Worthwhile rant on the excessive devotion of Apple fans by Hugo Rifkind:
Why is it, a friend of mine once pondered, that Microsoft is “evil” and Apple is “lovely” when the guy who started Microsoft was now doing his utmost to eradicate malaria, and the guy who started Apple was still in charge of an enormous, all-pervasive company that does its utmost to screw you six times before breakfast?
-Ottawa Citizen/Times of London, August 30, 2011
Surprising me by showing some serious backbone, the Justice Department's antitrust division just filed a lawsuit to block AT&T's horribly anticompetitive takeover of T-Mobile.
Historically, the filing of a lawsuit has been the end of a deal, not an opening for further negotiation. In 2000, the DOJ killed Worldcom's purchase of Sprint with a lawsuit and two years later nixed the Echostar/DirecTV merger. No lawsuits were filed back in the 90s when telecom and cable mergers went wild, although conditions and divestitures were often included.
But just now, Wall Street Journal M&A reporter Preeta Das tweeted: DOJ says that "door is open" -- so maybe there is room for settlement.
The end of this deal seems like great news for T-Mobile customers like me. The carrier gets $3 billion in cash and some additional spectrum under a break-up provision of the merger agreement. And we get to keep our super-low priced monthly plans (I save $30 a month from what I paid to be on AT&T with the iPhone). The only downside would be if T-Mobile's parent, Deutsche Telecom, decided to pull the plug on its US efforts.
With last night's unveiling of three Samsung Galaxy S II variants for the good ole' US of A, we're about to open a fascinating new chapter of the smartphone wars. Within weeks, Apple is expected to introduce its next iPhone (or iPhones) and Verizon is rumored to be sitting on the next Google Nexus device. When all three are simultaneously in the market and on multiple carriers later in the fall, we should get the clearest picture yet of who's winning and who's losing. And there should be plenty of fodder to draw conclusions about why, too.
First, I'm eager to see how the phone makers will do battle on the airwaves. A key part of Apple's success has been its brilliant ad campaigns for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Does the magic continue with the next iPhone? Seems likely. Android ads have been mixed, at best. Some of the tablet ads from Motorola were so bad you have to wonder if they weren't written by an Apple mole. Verizon's Droid ads lacked Apple's broad appeal but nurtured a sizable and rabid fan base.
Next, of course, is which features will really matter. Two of the new Galaxy phones and the rumored Nexus phone have 4.5" screens, which seems like overkill to me, but maybe lots of people are clamoring for bigger video screens? The Galaxy devices also include some of Samsung's content and software efforts like their Media hub, social hub and Kies Air wifi syncing app to better match up with Apple.
The Galaxy phones also come with 16 GB of on-board memory and a microSD slot to add up to an additional 32 GB. iPhones have topped out at 32 GB in the past despite the 64 GB iPod Touch. No idea yet what other killer features the Nexus or the iPhone will have, though we know Apple's iOS 5 includes great notification and cloud syncing (ripped off from Android). No feature will matter if it's not well promoted with great ads, either.
Finally, will customers care about 4G, or fourth generation, wireless Internet connection speeds? The mobile carriers have done their best to thoroughly confuse people about what actually constitutes 4G. And Apple's naming its current model "4" didn't help as 33% of iPhone owners think they have 4G wireless speeds (they don't).
Verizon's LTE provides much faster downloads than 3G and, I believe, actually meets the original industry 4G definition. It's available on some current Verizon models and in many major metro areas. But there's no sign of LTE on Galaxy phones -- Verizon isn't even carrying one -- and we don't know yet about Nexus and iPhone.
AT&T is rolling out LTE next year but has taken to calling its much slower HSPA+ offering 4G. That is on AT&T's Galaxy phone and could be in the next iPhone or Nexus. Sprint calls its WiMax service 4G and it's on the carier's Galaxy phones. It seems unlikely to be on the next iPhone but it's already on the previous-gen Nexus S at Sprint. And close to my heart T-Mobile? They have almost nothing to say, for some bizarre reason.
So, time to sit back and grab your popcorn. It's going to be a fun fall in the smartphone wars.
(Please note: comments on The Orange View are heavily moderated. Keep cool.)
Advertising exec Bob Hoffman, aka the Ad Contrarian, has a great post about the brilliance of Steve Jobs in his field. And it supports TOV's main argument about the leadership change at Apple: Steve Jobs genius goes well beyond product design. Worth a full read.
The consensus seemed to be that Jobs built a strong culture, hired smart people, and taught a way of thinking that will serve Apple well in the future. The story line went like this-- while Jobs will be missed, he is no longer essential to the future of the company and it will go on brilliantly without him.
I don't buy this for a second. Genius is non-transferable.
Jobs hasn't just created better computers, he has created a world that nobody else could envision. He brought an artist's sensibility to a field previously populated by capable but tone-deaf engineers. He didn't just make beautiful looking hardware, he took what was a dead screen full of little green letters on a blue background and turned it into an astounding, enchanting world of graphics, music, and video that has become a central feature of contemporary life.
-Ad Contrarian blog, August 29, 2011 (via DaringFireball)
Still waiting for that Verizon iPhone bump...
82.2 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in July 2011, up 10 percent from the preceding three month period. Google Android ranked as the top smartphone platform with 41.8 percent market share, up 5.4 percentage points. Apple strengthened its #2 position with 27.0 percent of the smartphone market, up 1.0 percentage points from the prior reporting period. RIM ranked third with 21.7 percent share, followed by Microsoft (5.7 percent) and Symbian (1.9 percent).
-comScore press release, August 30, 2011