Daniel Eran Dilger
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Why Can’t Microsoft Develop Software for Zune HD?

Zune HD

Daniel Eran Dilger

An iPhone developer has reported that Microsoft promised it “a bucket of money” if it could port its Twitter app to the new Zune HD. The obvious question is, if there’s so much money in writing Zune software, why can’t Microsoft write its own simple apps and pocket all that potential for wealth itself?
The bottom line: Microsoft knows there’s no real money in Zune software and doesn’t want to invest its resources (the company has plenty of cash) in developing low value software. The problem: mobile developers have no incentive to leave the iPhone App Store in order to support the Zune HD, and consumers have little reason to buy the Zune HD without any software.

Yet, oddly enough, Microsoft’s fortunes have come solely from software licensing, not from developing a platform and selling hardware. So why is the company now abandoning its apparently proven Windows Everywhere business model to chase the Apple’s hardware-oriented business, the complete opposite, with the Zune?

Microsoft is admitting that its Windows Everywhere fantasy/strategy, as advocated and championed by Bill Gates, is over. Rather than being a superior life form that won out over Apple, Microsoft is admitting that all along it was really only a parasite that could only thrive while blindly leaching off the colon of a sentient host like Apple.

After briefly leaving its host to set out on its own, Microsoft has discovered that to survive it must scamper back into Apple’s shadow and leach upon its host for direction. The questions now are: can Microsoft pull this leeching business off again, and will Apple allow it?

How Microsoft Climbed On Top: Software.

Microsoft knows quite a lot about how to extract money from the tech industry. Since the late 80s, the company has been inhaling the lion’s share of profits in the desktop PC world. It has done this by focusing on software, leaving PC hardware makers to battle over increasingly smaller hardware margins as PC prices fell and competition ramped up.

Similar competition in software has not occurred however; prices have largely remained stagnant or even risen. The price of Office has only recently dropped in the face of competitive pressure from Google Apps and OpenOffice, and the cost of Windows, where there is little effective competition, is now two to the three times as much as it was a decade ago.

Microsoft’s domination of the PC software market started with its 1981 deal with IBM to license PC-DOS. IBM lacked the foresight to recognize that the value of its original PC was largely delivered by DOS, particularly after Compaq and other companies began copying IBM’s hardware, turning the PC design into a basic commodity used to run DOS and its DOS-demanding apps.

IBM tried to release a greatly improved PC design under the name PS/2, but Compaq and other cloners had already depressed the prices of “IBM PC-compatibles” to the point where there was little room for real innovation in the hardware space. Through 1995, competition kept hammering PC prices down while Microsoft’s lucrative DOS business began to attract attention from its own audience of cloners.

How Apple Is Changing the PC Software World… Back

Microsoft’s Monopoly Maintenance.

With Windows 95, Microsoft destroyed the market for DOS by tying and embedding its own version of DOS to the Windows environment, a clear violation of anti-trust laws. Microsoft also used the launch to blindside DOS developers such as Lotus and WordPerfect, neatly leveraging its DOS monopoly to migrate users from their existing DOS software to Microsoft’s new Office 95, thereby creating a secondary monopoly in desktop PC software.

Throughout the 90s, Microsoft continued to destroy one market after the next, taking over Netscape’s web browser business by simply bundling its own Internet Explorer browser in Windows and working to similarly destroy other businesses, including Apple’s QuickTime. Microsoft used its monopoly position to block competitive bundling deals, break competitor’s compatibility with Windows, stop rivals from introducing compatible alternative offerings, disrupt efforts to build alternative platforms, and prevent other products from reaching the market, both directly through exclusive business deals and indirectly through misinformation campaigns spreading fear, uncertainly and doubt.

Apart from a vocal minority of critics, Microsoft was largely congratulated by the tech media and its punditry for continuing its successful streak of anti-competitive behavior. Had Microsoft been competing against an array of larger rivals, its ability to profit and remain popular would have been worthy of accolades. But Microsoft wasn’t playing fair and was actually breaking the law. Additionally, Microsoft owed its success to the companies it later turned on, starting with IBM and then Apple.

Back then, Gates complained about patent protection law preventing competition. Once Microsoft was in the position of owning patents and using them to stifle new competition, it changed its tune. Microsoft became a great parasite that had developed an intolerance to parasites of its own. The problem: the company had no capacity to do anything original apart from extracting the value created by others.

SCO, Linux, and Microsoft in the History of OS: 1990s
Office Wars 4 – Microsoft’s Assault on Lotus and IBM
Microsoft’s Plot to Kill QuickTime

The Floundering Parasite.

Even worse, it started to become obvious that Microsoft wasn’t even able to do that anymore. When Apple, nearly sapped of its revenues by the Windows parasite, coughed up the Newton Message Pad as its last great hurrah of the early 90s, Microsoft set out to deliver its own tablet computing ideas. Palm stepped in and delivered a more cost effective and popular platform with the Palm, causing Microsoft to shift its parasitic attentions to a new host. But all of Microsoft’s efforts to suck the life out of the mobile PDA market floundered throughout the 90s.

Realizing that the future of the PDA was to be fused with mobile phones, Palm began pioneering its Treo smartphone. Microsoft again shifted its mobile efforts from clamshell Handheld PCs and Pocket PCs to Windows Mobile, yet after years of trying, the company simply could not deliver an attractive product.

Meanwhile, the invigorated Apple began selling the iPod, catching Microsoft’s attention yet again and resulting in a series of missed hits that continued through PlaysForSure and into the Zune. Microsoft was also busy trying to copy the success of the Sony PlayStation 2 in fears that console gaming would kill a major artery feeding Microsoft’s PC monopoly.

Despite growing all these tentacles in efforts to leech away revenues from anything successful around it, Microsoft’s new businesses related to the Zune, Xbox and Windows Mobile have all consumed more resources than they’ve earned. So why is Microsoft pursuing these hardware businesses rather than sticking with its software success?

Because it knows the PC business is maturing, and once the potential for growth ends, Microsoft will end up stuck on a dying island. PC sales will of course grow into emerging markets, but these offer little opportunity for Microsoft’s historically fat software profits. India and China are rife with piracy and are willing and eager to substitute their own operating systems and desktop software based on free and open source technology for Microsoft’s expensive alternatives.

Microsoft’s third leg of profitability, server software, was a similar parasitic attack on Unix and Lotus Domino/Notes, an effort which handsomely repaid Microsoft’s efforts in developing Windows NT/2000/XP and Exchange Server. However, the enterprise market is also maturing, and as companies see opportunities to shift to free and open software, the allure of paying through the nose for Microsoft’s proprietary solutions is also leading up to stagnant growth potential there, too.

Microsoft’s Outrageous Office Profits
The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile

Eating Up Time.

Over the past decade, the company has simply grown desperate for ideas. Windows XP attempted to head off any interest in Apple’s Mac OS X, and the company promised repeatedly to fully deliver its own version of Apple’s technologies in the development of Longhorn. That culminated in the greatly disappointing Vista after too many years on the drawing board. Now Microsoft is getting ready to relaunch the software as Windows 7, hoping that the release will make up for the lost decade.

The problem there is that time ravages all organisms. The last decade has stripped Microsoft of its perceived immunity, omnipotence and omniscience, giving it a tarnished brand while its once weak competitors and former hosts have regained their strength. Commercial Unix has been reborn as Linux, and has gained a new respect in the enterprise that no amount of Microsoft-fueled misinformation campaigns can now slow.

Apple has adapted faster legs in retail, enabling it to keep well ahead of Microsoft’s tentacles as computer sales in general grow stagnant outside of Apple’s retail outlets. Apple’s retail efforts are now approaching ten years old and are growing as fast as the company can manage to expand.

Microsoft has announced plans to open two stores, making it years away from profitability in retail on top of having no track record in direct sales, no competency in building out retail stores, and no product lineup that has any potential ability to do anything but embitter its existing retail channel. Even if everything works out swimmingly for Microsoft (and of course, things won’t work out well for Microsoft’s retail stores), it will remain a decade behind Apple in retail.

Why Windows 7 is Microsoft’s next Zune
Microsoft to open new retail stores like Apple

Moving At The Speed of Zune.

Clearly, Microsoft has to move fast. It’s now the third year of the Zune, which failed miserably despite the company’s best efforts to apply its monopoly power and disgorge rivers of false information from every pundit pore. The failure of the second year’s Zune models only proved the fact that Microsoft’s hubris was the act of a naked emperor. Apple kept one step ahead throughout, delivering the cheap video Nano to embarrass the original Zune and the iPod touch to humiliate the second generation.

Now, Microsoft is launching an iPod touch clone (again substituting various useful iPod features with a radio, something that didn’t work over the last two years, either), but it is missing a critical element: third party software. For the last year, Apple has been building up its iPhone/iPod touch mobile software platform and now has 65,000 apps available. Microsoft has two options to compete against this juggernaut: develop a series of useful applications itself, or copy Apple’s attempt to harness the power of third party developers to do this for it. Microsoft is choosing the latter.

This is a grave mistake. There are no historical examples of companies who arrived late to the party with a copy-cat minority platform (even ignoring platform maturity and quality), and subsequently took over. IBM crushed the fledgling pre-PC market (mostly CP/M), but only using its monopoly power in business machines. Apple’s Mac launched rather weakly, and ten years later was overwhelmed, not by the cheaper Amiga or Atari ST, but by the much larger Windows/DOS PC monopoly wielded by Microsoft. With Microsoft’s attempts to leverage its monopoly power now failing more often that succeeding (PDAs, web search, gaming, mobile phones, MP3 players, etc) it’s completely non-sensical to think that Microsoft’s minority Zune will somehow be able to sap any strength from Apple’s iPod/iPhone/iTunes business.

Additionally, this time Microsoft doesn’t have the support of its army of hardware partners. The Zune killed off Microsoft’s MP3 partnerships, leaving it pitted against a variety of rivals in addition to Apple, from other smartphone and MP3 player devices to competing devices like Nokia’s Internet Tablets and the indirect competition for attention posed by netbooks and handheld gaming devices. Expecting developers to flock to the Zune HD in ways they haven’t flocked to the already existing Zune APIs is rather naive.

Zune Sales Still In the Toilet

Doesn’t Microsoft Write Software?

Most puzzling is the fact that Microsoft already has a proven business model to copy, and given that copying others’ ideas is what the company does best, it’s hard to understand why it hasn’t taken a better look at how Apple delivered the iPhone.

The success of the iPhone is best understood by comparing it against the Newton Message Pad. With the iPhone, Apple released a device with lots of included basic functionality, not just lots of potential features that third parties could someday deliver, if the device were to gain a sufficient enough installed base to warrant such investment. Apple wrote a series of apps for the original iPhone, enough that the first 5 million buyers were sold on it even before Apple announced any plans to deliver third party APIs.

In contrast, Microsoft has still not sold four million Zunes in nearly three years of trying. The Zune HD is starting the installed base over at zero because it uses its own development platform. That’s what Apple did in the shift from iPod to iPhone, but the critical difference is the fact that Apple managed to sell more than five million iPhones in the first year before making development APIs available. Therefore, there was immediate interest and a significant installed base to incentivize application development from the start.

Newton Lessons for Apple’s New Platform

The Problem with Third Party Developers.

Android, the Palm Pre, and the Zune HD are currently all inviting developers to write software for a negligible installed base, an uphill battle Apple already experienced back in its Newton days (and something Steve Jobs experienced in launching both the Mac and NeXT platforms). That’s a really tough sell. It’s especially tough once you realize that third party developers are not necessarily aligned with you. They’re independent third parties, meaning they’d happily stab you in the back or desert your platform if a better deal presents itself.

That’s something else Jobs and Apple know about first hand. Back in 1981, Jobs invited Gates to develop for the Mac platform as an opportunity to enter the application development business where Microsoft had little previous success. Once Microsoft realized it had tremendous leverage against Apple as the key developer of several important Mac apps, it used this to extort rights to Apple’s Mac technologies and then used these against Apple, both in developing the copycat Windows and in successfully thwarting Apple’s efforts to defend its software copyright in the Look and Feel lawsuits.

Microsoft then abandoned Apple anyway, leaving Word and Excel on the Mac to stagnate as Microsoft put all its development efforts into Windows versions. Gates also refused to write software for NeXT, knowing that Windows wouldn’t stand much of a chance if Office apps were available on superior platforms. Microsoft still only makes the most feeble attempts to deliver the appearance of supporting Mac Office apps, and Apple tries diligently to maintain that Office for Mac is anything other than half-assed trash while it shores up its own iWork suite.

Android, Palm’s WebOS, and the Zune HD will similarly only retain third party developers as long as their respective platform developers can both deliver compelling enough hardware to attract buyers and good enough tools for developers to use. The first problem is by far the most serious. And beware Google and Palm: your top developers are ready and willing to abandon you to start their own basic platforms on a Linux kernel; easy come, easy go. Watch for China, it is especially good at taking your technology and nationalizing it. Good luck and all.

Office Wars 3 – How Microsoft Got Its Office Monopoly

Again, Doesn’t Microsoft Write Software?

This all means that Microsoft should be delivering the Zune HD with an impressive assortment of clever mobile apps to rival the iPhone and iPod touch. It isn’t. While CNET regulars are gushing over the very basic version of Internet Explorer 6 (!) included on it, once the device hits the street it will be compared against a real mobile browser and users will wonder why Windows Enthusiast rags were blowing so much smoke up their… Zune.

In reality, the Zune’s web browser looks terrible. Its virtual keyboard (previously reviled as a concept by Windows Enthusiasts when it appeared on the iPhone) covers more of the display and looks clunker, while its zooming, panning, and general navigation are so bad Microsoft refuses to demonstrate it in public. In contrast, Apple showed off the iPhone’s new browser in depth six months before it hit the market, and even Android and Palm demonstrated theirs well in advance. Both were based on WebKit, and therefore already proven. The Zune HD goes on sale in a month using a browser formerly known only to drive Windows Mobile users nuts and send them off to download Opera.

If Microsoft’s web browser is this bad, you can imagine what else is wrong. The general navigation is that same awful list of text that trails off the edge of the screen, something that did not seem to create excitement in the first two generations of Zune devices. The Zune HD is Windows Mobile without a phone. Think about how bad that is. No really, pause and reflect for a moment. Wow.

What does the Zune HD offer? HD Radio and HD video output, both features that, while unique, have no known demand. In contrast, the original iPhone delivered, well, a phone, but also contact, calendar and mail features and access to weather, stocks and other widgets. Subsequent versions have added push messaging and photo and video recording. All of this is well within Microsoft’s capacity to deliver. The company just doesn’t think it needs to do anything. This again is a huge mistake.

Zune HD’s Bing-powered Web browser | MP3 Insider – CNET Reviews

Why Isn’t Microsoft Developing for the iPhone?

It is also telling that Microsoft has not delivered any software apps for the iPhone, the most successful mobile software platform over the last year and a half. Microsoft is so blinded by trying to maintain its dying monopoly that it is failing to identify real opportunities to innovate its way out of oblivion and irrelevance.

The only reason Microsoft delivers Mac Office is to fulfill contractual obligations with Apple and to prevent the appearance of a rival Mac office suite that could work its way to Windows. Attempting to attain or maintain monopoly control was also the reason Microsoft delivered a version of Internet Explorer and Windows Media for Mac. Once that motivation passed, so did those products.

Recall that even at its most beleaguered, Apple cranked out ClarisWorks on the Mac and then Windows and quickly claimed the top spot in integrated productivity software against Microsoft Works. Apple then let its Claris subsidiary fall apart, but that demonstrates the potential for incubating threats against Microsoft on the Mac platform. QuickTime survived because of being on the Mac platform. The reinvigorated Apple later revived QuickTime cross platform and used it to deliver iTunes for Windows, followed by Safari for Windows and then MobileMe for Windows.

Apple isn’t afraid to develop key apps for rival platforms that offer opportunities. So why is Microsoft, desperately in need of new opportunities as its core monopolies stagnate, not jumping on the opportunity to define excellence in mobile apps on the iPhone? Certainly, if Microsoft could deliver a variety of “must have” iPhone apps, it could use those to lead users toward its own Zune and Windows Mobile offerings. Is the company stupid and just unable to deliver?

Office Wars 1 – Claris and the Origins of Apple iWork

Failure to Launch.

I think the company is unable to deliver. Back at the launch of the Mac, Microsoft was late in delivering MultiPlan (later named Excel), and ever since, even up into recent versions of Office for Mac, its offerings have always seemed both late and rushed. A look at the Windows Vista debacle indicates this isn’t something limited to its Mac offerings.

In fact, Microsoft only looks competent in areas where there is nothing to compare it to. The Zune looks fair in a vacuum, but next to the iPod it’s at least a year behind in hardware and further back in software. Back in 2000, I similarly observed that Windows CE devices looked fair only without making any comparison to Palm. Being forced to use Office on a recent project left me frustrated and angry, largely because I had grown accustomed to iWork, software designed to work for you rather than to maintain Microsoft’s monopoly.

If you look at Microsoft’s customers, they’re only satisfied when they don’t look at alternatives. And most of its core customers are Windows Enthusiasts and Microsoft shop IT departments that are careful not to examine alternatives out of fear their faith might be shaken if exposed to some reality.

I think if Microsoft attempted to develop iPhone software, it would only expose how comically incompetent the company is. The majority of the problem is management. When I talk to Microsoft employees, they express frustration and irritation with how badly and incompetently products are managed. This reflects a top-down desire to maintain the status quo rather than rebuilding to try new things. That’s also what killed Apple in the mid 90s.

Why Apple Bounced Back

Death is Always the Answer.

Life knows better than to embrace the status quo. We, and everything around us, are programmed to die. This forces us to make tough decisions and do more than just lounge around passively. More importantly, it erases away our ability to hold back the forward momentum of the gene pool and of civilization.

The older we get, the more resistant we are to change and the more conservative our outlook becomes. If we lived to 200, our entire global society would be as backward and delusional and hesitant about making any progress as the middle of the United States is specifically. We’d have whole generations of naysaying, Civil War-era veterans adamantly insisting on turning back the clock on Civil Rights and Suffrage, rather than just a minority of superstitious people who have invented a fondness for living in the imagined glory of the past.

The only way to break from the past is to kill it off along with all those who prefer to live there. Nature has devised a grandly elegant way to do this by giving us clocks that coldly kill us so that are children are limited in what they can learn from us while making their own way forward, rather than forever living under our perceived notions of what is true and right. Without death, there would be no revolutions, no exploring beyond the flat edges of the known earth, and no attempts made to leave a lasting legacy behind. There would also be no hope of escaping from under the current dominations of the less qualified.

Death kills everything that does not regerminate with a fresh mix of DNA and rise from its former ashes to try new things. In the mid 90s, Apple had to die to live again. And today, Microsoft is a large cancerous parasite being leached to death by a series of attacks launched by quicker and more innovative rivals.

Today’s Microsoft will die, just like the old IBM monopoly and the British Empire and the Caesars and the dinosaurs. The only question is, will Microsoft reinvent itself and live on in a new form, or sink into history as one of the most troublesome diseases to ever hold back the progress of our society’s technological advancement?

  • hurtle

    As ever Daniel, an excellent analysis. I like the way that you remind us of what has gone before, we need this because of the legions of revisionists out there who try to obfuscate and deny Apple’s leadership and influence, while at the same time claiming that microsoft has somehow done anything other be parasitical and hold back progress.

  • http://scottworldblog.blogspot.com scotty321

    Bravo, Daniel, bravo!! This may be your best blog entry ever. You keep outdoing yourself over & over again! Absolutely great.

    And I could not agree with you more that Microsoft is ABSOLUTELY the most troublesome disease to ever hold back the progress of our society’s technological advancement. Back when Apple was floundering in the 90’s, we were ABSOLUTELY living in the technological dark ages with almost ZERO innovation.

    Thanks also for the philosophical discussion on death… very enlightening.

  • Dorotea

    Great post. Just confused on “With Windows 95, Microsoft destroyed the market for DOS by tying and embedding its own version of DOS to the Windows environment, a clear violation of anti-trust laws. ”

    Why is this a violation of anti-trust laws?

  • mikeg

    Daniel, I agree with other commenters that this is one of the best, if not, the best articles you have written. You clearly capture and describe the history and current business practices of a company that seems to be moving toward a significant future downsizing. It will be interesting to see future articles that detail the chronicles of the floundering Zune HD, and what new product they have brewing. Just a philosophical question, what happened to ground-breaking Surface–as a product and as a tech base? Wasn’t that heralded as a (THE??) game changer for the computer industry? Hmm, perhaps the technology is incorporated into the Zune HD. Whatever.

  • http://islandinthenet.com Khürt Williams

    Microsoft is like a ship without a rudder. At somepoint it will run aground.

    Excellent and well written analysis.

  • http://bkpfd.org qka

    Microsoft can’t develop software, had no taste, etc.?


    The photo at the top of this article!

    Notice the last “e” in “Marketplace” is cut off.

    This in a publicity shot that has been all over the web. This is not a screenshot of a beta release, but a professionally shot PR pic. Notice the “artistic” use of light and shadow.

    If they can’t get the little things right, how can they do the big things?

  • mrturtle

    Nice article. I’m interested to see why anyone might buy a Zune without 3rd party apps. Seems like a stretch. I liked your comparisons between Palm as well.

    What’s with the shot towards the middle of the country? You mentioned women’s suffrage, which wasn’t available in middle states like VA, PA, and MD . If you’re going to randomly knock an area of the country in the middle of a tech article, knock the south (specifically for the two areas you mentioned: suffrage and civil rights), or better yet, leave such things out of an excellent tech analysis.

  • Willi

    First of all, in almost every blog post you describe what Microsoft did in the 90ies over and over again. Guess what, nobody cares about that anymore! I am an Apple user, I’ve got a Mac, I’ve got an iPhone, I’ve got an iPod Shuffle – but I’m only interested in what Microsoft does _today_. If you dislike Microsoft and its products so much it should be easy for you to find current examples instead of 10+ years old stuff. Sure, partly that’s not only old history but still practiced company philosophy. But if you haven’t noticed, many of Microsofts newer products don’t target vendors anymore, but directly the consomer, just like Apple’s! Plus, Microsoft is not just one big company, but has many sub companies that are to some extend free to do what they want (for example the Xbox team).

    Secondly, you are totally right that Microsoft is – again – only copying the competition rather than creating unique products. But that’s what most companies do, and competition is always a good thing for the customer. The Xbox 360 is a great console and the Zune is at least the best alternative to the iPod that’s available (to you Americans anyway). Personally I love the GUI of the Zune, just as the awesome Windows Media Center it focuses on large fonts and brilliant graphics. In my opinion the Zune GUI has always been better than the original iPod GUI. Plus, the TV output is far superior to the iPod’s/iPhone’s: not (only) because of HD, but because it sends everything to the TV output and is wonderfully controllable from your couch. I’ve got an expensive TV output set for my iPhone and I can only view some exclusive content Apple allows me to.

    Although I don’t understand why Microsoft is maintaining two similar platforms in the forms of Windows Mobile and Zune, I think it has indeed strong arguments for developers: Visual Studio, C# and .NET/XNA! Apple has a great SDK, but let’s face it, ObjC is rather exotic. You need OSX for development. And you can only develop for Mac and iPhone. With XNA, you can easily develop for Windows, Xbox 360 and Zune. I could imagine that many indie developers who are currently making games for Windows or Xbox 360 using XNA, might jump on Zune as well. The Xbox 360 is said to be much easier to develop for than the Playstation 3, so if the Zune is as accessible, it could be a fun device for developers. I don’t think it can ever reach the success of Apple’s App Store, but I don’t think it has to anyway.

    Now I don’t know about the qualities of the Zune browser (I like its sleeker design though) or if the DAP will be a success or not. But I always welcome competition and honestly, this time I hope Apple will start its photocopiers.

    @mikeg: Surface was never intended to replace the PC. It’s too expensive for that. Instead it is designed for companies and stores to interactively promote their stuff. And as far as I know it does so pretty well. I heard that BMW and many other companies have such a device in their stores. I guess the consumer variant of that would be the multitouch-enabled PC.

  • Willi

    Dammit, I didn’t want to write so much. Sorry for that. To sum it up: competition is always good and Microsoft is not always bad.

  • broadbean

    @mikeg – what do you mean what happened to Surface? Don’t you watch CSI: Miami and NCIS et al? It looks great when the actors drag and fling windows across extra large LCD monitors!

  • donarb

    qka, I have seen others mention the cutoff “e” and the cutoff “more” at the bottom. Apparently, Microsoft thinks this is their form of rebellion, to show the kids just how hip they are. Look for the Zune next year to replace all ‘e’s in the menus with ‘3’s.

    What’s really funny is look at the top of the Zune, you can see the outline of the touch screen within the window. Now, look at how much space there is between the top edge of the device and the touch area. Imagine you’re, oh, I don’t know, maybe playing a game with the unit turned sideways. Just how much of your thumb is going to stick out over the touch screen, covering up any on-screen action and triggering false touches? I smell a third party opportunity here, a little plastic “thumb rest extender”, perhaps? Oh, and with a built-in flashlight.

  • donarb
  • tundraboy

    Excellent post. Agree 100%.

    I’ve always maintained that Microsoft is not a software company. Their primary expertise is not in writing software, in fact they’re pretty bad at it. Their primary expertise is in the acquisition, perpetuation, and extension of monopoly through shrewd contracting (e.g. did not yield DOS exclusive rights toIBM), strategic communications (announcing vaporware that kills off nascent competition), and plain and simple coercion (threatening PC mfrs when they attempt to stray off the Windows/Office reservation).

    The Microsoft Prime Directive is not ‘build the best software’. Nope, the Microsoft Prime Directive is “Protect the Windows/Office Monopoly at all costs.” This is their downfall. It’s why Windows and Office are bloated, multi-patched, exceedingly complex resource-hogging calamities.

    If you commit a crime, are caught, and get convicted. You surrender all the benefits of that crime. If you stole stuff, aside from serving time you have to return it. Microsoft committed a crime, got convicted but still gets to keep the benefits that flowed from the crime. I don’t see the courts forcing them to dismantle the monopoly that resulted from their illegal acts committed throughout the 90’s.

  • http://twitter.com/NateTehGreat nat

    While Microsoft does have a couple apps on the App Store (‘Tag Reader’ and ‘Seadragon Mobile’), where’s Office? Will Office be on the Zune HD?

    As for the Zune HD’s interface, what are those little pictures to the left of the oversized text? I can only make out the play button next to ‘music.’ And what’s with the inordinate amount of unused blank space between ‘music’ and the top of the screen? The incredibly descriptive ‘more’ is cutoff because they chose not to use a 1/7th of the display!? Why!? To require scrolling the home screen vertically just to get to ‘more’?

  • yasmar

    Great article as usual. And great comment about the worthlessness of all the people who don’t live on the coasts. They are so stupid they don’t even see how pathetically backward they are. They should be counseled to end their lives by the Government. Then the more advanced people on the coasts could feel safe venturing in the “middle of the country” and repopulating that area, but with a more advanced gene pool.

    [Exactly Kent – These are knuckle dragging morons who *take exception with a Republican plan for end of life counseling* then listen to misrepresentations and lies by people like Boehner and Palin calling these plans “death counsels” and part of “Obamacare” and then go apeshit in their ignorance.

    They also don’t even know that the only reason they have health coverage under Medicare is because the Democrats brought it to them over the shrill panic of absolute Republican opposition in the days of Goldwater, and now they think, again, because they believe any shit Republican liars say, that Medicare is not somehow NOT a government run socialist plan, and that expanding it to everyone else will somehow threaten their coverage. As if Republicans are protecting their Medicare.

    So yes, we’re all on the same page: Most Americans are damn stupid and need an education. I don’t agree with the part about killing people though, that sounds like a Nazi/Republican idea. – Dan]

  • http://jonnytilney.com Jon T

    Great post yet again.

    I have had to put a copy of Windows 7 on my Mac (using Sun’s VirtualBox) and it is quite incredible how it has managed to garner such positive comment.

    I swear, Windows 7 is at least 10 years behind Leopard. IT is really the slowest, clunkiest, ugliest dose of pain and frustration ever invented. So much so that I predict Microsoft is probably going to be out of business much sooner than anyone ever thought possible.

  • stefn

    Careful with that “middle America” bit. Obama’s from Illinois. And I’m from Minnesota.

    I can smell all kinds of stinks that eminate from our coastal lowlands. That’s where Washington is. Nuf said. And that’s where California is. You know, the state that gets its water at government expense and uses it to destroy agricultural as a local industry in “middle America.” Partnering in this scandal with Texas and Florida. Two more coastal swamplands when it comes to agricultural oligarchy.

  • davidosus


    I’d like to hear Daniel’s take on Judge Leonard Davis’ ruling last week Tuesday, prohibiting Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening or containing custom XML, a mark-up language that allows formatting of text and makes files readable across different programs.

    Judge Davis found Microsoft willfully infringed on a patent held by i4i and ordered a fine of $200 million and compliance of his ruling within 60 days.

  • truthseeker

    Sucky company, sucky products. Their products are so bad! I hope Microsoft dies like the tapeworm it is and gets pooped out of existence! The problem is they grew huge and killed off other innovative companies and products. As you mentioned entire IT shops are built on their crap. I used to think they were at least good at branding (can’t hardly believe a long time ago I actually wanted a Microsoft mouse!) but now the brand is tarnished and MS to me stands for Mediocre Software and Monoplies Suck. I wonder what they’ll offer in their retail store? It makes sense for Apple to operate retail stores: they actually have PRODUCTS to sell! What is Microsoft going to sell? Boxed sets of Windows, Office, and Zune? I love how Microsoft betrayed its “army of hardware partners.” Gee, if you backstab everybody who are you left with? Oh, you have sit amongst the embers of your dying monoply all by yourself! Steve Balmer’s insane, sweat-drenched monkey dance chanting developers, developers, developers is so telling: come, build stuff for me, make me rich, now piss off or I’m going to throw a chair at you.

  • JohnWatkins

    “If we lived to 200, our entire global society would be as backward and delusional and hesitant about making any progress as the middle of the United States is specifically. ”
    Is this a swipe at the Midwest!? I hope not, but it sounds like it.
    Have you heard of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa? Have you heard of the DFL? Have you ever heard of Lincolin, Obama, Clinton (Hillary,) Grandholm, etc?
    Isn’t California the home of such wonderful things as “three strikes,” Ronald Reagan (started life in Illinois as liberal but became a conservative in California) and Prop 8?
    While the “middle of the US” is conservative in some ways, it has been innovative in both Democratic and Repulican politics. “Backward and delusional and hesitant” is no way to describe the generally moderate, but innovative, liberal and conservative views of the Midwest. I suggest you think twice before taking such ridiculous and uninformed swipes at the politics of places you seem to know nothing about. These odd swipes merely undermine your other opinions.
    Otherwise interesting article.

  • stefn

    My take away from this article is that there are two kinds of monopolies … the one that MS is, which is horizontal as an enterprise software stranglehold … and the one that Apple might become, which is vertical controlling everything from hardware to GUI.

    The death, I like that death is the answer bit, of the horizontal monopoly is its own reward. There is no up from owning the market share, except to go vertical or into a new market. MS can’t seem to move either way.

    The death, yes Apple will die too, of the vertical is the same desease: success.

  • fhcjw

    It would be really nice if the writer of this would put a little research into what he says, as for the commenters, seriously stop before you start to sound ignorant. I will declare right off the bat I am not a windows fanboy. I would never stick to just one company, because personally I have not seen a god company.. yet. I love to work on macs when I am editing movies, final cut is by far the best option for me. I love the style that macs and osx has. I think the iPhone was a revolutionary product. That being said, I still use windows. Right now I am running win7 and I really like it. I still use windows because to me it’s more functional than a mac “with a wider user base therefore having more apps developed for it”. That last staement is exactly why I would buy an iPod touch over the zune, if* I was looking for a device to play on. I am not I want to listen to music and maybe watch an occasional movie. I will buy a zune because I prefer its angular style over iPod touches roundness, that is my opinion and you cannot refute that.

    Everyone saying microsoft needs to dying is legitimately retarded with no commonsense backing them up. Why dont you guys hat cowon for making the s9?!? You don’t because your an apple fanboy who hates microsoft. Do you realize the iPod touches largest addition cost over 100$ more? Do you realize that it is having a price drop solely because the release of the ZHD? Fuck everyone here who hates market competition. The more products in the marketplace means more competition for a better product. So before you rant and rave about how much you fucking hate microsoft sit and think for two goddamn seconds how much it would suck without it there. So please take the apple logo out of your vaginas and realize apple has flaws, and the only reason they will fix them is to compete with microsoft.

    [Couldn’t understand everything in your comment, but please try to keep in mind that the Zune HD isn’t yet on sale, so reports of its price are irrelevant until it actually goes on sale. And of course, Apple is expected to match or beat Microsoft’s price, just as it undercut the Zune over the last two years.

    Comparing the promised future against the current reality has been a hangup of Windows Enthusiasts for decades, which is part of the point of the article. – Dan ]

  • bartfat

    Great article. Yeah, actually the Midwest is trying to reinvent itself, getting into biomedical and green power in Minnesota and then biodiesel for some other agricultural states. Those are some incredibly complicated processes to develop these things. So the article is definitely a bit off by arguing that the Midwest is otherwise, but I don’t fault you for living in SF, where all you hear is just that. And you make a compelling case for why Microsoft can’t figure out how to develop good software.

    I doubt Apple will fail with a vertical model, so long as they keep executing what they do well. Although I’m not really sure what else you could expand into after dominating cell phones and computers. But I don’t think that’ll happen for a couple of reasons. One, someone will always be willing to pay the same price for a seemingly inferior product. Two, there are always people that buy products for cheap that Apple won’t produce because it’s little profit and therefore little value they can add to it. Three, Microsoft probably won’t die completely, at least not in the next few years, and after that, Linux is going to eat up the cost-conscious customers. Four, a lot of the applications are eventually going to move to the web, so you can run them anywhere, not just on a Mac.

    So I doubt Apple will dominate another industry like it has with the iPod. The cell phone market is really hard to crack into.. Apple just makes it look easy. The computer market is also difficult, since the vast majority of consumers there are cost-conscious. Only about 12% of the market are premium machine spenders, and Apple has 10% already!

  • aftershave

    “Microsoft is admitting that all along it was really only a parasite that could only thrive while blindly leaching off the colon of a sentient host like Apple.”

    You’re one crazy wordsmith, DED. Even though I don’t agree with all of it, I think you’re generally right.

    Also, Microsoft does develop iPhone apps – it just so happens that they’re completely useless. Seadragon Mobile? It’s interesting for about 30 seconds, tops.

  • fhcjw

    Yes the price of the device has been announced, it will come out on sept 15. Not considered “future”. Point is -stop hating on a company that forces yours to be better-

    [Actually a month from now is “the future,” ask your English teacher. And between then and now, there is an Apple event that will introduce new iPods. So comparing your future Zune HD against last year’s iPod lineup is very much an example of getting things wrong. – Dan.]

  • stefn

    Just saying…all orgs (organisms and organizations) die sometime.

    And I’m using the term in the way I think Daniel is … to mean “creative destruction” of an organization … ala Peter Drucker.

  • Pingback: Microsoft Unable to Spread Through Gadgets | Boycott Novell()

  • FreeRange

    What is even worse, nay maybe comical, at least pathetic, is how this miserable company spends BILLIONS every year in R&D. MS is so obviously grossly mismanaged, if it weren’t for the fact that they print money due to their dominant market position, they would be a second rate bit player, instead of just second rate. Actually, second rate is being to generous. Brilliant piece Daniel!

  • harrywolf

    Microsoft is a proven criminal organisation.
    It wouldnt be a stretch if they were using the $Billions of ‘research’ to merely siphon cash out of the company to avoid taxation and pay all the execs and managers big bucks.

    Really good writing, DED – and well done for telling the awful truth about dumb Americans.

  • Dorotea

    ” as backward and delusional and hesitant about making any progress as the middle of the United States”

    Don’t appreciate the slam since I’m from the middle of the U.S. – Minnesota.

  • ulicar

    Apparently when Microsoft “used its monopoly position to block competitive bundling deals, break competitor’s compatibility with Windows, stop rivals from introducing compatible alternative offerings, disrupt efforts to build alternative platforms, and prevent other products from reaching the market, both directly through exclusive business deals and indirectly through misinformation campaigns spreading fear, uncertainly and doubt.” that is bad, but when Apple does THE SAME THING to their competitors (Palm) that is OK?

    That is really what bothers me when reading apple cheerleaders bloggs. Complete lack of standards.

    I have already said once, I love my iMac, my iPod, my iPhone, but Apple is doing things to their competitors, if Microsoft did them, they would be in the court that minute. Apple is such a bully, that it really puzzles me how can you be such devotees, almost as if you were in some sort of a cult.

    Compare Apples and Microsofts from my experience

    Apple: We were doing a port of our windows application to the Apple, one of first OS X applications commercially released. When we discovered bugs in the OS X, we asked Apple to help us with providing the time-frame when the bug will be fixed, or to give us a alternative, a workaround if you will. No answer.

    Microsoft: In the same time we were doing some .NET development, one of first .NET applications commercially released. We run into the brick wall, asked Microsoft to help us out, they sent their tech specialists, books and new not yet released .NET IDE’s for all of our developers.

    Apple: When it was getting scary because nobody was writing for OS X (even some Mac long term killers like Quark were not ported) Apple called us and asked us to release a version two of our application. We did not have any reason to do it, thanks mainly to the Apple and their behavior towards us. We decided to release the application, but not to upgrade it ever again, to basically kill it and offer upgrade only for windows. We explained that to the person on the phone, unless they gave us a reason (paid us to do it). They did not like that idea, and threatened to sue us. We had to call our lawyers who had to call them and everything was OK, except we decided never again to do anything for Apple fearing a potential lawsuit.

    Microsoft: During development of our application Microsoft was checking on us, asking if we had any problems, and were on top of every item we asked them to do. When the application was finished and their new IDE and .NET framework were ready to go out, Microsoft organised for us to present our application in their promotional material for .NET and VS.NET

    From those two stories that were happening in parallel tell me who is a bad guy?

    As for MS looking for developers, it is nothing new, they are always looking for developers. There is a great video of Steve Balmer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8To-6VIJZRE It might be funny to watch (it is), but it explains in one word why you are so wrong.

  • ulicar

    P.S. I think Zune is dead man walking, but for completely different reasons. Because of decisions that Microsoft made early in the life of Zune and I am puzzled with them moving forward with it. Why?

  • westech

    Windows operating systems are mature products, not growth products. This means that most of their sales come from the replacement markets. MS tries to get sales in the replacement market by coming out with new models. In the automobile business, US manufacturers did this with tail fins and chrome. They ignored quality and reliability. Windows XP is actually pretty good at what it does except for security and reliability. They should concentrate on improving security and reliability. Maybe they tried to do this in Vista but they failed miserably, and gave up speed to boot. There is no compelling reason to upgrade from Windows XP to Vista or Windows 7. So unit volume must drop.

    The OS is a component of a PC, and as prices drop so must component prices. A $50 component is 5% of the price of a $1000 computer, but 10% of the price of a $500 computer. This trend can’t continue. Since Apple is cornering the over $1000 market MS is losing share in the part of the market that can afford their high prices. So MS OS selling prices (and margins) must drop.

    Ergo, with lower volumes and lower prices, MS is in for a bleak future in the OS market.

    Their application business is also in trouble. Who needs a better Word or Excel? Why, in heaven’s name would I want to spend money on a new model when the one I’ve got is plenty good enough? Furthermore, here there is competition from others and the threat of cloud computing (I hate that name!)?

    The classic way that a mature business survives is to use their profits to develop new products (not new models) to penetrate new markets. Microsoft’s structure seems to me to be very rigid with layers upon layers of supervision which encourages keeping a low profile to survive. They can’t do it with what they’ve got.

    I love the Apple Mac vs PC ads. A direct comparison in the cyber world. Now MS is going to open stores next to the Apple stores? MS will be running Apple comparisons that you can see in the real world! I can hardly wait!

  • http://diskgrinder.blogspot.com diskgrinder

    in answer to how Microsoft is leveraging the groundbreaking innovation developed for the Surface to underpin their as yet unannounced foray into mobile hardware: http://www.flickr.com/photos/diskgrinder/524644007/

  • tinytim09

    I like how my comment disappeared. Was this apple fanboy upset because I called him out on his BS articles spewing MS hate?

    [No it was held in moderation because you added a URL. And it wasn’t even a comment, you just pasted in a Microsoft PR statement about how well the Xbox was doing to refute the current reality of its being in a distant second place as the video game industry collapses during the recession. Who is the upset fan? – Dan ]

  • bigsteve

    Very interesting article as usual. I think you’re one of the better writers around. One thing, I’m one of those Microsoft IT guys, and you say there’s plenty of better free alternatives around for the corporate network. What are they? What is the substitute for Active Directory and also for Exchange? Thanks!

    [Well part of the problem is that Microsoft’s monopoly has struck down competition and prevented alternatives from developing at the same pace. AD and Exchange work if you have a) no resource limitations and b) a huge staff to maintain it and c) no plans to ever investigate alternatives. The alternatives one does have are defined by the job at hand. Depressingly, there are many tasks where the only alternatives to MS involve more work and less money or more money and better quality. Visit a university and you’ll probably find OpenLDAP and one of many email solutions that provide AD+Exchange services without the same steep cost. I’d like to see more competition of course. – Dan]

  • afternoonsandwich

    Great tech article! History is always important to understand how we have arrived at the point we are whether in technology and life.

    I can live with the political comments if that is the price of such good tech articles.

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    @ulicar : Apple has done nothing to prevent Palm from selling its Pre phone, and really can do nothing.

    If you are equating Apple preventing Palm from appropriating iTunes to Microsoft locking Its competitors from the marketplace it exclusively controls, I can only suggest you reevaluate your hysterical position.

  • John E

    to answer the question – why no MS apps for the Zune – i think the answer is that the 2009 Zune is a half-step product in the MS schedule of delivering a fully functional Zune running Win Mobile 7 in 2010. so putting energy into new MS apps for this placeholder model that wouldn’t work in a year would be a waste of effort. MS must be putting all it’s got into WinMo 7, because it must realize that is its last chance to hold on to a significant share of the smartphone market. that would include a package of basic apps, just like Apple did, that would run on the Zune too.

    the bigger question then is why can’t MS get WinMo 7 ready? they’ve had 2 years since the iPhone launch and still need more time? are they that screwed up? or is WinMo’s OS’s so messed up technically it takes forever to re-work? even just getting the sad 6.5 update out the door is proving to be hard for them. what is going on in Redmond?

  • ulicar

    Mike Godwin of EFF once said “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” So I’ll just wait to see when will people like Daniel Eran call me Hitler, because there is no argument they can use, except, what Schopenhauer described as when loosing on arguments, start personal insults. So let’s see how long will Dani Eleran manage to fight the urge to call me Nazi, because he already called me hysterical, so there goes Schopenhauer.

    Let’s get to Daniel Eleran’s argument “Apple preventing Palm from appropriating iTunes”. Now, English is obviously not my first language, but even I know what appropriation means, and that is, what I think he is talking about “a deliberate act of acquisition of something”, or more “the taking possession of something”. Now Palm did nothing of such. Palm did everything legally and technically right, so without further dissolving the comments, learn English and learn stuff you would like to talk about. What you are talking sounds stupid.

    Anyway, Apple tries to lock out the Pre from LEGALY using iTunes, that is somehow OK, while when MS does the same thing it is not OK? Uh, high horse is all of a sudden more like a dead mule or a rotting donkey.

    [Thanks for using English because I don’t really speak anything well enough to match wits. That also gives me the opportunity to explain that by “hysterical”, I mean a position of ‘unmanageable fear or emotional excesses.’ The word comes from the Greek word for uterus. Since I don’t know you personally, it’s not a personal attack, but rather one on your line of reasoning. Hope that helps – Dan ]

  • ulicar

    P.S. I was talking about, let’s cite you “break competitor’s compatibility with Windows (iTunes), stop rivals from introducing compatible alternative offerings (i.e Pre and iTunes vs iPod and iTunes)”

    [Microsoft broke Windows applications that were using public APIs Microsoft published, in order to introduce its own competitor app (such as Netscape, QuickTime, etc). The Palm Pre does not use public APIs in iTunes; it emulates being an iPod from Apple, and identifies itself as such. Apple has never sold iTunes as a public platform API. Had Microsoft sold Windows as part of its vertical MS PC product, and had there been open competition for selling alternative OSs (just as there are no shortage of alternative music player apps), then Microsoft wouldn’t have had a Netscape to kill off.

    Also, Palm can deliver an iTunes alternative based on any number of open software packages. Palm can’t offer Apple’s own software as its own anymore than Psytar can sell Apple’s software to add value to its hardware. There is no similarity. Neither Netscape nor Apple ever attempted to pair their product with technology stolen from Microsoft to compete with a Microsoft product (Microsoft, however, did steal Apple technology to compete with Apple, at least twice). You have things completely backwards. – Dan ]

  • stefn

    I like and agree with your Hitler rule generally. And clearly Daniel often struggles with the temptation to politicize his positions. It’s the price of admission.

    As for your comparison, it’s a difference of a whole order of magnitude and significance regards effects and consequences.

    Apple’s stopping Palm from using iTunes for free and thus forcing Palm to develop its own music software is hardly comparable to Microsoft’s stopping Netscape, for instance, from using Windows. Here’s why. Netscape could in no way afford to develop an entire operating system to support its browser. That’s just not true regarding Palm. And it should have been part of Palm’s business plan, as it has been for other music player manufacturers.

    What’s LEGALLY got to do with it? Do you mean ETHICALLY? I’m not sure Palm’s appropriation of iTunes is ethical if Palm intends to use the software that Apple created, marketed, and supports to undermine and steal hardware sales. And Palm clearly does intend to do that and expect free support for its hardware as well.

    Is that what you expect Apple to allow? Really?

    Going back to the Netscape example: if Microsoft has allowed Netscape to deploy its browser using Windows it would have in no way impeded sales of Windows or any other Microsoft product or service. In fact, the popularity of Netscape could have been understood as a driver or plus for Windows sales.

    You don’t see a difference?

  • tinytim09

    Well Daniel I still don’t see my comment.
    If MS is second in games sales so what? The 360 is doing great! But you can’t see past your obvious hate for all things related to Microsoft to admit that. Am I right?

    And like I said before, why can’t Apple develop software for the iTouch? Sure they made the preloaded apps but what else? You can’t say iTunes because that was out way before the iTouch/iPhone. Why couldn’t Apple make a tethering or MMS app? Why did people have to jailbreak for those features? Why couldn’t Apple let people change that plain black background? Why did people have to jailbreak their devices, voiding warranty, just to get a little customization and apps that should have been there in the first place?

    Oh and lets dicuss how the ZHD is an iTouch clone.
    Zune HD comes with a built-in HD Radio receiver so users can listen to higher-quality sound than traditional radio on the go. Users also will have access to the additional song and artist data broadcast by HD Radio stations as well as additional channels from their favorite stations multicasting in HD. If you don’t like the song playing on your station’s HD channel, switch to its HD2 or HD3 channels for additional programming.
    The bright OLED touch screen interface allows users to flip through music, movies and other content with ease, and the 16:9 widescreen format display (480×272 resolution) offers a premium viewing experience on the go.
    The HD-compatible output lets Zune HD customers playback supported HD video files from the device through a premium high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) audiovisual docking station (sold separately) direct to an HD TV in 720p.*
    Zune HD will include a full-screen Internet browser optimized for multitouch functionality.
    Zune HD is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing for instant streaming to the device from the more than 5 million-track Zune music store.

    And have you seen the Zune OS? Mops the floor with your iTouch.

  • John E

    @ ulicar – “appropriate” is one of those words that has many nuanced variations of meaning, not just one or two. in can mean, as used here, “use without permission” without literally taking possession etc.

    @tinytim09 – this is a parody, right?

  • mrturtle


    Apple has made apps. The Remote app and their Poker app are quite nice. Tethering and MMS are there.

    And what’s an iTouch?

    And why am I bothering…?

  • http://spacecynics.wordpress.com Thomas

    “The older we get, the more resistant we are to change and the more conservative our outlook becomes. If we lived to 200, our entire global society would be as backward and delusional and hesitant about making any progress as the middle of the United States is specifically. We’d have whole generations of naysaying, Civil War-era veterans adamantly insisting on turning back the clock on Civil Rights and Suffrage, rather than just a minority of superstitious people who have invented a fondness for living in the imagined glory of the past.”

    So…you’ve never heard of guys like Robert Heinlein, Ray Kurzweil, Aubrey de Gray, et al? Never been to a TED conference? Despite your cynicism in this regard, I intend to live that long or longer, and the technologies to make this happen are being developed right now, under your nose. (Of course, when they’re available, I’ll have to pay for them out of pocket, it’s a given that Obamacare won’t pitch in.)

    I’m planning my 150th birthday party in 2104. If you’re around I’ll invite you, if only to watch you declaim to the assembly: “I was wrong.” (But if you’re not around, I’ll say it for you. LOL)

  • tinytim09


    I see you’re just being difficult. An iTouch is just a shorter way of saying iPod Touch. But I’m sure you knew that.
    Tethering and MMS are there? Hmmm let me check my AT&T iPhone… Nope! I don’t see an option to tether or MMS.
    Oh wait yes I do! Oh wait no again. Those are apps that I downloaded from Cydia.

  • mrturtle

    Difficult, perhaps. I’m just a stickler for complete names. I’ve though of some shorter names for the brown Zune, but I’ve never used them.

    As for the apps, they’re there. Apple’s sucky deal with AT&T currently prevents them from being used in the US. But it’s not as though Apple is waiting to hire a programmer with enough skill to develop that functionality.

  • ulicar

    Before we go any further, let’s just agree on one thing. Apple is not a small potato company. They have recently been valuated bigger company than Google.

    Let’s go one by one

    @stefn Microsoft never blocked Netscape. They did heaps of other dirty tricks, but never blocked Netscape. Apple did block Pre. To me if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck , sounds like a duck, it is a duck. If apple pulls dirty tricks, they are dirty.

    @ John E The whole point is that Pre did not use iTunes without permission, because they DO NOT NEED PERMISSION. If they did need one, then Apple lawyers would sue, as always, but they don’t and they can’t.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~daguy daGUY


    “The Zune HD is starting the installed base over at zero because it uses its own development platform. That’s what Apple did in the shift from iPod to iPhone, but the critical difference is the fact that Apple managed to sell more than five million iPhones in the first year before making development APIs available. Therefore, there was immediate interest and a significant installed base to incentivize application development from the start.”

    I agree that NOT releasing an SDK for the iPhone immediately was actually a brilliant move on Apple’s part. By selling the device solely on its own merits for a year, they built up an installed base. Then, when the SDK was released, developers immediately had a huge pool of users to sell applications to.

    Had the SDK come out right alongside the original iPhone, it would have created a catch-22. Developers would be afraid of investing significant amounts of money in a platform that was unproven and didn’t yet have any users; likewise, users would have had an immediate expectation for thousands of third-party apps, only to be let down when the actual number was much lower.

    The problem is that now that the iPhone has established itself, users DO expect a huge pool of third-party apps from competing vendors, complete with an easy-to-use app store. Apple has pushed MS straight into the catch-22: MS can’t attract developers because they don’t have any users, and they can’t attract users because they don’t have any developers making compelling applications.