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Day November 6, 2009

Open Always Wins

That may be. Open only wins when the underlying service is a commodity for which improvements (other than price) will not be valued.

In my way of speaking, openness is semantically equivalent to “modular” and that is in contrast to “integrated”. Integrated is the only way to develop systems when they are not good enough. Modular is the only way to cheapen systems when they are more than good enough. Figure out where the technology is on the “good enough” trajectory and pick the winners and losers by the level of integration. It’s that simple.

There were hundreds of companies backing Windows Mobile for half a decade. And it made all the promises that Android is making now (non-phone devices, millions of developers, source code, Intel backing, contractors ready to build to order.)

The Android fan counter to this is (I’m guessing) that Microsoft could not execute! Google hired swathes of WinMo people into their mobile efforts. It’s the same crowd. Is execution some sort of magic pixie dust only available to Google?


The Symmetry of Google and Microsoft in Mobile

The question of Android viability goes deeper than the app ecosystem. In fact the ecosystem is itself dependent on the network effect of the platform. That effect is weak because the platform is not “tight” and is prone to fragmentation and its value cannot be communicated to end users. That is due to the lack of integration and consistency of purpose.

Bottom line, the problem with Android was always that it was a reaction to Windows Mobile. It was symmetric in its approach to the market with the added value of being free. In that sense it’s very successful. It might even gain all the share that WinMo used to have (about 14% of smartphones at its peak). But it will never rise above the nicheness of WinMo.

I’m always amazed at the technocrati babbling classes’ inability to spot causes. They go on and on about execution and never understand that execution is a resource not a strategy. Resources are fungible.

I for one do not “hope that Android succeeds”. It’s a foregone conclusion that it will not. It’s not a matter of hoping.