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Comment: Re:Android 4.3 (Score 1) 117

by tlambert (#49202519) Attached to: The Abandoned Google Project Memorial Page

The pressing question though is whether there's a void for someone else to fill if Google starts making Android a true iOS clone by nixing sideloading. They've inched closer than ever with Lollipop, and I don't see that changing going forward. Meanwhile, no sideloading means that Amazon loses whatever Android customers were using Android phones. While the Fire tablets are surely the biggest slice of the Amazon App Store/Music Store pie, I don't know if they'd just pack up and go home if Google locked them out. Conversely, I don't know if the disappearance of F-Droid, Appbrain, AAS, and other third party app stores would be the tipping point that would prevent people from pining for the Galaxy S7.

Is Android too big to fail? At this point, I'm stuck saying 'yes', at least for now.

It's a difficult question.

Can you side-load on an iPhone? Yes, you can. There are three ways:

(1) Jailbreak the device; some people are willing to do this. The preeminent reason is to work around carrier limitations on tethering/hotspotting to get around the fact that the carrier has unlimited data on some phone plans, but either does not permit, or has capped charges for, tethering/hotspotting through the phone, or through mobile hotspots. Other than a few applications to work around Apple/carrier agreements, or add functionality Apple doesn't/won't approve, this is not so big these days.

(2) Enroll the device as a developer device using a developer certificate. This allows you a limited number of devices, however, and isn't useful for wide scale distribution. It's a dead end.

(3) Enroll the device as an enterprise device. There are already Chinese "app stores" which do this; you enroll voluntarily, or the phone comes already enrolled when you purchase it from the vendor, and they install an enterprise cert, signed by Apple, which allows them to run their own distribution system. Typically, they pirate U.S. Apps, rewrap them, resign them, and then sell them on the cheap, giving no money back to the authors. In addition, there's often malware included with the applications sold this way. Apple hates it, and I have no doubt, there's active work on enterprise support to prevent this, going forward.

So side-loading isn't the biggest issue, since if there's a will, there's a way, and Android would also end up with methods similar to these thre to increase the difficult of, but not eliminate, side-loading.

The flip side of this is that, unless they do something, the pure *volume* of malware for Android will almost certainly kill their viability as an app platform eventually, even if it's not going to happen today or tomorrow.

The biggest problem with Android, with regard to apps, is that there are are too many targets.

Apple is in the process of screwing themselves over this way, for short term monetary gains that will likely not have long term value for them. At a minimum, a developer has to target 7 iOS platforms at this point in time - even if that ends up being wrapped up in a single distribution package, so it looks like a single thing in the App store. In addition, video content is split between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Apple eats the transcoding costs and the duplicate CDN costs for these, but the decision to change the device means twice as much content has to be carried around.

But 7 is manageable, if you are targeting the same OS version, or an earlier but forward compatible OS version for all devices.

The Android ecosystem is the wild west, in comparison. And automatic updating of Android versions on older devices won't gloss over hardware differences in input methods, sensors, and so on.


(1) Yes, there's room. If Samsung wanted to own this, they probably could, just by standardizing minimal feature set on their entire product line, and then forcing version updates on the carrier, or making sufficiently compelling new devices that the carrier doesn't think the version updates will impact their 18 month subscriber contractual lock-in model for doing business.

(2) The side-loading thing is not that big an issue. The Android App market isn't that big these days, and it's balkanized enough through device specifications and other capabilities that, everything else being equal, it's possible to create an 800lb Gorilla in the App store space, and have it stick. If Samsung wanted to do this themselves, they surely could do that too.

The problem with Samsung doing this, however, is that their laptop, tablet, and mobile phone divisions are -- in fact -- separate but affiliated companies, all with their own engineering teams, design teams, supplier contracts, and so on. So Samsung would have to change *themselves* to do this.

OK... the Amazon problem...

It's not a problem. Although they've certainly go a more or less portal-play going with their application and content for their Android devices -- all they had to do was default it to pointing at their servers, and most people don't change defaults, as we've seen by the search engine lawsuits against device vendors and against Chrome.

I think that this could be handled by having a master store signing signing certificate, and Google - or come consortium, including Samsung -- controlling the signing certificate. That may end up with, say, 5 "trusted stores", and the members of the consortium would all agree on some minimal feature set on the devices so developers could target a single base model, and they could agree to lockstep their version updates, etc., etc..

Or Google could do it for them, and swallow the bitter medicine on their behalf. Part of that would be the fact that the Google Android App store takes a 30% transaction fee, and they'd have to let the vendors whose certs were signed for them by Google, take all or most of that percentage. And that would lead to competition, which would have to happen in the consortium, for fees. Which could lead to RICO violations, unless they legally structured their price fixing agreement to be an emergent property, rather than an explicit agreement (i.e. it's a "natural" saddle point for the rules under which anyone can agree to operate, rather than an explicit agreement to price fix).

To get back to the original question now...

If all that were done -- and it'd cost Google considerably to do it -- then no, there's not a room for a third party.

If, on the other hand, the question really was...

"Does Microsoft have any hope in hell of breaking into this market at any point in the next 3-5 years, or are they going to be stuck at a 5% market share for Windows Phones?"

Microsoft could break into the market. And they could wield the App Store model that Apple currently wields, rather effectively.

But, as they do not build their own hardware, as Apple does, they'd need to do something similar to what I've described above. And for them, it'd be even more galling. But probably not as galling as it would end up being if either they or Google attaced the problem full wold (long term) be fore the carriers. 8-)

Comment: Re:Android 4.3 (Score 1) 117

by tlambert (#49201473) Attached to: The Abandoned Google Project Memorial Page

Nope it's google's fault. In order to go the whole hog and have all the google apps etc, the vendors have to do certain things.

You mean change these things?

Carrier business model:

(1) Contractually obligate you for 2 years
(2) Entice you with "upgraded phone" every 18 months
(3) Prevent them upgrading their own phone and escaping carrier lock-in after 2 years
(4) Benefit from customer lock in
(5) Goto 2

Cell phone vendor business model:

(1) Bring a new phone to market
(2) Contract with a carrier/seller who considers it enough of an upgrade to entice an early re-up on a customer contract
(3) Start work on the next phone to sell more hardware
(4) Goto 1

Phone OS vendor business model:

(1) Continuously work on the OS
(2) Convince cell phone vendor to use OS
(3) Cell phone vendor takes snapshot of tree
(3)(a) Cell phone vendor productizes snapshot, because OS vendor could not produce a finished product to save their mother
(4) Goto 1

Admittedly, Google would *like* to change things, but at this point, it's really kind of too late; they should have started with lock-in to their own App store.

Apple doesn't have this problem because the next iPhone only has to compete with the previous iPhone, and Apple *actually* tends to improve the iPhone hardware in a less-than 18 month cycle (which keeps the carriers happy), and it doesn't have to fight with all the other cell phone vendors for mind share because, hey, where else are you going to run all those apps/listen to all that music/watch all those movies, that you've already paid for.

Apple has App-based lock-in, and 18 month upgrade cycle carrier satisfaction, and they sell both the hardware and the software, so there's no hardware company to push-back on software updates, and there's no PITA continuous development cycle that prevents software updates from being polished products to push back the other direction.

Google could *probably*, *eventually* fix things, if they were willing to swallow some incredibly bitter pills, and if they were to do profit-sharing of App revenue with the hardware vendors so that the hardware vendors for Android device were willing to be commoditized, but ... it would be an incredibly bitter pill, to have to change their development model away from waterfall, and it would be an incredibly bitter pill to lock down Apps and side-loading.

Comment: Re:Reader (Score 3, Interesting) 117

by tlambert (#49200337) Attached to: The Abandoned Google Project Memorial Page

Too bad you didn't step up to the plate and become the maintainer, when Google offered to give the source code away to anyone who wanted to run their own "Google Reader" service.

It is not a problem of code, it is a problem of providing the service

When Google originally offered the code, they offered to host it on Google's hosted infrastructure service for a year, at no charge, until the project got up on its feet. There were no takers.

This will probably be moderated down as well... however, yes, "providing the service" is *exactly* the problem, and it's *exactly* why Google cancelled the thing when the back end hosting infrastructure APIs changed out from under the (unmaintained) Reader codebase. The maintainers had moved onto other projects.

And while Google could have either brought them back (the ones who wanted to revisit their old code), or they could have put new hires on the porting problem, and gotten Reader back on its feet on the new hosting infrastructure, it wouldn't have solved the basic problem.

The basic problem is that there was no sustainable revenue model for the service. Google's Reader service allowed the use of any client that someone cared to write, and a heck of a lot of people wanted to write clients that excluded advertising as a means of supporting the costs of running the service. Which would be fine, if there were any way to charge for it, *other* than advertising, which didn't break the client/back-end-service model, which is what people *liked most* about Reader in the first place.

So Google didn't throw good money after bad, and no one else stepped up to throw good money after bad, and (possibly) figure out some other way to monetize the service, such as changing the over the wire representation such that advertising was indistinguishable from content. Which wouldn't have worked, since that would just trigger an arms race for clever advertising exclusionary filtering in the display services, instead of at the protocol level.

So you're right: "it is a problem of providing the service", and the specific problem is "no one wanted to pay to do that".

Comment: Re:Android 4.3 (Score 1) 117

by tlambert (#49200117) Attached to: The Abandoned Google Project Memorial Page

Abandoned while new devices with those versions are still being sold.

Those aren't "new devices", those are "old devices, still being manufactured by vendors who are unable to come up with new devices in a timely fashion", or they are "old devices that used to live in a warehouse, and which are now being sold at a discount, because no one would buy them otherwise".

Comment: Re:Yes. What do you lose? But talk to lawyer first (Score 1) 690

by IamTheRealMike (#49197229) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

Unfortunately the amount is fixed in dollar terms and does not automatically adjust for inflation. When that exemption was set it was considered a large amount. However currently it's $97,000. The dollar is not an especially strong currency. That's about 60k GBP+. You can earn more than that just by being a decent computer programmer in London. And of course the OPs kids don't have to worry about the threshold today but rather in 20 years. There is zero incentive for Congress to be lenient here because now they have FATCA they can actually collect tax from anywhere in the world - it's taxation without representation which is ideal for them.

Comment: Re:Yes. What do you lose? But talk to lawyer first (Score 2) 690

by IamTheRealMike (#49197189) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

The USA charges its citizens for evacuation, unlike all other countries in the world who also evacuate their citizens from trouble zones ..... for free.

Will the U.S. government pay for my travel? How much will it cost?
Departure assistance is expensive. U.S. law 22 U.S.C. 2671(b) (2) (A) requires that any departure assistance be provided "on a reimbursable basis to the maximum extent practicable.” This means that evacuation costs are ultimately your responsibility; you will be asked to sign a form promising to repay the U.S. government.

These costs have bankrupted people in the past, leaving them wishing they had not been "rescued".

US citizens are in many places treated better as a result.

US citizens are becoming systematically toxic and are treated like shit as a result, especially by the financial system. FATCA is a completely insane law and has resulted in banks around the world terminating accounts and refusing to make loans just because someone is a US citizen or has a green card. And unfortunately what many don't realise is you cannot get out of US citizenship just by paying a few thousand dollars as the summary suggests. There is a crippling exit tax that forces you to pay tax on the assumption you just sold all your assets. It's a form of capital control, except one you cannot escape from due to the long arm of the US government. Even better, USA can decide that the citizenship revocation is invalid if they think it was done for tax reasons. They can just keep forcing you to pay taxes forever, if they want to. It's basically modern slavery.

My advice to the story submitter - don't do it!!. US citizenship is already dramatically worse than citizenships in other civilised countries and it's getting worse every year. In fact it's akin to a form of slavery. US citizens abroad have no functioning representation in Congress and they are routinely exploited as a result, citizenship based taxation being only one example.

Swedish and Belgian citizenship together is a perfect combination! Why would you want anything more?

Comment: Re:Their two biggest mistakes (Score 1) 287

by IamTheRealMike (#49197007) Attached to: Mozilla: Following In Sun's Faltering Footsteps?

The important thing about Electrolysis isn't performance, it's that it will allow them to finally sandbox. My respect for Mozilla has lessened over time (and I used to be a minor contributor, back in the early days), partly because they don't seem to care about security as much as the Chrome team do. Chrome prioritised sandboxing over many other things and is a lot more robust as a result. Firefox is still just one JS engine exploit away from total ownage of the running system.

Comment: Re:Just make it less bloated (Score 1) 287

by ArhcAngel (#49196431) Attached to: Mozilla: Following In Sun's Faltering Footsteps?
Which is another reason to continue to support Mozilla. Their code is open and there are other browsers based on that code tweaked and compiled for different needs. I switched to WaterFox because I wanted a fast 64 bit based version of FireFox and Mozilla hadn't released a 64 bit version at the time. I still use it. There are other versions targeted squarely at the fast/light crowd.

Comment: Re:Fuck the draft. (Score 1) 690

by cptdondo (#49195969) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

Because, depending on the laws, signing up for the military in State X can be construed as treason in State Y, even if you have citizenship in both.

And if you become a POW, you may not be subject to the Geneva conventions, if your captors claim that you are a citizen of State Y and they're at war with State X.

It gets really, really complicated.

Comment: Re:Yes. What do you lose? But talk to lawyer first (Score 1) 690

by cptdondo (#49195879) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

Actually the taxes are a big problem. I work in Canada, and as a US citizen, few banks want to do business with me because of the reporting requirements imposed on foreign banks by the IRS.

Also, if both countries have the draft, you could become a felon in one while serving in the military of the other. Lastly, if your kids do serve, then as dual citizens they could be construed as "enemy combatants" not subject to the Geneva convention.

renouncing your citizenship is very expensive as all taxes come due immediately - that means any capital gains are due in cash NOW. The total bill from the IRS can be tens of thousands of dollars.

Honestly, and I say this as a naturalized US citizen who went through hell and high water to get a US passport, if your kids have no plans to use their US citizenship, then don't do it.

Comment: Re:Well done, smart guy (Score 1, Informative) 234

by Overzeetop (#49195337) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

"We have to pass it and THEN find out what's in it."

How stupid a sheeple do you have to be to be to believe that drivel? Every single word was written in plain English in a bill that had been largely published for years, and then amended with language which *by law* is read aloud to the congressmen (they don't even have to know how to read) as long as they are actually at their workplace during business hours and don't decline the reading. Every. Single. Word.

You are a fucking moron for believing what you hear from the people who decided - 10 years after they drafted the bullet points of this plan themselves - they didn't like it.

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