Is Apple Repeating its Mistake from the Eighties?

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Is Apple Repeating its Mistake from the Eighties?

5 Minutes With Motorola Droid X show the wonders of the Android ecosystem

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I spent five minutes with a Motorola Droid X because the editor who has it here at TMC HQ literally will not let it out of her sight. What this told me right away about the device is that it is special. So I stood in the editorial department for five minutes (right by her desk) and put the phone through its paces by browsing the web. In a word - wow. The screen is larger than the iPhone which makes typing much easier. In addition, the web browser is rocket-fast and rivals laptops when browsing TMCnet and other sites with rich graphics.

The screen is so large in fact that a mobile site like the one from Yahoo looks excessively empty on it -you really need the desktop version to fill the screen.

Although the phone is thicker and larger than the iPhone 4 it does not seem bulkier in your pocket or hands. In short, this 4.3 inch screen is really solid and the device will be a big threat to the kingdom of Apple. Especially when you consider the Droid X screen may not pack the pixels per inch of the iPhone 4 but it is still 34% larger at 4.5 inches instead of 3.5 inches.

For those of you thinking screen size doesn't make any difference in typical usage remember that the iPad is basically a large iPod Touch.
 

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Hats off to Motorola on coming out with such a great device which in conjunction with the Verizon network really impressed me. My speed tests were so impressive in fact that switching to WiFi only seemed to yield incremental speed improvements when I navigated to a few busy sites.

Based on my early and very preliminary performance review, this is a phone worth purchasing. You will not be disappointed.

And this gets us to the headline of this entry... Is Apple repeating its mistake of not licensing its software to a variety of hardware manufacturers? Apple is able to leverage tremendous economies of scale because it owns everything from the microprocessor to the software and this puts it in an enviable position. But when Apple competed with Microsoft Windows in the late eighties and nineties it also had similar advantages. The difference was a slew of hardware companies were able to produce better performing machines because the economy of scale allowed them to do so and they weren't bound to keep prices high like Apple has always done.

As consumers saw they could get more bang for the buck with the PC the Mac lost more and more share. TMC embraced desktop publishing in the mid-late eighties and at the time I was in the MIS department and led the charge to the world of PC-based desktop publishing. In hindsight this was a stupid move because the software on the market at the time was lousy and did not give us the control of programs like PageMaker and Quark Express. We had to use Xerox Ventura Publisher which for my graphic designers was only slightly preferable to waterboarding.

So even though the software was a challenge we saved tens of thousands of dollars by going with the PC. As of today, Apple is hard to beat when it comes to tablets and cell phones but the Android frees manufacturers up from dealing with software as much and can instead focus on making better performing hardware per dollar.

This could mean over time that the Android ecosystem gets to be so big that the economy of scale will lead to a variety of devices which have a plethora of form factors which appeal to a large variety of users. As this happens, it is unclear if customers will stay married to Apple or switch to the ecosystem with the newer and cooler devices which seem to emerge every month or even every few weeks.


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