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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Android, iPhone, and Maemo

I noticed this post via David Z's shared items. That post had a huge omission. It didn't mention Maemo by Nokia.

The two main choices for consumer cellphones are Android and the iPhone. There's another interesting choice not commonly mentioned, Maemo by Nokia.

As a knowledgeable computer user, I'm offended by Android and the iPhone. They are "locked down" environments. The user doesn't get root access to their own phone. You may only run/install applications that the gatekeepers Apple/Google let you run.

(You can sell Android apps without going through Google. You don't have root access on the phone, so there are restrictions. The user must be pretty knowledgeable to install an Android app that wasn't published by Google. This article discusses a tethering app that was banned by Google; the user can still buy and install it, but it's much harder without Google's blessing.)

You can only get root access on Android or iPhone if you hack the phone. If you take a strict interpretation of restrictive copyright law, it's illegal to hack your phone or tell other people how to hack their phone.

Is the BlackBerry an open OS? I believe not, but I'm not sure. The BlackBerry is more open than Android and the iPhone. You can publish/sell your own applications without approval from RIMM. However, I don't think you can overwrite the OS.

With Maemo, you can overwrite the OS and install whatever OS you want. You get full root access to your own phone, if you want. You can install whatever you want, without getting permission from a gatekeeper.

The app store for the iPhone has been a huge cash cow for Apple. They get a cut of 30% of all sales. You can't sell an iPhone application without approval from Apple. You can publish an Android app without approval from Google, but the user still can't get root access on their own phone. The non-Google-approved app may only be installed by a skilled user.

Apple has vetoed certain applications. Notably, they are refusing to support Flash, an aggressive move against Adobe. Apple has vetoed VoIP applications, because it's sometimes cheaper to make a VoIP call than use the phone's voice package.

This article was interesting. Apple removed apps that help you find free wi-fi. There are many apps that Apple has vetoed or later censored/removed.

Apple vetoes applications that compete with native iPhone features. This frustrated the authors of some early popular apps. Version 2 of the iPhone included a feature that competed with their app, and Apple banned their app. These authors wound up doing free market research for Apple.

Apple takes weeks or months to approve an app. This makes it hard for developers to get feedback from users. If you release an app with a bug, then the bugfix has to go through the same lengthy approval process.

Sometimes, Apple demands an app remove a feature. In that case, the automatic "upgrade" removes the feature and you can't go back to the old version.

Given all these restrictions, you'd have to be a fool to invest in iPhone or Android development. You're subject to the whims of a large corporation. All it takes is the arbitrary decision of some executive, and you've lost your investment.

Why invest in development when someone else can arbitrarily cut you off? Android/iPhone apps are trendy right now, but there's no guarantee either will exist 5 years from now.

With Windows development, I don't need permission from Microsoft to sell something. That's not true with the XBox, where only Microsoft-approved games may be sold. One reason the Atari 2600 lasted so long was that 3rd parties could develop games without permission from Atari. Such actions are illegal now. Even if I cracked the XBox encryption, copyright law makes it illegal for me to sell an XBox game without Microsoft's approval.

When last looking for a job, I noticed lots of fools looking to hire Android/iPhone developers. They were only interested in hiring people with 1+ year of experience and who already had written a best-selling app. Amusingly, they also wanted to hire people for "equity only" (i.e. free).

It seems that it's a waste of time learning iPhone or Android development. They're trendy now, but there's no guarantee they will be around 5 years from now. No mobile developer has had the "user lock-in" like Microsoft has had with their desktop monopoly.

I remember that, in 2000, everyone was encouraging me to learn Palm Pilot development. Palm OS was the hot thing, and definitely worth a career investment! My current languages C++/SQL/PHP should be around awhile.

I'm reluctant to invest time learning Android or iPhone development. Everyone says there's a shortage of mobile developers. That doesn't match my experience when interviewing. Everyone is demanding 1+ years of experience, *AND* they expect people to work for free.

If there really were a shortage, employers would be willing to hire competent people without an exact experience match, and pay them with cash instead of worthless equity. It seems that the mobile development environment is "trendy" and attracting fools.

If there's a battle between an open standard and a closed standard, then the open standard usually wins. The FCC is changing the rules for telecom corporations. They will be forced to support *ANY* phone on their network, and sell "data only" packages. Currently, cell phone corporations decide what phones are allowed and not allowed on their network. This allows them to force users onto crippled environments like the iPhone and Android.

Unlike the iPhone and Android, Maemo is an open OS. The user can get full root access to their phone, if they want. In a battle between an open system and a closed system, the open system usually wins. I looked, but you can't buy a Maemo phone for Verizon yet. My LG env Touch is decent, but I wish it had a better text editor. This is good enough for now, and better than what I had before. Now, I can write blog drafts on the subway. The 300 character limit is *ANNOYING*, but it's still usable.


Anonymous said...

Very off-topic I know, but Gordon Brown told us in Parliament that the UK recession was caused by a global recession that started in the USA. And that is UK isn't to blame at all.

Now the switched-on bunnies here may know the Law Society in the UK doesn't actually regulate solicitors, but rather acts as a trade union for them. Complaining about solicitors in the UK is a waste of time.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers was one of the first events in the banking crisis.

It seems that the clowns at Lehmans sold off their debt just before reporting periods and classified this as a sale.

These clowns wanted some lawyers in the USA to sign-off on this junk.

They got no takers.

So the buffoons came to good old Blighty and saw a firm of solicitors about signing off on the nonsense. The solicitors refused.

So Lehmans shopped around for more "flexible" solicitors. They came across Linklaters. Linklaters signed off on the junk.

Nice to know UK solicitors will sign off on crap that the USA lawyers reject. And I thought the US legal system was the laughing stock of the world due to too many lawyers and frivolous lawsuits.

Well maybe this kind of hiding debt before reporting periods in legal under UK law, rather than US law. Different countries and laws and all that. I don't know. I'm not a lawyer.

It is a pity that Great Britain was once GREAT. We had a navy that explored the world and the Industrial Revolution. British goods were once known for quality. Now we don't seem to manufacture much at all.

All the UK can offer the world is:

1) Flexible solicitors
2) Libel tourism whereby rich businessmen take advantage of the libel system in the UK which puts the onus on the defendant to prove his or her claims rather than any onus of the prosecution to prove much of anything. Plus even tenuous connections to the UK will do as the guy in Iceland who got sued for libel for an entry on a university website in Iceland. The British counsel in Iceland even served the libel papers on the poor guy in Iceland. Nice!

Where did Britain go wrong?

How can we get rid of the den of thieves and crooks that occupy high offices?

Bring back Oliver Cromwell.

The UK should be about good services and goods, not about a broken legal system.

Parliament won't clean anything up because they are too busy claiming expenses and a lot of MPs are solicitors.

The Law Society acts as a trade union rather than cracking down on bent solicitors.

android mobile said...

very very excellent and cool apps, also very interesting.

MH said...

Good stuff. I'm looking to install Maemo on my iPod touch in hopes of fully utilizing VLC. let's hope Steve doesn't get in the way.

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