Short Takes: October 31, 2014

Short Takes: October 31, 2014

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news: Tim Cook comes out of the closet, new EU digital chief says he'll be tougher on Google, Samsung and Apple lose smart phone market share to Chinese companies, Android founder leaves Google, and an Amazon exec doesn't quite get what went wrong with the Fire Phone.

"Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 Finally Gets It Right"

Surface Pro 3 was released in June. What changed, Mr. Monday Morning Quarterback?

Apple CEO Tim Cook says he's "proud to be gay."

I have only one thing to add to this conversation, and it's a question: What took so long?

OK, maybe a second thing. I sort of want to add, who cares? ... but that sounds callous, and I don't mean it that way. What I mean is that hopefully we've evolved as a species and as a country enough to put our petty biases and insecurities behind us and just move on. And I guess in that sense, Mr. Cook's admission is "historic" or whatever, as he's the leader of the world's most powerful company, and Apple does business in countries in which being gay isn't just not OK, but actually illegal. So maybe we haven't evolved as much as I'm comfortable admitting. Anyway, Good for him.

"Microsoft Band Isn’t a Fitness Tracker, It’s a Trojan Horse for Software"

Someone finally gets it. I had just written this one Twitter: Just so we're clear. Everyone is going ga-ga over Microsoft Band. But the real news today is Microsoft Health, not this device.

New EU digital chief says he'll be tough on Google

Now we're talking. Incoming European Commissioner for the Digital Economy (yes, really) Günther Oettinger says he's tired of Google having its way in the EU and that he will fight to ensure that the online giant and serial privacy abuser will be punished for its crimes. He was instrumental in scuttling outgoing EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia's sweetheart deal with Google, and is working to enact laws that ensure the company stops stealing intellectual property that originates in the continent. It's not clear to me how much power this guy has—I'm American, so I barely understand Europe at all—but he sounds my kind of regulator.

"Source: Microsoft Employees Are 'Worn Out' Over So Much Change"

Yeah, the leap from "devices and services" to "mobile first, cloud first" must have been a tough one. Cough. You know what's even more tiring? Getting laid off.

Samsung and Apple continue losing ground to Chinese smart phone makers

Well, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Huawei and other China-based makers of cheap smart phones are having their impact on the market leaders, as expected: Both Samsung and Apple lost market share in the most recent quarter, and that comes despite a massive iPhone 6 launch. IDC says that Samsung is still the world's biggest maker of smart phones, but its market share fell 24 percent in the quarter to 35 percent, its biggest decline ever. And Apple remained a distant number two, but saw its share fall to 12.3 percent (from 13.4 percent a year earlier). And we can see the reason at number three, which is China-based Xiaomi, rocketing to 5.6 percent of the market (up from 2.1 percent last year) as smart phone shipments at the firm tripled. This market is going to look quite a bit different—and be far more China-centric—going forward, methinks.

"'Historical implications' made Apple Watch more difficult to design than original iPhone, Jony Ive says"

This guy needs to get over himself.

Android founder leaves Google

The other day I wrote about Sundar Pichai's rapid ascent within Google, and I'd be surprised if this story wasn't related: Android founder Andy Rubin has announced he's leaving Google to start an incubator for startups interested in building technology hardware products. After running Google's Android business for many years, Rubin only recently stepped down (and was replaced by Sundar Pichai) to run the firm's robotics efforts. But now he's leaving, and curious if we'll ever find out the real reason. Both sides issues all the expected plaudits, but you have to think something is up. "Mr. Rubin has had a lifelong obsession with robots," the Wall Street Journal reports. Thank God it wasn't a lifelong obsession with zombies.

"Today is when Microsoft stops selling Windows 8 and Windows 7"

Nope.

Amazon exec: Fire Phone failed because of pricing

An Amazon.com executive claimed this week that the firm's disastrous Fire Phone—responsible for $83 million in unsold inventory and a $170 million charge for the most recent quarter—was simply a matter of not getting the price right. And while it's fair to say that many—myself included—were astonished that the maker of el-cheapo electronics didn't undercut other smart phones when it launched the Fire Phone, that's not why it failed. It failed because Amazon shipped this thing in 2014 and not 2009. Even Microsoft was late to market when it restarted its smart phone efforts in 2010 with Windows Phone. Amazon? They're not even part of the discussion. For Amazon to really fix this problem, it would need to invent time travel.

"Amazon Exec on Fire Phone: 'We didn't get the price right'"

You didn't get anything right.

Buy the books!

I'm trying to change the book publishing model, and would appreciate your support: Windows 8.1 Field Guide is available directly from me for only $2 in PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats. And it is now available on Amazon Kindle for $4.99 too. I also have other free and inexpensive e-books available too, including Windows Phone 8 Field Guide (free from that site, or available from both Kindle and Nook too) and the in-progress Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide and Xbox Music Field Guide. Coming soon: Windows 10 Field Guide.

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