Google and Sony vs. Microsoft, and a Touch of Wikileaks Insanity
Dec 6, 2010 5:00 AM PT
Google and Sony vs. Microsoft, and a Touch of Wikileaks Insanity Last week was rather interesting. Both Google and Sony were talking trash numbers in competitive comments against Microsoft. Google was arguing that up to 60 percent of enterprises were ready to go to Chrome OS, and Sony was creating the impression that it had sold 4.1 million PS3 Move products.
Both did this when the SEC is having real problems with public companies and numbers, so I thought they were incredibly brave, given how incredibly fanciful these numbers were.
Considering the problems folks are having with Android, there is a lot of doubt whether Google can move any significant amount of Chrome OS products -- and Sony just simply got way too creative.
I also want to take a moment to comment on Wikileaks, because I truly think that people who feel that the death penalty is appropriate for a 23-year-old abused gay whistleblower, but ignore what he exposed in terms of capital crimes, have lost their perspective -- if not their minds.
I'll wrap up with my product of the week: a Twitter utility I find I can no longer live without, and one I should have made product of the week months ago.
ChomeOS: Wishful Thinking Squared
I spent much of last week looking at complaints from Android licensees and folks who cover Android closer than I do, and they aren't even remotely happy with the treatment they have been getting from Google.
There appear to be two key problems with this platform -- one that only really had to compete with Symbian and the then-aging Windows Mobile 6 platform. Those two problems are tied directly to their OEM relationships. The first has to do with prioritizing problems, and the second has to do with seeing them in the first place.
Unlike most vendors, Google believes that you can give something away for free and monetize it after the fact. This clearly worked with search advertising, but the problem with Android has been that it fully decoupled the company making the devices from the development process, resulting in what appears to be horrid customer relationships between these OEMs and Google.
Effectively, Google has the position that because the OS is free that the OEMs should take whatever they get. If Google had to sell Android instead, it would have to be more responsive, because the OEMs would have checkbook leverage.
This is why most of the Android tablets are crap and many of the Android phones haven't sold particularly well. On top of this, Google has a habit of hiring people fresh out of school who then learn on the job. As a result, the folks who interface with the OEMs have been referred to as extremely unprofessional, and that is likely one of the few descriptions they use that I can repeat here.
This means not only that Google tends not to look for problems with the OEMs, but also that it generally blows off their complaints. You can't take the company building the solution out of the development mix and expect anything good.
Android had a relatively easy path without much real competition. Chrome OS is rolling against Microsoft's strongest platform -- and the most successful version, Windows 7, that Microsoft has ever brought to market. A crap effort won't cut it this time.
If Google doesn't substantially up its game, it'll be lucky to get 1 percent of the market -- and 60 percent is beyond wishful thinking. It's nuts. Like the folks who announce iPad killers that are crap, maybe Google should focus more on bringing out great products and less on insane trash talk.
Sony's Creative Numbers
Early last week, Microsoft announced it had sold 2.5 million Xbox Kinect systems. Later in the week, Sony appeared to announce it had sold a whopping 4.1 million Move systems -- but it didn't. You see, the number Microsoft used was a sold-through number and reflected the number of systems consumers actually bought. The number Sony used was based on sold-to numbers, or the number that Sony had sold to stores and were sitting on shelves.
A few folks caught this and called foul. Fewer caught the fact that Sony didn't report systems sold but controllers sold, and that there are generally two controllers sold per system. So, Sony not only appeared to over-report the numbers that were being compared to Microsoft's with respect to what users took home, but also effectively doubled the number picked up by stores.
I spent a lot of time trying to match Apples to Apples and concluded that Sony was likely selling at a rate that was around 600 thousand a month, and that Microsoft likely blew by Sony at four times the sales rate shortly after mid-November.
Given that the SEC has really gotten aggressive with regard to enforcing the accurate reporting of material revenue-related numbers, and that the PS3 is clearly material to Sony, I think that some of Sony's executives may have taken a massive risk by doing this. I also think that if you have to trick people with numbers like this in order to appear to be winning in a critical market, then you should probably think seriously about whether you belong in it.
Let me net out what we actually seem to know: A gay U.S. Army private who had been abused and then kicked out of his home before enlisting and then was abused in the service -- but as a result of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy (which the government wants to repeal) had no recourse -- made a serious mistake.
This mistake, releasing a ton of documents (many classified) to Wikileaks, was made because he saw some clearly illegal acts, which included the murder of civilians, and had no legal process to escalate his concerns. This, in turn, was because the military whistleblower law hadn't yet been passed.
For that, a bunch of folks want him killed and Wikileaks branded a terrorist organization.
What makes this appear insane to me is that there appears to be little focus on bringing the folks in government behaving illegally -- including those who tortured or killed innocent civilians -- to justice.
Here in California, a police officer's accidental killing of a civilian caused riots because the officer wasn't treated more harshly, while the folks who took pictures of the event weren't punished at all. This would suggest that we, as a culture, take killing innocent people seriously and go relatively easy on folks who point out such incidents.
Don't get me wrong -- what the private did was wrong. However, compared to what he reported -- which includes the frightening torture and termination of innocent people, along with other crimes -- would seem to suggest that others should be punished at least as much, if not more.
Let's add that it's been estimated that 3 million people had access to this same information, and I end up wondering whether the private should be left alone and the other 3 million should be kicked out of their jobs for not doing anything about what they saw.
If that doesn't get you, think about this: A few years ago, the Senate tried to impeach a president who didn't want his wife to find out about an affair -- but two administrations covering up a complete lack of regard for national and international law doesn't even raise many eyebrows.
I wonder how many of us really want to live in a world where people think someone who clearly made a mistake because he was immature and put in a bad situation deserves death, but folks who knowingly cover up or commit capital crimes should continue in their jobs.
There are clearly moments I fear for our race, and this is one of them. At least this Slate piece gave me hope that some of us have our priorities straight.
Product of the Week: TweetDeck
If you use Twitter, this little utility is just amazing. It allows me to track things that are trending on Twitter, connect with an amazing number of folks, and communicate with a lot of them.
I get many of my column ideas from Twitter feeds and have actually picked up a number of Steampunk books I otherwise wouldn't have read by tracking the Steampunk feed. (Yes, I am a geek).
I get more utility out of this free application than I get out most of the ones I actually pay for, so as a way of saying thanks for giving me something wonderful, TweetDeck is my product of the week.
Rob Enderle is a TechNewsWorld columnist and the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a consultancy that focuses on personal technology products and trends.