Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Google buys Motorola... so what next??

Google has acquired Motorola 12.5 billion dollars which is close to double the amount Oracle paid for Sun and Java. The acquision is mostly about the patents for mobile business which Google has under estimated so far. Actually this reminded me the blog post of former Sun CEO Schwartz.

In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass*, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP.” (IP = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.) If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.” My response was simple. “Steve, I was just watching your last presentation, and Keynote looks identical to Concurrence – do you own that IP?” Concurrence was a presentation product built by Lighthouse Design, a company I’d help to found and which Sun acquired in 1996. Lighthouse built applications for NeXTSTEP, the Unix based operating system whose core would become the foundation for all Mac products after Apple acquired NeXT in 1996. Steve had used Concurrence for years, and as Apple built their own presentation tool, it was obvious where they’d found inspiration. “And last I checked, MacOS is now built on Unix. I think Sun has a few OS patents, too.” Steve was silent. And that was the last I heard on the topic. 
... and the story goes...

So that interaction was good preparation for a later meeting with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. They’d flown in over a weekend to meet with Scott McNealy, Sun’s then CEO – who asked me and Greg Papadopoulos (Sun’s CTO) to accompany him. As we sat down in our Menlo Park conference room, Bill skipped the small talk, and went straight to the point, “Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice.” OpenOffice is a free office productivity suite found on tens of millions of desktops worldwide. It’s a tremendous brand ambassador for its owner – it also limits the appeal of Microsoft Office to businesses and those forced to pirate it. Bill was delivering a slightly more sophisticated variant of the threat Steve had made, but he had a different solution in mind. “We’re happy to get you under license.” That was code for “We’ll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download” – the digital version of a protection racket. Royalty bearing free software? Jumbo shrimp. (Oxymoron.) But fearing this was on the agenda, we were prepared for the meeting. Microsoft is no stranger to imitating successful products, then leveraging their distribution power to eliminate a competitive threat – from tablet computing to search engines, their inspiration is often obvious (I’m trying to like Bing, I really am). So when they created their web application platform, .NET, it was obvious their designers had been staring at Java – which was exactly my retort. “We’ve looked at .NET, and you’re trampling all over a huge number of Java patents. So what will you pay us for every copy of Windows?” Bill explained the software business was all about building variable revenue streams from a fixed engineering cost base, so royalties didn’t fit with their model… which is to say, it was a short meeting.

So thats pretty much the reason, Google needed patents to defend themselves (and the partners) also since android has achieved a great success, it might be wise to jumo into hardware business and make few bucks out of it.

Till today Google released two Android devices with Google brand on it... the Nexus One and Nexus S. Both are reference implementations of the upcoming Android Os releases and great hardware but none were as appealing as Apple devices.

Google has choosen another strategy and stepback in implemantation release of Honeycomb and left it to Motorola with the Zoom. That time Samsung was questioning why Motorola had more access to new OS than any others who were also building devices.

Today everyone is congratulating Google for the buyout and defending its partners but very soon this acquision might bring if everyone has equal access to new sources. However if Google succeeds to keep Android as an open platform, it might just drive all other vendors to design great appealing devices as well as good hardware.

So good move Google, expensive but a clever move... Wonder if Apple would buy the USA as a countermove since they have that much cash.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

So long Flex...

I have been a supporter of Adobe Flex since version 2 beta, had developed on every version since then, received official trainers training, talked on implementing and developing flex apps many times, blogged and wrote magazine articles on Flex, gave Flex training and consulting to various clients and projects, try each beta on the day it was released, was one of the few people who made flex and blaze work on app engine, my blogs tutorials had been highlighed on sites like dzone... However I really lost my faith Flex which most probably Adobe also had.

Since day 0, i found Flex/Actionscript to be a mutual UI alternative in Java universe. It was easy to learn, had great UI editor and lets you design with the customer, declerative, event oriented, great in cross browser compability and had a great and easy to install runtime. By the time Adobe bough Macromedia, Flash was already the leader in inteactive and rich Web content. Adobe had moved it one step forward by migrating flex development on eclipse by providing a classy plugin and also drove flash to each computer on the sphere by successfully supporting flash based streaming videos popularized by Youtube.

Flex was so promising that very soon Microsoft introduced Silverlight and Sun striked back with JavaFX (shall we say applet 2.0). However Flex's maturity, easy learning curve, good set of resources, open source sdk (which both JavaFX and Silverlight failed), good community support, did not let its opponents to achieve any success. Very soon Oracle terminated JavaFX script and Microsoft announced they will use Js&HTML5 as the major development language in Windows 8. It was like a miracle to work on Flex at the age of JSF.

Meanwhile on mobile side Adobe took it very slow. They failed to invest needed resources and support to build a mobile version of flash runtime for years. Mobile Flash, Flash Lite or whatever it is called has been just a rumor for long years (yes! years...). Then the iPhone era began, once again Adobe was not fast to adopt and when they were willing to put a runtime on iPhone, Jobs just refused. He claimed flash to be slow, power consuming, buggy and not ready to be used without a mouse pointer. Everyone including me accused Jobs not wanting Flash on iPhone to sell more apps but after seeing flash performing on Android, I am not really sure if Jobs is all wrong.

Flash used to be awesome! it used to be on all platforms, running, installing and updating without any pain. Today as the rise of the mobile world Flash is suffering. They are not on iOS, crippled on Android and Blackberry and dropped linux to a second level citizen. 64bit flash has gone no far than a rumor just like mobile flash once... and Adobe had focused more on HTML5 tools like edge than updating the Flash experience. They had never able to release the linux version flex (flash) builder which was promised long ago.

Although Adobe much invested in Android Development tools and build a first class tool set, the apps built on flex need 3rd party downloads and do not give the native feel to the user.

Flash is still there, with video and audio streaming backed with old flash content like banners, ads etc... but nobody willing to do anything new with Flash, neither on mobile nor in full web. They had great set of tools and runtimes for all OSs and browsers (Flex, Air, Blaze, tool support) but they just could not adopt to change. So long Flex, it was both fun and great to code on... well me? i will just use GWT...