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Should Larry Page go "thermonuclear" on Apple and up the bet on Motorola and Android?
Jay Payne's profile photoChunka Mui's profile photoBob Frankston's profile photoErik Goldhar's profile photo
It may get worse -- when you buy a car you'll have to choose sync, Android, Blackberry of Apple maps and worlds. A Ford may not be allowed to drive on Apple Lane.
It's deeper than transferability. The revolution wrought by the Internet came from normalizing connectivity decoupled form the meaning.That meaning is no longer confined to pipes and uses but is not in the bits.

We'll inevitably have some silos and while I don't like the idea of no longer owning the rights to the books I pay for (lease) at least I should be able to view them on any device by having an app. Better to have full transferability but at least we need to have a common infrastructure for the simplest thing - the bits.

The next is having apps less tied to platforms though things start to get more complicated there ... Apple tying their OS to their hardware though is indeed problematic.
Bob — I don't disagree on the desirability of what you describe.  Can you see any scenario in which the current industry and customer dynamics get lead us there?
Google got to where it is today in large part by combining technical superiority with device-independent ubiquity. And lest we forget, the Google Maps app is the foundation of local advertising for Google -- which is where the money is for them. I cannot conceive of a scenario in which Google would not release an IOS version of maps.
There are multiple paths. Ideally economists and business policy experts will start to figure out that vertical silos are the modern form of monopoly in preventing the economy from flourishing. In 1997 I argued that decoupling such value chains is part of enabling Moore’s law –  
A more realistic approach, for now, is to focus getting people to understand that telecommunications is a 19th century paradigm that no longer works. Instead we need we need to focus on the relationships rather than the path. I’ve written extensively on this at and just posted pointing to a piece in today’s NYT about car manufacturers dealing with the desire for connectivity. Their initial approach is more silos but market forces may work their wonder if some manufacturers start to discover adding connectivity as a feature works better than adding more twisting passages.
The more we start to be able to assume “just connected” the more the idea takes hold.
That doesn’t automatically mean that Apple will give up their OS silo but it does start to break down the barriers to adding more devices being able to cooperate instead of having to put all the capabilities under central control.
One other quick observation -- seeing a Galaxy Note ad showing their drawing apps (assuming they are real). Without platform money to write such apps does the funding model work -- how do we fund great stuff without hardware revenue and how do we fund hardware if it's the ultimate commodity. Lots of such market issues -- same with unbundling "cable"
+Pat Heffernan The only scenario would be if it serves Google's mobile device ambitions without too much cost to their search business.
+Bob Frankston Short of regulatory intervention, it would require either incumbents to see the long term benefit to themselves or some disruptive new entrant that turns the decoupling to their advantage.  I don't see either happening in the short term. Do you?
Nope, +Chunka Mui  I don't see either happening either. I see any day now, a new Google Maps app....
Great post!.   Very thought provoking.   I really like "As Apple’s recent stumbles show, however, maps are very important to mobile users. It is an Achilles Heal in the iOS ecosystem that Google could exploit."    Whether or not $GOOG releases a maps app is completely irrelevant in my opinion.   $GOOG now has a clear way to differentiate the Android and iOS ecosystems.      The question becomes how well $GOOG can grow that difference and build similar points.    Friends that travel a lot have already said that for Google Maps they would basically write off their current investment in the iOS ecosystem and buy an Android phone.  Just image how that number would grow if $GOOG made maps and map related services the focus of Android devices.   
+Chunka Mui If you want to be discouraged look at Google in Kansas City doing a classic cable silo instead of connectivity. At least there I can see a vector for change from others' efforts at the edge. And the FCC is ... well, if I can't say anything nice ...

On the other hand Google has played a key role in giving us an alternative to Apple's claustrophobic world. Is Apple vulnerable because they have one trick -- great though it may be?

Don't have all the answers but a great discussion over coffee next time you're in Boston (or when I get back to Chicago -- not often)
+Bob Frankston Your Google pointers of great examples of how companies aim for closed whenever they can, and opened in order to break down competitor's moats.  May be that punctuated equilibrium is the guiding principal.  Yes, we are long overdue for that coffee!
I happened to reread what I wrote in 1989 It useful to think why it's taking so long to assume what I'm now calling -- owning the customer is so much more valuable than providing enabling technologies. We can talk about how to liberate some of this value into the economy when we get together.
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