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PGTS Humble Blog

Thread: Internet Standards & Competition

Author Image Gerry Patterson. The world's most humble blogger
I don't live today. --- Jimi Hendrix

The Google Juggernaut

Chronogical Blog Entries:

Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2008 18:32:23 +1100

Recently David Pogue who writes a techo blog for the New York Times, wrote a less than glowing review of the Blackberry Storm. David seems to have been somewhat underwhelmed by RIM's latest device. Generally the opinion on the Internet is that the latest Blackberry falls a long way short of the iPhone, with which, it was hoped, it would compete.

The success of the iPhone, is another triumph for Apple, who seem to have staged a remarkable comeback since they adopted a re-badged version of BSD as their primary operating system, and concentrated on the main game of delivering services and integrating applications.

Nokia also are worried. They have recently made Symbian an Open Source platform, and they are obviously looking for a product that can compete with the iPhone.

The elephant in the market place is Google. Their mobile OS, Android, is steadily building a portfolio of manufacturers who have promised to release Android capable platforms. As was expected, The USA was the first country to get the Android. And now there is some excitement in Australia, as we learn that we will be the second cab off the rank. Two new models of the Kogan Agora will be dispatched on January 29th, next year, according to their website.

Since the release of the Koban Agora was announced, even more big name manufacturers have signed up to the Open Handset Alliance. In fact some of the biggest in the business, including Sony Ericsson, Vodafone and ARM Holdings. Depending on when they start shipping, it looks as if Android will deliver some serious competition for Apple.

And even though Google chrome is now officially out of Beta, Google seems in no hurry to deploy it on Mac OS X or Linux. Both of these operating systems have a perfectly good Browser, Firefox. As long as there are lots of buggy, unreliable Windows computers around, Google seems to be concentrating on tightening up security and reliability of the browser on Windows.

Also, Facebook have been promoting their ID system, called Facebook Connect. Google offers something in this area. In fact they were offering it before Facebook. The Google Friend Connect offers a single point of identification for sites all around the world. Facebook's service is meant to offer a similar service. However, the differences between the two competing protocols are just as important as the similarities.

Google's system, as usual, is based on open standards. The core application is OpenSocial, which has been developed mainly by Google and social networking sites other than facebook. It uses OpenID for authentication.

Facebook's service is proprietary. Furthermore, it may be difficult (for providers) to implement.

This contest will be worth watching. Google has the advantage of Open Standards and a genuine commercial product, namely relevant keyword search and targeted advertising. Facebook on the other hand has a huge market share amongst the younger demographic and is putting together deals with very large sites. Since neither system has yet got an overwhelming share of the market, it should make an interesting case study in the cold light of hindsight.

Facebook seem to have formed a loose alliance with Microsoft. Recently the decision to allow Microsoft to import Facebook user data may even violate Facebook's own privacy policy. And there is the well-known advertising deal that Microsoft has made with Facebook. In the past Microsoft has been a rather sub-optimal choice for a corporate alliance. Microsoft's voracious appetite has meant that it was just as likely to eat "partners" as "competitors". So even a loose alliance could hold some dangers for Facebook.

Facebook is also having problems with malware. The Koobface worm has proven persistent and it may take sometime before it has been eradicated. The worm spreads itself not via the Facebook website, but by using the list of Facebook friends on a victim's computer and (in the background) craftily constructing a message that might say something like "Hey Dude - Check this out!" (or words to that effect - actually more cunning and enticing than that simple hook). Since the message (whatever it says) appears to have come from a friend, the recipient often clicks on the link and, if their computer does not have the latest virus scanning software, the recipient becomes another victim.

A chain can only be as strong as the weakest link. And in this case the weak link is the operating system on almost all the Facebook users' computers. The ease with which binary files can be downloaded from the internet and then executed has always been one of the most serious flaws in Microsoft's design. But the deliberate dumbing down of the interface, so that most their customers don't even know what a binary file is, has elevated stupidity to a science.

Thousands of hours of computing time are spent inspecting signatures of files, to try and sift out malware. And in most cases the anti-virus software is usually playing catch-up. Rather than securing the computer environment it is mostly a desperate effort to secure the stable doors after the horses have bolted.

Google is now one of the most preeminent suppliers of open source solutions. For the time being, they seem unstoppable.

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Copyright     2008, Gerry Patterson. All Rights Reserved.