The corporate attack on freedom

Microsoft has joined the assault on Google and Android.  The reason Oracle, Apple, Microsoft and other are attacking Google and Android, is because Android is a run away success, and it threatens the lock-in revenue that incumbents like Oracle, Apple, Microsoft and others have been enjoying.  Make no mistake, this is going to be the biggest battle, and most important battle for the next 5 years.

To understand the context, Android represents freedom.  It is based on Linux, which is the pre-eminent free OS.  Google, as they do, is giving the their addition to Linux, their Dalvik VM away without license to handset makers and network operators.  The OS and the apps on it arguably rival, if not well surpass what is offered by Apple and it’s runaway success with the iPhone.

With iPhone Apple makes and controls almost all aspects of your mobile experience.  They make the hardware, the OS, and they are the gatekeepers of the Application Market.  The only part of it they don’t control is the network…and even here they make exclusive agreements so you initially could only get the phone if you subscribed to the AT&T network.  AT&T would have paid handsomely for this exclusivity…and passed the cost of that on to you the consumer.

Google is on the other end of the spectrum…they make their money on Ads, so they can do the following:

  • Anyone and everyone is making hardware for Android…this is good for you as a consumer, as the price for the hardware becomes a commodity and the price is driven down.  So you can get an incredible smart phone, for dirt cheap.
  • Open sourcing all the software on the phone.  Linux is already open source, but they also open source the Dalvik VM which is the key piece of software besides the OS on the phone.  Open source is ALWAYS good for the consumer.  Of course Apple has done the opposite, taken BSD and closed sourced it into iOS.  The BSD license isn’t a viral license like the GPL so they can do that.
  • There is no license to use Android, so the network operators and handset manufacturers don’t need to bundle that cost into their products…so again, this gets cheaper for you and I.
  • They have a free, open market that they don’t control like Apple does in it’s North Korean tyrannical way.  Anyone can write any application and submit it to the Android Market…even if that software threatens another piece of software by being cheaper and better.  Again excellent for the consumer.

So why should you care about the following things:

  • Oracle sues Google over alleged Java patent infringement in the Android Dalvik VM.
  • Microsoft sues Motorola, alleging several of the cell phone maker’s Android devices infringe on Redmond’s patents.
  • Apple sued HTC for Android phone-related IP infringement.

Starting to see a pattern?  Doesn’t this look like Microsofts use of SCO to target Linux. Did you know that Steve Jobs is good friends with Bill Gates and Larry Ellison.  Any doubt that this sucks for you and me and freedom.  Look at this, I run Ubuntu, a free Linux based OS, and I wanted to copy a PDF document onto my iPhone so I could read it on the plane.  I want to plug my iPhone in and drag and drop the PDF into a folder that I can open on the phone and read the PDF document.  Even this simplest of scenarios cannot be done…not because the technology isn’t capable of it…no, simply because the Recording Industry caused my phone to be hobbled to avoid copying MP3’s.  The supreme court has ruled that this is legal in the Betamax case.  In short, if a device has shown that it can be used for non-copyright infringement purposes, the manufacturer cannot be held liable if a consumer does engage in copyright infringement… thus the device can be allowed to live and be produced.  So Sony won against the Medias attempt to squash VHS’s.  Of course the VHS video rental market turned into a huge bonanza for the Motion Picture industry…but that never stopped them from resisting changes that benefited them before.

We get lazy, it’s human nature, things are pretty good.  But don’t fall asleep, wake up, we all need to continue to fight for our freedom or others will gradually and progressively rob it from us.  We have inherited a democracy, but our laziness is a slap in the face of our founding fathers, who shucked off the tyranny of oppressive incumbents.

Vote with your wallet.  Don’t buy any Apple products…I’ve been through the whole bad nightmare of it myself.  First I wanted to program in Ruby on Rails as it seemed a nice alternative to J2EE…well Textmate seemed to be the best tool for development of it and it only ran on Mac so I bought a MacBook.  I wanted to listen to my music in my living room so I bought an AirPort…but for some reason it was quite intermittent, so I ended up buying an AirPort extreme to see if that would help…it didn’t.  All it was, was an over priced router…like think 3X what it should cost.  This is the kind of lock in companies like Apple strive for.  An iMac, or several later (sorry family I know it seemed cool, but I repent as the family techno leader, I failed you too).  Between myself and family members, I’m sure we spent upwards of $20,000.00 to participate in the Apple family.  MobileMe, etc…

I should join or start AA…Apple Anonymous!  Anyway, please don’t be suckered in like I was.  They are great freer alternatives.  Ubuntu is excellent, Android is excellent.  Both underpinned by a rock-solid free(dom) OS, Linux.  You can sync your contacts through Google (see you later MobileMe, you suck hard!).  Here are some things I want you to try to do:

  • Try to rescue your Address Book from Apple land…its freaking hard!  Easy to put in, hard to get out.  Forget about syncing with google or something else.  My contacts are mine, it should be easy to move them around etc…
  • Try to free your email from Apple Mail…it may be impossible…I haven’t even tried.  It should be simple and free and obvious.

All these things should be free simple and obvious…but they are not because none of the evil corporations (Apple, Microsoft, Oracle) want it that way.  But there are freedom fighters out there.  Google seems pretty darn good at the moment.  Ubuntu, is a pretty good distribution of Linux.  Of course these guys are based off the grand-daddy of Open Source GNU/Linux.

Freedom is a long road, and we need people who understand what is at work in the world.  Otherwise, we’ll pay for it, in spiraling debt and higher taxes.  We need our privacy and freedom.

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12 Responses to The corporate attack on freedom

  1. Aaron says:

    Wow, you make it sound like you where forced to buy apple products at gun point. Here’s a tip, if your wireless don’t work so well, don’t just buy a more expensive product then complain it still doesn’t work so well. Figure out what’s wrong.

    Doesn’t matter which side your a fanboy for, a fanboy is a fanboy.

    • Agreed, figuring out what is wrong is a great thing to do if you have time for it…lucky you.

      I’d suggest you avoid words like ‘fanboy’. Really, it’s just a put down. Maybe you can articulate what upsets you and why…instead of labeling. It’s cliche, and doesn’t let me understand you very well…which is why I assume you are posting??? What triggers you in the article to be lazy, and whip out the fanboy slander?

  2. kore says:

    I do agree with you that we should vote with our money to help companies that allow us the most freedom when it comes to managing our data. But I don’t think we should expect business to be much of a driver for freedom by themselves and Google is business too.

    Google currently does have a way of doing business that makes Gates, Larry and Jobs look like the “axis of evil” in comparison. Googles Sergey Brin is not your typical businessman. Once Isreali media asked him how he could tolerate that searching Google for “holocaust” would return links to pages that deny the holocaust. Although a jew himself his answer was that it is more important that the user believes in the integrity of the search engine – that all pages are run through the same algorithm. If he had been a traditional economist, managent/marketing trained fella instead of a physicist he would have made sure that any business you engange in with Google would have inproved your own websites ranking on Google rather than only providing adwords. Integrity would have had no importance except to the degree that the lack of it would hurt business. But one day Google will have new leadership and then they have the potential to violate our privacy on a scale that exceeds the harm that we currently suffer from the “axis of evil”.

    When the “axis of evil” create patent pools to build and protect monopolies they hurt you and me as consumers by limiting our options and slowing down innovation but to their defence their methods are sanctioned by the US politicians who allow software patents.

    • Couldn’t agree more…we have to be vigilant as citizens of this world and not be lulled asleep…to be caught unaware, and realize we are in a nasty pickle. All I can recommend is to learn as much as you can, have as much fun learning as possible…realize that you are the elite of the technorati and we are poised to help this world more than most, being technically savvy. You have probably been very fortunate in your life. A safe home, good schooling from pre-school, through Uni. Take that knowledge, help create tech products that will free up the world. Did you know there are some folks creating their own cell phone network??? They have a spare mac book and a few other pieces of cheap hardware and off you go…isn’t that so cool! Take this technology and set ourselves and our brothers and sisters free with it! What better testament to your life could you make??? Reply sent from Ho Chi Minh city! Enjoy life gang, be nice to yourselves and each other, and lets make this planet rocking good fun!

  3. Andy says:

    Yeah, you found a place where you to find a freedom. I tired from such bastards in my office, they CAN NOT do some tasks because they want to use only Ubuntu. I have to fire such technical zealots.

  4. Andy says:

    Ok, you didn’t like something in some product is ok, but why you have to make thing from it. It is already all decided for you. Android is here and you can buy relax. Anyway
    most innovations comes from commercial business. Only later someone copy and wanted to make it free because it is his only chance to succeed.

    But it is its war Google or other Open Source author why we need you?!

    • Sorry, Andy, I didn’t quite understand the point you are trying to make…though thanks for making an effort in not your first language…

      All I can understand from your post is a defending of corporations and the use of proprietary software as you feel it can better accomplish the tasks you need to do at your company…

      ‘Zealot’… hmmm… sometimes I wonder if people throw around words too easily…using other operating systems is fun, it liberating… if you need to fire people because of it…that’s pretty serious… I mean people have families to feed, etc…, I wonder why you couldn’t find some compromise… Maybe you are in fact the ‘Zealot’ here??? Whats that old saying…usually the things we hate are things that we dislike about ourselves… I can relate… I work for one of the largest software companies in the world and am often not proud of their stance…but isn’t life filled with ironies??? Lets all just try to do our best and be as good as we can while having fun doing it?

  5. Ted Wise says:

    – Contacts are exported from the Address Book as vCards. Open Standard. If you want to keep them in sync with Google, use Google’s address book sync tool ( Before you export them the address book records are stored in a sqlite database, which is an open source tool. You’re free to move the file around if you want to.
    – Email is exported as mbox. Unix Standard. Before you export them the emails are flat files.

    You seem to equate openness with whether something interfaces with Google. That’s not open, that’s lock-in to a different vendor.

    Before you throw around Android being open you should take a look at the landscape that Apple created and that Android is mutating. Apple gave the world the first phone that gave a crap about the consumer and wasn’t a telecom vendor locking down features and shoving junk down your throat.

    Android is reversing that trend. Telecoms are using the “openness” of Android to start up their dirty bag of tricks again. Thanks Android.

    • Thanks for the info about the contacts and email Ted. Could you elaborate on what these dirty tricks are that the telecoms are doing? I’m 100% with you on the crap that the telecoms try bend us over barrels for. WTF is it with text messaging!?!? Why can I text without a data plan? Why is data roaming a million times more expensive than voice roaming…just to lock us into thecrap that is text messaging. I hope that the folks over at OpenBTS get their efforts documented super clearly so ordinary folk can start setting up competing cell phone towers to the telco’s and we can hope for real freedom on the mobile internet.

  6. Nick says:

    I won’t go for a Android-based product, because Google is at least as hostile as Apple.
    Android apps are reported to send user data to 3rd party companies without users being aware of that. I don’t like that.
    What good are new Android releases, if my phone isn’t updated to the new version or cannot take advantage of the new features?
    The hardware specs are so different between Android phones, that I doubt interoperability is a given.
    I don’t believe the “Google does no evil” mantra any more.
    I’m not an Apple fanboy. I want just stuff that works without hacking. That’s where Apple delivers.
    Just my 2 cts.

    • My recommendation is to only install very popular software on your Android phone…if you try every app in the App market, sure you might get one that sends your private data to some other company…so ensure the software product is an open source product so other engineers can review the code and ensure that it isn’t hostile like that.

      Although, I’m not American, I love their distrust of government. This same basic mistrust must be extended to all companies too. At least all the Android software is open source, so anyone can inspect it to see if it is good or not. If you want to live in the Apple fiefdom and pay homeage to his highness Steve Jobs for over priced hardware, software, voice and data charges…go ahead. But there are a lot of people who can’t afford to join the selfish elite that live in the Apple fiefdom…and mobile is truly the platform that poorer people can adopt..

      I’m really glad that Apple took mobile computing to it’s next logical step…it was a nice big step…but lets keep accelerating that progress and drive down the corporate gouging, and have a heck of a lot of fun helping the world out of this mess we’ve got ourselves into!

      As for the different specs…it’s a blessing as well. Look what happened in the past with IBM versus Macintosh. You could buy Macintosh proprietary hardware for a premium or you could buy cheap PC compatibles. At the heart of all of this for me is economics. I want the best technology in the most hands…and this means driving down cost…so if there is a little incompatibility here and there in the Android platform…as much as existed in the PC world…or kind of like the fracture in the Linux world…I’m totally okay with that…at least I’ve got choice…and Ubuntu is a pretty cool distribution of Linux… So if you want to fork over a ton of cash for the top end Android handset…on par with prices for the iPhone4 go ahead… but if you are like me… I just bought Huawei, Ideos, for ~ $250(US) with NO CONTRACT! Clear-title, and the freedom to choose which evil Teleco to pay homage to.

      BTW: I don’t hack my Android AT ALL. Just read a website that recommended some apps, and got a few app recommendations from my friends, and am a happy Android user for now.

      I don’t know why you don’t believe ‘Google does no evil’…can people point to some evil stuff Google is doing…maybe I’m just ignorant of it…I know Tim Bray alludes to some…can anyone high light it. BTW, Google has a giant capacity to do evil (in filtering and otherwise playing with their search results ordering)…but are they exercising their evil options like our other friends at MAO (Microsoft, Apple, Oracle)?

  7. googleTv says:

    Thank you my friend 😉

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