Steve Jobs was right to “go thermonuclear” against Android

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

The point isn’t whether he said it or not.   Nor is it whether it is admissable in court (it is).

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.”

The real issue with Apple versus Android is a much more important point about their underlying business model.   Both rely on market dominance.   Some may call it an abuse of a dominant position.   I prefer to call it the “give away” model.

Here is Google’s version:  “we spend millions developing a cutting edge telephone OS.   We give it away to any phone manufacturer that wants to use it.   Guess what?   Android phones are cheaper that way!   We spend billions buying companies and developing Google Maps.   We give it away for free and even include navigation in Android phones.   Who cares if we destroy an entire industry, it’s not our industry!   We spend billions buying, developing and running YouTube, Gmail and loads of other services.   You know what?  You can have them all for free!  And everyone along the chanel can do what they please and make money anyway they see fit.   All we ask of you is that you click on an advert now and then on Google search, YouTube, Gmail or wherever else we put one in front of you.”

And Apple’s version: “We spend millions selectively buying cool companies or those that have developed some technology we need because we don’t really invent anything.   We package them as cool as we can and charge as much as we can.   We squeeze everyone in our supply and distribution channel dry.  We drop prices or add features only when the competition forces us or Steve Jobs isn’t around to persuade Apple fans that whatever we have done is cool.”

Put that way, which phone OS do you think is heading for global dominance?   The philosophy of free with Android extends to apps of course.   Forget Apple style scaremongery about locked devices.   Rooting an Android phone is almost included in the package and applications that unlock any app you find are almost automatic.   Android 5.0 might include a “crack that app” in the OS…

Steve Jobs was right to feel threatened about Android.   Not because they “stole” some iPhone features.   He, of all people, knew very well that the iPhone was never about features.   It is Google’s business model that is the real threat.   If Apple wants to beat Android it should be spending it’s money not on law suites, but on buying more companies with new features to give away.   They have done it before in other sectors when they felt desperate.   Apple’s involvement in the digital video is a good example.   Final Cut came out of nowhere to become the darling of a new movement (it’s always a “revolution” or a “movement” with Apple, isn’t it?) mainly through features they added by buying up companies.   Buy a company that makes a 4000 dollar color management software and throw it in the next version….

The real problem with Google’s threat however for Apple, is that Google hasn’t got to worry about hardware.  Chinese workers killing themselves, the cost of components and copycats will find it hard to beat Google at its game.   Not even Microsoft has managed to mount a credible threat to its search monopoly.   Facebook’s floppy IPO shows just how little anyone really believes that sexy newcomers, no matter how big, can really effect Google.

Communication Technology

Skype phone dating, Android intelligence and the media player that deletes stuff

It was some years ago that I saw a media player that finally did what I always wanted:  it let you delete songs as you listened to them!  It was of course for anyone listening to pirated music which is why Apple wasn’t busy copying the feature.   All those songs a friend left for you on a USB stick, or that huge compilation you downloaded; you just listened to it, deleted anything you didn’t like and what was left, like a gold digger of the past, was your nuggets of stuff that you like.

Now it is 4.40 AM as I write, which happens to be one of the times of day (barely day!) when I get a lot of bright ideas.   It is also the time of day or night when I hope to catch my friend James on Skype.    He currently works in New Zealand, so the logistics of us actually talking are complex.   Especially since he work entails travelling around saving animals and filming in remote locations and neither of us are religiously connected to our cell phones.   What I really want Skype to do for us is to set up an appointment.   A Skype meeting which figures out time differences and pings of an alarm for both of us.  Adding Facebook isn’t a social layer.  Figuring out when I want to be interrupted and by whom is!  

And the same applies to my mobile phone.   I left it in my brother’s car last weekend.  What bliss to be without it for two days; heck, I didn’t even go out of my way to pick it up!   For anyone thinking up clever things as a business, lack of interruptions dramatically improves the quality of your work. 

And there it is, the solution.   A social intelligence layer on my contacts application.   No, I don’t want to wade through all my contacts putting them in groups; I want the software to figure it out!   All it needs is some input from me but – here is the sneaky bit – as the call ends.

“Was that phone call worth the two minutes you spent on it?” it can ask just after I hang up and look at the device before putting it back in my pocket.   A number of options:

1. Yes, this person is always worth talking to.  (ie VIP in my category system)

2. Yes, but I would rather we talked during work hours (work related, shouldn’t be calling at this time of day).

3. Sort of worth talking to.  Could probably do the information transaction better via email.   (Enter fancy ways of not answering this number next time but automatically sending an SMS or email that I am busy.)

And the list could continue with a number of variations.   The phone would very quickly figure out which contacts go into which category, and I would waste less time and get far less interruptions.   In fact over time the menu when the phone rings could have other options other than “Answer” and “Reject”.

James got the time difference wrong and called in the middle of the night last week.   I have probably done the same.  Right now my cell phone is switched off.   Guess I will just email him as usual.   Somebody please implement all of these ideas quickly!