Category Archives: Google

Chromebook sales gaining momentum

Acer President: Windows 8 is “not successful” but Chrome notebooks are winners | Computerworld Blogs:

To make up for the disappointing sales of Windows 8 devices, Acer is looking elsewhere. And right now, it’s finding that Chrome has been surprisingly successful. Acer released Chrome notebooks for $199 in November, and Chrome now accounts for between 5 percent and 10 percent of Acer’s U.S. sales. It’s been so successful that Acer may roll it out to other developed markets.

Add this to the data point revealed by a Dixons/PC World employee a while ago which claimed that where they sell them, Chromebooks have made up around 10% of their laptop sales, and you begin to a see a picture that should be worrying to Microsoft. Chromebooks are essentially eating the low-end of what was the netbook market: Small, cheap, light computers with limited functionality. 

But unlike Windows-based netbooks, Chromebooks are much more secure, and they have the power of web apps. And unlike netbooks, they actually run web apps really well. 

With tablets – by which I mean the iPad, of course – eating the higher end of the netbook market and Chromebooks taking the lower ground, Microsoft really should have reason to worry. Windows 8 doesn’t seem like the answer, and if Windows 8 fails to gain momentum, it would be a massive blow to Microsoft. When even Windows a stalwart like HP is starting to make Chromebooks, things don’t look so good in Redmond. 

Hardware in a software world

The inestimable Mr Gruber:

Even “hardware” features are defined by software, and can no longer be judged on their own. Consider, say, mobile phone cameras. The camera itself is important – the sensor, the lens, the physical size – but ultimately what matters is the quality of the images it produces, and software is a huge part of that.

This is something that I have to repeatedly point out to Android users. Over and over again, they point out how the hardware on a particular phone is better than the iPhone, and how the software allows you more precision control over the shot you take with the camera.

And over and over again, I ask “which takes better pictures?”

And the answer is always the iPhone.

(via Daring Fireball Linked List: CES Is the World’s Greatest Hardware Show Stuck in a Software Era)

What’s the point of Google+?

Marco Arment thinks that Google is heading down the wrong path with Google+:

But Google’s increasingly desperate push to cram Google+ down everyone’s throats hasn’t made Google+ any more relevant. It has only resulted in a lot of confused Google-account owners who inadvertently “upgraded” to Google+ while trying to do something else on a Google property, and who don’t even realize that they have this account on this social network that none of their friends use even though they all accidentally have accounts on it.

(via There’s No Avoiding Google+ – Marco.org)

I think Marco is missing the point of Google+. As the WSJ report he links to puts it:

“Both Facebook and Google make the vast bulk of their revenue from selling ads. But Facebook has something Google wants: Facebook can tie people’s online activities to their real names, and it also knows who those people’s friends are. Marketers say Google has told them that closer integration of Google+ across its many properties will allow Google to obtain this kind of information and target people with more relevant (and therefore, more profitable) ads.”

If none of those registered users actually posted a single thing on Google+, Google would still get something out of it. Google+ is all about tying together all your activity across the web into a single, coherent identity, one where it also knows who your friends are – which, of course, Google will track as you send and receive emails, comment on blogs, and so on. If you post and “+1″ things, all the better as it gives Google more data about what you like. But it’s not essential.

In which Dan Lyons once again exposes his elite journalism skills

Dan Lyons, once again talking out of his ass:

This is a crushing blow to Microsoft, which has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and phony grassroots groups over the past several years hoping to land Google in hot water.

You would think from this that Google, meanwhile, hasn’t been spending money on lobbyists.

Oh no wait

In fact, as a cursory search on Opensecrets.org reveals, Google significantly outspent Microsoft on lobbying in 2012, as it had in 2011.

But hey – never let facts get in the way of a good story, Dan.

Update: I’d forgotten this great quote about Lyons from MG Siegler:

This is a pattern for Lyons. He wants to write something, so he does the minimal amount of work possible, then writes it. It leads to situations like this. Which leads to him apologizing for being wrong. Or just looking like an ass.

MG nailed Lyons far, far earlier than most of us.

The end of the beginning in the mobile market

Benedict Evans sums up the current state of the mobile market:

“In other words, Apple has 20-30% of the market by volume, but it is the top 20-30%. Google ‘has’ the rest, but has only a very tenuous connection to large parts of it, and another large proportion is likely to be worth little or nothing for a long time. Roll on uncertainty (link): everything will change, again, in the next year. “

This is only phase one. Whether iOS and Android are even in the same market most of the time is up for debate.

In which someone may be switching to Android (Or, a classic case of Geek Itch)

At Techpinions, Patrick Moorhead is pondering leaving the iPhone, and switching to Android. But take a look at the language that Patrick uses:

With Android’s “Butter” introduced at this year’s Google I/O, the feel is nearly as good as iOS… My front-page apps like Evernote for Android and Windows Phone are still ugly but they don’t keep me from doing my job or having less fun. There is much less of a time delay or quality delta between Android and iOS apps than there ever was before. [My emphasis]

Turn that around, and what it says is that iOS remains smoother, and the apps remain higher quality and usually released first. In other words, for many of the things that affect Patrick’s decision, by choosing Android he’s actively choosing second-best in terms of experience.

That might make sense if there were other features Patrick wanted or needed about Android which significantly outweigh taking the pain there. But if there are, I’m not really seeing them here. Sharing isn’t as hard as you make it out to be: I share from Safari on iOS to Google+ in one click, by using a bookmarklet. There are equivalents for both Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Speech to text and control is a more personal decision. For me, Siri works better than Google Now’s voice control stuff, partly (I think) because Google hasn’t implemented all the features for British English. The dictation engine works better for me on iOS than Android. And voice search from the iOS Google Search app uses the same voice recognition as Google Now (as you’d expect) so if I want to do voice searching, I mostly use that.

It think Patrick also gives Apple a little less credit on new technology than it deserves. For me, a deal breaker with Android has always been integration with a wider eco-system of devices through AirPlay. Despite Android’s focus on this recently, Apple is still a mile ahead in simplicity. Hook up a (dirt cheap) Apple TV to your living room TV, and stream pretty much any content to it. Making something that easy is the best way to implement new technology, because it removes the barriers to “normal” people using it.

I get the feeling, though, that Patrick has classic “geek itch”[1]“. I get this too – the desire to jump to a platform which will allow me to play around a little more, to to spend time configuring things and digging into them. Nothing wrong with that – but it’s not really more broadly applicable as a comment on a specific platform.


  1. Don’t worry, it’s not contagious.  ↩

The Republic of Samsung

Is Samsung price fixing? The Washington Post certainly thinks so:

“That sentiment has intensified in recent years, a period during which Samsung has obstructed price-fixing investigations — drawing only minor fines — and seen its chairman indicted for financial crimes, only to receive a presidential pardon ‘in the national interest,’ as a government spokesman put it.”

Maybe Google should amend “Don’t be evil” to “Don’t be evil, but don’t be too choosy about what your partners get up to”.

What, exactly, is Android?

Toward a More Informed Discussion on Android | TechPinions:

“Android is in no way shape or form the same as OS X, Windows, iOS, Windows Phone, or RIM’s Blackberry OS. When we speak of those operating systems we are speaking of a unified platform controlled by one company whose platform share represents the total addressable market, via single SDK, for developers. Should a developer want to develop for any of those platforms, all they need do is get the SDK for that single platform. Android, however, is an entirely different beast.

Android is not actually a platform, it is an enabling technology that allows companies to create platforms Because Android is open source, all the term Android refers to is the AOSP, or Android Open Source Project. Anyone can take this core code and create their own custom operating system using Android as the core. Google created and manages the AOSP but also has their own version of Android. Amazon does this and has their own version of Android. Barnes and Noble does this and has their own version of Android. I would not be shocked if new entrants as well take the Android platform and make it their own for their own needs as well.”

This is the thing that gets overlooked, all the time. Android is not a single, unified operating platform: it’s a set of semi-compatible platforms, built around the same technology.

Amazon’s version of Android is to Google’s version of Android what FreeBSD is to Ubuntu. You can probably get the same apps to run – but be prepared for some tweaking.

The finest explanation of how Samsung works

The Economist gives a fantastic insight into what makes Samsung successful. Hint: it’s not being innovative in terms of technology:

Samsung’s successes come from spotting areas that are small but growing fast. Ideally the area should also be capital-intensive, making it harder for rivals to keep up. Samsung tiptoes into the technology to get familiar with it, then waits for its moment. It was when liquid-crystal displays grew to 40 inches in 2001 that Samsung took the dive and turned them into televisions. In flash memory, Samsung piled in when new technology made it possible to put a whole gigabyte on a chip.

When it pounces, the company floods the sector with cash. Moving into very high volume production as fast as possible not only gives it a price advantage over established firms, but also makes it a key customer for equipment makers. Those relationships help it stay on the leading edge from then on.

The strategy is shrewd. By buying technology rather than building it, Samsung assumes execution risk not innovation risk. It wins as a “fast follower”, slipstreaming in the wake of pioneers at a much larger scale of production. The heavy investment has in the past played to its ability to tap cheap financing from a banking sector that is friendly to big companies, thanks to implicit government guarantees much complained about by rivals elsewhere.

Now consider this in the context of how it’s worked in the smartphone market. “Fast follower”, indeed.