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Day August 23, 2010

The Android abdication

When I wrote about Android’s pursuit of the biggest losers, I made the explicit claim, backed by data, that Android was most attractive to device vendors who were in financial distress. Android is a lifeline to sustain failing business models. But underlying that claim was the more sinister implication that Android is sustaining to the incumbent operator business models. That means that Android is subject to operator manipulation and its market access as well as those of competing platforms will be throttled to maintain control.

The article below makes an even stronger case.

As a result, we now have a situation where the U.S. telecoms are reconsolidating their power and putting customers at a disadvantage. And, their empowering factor is Android. The carriers and handset makers can do anything they want with it. Unfortunately, that now includes loading lots of their own crapware onto these Android devices, using marketing schemes that confuse buyers (see the Samsung Galaxy S), and nickle-and-diming customers with added fees to run certain apps such as tethering, GPS navigation, and mobile video.

The dirty little secret about Google Android | Tech Sanity Check | TechRepublic.com.

I would not say that Android is enabling the consolidation of operator power. I would say that operator power never wavered.

The article concludes:

Despite the ugly truth that Android is enabling the U.S. wireless carriers to exert too much control over the devices and keep the U.S. mobile market in a balkanized state of affairs, Android remains the antithesis of the closed Apple ecosystem that drives the iPhone and so it’s still very attractive to a lot of technologists and business professionals.

But, the consequence of not putting any walls around your product is that both the good guys and the bad guys can do anything they want with it. And for Android, that means that it’s being manipulated, modified, and maimed by companies that care more about preserving their old business models than empowering people with the next great wave of computing devices.

That sounds about right.

Analysts' categorical failure

Gartner explicitly explained so in its press release: “Gartner’s PC group does not track media tablet sales in this PC shipment data, so iPad sales are not included in these results

via Is Apple the real U.S. PC market share leader — or soon will be? | Betanews.

The reluctance of  industry analysts to measure the iPad as a computer is a fascinating and vivid symptom of how analysts conspire with their customers to smother visibility of impending failure.

Before we dive into the motivation to ignore iPads, we need to understand how analysts in general and companies in particular group products into comparable piles. This process of grouping is called categorization. It should be distinguished from segmentation which groups buyers in a market. Categorization is essential for competitive analysis and measurement of the performance of a product (relative to other products).

Categorization is a challenging problem for most companies. To illustrate why, consider four possible methods for categorizing products: