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Comment Re:$20,000 hammer (Score 1) 301

What I will say, however, is that the public sector has to follow a LOT of byzantine rules around procurement

They do, and it's precisely *because* they have to be scrupulously fair that there are these byzantine rules. Such rules are what happen when you attempt to codify every aspect of a transaction so that there is no conceivable way that any party can be favored by the purchaser, etc. And of course, when someone *does* find a way to do something bad within the rules, the answer is more rules.

Fewer rules means trusting human judgement. Trust in human judgment means that there *will* be the occasional misuse of funds. And misuse of funds means that someone will be blamed for not having rules to prevent the problem in the first place. (The idea that the cost of preventing a crisis can easily be more than the crisis itself something few voters can understand.)

So in the end, we get exactly what the public demands - enough rules that compliance doubles the cost of everything, but a level of fraud and graft (which might have added 10% to the price) that is much lower than the private sector.

Comment Isn't a bit late... (Score 4, Insightful) 147

By the time they know it's a flop, isn't a bit late? They've already spent pretty much all the money. At best, it might persuade some theaters to *not* show the movie.

It doesn't really help to find out that the oncoming light in the tunnel is a train 30 seconds earlier than you might have realized otherwise...

Comment Re:Take a LOSS? A LOSS on eBooks? (Score 1) 323

If we're talking about self-published books, it seems likely that the median self-pub book makes about 100 sales. The median for a published book is probably about 2-3K. (Hard figures are almost impossible to come by.)

I've long stopped equating popular with good. They're not opposite, but if you ignore the not-publishable-quality books, I'd say it's orthogonal. As for sales, the main problem for self-publishers is that there's 100,000 books self-published each month. A book that sells 30 copies is not necessarily bad, it's that not enough people will read it (even for free) for it to ever get word-of-mouth, even if it would be good enough to succeed.

A fundamental problem for the industry is that hard-cover books only cost a little more to print than a trade paperback. The main reason for hard-covers at all is that many readers can't handle the fact that they're paying three times a much to read the book immediately. The HC gives the rabid fan who's willing to pay to read it right away an excuse to themselves as to why they're willing to pay so much. (You'll note that they stop selling HCs as soon as a paperback comes out.)

With e-books, it's harder to get consumers to pay a substantial amount up front for what will be the same good in a year. There's no convenient myth that the reader can latch their willingness to pay onto, and thus there's a lot more resistance to paying a substantial amount up front. And unfortunately, the extra money from hardcover is what keeps the industry alive.

Comment The limiting factor is time, not money (Score 2) 323

Almost everyone I know with an e-book reader went nuts buying cheap books until they had a few hundred book in the unread pile. Unfortunately, they've got adult jobs, and thus limited time to read. Their book buying went from 10 times normal rate back down to the normal rate.

I think a lot of people in the industry were hoping that revenue per reader was going to stay constant, even if the readers were buying 5 times as many books at 1/5 the price. Now reality is sinking in. With cheap e-books, people *might* buy 50% more books, which is still a huge decrease in industry income. This is not a merry time to be a publisher, an author, or to have anything to do with the book industry.

However, once the publishers are gone, Amazon should do very well in the self-published market. Not with readers, of course - who has time to sift through hundreds of books to find the odd readable one. But with desperate authors who want to get promoted. I figure $25K to get a book to show up decently in the Amazon listings is going to make a lot more revenue than Amazon did from selling books.

It'll just suck if you want to read anything.

Comment Re:Mobile apps and screen sizes, legit problem (Score 2) 331

I will say that this also comes from many, many users, who will consistently rate a page that has everything tuned to perfection as "more professional" and thus more trustworthy.

It's not just stupid designers. There really is a customer-experience trade-off that is valued by the customers, as long as they have exactly the right screen size. It's one of the disadvantages that Android lives with. The flexibility means that it's not practical to offer the same customer experience that people find on the iDevice, and a lot of customers value that experience. (Personally, I don't, but I'm exactly 1 customer opinion.)

Comment Re:They won't fork it (Score 1) 223

If they're smart, they'll let Google continue to pay for updating Android, but demand a percentage of sales (or a set fee per handset) to keep using Android. The whole point of being the dominant retailer is to take the manufacturer's profits, and leave them with the expenses. Samsung should spend just enough on Tizen to make it a plausible threat (including releasing the occasional Tizen phone), and not a penny more.

Comment Re:this is ridiculous (Score 1) 223

They make money on hardware, they can't make money on search but google can.

Have you ever read any corporate histories of Sears, Walmart, et al?

As soon as you are the dominant market for any manufacturer's product, you take over their profits.

Now this is usually done be either by demanding lower prices until the manufacturer had almost no profits left, or in the case of family companies that felt loyalty to the workers, until the family could no longer afford to run the company (there are some dramatic anecdotes of frantic owner's giving up and trying to hand the keys to the sellers. Of course the sellers refused - the manufacturers would be the only ones capable of wringing out those last few dollars).

In Samsung's case, it only makes sense to demand that Google start handing over either a percentage of their mobile sales or simply paying Samsung a set amount per handset. (Of course, it might make sense to start smaller. For example, giving Samsung first access to new releases for 6 months to eventually demanding exclusive access to Android on platforms for which they have products.)

If you've got enough profits to be worth worrying about, you never, *ever* want to have just one viable customer.

Honestly, I don't think Samsung is quite at that point, but it's getting pretty close. Outside of the slashdot-crowd (which, let's face it, is noise in the sales figures), almost everybody I know thinks of themselves as buying a "Samsung", not an "Android phone".

Comment Re: As the song asks... (Score 2) 358

and mostly free Heatlh Care

As a Canadian who is very happy with our health-care system, can I please remind you that our health-care is *not* free.

It is single-payer (the government) and we are not charged based on use. It is also much cheaper on a per-capita basis for roughly equivalent care in the US, although for fortunate people like myself, it's probably more expensive than in the US, as my taxes probably cover the health-care expenditures for 1.5 - 2 other less fortunate families.

But to call it free is to ignore the fact that the "rest of the world" also pays for health-care, just through our taxes or other insurance schemes.

Comment Does Fragmentation Matter? (Score 1) 419

If you are interested in software sales, the only thing that matters is how many people are going to actually *buy* your app.

The real question is how many dollars a year users of each version are spending on apps (and if developers are considering iOS, how the dollars per year compare with Apple users).

My completely anecdotal guess is developers can pretty safely forget v.2.x of Android without hugely harming sales.

The real question (and I don't have enough info) is should developers who are trying to make a living from apps forget about Android apps altogether? (i.e. is it like writing and selling Linux applications - can be done, but you don't do it for the $ alone)?

Comment Re:I cut my teeth on that CPU (Score 1) 336

Ah, the DG. My first job was working on a Data General.

I always wondered why there was a long pause whenever I called technical support and introduced myself as Tom West (at least until I read "Soul of a New Machine").

Of course, while entertaining, that book wrecked ego surfing for me, as it was used for decades in every Computers and Society course on the planet.

Comment Most companies only get one innovation. (Score 1) 307

Statistically, you're looking at it all wrong. Lots of companies innovate, including the big ones. But any given innovation only has a 1 in 10,000 chance of succeeding.

If you get it right, then you've a decent shot at hitting the big leagues like Apple, Google, MS and FB.

But assuming because they managed a successful innovation once means they've got a greater chance of finding a second one is ludicrous. It's like expecting a lottery winner has a better chance of winning a second prize.

Of course, having said that, there are some companies that *have* managed multiple successful innovations, but they're *exceedingly* rare.

(I'd give Apple the Apple II, the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. I'd give MS MS-DOS, Windows and Office. At this point, Google and FB are still one trick ponies. But they're magnificent tricks. Criticizing such companies is like criticizing someone for only holding one world record.)

Comment Re:Piracy (Score 1) 321

> I thought the only valid business model (unless you're on the super-popular end of the power curve distribution) was ad-based apps.


As a typical iPad owner who's spent $100+ on apps (not a lot, but still), I thought the stories of Android app-sales wasteland were overblown (that salesperson notwithstanding).

You're telling me it's not?

That *is* depressing.

I guess for the sake of my customer experience, Apple's *does* manage to stop jail-breaking.

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Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.