iPhone users have left hands and they insist on using them.

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Counting the days till Silverlight announced for iPhone

Now that we have the Adobe CEO saying, We’re bringing Flash to the iPhone.

How many more days until we hear Microsoft publicly commit to Silverlight on the iPhone?  I bet we hear it within two weeks.

Why do I care?  It validates some of my earlier arguments.  Here and here.

Scott Guthrie?  What do you say?

Update: Adobe clarifies CEO’s iPhone Flash comments.  Maybe Apple will fight to keep their platform closed after all.

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Schonfeld wrong on why Microsoft adopted Flash Lite

Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch reports that Microsoft Adopts Flash Lite For Windows Mobile As a Stopgap Measure.  For those not keeping track of this, Adobe stopped supporting flash on Windows Mobile some time back.  And now it looks like Microsoft has licensed the Flash Lite run time for Windows Mobile directly.

This is good news for Windows Mobile users, but Shonfeld is wrong about Microsoft’s reasons.  He says,

… for Microsoft, this is just a stopgap measure until it can gain more traction for Silverlight, its Flash-competitor. The mobile version of Sliverlight 2.0 does not ship until the second quarter. Making WinMo more capable won’t detract from Silverlight’s appeal. There is a desperate need to get a full Flash-like experience on a mobile device. Flash itself is supposedly too slow on mobile phones. That leaves an opening for Microsoft win over converts to Silverlight by bringing video, animation, and other rich-media experiences to mobile. Nokia is already on board.

Does he really think that Microsoft would get into bed with Adobe Flash just because the Silverlight runtime doesn’t ship for one more quarter?

No way.

Microsoft is licensing Flash because they realize that they are losing to the iPhone.  Simply put, Microsoft wants to make Windows Mobile better.  Only running Silverlight would be a limitation, not an advantage.  So they license Flash.  My guess is that they’ll have a pre-installed Java runtime too.

On a related note, licensing ActiveSync to Apple has been much debated.  Was is a good thing for Microsoft?  Yes, and it is consistent with Microsoft licensing Flash Lite.  Why?

  • I think Microsoft has made the decision that Windows Mobile has to compete on its own merits (and not because it is a part of a greater lock-in with Microsoft Office). 
  • Microsoft also wants to protect their back-office Exchange licensing; what better way to do that than to make it easier for mobile handsets to support Exchange?

Adopting Flash is a step in the right direction.  And licensing ActiveSync forces this point home.

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Why Apple Won’t Dominate Next Gen Computing

Alex Iskold of ReadWriteWeb tells us Why Apple Will Dominate Next Gen Computing.  He is wrong.

Apple’s success isn’t about the software

Alex Iskold’s premise is that Apple’s software platform is superior, therefore they will dominate.  He says . . .

Apple’s secret sauce has been its software.

First off, this is not Apple’s secret sauce.  Apple’s not-so-secret sauce is their ability to deliver highly-polished total product: hardware + software + services + image.

Controlling the hardware and software is a baseline requirement for a company to do this, but they go beyond that to build beautiful, desirable, and highly functional total products.  A good part of this is observable beauty and another part is pure marketing genius: the creation of desire and belief in the hipness of the product. 

Compare Apple’s total product approach with . . .

  • Microsoft licenses Windows Mobile for a variety of devices, not being a handset manufacture, it doesn’t control the total product.  For example, Samsung Blackjack.  Popular phone?  Yes.  Windows Mobile a flop?  No, but for user experience it compares very poorly against the iPhone.
  • Microsoft licenses Windows Vista to a wide range of OEMs.  Same story.  A little worse because when they did have influence over the total product, they botched it.  Example? The Vista Ready campaign and surrounding lawsuits.
  • Palm?  They had the slickest PDAs for quite some time.  They controlled the total product but forgot the services part so Blackberry beat them handily.  There death nell was selling of the software and licensing WM5.
  • The XBox 360.  Microsoft builds the hardware + software + service.  Runaway success.  Home run. 

My point? 

It isn’t the software, it isn’t the hardware, it is the total product. When a company controls the total product they can achieve Apple-level success.

Why Apple won’t dominate

To dominate, Apple has to penetrate into the greater computing space (and stop being a high-priced niche brand).  Either

  • their hardware becomes ubiquitous; or
  • they broadly license their platform to other hardware manufactures.

The first one is ludicrous:  user preferences are too varied for a single hardware vendor to be the one solution.  Apple has mostly done it with the iPod, but that is a piece of consumer electronics and pales in comparison to the complexity of computer systems in general.  If they believe this to be a good strategy, they would likely have to greatly broaden their product mix and lower their prices.

The second one, while certainly possible, would greatly complicate the Apple story, Apple software quality, messaging, etc.  And still, broadly licensing technology will not result in domination.

Only if Apple chooses one of these approaches can they possibly dominate next-generation computing.  And then they have to execute brilliantly.  And then several years have to pass for people to be in a position to replace hardware.  And then a huge migration has to occur.  And then, Cocoa what?

Anyone think this is Steve Jobs plan?  No way. 

And if it is?  Short Apple.  There is too much choice out there in terms of hardware, developer platforms, better licensing models, nascent cloud platforms, etc., for Apple to dominate.

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A Microsoft pawn? Me?

John has an excellent post wrapping up his trip to SC ‘07 — the bashers’ ball. He is tired of all the Microsoft bashing:

It is amazing to me the level of religious fervor that Microsoft still inspires. The bashers out there can be perfectly calm and reasonable about a wide range of topics – but say the word “Microsoft,” and they turn bright red and irrational. I have watched this phenomenon for years, and still find it inexplicable. Microsoft is a company. That company makes software. Some of their software is very, very good. Some of it is remarkably bad. I don’t understand why some people find it so hard to remain objective (or even civil) when discussing their products and market presence.

Statement of fact.  Nothing new exactly, but then he goes on how this relates to our company (emphasis mine) . . .

Many Microsoft bashers think that all of us at Digipede are mouthpieces for the Evil Empire, and that we are just pawns of the Microsoft machine. On the other hand, while we have plenty of fans within Microsoft, there are also some Microsoft employees who think we are difficult annoying troublemakers . . .

Pawns of Microsoft? Please. But maybe we are misunderstood. The other day I found myself convincing Steve Gillmor that I’m not a Microsoft fanboy (I don’t think I succeeded). But John says it well,

In fact, none of us at Digipede love or hate Microsoft – we work with Microsoft. We do so for real-world business reasons that help us change the world for the better while building a great company. We work with other companies too, but Microsoft occupies a special place in the technology landscape, and we work very, very hard to understand how to work with them to our mutual benefit. There are some great people there doing great things, and the bashers only hurt themselves by blinding themselves to these very real contributions.

Yeah, I don’t love or hate Microsoft; however, I do really like Microsoft .NET.  Does that make me a pawn of Microsoft?  .NET isn’t my religion.  I’m not a zealot about it.  It doesn’t mean that I think everyone should be using .NET / Windows nor does it require that I go around bashing Apple / Sun / IBM / Google / Linux / Java / PHP / Rails / whatever. 

I don’t think Microsoft bashing is a requirement for entry to the HPC and Apple fan clubs either, is it?

As long as I can remember, I have detested the religion of the OS (or programming language, or platform, etc.). Passion for technology is great — it’s a requirement for success in this field.  But I’m tired of people using their passion to bash, bash, bash. 

Maybe I just don’t get it, but if you’re a basher, please just move along.  And if you still think I’m a Microsoft pawn, well, I’m not going to convince you, now am I?

Note to Robert Scoble: you had the temerity to criticize Apple and the zealots came out in force — even called you a Microsoft shill. Welcome back to our club, Robert — though I’m not sure you ever really left.

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The return of the Newton!

Image:Apple Newton MP100.jpgAppleInsider reports in Up next for Apple: the return of the Newton.

Finally, an upgrade path for my Apple Newton MessagePad 100.  I sure hope they don’t leave us early supporters out in the cold on this one — let’s all team together and demand a deep discount on an upgrade!

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Apple vs. Cisco

John and I spent too much time this morning talking about what actually happened regarding the iPhone mark.  The Cisco PR blog states their part, though we’ll have to wait and see the whole truth when it all comes to light.

Here are a few possibilities in the wild conjecture category:

Big publicity stunt

Under this theory, they have agreed to something already, but want the publicity surrounding a possible dispute.

John favors this one.  I don’t.  Apple doesn’t need this kind of publicity and (I don’t think) would go for it even if Cisco insisted.  I don’t really think either company would behave so disingenuously.

Cisco changed the terms at the last minute

In this scenario, Apple and Cisco work together (in good faith or not) to come to terms, but Cisco overreaches at the last minute.  By this point, Jobs has to make a decision: put off the announcement of the product (as there is on way to change the collateral at such a late date) or run with it and let the chips fall where they may.  If / when Cisco protects their mark with a suit (which of course, they did), Apple makes a case for damage done to Apple by Cisco pulling out at the last minute.

This scenario is not supported by Cisco’s blog.

Apple thinks the trademark doesn’t apply

They try to work with Cisco on this, but ultimately don’t think the mark applies.  So, they decide to go with it.  The only way to resolve such a trademark dispute (without an agreement between the parties) is to use the mark and see what happens next.  Lawsuit?  OK, deal with it in court.

This seems the most likely considering given Apple Spokesman Alan Hely comment: “We think Cisco’s trademark lawsuit is silly” (from here).

I want to say again that this is all wild conjecture.  I am not claiming either Apple or Cisco is at fault here, though it looks like one of them is.

My guess is the next thing we’ll see is Apple Corps suing Apple over their name change (from Apple Computer to Apple).

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iPhone interrupts my yawn

In addition to giving MacWorld a skip, I also generally give it a big yawn. I’m not too interested in the hype, the iPod, nor the Macintosh. I’m not saying their products aren’t cool — I’m just not interested.

But the iPhone looks really cool. Check out the series of pics on Engadget (via Jason Calacanis).

Of course, it is probably iTunes’d and .mac’ed to death. So I’ll still skip it.

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Visiting If 6 Was 9 Gang Part I

I particularly enjoyed the latest Gillmor Gang — If 6 Was 9 Gang — I had a front-row seat, so to speak.

Here are some of the highlights, in 4 parts.

Some discussion on the Zune. There was mostly consensus that its success will hinge on the services Microsoft can bring to the table to supply content — Steve argues that Apple has already won this war.

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