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History repeats itself IBM vs Apple then, iPhone vs Android now

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<p>If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how
incapable must Man be of learning from experience.<br>George Bernard
Shaw<br>Irish dramatist &amp; socialist (1856 – 1950)</p>
</blockquote>
<p>History, ironically, tends to repeat its self. This may be old news in
political, economical or historical events but what happens in
Hardware/Software industry ?.</p>
<p>While I was reading some articles on the web about the market share of
mobile OS's today/tomorrow, a "pattern" started to emerge before my eyes.
There is something in this pattern that indicates what mobile OS will
have the major market share maybe 2 years from now, or
sooner. <strong>As I predict, near future of mobile phones will belong
to Android Linux operating system.</strong></p>
<p>Ok that may have sound like foolish… but please be patient and let
me (try) explain what are the historical similarities between the war of
IBM-Apple then, and Apple(iOS)-Google(Android) now and how will probably
be the end of this fight over the market share pie chart. So grab a cup
of coffee and open your mind !</p>
<p>Keywords: IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Linux, Open/closed
source/hardware/architecture.</p>
<h2>Historical events…</h2>
<p>Before 1980s there was… chaos. Incompatibility, deferent platforms
on hardware and software, less or no industry standards where some of the
troubbles in the market. Despite the presence of informal standards which
allowed a fair measure of interoperability between different machines
from different manufacturers, no single company controlled the industry.
Apple was established on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak,
and Ronald Wayne. Their hand-built, Apple I was first shown to the
public at the Homebrew Computer Club as personal computer kit that was
just sold as a motherboard with CPU, RAM, and basic textual-video
chips. In December of 1979, Jobs and several Apple
employees visited Xerox PARC  to see the Xerox Alto. Jobs was
immediately convinced that all future computers would use a graphical
user interface, so he rapidly pushed the development of a GUI for
the Apple Lisa computer.</p>
<p>Meanwhile, Microsoft entered the OS business in 1980 with its own
version of Unix, called Xenix. However, IBM awarded a contract to
Microsoft to provide a version of the CP/M OS, which was set to be used
in the upcoming IBM Personal Computer. For this deal, Microsoft
purchased a CP/M clone called 86-DOS from Seattle Computer Products,
branding it as MS-DOS, which IBM rebranded to PC-DOS.</p>
<h4>The Board is set… and now the fun begins…</h4>
<p>In 1981 IBM, finally entered the microcomputer market, with a machine
that was very unusual by its standards, largely sourced from outside
component suppliers, technically unambitious, ran third-party operating
systems, and above all, had an <strong>open architecture</strong>
(somehow this reminds me the way that a Linux distribution is built).
It was called the <em>IBM PC (Personal Computer)</em>.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.cerebrux.net/wp-content/uploads/250px-
Ibm_pc_5150-150x150.jpg" border="0" alt="IBM PC 5150" title="250px-
Ibm_pc_5150" width="150" height="150"></p>
<p>IBM PC 5150</p>
<p>I repeat… IBM decided to go on an open architecture, so that
other manufacturers could produce and sell peripheral components and
compatible software without purchasing licenses. IBM also sold
an <em>IBM PC Technical Reference Manual</em> which
included <strong>complete circuit schematics</strong>, a listing of
the ROM BIOS source code, and other engineering and programming
information. IBM announced the PC on August 12, 1981. Six weeks later at
COMDEX Fall, Tecmar had 20 PC products available for sale. Thanks to the
open nature of the PC architecture, PC soon had thousands of different
third-party add-in cards and software packages available for almost every
imaginable purpose. This made the PC the only viable option for many, as
the PC was the only platform that supported all hardware and software
they needed, allowing the PC to snatch the business market, a market with
very diverse software requirements from customer to customer.</p>
<p>Industry competitors took one of several approaches to the changing
market, which was to build a machine that duplicated the IBM PC as
closely as possible and sell it for a slightly lower price, or with
higher performance. The two early leaders in this last strategy were
both start-up companies: Columbia Computers and Compaq. They were the
first to achieve reputations for very close compatibility with the IBM
machines, which meant that they could run software written for the IBM
machine without recompilation. This meant for software companies, that
it was rational to write for the IBM PC and its clones as a high
priority, and port versions for less common systems at leisure. Even
thought Apple had the "beautiful" GUI desktop in Lisa
(<strong>1983</strong>) becoming the first personal computer sold to
the public with a GUI, it was a commercial failure due to its high price
tag, limited software titles, and due to the "ugly" MS-DOS which was
available for more machines named <em><strong>IBM PC clones.
</strong></em>From around <strong>1984</strong>, Microsoft were
achieving enormous revenues from DOS sales both to IBM and to an ever-
growing list of other manufacturers who had agreed to buy an <strong>MS-
DOS license for every machine they made</strong> (PC clones). For the
competing computer manufacturers, large or small, the only common factors
to provide joint technical leadership were operating software from
Microsoft, and CPUs from Intel. In essence, during the bulk of the 1980s
and early 1990s, <em>the main machines that were talked about in the
press</em> and in<strong> how-to guides</strong>, were IBM's and IBM PC
clones.</p>
<h4>Nobody is perfect…</h4>
<p>Even thought Open Architecture "was the way to go", with many
manufactures supplying the market with IBM PC clones "pre-
loaded" with Microsoft's MS-DOS and most of the market was buying
faster and cheaper IBM compatible machines made by other
firms, in <strong>1987</strong>, IBM made a bold and ultimately
disastrous business decision. IBM chose to "go the Apple way" and
 introduced their PS/2 line. The PS/2s remained software compatible,
but the hardware was quite different, which meant that none of the
millions of existing add-in cards would function. The new IBM machines,
in other words, <strong>were not IBM compatible</strong>. In addition,
IBM planned the PS/2 in such a way that for both technical and legal
reasons it would be very difficult to clone it in a similar way that
Apple produce its products. At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of
the 1990s IBM made a second disastrous decision by planning to replace
DOS with the vastly superior OS/2. In response to this, Microsoft
preferred to push the well established IBM PC clones industry in the
direction of its own product, called <strong>Windows </strong>thatbecame
the de-facto standard. IBM finally relinquished its role as a PC
manufacturer in April 2005, when it sold its PC division to Lenovo for
$1.75 billion.</p>
<p>By the early 21st century, the dominant  "IBM PC compatible
(clones)" computing platform with millions of "<strong>homebuilt
computers</strong>" that are assembled from available components, rather
than purchased as a complete system from a computer system
supplier, ensured the success of Microsoft Windows which had driven
nearly all other rival commercial operating systems into near-
extinction. By the mid 1990s for any manufacturer, introducing a new
rival operating system had become too risky. Even if an operating system
was technically superior to Windows, it would be a failure in the
marketplace (BeOS and OS/2 for example). Microsoft continued delivering
software to cheap commodity personal computers to the vast majority of
computer users while Apple was delivering a richly engineered, but
expensive, experience. Apple relied on high profit margins and never
developed a clear response. Instead they sued Microsoft for using
a graphical user interface similar to the Apple Lisa in Apple
Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation. The lawsuit dragged on for
years before it was thrown out of court.</p>
<h2>The decade 2000-2010</h2>
<p>By the year 2001, Microsoft holds approximately the 95% of the
desktop/small business computers " locked-in" on their technology. On
the other hand Open Source projects are getting some attention and by
the year 2000Â <strong>Open Source Development Labs</strong>
(<strong>OSDL</strong>) was founded as a non-profit organization
supported by a global consortium tasked to "accelerate the deployment
of Linux for enterprise computing". Its goals included "to be the
recognized center-of-gravity for the Linux industry". Linux Foundation
was founded in 2007 by the merger of the Open Source Development Labs
(OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG). The Linux Foundation sponsors
the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and is supported by leading
Linux and open source companies and developers from around the
world. The Linux Foundation promotes, protects and standardizes Linux
"by providing a comprehensive set of services to compete effectively with
closed platforms".</p>
<p>Microsoft did not like this, as Open Architecture PC (IBM clones and
homebuilt computers) combined with the Open Source Linux Operating System
could threaten their domination on the web. How that could happen ?
Well, the same way Microsoft succeed their domination on the market:</p>
<ol><li>Open Architecture was inevitably going to spread in the market
by its nature (remember home-build PC's versus Apple's
closed architecture Mac's)</li>
<li>Microsoft didn't do, by purpose, anything about pirated copies of
Windows until <strong>Windows XP</strong></li>
</ol><p>Linux is by nature open source, so any company/individual could
create a distribution for any purpose. Also the fact that Linux can be
easily modified to run on any type of " architecture" was the reason why
the war over who dominates web/file servers, mission critical systems ,
data centers is lost by Microsoft -as Linux smoothly replaced Unix in
those areas. Every interaction we have with the web and any internet
infrastructure in general, is powered in a "monopoly" way by Linux
servers. So they started a precautionary "war" on the
Desktops/Netbooks market for the sake of their survival. This was
called <strong>FUD </strong>(Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). On November
16, 2005 OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project gained much more attention
when Nicholas Negroponte and Kofi Annan unveiled a working prototype of
the Children's Machine 1 (CM1) at the World Summit on the Information
Society (WSIS) in Tunis, Tunisia. Microsoft, also did not like this….
they tried to kill it (Why Microsoft and Intel tried to kill the XO $100
laptop )</p>
<p><img src="http://www.cerebrux.net/wp-content/uploads/BUSINESS_apple-
150x150.png" border="0" alt="Apple Business" title="BUSINESS_apple"
width="150" height="150">On the other hand, Apple, having learned several
painful lessons (1986-1998) tried to adapt its self in the upcoming era
of Open Architecture combined with Open Source Projects. On March 24,
2001, they announced Mac OS X that is based upon the Mach kernel
with certain parts from FreeBSD's and NetBSD's implementation
of Unix incorporated in Nextstep. Also they started a successful
transition from the PowerPC architecture to the PC architecture. But
wait… that didn't meant that Apple was embracing
Open philosophies. Nobody is allowed to make home-build Mac's. Even if
the kernel was based upon open source projects, Apple was more interested
in providing third party developers with access to internal code than in
creating a community where developers would write its operating system
for it. <em><strong>Again…</strong> </em>they failed by being stuck in
an 8% of market share. To overcome this problem on profitability, in Jan
9th 2007 Apple Computer Inc. dropped the word "Computer" from their name
to better reflect their move into the wider field of consumer
electronics. The same day, they announced iPhone, an internet
and multimedia-enabled smartphone engineered during a secretive and
unprecedented collaboration with AT&amp;T Mobility—Cingular Wireless
at the time.</p>
<p>Apples habit to control everything, wasn't changed at all with these
new product line :</p>
<ul><li>Carrier lock-in with SIM lock - The iPhone normally prevents
access to its media player and web features unless it has also been
activated as a phone with an authorized carrier. Whereas on other
smartphones this not an issue.</li>
<li>Third party software development – Apple strictly controls the
developers' creativity freedom by any means. Developers to develop native
applications for the iPhone have to pay an Apple Developer Connection
membership fee. Developers are free to set any price for their
applications to be distributed through the App Store, of which they will
receive a 70% share. The problem starts when a developer creates an
application that is way better and intuitive from iPhone's bundled
software. If this happens to be true then Apple is free to ban your app
from App Store (see more :Â iPhone developers frustrated with App Store
)</li>
</ul><p>With the above attitude, Apple left out carriers and mostly
developers who wanted more freedom to unleash their creativity. Somebody
saw this coming… and by somebody I mean Google. Some really interesting
historical events started to hit the news press. As written in wikipedia,
in July 2005, Google acquired Android, Inc., a small startup company
based in Palo Alto, California, USA. At the time, little was known
about the functions of Android, Inc. other than that they made software
for mobile phones. This began rumors that Google was planning to enter
the mobile phone market.</p>
<p>Google Chairman/CEO Eric Schmidt in response to the rumors with a
press conference in November 5, 2007, unveiled his vision about
an <strong>Open Software, Open Device, Open Ecosystem :</strong></p>
<blockquote>
<p>"Today's announcement is more ambitious than any single ‘Google
Phone' that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks.
Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power
thousands of different phone models. This partnership will help unleash
the potential of mobile technology for billions of users around the
world. A fresh approach to fostering innovation in the mobile industry
will help shape a new computing environment that will change the way
people access and share information in the future."</p>
</blockquote>
<p>At Google, the team led by Andy Rubin developed a mobile device
platform powered by the Linux kernel which they marketed
to <strong>handset makers</strong> and <strong>carriers</strong> on the
premise of providing a <em>flexible, upgradeable system</em>. On 5 of
November 2007, the Open Handset Alliance was unveiled, a consortium of
71 hardware, software, and telecom companies devoted to
advancing open standards for mobile devices,  which
include <strong>Texas Instruments, Broadcom Corporation,
Google, HTC, Intel, LG, Marvell Technology
Group, Motorola, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Sprint
Nextel</strong> and <strong>T-Mobile</strong>. Along with the formation
of the Open Handset Alliance, the OHA also unveiled their first product,
Android, a mobile device platform built on the <em>Linux kernel version
2.6</em>. On 9 December 2008, it was announced that 14 new members would
be joining the Android project, including PacketVideo, ARM
Holdings, Atheros Communications, Asustek Computer Inc, Garmin
Ltd, Softbank, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba Corp, and Vodafone Group Plc.
Since 21 October 2008. Google opened the entire source code (including
network and telephony stacks) under an Apache License. With the Apache
License, vendors can add, if they will, proprietary extensions without
submitting those back to the open source community.</p>
<p>That was it… <strong>Android Linux </strong>started to gain rapidly
a lot of attention and according to NPD Group, unit sales for Android
OS smartphones ranked first among all smartphone OS handsets sold in the
U.S. in the second quarter of 2010, at 33%. BlackBerry OS is second at
28%, and iOS (Apple) is ranked third with 22%.(see Reuters). This
results are reasonable as Android is <em><strong>sold by several
manufacturers</strong></em> over all the
worlds <em><strong>carriers</strong></em>, while the iPhone is sold by
only <em><strong>1 manufacturer</strong></em> and only on<strong><em> a
single carrier</em></strong> network. As summed up in his blog, Louis
Gray states some reasons on why android platform could overcome the sales
of iOS platform:</p>
<ul><li><em>Choice :</em> Choice of handsets. Choice of carriers. Choice
of manufacturers</li>
<li><em>Momentum : </em>Android has momentum in terms of improved
quality, in terms of the number of devices sold and users, applications,
which are growing in quantity, soon to be followed by quality. The growth
in the number of handsets, carriers and users will drive more developers
to the platform, and the holdouts who are not there will eventually make
the move</li>
<li><em>Cloud : </em>The phone is built to tap into data stored on the
Web is the idea that user doesn't need to be tied to his desktop computer
to manage data on the phone.</li>
<li><em>Capability : </em>The Android platform, as any commercials offer,
simply does more and is by  nature capable of doing more.</li>
</ul><p>The trends certainly seem to support the notion of continued
Android growth in a manner that Apple should look back to its pasts
mistakes and rethink the "think differently" model of
doing business. Compete's Nathan Ingraham explains :</p>
<blockquote>
<p>The reason Apple should be concerned about Android's newfound strength
is because it has been in a similar situation before, in its competition
against Microsoft for home computing. Apple, of course, is the only
manufacturer and vendor of phones running the iPhone operating system,
while any manufacturer is able to run Android if it wishes. This mirrors
Apple's history pitting its Macintosh operating system against Microsoft
Windows. Apple is the only manufacturer who builds computers that run the
Mac OS, while a variety of manufacturers were able to manufacture
computers running Windows, which helped Microsoft run away with the lead
in the OS war back in the 1990's.</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Recent data from AndroLib.com is worth mentioning. The company's
current measurements (by the time this article is written) suggest
Android's App Market is poised to hit the 150,000 mark any day now.
On <em>12 of July</em>, Google publicly announced a new project
called <strong><em>App Inventor. </em>App Inventor isn't about to
replace or even threaten the traditional developer model. </strong>App
Inventor's goal, Abelson tells <em>The Times</em> , is to "enable
people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile
world.":</p>
<blockquote>
<p>"The Google project, Mr. Abelson said, is intended to give users,
especially young people, a simple tool to let them tinker with smartphone
software, much as people have done with computers. Over the years, he
noted, simplified programming tools like Basic, Logo and Scratch have
opened the door to innovations of all kinds."</p>
</blockquote>
<h2>Conclusion…</h2>
<p>To sum up, Android Linux will be the universal platform that will make
possible to every device to be connected with millions of other devices
and share information with each other…. an absolute wireless network
of devices. This is due to:</p>
<ul><li>Multiple devices can run Linux</li>
<li>Linux is open source, and everybody can be involved in.</li>
<li>Multiple manufacturers build devices that run Android</li>
<li>Linux belongs to "humanity" and not to a single company.</li>
</ul><p>Human nature is reflected in any aspect of our society. We love
exploring, researching, inventing new ways of making our lives
easier and ones we do that we urge to be sharing this knowledge with
others. The Shamans and Alchemists were the first explorers of material
nature and the "invisible" forces that dominated it. The knowledge that
they possessed was their strength, well kept and protected from any
ignorant that will try to "steal" it. Their apprentice were the only
heirs of this knowledge. In this case, the knowledge is generated by
few and only to benefit themselves rather than society as a whole. This
is a "closed source" model as a method of producing knowledge. Because of
humans' nature to share the produced information, slowly
but inevitably this method has been replaced by a new and more open
method. Science as opposed to esoteric knowledge, uses the
opposite methodology for the production of knowledge. The knowledge and
the source of it (the way that is produced) is available to
anybody. This way the "fire" is invented only ones. Someone else takes
this invented knowledge end creates something new. This is a standard,
"open sourced" method to generate knowledge.</p>
<p>Software and hardware industry is approximately only 100 years old.
It is in humans' nature to change the model of producing innovative
products from a closed ecosystem (like Alchemists did) in a more open
ecosystem model (like Scientists do).  The use of open models, over the
years becomes more apparent. Linux is gaining more and more ground not
only because it is another software, but because it is the ideal platform
that enables more ideas and solutions in all areas of Science and
Technology. Microsoft , Apple and any other company will make the same
mistakes over and over again if the do not learn from past mistakes.
Maybe thats why IBM is getting involved with the mobile phone industry.
In a recent post, 09 August 2010, by Jean Staten Healy of IBM in
Linux.com explains the situation:</p>
<blockquote>
<p>Businesses and consumers are fast creating a mobile world — there
will be nearly one trillion Internet-connected devices in 2011 — and
open standards such as Linux are necessary to make this new world work.
Embedded Linux runs on virtually every smart phone today and will help
support the 20 times more mobile data and 40 times more spending on
mobile transactions that are forecast to occur in 2015. Consumers don't
know Linux is in their phones, but developers do. The proliferation of
smart phones like iPhones and Droids portends that application
development for the mobile platform with Linux is only set to grow; a
recent Eclipse survey showed that 33 percent of developers now use Linux
as their primary development operating system, up from 20 percent in
2007.</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Apparently they've learned something from their past. Thanks for your
patient and I hope you enjoyed my article.</p>
<blockquote>
<p><em>If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples
then you and I will still each have one apple. </em><em>But if you have
an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us
will have two ideas.</em></p>
<p>George Bernard Shaw</p>
<p>Irish dramatist &amp; socialist (1856 – 1950)</p>
</blockquote>
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