Buying a Cell Phone is Worse Than Buying a Car!

These days it seems that all I ever talk about is Cloud computing and Cell Phone operating systems.  As a contract-free AT&T customer, I should relish in my freedom to choose a new carrier or smartphone, yet instead I revel in cell phone indecision.

While Apple makes a wonderful and polished operating system (iOS), their ecosystem is both closed and proprietary.  After all, these are the same guys that won’t let me change a simple battery!  Another problem with the iPhone 4S is that the form factor.  It just isn’t very pleasing, especially when compared to its alternatives.  How about all those cracked screens out there?  Of course, iTunes is awesome and iCloud has some exciting possibilities.

Meanwhile, Android has come a long way in a short time.  It’s not nearly as polished as Apple’s iOS, but has many innovative features and is open source (kind of).  However, Android is experiencing tremendous fragmentation and is at the mercy of the Cell phone makers themselves.  While Samsung makes great phones, they have been slow to upgrade to the latest Android versions.  Also, what will they do now that Google is purchasing Motorola?  Speaking of Motorola, they seem like a safe bet since Google is purchasing them, but their less than stellar earnings results don’t instill confidence in a purchaser.

Finally, Windows Phone 7 Mango is lurking around.  It’s a blend of Apple’s polish with Android’s innovation, but has suffered from lackluster hardware and non-existent applications.  However, with Nokia’s recent announcement of 2 new Windows Phone 7 phones, there is some excitement that this may change.  What Microsoft needs to do is focus on the development community.  I’m not just talking about porting over existing applications, as they need some originals too. Of course, Microsoft has a really nice integration with iTunes, Office, and a slick SkyDrive offering.

Some would say I need to add Verizon vs. AT&T vs. T-Mobile vs. Sprint to this discussion, but I’m not really dissatisfied with AT&T.  In fact, the ability to use both data and voice is something I wouldn’t want to live without.  For now, I’ll leave this for a later discussion.

So, do you buy a new Samsung Galaxy S II, Nexus II, or Motorola Droid Razr or wait for the iPhone5, Nokia 800, or whatever else is yet to be announced?  Of course, in technology you can keep waiting and waiting and waiting because what you buy today is obsolete tomorrow.  Any thoughts?

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Yahoo: Goodbye Bartz Hello Baidu or Apple

In yet another mystifying move, Yahoo’s board fired Carol Bartz and ended her three year tenure as CEO.  Over the last three years, Bartz has had to clean up after the less than stellar leadership of both Jerry Yang and Terry Semel led to revenue slowdowns, management bloat, product missteps, and who knows what else.

While I’m saddened to see Bartz go, I’m more aggravated by the ridiculous articles and blogs regarding Yahoo’s past, present, and future.  Note to the mainstream press…Yahoo IS NOT Google.  Yahoo is NOT Facebook.

Yahoo IS an Internet icon, a portal destination, an information and communications hub, and is chalk full of popular services and offerings.  Often seen as less innovative than Google, Yahoo has made meaningful contributions to Hadoop and has recently open sourced Traffic Server which was acquired as part of the Inktomi acquisition.

I see two paths for Yahoo; Baidu and Apple.

Baidu has grown into a formidable challenger to Google.  For Baidu to take the next step they must enter the Western marketplace and Yahoo would be the perfect vehicle to make this a reality.  A cash and talent infusion by Baidu would reinvigorate Yahoo giving it new life to innovate and disrupt its way to revenue growth.  It would also mean an end to Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft (or would it) as well as new competitive efforts across traditional and mobile solutions.

Apple is a dominant force within the mobile/tablet community and Yahoo would make the perfect destination for their users.  With one brush of the pen, Yahoo would be folded under the Apple brand and would change the perception of Yahoo from old/dying to new/exciting.  Apple could use Yahoo as a platform for iCloud services and revamp Yahoo’s offerings to work seamlessly within iOS and OSX.  Additionally, Apple could use Yahoo to offer new and innovative Cloud services and accelerate the adoption of HTML5.

In the end, Bartz will come-up a winner in this mess as her honesty and toughness is refreshing.  However, the future for Yahoo may be bright as long as the Board realizes it’s time to turn the reigns over and sell the company.  Let’s hope they don’t turn down an offer like they had from Microsoft again and Yahoo finds a new home!

MicroNokiaSoft For Broke In The Cloud

It is quite amazing how much bad press Microsoft and Nokia generate.  If you didn’t know any better, then you’d think Microsoft was broke and Nokia had been left for dead.  While Google and Apple are the darlings of the industry, Microsoft and Nokia are abhorred.  Why?  Do we always need to create winners and losers or heroes and villains?

Amazingly, the haters love Apple; a company destined to repeat the mistakes of their past.  While iOS is a wonderful and polished operating system, it as closed and controlled as anything Microsoft could ever dream up.  From iOS to iTunes to the App Store, you only get what Apple wants you to have.  For goodness sakes, they even try to lock you out of the hardware that you purchased with their crazy pentalobe screws.

Of course, you have Android an operating system only Google could create.  On the surface it’s open, but in reality it shares many of the same characteristics of its archrival.  Devoid of any real challenge by Microsoft, Google was the only company that could stop Apple.  By diversifying their hardware, Android quickly gained on Apple and created a vibrant development community.  However, Android’s tragic flaw is its reliance on Google and their appetite for advertising dollars.  While Apple innovates and focuses, Google follows and is schizophrenic as their core business is under attack.

Alas, here comes Microsoft the old man of the crowd as Microsoft was founded in 1975 while Apple was founded in 1976.  Microsoft has been remarkably quiet in the mobile / Smartphone market.  Perhaps Microsoft took their eye off the ball, as they too had to defend their core business from new and disruptive technologies.  Microsoft responded, as a dominant software application provider should, by creating new and innovative applications and operating systems while investing in cloud technologies.

Fresh off the release of Windows 7, a pretty nice operating system, Microsoft has its eyes set on the mobile business it surely wants to dominate.  Windows Phone 7 is a decent first attempt by Microsoft to reinvent the Smartphone.  It has some disruptive features and some product weaknesses; I’d put it somewhere in-between iOS and Android.  While they don’t have the developer community of Apple or Google, they have applications (Exchange, Office, etc.) and now they have Nokia.

Remember Nokia?  They were the company that had beautiful designed phones with the easy to use operating system.  Somewhere along the line, they became the company with the so-so designed phones with the “ I don’t want to use operating systems”.  Nokia, like Microsoft, lost focus and tried to buy their way out of their mess with Symbian in 2008.  Dubbed the “open-source Android killer”, the operating system was lacking polish and failed to cultivate a developer community, not to mention the woefully underpowered phones.

Faced with the reality that the market has rejected Symbian in favor of Apple and Google, Nokia was faced with an unthinkable choice; create a new OS or become an Android drone.  However, like a perfect storm, a third choice emerged as Microsoft’s lagging Windows Phone 7 sales created an opportunity for a new partnership.

At last, Nokia has the opportunity to concentrate on their core competency and get back to building world-class phones.  These new designs will be powered not only by Microsoft’s software but also their desire to trump both Apple and Google.  Nokia gains access to Microsoft’s best and brightest doing what they do best, creating software and applications that are polished, user friendly, and innovative.

Will this partnership work?  In reality, it may be both companies last chance.  Think about it, if Nokia can create new high-powered phones that are beautifully designed and Microsoft can continue to polish Windows Phone 7 while adding deep integrations with Microsoft Office, Exchange, Live, and Azure then this may work.

Finally, don’t count out a 4th operating system from entering this mix as HP is making some noise with webOS.  Amazingly, they’ve escaped a tongue lashing by the press for not going Android but that’s another topic for another time.

For now, its MicroNokiaSoft for broke in the Cloud.

Fun Alert: Insane 2011 Predictions That May Come True

Google Acquires Level 3 Communications

Really?  Forget net-neutrality, think fiber and capacity management.  Google gains a worldwide network and a host of services and options to redefine the Internet.  Google’s itching for another industry to transform, and the service provider market is ripe for the picking.  By streamlining processes, costs, and creating a true cloud, Google can change the game while laying the foundation for some incredible mobile products and services.

Apple Acquires Sony Corporation

Why?  How about content, home entertainment, consumer electronics, and more.  Imagine Sony TV’s pre-loaded with Apple TV or PS3 with an ‘Apple-like’ interface.  Apple would gain content via Sony Pictures, cameras, a massive distribution channel, and control of standards, patents, and more.  In the end, Apple would restore Sony to their former glory while drastically expanding their breadth and depth of products.

Cisco Acquires SAVVIS

Huh?  As Cisco is dead serious about the cloud and Infrastructure as a service, purchasing SAVVIS would give Cisco a ‘enterprise-class converged cloud solution.’  Plus, SAVVIS is a huge Cisco customer and early adopter, so Cisco wouldn’t’ need to swap out hardware as UCS is already in-play here.  Cisco gains data center expertise, IAAS, SAAS, Hosting, Content Management, and more while moving ever closer to end-customer and consumer.

Dell Acquires Brocade

Are you kidding me?  Dell needs an Ethernet and storage networking presence and they need it right now.  By purchasing Brocade and integrating their product sets, Dell can finally go toe-to-toe with HP and IBM.  Additionally, Foundry products finally get the sales and distribution channel they need to compete with Cisco, HP, and Juniper.  Dell would streamline manufacturing, sales, marketing, and more to create a viable alternative to HP’s growing ProCurve business.

Baidu Buys Yahoo

Never!  Baidu (the student) comes into the US Market flush with cash to buy Yahoo (the teacher).  Baidu would gain a US presence while putting their thumb in Google’s eye.  Yahoo gets an injection of cash and swagger, as they focus on platform services and open source projects.  Meanwhile, Microsoft quietly wins here as they continue to work with Yahoo/Baidu and expand their Chinese presence.

Huawei Buys Juniper

Come on?  Shunned by Dell, Juniper has little options as IBM refuses to enter the networking hardware business.  Huawei desperately wants to enter the North American Market, and Juniper’s name and mix of service provider and enterprise customers are just the ticket.  Huawei would quickly ramp up Juniper’s product line while introducing new lines of business including wireless carrier infrastructure, storage networking, and more.

Oracle Buys NetApp

Finally something we can agree on!  While Oracle/Sun have some amazing storage products, NetApp gives Oracle legitimate world-class storage solutions.  Oracle could leverage NetApp within their next generation ‘Exa’ products while refining how Oracle products perform on NetApp storage.  Meanwhile, Oracle/NetApp will make billions from FlexPods while moving closer to Cisco.

Google Must Change Tactics and Android Must Succeed

It is safe to say that I have not been a big fan of Google. I have issues with their tactics, business model, and insatiable appetite for personal information. It will come as no surprise to my readers, that I was delighted by Google’s recent announcement to cancel plans to bring the Nexus One to Verizon. However, my reasons behind supporting this decision may come as a shock to you; Android must succeed. Why?

To put it bluntly; Google may be the only company left that can stop Apple’s dominance in the mobile space. While Microsoft certainly has the talent, I question if they have the will as they continue to chase Google for advertising dollars. Meanwhile, Nokia seems a bit dazed and confused by Apple’s success as they cling to Symbian OS. RIM is stuck in the Enterprise world as they must now fight Apple on their home turf with devices that seem behind the times. Finally, Palm may find a buyer but also obsolescence.

One of my best friends put it this way, “When you buy an iPhone you are buying a device without root access.” In essence, we are forced to use and develop applications on the iPhone via the pleasure and direction of Apple. In the past few months, we have tried to develop more than a few interesting iPhone applications only to find we were in danger of violating Apple’s Licensing or Apple’s iPhone OS did not support or allow what we were trying to build. While some have gone the “jail breaking” route to overcome these obstacles, we would rather stay within the mainstream user population and remain legal.

While Apple controls every aspect of the iPhone, Google has the chance to disrupt this model. For some reason, Google has a tenancy to follow leaders in particular spaces. In my opinion, that is why they created the Nexus One as they thought controlling the hardware and software was key in creating a successful device. HTC and Motorola proved this notion incorrect when they created superior devices with the same Android OS. What Google really needs to do is concentrate on improving and refining Android’s usability and functionality to exceed that of Apple’s iPhone OS.

A refined Android with a vibrant community filled with robust application development has the chance to trump iPhone because it is open (we have root access!) and a killer application is sure to be developed. Google has many different avenues to make money off of Android including advertising, cloud services, and more.

Therefore, Google must change their tactics by concentrating on refining and improving Android while supporting their hardware and carrier partners.

Apple’s Next Move; Buy Yahoo

It seems like only yesterday when the world wasn’t quite so complicated. When good vs. evil was as simple as Apple vs. Microsoft. With the rise of the Internet came the birth of a whole new paradigm of communicating and sharing information. Proprietary software has new open source challengers that are surprisingly refined while continuing to expand their capabilities. Client/Server gave way to Web based user interfaces and the deliver of legacy software is giving way to the cloud. The desktop has been replaced by the laptop, the cell phone became a mobile device, and Apple has become a powerful force within computing, music, video, mobile devices, and more. However, once again the world has changed and Apple must adapt to face a new challenge; Google.

Once upon a time Apple and Google were friends with a common enemy and clear boundary lines. Today, those lines have been crossed and they are headed on a collision course. Apple didn’t start this skirmish, but they did create an inflection point that has become a clear threat to Google’s future. The rise of OSX, iPod, iPhone, iTunes, and now iPad, flew in the face of Google’s Internet vision centered around their cloud. Google risked losing control of the end-user platform and the advertising revenue they covet; they had no choice but to stop Apple’s momentum. Therefore, Android, Chrome, and Chrome OS were born.

While Google is on the offensive, Apple continues to chart their own course. However, this changed when Google released the Nexus One and then snatched AdMob from Apple’s hands forcing them to settle for Quattro Wireless. This skirmish is now an old fashion feud and may escalate into an all out war. Maybe that’s why Schmidt met with Jobs last Friday to attempt to deescalate the situation, but remember that Jobs never yielded to Gates. If Apple wants to attack Google, then look no further than Yahoo as a perfect takeover target.

Apple would not be buying Yahoo for search, that’s Microsoft’s problem. Instead, Apple would be gaining a cloud and advertising platform for which they could re-launch current Yahoo services, build on Yahoo’s mobile and location based strategy, and integrate current Apple offerings. Imagine a new Yahoo that has been injected with Apple’s DNA and provided innovative services and content for Apple’s computing and mobile products. How about a cloud based iTunes Store, the merging of Flickr with iPhoto, or Time Capsule based back-up in the Cloud. I shutter to think how Apple could redefine and reinvigorate Yahoo.

Consider this, Yahoo is still the third most popular website on the United States. Yahoo’s problem has never been visitors, instead it has always been the monetization of their incredible content. Does anyone doubt Apple’s ability to introduce new and innovative business models to the market? Additionally, Yahoo’s Fire Eagle location-based service would be downright explosive in Apple’s hands.

As Jobs rightfully stated, “We (Apple) did not enter the search business. They (Google) entered the phone business.” Now is the time for Apple to take their massive following, passion, and ability to invent ground breaking intuitive technology and attack the advertising revenue that is at the heart of Google’s dominance. The centerpiece of such an attack is the purchase of Yahoo serving as a catalyst for Apple’s continued domination of the mobile space.

The bamboozle is over: Google’s Mantra is BS

Google is scary on many fronts; from the information they collect about their users to how they use their size/power to bully their way into markets.  While Platen has written about the evils of advertising based services and the power that Google (and Facebook) hold over their users, the mainstream media and “Wall Street” are in love with GOOG.  Why?  They are a money making machine with a cult-like following.  Search has become synonymous with Google.

What has Google really done?

Google Search and AdWords puts Inktomi out of business…YES
Google Mail ends Yahoo Mail’s dominance…NO
Google Docs ends Microsoft’s Office dominance…NO
Google Talk ends Skype’s dominance…NO
Google Chat ends Yahoo/AOL IM’s dominance…NO
Google Chrome ends IE/Firefox’s browser dominance…NO
Google Android ends iPhone’s dominance…NO
Google YouTube ends Hulu’s dominance…NO
Google Books ends Amazon’s dominance….NO
Google Nexus One ends iPhone’s dominance…Any bets?…NO
Google Orkut ends (take your pick)’s dominance…NO
Google Chrome OS ends Linux/Microsoft’s dominance…Any bets?…NO
And the list continues…

Has Google made a strategic mistake?

While Microsoft continues to fight Google on many levels, they are too polarizing of a company to be a fanatical threat to Google.  However, the same cannot be said about Apple.  Apple users are incredibly loyal, fanatical, and growing.  Additionally, Apple already has what Google wants and needs; OSX, iPhone, iPad, and i(whatever they want to build).   Google sees the future; it’s in mobile devices and owning the mobile OS and/or advertising platforms.  Apple has the devices, the store, and the platform to dominate.

After Steve jobs said, “…This don’t be evil mantra: It’s bullshit.” Google’s world is very different.  With a single OS upgrade, Google search becomes a memory on the iPhone.  Or, with a single purchase, iSearch is born.  Or, …

As Carl Sagan said, “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle.  The bamboozle has captured us.  Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Google isn’t a non-for-profit, they aren’t the Gates Foundation; instead they are like any other corporation that seeks to maximize profits and shareholder value.  However, while IBM sells services, Cisco sells hardware, and Wal-Mart sells goods, Google needs YOUR personal information, YOUR habits, YOUR mood, YOUR clicks, and more to make money via advertising.

The bamboozle is over.

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