Sometimes, commenters are better than the articles on which they’re commenting. On a post about how Google is open, no really, it’s open, Android owner “David S” says this:
So Android is open if you redefine open to the point that Android becomes open? Because you say it is, we should trust you? You can’t be serious,
Open source software has very clear definitions and Android no longer meets those criteria. That is a fact and no amount of spin and requests to “trust me” can change that. Having multiple hardware vendors making devices is not the same thing as being open source, unless you consider Windows to be open source. And that would be crazy.
Looking back on Google’s statements over the years I’m struck by how rarely they actually describe Android as “open source” and how frequently they just referred to it as “open”, allowing everyone to assume they meant the former. Clearly they didn’t. They meant Android was open the way Windows is open – open to being run on different manufacturer’s hardware.
Of course being or not being open source has nothing to do with whether a piece of software is any good or not, and that’s what we Android users should be most concerned with. It’s time we gave up the fantasy that Android is better than the competition because it’s open source and judged it on whether it’s a better, more reliable, easier to use system than others on the market. The answer here is that it isn’t, yet, but it can be if Google and Android developers make it so.
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
How will the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 compare to the iPad 2? Seth Weintraub at Fortune highlights four points where the Samsung scores well compared to the iPad:
- Runs on HSPA+ ’4G’ networks at up to 21Mbps without sending it back to the shop
- It somehow weighs less than the iPad 2 Wifi at 599 grams with 4G equipment!
- It has an 8-megapixel rear camera with auto focus vs.<1 megapixel fixed focus iPad and 5 megapixel on XOOM
- Dual surround sound speakers.
Looking at those, my first thought is “good luck with battery life”. The same weight (it’s a gram less) plus HSPA+ is going to hurt the battery life quite a bit.
That clever Matthew Somerville character has done a handy page visually showing the differences between the old and new Twitter API terms. There are lots of them, but I think the most important one is short:
“We want to empower our ecosystem partners to build valuable
businesses tools around the information flowing through Twitter.”
Twitter wants you to build tools, not businesses. All your business r belong to them.
James Kendrick on Twitter:
“Tablet makers cannot build tablets as cheaply as Apple. This is the dilemma facing Samsung and friends, & won’t go away. Profits might”
If you’re interested in mobile stuff, you should read James, who’s currently writing the Mobile News column for ZDNet. The old On The Run With Tablet PCs podcasts which he made with the sadly-departed Marc Orchant remain some of my favourite ones ever made.
One of the things which you often hear reading tech blogs, and particularly the comments, is that such-and-such a company is “evil”. What this usually means isn’t that they’re deliberately employing children or forcing workers to work in polluted factories which damage their health.
Instead, the cry of “evil” is used to describe companies that are trying to maximise their profits. That could be by destroying a market by giving away products to undercut competitors. It could mean locking customers in to platform so they face barriers if they want to switch to something else. Or it could mean trying to take a slice of income off every transaction made on their products.
This is a fundamental error, and it misunderstands what companies are designed to do. In a post on his blog, BBC business editor Robert Peston sums this up in relation to multinationals trying to minimise how much tax they pay:
“But given that company law obliges company directors to give greatest weight to the interests of their shareholders, criticising company boards for striving to minimise tax is a bit like attacking gravity for making the rain fall down rather than rise up.”
The same is true of tech companies. Apple isn’t “evil” because it is attempting to squeeze money out of publishers. Microsoft wasn’t evil when it tried to tie Office and Windows. Google isn’t evil because of its practice of giving away stuff which its competitors make money on.
They’re all just companies, trying to make the best returns for the only people that matter, legally, to them: The shareholders.
Nieman Journalism Lab responds to John Gruber’s defence of the 30% Apple subscription take:
“But if someone searches for and downloads The New York Times app — after the Times has spent more than a century building up its brand, as the cost of billions of dollars — can it really be said that Apple has “brought” that subscriber to the app, and that they deserve 30 percent of the revenue the app generates, forever?”
To which the obvious and correct answer is: No, they don’t deserve it. Apple’s argument that it “brings” customers is hogwash. It’s like Mozilla claiming that Amazon ought to give it a percentage of my spend there as it “brings” me, just because I’m using Firefox.
It’s a good article, well worth an in-depth read.
Image by Getty Images via @daylife
The Sage Gruber’s contortions to position Apple’s subscription pricing scam as “good for consumers” are getting so wild that he’ll be a high-level yoga master before you know it:
“Why not allow developers and publishers to set their own prices for in-app subscriptions? One reason: Apple wants its customers to get the best price — and, to know that they’re getting the best price whenever they buy a subscription through an app. It’s a confidence in the brand thing: with Apple’s rules, users know they’re getting the best price, they know they’ll be able to unsubscribe easily, and they know their privacy is protected… So the same-price rule is good for the user, and good for Apple”
John’s being obtuse here. How would a publisher offering a lower price than that offered through Apple’s store be bad for customers? It wouldn’t – it would be bad for Apple. Customers could choose to vote with their wallets – take the lower price on offer elsewhere, or take the convenience and privacy advantages of using in-app purchasing.
By the same logic, any large retailer could use its position in the market to force suppliers not to allow anyone to undercut it, and claim that it was simply ensuring “its customers got the best price”. I’m sure Wal-Mart would love its customers to “know that they’re getting the best price” by contractually obliging people not to sell their products for less elsewhere. Nothing to do with hobbling the competition, oh no sir.
As I’ve said before, Apple’s subscription offering is a mess. It offers publishers little value compared to what developers get, and it’s not good for consumers because it effectively stifles competition. No amount of juggling semantics by talking about “Apple’s customers” – like they own them – will change that.
Image via Wikipedia
OmniFocus is my favourite GTD app for the Mac, but it isn’t always the easiest piece of software to get your head around. This video has some great OmniFocus tips and tricks, and if you’re a user it’s well worth watching.
OmniFocus Ninja Tricks from The Omni Group on Vimeo.