Sunday, 18 September 2011

How Much Is Gizmodo Paid For Fud?

A few articles on Gizmodo have caught my eye recently. Basically in all of them they manage to mention Apple in a favourable light, support Windows 8 and bash Android or Google. Quite an interesting turn of events. Normally I'd comment on these articles in the sites comment's section. But due to Gizmodo's bizarre commenting rules I'm not allowed to comment there. So I'll do it here.

The first article that comes to mind is “Google SMASH: Why No Industry Is Safe” by Roberto Baldwin. This arrived in my in box on the 14/09/2011. The basic premiss of the article seems to be that because Google are so incredibly good at delivering what Internet users actually want. They shouldn't be allowed to compete at all. Much fuss is made about how Google have crashed everybody else's party and are playing in all of their backyards.

Which is true enough. Google were not the first kid on the block to offer webmail, on-line searchable maps or indeed many other services that Google offers. Including web searches by the way. Yahoo, Altavista, AOL and many others were around long before Google as Google was around long before Microsoft's Bing. Of course Roberto has no problem with Microsoft trying to crash in on the web and seemingly no issue with Apple's iPod. Apple weren't the first to produce an MP3 player. Remember the Diamond Multimedia Rio?

One of the specific issues Roberto has with Google is they make things easy for people to use and do. The example quoted is Google's new Flight Search feature. Google have made it easier to use than the competitions web site. So clearly Google are bad. Right? Well wrong actually. That's the nature of innovation and competition.

Company produces a service or product. Company B sees issues with that service or product and decides it can do a better job. If company B succeeds in the implementation and execution then company B wins and keeps the lions share of the market until company A comes up with an answer. In this way companies are forced to continue to develop better products and the consumer always has a choice. So why are Google being demonised here? They've done what every commercial entity is supposed to do. Compete!

Other examples given in the article include MapQuest, Firefox, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail. In every instance Google came to market with a better offering. The comment about Hotmail and Yahoo Mail stuck me as being particularly odd.

“Hotmail and Yahoo mail? Totally respectable providers—until Gmail. When Gmail beta launched in 2004, it offered a full 1GB of storage, compared to the paltry 2MB-4MB offered by other email services at the time. Now all a Hotmail handle's good for is a punchline.”

First off all Google have done here is offer a better product. Nothing about what Google has done should have suddenly made Hotmail or Yahoo Mail suddenly some how “evil” as opposed to “respectable”. Many Roberto was talking about “respectable” in the other sense? Meaning they were perfectly good products. Well no they weren't. 2MB-4MB even in 2004 was incredibly limiting when you started adding attachments to e-mails. Just one or two e-mails could scupper your quota. Which is why I waited until Gmail came along before getting a webmail account at all. Before Gmail, I stuck to my ISPs offering. It had fewer space restrictions. And it's exactly that 1GB of storage that originally made Gmail so appealing.

So unable to actually find a flaw with Googles products. Roberto decides to attack Googles business model. Now it's no secrete to most who are educated and understand how the Internet and how businesses work, that Google makes much of it's money from on-line advertising revenue. Indeed this is a major source of income for Google. So naturally they seek to do everything they can to capitalise on that. And well with Google being firmly based in the worlds greatest capitalist economy, who would expect anything else?

Yes it's true Google have moved into many other markets purely to expand the scope of Internet advertising potential. That was the whole drive behind Android. To create a mobile platform that would deliver on the needs and wants of users that would also enhance Googles advertising business. And frankly it's a win, win, win, win scenario.

Google gets a mobile advertising platform that can deliver standard web pages and thus standard Google adverts to consumers. Companies advertising products get to advertise to potential consumers throughout the day and not just when they're stuck in front of the TV or PC. Handset and mobile network providers get a free OS to distribute on their devices that can meet all of these demands. Consumers win because they get a rich user interface, access to a well stocked application repository and a hand set that does more and does it better than before. In fact the only parties that don't win are Google's main rivals. Apple and Microsoft.

Now this is the real smash. Google have built their business without resorting to litigation to compete. They have invested massively in infrastructure. Often driving up standards in technology. Which it should be mentioned their competitors have benefited from. Competition is not a bad thing. Competition is what drives the market. Google are forging a path of innovation. Others can join them. Or sit around complaining and become obsolete.

The next article that comes to mind is this one. "If You Already Hate Windows 8 Then You Hate Technology” by Matt Honan. This landed in my inbox on the 15/09/2011. Now clearly an article like this is going to make comparisons. We'd expect nothing less. However there are a few things I don't understand. One of them being the need to berate Android and claim Apple has no competition in the tablet market?

This is an interesting comment. Least of all because Apple's iPad and iPhone products have been given such a run for their money by Android, Android now easily owns the smart phone market and Samsung's Galaxy S range of tablets were so enticing to consumers. Apple felt the need not only to have them banned globally. But they tampered with evidence just to get the point across. The point being Samsung's new Android powered tablet was so good Apple wouldn't have been able to compete. So they chose to litigate instead.

A few other things I didn't understand about this article. How is it Windows 8 goes from being so awesome at the start of the article it's the only competition in town for the iPad. To not actually really working properly yet and being a bit crap at the end? And yes I read the “IT'S ONLY A DEVELOPER BUILD” disclaimer. It's mentioned almost in hypnotic fashion by every journalist covering Windows 8 right now. Well that's all great and everything. But what exactly is “sub-optimal” hardware? Is that maybe hardware that's not powerful enough to do the job properly? Just what would be the optimum hardware configuration for Windows 8? Surely Microsoft must at least know what they're aiming for? I mean this new “Metro” interface can't possibly be asking that much can it?

And just what is this “metro” interface any way? By all accounts it's a tiling mode for Windows 7's window manager. And you can only use it to run certain applications. Metro Applications. So not a tileing mode then? Probably more like IE with a new skin. Which sounds more plausible given that these “Metro applications” are basically HTML5 web pages in an application wrapper. Hardly revolutionary. Other OS's have a tileing mode for their window managers and many smart phone apps are just HTML5 in an application wrapper.

So the killer app Microsoft are delivering in Windows 8 then is an interface for smart phone style apps on Windows 7. I'm struggling to get excited here. But then again according to Matt. That means I hate technology.

Actually it means I'm bored to the back teeth with Microsoft delivering too little too late and then buying media attention for stuff everybody else has already done and left by the way side. Microsoft aren't fashionably late to the party. They're belligerently ignoring the invitation and then complaining when they're left out in the cold. Microsoft should try doing something that genuinely adds value. Like the way Sony has integrated it's new tablet with the PS3 and it's range of Bravia TVs.

So far as Windows goes. It will always be fighting the reputation Microsoft has earned. Please take not of that. Microsoft earned it's reputation. Microsoft are big enough to play nice. But instead they very often choose to be dicks.