Redmond Diary

By Andrew J. Brust

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In the Mobile and Tablet World, How Much is Too Much?

The week of April 26th was a huge one in the world of mobile and tablet devices. There were so many individual developments, announcements and solidifications of strategy, it's almost impossible to believe they occurred in the same month, let alone the same week.

Things started with Apple and Gizmodo having a Law and Order moment over the latter's procurement of what appears to be the former's 4th gen iPhone prototype. We found out on the 26th that Gizmodo blogger Jason Chen's apartment was raided by police and, honestly, that was a bit much.

But Apple didn't stop there. They also published Steve Job's critique of Adobe Flash and his explanation of Cupertino's embargo of Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. If you ask me, this too was a bit much.

Apple finished up the week by releasing the 3G version of its iPad product to the US market. I like (iLike?) my WiFi iPad. The idea of getting a version of it that required a second 3G service monthly subscription, is, well, a bit much.

Microsoft was in the news too. It killed a project it hadn't even acknowledged the existence of: the Courier tablet. That's a bit much too. If a tree falls in the woods, and Microsoft says they can't hear it anyway, could they really have chopped it down?

Maybe Microsoft Research should have licensed some of Courier's technology from other parts of Microsoft. Then maybe they could have kept the product alive. Ask HTC: they're going to be licensing technology from Microsoft because Redmond insists that Google's Android operating system infringes on certain of their patents. And since HTC now builds a number of handsets on Android, instead of being beholden, as they once were, to Windows Mobile, that means they can keep making their products. Why does HTC have to pay the royalties, and not Google? Maybe Microsoft decided that going after GOOG would have been a bit much, even for them.

The agreement came not a moment too soon: HTC released their "Droid Incredible" (that name's a bit much), an Android 2.1 handset with amazing hardware and HTC's own Sense UI, on April 30th (this past Friday). This phone is very well-reviewed. Maybe that's why Google basically decided to beg off introducing a version of its Nexus One phone (also manufactured by HTC) on the Verizon Wireless network. Google backing down? That's incredible, if not also a bit much.

And that brings us to HP. Which this week announced its acquisition of Palm and its webOS mobile phone touch-oriented operating system. HP also killed its own Slate initiative. Apparently HP realized that Windows 7, even with a proprietary HP touch UI added on top, is no match for the iPad. I'm guessing they think webOS might work a bit better, And I'm wondering if HP even wants to use webOS for phone handsets, beyond the Pre and Pixi. Using it just for slate devices would be a bit extreme, but maybe not too much.

Honestly, this was not Microsoft's best week. It killed a project and a close partner did likewise. Then that same partner bought a competing OS product, while another partner released their new product that uses yet another competing OS platform.

What did Microsoft actually produce this past week? An update to its Windows Phone 7 developer tools that actually works with the version of Visual Studio 2010 released on April 12th. That took a couple of weeks to get synced up, and that's a bit much too.

But at least it happened. Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's best hope for a comeback in the SmartPhone market and to offer a credible touch-based tablet device. This week, two of Microsoft's slate initiatives died, and its only mobile phone victory was around its competitor's operating system. I hope the new platform gets Redmond out of the PC ghetto and into the classes of device that get people really excited today. If it can't, that would be a bit much; probably too much. And, as the signs at the Lonestar Cafe in NYC used to say, too much ain't enough


Posted by Andrew J. Brust on 05/03/2010 at 1:15 PM

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