Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Trying to Get a Little Flash Air


Court Jester in My Own Castle

Assuredly, what a person is buying when they buy and iphone or whatever product, is at least in part, the product...the nuts and bolts of it all.  Apple cannot block software developers from writing software to use on Macs.  Nor do they want to.  Mac use worldwide is around 6 percent.  It is 11 percent in the US.   Blocking software developers or trying to make them exclusive would obliterate their already fragile market share.

Microsoft had to detach IE and Outlook from their proprietary  OS, all in the name of competition.   It took a world of legal battles to wake Microsoft up to the fact that they could not do it all.  And this was an anti-trust stretch in many people's minds.  It seems the recent threat of anti-trust action against Apple should be a no-brainer.

What Apple is doing is no more fair than paying someone to build me a house and then dictate the manufacturer, style and quality of furniture I choose to put in my home.  So why then should this practice be allowed when it comes to the iphone and various other iproducts.  The simple answer is that it should not.

This is what is at the center of the brewing battle between Adobe and iApple.  Despite the recent ipretentious and irankorous remarks made by iJobs about Adobe being buggy and lazy, this is all about control.

The Free Market Pace

A few years back Adobe and Macromedia (before it was purchased by Adobe), along with several other software developers for Mac, went created cross-platform development systems, so that their products could be used on PCs as well.  Quite a profi-making move by these companies.  This did not sit well with Apple which was desperately trying to be something more than an also-ran.  This was part of the reason that people were speaking about the demise of Apple.

Interesting in all this is that Flash, buggy as it may have been when it was Macromedia, was first exclusively a product produced for Macs.  Oh the i-irony of it all.

App Developers

Today, simply by inviting third-party developers to produce apps, Apple is saying what we all know — that, like Microsoft, they alone cannot make their product great.  The difference is they want to get paid like they alone are making it great, and not face any competition along the way.  Who can blame them for hoping for this business environment.  No one can.  But we certainly can blame them for actually creating this environment as the expense of consumers and third-party developers.  In reality, application writers should get about 80% of the credit for making the iphone what it is.  In actuality, they get 70% of an app sale and a warm fuzzy feeling that they are making the iApple better and richer through true innovation.

By maintaining strict control of what goes onto an iphone and, as of late, how it is produced they achieve two things which improve their economic position in maintaining exclusivity while seriously limiting the profit potential for third-party developers. 

1. The apps that are produced can only be used on their phone,

2. The app can only be sold through their store

This is nothing short of a vertical monopoly.  I’m pretty sure we learned long ago from Andrew Carnegie that this practice is illegal.

Firefox came along and invited third-party developers to produce add-ons.  The browser and the add-ons are all free.  Apple looked at this model and said let do that but let’s sell everything.  Should a portion of the hefty 30% surcharge apple gets on each of each app sold go to Firefox?  Google sidebar has widegets, as does Vistas.  Do they also get a cut?

Now, Adobe, once again reading the market place, and being an innovative company, created Adobe Air.  Everyone is talking about Flash, but it is as much about Air and its Packager for iPhone as it is Flash .  Air is essentially an app or widget development program.  The cool thing about Air is that developers can write an app, and have it work on all products at once.  Imagine that your ten favorite apps on the iphone (third-party, mind you)  where also available a Windows 7 or Android phone, but that phone is cheaper and you don’t have to go with AT&T if you don’t want. 

Hold on a minute!  This smacks of open competition and a free and vibrant market place.  This is the same cross-platform situation that threatened the demise of Apple in the 90s.  By creating a vertical monopoly, Apple is trying to avoid their issues of the past. 

It was when Adobe went out and bought their major competitor in Macromedia, that they acquired Flash, the gem of the company along with Dreamweaver.  Some say this was done to ensure Microsoft did not purchase them first.  Who is to say that Apple would not have done the same if the cash has been in the company coffers.  Then right about the same time Adobe came out with Air, Microsoft put forward their own cross-patform answer to Flash and Air with Silverlight.

Mac History

Thirty years ago Mac gave away their products to schools across the country, like first time users of crack.  Now schools blindly buy their product because that is what they know.  Macs have been innovative at times but the company was all but dead where competition was free and open. 

On the brink of failure, they changed industries entirely and saved themselves with the ipod.  There was nothing innovative about this product. They just did a better job of hawking their wares and they grabbed up market share.  Along the way, if they could have patented the button they would have.  Are our patent laws a bit out of control sometimes?—that is a story for another time.

Touch technology first came about back in the 70s and had Apple’s patent lawyers been working for those guys back then, Apple today wouldn’t have a revenue stream to stand on.

i is for Apple

There is very little about the growing list of iproducts that follows the the very clever advertising move to stick the 'i' in front of their name and let people personally identify with their purchased products.  After the imac came the ipod became the itouch and the iphone.  So we had a phone, that was a smart phone.  This is a pda with telephoning capabilities and touch screen technology.  Nothing new.  Nothing innovative here.  

Now we are confronted with the ipad.  This is not a new concept and not at all a new product.  The history of the product goes back some 40 years, and further when we are talking about the concepts alone!  Read this engaging article.

The ipad, honestly looks like apple's attempt to chip away at the kindle that came along at just the right time, with the right content married with a quality product.  I suppose iApple is trying to leverage their relationship with the schools they got hooked long ago, hoping that our kids will get hooked as well.

Now, with the iphone and what they hope they will see long term with the ipad, they have a much larger market share than they ever had with the mac and so they are clamping down hard.

They have gone from small time drug supplier to major drug supplier.  Now they want to provide the ingredients, the manufacturing process, and be sure that they get their cut of every back-alley deal.

If someone wants to go out and pay $500 for a phone, they should have the freedom to buy apps from anyone out there who is willing to produce them.  Not being able to do so is just isilly.

Why is there no iUSB on the ipad?  UNIVERSAL serial bus...they don't want universal. They want to BE the universe.  They are shooting for Cartel status.  I would not be surprised if Apple had in mind a few years down the line to offer their newest and coolest retred of an old idea, but tell everyone that it only runs on a Mac, and that Windows is too buggy to run itunes and therefore users cannot connect the device to a PC. 

I would be even less surprised if this whole affair was a gamibit to drive down Adobe's stock so iApple could come in and do a hostile take over, before Google thinks about purchasing the software company.

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