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Comment Re:A big flop (Score 4, Insightful) 206

The problem is that you don't get the advantage of having an unlocked phone, which ought to be portability.

The ideal situation for me would be a world in which I buy my phone, and sign up for monthly service with my carrier. If the carrier sucks, I can cancel my service and go to another one without paying any penalties.

That doesn't work for lots of reasons. Some of those reasons seem to be policies that deliberately create lock-in (termination fees, even if you buy a phone for $579!), and other reasons seem to be reasonable technical realities (T-Mobile and Sprint use different kinds of networks).

The government has imposed number portability on the carriers, and that works well when your contract is up. But we still live in this 2 year contract/carrier subsidized phones/early termination fees universe.

I get dropped calls on my iPhone every day, too. And it would cost me a fortune to leave.

Comment Why don't telecoms pay google? (Score 4, Interesting) 449

If we're not going to buy into net neutrality, why does it follow that google should pay the telecoms? Why shouldn't they pay google for enhancing their service?

If google stopped serving pages to people connecting through specific ISPs, those ISPs would go under. Who here wouldn't change their provider if they couldn't get google? You wouldn't really be on the net without google.

Comment Re:Know what... (Score 2, Interesting) 176

Google owns a company called Postini that you can use to archive your email -- they can keep you in compliance with email retention rules.

Privacy is a big concern. I sort of feel like it's over anyway -- google already knows everything about everyone.

I found the admin tools to be a little lacking. If A is out of town, and B needs to get into their email, that sort of thing. It's harder to go in and tweak a user's settings for them than it is with our current system (notes).

Comment They need to do something more radically different (Score 5, Interesting) 267

I don't think Bing will ever out-Google Google. So it's strange that they don't try to identify problems with Google and address them. They seem to start out with the assumption that Google is perfect, so the best path forward is to do everything just like Google, only more so.

The big problem with Google is privacy. Why not try to make a search engine that doesn't track what you do? I'd pay a subscription for such a thing. Maybe most people wouldn't, but I would. Search is such a big market that 5% of it is still huge. Maybe 5% of the people in the US would pay for private searching.

MS has had a kind of bullying culture for a long time, and they've declared war on open source, so we've viewed them as the bad guys for a long time. But windows is a heck of a lot more open than the iPad, and their business model isn't based on data mining. In a lot of ways, they've been left behind by many of the most toxic trends in the industry. They should listen to some of the things that we linux folks have been saying, and try to fit them into their pitch when they can. Talk about the value of controlling your own data, of privacy, of letting anyone who wants to write a program and distribute it, of being able to install your software on whatever hardware you want. That's not snake oil -- it's good stuff.

The strange thing is that they've missed those toxic trends not because they value the good alternatives, but because they're big and sluggish and not very agile. They've just been left behind. And all they want is to catch up so they can turn the same screws on us that Apple and Google turn. It doesn't occur to them to make the kinds of arguments I'm proposing here.

Comment Re:Google make me nervous (Score 4, Insightful) 346

Microsoft had a really bullying culture back in the day -- when everyone was locked in, they seemed to really enjoy turning the screws. They were almost like villains from comic books or something.

But Windows was always comparatively open -- they have the most open of all the proprietary ecosystems. You can write you own programs and install them wihtout anyone's permission, you data lives on your disk, and anyone can write a device driver. It's more open than OS X (which only runs on Apple's hardware), and it's a lot more open than platforms like the iPhone/iPad, which only run programs Apple approves.

When Google released Buzz, it was a reminder that if they wanted to break gmail pretty badly, they'd be able to, and we'd have no recourse. With software on your own computer, you can at least refrain from running the upgrade.

It would be great if MS started pushing their openness as a selling point, and if they differentiated themselves from google in the cloud by being scrupulously responsible with our data. For example, I'd love to see MS roll out a privacy enhanced Bing -- no records kept, no targeted ads, for $10/month (or whatever).

Gmail won't even put marker tags in the Gmail HTML that would make it easier for FireGPG (a firefox plugin that supports GPG encrypted mail) to parse your mails, so FireGPG breaks all the time. They should do that instead of making empty threats to pull out of China.

The power concentrated in all of these companies is pretty troubling. Google at least has the sense not to be flamboyantly abusive with their power. Microsoft used to be almost theatrical in their bullying. That's dogging them now.

Comment They don't deal with each other in good faith (Score 4, Interesting) 450

The OpEd basically says that people inside the company screw each other over.

That's always the way they seemed to me from the outside -- there was this sort of thug culture there in the 90's, when they'd threaten to cut some company's air supply if they didn't buckle under, etc. I mean, they just came across as obnoxious bullies. And it turns out that's what it's like on the inside.

If they would just start dealing with everyone in good faith, it would do them a lot of good. Gates is a close friend of Warren Buffet, and Buffet knows the value of straight shooting as well as any business leader in the US. Microsoft should emulate Buffet on that point. You really can do well by doing good.

But just to take a recent example, that business with selling patents off to a troll company that would use them to harass Linux users leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. It makes you want to use someone else's products if there's anyway you can.

It must be a pretty depressing place to work.

Comment Stop bashing AT&T for this! (Score 4, Insightful) 144

I live in Manhattan, and I own an iPhone. Believe me, I know about all the problems. I complain a lot to my friends.

But they're clearly trying to climb on top of this. They're opening up about the problems, and they had that incident a month ago or so when they stopped selling iPhones. They're trying to figure it out.

I ran a dial-up ISP in the 90's. Tons of people came on to the net, and everyone in the business was trying like crazy to grow their phone banks and their networks to handle the new people. Back then everyone complained about their ISP -- it was hard to keep up.

That's what's happening now with wireless. Everyone is starting to use lots of data. Three years ago, almost no one used wireless net access. Three years from now, almost everyone in the city will want to be able to stream video to their phones at the same time. All of that infrastructure has to be built, and all of it has to be financed. Imagine if some other major chunk of infrastructure had to be built from the ground up -- electrical wiring, or roads, or whatever. It's a big job.

The transition is inevitably going to be bloody. We just need AT&T to be open about it, and to really step up and try to keep up with the growth. When they come clean like this, it's a very positive sign. And once everyone's online, and the growth stabilizes, things will get a lot better.

(I realize that no one will buy this. But I figured I'd put it out there anyway.)

Comment Re:!do no evil (Score 5, Insightful) 191

Isn't that awful? I can't understand why they did it.

Moving stuff on web pages sucks. Especially on that web page.

The bad thing isn't the fade in itself. It's that Google used to be run by people who knew what sucked and what didn't. Now it seems like there are people who don't know in positions to call some shots. It's a bad omen.

They're probably about 10 years away from their own version of Microsoft's "Bob".

Comment Re:!do no evil (Score 3, Insightful) 191

This sounds more stupid than evil, which is interesting, because Google doesn't do obviously stupid things very often.

The patent won't do them any good, because it won't stand up in court. They could use it to attack someone small -- an open source developer who would have to back down because they couldn't handle teh legal fees -- but they don't have much of a history of that sort of thing, and there's no reason to think they would in this case, either.

It won't do them any good at all against someone big -- MS and Bing, for example -- because MS would have good lawyers who could demonstrate prior art to a court.

So what's the point?

Comment I was hoping for a new business model (Score 4, Insightful) 568

I'm pretty underwhelmed by the announcement.

I have an iPhone, I live in NYC, and my network is terrible. That's exactly the kind of problem markets are supposed to solve, right? I should ditch AT&T and go with a competitor.

The problem is that my phone cost $300, the Apple Care costs $70 (and you need it because the battery is sealed into the phone, and won't last 2 years), and there's a $175 early termination fee. So walking away is pretty expensive.

This Google phone will have essentially the same deal. You'll still be tied to a carrier, and it will be expensive to walk away. Maybe Verizon or T-Mobile will be a lot better than AT&T. Or maybe when many millions of people buy these data hungry phones in a short period of time, their networks will sink just like AT&T's has.

We need to commoditize wireless bandwidth. We want a universe in which we buy our phones directly, we own them, and we can choose which networks to plug them into. And if a network is bad, we have to be free to walk.

These walled gardens are always going to give us crummy throughput, unreliable service, and restrictions on the apps we can run. Just swapping one corporation (T-Mobile) for another (AT&T) isn't going to fix anything. Maybe they'll be marginally better. But without a real market operating, and the ability for us to move around in response to the quality of service we receive, we'll never get a good wireless network.

Comment How does Apple use rumors? (Score 4, Insightful) 195

How much do we know about the ways in which Apple uses rumors to gin up interest in new products?

It seems likely to me that they leak stuff to keep us all talking, but I don't have any proof of that. It also seems likely to me that if they're going to be leaking stuff, they might not always leak accurate information.

There was a story awhile back that quoted Yoko Ono as saying that the Beatles were coming to iTunes. Does anyone ever bother to dig into those stories to see what happened? Did Yoko actually say that? Was there a deal that fell apart? Did the reporter just make it up? If so, why? Was Apple trying to get us talking?

Despite all of my suspicions about leaks and promotion, I'm really excited about the tablet. It will be really interesting to see what they do with the interface.

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