Let’s rewind back to the 1980’s when IBM introduced the IBM PC. It was based on off the shelf parts. Probably the first time ever IBM used non-IBM parts to build a computer. Every other computer that had come out of IBM had been built with IBM parts specifically done to their exacting standards.
Later around 1984, after the Mac 128K was introduced, or around that time frame, IBM introduced the IBM-pc-AT. It was around this time frame that clones (they were there before, but not as prevalent as after the AT came out) started to encroach into IBM’s well-guarded territory. Besides, “nobody has been fired for using IBM” so how could anyone not buy an IBM and go wrong?
Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Orange, Apricot, and countless other manufacturers of PC’s filled up the then “Computer” stores with cheap alternatives to IBM.
IBM reacted, panicked, and introduced the PS/2 line changing the AT architecture into its own proprietary format, the Micro Channel Architecture, vastly superior to the AT (ISA) architecture in hopes to lure back customers who were buying alternative PC’s. Following that, the “clone makers” formed their own consortium and came up with the EISA architecture so they wouldn’t have to pay IBM to license the MCA technology.
It was not long before IBM realized their “oops” moment as MCA was not compatible with the plethora of video, network, you name it board; any ancillary add on board was not compatible with MCA. EISA was. So everyone just ignored the PS/2 and continued to purchase “the clones”.
(ps: I was a proud owner of a PS2/60).
Now, let’s focus on OS’s. And this should be fairly short.
IBM PC licensed MS-DOS, clones licensed MS-DOS. Apple had its own Finder. The niche alternatives had their own OS’s, Amiga OS, Atari OS, etc. Later, around the late 80’s came the GUI OS’s, Windows 3.1, GEM, DeskMate, Geos, X Windows, IRIS, NeXT, etc.
Wait, Apple had its own Finder? IBM and the Clones had MS-DOS? The niche players had their own OS’s. I won’t even mention Windows and IBM OS/2 because we all know what happened there. (Can we also say billions down the drain? Taligent, BeOS, WebOS?!)
Apple iDevices have their own non-licensed OS called iOS
Google and all the clones have licensed Android
The (“now”) niche players have their own OS?
BlackBerry with their BBOS, Nokia with WP7, Samsung has Bada, HP had WebOS(Palm) and in Japan, NTTDocomo and some other big telcos are dipping their hands into other OS’s that we haven’t even heard of.
So there is a similar state in today’s mobile world as we saw in the early PC era of the 80’s.
Whatever happened to Compaq, Dell and some of the other major PC clones? What happened to the Niche players? Atari/Amiga? What happened to the bevy of GUI OS’s?
Compaq got bought out by HP = Google buys Motorola Mobility
Dell loses leadership in PC sales = RIM losing market share today
Gateway = Nokia
Atari/Amiga/etc. = Nook, Amazon Fire, and some others
The dead pool = HandSpring/VirginMobile/ESPNMobile…etc.
So, you say, Carlos what if any does this have anything to do with the Tablet wars?
In order to predict the future, as the adage goes, you must look at the past.
And this past month we saw the introduction of the Microsoft Surface and Google introduced the Nexus 7 tablet.
And all analysts, fan boys, hate boys, etc. came out of the woods to chime in and cast their vote. We all do. Just like the NFL FanBoy who is the best Good Old Monday Morning Quarterback. We have our analysis and a few words to say. This is our NFL – and now we are waiting to see who goes to the SuperBowl. (Ok, I get carried away sometimes but you know what I mean).
Google with the new Nexus 7 just bitch slapped Samsung, Amazon Fire, the NOOK, and the other Android tablets out there; crazy, it also gave a huge vote of no confidence to Motorola Mobility. Google teaming up with Asus to deliver on a 7” Android Jelly Bean tablet instead of Motorola. Sure, had it used Motorola the FTC/Sec and every other security TLA commission would have been on top of them like fly on shit due to some sort of insider knowledge, trade, etc.. crap that someone would have pulled against them in order to make an improper business allegations against Goorola merger, but seriously? Joining the space that your partners have been supporting you in?
Reminds me of the Microsoft of yesteryear. Norton Antivirus, check, Memory defragmenter, check, Disk utilities, check, Word processors, check, Spread Sheet, check. Them predatory practices that put Microsoft in a bind, is what to me, Google is doing to its partners.
So why would Samsung, Amazon, HTC and others continue to support Android? Hello?? I would not. Getting shafted by the maker of the OS is just plain bad business leaving a bunch of people with bad taste. Besides, most Android device manufactures have to pay Microsoft a licensing fee of upwards of $15 dollars due to some Android patent infringements. It has been surmised that Microsoft has made over $500 million in Android patent fees, actually, making more money on Android that Google. I like to think of it as Google was the one who finance the Windows Surface project.
If I were the head of any of the aforementioned companies I would have a task team looking for alternative OS’s.
Samsung to take Bada out of Asia and start a US/NonPAC push
Amazon – revives webOS or gets something else fast
NOOK – just like Amazon, but with their current Microsoft partnership, hello Windows 8, here we go.
NTT-Docomo – they hate Android because there is no differentiator among the Android phones in Japan vs KDDI and the others big telcos. Hello Mozilla OS.
Microsoft – buy RIM for their assets, and distribution and the messaging/mail infrastructure. (Just get the patents and put them out to pasture).
So the theater of operations in the mobile clone war is beginning to take shape.
Microsoft, Apple – with their deep pockets, are not going anywhere. Apple with iOS and iDevices will continue to make huge profits and continue to drive excellence. Microsoft is a copycat but due to their deep coffers, can put up a good fight, well not really, but will be on the long run and out finance its compeititon.
Googrola/Amazon/Nook/Samsung/HTC – here comes the blood bath. This is where the real fight is going to happen and the battle lines were clearly drawn by Google at the I/O conference. This is going to be one hell of a blood bath and it is going to be a fight until their grasp continues to diminish.
Coincidentally, the only one in this pack that could suffer the most is Samsung. Unlike Amazon/Nook/Google, Samsung doesn’t have a Video/App/Streaming/Book/ “content” distribution similar to its brethren (at least not here in US).
And who is going to come out of left field and try to get into the action? How about Mozilla with their HTML5 based Mozila Mobile OS(some of you may know it as Boot To Gecko)?
Given the latest reviews from notable technologist, the Google Nexus 7 has been given high marks. And for Jelly Bean, (aka Android 4.1) reviewers are all googly eyes over it (pun intended), clearly making this an indisputable clone wars started by non-other than by Google.
Given the new battle lines, here is what I think:
Apple will undoubtedly continue its dominant position without any dent in its sales because of the Nexus 7. Seriously, the Nexus 7 will eat into Amazon/Nook/Samsung/etc before it makes any dent in the Apple iPad Sales.
Microsoft and its Surface tablet – I think that MS has a good chance to become the 2nd place in the tablet wars. With its deep pockets and Android licensors having to pay MS for patent infringements, makes sense that given the Nexus 7 some of the early supporters of Android will move away from Android and into other markets where they either pay less per license or something completely different.
The Android Clones will settle at 3rd place before some of the tablet makers realize how bad they have just been shafted and either move away from Android or from the market altogether.
RIM/Nokia – Dead
Mozilla OS – reminds me of IBM OS/2 will serve as a niche market. Great opportunity for some manufactures to use instead of Android so as not to pay the hefty Microsoft patent tax.
So who wins this war after all?
Actually developers and cross platform framework makers like Appcelerator or Moai win.
Developers win because they have a job working on all the different platform, segmentation, etc.
Framework makers win because they can create tools to target multiple platforms at once.
Anyone building Android devices and, obviously, RIM/Nokia
Who is the real winner?
The real winner is the “App” because as long as I have my favorite App running on my bevy of devices, and as long as the app does what I need it to do flawlessly and my data is readily available anywhere, anytime, I will be ok regardless of device.
In the late 80’s early 90’s we saw a consolidation of companies, both in terms of hardware and software. Some of them were, and still are synonymous with the markets they spearheaded. Pioneers in the true sense.
This mobile industry is still very young, but looking at the past, it should predict and or allow us to predict who will be the dominant players, who will die, and who will come in from behind and take over a specific niche market (i.e.: intuit).
And the now lingering question is, who is the next intuit of mobile? …. stay tuned….