[Update:2012-09-28] One think I really hate about the iPad and iPhone is that they are linked to a person and not a purpose. It’s one thing I dislike about the Chromebox. Anyone can sign in as a guest but to get full features you have to be logged in. I hope the Nexus tablet is different.
I discarded the first two drafts of this post because I found myself off target and unable to bridge the gap in order to get back to my point or it was just getting too wordy. So let’s look at the logic bomb a little differently.
(a) Apple is building a product brand and data access brand and silo out of it’s products. With examples like iOS-6 maps vs Google Maps as an example you should see that the Apple stack is closing. The openness seems to be closing partly because of security measures like sanboxing and partly because Apple likely wants to control it all.
(b) Google seems to have all of the data. They certainly have search cornered. Then there is the cookie breadcrumbs where they learn so much more about the web stumblers. The fact that they are now into browsers, operating systems, phones, tablets, desktops should come as no surprise. They implement a number of sandbox strategies too, however, while they use a lot of standards they put up their shields by releasing BETA level code over very long periods. Not all of the features or functions for real openness are actually implemented.
(c) Amazon is the defacto cloud service provider. Most of all startups begin with private hardware for their initial development, however, most will end up using AWS in order to get the product launched. The Kindle aside Amazon has implemented the same elements that Google and Apple have, however, their implementation is virtual.
(d) Microsoft has stolen back the Apple playbook. Microsoft and intel introduced the world to a number of technologies that would have made intel based Linux and BSD impossible. Now Microsoft is competing in the OS, phone, tablet and desktop markets. Their Metro interface is interesting to dig into. I’m not sure it’s right for the desktop but it might. In the meantime they have search(Bing) on top of the hardware and they have a 30 year head start on the competition.
(e) Oracle – I was going to try to find a way to slide these guys in but they’re not that interesting. Sure they bought Sun for which they received MySQL and Java, however, they seem to have killed off the hardware. I’m not certain that was a wise decision. I wonder if arrays of Spark 10K systems would not compete in efficiency in the cloud. So let’s strike them out. If Oracle were to buy Yahoo they would be a competitor in this article.
These are what I call the Tier 1 web properties. (i) they have a complete software and hardware stack, (ii) they have a lot of data like search and other marketing data, (iii) While there is some openness it is incomplete, (iv) their products work well together and have some unifying properties. (one thing I did not mention… now these guys are accepting payments and micropayments. Armed with the actual buying patterns and not just the search patterns this information is even more valuable. Transaction processing should be free)
Then there are the Tier 2 web properties. This tier is made of A-list applications that strictly a one dog shop. Companies like BerkeleyDB, PragProg, DropBox, Evernote, Adobe, Panic and JetBrains. These are companies that you have no problem spending your money on. The risk they would sell you out to a marketing company is low and yet the product they provide serves it’s purpose well and you never feel cheated.
From here things get a little grey. Partly because it’s made up of free, open source, spyware, malware, trialware, charityware, and so on. They are effectively the VHF of the software world. If only one of the Tier 1/2 would acquire them they would become legit and maybe make some money. *cough* MySQL.
So what’s going on in divorce court?
The big boys in Tier 1 are preparing for battle. Their barriers are semi-permeable but not as much as when they were under construction. The Tier 2 guys are waiting for something to happen or trying to make something happen where they can. And everyone else is begging for a seat at the table.
So what am I going to do if I want an iPhone fully integrated into my Google dataset? What about a windows phone running connected to my apple desktop… and any other combination that might arise. I might like my iPhone but I want that new $99 nexus table. In fact I want several. One for each room in the house and one for each kid and one for my wife and myself. I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy with the iPod, Nano, iPad price points. Furthermore, now that I’m testing a ChromeBox for my 2yr old a google solution is looking more likely every day.
I hope I’m making sense now. Clearly we are going in cycles again and the stakes are higher than they have ever been. I’m not looking to pick the winning horse. I just want a seat at the table.