Apple Down, Google Up, Microsoft Bounces Back

The world of tech and tech accessories has radically changed in the last few months, and from what I can tell, nobody noticed.  Here is my take on the “big picture” of phones, tablets, watches and whatever.

Apple really needs Steve Jobs back

Today is the 5th Anniversary of the iPad, the game changer device that has not only changed how we surf the web, but how we play games, watch TV, read books, and keep our lives organized. It was a groundbreaking device that is still making waves.

Fast forward to March 9, 2015 when Apple held another semi annual big presentation on what is “new” from Apple. It solidified my opinion of Apple I got from a similar event last October (when they finally got around to making a bigger iPhone): Apple is no longer on the cutting edge, they are riding in the wake.

What did they announce? An Apple Watch, a technology others have experimented with the last couple of years which only the nerdiest people think is cool.

A new MacBook which is pretty much the most overpriced device ever offered by Apple.  This is basically a “netbook” as it is not powerful enough to do much beyond what you can already do on any tablet.

In my honest opinion, Apple is now a full two years behind everybody else, and losing ground.

Google is now the industry leader

Android 5 released in November, is now the default OS for hand held devices. It is a major step up from 4.4 and it is an actual game changer.

Android 5 brings with it a suite of common “apps” that use the same interface and work together.  You might ask, “So what?”, but I think Android 5 marks the beginning of the end of the reign of “apps”.

It was never spoken, but we have all known that apps have basically consisted of web sites and flash games that we either pay for with money or ad spam (or both) just so that it will work on our phone. Except for a few games, most apps exist out of stupidity. Companies are now pushing customers to download their apps to make purchasing their stuff easier.

Only a handful of apps are useful, the majority of Apps basically just fill our devices limited memory with junk we once found funny or amusing.

The ones that are actually useful are the ones that provide us info we want or need, and the way they do that is through “push notification”.  That’s the first revelation of App demise.

The second revelation is this: Every app seems to want to have its own interface design, this is a problem as it means you have to learn how to get information you need from many different interfaces.  We forgot this lesson was learned a long time ago. The thing that made Macintosh computers successful back in the 80’s is that every program had the same interface.  Microsoft figured this out finally with the release of Windows in the early 90’s.

Google is now doing the same thing for Android.  The philosophy behind Android 5 seems to be a common interface among the built in apps, and these interface tools are being made available to app designers, too.

These two observations are gaining strength in the industry and will lead to the “End Of Apps As We Know Them”.  Goodbye pages and pages of apps, hello easy access to the info you are looking for. Android 5 is designed around that philosophy, and it’s a welcome change.

Microsoft is back behind the wheel

The only thing really holding back Microsoft right now is that Windows 10 isn’t ready, yet.  A common OS for phone, tablet, laptop and desktop is just too cool.

In a rush to jump into the mobile market, Microsoft’s recent history has been full of one boondoggle after another.  One of the biggest was Windows RT project, a broken version of windows for mobile processors.  Their first tablets Microsoft Surface and Surface 2 ran on RT, even though similar sized devices with full Windows 8, were already being released.  The heavily advertised but widely rejected Windows Phones could only run RT, and these poor selling tablets were an attempt to get developers to support the Windows app store.

This past month they released the Surface 3, the first in the non “pro” line that runs full Windows 8.1 and is powerful enough to run most windows software, except graphic heavy games.

The Surface 3 is about half the cost of the above mentioned MacBook, and its stats are comparatively the same.

If you are really looking to save money I recently tested a $77 Windows 8.1 tablet. How was it? Well about what you would expect from a $77 tablet. They spared every expense, including a battery that did not charge all the way, no sleep mode so you have to sign in every time to you turn it on, and buttons in the worse possible locations.  Bottom line, there are a lot of decent name brand tablets between $200-300 that are better deals.

Still, the mere fact that $77 tablets exist shows that Microsoft can be competitive with Apple and Android, and that’s the bigger picture. By the end of the year, inexpensive phones that run full Windows 10 should be available.

Windows 10 is going to be a game changer, a common OS that adapts itself depending on whether it is on a phone, tablet, or PC. The PC version of the interface is a lot more Windows 7 like than even 8.1 is, while the tablet version is more fat finger friendly to make it useable on small screens.  Microsoft’s free cloud storage will automatically move your profile and data to any device you sign in on.  This is a huge incentive to go all Windows on all devices.

After years of failure, Microsoft seems to be getting it right, but they have a lot of catching up to do in the market share department.

The “big picture”

Granted Apple and Google have similar services that move your data between devices, unfortunately most of us find ourselves with incompatible stuff spread between all 3 companies.  Hopefully soon I will find an easy way to see my PC contact list and iTunes library on my Samsung Galaxy.  In the mean time, if you can, pick a company and stick with them, it just makes everything easier.

The “big picture” is this: In the last 5 years since the ipad, we have seen Apple fall behind, Google surge ahead, and Microsoft bounce back. It is only a matter of time before it all gets homogenized, with all 3 companies offering the same goods and services delivered in the same way, the price of which will only get cheaper.

8 thoughts on “Apple Down, Google Up, Microsoft Bounces Back

  1. wayward4now April 4, 2015 / 6:14 pm

    I just keep HOPING that one day you will post that Linux makes your toes curl! I haven’t used Windows since Win95 and haven’t looked back. I run Debian Jessie on both my desktop (16 gigs of ram, two video cards with a total of 4 gigs of vram and four monitors) and my laptops. And, all of your software runs nicely. Again, I have hope! 🙂 Ric

    • arianeb April 5, 2015 / 12:44 am

      I have nothing against Linux. I have used it before in the past. Technically, Android is a Linux based OS.
      Linux still does not have much of a base, and with Microsoft and Apple moving towards free OS models as well, Linux may never get much more than it has now.

      • wayward4now April 5, 2015 / 4:24 am

        It has a much larger base than you would imagine. I just compiled High Fidelity 3D environment server and client last week. Works a charm. In the past I had the open version of Second Life server and clients running, using mono. That was a hoot! Plus, I didn’t need expensive permissions, in the way of licenses, to run my server(s). So, we can alway use some more hot Geek-Grrls in the Linux World!! I hope you give it another whirl sometime.

  2. wayward4now April 5, 2015 / 4:33 am

    Oh yes, PS. Windows will never become “open” as in Open Source. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Office and server/software licenses are what keeps them in business. Their stockholders would have them against the wall to be shot for opening up any of that. There would be no need to pay for those licenses, then. Any talk from them about becoming “open” is just plain PR, to stem the losses to Linux and Apple.

  3. Paul April 5, 2015 / 4:40 pm

    Just a correction ( it was probably a typo)…the iPod was released in 2001 . The iPad is the one that´s 5 years old… 🙂

  4. Heinz Müller April 8, 2015 / 12:21 am

    I don’t claim that all Apple users are fashion victims, but I am convinced that Apple products nowadays have a rather poor price-perfomance ratio. I thus wouldn’t be too surprised if the Apple Watch will be a complete flop: It is neither really new nor really cool nor really useful. However, I guess it’s rather unlikely that Steve Jobs will resurrect to help Apple become innovative once more, as it is no longer necessary for Apple to be innovative any longer: Apple has enough disciples that would buy any overpriced crap as long as its name starts with an “i”. In the long run Apple will be merely a fashion brand like Prada or Gucci, selling lifestyle and emotions instead of products and services. You won’t buy an Apple Watch because you actually need it, but due to peer pressure.

    Google on the other hand must take care not to become too market-dominating or even quasi-monopolistic, since some EU authorities are eager to decartelise this data kraken rather sooner than later. And isn’t Google in fact more powerful than Ma Bell ever was? The success of Android could boomerang back to Google and finally cause severe antitrust actions.

    And Microsoft? I guess they are on the right track with Windows 10 and their .NET open source strategy. But they were on the right track too with Windows 7 after the Vista disaster and yet managed to craft their Windows 8.0 wide off the mark. They were on the right track with “Project Origami” with devices like the Samsung Q1 and yet managed to sleep through the dawn of the iPad era. They were on the right track with their pre-smartphone PocketPC OS and Windows Mobile and yet neglected to invent something like the iPhone themselves. So although Windows 10 is quite promising, I worry that someone at the upper Microsoft management will again find a way to spoil it once more.

    • wayward4now April 8, 2015 / 5:11 pm

      “I worry that someone at the upper Microsoft management will again find a way to spoil it once more.” There was an article in “El Reg” (which I cannot find readily) that described their basic legal model of $50,000 fines for a company to be found with one missing license even while they thought they were in compliance. Just another reason for me to avoid that bunch. I make mistakes and cannot afford the legal dosh.

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