Google, Acer, Redhat and the future of Open
September 19th, 2012 by ravi

Much has been said about Google’s alleged attempt to strong-arm Acer into dropping its plan to release an [[Aliyun OS]] based smartphone because Aliyun is an “incompatible” fork of Android. The general criticism that this is a bit of hypocrisy on Google’s part given how much they have been pitching Android as “open”.  Hypocrisy or not, there is certainly a paradox in Google’s position.

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Facebook and Fundamentalism
September 3rd, 2012 by ravi

The Atlantic has a piece by Robinson Mayer which includes this quote from Eric Schmidt, back when he was the CEO of Google:

Fundamentally, what Facebook has done is built a way to figure out who people are. That system is missing in the internet as a whole. Google should have worked on this earlier.

I have a lot of trouble understanding these kinds of statements about the fundamental nature of things. Figuring out who people are is indeed quite fundamental to Google’s operations but how on earth is it fundamental to anyone else? The Internet is not missing such a system. The Internet, to my knowledge, was intentionally built without such a system. There is no fundamental need within the network to know who people are more than what they reveal about themselves in relevant contexts.

It seems to me that the problem with the pedestrian truth, that Facebook has built an online platform for people to share bits, is not that it is not the fundamental story, but that Facebook has not figured out a way to monetize it.

Apple vs Samsung: It’s Not Innovation or Choice
September 2nd, 2012 by ravi

The feud between Apple and Samsung reached a milestone this week with a jury delivering a verdict favouring Apple in one major lawsuit. The response from both parties was quick and predictable. Samsung called the verdict a “loss for the American consumer”, while Apple’s Tim Cook heralded it as “an important day … for innovators everywhere”. I am pretty sure they are both exactly wrong.

Here in short are the standard arguments:

On the side of patents and copyright is the claim that without such protections the creators of new technologies and designs will be denied the reward for their work. Knock-offs with zero “innovation” cost will swamp the market, ultimately killing off the innovators.

On the other side is the claim that what has been lost is consumer choice, the selection agent in product evolution. Without the crucible of competition customers lose out in the long run.

I do not think either of them applies. The real issue is that old question — cui bono? — but applied in the opposite sense. Stay with me and we’‘ll get to that, but first a look at the proffered justifications.

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