Death of the PC? You don’t have a clue what one is

13 10 2015

Apple, Google and Microsoft have only just finished their events and we are now subjected to the usual fanboi articles from the press. Now, I’ve come to get used to this, articles that feel so unbelievable biased to one of these tech giants over the other two, often stupidly so, but recently, the articles themselves just are not understanding the basics of technology or what’s been going on over the past decade, let alone what appears to be happening right now.

My main gripe though in this post is the lack of understanding what a PC actually is. It seems that journalists and fanbois alike, think a PC is a 1990s desktop PC, that’s simply crazy. In addition, people like gartner and forbes with their market analysis constantly needs to re-asses the definition of a PC in the tech market, simply because PC in its pure form covers the vast majority of devices available.

Mobile is PC

First off, let’s just clarify one thing, a mobile phone or a tablet is a PC. PC = Personal Computer, so mobile devices if anything fit that terminology much more closely than what everyone it seems thinks a PC is, a good old 1990s desktop. Mobile is so personal, and it’s a computer, so it’s a personal computer.

As soon as you grasp this, it becomes clear why Microsoft (who seems to be forever linked with desktop PCs) is starting to make its own hardware, specifically aimed at “mobile” and more importantly, expanding that market away from where the likes of Apple and Google dominate. By that, I mean pure “mobile”, as in more focus on personal, less on the computing aspect.

What’s been going on

Since Apple really turned a mobile phone into a form of PC, the market has been shifting towards smaller, more personal devices, and as such, removes the need for homes etc to purchase a good old desktop machine. What has been a complete success is actually removing functionality and reducing computing power. I for one could do more with an original windows mobile pda device than I could do with an iPhone for example. Hell, I used to be able to control servers from that thing. But, the usability of it wasn’t simple, and to be honest, the vast vast vast majority of users use nothing more than a web browser and a handful of simple applications on mobile devices. Because of this, Apple made another great innovation, and that was simply making the phone bigger, so it was easy to use on the sofa. Enter the iPad.

Tablets really are where the majority of day to day users now carry out their computing (if not still on their mobile phone). The reason is because most tablets again, with the web, and access to good apps provides everything the majority of users understand. However, sales if iPads etc seem to have reached that point of market saturation, and that’s not a surprise, end consumers cant keep on buying, buying and buying the same thing. In essence, the PC market is now moving away from desktops to tablets, but that’s still the same PC market.

Microsoft trying to be different?

With the release of Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface, Microsoft essentially said “yes, we are very late to mobile devices, but we have a vision were these devices are just as powerful as the desktop you used to have”. Now the reason this isn’t that popular is because the vast majority of users doesn’t need that power or complexity. Hell, the tech journalists don’t even understand that’s what Microsoft is trying to do, nor why.

However, the Surface Pro device hit some notes with large chunks of the mobile PC market, and that chunk was focussed around productivity. Though the majority of users out there don’t need to be productive, there is a market for people who are productive and want productivity from their devices. How many people do you know (in business) who turn up with their iPad. They may make some notes on there, but then when it comes to carrying out anything worth doing, pull out a laptop that appears to be a number of years old? Essentially that user is now carrying two devices around with them? That’s not the point of tablet or mobile computing is it.

Microsoft therefore tried to provide for that niche market, in the hope to get a foothold I believe and then expand that to us daily users. It’s taken until Windows 10, and the most recent launch event from Microsoft to really start to show how effective this approach is. With the Surface Pro 3, and Windows 10, Microsoft delivers a device that is Mobile. Its not an old desktop vision for the company or Windows, rather its Mobile and personal first, however with no computing or productivity compromising.

Going forward

Who knows what the market will do. However, Microsoft must be hitting the right notes with sales of Surface Pro devices doing well. You have to just look at Apple and the iPad Pro to see that Apple and Google are aware that Microsoft approach will see them selling devices and potentially taking away market share from them both. After all, why carry an iPad and a Laptop? Or have an iPad and an old desktop machine at home or work when you can have a Surface Pro tablet that is a tablet, your laptop and with a “dock” accessory, replaces your desktop machine too. That’s three devices in one?

For businesses, Surface Pro allows them to provide a single device to their employees, and takes away an utter nightmare regarding provisioning of hardware, policies, security, ISMS etc etc. For consumers it brings the same common sense approach. Why have two/three devices? Why not have a tablet that is my laptop and desktop? Apple and Google have spotted this is a real threat, hence the release of their own “pro” versions of their tablets, though neither has the innovation here or capability to compete with Microsoft Windows 10 or its power on a mobile tablet.

We see that Microsoft is going further with this, especially with Windows Phone 10 and “Continuum” enabling your Phone to replace your desktop with the simple connection to a dock device! That’s your phone powering a real desktop scree,, keyboard and mouse, allowing any user to be productive with just their phone. Enter universal apps from Microsoft Windows 10 and you really see that Microsoft is banking on mobile pcs as actual computing productivity devices, not just personal devices. This theme continues with Surface Book, a laptop first, that can be your tablet (detach the screen) or desktop replacement.

What’s clear, is that the “mobile” market is the PC marketplace, and that mobile appears to be now embracing the need for productivity and computing power. With the market now moving that way, is Microsoft on the right path to take pole position in our computing lives again? Is Microsoft devices along with Windows 10 on the right path, which is all about mobile computing experiences across a range of devices, providing us with real freedom of choice on how to carry out our computing activities while not compromising on productivity or power?

In a recent article in the daily telegraph (Best of luck Microsoft, but the Surface Book isn’t going to save the PC) I couldn’t but think “Oh my God this guy just doesn’t have a clue”. If you think a laptop is a traditional “PC pitch” from Microsoft then you don’t have a clue about what has been going on, what a PC really is or what we are seeing from the tech giants or the marketplace. To be fair though, graphs showing PC sales don’t get it either, they focus on traditional desktop machines, which is a narrow view of the PC market.

One thing we must also remember is that a desktop is easy to upgrade. Many many many consumers out there have old desktop machines and simply update them. The same can be said of businesses, with simple upgrades to RAM, most desktop machines have their life extended quite considerably. Throw into the mix that you can still run Windows 10 on these devices and why do you need to buy a desktop as often as any other device.

The traditional desktop may not be the entire market anymore, but as for the “PC” market, it is simply growing and growing with many more devices delivering personal computing experiences.  Dominating the PC market is still the playing field, the devices just look different!





Anyone innovating?

1 10 2015

First off, I’ve been a bit quite on the blogging front for a little while – sometimes real work takes over and it’s hard to get motivated to post a meaningful blog….

So, I’ve sat through two rather dull technology events the past few weeks. First off Apple really did disappoint with their new releases, nothing new there at all. No, tell a lie, I did quite like the pressure sensitive screen feature on the new iPhone. It’s quite innovative, but its value is really hard to justify. Would I upgrade to the new phone because of that? Nope, but that doesn’t mean millions of “fans” wont, quite the contrary really. The second event was that of Google. Now this was awful. Dull devices and nothing new at all….

One thing though that I did notice in both events is the desire to copy innovation from a company that apparently is uncool and hasn’t innovated since the late 90s…Yeap, Microsoft. It seems that Microsoft new approach to a single OS across all devices is starting to pay off. Mix that with the Surface Pro range of devices, and there is a real movement in the market towards “hybrid” tablet/laptops. This is clear to see by the launch of the iPad Pro and some new Google option (its name is awful and reminds me of a fax machine). The Google copy though is blatant. The device looks like a Surface Pro all day long….

Why copy?

It seems that people are starting to realise that they can have a single device that acts as their tablet, but can also be their tool of choice when it comes to productivity. Business IT departments have started to realise this and now it seems are some of us consumers. I myself use a Surface Pro 3 to replace my laptop and my work desktop PC. It works brilliantly in both environments, especially with the Docking station. I also use it as my “tablet” machine that does find its way to the sofa – where it is of great use like most tablet devices.

With this in mind, both Apple and Google have to be aware that maybe “mobile” only tablets have a shelf life, after all, can both companies really expect businesses and consumers to continually shell out for multiple devices when one could do the job of three? I think there is an awakening that actually, Microsoft has been the innovator in the past 18months, and with its Windows 10 OS and launch of Surface Pro 4 coming any day now, that there could be a real market shift away from dumber tablets towards tablet/laptop hybrids. If that’s the case, Microsoft is a long way ahead of the game here, with both Apple and Google only offering lightweight mobile Oss on their devices.





September, a big tech month…

4 09 2013

Ever since Apple started making big announcements in September a few years back, it’s become increasingly popular to be the month of big tech news. Samsung copied Apple a few years back and started making their announcements just a few days before Apple, and often September is the month we also get some form of announcement from Google and or Microsoft. September 2013 has been no different.

 

Samsung announcements

These have been pretty odd affairs in recent years, and to be honest, I’m not sure they have been that successful. This year we are talking wearable technology and specifically smart watches. Are these the next big thing? Hmmm. I’m not entirely sure, if technology on your wrist was really going to take off, I think my Casio watch with calculator was quite a “killer” back in the late 80s. I heard a great quote today in relation to wearable technology, “people only wear something that looks good”. That means it needs to look equally as good as something like a Rolex, Tag or Omega watch before it really really has appeal. Let’s face it, no matter what the best looking tech company in the world has to offer (which is Apple not Samsung), I’m convinced tech on my wrist won’t get better looking than that produced by brands like Omega.

Obviously there will be a market for wearable technology, I just don’t feel it will be something the masses adopt, especially when we think how much bigger phones are getting (not smaller). Wearable technology like a watch will not replace my smart phone, so why would I have it?

If you are thinking about Google glasses for example, then again, this kind of tech has other pitfalls. For one, if you already wear glasses I’m not sure the tech even works for you. If you, like me, hate having things distract your eye, then again the tech is not going to be for you. Throw on top of that the fact the glasses don’t look great (and there is a massive market in laser eye corrective surgery so we don’t have to wear glasses) I start to think a lot of this is tech for tech sake…

IMHO, wearable tech may have a place, but its not for the masses and no one should be seeing this as the future and the replacement of the phone, not at least a fair few generations (try 15)…

 

Apple’s big do…

Every September the online media get excited, and I read so much about what will Apple deliver, and what we expect from Apple, and oh, this is what we think this invitation means…I am still amazed at how much coverage a simple invitation gets, and that’s before anything has been announced. Only last night I caught some tech news on the TV and the breaking news was the Apple invitation that had been sent out with colour spots on it! I mean, really, is this massive tech news, especially compared to what really was the ground breaking story of the month, Microsoft purchasing Nokia!

That being said, we are expecting some new form factor iPhone 5s. Now I am not sure how much new tech, if any the new iPhone will have, but it no doubt will be received with a lot of excitement, that’s what brand Apple receives no matter what these days. I personally don’t think we will be seeing anything major in this latest version of the iPhone 5, some colour options, maybe a little more configuration, but there wasn’t any real innovation with the iOS 7 refresh, so don’t expect anything on the hardware front if the OS didn’t offer anything new.

 

Microsoft and Nokia

No matter what Apple or anyone does in September 2013, the big news must be that of Microsoft purchasing Nokia’s devices division. This is a massive shift away from Microsoft’s original vision, that Microsoft delivers software only, not hardware. This shift may have been on the cards, and for some time – since the Nokia announcing it would go all in with Windows Phone – I’ve been stating it’s only a matter of time before Microsoft buy Nokia.  I think further clues should have been taken from the Surface tablet release. Surface may not be doing as well as Microsoft would like, but it’s been a bold move by them, and is basically a statement that “Microsoft no longer has confidence in OEMs to deliver the hardware and the design to best show off Windows technology”. In many ways I have to agree with this. It should also have been clear that Microsoft would need a devices arm after Google purchased Motorola. That makes Google, Microsoft and Apple now all in the mobile phone devices game, which must be a concern for makers like HTC and Samsung, since they have the hardware but rely on software from other sources. Perhaps they will be moving into the software game (I hope not, but you never know).

It’s also not a bad time for Microsoft to really get aggressive with mobile. It’s had some good news as of late, Windows 8 has gained some traction and now commands a greater market share than Mac OS X, and Windows Phone has moved into 3rd regarding smart phones.

Though Microsoft are now well and truly in the hardware game, I firmly believe that Microsoft will continue to license its software and that Windows Phone will be available to OEMs such as Samsung, HTC and many more, because after all, software is still Microsoft’s core business. What it means though is Microsoft can now ensure there are devices in the mobile and tablet market places that can compete in terms of design, performance and build quality with those delivered by Apple. By ensuring this level of design, it forces OEMs to deliver the same, or surpass Microsoft’s efforts, or simply become irrelevant.

Many people may claim Microsoft is a dying company, that they haven’t done anything in years, blah blah blah and that Nokia is dead and should have gone with Android. To me, these are statements from people who don’t understand the two companies, don’t understand business and require glasses when it comes to looking into the future. These are probably the same people who said Apple is dead only months before the launch of the iPod.

Microsoft is still a massive powerhouse, and don’t think that Windows is a poor operating system. Just spend a few days being totally open minded and use Windows 8, on a PC, tablet or phone. The OS is far from perfect, but it really makes sense. The user experience is very slick, the capabilities of the OS is far more powerful than any of its competitors and Microsoft provides development tools that are simply second to none. Throw into the mix its Windows Azure operating system, its dominance in the business world and you can start to see that Microsoft may know after all how to become popular with the consumer again. If you don’t believe me actually try the OS with a fresh mind. On a mobile phone, the experience is second to none it really is, but I appreciate the look and feel is not for everyone, and nor should it be or ever be. Mobile phones are personal devices, and as such an element of personal taste will always come into play. The big problems for Windows 8, be it on the phone or tablet, is the lack of relevant apps in the market place. Size of the app store means nothing, most apps available on all the platforms are really a waste of time, but what kills Microsoft is currently the lack of “expected” apps. I really believe Microsoft has got to get paying some companies to bring their apps to Windows 8, be it phone or tablet. Only then, once consumers know they are getting at least the same apps on a Windows device will they make the switch…

 

So, Microsoft and Nokia, a single OS with no compromises across all devices, on hardware that is reliable, looks good, performs well and is innovative, that’s visionary, that’s big thinking. Now all Microsoft has to do is win back love from developers (which its more than capable of doing) and it really is back in business with the consumer…Oh, and controlling your own hardware surely will be a big tick in the additional profits column (if all goes well, if not a rather big drain).





Grasping the tech giants business models

20 07 2012

It’s rare that I bother to post about business models, economics or company balance sheets, and that’s simply because I don’t find them half as interesting as what’s going on with technology or methodologies. However, for the past 12 years these sorts of things have taken up almost 50% of my working time, and can be interesting from time to time, especially when you look at the tech giants, Apple, Microsoft and Google…

In an earlier post I blogged about the worrying trend for “free” services from the web, and how that business models that were built purely on advertising can be fraught with danger, and essentially only work well for the very few (for Google it works massively well).  However, today I want to look at Apple, Microsoft and Google in terms of their business models, how they differ, where they are similar and their financials to understand the companies better and to understand where we could be heading…

 

Business model

Each one of the big three has their own unique business models when you look at them in broader terms. Apples business is about delivering premium luxury devices mainly, running them with its own software and being tied into its own ecosystem (pretty much exclusively). Apple doesn’t really provide any software services, or software that we buy and run on any old device, rather everything is focused on its own platforms and own devices. One of the big benefits here is if your brand is strong (and Apples is very strong at the moment) then you can command premium rates and rake in larger profits because you control everything, the software, the hardware, the ecosystem even to an extent the distribution channels. This model is a massive earner potentially, but relies purely on your brand being un-equalled in the eyes of the consumer.

Microsoft on the other hand is purely software and software services (well almost purely). Microsoft delivers is software to consumers and businesses alike, it charges licenses for these and subscription fees for its services. Anyone can purchase Microsoft software and services, and most of them will run on any platform, including Apples MAC and iOS. This business model relies on your software and services delivering to the customer’s requirements, but does open up the enterprise as well as the consumer. It also allows Microsoft to enter so many different software market areas, and there pretty much isn’t an area where Microsoft isn’t present. Though each individual sale is nowhere near as profitable as an Apple sale (as Apple sells the hardware too) it is none the less highly profitable and due to its diversitiy, allows Microsoft to support other areas of its business with ones that are doing well. These types of services, aren’t quite brand dependent, rather are feature and function dependent.

Then we come to Google, Google is all about marketing, selling you a marketing services via its search. Everything else Google does is related to gaining more information to increase the value of those marketing services that it sells to SMEs and large corporations. This is again a very profitable business model, but depends 100% on people using your search services, in order to show value for your marketing services. If Google’s search is seen to be not as good as a competitor, or looses market share, then the value of its marketing business also drops away – which puts pressures on every other aspect of the business.

So do we see any cross over? Well the companies do share common grounds, and that is in the entertainment and content consumption area. At the moment, Apple is a little more mature here than the others, but essentially both Microsoft and Google are playing catch up in delivering content through their ecosystems down to their customers. Microsoft has marketplace (which is still branded Zune in some areas), Google has Play and we all know Apple as iTunes.

In addition, both Google and Microsoft appear to be now dabbling in the hardware arena a lot more too. You could argue Microsoft has always dabbled, especially when the company produced the modern mouse as we know it, keyboards etc in the early days. They also deliver the XBOX and now, perhaps, Surface tablets too. So is Microsoft trying to increase its revenues by controlling hardware too? Probably not, though XBOX is now a profitable business for them, this exercise is about showing Microsoft products can be related to high end devices. Google though has got into this more seriously, delivering their own tablets and purchasing Motorola. I personally think this is more about ensuring its OS is running on devices that tie back to its search than about actually competing in the hardware arena or with Microsoft directly for OEMs love…

 

Experiences and current position

The Apple business model relies on belief that their brand delivers a better experience. This is the situation currently for the masses; hence they are the biggest player here in many ways in mobile and tablet. However, this wasn’t always the case. The Apple experience was poor back in the 90’s, I’m sorry it really was, not matter what anyone says. I remember using them at Uni and I will be honest, the UNIX machines delivered an experience I, and pretty much everyone else, agreed with was better than the Apple. Don’t be fooled that people flocked to MS just because, we all used Windows 3.11, 95, 98 etc because it was a far superior end user and business user experience (even with the blue screen of death).  You could also do so much more with the Windows based PCs, networking, support more peripheral devices etc etc.

Apple didn’t die though; instead it reinvented itself with a great experience on a tiny device, the iPod. That experience was and still is, far better than its competition, and it was that experience that led to us consumers looking at just what else Apple delivered. Apple really seized the day here, and improved everything they do 100%. Their devices always looked funky, but now they looked really top of the range, sleek, fast and designer. Throw in their improved operating systems (and a change at the core) and things started to look up. The iPhone moved this on from the iPod, and in many ways Apple defined what we see as a smart phone today (though they weren’t the first, even Nokia had prototype devices that looked like and behaved like the iPhone, they just were stuck on Symbian and never got them to market – shows poor forethought that). The iPhone experience was second to none (even though it lacked in features at first), and that experience is what drove customers to Apple. At the same time, people were getting fed up with the blue screen of death, and the viruses that now plagued Windows machines (and you can’t blame them). In many ways the Apple experience was now superior to that of Microsoft’s. With that experience and belief in place, the Apple business model really did and does flourish…

But are things starting to change again? Well maybe not just yet, but there is a real perception that they could, with many pundits and market watchers believing that Windows 8 across all devices could start to show a better experience to that of Apples on all those devices. Who knows, if that does happen then the pendulum will no doubt swing back to Microsoft away from Apple. The difference between the two companies though is their ability to thrive through poor consumer sales or customer perception…

Microsoft’s brand with Vista hit a real low. Yet the company still managed to rake in big profits, and that’s because of the numerous other businesses Microsoft runs. Microsoft has a highly successful business and server division, and that income keeps them strong even at a time of Vista. Essentially Microsoft can weather storms better than anyone, due to their business model and the diversity of their software and services. If indeed the masses of consumers start opting for devices running Windows 8 over Apples own devices, then Apple will be hit far harder than anything Apple has done to Microsoft in the past 10 years. It’s interesting that both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs see/saw Apple as a premium product and the masses opting for Windows devices, if this again becomes the case in mobile and tablet, then the quarterly incomes that we see posting from Apple will be slashed, none the less they will still operate at a very handy profit on every device they sell (something Google must learn at some point you would think).

 

Financials

By far and away Apple rules here. Though Q2 figures aren’t out for 2012, Q1 figures for Apple have the company posting record revenues of $46b, these up from $26b in the same quarter a year ago. That shows that Apple is moving from strength to strength and quickly. 58% of those revenues come directly from device sales, keep that in mind, such as iPhones, iPods, iPads and Macs. Almost all devices Apple produce have defined the market and command massive market share, with the exception of the Mac, which in desktop market share is a tiny player.  What’s interesting is that Apple doesn’t have any areas where the company loses money, and that’s why it’s such a strong company.

In second place we have Microsoft with its own record $18b for Q2 2012. Though the company had to write off a $6b investment in an advertising company (which meant Microsoft’s first ever loss), the company looks to make around the $6b each quarter, almost none of which comes from device sales. Microsoft is sitting on assets of excess of $121b up from $108b just 12 months ago so it’s a rich company that is growing in every area – though some are running at a loss. Microsoft makes money from a number of software and services divisions, but these also end up supporting many other software and service divisions that run at a loss. Bing for example has never managed to get close to profit, yet Microsoft plug away at it, and even Bing is heading in the right direction. Microsoft does play a very long game with these divisions, and it has the cash reserves and the income to be able to do that…

Finally we have Google, who also posted record quarter revenue, this time of around $12b. Interestingly enough Google makes no money from so many ventures, but its core business model allows them to still operate at a nice profit and command such sales. Almost everything Google makes comes from marketing…

 

Long term projects

Microsoft has always led the way in R&D investment, and it seems to be ramping this up. Many could argue the company has been stagnant for many years, which could be true. However, Apples re-emergence has meant Microsoft needs to up its game if it wishes to remain a big player in the home, and that’s exactly what they appear to be doing. Microsoft plays a very long game, and is prepared to give its businesses a very long time to move into profit, think XBOX and the entertainment divisions which now operate at very healthy profits, that wasn’t always the case. Bing may be losing Microsoft money each quarter, but it is losing less money than it was each quarter. The whole thing here is that Microsoft is involved in so many different areas which many of which aren’t profitable…Yet…

Apple on the other hand has been very fortunate. Not only were they fortunate to survive (with some cash from Microsoft there too) they stumbled along for many years offering not much innovation and poor experiences. However, that all has changed dramatically. Since the iPod and the additional revenues that brought in, Apple has invested and innovated, carving out not 1 but 3 market places for itself to dominate.

Google has always been the golden company of search, however mobile is a real challenge for them, delivering their marketing services down to devices. Here Google search isn’t as strong as it is on the desktop or as effective at delivering adds, so Google has to have a strong mobile presence with Motorola and Android to safeguard its core business.

 

Conclusion

All the tech companies are growing, and that’s due to us consumers demanding more from the internet and from our devices and software. The mobile and tablet marketplace is quite new, and it’s where the tech companies need to do battle, and will do for the coming years.

Mobile for Apple is the linchpin of their business, the iPhone and the iPad command massive market share and is charged at a premium. Any dent into the perception of the user experience or brand itself will hurt the company massively since it depends so much on device sales.  Likewise new competitors in this market place who gain market share from Apple will have a big impact on Apples financials (though Apple is simple so strong at the moment it’s hard to see).

For Microsoft, it must grab more market share in mobile and tablets to ensure it remains relevant in the consumer marketplace. Though Microsoft is strong in so many business areas, such as business and server, it is aware that for the consumer marketplace, it needs to get a good hold in mobile and tablet, hence the big push with Windows 8.

Finally, Google needs to retain a large market share in mobile to ensure it grabs enough user data and can deliver its own core marketing services to users. If it cannot do that well for mobile, then Googles business model becomes very fragile indeed.

I personally think that the next few years will be interesting. I’m excited by Windows 8 and the one OS for all devices – to me it makes sense and as a consumer that one experience across everything, that seamless usage between all those devices while not compromising on the things I want to do with them makes a compelling case and delivery of a better experience. If Microsoft gets it right, and its marketplace store continues to grow and deliver the content we as consumers want, then Microsoft will no doubt be delivering a superior experience and will start to grab market share in mobile and tablet. This will lead to more record quarters from MS I’m sure, and that will in turn lead to far more R&D and new divisions it starts that run at a loss for a long period of time too, until they too make a profit.

Apple has, and will always have, a strong loyal brand following, so though I don’t see Apple holding onto its massive market share in mobile and tablet, its future remains very bright. Apple will command a premium and will have customers flocking for its products. The company makes very good profits on all its devices and most of its businesses, so the company seems set for many years to come.

My concern is for Google if I am honest. Though the company is growing, the mobile war is far more important to them than anyone else. If Android loses market share, then the number of people relying on Google services for search will drop (especially as more of us use our mobiles).  This means their core business revenues will take a knock. The Motorola deal for Google is so important, if Google can make money from actual devices, while gaining greater data and ensuring its browser and search services are delivered to devices, it can retain its core revenue. The problem is, their business model relies on Android success, and if companies like Samsung start selling more Windows Phone devices, then Google almost becomes dependent on Motorola’s success. If that is the case, has Google got time enough to try and build that brand to compete with the likes of Samsung, and more importantly Apple?





Will Mobile kill free services?

31 05 2012

Sorry to be blogging about Mobile again, but at the moment it’s my main focus of work….In this post I want to have a quick look at the problem mobile presents to companies that live, and potentially die based on advertising revenues.

 

The advertising model

The biggest player in building their business solely on advertising revenue is without doubt Google. Almost everything it does is based around gaining more information on us users, so that it can effectively deliver adverts back to us in a better fashion, so we are more likely to click on them, and Google gets paid. The more clicks, the more Google earns and can even charge. It’s this model that allows Google to deliver pretty much all of their services, and software (Android springs to mind) for free, all funded by charging for adverts. Don’t kid yourself that Google delivers services for free because it’s a loving, don’t be evil company. Most of the things Google deliver for free are there to help Google gain more data so they can advertise more effectively. Mobile is a great example, and one of the reasons Google purchased Android, so they had a mobile presence to locate us and advertise based on geographic locations.

Google isn’t the only company that lives by charging for adverts, there are many businesses out there, small and large, especially online, that make their money mainly from delivering adverts. How many times do you go to a website and there are adverts delivered on it? How many times do you read a blog with adverts delivered on it? Quite a few. Even Facebook only makes money because it charges for adverts that are delivered on the website to us users.

So what happens to companies if they cannot effectively deliver adverts any longer?

 

The Mobile Problem

Currently Facebook is becoming rudely aware of this problem, so much so that its newly floated stock is now trading almost $10 down on its launch. Why? Well it’s all to do with the company’s ability to monetize and take advantage of its 900m user base. You see, on Facebook the website (used from a desktop) we have adverts constantly being shown to us. These are tailored ads, based on what I like, what I talk about, my own personal status, and as such Facebook can charge for these. However, if I use Facebook on my mobile phone, these ads simply aren’t there. The concern is then, with so many more of us using our mobile phones as our primary device to access the web that companies won’t want to pay for adverts if no one is able to see them. This basically means Facebook can no longer deliver ads effectively.

This problem isn’t limited to Facebook. Think of those free apps we have all downloaded that have ads being displayed. They are free because the ads are paying for them. But how much space do those ads take up, and typically you can only see one single advert. The problem is that ads jar the mobile user experience, they don’t fit in well and the user finds themselves scrolling to see the actual content they use the app for. I for one have un-installed 5 or 6 apps now where I simply got annoyed with the adverts.

Don’t think though Google is exempt here. Using search on your mobile is fine, and Google still can display its sponsored links there, however, a chunk of Google’s revenue is displaying ads on other peoples websites, blogs etc. As more of us turn to mobile to access the web, these adverts start to disappear, and therefore so does Google’s revenues from these ads. The next mobile problem is that many of us prefer Apps over a browser experience on our mobile phones. This means we start to not even search using websites like Google.com, rather we use an app. I for one use the Bing app, the user experience is far better than visiting the mobile website version, and it integrates with other tools and functions, such as QR code scanning, voice and local scout (which delivers search results local to me and includes such things as local restaurants, points of interest etc.) This means the only adverts I have any chance of seeing are those sponsored links that come back in a handful of searches.

With all this in mind, can the likes of Google even see revenues falling as it too struggles to deliver ads down to mobile devices? Sure, Google has a big enough market share of search to survive, but can it charge enough to then keep subsidising so many of its ongoing projects, and even worse, the number of failed projects that have cost millions which are raking up?

 

End of free services?

We have got used to so many free services online, Search, Social Networks, watching videos etc. All these things cost money, and currently so many of them are funded purely by the ability to deliver adverts to us online. Mobile really does threaten that model, if you can’t successfully deliver a number of ads down to user’s mobile device, then why will a business advertise with you? If revenues start to fall, then how long is it possible for companies to make losses on all these free services? Google subsidises everything it does based on adverts, but if those revenues can no longer support everything Google does, will we start seeing services getting switched off, or having to pay for them? No doubt Google search will survive, but the question is can Google afford to deliver everything else it does for free?

For the likes of Facebook, the mobile threat is even greater; it really does present a problem. Keep in mind that if this is true of Facebook, a company with some 900m active users, then it will be for any business that is built on advertisement revenues. Mobile really could be the death of free services online, unless companies can figure out a new way to deliver adverts back down to our mobile devices. That’s tough, especially since ads ruin the user experience currently. At the moment, mobile could be the grim reaper for so many free services.

…We shall see….





Protecting the web, or just lazy and greedy?

4 11 2011

There is a lot of talk of trying to legislate areas of the web. Here in the UK, BT will cut your broadband off if you are found to be frequenting and downloading content (music, films etc) from illegal file sharing sites. Many claim this just isn’t right, and that the UK government and BT are somehow trying to censor what we can or can’t do on the web. Over in the states, Google is thinking of divorcing itself from the Chamber of Commerce, because the Chamber supports legislation that forces internet companies to police websites that peddle pirated movies, music oh and fake Viagra (the latter being rather dangerous).  So what’s your stance?

Google

Google - plain lazy and greedy?

 

Protecting IP and consumers

The music industry really suffered first here, with copy write basically being flaunted all over the web, with millions of people globally simply downloading illegal copies of music. The same now happens with films and even drugs (though the latter is often fake versions of drugs such as Viagra).

Legislation that Google objects to is all about protecting that IP, essentially ensuring people get paid for their work and don’t have it stolen from them. Is there anything wrong with that? At the end of the day, if we all chose to illegally download music and films, would there be enough money in the industry to actually have an industry? Would we be left with “cr*p amateurs” uploading their stuff to You Tube? Yeap we would, and oh dear…It seems that individuals who have a problem with this type of legislation have a problem with it, because if effects their own habits (such as downloading free music /
films from illegal sites).

So why does Google as a web giant object to this legislation, and why could it see them pulling out of the Chamber of Commerce? Well, a source close to Google said the company is “frustrated” about paying dues to an organisation promoting legislation that would “impose new liabilities” on Google. So what does this actually mean…Well it means Google are frustrated that the Chamber supports legislation that would mean Google would have to make changes to its search algorithms, which will cost money!

 

Does protecting IP and consumers from fake drugs lead to a lack of innovation and censorship?

A cracking argument I read over and over again (when talking about legislation on cracking down on illegal websites etc) is that such legislation would threaten innovation and encourage censorship and infringe on freedom of speech on the Web…To this I have to say “what a load of shi*”.

Such legislation will mean Google has to monitor what it indexes and displays. That’s work for them. In addition it also means they can’t just take money from advertisers who peddle illegal content, again work for them. But, how does that stop innovation on the web? Would this legislation have stopped the rise of iTunes, a legal source of downloadable music? No, but it would have stopped Napster from sharing millions of music files and loosing an entire industry millions of pounds. Would legislation really lead to censorship of freedom of speech? Again No! Though some may argue WikiLeaks
would suffer…But again, is that a problem? Is stealing content and then publishing it really a good thing? Were any of those stories in the public’s interest, did WikiLeaks not break data protection laws and many others? But let’s back track, this legislation wouldn’t have stopped WikiLeaks, rather it is focusing on illegal file sharing and the selling of fake drugs etc…

 

Plain lazy

Essentially Google and others don’t like this legislation because it means they have to do something, they have to invest in changes to their business to meet that legislation. Booo hooo. If anything, companies like Google should not have been indexing illegal sites from day one; there should not have been any need for legislation! After all, Google is effectively acting as a marketing tool for these illegal businesses. If I went to a local shopping centre and advertised where people can purchase stolen goods from, directing people to that “shop”, I am sure I would be spending sometime at her majesties discretion in jail! But, if I do it online and I am Google, that’s all ok…

 

The bottom line

For too long the web has been a place where people can get away with illegal activities because it’s all supposed to be “free”.  Google is just as much a culprit as the illegal websites that it indexes. It’s about time Google did something about it, and I hope legislation is made stronger for companies that advertise / index / direct people to illegal websites. Stop whining Google, do your job properly and
legally!





The Android debate

27 10 2011

When anyone talks about Android there is a lot to be said, be it “Android is the most popular Smartphone OS”, to comments that it’s “the stolen OS”.  Steve Jobs even stated he would “kill Android”. But there is no getting away from the fact that Android is a feature rich OS, that it has now almost 40% of the Smartphone market share (though Smartphone’s don’t even make up 30% of the overall mobile market) and that Google owns it, and now a mobile phone company…

Competition

There are so many Android devices out there now, and from a range of manufacturers, so much so, that getting your hardware noticed is tough. When you walk into a store and see so many phones all running the same OS, how do you set your hardware out to be different (especially to the average mobile punter). Price…Oh dear…

Poor mans iPhone

So many people who have Andoird have it because they couldn’t justify getting an iPhone. I know many people who have opted for Droids because of price, but they really wanted an iPhone. The same applies to the “kids” that have Androids. Essentially many have them because of price, and once they get a little older move over to the iPhone. That must be a worrying trend. However,
is it a surprise? Probably not since Android feels like a cheap clunky copy of iOS in so many ways…

 It’s free, it’s Google

One of the reason Android has been a success is that is been seen as the free OS, allowing many a manufacturer to ship it on their devices, enabling Android devices to be “cheap” and swamp the market. That is essentially how Android has got it’s market share, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But is it really free? In the past couple of months we have seen a number of patent deals being agreed with Microsoft for Manufacturers being allowed to use Android. In addition to that, we have seen Apple halting many Android devices due to patent infringement. These are problems manufacturers can well do without. Ask yourself, as HTC or Samsung, do you really want to spend a lot of time on R&D only to have your devices stopped from getting to market? Do you want to have to pay a third party company license to use software that essentially belongs to another company? No you don’t…

Throw into the mix that Google now owns Motorola and has effectively secured its own hardware for mobile devices. This must be a worry for HTC, Samsung and all those that sell Android devices. Do you really believe that Google will continue to provide updates to their OS to give away to competitors of their own devices? If they do, then that’s crazy business thinking from Google.

 

Nokia?

I have read many a comment in the past day or so that Nokia should have opted for Android, or they should be making Android devices as well as Windows Phone. But that makes no sense from a business point of view. The Android market is all ready crowded, and how does Nokia regain its Smartphone market share by entering a dog fight with pretty much every other manufacturer
out there? Especially when all they can compete on is price and some nerdy hardware specs (maybe some design too). That’s just too tough. Throw into the mix the hassles you can have with Android and the fact that Google now owns Motorola, and Android looks very risky…

Windows Phone makes perfect sense to me. In many ways it is the overlooked OS, and that’s because no one really knows about it (phone nerds do, but who else). Not many have actually seen it advertised or ever even noticed it in stores. So for Nokia, Windows Phone market is easier to enter, and they know they can sell aggressively against the other Windows Phone competition.

The Windows Phone OS is good, very good. Pretty much everyone I have seen play with it, likes it, they find it intuitive, they like the live tiles and they love it’s simply integration with social media.  It provides something very different to Android and iOS, and as such, that means making a Nokia device stand out on a shelf is made that much easier.

Finally, Microsoft want to get involved in the mobile world, and they know Nokia are the biggest mobile brand out there (still), and that Nokia can get Windows Phones into the hands of millions of people, and ensure Nokia and Windows Phone grab market share.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nokia grabbing Smartphone market share quite quickly, which I am sure will make other manufacturers look closely at Windows Phone and start investing more in that OS. It is already happening to some extent with HTC and Samsung…

To finish…

Android has shocked us all with how much market share it has grabbed, but should we have been surprised? In many respects it’s a free, clunky version of the iOS that DOES cost manufacturers in terms of licensing etc etc. Now that Google owns Motorola are companies confident that they will be given the same OS to compete with Motorola? How many other instances of Android devices being banned can we expect?

All in all, Android may have shot to popularity, but there are many question marks above it, and it seems many more are being raised as time moves on. Will these question marks deter manufacturers from using Android? I believe they will over time, and I believe that Windows Phone will be there to grab market share – and that at the front of that pack will be a company from Finland, a company we all used to love…A company called Nokia…





Want security? Privacy? Respect for Data Protection? Then Boycott Google…

1 06 2010

I think this last week has made me realise that, though Google offers so many great things in terms of their search engine and even some software, I have had it with them as a company and will no longer use any of their products….To put it bluntly, they simply don’t have any consideration of peoples personal data or any morals when it comes to collecting data and information that they simply shouldn’t, even if its the law…

For sometime Google has been accused of, well let’s say, tracking what people do on line and gathering personal information without consent. Recently there has been a number of issues linked with their own gMail etc. Then we come to the “street view” issue, which so many people in the UK objected too, and yet Google carried on no matter what….

Street view

Here in the UK many people and groups objected to the Google street view project. A number of national papers also voiced concerns of the project, however, Google seemed to be able to say “tough” and get on with it. Though there were a few changes made to the images that showed up online (for privacy) basically Google got to do what it wanted. However, from the same project, we hear that Google was also spying on people’s personal Wi-Fi connections, their online activities and wherever possible, gathering personal details such as eMail accounts. To top it off, Google didn’t feel there was anything wrong with this and didn’t even bother to inform local councils etc this was actually going on…(Probably because they knew this wouldn’t be approved).

Though Google now apologise for the incident, I don’t believe they will be deleting any information gathered and have only apologised for it since their PR agency has said its the thing to do… In addition they seem to come out with any number of excuses for their actions, all of which to anyone with any experience within the IT world will say is a load of old ****…

Regulations…

What amazes me is that Google manages to get away with things that many of us wouldn’t dream of doing. It makes me wonder, that if Microsoft had attempted this, that no doubt we would be hearing of massive court cases, the break up of Microsoft etc etc. Yet Google gets away with pretty much anything… In an age of ID theft, it amazes me that there are no real strong regulations in place to crackdown on Googles actions, but to top that, Googles attitude to privacy and the whole issue amazes me even further…If an individual was caught carrying out Googles actions, I am sure we would be seeing a prosecution of some kind….

I strongly believe that international bodies need to get to grips with what is technically possible, and more important what is ethical and basically should be against the law (if it isn’t already).

More things of concern…

Google has its own Browser and shortly, its own Operating System. Now just think what sort of information they could steal from you if you use their OS? I maybe being cynical but Google must be seen in this way simply because of its previous actions and record on data privacy. I wouldn’t trust Google Chrome browser or OS no matter what is said, to top it off, they aren’t even great products!

What can we do…

Well, ask yourself why is Google doing all this? Simple, it wants to know as much about us to sell on the details, perhaps not literally, but for sure in terms of advertising. The more Google knows about us, our actions, our connections and our habits, the more it can charge for its advertising and start to push these adverts and its own services on us. Which in turn makes Google a lot of money. Googles line will of course be something along the lines of “to provide the best service we can”, but again, any businessman will tell you, that the service argument is so they can sell more advertising…

I feel most average internet users don’t understand the situation, that Google provides “free services” because it makes its money through advertising, and it snoops on us to increase that revenue and revenue potential.

So what we can do as users? Simple. Stop using Google products and services. By doing this Google doesn’t have access to your internet habits or mobile habits and your personal information. If you have gMail move away from it, if you use Google as your search engine switch to Bing, Yahoo or ask (don’t be fooled that Google is by far and away the best search engine out there). If you use Chrome switch to FireFox or IE, and if you are tempted by Chrome OS, get Windows 7… The more people that do this the less of a captive audience Google will command, which means less advertising revenue for them…

The way Google behaves as an organisation and the lack of real regulation and action against them,  means this is the only way in which to make your own information safe and to make Google stop.

I for one will not be using any of their services and products again….





Google to face antitrust wrath?

21 07 2009

Not my usual type of post this, but I have been reading quite a bit on this subject and thought I would have to share…

Christine Varney is head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division in the US, and was an attorney who represented Netscape in the late 1990s in a case where she painted Bill Gates and Microsoft as an overeager bully. So why the title of “Google to face antitrust wrath” for this post?

Well back in June 2008, Christine spoke at a conference about online law and antitrust. She stated that the technology industry was coming under the sway of a dominant behemoth, one that had the potential to stifle innovation and squash its competitors. The last time such words were used, Microsoft found itself at the centre of an aggressive antitrust case. Varney continued stating that Microsoft was not the problem, “I think we are going to continually see a problem, potentially with Google” she said. Instead of dominating the desktop, Varney said “Google was starting to colonize the emerging cloud-computing industry, amassing enormous market power and potentially creating an ecosystem that customers would be powerless to escape”.

On May 11th, this year, Varney made it clear that her stance on the subject hadn’t changed, indicating that Google may well be in her sights, letting it be known that she plans to take a forceful stance on the countries antitrust laws. “In the past, the antitrust division was a leader in its enforcement efforts in technology industries, and I believe we will take this mantle again”.

For me, this is clear intent that Google will be at the centre of some antitrust investigations, and to be honest, I am not surprised. For some time, Microsoft has been seen as the “bad guy” in the IT world, facing constant investigations and rulings, most recently issues within the EU regarding shipping IE8 with Windows 7. While Microsoft has been seeing the inside of the court room, Google has escaped such aggressive antitrust investigations.

Google is an angel?

Well this is what Google wants you to think. For far too long now, people have been spun the tale of two guys (Larry Page and Segey Brin) founding the company, providing free services to all, so that they may enjoy the web and find just what they want on it. People love this idea of two guys showing the way in technology, it’s a bit David and Goliath with Microsoft often getting painted as Goliath…However, let’s remember this company is now a massive organisation, and Larry and Segey aren’t at the helm any longer. In the past their two favourite words when questioned about the company’s activities have been “Trust us”. For me, that just doesn’t cut it….

Advertisers have been worried about Google’s market share for some time, and in the past three years, have seen Google’s market share of advertising raise from 50% to a massive 75%. Google has already attracted antitrust review regarding its plans to acquire online ad firm DoubleClick. In addition Google is now under investigation regarding its book-scanning project and the Federal Trade Commission are looking into whether the Apple board seats held by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and board member Arthur Levinson violate federal antitrust law. On the latter point I do hope some action is taken. I personally feel that Google has exploited some of the ideas of Apple, and has for sure made a move into core Apple markets (Google Phone vs iPhone; Chrome Browser vs Safari browser; Apple Mac OS vs Google Chrome OS)

For me, looking at the Google machine from the outside, it does appear that Google wants to dominate everything we do on the web, and more importantly want us to move away from the desktop and use the web for actual computing and storage. This is the reason behind such projects as Google Docs, gmail, Chrome browser and of course, Google Chrome OS. Google know the more of their products we use, the more of our habits they can trace, and the more they can sell this information to advertisers, bumping up their revenue. I am always concerned with Google trying to track our habits online, and by using more and more of their software end users provide them with exactly what they want, more ways in tracking our habits and information.

Any Conclusion…

Well the only conclusions I have come to is that Google (like any business) wants to grow as large as it possibly can, and is no longer the angelic organisation it may have once been. Google are using their massive market share of the search engine marketplace to try and dominate the web and the way in which we interact with it. I have no doubt this is having effects on smaller companies and is stifling innovation. Some may argue that it promotes competition; however I just don’t see any competition in place. Giving away free software, becuase you can afford it, means that smaller organisations just cannot compete. If they cannot make money from their ideas, designs, innovation and plain old hard development work, then how can they compete?

To be honest, I am sure that Google rightfully will be at the centre of some antitrust investigations, the question is, how soon…





Google hype and blog distortion

14 07 2009

Since the announcement of Google Chrome OS, it seems to me that online communities have gone nuts, either with over hyped stories of how great the Google OS will be, or completely the other way, stating just how poor Google is as a company, how unfocussed they are.

What is striking is that no matter what, Google does attract lots of hype, sometimes correctly so, but recently, maybe not. It also illustrates to me that, mention the name “Google”, and you get either one of two reactions, love or hate. This kind of reaction used to be reserved just for Microsoft…By the way, that doesn’t mean I think that is a good sign or a bad sign, just an observation.

Google hype

So just why does Google manage to be surrounded by such hype in everything it does, well announces at least? The only answer I can really point to is that many people, including bloggers and the press, still regard Google as a nice company, run by two guys out of a shed or something. A company with great morals, that stands for freedom of information etc. However, this vision just simply isn’t true. Remember Google was sold and is now a big old corporation, now more than a little in the Microsoft mould funny enough. I also find it funny that people forget just how many court cases Google has been involved with, many of which regarding people’s basic rights, such as privacy.

The company does provide the worlds foremost search engine, one that has a massive market share and one which many claim to be the best and most accurate. The search engine does deserve all its hype, as to put it simply; it’s a great search engine. The company also has to be applauded in the way it has monetised its search engine with online advertisements, targeted based on peoples search key words. (Though this has been the subject of some court cases and accusations of Google misleading web users and misidentifying sponsored links).

Google company direction

From the outside looking in, I can see many arguments for why people claim Google may be losing it’s way, and is reacting to things in the IT industry, rather than taking the lead. I have read lots about how Google is simply providing new software and services to plug a gap in the market, but that simply isn’t true is it. We have a number of browsers and a number of operating systems already, do we need more?

What we are seeing is Google doing what any sensible business should do and that is diversifying. Any business should not rely on one sole area, in Googles’ case advertisement revenue from its search engine. So diversifying makes sense.

A web browser is the obvious choice, though very few people have chosen to use the Chrome browser provided by Google. However, gmail and google docs are direct responses to Microsoft’s hotmail, and office offerings, which does take them into new waters so too speak. With regards to the Chrome OS, I can see a small argument or idea why it would be nice to tie an OS to the web more, however, I just don’t feel Google is the company to do this well, especially since they are using an open source operating system as its core, Linux.

On that point, it is also weird that Microsoft isn’t allowed to ship IE with Windows 7 in the EU, yet both Apple and Google can ship their operating systems with their own web browsers pre-installed….Curious isn’t it?

Google and Apple?

I have also read so much about Schmidt (Google Chief Executive) sitting on the board of Apple, and that many comparisons can now be made between Google offerings and Apples. Many claim that Google cannot think for itself and is simply stealing ideas from Apple…Maybe….I can see the logic there…

What is for sure is that Apple and Google now share some similar markets. Take Android (Googles mobile phone operating system), this has received a lot of “air time” from on-line bloggers and phone reviewers, however as a mobile OS, it really doesn’t compete with established offerings. This must annoy Apple with their iPhone? Both companies now offer web browsers for the windows platform (Safari from Apple and Chrome from Google) and now (though both hold a very very small market share), Google plans an operating system, which you could argue will compete against Apples OS X.

I must admit, I don’t see how one man can sit on both boards if they are effectively competing in any way shape or form, which they now are. I would say Google and Apple are more at war than Google and Microsoft…But that doesn’t have such an impact on story headlines…When you look at their market share for web browsers, they are for sure competing. Look at mobile phone market, they are competing, though Apple is light years ahead in market share. Next year, will we be seeing Google Chrome OS on netbooks competing with Apple entry level notebooks? Well they will be, but again I think Apple will be a long way ahead with regards to market share and sales.

 

Blog post distortion

Hmmmm One thing that has come from all of this Google OS hype, is that many blog posts are simply wrong and are written by people with limited knowledge (especially technical) on how things work. I have read many articles that hail Google OS as a revolution, something new that will compete with Windows 7, however these same articles don’t understand what Linux is, and its history. For me this is quite worrying, it seems that while reporting via TV or even news papers has some form of “checking”, the internet fails to have any, even the big bloggers…

Such incorrect posts do get around, and in todays social media environment, millions of people may have read that wrong information, believed it to be correct and actually made a purchase based on it. This isn’t good at all, not only for companies but more so for individuals.

I have also read a number of blogs that really do “lay into” other blogging sites, especially the larger ones for their lack of technical understanding. Which is probably just, but it’s the way such posts are written that almost makes you not want to read the post…For me, they lose all form of credibility themselves.

It is also very rare now to find blogging articles that don’t seem to have an agenda, especially so called review / news websites. Many either love Microsoft and hate everything else, or they love Google (this seems to be the larger amount of bloggers) and hate everything else, or finally, they love Apple, and hate everything else…It is very hard to find actual knowledgeable people writing independent unbiased posts, which is a shame…

 

Blog responses

The whole Google hype thing has also brought me much laughter when reading peoples responses to articles. I have also read a new term this week, “Googasms” which I am sure you can work out what that means…

For me, I read most responses with a little pinch of salt.

 

So Chrome OS, should it be getting the hype?

If that’s a question on what it will be like, probably not. After all it is built on an open source operating system which has no end of issues with driver support etc and has failed to make any sort of dent on the operating system market (even just for netbooks). But since Google has it’s badge on it, I can see why it has gained so much press time.

Will it be any good? Without seeing it I don’t know, no one does at this stage. My guess is that it will look and present well, but once you get into actually using it, it will have all the same problems that Linux has right now.