[Beowulf] Oh.. IBM eats Red Hat

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Wed Oct 31 06:22:00 PDT 2018

On Tue, 30 Oct 2018, Gerald Henriksen wrote:

> Not even close.  Android on tablets is essentially dead, they only
> thing the remaining tablets are used for is media viewers.

Really?  Well damn, I just bought a new battery for my Samsung 12.2 pro
because I use it ALL THE TIME and because its battery was down to only
5-6 hours of "on time" per charge.  And I have a small pile -- well, not
that small -- of apps.  And as an e-book window into textbooks, it is
mission critical -- you can't read a physics textbook in a cell phone
without going crazy.  So even AS a media viewer -- it's a damn good one!

> The Android app developers never developed tablet versions of the
> apps, and Google dropped the ball yet again.

Not entirely true, but certainly true in some, even many cases.  At the
same time, some apps (especially games) are good only on tablets and not
on phones.

But your observations certainly have some validity, which is one of many
reasons that there is room in the universe for competition here.  I
really have wanted to be able to go both ways -- run Android apps on my
laptops (including paid apps, games, and more) and run "real" linux apps
on my android devices (tablets with large screens and keyboards ARE
"laptops", or could be), or variants thereof.  IBM, or anybody else who
understands the OSS universe and doesn't try to over-monetize it, has
plenty of opportunity here as the COMMUNITY would (IMO) build a true
open/linux tiering that would run, within reason and the constraints of
the device(s) on things from phones through server rooms.  But parts of
this would require real money and time, which
in-my-living-room-spare-time OSS development is short of.  And, as
noted, it might require the architecture of hardware platforms,
something IBM excels at, and investment in large scale manufacturing of
same, ditto.

> Google's latest attempt, announced several weeks back, is an attempt
> at a ChromeOS tablet...
> And when that fails, perhaps we will finally see Fuchsia.
>> and is just under Apple in the phone market
> Depends on how you measure, some ways Android is ahead.

No argument.  I was just going by a quick consensus of several online
graphs purporting to measure this, which generally split the market
between the two with everything else in the noise and with Android a bit

> But the big problem is that few people are making money from Android,
> in part because few Android users buy apps.

That's in part because a) a lot of the apps suck; b) a lot of the sucky
apps have free versions with ads or in-app purchases that suck even
more; c) you have to rig a money source up to the Google store to buy
apps, but otherwise you don't NEED to do this to use the device.  Apple
wins out here partly because AFAICT you just can't own an iPhone without
hooking up money to Apple for cloudy stuff -- backup, app purchase,
software updates.  An android phone you can use out of the box and never
even get a Google account or access the store.

However, having long since hooked up to the Google store, I have many,
many apps both fun and useful on my phone and most of them on my tablets
as well, as well as some on my tablets only but not my phone.

>> with M$ a joke down near the bottom in both domains. 
> Microsoft existed the phone business several years ago, and at least
> in terms of usefulness for doing anything other than watching a movie
> their tablet offerings are far ahead of anything Android.  It's not a
> coincidence that the latest iPad Pros announced today look like
> Surface Pros.
>> But Android is
>> vulnerable -- lots of people dislike it and dislike the play store and
>> all that goes with it and with iOS. 
> The only people who hate the iOS store are certain techies, and
> certain players big enough that they dislike the percentage.
> The users love it because it is hassle free and has none of the
> virus/malware/etc issues that they experience elsewhere.
> Google Play is vulnerable because Google refuses to invest in it and
> the developers increasingly leary of getting locked out with no way to
> appeal the decision.

Well, some people dislike the Apple stuff because you do pay a premium
-- often a fairly substantial one -- for nearly everything on an Apple
phone or tablet from the hardware on down.  Like me.  IMO my Samsung
tablet is literally the best tablet in the world for any price, even old
enough to need a new battery.  It was expensive (bought with other
people's money or not:-) but it was still cheaper than smaller, less
powerful iPads.  My wife's iPhone (she's Apple, I'm Android) is always
MUCH more expensive at every step of the way than my Motorola, and I
have more stuff and less expensive stuff and better stuff on my Phone.
Just space to back up her phone is more expensive -- and practically

In fairness, she can do some things I can't, or haven't figured out,
like forward her phone calls to her tablet if they are both on a mutual
network.  And there are a few apps she has that aren't available on
Android but are available for her phone and tablet.  But this is vice
versa as well -- people do develop for one OR the other as well as one
AND the other.

>> IBM has the resources to actually
>> make an OPEN tablet/phone OS if they choose to and are at least as
>> likely as M$ is to be able to step into the market and steal away
>> mindshare from Android and iOS -- if they couple it to a slick AI
>> component, maybe semi-proprietary, they might even jump to the head of
>> the line as Alexa and Siri etc leave a great deal to be desired.
> Any attempt at an open tablet/phone would require signficant money and
> there is no way IBM is going to invest the money in hardware and
> software to try it.
> Say want one wants about Apple, but they have had the best ARM
> processors for mobile for a while now and noone appears to be close to
> catching up anytime soon.

You could be right, but it would be a shame if you were.  As I said,
while Apple had the first "personal" computer, IBM came in and changed
processors, changed OS philosophy and design, changed the software
market, and blew Apple away to the point where (hard as it is to
remember) they almost went away at their low point before their
NON-computer offerings brought them back from the brink of extinction.
iPods.  iPhones.  iPads.  And sure, somewhere in there they switched to
Unix, gave up their prior rigorous attachment to Motorola, and revived
their computer business while still managing to charge the same old
Apple Premium on all of their hardware.

IBM absolutely could do this again.  Not many players can -- Google is a
software company.  Microsoft is a software company.  The
existing/surviving non-Apple hardware companies don't do software.  By
acquiring Red Hat, while still owning and running an extensive hardware
business, IBM will be the first company in years that has both.  I'm not
by any means certain that they WILL, but they COULD.  They COULD
actually build and sell the so-far mythical pre-installed linux laptop
and desktop that does NOT come with M$ as even an option, and do so at
competitive prices and with IBM's quality assurance and support, and
could generate an instant market for software developers for said
preinstalled hardware.  If I think way, way back, they actually flirted
briefly with this back in the days of the ordinary PC, but M$ at that
time had the Intel marketplace in a monopoly hammerlock.

No more.  Apple sells Intel-based boxes running Unix with the Apple
special sauce in their graphical interface and management layer.  I buy
Intel boxes and install Unix (in the form of linux) with the Linux
special sauce and a choice of graphical interfaces and management tools.
The only difference between the end result is that I have an enormous --
truly mind-boggling -- set of free software I can then install without
getting up from my seat or spending a nickel of additional money (on the
good side) and the fact that I STILL end up having to spend some time
making user-unfriendly expert tweaks that normal humans can't possibly
figure out to get it to where it is "properly configured" and ready to
use, mostly to accommodate hardware (although Fedora is still getting
better and better with the hardware).

IBM could pick an archtecture -- like the Thinkpad I'm typing this onto
under Fedora 28, assuming not unreasonably that they still are tight
with Lenovo -- and rebrand it IBM once again preinstalled with perfect
support for all of the system's devices and with its OS cleaned up just
a hair to match the functionality of Apple's best efforts to date.  They
could dump some love in the general direction of game companies to win
young hearts and minds.  They've got the sales force and marketing
relationships to be able to walk into any fortune 500 company and sell a
top to bottom IBM solution, with IBM support, and YET with that huge
mountain of software that they have to pay for for any M$ OR Apple based
solution.  And if they add any killer apps on top of it -- built in
Watsonish interfaces, built in VR support, I dunno, lots of
possibilities here -- they could eat 1/3 of Apple's lunch and 1/3 of
Microsoft's lunch in the first three years.  That could quite possibly
be enough to cripple Microsoft beyond recovery, and would force Apple to
lower prices to remain competitive, at which point who knows what would
happen?  The second revolution in computing, this time without
Microsoft and built solidly on OSS?


Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

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