Summer IT Soap Season: AAPL vs GOOG vs MSFT

Summer Theater is well …. soapy, meller-dramatik, and often tainted with fits of outrighteous comedy and unexpected self-satire. And this season’s IT Summer Stock is packed to the gilt edge with certified Box office bonanzas. First there is a new Summer Stock Valuation leader – AAPL, displacing vaunted enemy number one, MSFT from the top of the IT Market Capitalization Heap. Next there are those brash Mountain View college boys goog-ing and getting into every nook and cranny of the Cloud they have searched 10 to the 100th times. In the process, GOOG is thereby increasingly displacing MSFT and AAPL into 2nd place position in many a market. And MSFT has developed a persistent shank shot when teeing off into new markets with Courier, Kin, Mobile 6.5, Zune all doing the Vista Poo.

What makes the Summer Season even more eventful is the players. Take AAPL’s Steve Jobs, the new Emperor of Innovation, is taking swings at ADBE and its Flash when the real problem appears to be that AAPL has under-engineered the graphics drivers [or allowed contractors to do the deed]on its hardware. So all this time AAPL has been selling at double if not triple prices graphics inferiority to its carefully cultivated design & graphics acolytes. Now that is real meller drammer material! But not to be outdone MSFT’s CEO, Dancin Steve Ballmer [ why he hasn’t done Dancing with the Stars is a mystery to all us fans] is swatting back at the new Emperor and vowing to swat down the iPad and iPhone with a horde of new tablets and Windows Phone 7 smartphones by Christmas[which Christmas is not stated].

So with these players and shows going on this Summer IT Soap Season, it seemed appropriate to see what the various IT  reviewers had to say about the Season . Several key shows are on tap this Summer – lets see how well the IT Tech Press has covered them. Note that stories/reviews marked in green are must-reads on their “shows”:

1)Will Microsoft Windows Phone 7 make the mobile market cut – this is Redmond’s 5th and last swing for a presence in the rapidly emerging and huge mobile and iDevice markets. They have already had swings and misses with Windows Mobile 6, Mobile 6.5 , Zune, Courier and Kin – another miss would see Microsoft out of the fastest growing and most influential IT market. How has the Tech Press covered this?

BNet – sets the “what is at stake table” with So Where’s Microsoft ?
BusinessWeek – mid July & Ballmer promises presence in Smartphone and tablets

Computerworld – Hints of trouble with Window Phone 7 and reliance on Zune software

Computerworld Humor Why was Russian spy working at Microsoft?
Engadget – Looks at 5 gadgets that failed including Microsoft Kin as prelude to WP7
eWeek – Lists ten markets misses for Microsoft, Mobile phones is at the top
eWeek – Sets out 4 key success factor for Windows Phone 7
NYTimes – has hinted at problems with Youthful market spurns the wares of Microsoft
GizmodoJuly 19th Windows Phone 7 Review is upbeat with caveats
InfoworldJuly 15th Windows Phone 7 : Don’t bother with this disaster
Note these three must-reads could not be more different in their conclusions

ZDnet July 18th technical preview of Windows Phone 7 – a winner come Christmas

PCWorld – grave reservations on Windows Phone 7…it maybe Vista again
theRegister Humor – Vista hating Microsoft throws poo at Apple iPhone 4
ZDnet – a second, more cautionary take on Windows Phone 7

2)Apple’s Steve Jobs has done a PR no-no: openly disparaging Adobe’s Flash software while cutting off Java and program generators from use on Apples iDevices – Is Steve’s harsh criticism of Flash justified? Why include Java and program generators as banned software tools? Is Steve’s HTML5 to replace Flash solution viable ? What is behind the ban?
AllthingsDIf Steve Jobs Is a God, How Could He Be So Wrong About HTML5 vs. Flash for Us Mere Mortals?
BusinessWeek – lays bare Steve Jobs attacks on Adobe Flash
Gartner Blog – very early on in debate defines some of the key trade-offs on Flash, Java, and HTML5
Gartner Blog – compares the Apple developer economics to Facebooks
GizmodoApple takes developers hostage in War on Adobe – how far Apple goes to ban Flash
Infoworld – Java developers are left outside of all iDevices
Keep an Open EyeApple vs Adobe: Vetting Steve Jobs Flash Assertions
NYTimes Is Apple a victim of Sour Grapes briefly mentions Apples ban of Flash
O’Reilly – YouTube and Hulu voice caution about replacing Flash with HTML5 video
theRegister Humor – Apple reels as Steve Jobs Flashturbates
Wired – decidedly for Flash replacement by HTML5

3)Google’s Android is coming from behind to challenge Apple’s iDevices with an Open Development and Support model in contrast to Apples Closed Ecosystem – Do the two ecosystems make a difference in consumer and/or corporate buying decisions? How well is Android doing in the mobile phone and tablet markets? How is Apple fending off the OS leads that Google has?
BusinessWeek – 10 best Smartphone Apps for college – iPhone-10, Android-6, BBerry-2
– the iPhone 4 vs Android battle
Engadget – Nielsen says iPhone has 3 times market share of Android phones
eWeek1 + eWeek 22 must-reads cover major trade-offs between iPhone4 vs Android2.2
Gizmodo – great graphic summary:The-dogs-of-war: Apple vs Google vs Microsoft
PCWorld – one of several very good articles on Android vs iPhone
theRegister Humor– The “truth” about the iPhone 4 antenna problems
theRegister – superb analysis on developer advantage Android has over iPhone

The Tech Press acquitted itself reasonably well in covering these issues. First, there is a surprising amount of good if sardonic humor. One could easily double the number of humor articles. The traditional Tech Press acquitted itself well with eWeek, Infoworld, and ZDnet all bagging must-read articles. The nouveau gadget press also is well represented with AllthingsD and Gizmodo showing up in the must-reads. TheRegister easily took the humor crown with some deliciously funny send ups that The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert would flash green with envy at.
What was surprising were three things: not much presence of the Business press with just BusinessWeek, Gartner and NYTimes catching mentions [if Gartner and NYTimes can be thought of as Business Press]. I looked at Forbes, theEconomist, Fortune, WSJ… and they were doing latest news stories on these fast moving, big events in IT but certainly not the Brobadingnagian Battle Story. Second, the Android vs iPhone story got a lot less coverage than expected. After all these are former near partners now swinging tooth and nail with Apples iDevices’ Design++ and Closed Ecosystem vs Google Android and Chrome’s Massive Competence and Open Source Ecosystem. This is legendary Business Case material – only BusinessWeek showed up with big view articles.
However, the most interesting trend was the widely diverse opinions on Windows Mobile 7. Gizmodo and ZDNet loved it; Infoworld was thorough, but curt with its assessment – “Don’t bother with this disaster”. PCWorld was middling, but favoring caution. This is no small matter because if Microsoft shoots itself in the foot a fifth time for Mobiles – the train has left the station. And what brought Microsoft to so much power in the IT industry, its UI and Windows, will surely wither away over the next 3-5 years barring a major merger or acquisition.
In sum, the IT Press coverage was a lot better than expected. I suspect the young guns like Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch [just missed on 3 stories] are keeping all the players more committed to following the IT game. With the two Steves out there pitching their IT wares and throwing a lot of high heat – there are big Summer Blockbuster stories just waiting to be written.

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