Delenda Est Carthago

In 256 B.C. the two superpowers of the ancient world went to war. Rome, a rapidly growing agrarian society, needed to secure the Mediterranean coast of Italy against invasion. Which meant Rome needed control of Sicily, because it was just off their southern coast. As a society of farmers, they needed their borders safe to protect their land.

Carthage, a mercantile society, saw Rome encroaching on the Mediterranean Sea and saw a threat to their shipping lanes. Sicily was the main shipping route between Carthage and Italy. They needed control of the Mediterranean in order to continue their dominance as the premier merchants of the ancient world.

Each vision of the future was mutually exclusive. They couldn’t both dominate the Mediterranean, yet neither could afford to lose it. The ancient world was falling away and only the winner would have the power to shape the new era.

The ancient beige-box world of computing is falling away while the new era is busy asserting itself in a dozen different form factors and price points. Google and Apple are two companies currently betting everything on mobile computing, each with very different ideas about how to make money.

Where computing goes, gaming follows. How the average person uses a computer will change drastically in the next decade. How the average person games will change even more.

This is not just another console war.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.—Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs

Apple is an empire built on selling hardware. Yes, they make money from their app store and iTunes, but over 80% of their revenue comes from iPhones, iPods and Macs. Their investments in OSX and iOS are money spent chasing hardware sales.

Apple has built this empire on the power of design. They understood far before anybody else in the hardware space that once you can no longer make money just selling raw computing power, when computing power is commoditized, you can still make money selling a symbol of computing.

Apple’s hardware and user interface design is the envy of every other technology company on the planet. The iPhone on its release was a disruptive technology, but not because it was more powerful than what had come before. Its sheer elegance was disruptive. The fact that Apple could use sheer design to topple the cellular networks’ monopoly on cellphone software is staggering. A hand-held cellular internet device you actually want to use was so revolutionary that it sent every other smartphone manufacturer into a complete panic. It’s no coincidence that 3 years later almost every new smartphone released is some variation on the iPhone design.

The weakness of Apple’s business model is that design can be copied very easily. Hardware design can be ripped off with enough time. User interface design is even easier to copy. There is nothing in the iPhone that was technically revolutionary, aside from the extent of Apple’s control over its use. Every single piece of the iPhone has been implemented before and will be implemented again. As you read this, Google and their partners are rapidly spending a ton of money proving it. Patents, trademarks, brand names and dancing silhouettes set to indie rock tunes can only go so far. Information is cheap. Copies are even cheaper.

We did not enter the search business; they entered the phone business. Make no mistake: They want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.—Steve Jobs discussing Google’s Nexus One

What happens to Apple’s profit margins on hardware once their competitors catch up?

There’s always more information out there.—Google Corporate 10-Point Philosophy, #7

Google’s official mission is “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” They succeeded so well that they have literally changed the way the world thinks. The existence of Google has fundamentally changed the computing landscape, like the Roman Empire’s roads that crossed boundaries and connected distant cultures. Google is currently busy obliterating the ancient pre-Internet world of computing. But that’s not how they make their money.

Google is an empire built on advertising. Google’s employees are paid with AdWords money. For all the fancy services Google gives away for free, the (comparative) accuracy of their targeted AdWords is the secret to their business success.

If Google’s business model has a weakness, it’s the dirty little phrase called “content aggregation”. You only go to Google as long as you can find what you want. Google needs to know where everything is at all times, which is why Google has an army of computers constantly scouring the internet for every piece of data it can find. They can only do this because the web is an open standard, and the internet connects all of them together for free.

If Google did not act, we faced a Draconian future, a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice.—Google’s VP of Engineering for Mobile Vic Gundotra, discussing Google’s motivation for creating Android

What happens to Google if all data is locked up behind proprietary apps again, like the databases from the stone ages of computing—all applications (and their data) requiring approval or worse, a proprietary, closed platform to run on? Google lives and dies by open access to data.

As of May 2010, 59% of all adult Americans go online wirelessly.—Pew Internet Mobile Access 2010 Survey

The past decade has seen computing explode beyond the walls of the cubicle. Now everyone is on Facebook, Google is a verb, and it’s almost a faux pas for anyone to not have an email address. But the computers they’re using to do this don’t look like the beige boxes of my formative years. Laptops now outnumber desktops in computer sales. Netbooks went from a chimera to dominating the low end of the computing market inside of 2 years. Computing has broken out of the cubicle, and that means the computer needs to leave the desk.

The definition of the word “computer” is rapidly coming to imply the prefix “mobile” for the average American. If you can’t put it in your pocket or backpack and take it with you, it’s not going to be relevant for long. And the process of how those computers become unplugged and modified to fit into your pocket matters to the computing industry. Will the content, and necessarily the platform underneath it, be open? Will it be an elegant, well designed little device with every app in its place (and no app out of place)?

Zynga Inc., maker of the Mafia Wars and FarmVille games played on Facebook, may be valued at $1 billion ... . That could make San Francisco-based Zynga the third-largest U.S. videogame publisher by market capitalization, bigger than Take-Two Interactive.—Bloomberg

When computers leave the desk, our games are inevitably going to follow. The videogame industry is changing rapidly due to pressure from social networking and mobile computing. EA is investing heavily in iPhone development. Sid Meier is going to release an iteration of the Civilization franchise on Facebook. And Zynga is busy using the underrated free-to-play model to rake in cash hand over fist.

The driver behind all these changes is the ubiquitous nature of internet access that’s spread thanks to mobile computing. FarmVille is a game you can play in any web browser (and on several phones) and it’s one of the most successful games in the world. It can steal a few seconds of attention (and real world cash) from millions of people anywhere they have a web browser, at any time of day.

Which is why Google has invested over $100 million in Zynga, apparently on the sly. There are rumors of Google Games launching later this year. Google’s platform isn’t Android, it’s the web—and that’s why the most popular game to ever hit a web browser is a perfect fit. Apple currently holds the lion’s share of the mobile gaming market, but that only holds as long as their overall smartphone marketshare is dominant. Which is why Apple has a stronger than normal interest in locking developers into their platform. Once their competitors catch up to their design, their only hope is to maintain that lock-in. Apple’s Game Center, the iOS4 EULA’s renovated stance on cross-platform development, the App Store’s approval process—these are all just fronts in the war to keep game developers and gamers on their platform.

Game development is a business, and they have to follow the money. This won’t just stay in the Facebook time-waster ghetto for long. If you think traditional PC gaming has taken it hard in the aughts, expect to be shocked by the next decade. iPads can play RTS games superbly. A 3G iPad can play an MMO anywhere you can get a cellphone signal. There’s no genre that a PC can do that a multitouch tablet, console, or some combination thereof can’t.

Yes, there will still be PCs. Yes, there will still be consoles. But they won’t matter nearly as much, because your iPad/Android tablet is as powerful as either one. More importantly, you can buy some variation on one for less than $100. I imagine with this crowd there are several of you shaking your head and harumph-ing under your breath. Just remember, there will be a day where your kids will wonder where that weird “QWERTY” thing that pops up on the screen came from.

Google and Apple have been in open warfare for a while now, but gaming is clearly the next major campaign. The winner gets to set the rules about how our games are made, and who gets to make them. On gaming’s little island of Sicily, do we start learning to speak Punic or Latin? It’s just too early to tell.

In 146 B.C., Rome burned Carthage to the ground, destroying almost all records of Punic civilization. Most of our knowledge of ancient Carthage comes from the historic records of the Romans. Rome literally erased Carthage from the face of the Earth.

One way or another, we’re all going to learn a new language.

Comments

I can honestly say that I don't want Apple anywhere near my gaming.

While the App Store is full of fun little "Waiting for the 6:15 train" games, I've always felt locked in. Guess that's a consequence of the App Store.

But I suppose the bigger issue for me would be that Apple doesn't exactly need gamers. They can slap an iAd on FarmVille's log-in screen and call it a day.

The kerfluffle with iPhone4 is even more disconcerting, because there's some kind of abject refusal of even acknowledging the possibility of a problem. That attitude is downright frightening to me, as a consumer.

But I suppose the bigger issue for me would be that Apple doesn't exactly need gamers. They can slap an iAd on FarmVille's log-in screen and call it a day.

You say that like the people who would be dragged along by FarmVille aren't gamers.

Excellent article Pyro, I really enjoyed your comments on the CC regarding this topic!

However you left out (deliberately I imagine) who you thought Rome was and who you though Carthage was...

Allen - FANTASTIC article. I really enjoyed the thought-provoking read. Thanks for the work you put into it.

But to Nexus or iPhone - I say, meh! I want my Windows Phone 7, which has achievements;)

Great, thought-provoking piece. I'm a head-shaker, for sure, but at least I can't say I didn't see it coming.

Sid Meier is going to release an iteration of the Civilization franchise on Facebook. And Zynga is busy using the underrated free-to-play model to rake in cash hand over fist.

Heh--figure I should throw in that the person with the Chief Game Designer label at Zynga is Brian Reynolds from CivII.

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/new...
http://zblog.zynga.com/?p=686

Spaz wrote:

The kerfluffle with iPhone4 is even more disconcerting, because there's some kind of abject refusal of even acknowledging the possibility of a problem. That attitude is downright frightening to me, as a consumer.

Can you honestly say Apple is unique in this regard? Has any corporation ever come right out and admitted a problem with a product before they have a solution or plan for dealing with it? Think of Microsoft and the red ring of death problem. How long was it before they admitted it was an actual problem? While I don't condone what Apple is doing with the iPhone 4, I'm reasonably sure they will admit it when they figure out how to spin it so that it hurts them as little as possible. This is corporate culture, not Apple.

As for whether or not I want them near my gaming, I mixed. I have an iPad and there are actually some really good games for it. But, I'm not rushing to replace my PC or any of my 3 consoles with it. It has replaced my Kindle DX for reading PDFs on the go and pretty much caused me to not pick up my Nintendo DS in quite awhile, though. It seems to have its place in the gaming world. Just as the PC has been mostly replaced for arcade gaming by the consoles, I suspect the iPhone and iPad will fit in there somewhere also.

Apple does a great job with elegant design. They make devices that scream, "Own me, use me." That doesn't mean they don't stumble or make bad decisions. It does mean that if they keep pushing into games some other companies are going to have to rethink some of how they have been doing things or be pushed aside for awhile. Google has the best chance of catching up, but unless they can get a consistent user interface that they control and ideally have more control over hardware that gets produced, they don't likely have a chance of supplanting Apple in the near future.

(Not sent from my iPad. I want a real keyboard for anything more than casual browsing.)

PyromanFO wrote:

You say that like the people who would be dragged along by FarmVille aren't gamers.

Sorry, I was a bit unclear with my intent there.

I absolutely agree that Farmvillers are gamers. What I meant to imply was that Apple has no inherent need to foster gamer interest or support. They can literally stick a pop-up ad in a game and that'll be the extent of their interaction. They already have an app store ecology.

Apollo0507 wrote:

However you left out (deliberately I imagine) who you thought Rome was and who you though Carthage was...

And thank you for that.

I'm curious to see how all of this ends up playing out. I'll only quibble with one aspect of the article, though: design and user interface is a lot harder to copy than I think you give it credit for. I've recently previewed nearly every major smartphone on the market, and the iPhone is still leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in terms of ease of use, intuitiveness, and responsiveness. Likewise, I feel that OS X still has the edge over Windows 7 (I'm speaking here solely and specifically of the interface design). User interfaces are as much a problem of art as they are of engineering, and art is notoriously difficult to replicate. So long as Apple continues to invest heavily in bringing the best artists into its fold, it will continue to have a competitive edge. It's significant that all of the other smart phone manufacturers are just playing catch-up on the design front rather than offering genuine alternatives. Apple's platform and philosophy may ultimately fall to Google's, but I don't see them ceding much ground on the design front any time soon.

While I don't condone what Apple is doing with the iPhone 4, I'm reasonably sure they will admit it when they figure out how to spin it so that it hurts them as little as possible. This is corporate culture, not Apple.

It is very Apple (and Steve Jobs) to personally reply to emails from users with the phrase "you're holding it wrong".

Spaz wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:

You say that like the people who would be dragged along by FarmVille aren't gamers.

Sorry, I was a bit unclear with my intent there.

I absolutely agree that Farmvillers are gamers. What I meant to imply was that Apple has no inherent need to foster gamer interest or support. They can literally stick a pop-up ad in a game and that'll be the extent of their interaction. They already have an app store ecology.

This only really lasts as long as they have 98% of the smartphone app market. In 6 months expect things to look very different in this regard. They currently have an ecology because they're the only option. When you have banned cross-compilers, and Google is doing things like Google App Inventor, it's only a matter of time before the app marketshare cracks.

I really hope some form more elegant than the tablet shows up in the next decade to replace the PC/Laptop model. Tablets are just not easy to use. They're hard to hold and interact with at the same time, hard to sit back and watch, hard to type on, uncomfortable in just about every dimension possible.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Apollo0507 wrote:

However you left out (deliberately I imagine) who you thought Rome was and who you though Carthage was...

And thank you for that.

I'm curious to see how all of this ends up playing out. I'll only quibble with one aspect of the article, though: design and user interface is a lot harder to copy than I think you give it credit for. I've recently previewed nearly every major smartphone on the market, and the iPhone is still leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in terms of ease of use, intuitiveness, and responsiveness. Likewise, I feel that OS X still has the edge over Windows 7 (I'm speaking here solely and specifically of the interface design). User interfaces are as much a problem of art as they are of engineering, and art is notoriously difficult to replicate. So long as Apple continues to invest heavily in bringing the best artists into its fold, it will continue to have a competitive edge. It's significant that all of the other smart phone manufacturers are just playing catch-up on the design front rather than offering genuine alternatives. Apple's platform and philosophy may ultimately fall to Google's, but I don't see them ceding much ground on the design front any time soon.

You are right, I should probably clarify and say that it's very easy to copy the first 80% of design, the rest is actually quite hard. If Windows destruction of the Macintosh in the late 80s can teach us anything about the current struggle though, it's that sometimes 80% of the design is good enough with all the other mitigating factors such as price, power and app selection come into play.

I don't really expect Google to ever really nail a design as good as the iPhone. I do think they're already "good enough" for many users, and still have some room to grow. 100% of the iPhone's design elegance? No, but they'll probably get to that 80% soon enough.

I guess if this happened i'd probably hang up my gaming boots. Though i seriously doubt the analogy brought to mind by the Rome Vs Carthage empires' battle royale is pertinent in this situation. There's a market on both sides of the fence that any company can capitalise on if they so wish....

I'm having a hard time reconciling the following two statements from the article:

Yes, there will still be PCs. Yes, there will still be consoles. But they won’t matter nearly as much, because your iPad/Android tablet is as powerful as either one.
Google and Apple have been in open warfare for a while now, but gaming is clearly the next major campaign. The winner gets to set the rules about how our games are made, and who gets to make them.

I can definitely buy into an ongoing homogenization of game development -- a progression where the qualitative differences in gameplay between console vs. PC vs. mobile start to fade away -- but I don't quite follow why the winner of the mobile battle suddenly gets to dictate terms to the entirety of gaming, especially if all media within gaming is trending towards some level of equality.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

I can definitely buy into an ongoing homogenization of game development -- a progression where the qualitative differences in gameplay between console vs. PC vs. mobile start to fade away -- but I don't quite follow why the winner of the mobile battle suddenly gets to dictate terms to the entirety of gaming.

That's the whole point of the analogy. If Apple wins content and data is locked up inside apps on the App Store, with Apple's restrictions and App Store approval process in place. Google cannot survive that. Nothing to do with gaming, Google cannot continue to make money in this environment. They become a neutered shadow of their former self, at best. AdWords are not allowed in the App Store.

If Google wins Apple cannot maintain it's control over it's App Store, because everything will be on the web. You'll run your games on your iOS device in Safari, and they'll be just as good as native apps. Apple will be relegated to just another, very expensive, platform. It'll be the 90s all over again.

The action will be happening in the mobile space, the traditional PC space and console space will be shrinking. Whatever company is stuck on that side of the divide will eventually cease to be a major player.

Switchbreak wrote:

I really hope some form more elegant than the tablet shows up in the next decade to replace the PC/Laptop model. Tablets are just not easy to use. They're hard to hold and interact with at the same time, hard to sit back and watch, hard to type on, uncomfortable in just about every dimension possible.

Agreed. I also don't get how an iPad is as powerful as one. No, I'm not talking about processing/GPU/whatever power, I'm talking about interface. A keyboard, mouse, and two huge monitors represent an extremely powerful computing experience in terms of interface and experience that a tablet can't match. A tablet is powerful in that it's mobile. A tablet and PC aren't equally powerful, they're differently powerful.

Kind of a wierd transition from apple vs. google to tablet vs. pc, there.

Dysplastic wrote:
Switchbreak wrote:

I really hope some form more elegant than the tablet shows up in the next decade to replace the PC/Laptop model. Tablets are just not easy to use. They're hard to hold and interact with at the same time, hard to sit back and watch, hard to type on, uncomfortable in just about every dimension possible.

Agreed. I also don't get how an iPad is as powerful as one. No, I'm not talking about processing/GPU/whatever power, I'm talking about interface. A keyboard, mouse, and two huge monitors represent an extremely powerful computing experience in terms of interface and experience that a tablet can't match. A tablet is powerful in that it's mobile. A tablet and PC aren't equally powerful, they're differently powerful.

Kind of a wierd transition from apple vs. google to tablet vs. pc, there.

The realization driving the end of the PC era is the netbook market, the idea that people really want cheaper computers that do less. Most people are fine with an iPad that has a keyboard dock. All ergonomic and placement problems are pretty easily solved by cheap docks. If the tablets are cheap enough, it won't matter. There's every indication they will get cheap enough very quickly.

PyromanFO wrote:

The realization driving the end of the PC era is the netbook market, the idea that people really want cheaper computers that do less. Most people are fine with an iPad that has a keyboard dock. All ergonomic and placement problems are pretty easily solved by cheap docks. If the tablets are cheap enough, it won't matter. There's every indication they will get cheap enough very quickly.

How would you explain the price point that tablets are at now? Do they cost about twice as much as netbooks just for the novelty factor? I'm not sure I buy the "tablets will be the cheapest option in the future" idea, especially not if Apple is leading the charge.

PyromanFO wrote:

The action will be happening in the mobile space, the traditional PC space and console space will be shrinking. Whatever company is stuck on that side of the divide will eventually cease to be a major player.

I can definitely follow the Punic Wars analogy, as far as the mobile space is concerned. Beyond that mobile space, though, I find myself becoming skeptical. It's a question of scope, I think.

Are you saying that the winner of the mobile platform will eventually grow into some kind of "majority stakeholder" status in gaming? Or just that the "mobile gaming" slice of that pie will be getting bigger and that, as a result, the slices for console and PC gaming will be shrinking to make room.

Dysplastic wrote:

Kind of a wierd transition from apple vs. google to tablet vs. pc, there.

When you think about it, Apple's been able to push the idea of iPad/Tablet dominance through force of will.

Microsoft's tablets have been around for years, but they've never simplified their interface. It was some kind of ghost mouse thing that wasn't quite optimized for a touch interface. Apple nailed that with iPhone, and basically ported it over to a larger form factor.

And in the coming years, the lines between the two will blur. I think that's what Pyro's getting at there. In 5 years, will you boot up a laptop/netbook to do a Google maps check or to browse for e-mail? Or will you do that through a tablet? Will you be running dedicated applications on that, or will you be relying on web-apps that rival installed office suites?

I see some of this happening already. I visited the Youtube and Y! Mail websites on an iTouch and they popped up a little message informing me that I could link to their website apps directly, turning their web experience into an App on my homescreen. If I were Apple, I'd be very wary of too much of this happening.

Switchbreak wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:
Kind of a wierd transition from apple vs. google to tablet vs. pc, there.

The realization driving the end of the PC era is the netbook market, the idea that people really want cheaper computers that do less. Most people are fine with an iPad that has a keyboard dock. All ergonomic and placement problems are pretty easily solved by cheap docks. If the tablets are cheap enough, it won't matter. There's every indication they will get cheap enough very quickly.

How would you explain the price point that tablets are at now? Do they cost about twice as much as netbooks just for the novelty factor? I'm not sure I buy the "tablets will be the cheapest option in the future" idea, especially not if Apple is leading the charge.

It's Apple. The iPhone started at $600 with a 2 year contract. You can get a similarly functioning Android device free with a 2 year contract now.

My only real rule of thumb when it comes to understanding computing is that hardware always gets faster, cheaper and smaller.

OzymandiasAV wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:

The action will be happening in the mobile space, the traditional PC space and console space will be shrinking. Whatever company is stuck on that side of the divide will eventually cease to be a major player.

I can definitely follow the Punic Wars analogy, as far as the mobile space is concerned. Beyond that mobile space, though, I find myself becoming skeptical. It's a question of scope, I think.

Are you saying that the winner of the mobile platform will eventually grow into some kind of "majority stakeholder" status in gaming? Or just that the "mobile gaming" slice of that pie will be getting bigger and that, as a result, the slices for console and PC gaming will be shrinking to make room.

Mobile computing is going to just become computing. There will be no "immobile computing". There will always be PCs for legacy applications and situations just as people still purchase and use IBM mainframes. For the things IBM mainframes are built for, they're still the best thing there is and there are people who are willing to pay for it. But IBM Mainframes stopped setting the course for the computing industry before I was born. PCs won't go away, they just won't matter.

Consoles, I'm not so sure. I do know the next gen probably shouldn't start at $500. But I think more generally the changes in the computer industry mean that the very idea of "next gen" may not even be around anymore. If your iPad version 6 can wirelessly stream it's video to your TV, and it has all the games you want, why would you want a console? Again, it's a matter of diminished importance.

It's not a binary switch, nobody's going to go around and smash up all the PCs with a sledgehammer. At the same time, game publishers and developers aren't going to care because they have to go where the action is.

Will PC and console marketshare shrink? Yes. The mobile computing space will pick up that marketshare. The mobile computing space will also pick up many, many more entirely new customers. It's not really zero-sum.

OK, so this makes Iberia "the mobile market," the Alps the App Store, and Sicily into mobile gaming. Got it.

Does that make *nix users the Mongol hordes or something? The future Ottoman Empire? The Visigoths?

I think the big difference for me is that computing, as presented in the context of this article, does not have the same "requirements" as gaming.

From a sheer usability standpoint, I can definitely agree that the role of everyday computing for an everyday consumer will likely shift wholesale to a mobile platform. That shift will happen because the methods for computing in that space -- reading web pages, checking emails, sharing documents, etc. -- are all well within the scope of the usability provided by mobile devices.

I don't see gaming following that same line of logic, however. "All the games you want" seems to cast those games in the role of some repository of content that is simply meant to be accessed and consumed in the same way, anywhere and everywhere.

That implies some sort of baseline of interactive capabilities between all mediums of gaming...and I don't see that happening any time soon. Even though viewing a web page on your phone may not be appreciably different from viewing it on a PC, I think there is a much larger difference in the experience between playing a game on a phone vs. playing it on console/PC. To push that even further, I'd even say that the "ground level" for required interactivity in gaming is much higher than the interactivity required for most everyday computing activities.

Even when the mobile devices reach the same level of computational power as PCs and consoles, there will still be clear differences in how the consumer interacts with the device. And those differences, which form the basis for much of the discussions of console/PC preference today (e.g. "comfy couch" arguments), will still be relevant, even as the mobile phone becomes a more available alternative.

Yes, there are games like Farmville or even something like Civilization Revolution that you could cite as counter-examples to this; there are certainly games out there that are equally viable across all three of these platforms. But virtually everything else -- FPS, platformers, MMORPG, virtually everything else -- draw very clear preferential lines for many people between one "traditional" gaming platform vs. the other. Mobile gaming will stake out its territory here as well, but I don't see it removing the interface-related preferences for those game types that are in place today.

I can see the winner of the Google/Apple war speaking to the future of mobile computing (and, perhaps, computing as a whole), but I can't see them simply blowing away the gaming marketplace's concern for how it goes about playing games.

PyromanFO wrote:

If your iPad version 6 can wirelessly stream it's video to your TV, and it has all the games you want, why would you want a console?

Well, just to cite one possibility, I might want to play those games with other people in the room on a big screen HDTV. To turn from console to PC, perhaps the game I want to play is a first-person shooter and I have a much better experience when I can take advantage of mouselook and WASD to traverse the environment.

wordsmythe wrote:

OK, so this makes Iberia "the mobile market," the Alps the App Store, and Sicily into mobile gaming. Got it.

Does that make *nix users the Mongol hordes or something? The future Ottoman Empire? The Visigoths?

They're Yayoi period Japan. Or perhaps North America.

wordsmythe wrote:

OK, so this makes Iberia "the mobile market," the Alps the App Store, and Sicily into mobile gaming. Got it.

Does that make *nix users the Mongol hordes or something? The future Ottoman Empire? The Visigoths?

So Hannibal Jobs would cross into Google's information territory via the App Store, leading a herd of a war.. appephants? Who's going to be Fabius Maximus Cunctator, and where will the Cannae be fought?

If Apple wins content and data is locked up inside apps on the App Store, with Apple's restrictions and App Store approval process in place. Google cannot survive that.

It's also worth pointing out that the other big loser in that scenario is the end-user. Monopolies are never good for customers. They're only good for the monopolies.

Whether you trust Google or not, one thing they're generally very good at is giving you an escape hatch. If you don't want to use their services anymore, if you feel you're being abused in some way, they always seem to give you a way to get your data out. Don't like Gmail anymore? Switch to another provider, and slurp your email out of their system with IMAP. They explicitly and carefully give you a clean way to end the relationship.

Compare that with Apple, which asserts that it has the right to tell you how you can use your own hardware after buying it, forever. And they continue to expand that asserted control just as fast as they possibly can. Your benefit is way, way behind Apple's in their product designs -- they're just good at making it shiny. Buying into that arrangement reminds me very much of the Indians trading away Manhattan for some beads.

I'm sure they were very nice beads.

Switchbreak wrote:

I really hope some form more elegant than the tablet shows up in the next decade to replace the PC/Laptop model. Tablets are just not easy to use. They're hard to hold and interact with at the same time, hard to sit back and watch, hard to type on, uncomfortable in just about every dimension possible.

I've found my iPad to be surprisingly easy to use in most situations. The only downside is the relatively heavy weight, but I'm sure it will get lighter and thinner as time goes on. Just like iPhone.

Malor,
You can get the best of both worlds by buying an Apple device and using outside services like Google, Flickr, Delicious and Dropbox to store your data.

Sure, Apple would like you to use their services exclusively but they support common formats and protocols.

pyromanfo wrote:

What happens to Apple’s profit margins on hardware once their competitors catch up?

The funny thing about that is that people have been saying that for 10 years, and every time we think Apple can't find a new way to almost somehow coerce people to buy their products, they come out with something else disruptive. I think the next time Apple's really out of the game is when Steve Jobs is gone. He's a crazy control-freak madman, but he's got the magic touch.