To Partner or Not To Partner


It’s been a while since I did a blog posting.  The day job’s got to come first, and I’ve been extremely busy.  But as the weeks have turned into months, and as blog comments have started to say things like “What happened to MikeCal?” it’s clear that I need to try to squeeze some writing in. 


It seems that people don’t fully understand the fundamental difference between how we at Microsoft develop products compared to how some of our very famous competitors do.  The main difference comes from deciding whether to work with partners or whether to “go it alone.”  There are obvious benefits to “going it alone” and there are obvious difficulties with having partners.  But there are also benefits to partners and difficulties to going it alone.  These things might not be as obvious to people outside the industry, so I’ll try to explain the pros and cons of both sides.



What’s a “Partner,” anyway?


We need to make a distinction between “partners” and “vendors.”   A vendor is someone you buy something from.   Everyone in the phone industry works with vendors.   No one drills their own oil so that they can refine it into their own plastics, etc.  Most people buy the majority of their phone’s components, the CPU, the RAM, the battery, the screen, etc. from vendors.  There are usually multiple competing vendors that sell similar items, so you can often switch vendors without too much difficulty.


A partner, on the other hand, is someone you share responsibility with.   You may or may not buy something from the partner, but the relationship tends to be more complex than with vendors.  Think of the differences between your coworkers and the store down the street.  The store is a vendor.  Your coworkers (hopefully) are partners.  Partners tend to be on somewhat even footing with you.  You can’t really order them about, the way you can a vendor.   And you usually share the making of some decisions with them. 



It’s good to be King


The main advantage to “going it alone” (not having partners) is that you get to make all the important decisions yourself.  This usually results in a very consistent product and, if quality is a goal, can result in a high quality one too.  While consistency and quality are their own rewards, consumers also like knowing who to blame when things go wrong.   People rightfully get frustrated when one company says, “That’s the other guy’s problem.”  This doesn’t happen if there is no “other guy.”



Variety: The Spice Of Life


Where going it alone brings consistency, the main benefit to partners is variety.  Windows mobile has around 40 OEMs making phones.  That allows us to bring a huge variety of devices to customers.  We have flip phones, candy bar phones, QWERTY keyboard phones, phones with sliders, phones that look like small laptops, phones with touch screens, phones for the vision impaired, phones that cost $600.  Phones that cost $300.  Phones that cost $150.  Phones that are free with a contract.  Phones for the European market.  Phones for the United States.  Phones for China.  Phones for Africa.  Phones for South America.  Etc.


A “go it alone” company will eventually have some variety.  They may have two or three phones.  If they’re enormous they might have ten to twenty.  But forty companies will always make a wider variety of things than one will. 


Partners also allow variety in what the phone can do.  For instance, some of our phones have video teleconferencing.  That’s a feature provided by a partner, not us.  You can lose some consistency when different people develop different parts of the OS.  For instance, the UI for video teleconferencing doesn’t look quite the same as the rest of the phone’s UI.  But, given the choice between an inconsistent UI with video teleconferencing and no teleconferencing at all, many users will choose to have the feature.  And, here’s the variety thing again, if you’d rather no teleconferencing than teleconferencing with an inconsistent UI, we have phones with no teleconferencing too.



It’s also lonely being King


The downside to going it alone is that you have to do everything yourself.  You can say things like, “What we do, we do better,” but that only plays with the people who happen to want the few models of phones you create.  To some people, having a slider phone is more important than any amount of consistent UI.  For other people, having the UI be in their native language is more important than a perfectly consistent one in a language they don’t speak.  People are different, and different people want different things.



And some spices are bad


One of the downsides to variety is that you can also get variety in quality.  We’ve had a number of rock solid devices that have worked wonderfully.   We’ve had some real duds (names withheld to protect the guilty).   And we’ve had a range of devices in between.  Even when we’ve had more great devices than a “go it alone” company has, the bad devices will always paint us in a worse light. 


Another of the downsides is that different partners don’t always have the same priorities.  One might think quality is most important while the other thinks that price is.  One might value a consistent interface while the other has customers who find a particular feature to be a much bigger deal.  When there are multiple partners involved, it usually shows.


And, when different people are responsible for different parts of a phone, you don’t know where to go when something doesn’t work.  I know firsthand how frustrated you folks get when we say, “We didn’t write that code, so we can’t fix it.” 



Walking down the middle of the street


Going it alone or going with partners are both valid approaches to the problem of shipping products.  But they’re separate solutions.  You might be tempted to suggest we do a combination of the two strategies.   I’ve seen people say, “Why can’t you be more like them?” to which I reply, “But you’re using a Russian language flip phone, and they don’t have anything like that.”  Their reply is usually, “Yeah, do everything you’re currently doing, but also be more like them.”  Trouble is, we’re able to do the things we do because we have partners.   If we didn’t have partners, we’d lose the variety that people want.  Others have suggested that we should keep our partners, but also make our own perfectly consistent product.  However, that’s like walking down the middle of the street.  You’re guaranteed to be run over by a car.  Every time it’s been tried (and it’s been tried many times by many people) it’s resulted in the partners leaving.  Who wants to compete with the company you’re relying on to provide a significant part of your phone?  At that point, it’s just a roundabout way of becoming a “go it alone” player. 


There have been comments here that say things like, “You should force your partner to do X.”  What those comments are really saying, though, is “You should use vendors, not partners.”  We do have a set of requirement that we make our partners pass before we’ll let them call their devices “Windows Mobile.”  But, by their nature, we can only push our partners so far.  Otherwise, they’re not partners. 



Microsoft’s stance


So what’s Microsoft’s stance on partners?  It varies from division to division.  The desktop OS division is the basis for the entire partner model, and they’re one of the most successful products ever invented.  On the other hand, Zune is doing the “go it alone” model and has seen some good initial success.  Xbox is one of the rare places that is somewhere in between.  The hardware is almost entirely “go it alone” but it relies heavily on partners for software (games). 


Windows Mobile is firmly in the partner model.  We’re sometimes frustrated with some of the things our partners do, and our partners can be equally frustrated with some of the things we do.  But we strongly believe that the worldwide phone space is one where variety is crucial.  I’d be very surprised to see that change anytime in the future.


Mike Calligaro


 


Comments (36)

  1. Mike,

    That’s a very mature post, and much appreciated.

  2. HR says:

    Good post.

    Any hints to the future of WinMo?

  3. Jaapjan says:

    On an unrelated note, perhaps someone on the mobile team could demonstrate the workings of a (very small) ebook reader made in c#? Especially since MS is planning on stopping Reader in Mobile 6.

    The main interest being either standard controls, Gapi or DDraw for displaying the book.. and getting the text to fit without too much overhead on the pocketpc given the variable width of truetype fonts?

  4. I think the frustration I have with Windows Mobile is simple:

    My phone is great.  I have the O2 XDA Mini S (An HTC model) and will be upgrading to Kaiser soon.  The Kaiser has GPS, 3G, a decent camera with auto focus, Mini SD, TouchFLO, Windows Live built in, Windows Office suite built in, auto sync, push email, a querty keyboard (but also a stylus and the ability to use the finger through touchFLO), video conferencing through a second camera…..

    ….What else could I need?

    The problem is marketing.  That’s my problem with Windows Mobile, and the problem with purely a partner based business.  There is no marketing for your phones.  As in, none, unless maybe you pick up a PDA magazine.

    What I see every day, in the cinema, on television, in newspapers, on billboards is Xbox 360 adverts.  If I’m in the US, no doubt I’d see Zune adverts.

    Now I know my new phone is better and more capable than nearly every other phone out there and yet what phone is everyone talking about right now???

    Maybe MS should invest in some decent advertising, either with their partners ("Buy the HTC Kaiser") or without ("Windows Mobile can do all this, for a list of devices visit…..").

    My problem with Windows Mobile is that nobody knows how good it is.  And that is an actual problem for you.

  5. solnyshok says:

    such a long post about different philosophies of Apple and Microsoft, and you did not mention iphone even once. Brilliant.

  6. MikeCal says:

    HR:

    I should probably do a blog entry on why we don’t talk about unannounced features or what’s in uncoming releases.  The short answer, though, is that sorry, we can’t tell you anything more than that we’re working on the next version.

    Jaapjan:

    I don’t think we have any samples that show how to do an ebook reader.  But I wouldn’t use either GAPI or DDraw for it.  I’d use the standard C# text controls through GDI.  Ebooks, by their nature, don’t need fast screen updates, so DDraw wouldn’t really help.

    You should check out http://www.mobipocket.com though.  Their ebook reader is everything that ours would have been if we had continued with it.  Highly recommended.  

    Alastair:

    In a past blog entry I made the suggestion that markers and developers might not actually be the same species.  I certainly don’t understand how they work.  (-:  I appreciate that you enjoy your device though.

    solnyshok:

    Great to hear from you, solnyshok.  I still see people reading entries I wrote years ago.  And I have no idea what Apple will be doing years from now.  So I figured I could keep this entry relevant longer if I kept the subject general.  

    Mike

  7. urluckytime says:

    Very informing post, and a very clean way to look at competition and partnering.  I hope you keep posting more.

  8. Dantv says:

    I’m not so sure about partners anymore….The "go it alone" company’s products are so damn good that they completely dominate everything made by all the partners put together. They will be the market leader in the phone market just like they steamrolled the mp3 player market. The product is just that good and it’s version 1.0….

  9. Atlana says:

    nice post, i’ve been stumbling over this dev-blog via artechnica.com as it was reporting over a 40%+ drop in "PDA sales worldwide".

    I discussed that article w. my better half (my wife who’s also a geek) and we came to the conclusion that the average Joe out there doesnt seem to be able to "connect the dots" in terms of what is possible in technology terms. Yes sure HTC has devices that go from 500 USD to 1,000 USD that do what i want (or cost even more) in a form of a PDA-phone/smartphone.

    But i’ve chosen a different path (after i’ve given my iPAQ 1945 to my wife), i’ve now an iPAQ hx2495b which links up to my SAMSUNG SGH-a707/SYNC cell (a HSDPA quad phone) and as keyboard a Laser-Projection keyboard (no mechanical failure possible).

    yes they are independent units that communicate via bluetooth v1.7/2.0 – but as a sum they’re more capable, AND cheaper and I dont have a "brick" on my cheek to make phonecalls (granted i use a JABRA  bluetooth earpiece, as the SGH-a707 cellphone can handle multiple bluetooth devices linked-up simultaniously).

    But what i love on my PocketPC – i can play complex games (age of empire, Argentum), watch movies (TCPMP) of all formats, read PDFs/ebooks (ok my cell can read PDFs too, damn fast even), have full email suite, Internet (thx to OPERA MOBILE, as the Pocket-IE is very limited in many aspects). Thanks to my HSDPA cellphone, i’ve highspeed internet where i live (between 300kbits and 3.2 mbits). Why is it so difficult to people to "connect the dots" ? and why are suddenly vendors/OEMs dropping off the PDA market and running lemmings-like for the smartphones?

    In my humble opinion each device by itself specialized is a lot more capable and versatile than those "all-in-one-wonder"-bricks. i cant see a TyTN handle a 1.6 gigs encoded movie as XVID encoded AVI-container. Or play Age Of Empire AND *live-stream* my favorite music from DI.FM site in 192 kbit/s(being a subscriber). Most of those smartphones dont have enough horsepower to do all that.

    Yes i see that "down the road" the convergence between  input device, PDA and cellphones, but what i see at the current state of technologies, it’s not "ripe" enough. Maybe when we get to that point that’s being showcased by NEC as P-ISM (see http://www.wave-report.com/other-html-files/P-ISM%202%20PICS%201.htm) where every component as a pen-like serves different functions.

    bottomline, i’ve chosen a PDA/PocketPC because of it’s multifunctional diversity and expansion capabilities.

    Speaking of, does any of you guys know if HP intends to make a WM 6.0 upgrade of WM 5.0 devices? (namely the hx2400 and hx2700 series?) from my understanding it’s using the same RAM/persistent memory/HW architecture.

    cheers

    Atlana

  10. mirekluza says:

    @Danty:

    You wrote:

    "I’m not so sure about partners anymore….The "go it alone" company’s products are so damn good that they completely dominate everything made by all the partners put together. They will be the market leader in the phone market just like they steamrolled the mp3 player market. The product is just that good and it’s version 1.0…."

    I do not want to start a flame war but that is plain nosense and I cannot stop myself from reacting on it. The unnamed 🙂 company makes very stylish and very expensive product. They will make a lot of money of it. The people who want just a stylish "feature phone" will like it (I guess my wife would do – she has no use for the versatility of the Windows Mobile phone). But even many of those who want a "feature phone" will rather choose a cheaper phone (the not mentioned company makes its super stylish products quite expensive for what they are capable of doing…).

    But in any case it is no competition for Windows Mobile. I take Symbian as far more serious contenter. But that is another thing.

    Mirek

  11. Dantv says:

    @Mirek:

    Don’t worry, I don’t do flame wars. Anyway your wrote:

    "But in any case it is no competition for Windows Mobile"

    Well let’s look at sales figures:

    http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9034219&source=rss_news10

    Who is going to own this market by this time next year? That’s my point….

  12. MikeCal says:

    I’ll go out on a limb and predict who will own this market by this time next year.  Just as today, it will be Symbian.  

    I don’t think you folks realize just how enormously huge Nokia is in this space.  Windows Mobile, RIM, Linux, iPhone, we’re all tiny compared to them.  We’re growing fast–faster than they are–but we’re still tiny.  

    As for whether Apple will kill us by next year, that’s unlikely.  We really do have different customer bases and our products really aren’t at all competitive for each other’s customers.  Make no doubt about it, Apple is gunning for Nokia not us.  The risk they pose to us is further down the road when either they decide to go after business users or we decide to go after consumers.  That will be a more … interesting … conflict.

    Mike

  13. CompleteIdiot says:

    Whoa, nice writeup.

    After reading this, my only thought was that the ‘partners’ don’t really push the new platforms(I’m looking at you, Dell!). I mean, the Axim x51 has more than enough grunt to handle the newer OS – my XDA Mini S can handle it quite well….forget I said that last bit.

    Anyway, the only option for WM to be a mainstream OS is to give the OEM less control over the features. Define VGA as the basic res. for PPCs for starters. Don’t get me wrong, I have used the iPhone, but after the novelty of the UI wears off, I’d rather prefer WM’s utilitarian interface. Oh, and please try to improve Pocket IE’s speed and capabilities.

  14. Arne Lovius says:

    so is the failure to receive an MMS (spoof the internet APN and connect to the WAP APN after receiving the SMIL file over SMS) when a WM5 phone is using Direct Push, a Microsoft issue, or a partner issue ?

  15. MikeCal says:

    Arne, the Mobile Operator is responsible for sending the MMS.  The radio stack that handles all cellular data connections is provided by the radio manufacturer.  The MMS client is provided by the OEM (usually subcontracted to an ISV).  And DirectPush is provided by Microsoft.  Any of the above, or a combination of them, could be responsible for the problem you’re describing (I’m not personally aware of it, but I don’t use MMS).

    If the MO is failing to send the MMS, then it’s them.  If radio stack is failing to allow MMS data to come in while GPRS data is going, then it’s them.  If the MMS is arriving, but the MMS Client is failing to show it to you, it’s them.  If the Direct Push is doing something incorrect that’s interfering with one of the above, then it’s us.  

    Mike

  16. Dreamsoft says:

    Well Mike, i think Microsoft should spend some extra money on advertising WM phones. There is a TV, Magazines, Newspapers. I am a developer from Bulgaria and on my question for lack of advertisements for WM from Microsoft on development seminar in Sofia city, one Microsoft guy tell me that Taiwan or China’s Microsoft office take all laurels from selling WM OS on local manifacturers like HTC or Samsung. Why is that? I think Microsoft is a one company and should’n have any competitions between separate offices. That is wrong tactic by me.

    And sorry for my english…

    Grigor Georgiev

    Dreamsoft

    Bulgaria

  17. Mark Moeller says:

    I’m trying to remember the last truely revelutionary product that was designed by a committee.  

    Excellence does not come through compromise.

  18. MikeCal says:

    Every non-trivial product was designed by a committee.  Every space ship.  Every car.  Every building.  Every OS.  And every product ever created has been defined by compromise.  The iPhone compromised data speed (EDGE instead of 3G) for ship date.  The Wii compromised visual fidelity for unit cost.  The Ferrari Enzo compromised availability (almost no one could buy one) for coolness.  

    Everyone compromises.  Every day on the way to work, you compromise your freedom to run down pedestrians against your desire to live in a society where people don’t run down pedestrians.  There’s nothing wrong with compromise.  And, I’ll argue, most of the excellence in the world has been a result of compromise.  The devices that try not to compromise, that try to be everything for everyone, are usually the ones that fail.  

    Mike

  19. Mark Moeller says:

    Well spoken.  It is interesting to note that the specific areas of compromise noted are seen as clear weaknesses of the products by common measures.  Not something pointing the product toward excellence.  Though, these compromises do facilitate excellence in other areas to exist.  I suppose excellence in choosing which compromises to make is the key. That gets back to leadership and how those choices are made.  I guess we let the market speak the rest of the story and learn from it.

  20. JohnCz says:

    The reason that Apple is winning the PR battle is that they are implementing "connected entertainment" faster/better than Microsoft has been able to.  For all the talk about partners, I think this is the major issue that Microsoft needs to address.  I have some simple ideas that would make Windows Mobile a much more compelling and better dual life (business/personal) scenario device…

    – Let Windows Mobile access Live Skydrive to access content such as music, photos and videos.  That way device costs are reduced by minimizing local storage requirements, minimize end user device/pc syncing and give them access to their entire collection.

    – Let Windows Mobile access Windows Home Server for all the same reasons mentioned in the previous suggestion.

    – For Zune users, develop mobile version of Zune software that allows them access to Zune Store and be able to purchase/download content to Live Skydrive/Windows Home Server.  The device shouldn’t be involved in the download process but rather direct where Zune service should save that content.

    – Keep open platform design so that other content stores could do the same thing as the Zune suggestion above.  Allowing them to save content directly to Live SkyDrive/Windows Home Server.

    – For Media Center users, develop a way for Media Center to downsize/transcode recorded content and pushed to Live SkyDrive

    – Make Wifi standard requirement for WM devices

    There are other ideas but these are the basic one that would tie together Microsoft assets and bring a truly connect entertainment experience…even to business customers.  No doubt, the disparity between what Apple is offering and Windows Mobile would be greatly reduced.  You guys don’t have to do a ZunePhone to accomplish this.

  21. padengo says:

    Hi Mike,

    Interesting insights on Partners vs Vendors, and Not to Partner, etc.

    Having worked in the Telecommunications industry for over seven years, now with Ericsson International, which obviously is a vendor however also has its own vendors, I am quite oblivious on how a typical OEM vs Software manufacture relationship works in the technology industry and MS in particular. Please through more light.

    Also is an OEM similar to an OEM distributor? (Please excuse my ignorance)

    How would a Business Analyst support the OEM segment in a region at MS?

    Patrick

  22. Mick says:

    An interesting, somewhat related, article….

    http://www.smartdevicecentral.com/article/Analysis+Windows+Mobile+Still+Lacks+Polish/215593_1.aspx

    Any comments Mike?

    Cheers for your insights!

  23. MikeCal says:

    JohnCz:

    Thanks for your suggestions.

    padengo:

    It generally works like this.  MS writes an OS and a number of applications, then sells that to a phone manufacturer (OEM).  The OEM designs a piece of hardware and writes the hardware specific parts of the OS (the drivers, etc).  They then go to Mobile Operators and get a set of requirements.  Those requirements are usually for extra app things ("It’s got to have these java games" etc).  The OEM gets those extras onto the device and then sells it to the Mobile Operator (MO).  The MO then turns around and sells it to end users.  

    Sometimes the OEM is actually two companies, an ODM and an OEM.  But that gets somewhat complicated.

    Mick:

    I disagree with many of the things that article says, especially its calling WM6 "bloated."  I think that’s a term people throw around for Microsoft products simply because they know they can get away with it even when it doesn’t apply.

    Case in point, the article calls us "bloated" and then spends a significant chunk of time complaining that we don’t have the complete office experience from the desktop on a phone.  Those two statements are at odds.  "Bloat" equals "features."  Should we have features or not?

    The other issues he describes really aren’t the fault of a partner model.  Our current devices don’t do full screen 640×480 video well because doing so requires hardware support, and we prioritized other features more highly than hardware video support.  Apple does have hardware video support, and, as a result they do full screen high def video better than we do.  But that’s not a result of them doing it all in house and us having partners.  That’s a result of them going after a user base that prioritizes full screen video.  My main customers would tell Apple, "Why are you wasting your time on full screen video while you’re leaving my corporate secrets completely open to theft?"  This one is about Prioritization, not Partners.

    Mike

  24. Joe says:

    "Every time it’s been tried (and it’s been tried many times by many people) it’s resulted in the partners leaving."

    That’s pretty interesting. And I guess it lets you know what Microsoft really thinks of PlaysForSure devices (including, come to think of it, Windows Mobile devices…).

  25. MikeCal says:

    Joe, the backlash against Microsoft for doing a non-Plays For Sure Zune is a prime example of what I’m talking about.  

    Mike

  26. Mark says:

    One thing I’ve always been curious about is – why doesn’t Windows Mobile go after consumers more? Why is most of the focus on businesses?

    As the Razr and iPhone proved, people are willing to spend up to what a high-end Pocket PC Phone costs to have a hot device. Why hasn’t more emphasis been given to the consumer side?

    Or is that coming in the future, hopefully near future? I have owned Windows Mobile devices since WM2003, and am just about done because I really would like a consumer-oriented device, being a consumer I like some pomp and flash and style. I don’t need to have my phone locked down remotely because my company is not paying for it, and I like video ringers because they’re great at a party.

  27. Cep says:

    Microsoft is a important vendor

  28. Maggy says:

    I agree with several other writers that Microsoft marketing isn’t doing enough to promote Windows Mobile. Most people I meet in the Netherlands own a cell phone. And by far most of them hardly know what a PDA is, let alone a WM6 smartphone or XDA. Yes, they know Nokia. And most of them have heard of iPhone, although most think that it’s just a designer phone with music/podcast capabilities.

    Those people I know who actually own a WM device were ALL inspired by communities like buzzdev.net and xda-developers.com. None were convinced by any kind of Microsoft publicity. I believe  both MS WM department and HTC owe a great deal to the xda-dev community.

    I’m very sorry however that MS still sees us as "just a bunch of hackers spreading illegal copies of WM".

    All right, we were never authorized by MS to create and distribute our own versions of the WM ROMs, quite the contrary. MS forced us to remove all ROMs except official public releases from the ftp site.

    We all paid for our devices. You can buy a PC clone with no OS installed, but that’s not true for XDA’s. So all XDA users paid for their OS. I honestly do not understand why it should be illegal to upgrade it with a custom built ROM. Yes, there is MS code inside. Yes, there probably are some (very few) people who would buy a new XDA to upgrade their OS. But they still do it and wouldn’t bother to download a ROM from xda-dev.

    So IMHO you can’t compare running a cleary illegal, stolen XP or Vista with running a hacked ROM on XDA.

    OTOH xda-dev is a very dynamic, very inspiring community where you can see total noobs grow into experienced programmers in a matter of months. Leading to lots of excellent software. Created by individuals by the way, not committees. Individuals with a listening ear to the end-users, something I can not always say about MS.

  29. Senatu says:

    @MikeCal

    [quote]Every non-trivial product was designed by a committee.  Every space ship.  Every car.  Every building.  Every OS. [/quote]

    Most laws of physics were discovered by individuals, from Eureka and a2+b2=c2 up to Bohr’s model of the atom, E=mc2, the DNA double helix…

    The Diesel engine, the telescope, the microscope, the pneumatic tyre… I can continue summing up non-trivial products developed by a single person forever.

    All right, Wozniaks computer-in-a-wooden-box would never have made it to the market without Jobs. Either Rolls or Royce wouldn’t have been able to found Rolls Royce on their own. Can you call that committees?

    Every building? C’mon, give me a break. Maybe every modern high rise building in the US. But the pyramids, the Colosseum, the cathedrals, all the way up to most modern European buildings are the work of a single architect, not a committee.

    Every OS? If you do not own a modern history book, you could check Wikipedia. CP/M by Gary Kildall, MS-DOS, originally  QDOS, single handed work by Tim Paterson, Linux by Linus Torvalds.

    [quote]The Ferrari Enzo compromised availability (almost no one could buy one) for coolness.  [/quote]

    Ferrari wanted to build THE most exclusive car. That’s not a compromise, it’s called a choice, a decision.

  30. MikeCal says:

    Senatu, there’s a difference between there being a single leader ultimately being responsible for getting the job done and a single guy doing all the work.  

    No one actually knows how the pyramids were buildt, but most people assume it was an effort undertaken by thousands of people.  

    Linus might have done enough of the original design of linux to have it named after him, but do you really think he’s making every decision that goes into the product?  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people involved in its creation.  And those people aren’t just typing the things Linus tells them to.  They’re making real decisions on their own about how the system should be designed.

    Can you really say that modern European buildings are ENTIRELY designed by ONE person?  Everything, from the choice of location to the building materials to the height of the building to the size of the rooms to color of the walls to the exact shape of the door knobs?  One guy?  No input from the customer?  No choice delegated to any subordinate?  No point where a subcontractor couldn’t come through and they had to go to another, which forced them to change some detail?

    Mike

  31. Senatu says:

    May I remind you of your words:

    [quote]Every non-trivial product was designed by a committee.  Every space ship.  Every car.  Every building.  Every OS. [/quote]

    In your answer you ignore most of my points that are IMHO VERY non-trivial. If you want I can give you thousands of similar examples. History books, science books, encyclopedias, the list of Nobel Prize winners all are full of the achievements of individuals. Committees hardly play any role in human history.

    The first pyramid, the step pyramid at Saqquara for pharao Djoser was absolutely entirely up to the tiniest detail designed by the pharao’s brother Senefer, who was later been given the status of god and who was what we would now call the patron saint of all Egyptian architects.

    Of course all the pyramids were BUILT by thousands of people but as far as we know each pyramid had one single architect. Did Eiffel put a single rivet in the Eiffel tower? No way. Did he do all the drawings and calculations by himself? You bet.

    In case of the architects: either government decides that a piece of land is going to be a construction site or the buyer of the ground asks for a license to build, in any case long before even selecting an architect.

    Door knobs do seem rather trivial to me.

    The camel is a horse created by a committee

  32. cep says:

    %25 leadership

    %25 teamwork

    %25 equipment

    %25 knowledgebase

  33. BlueAugust says:

    So, WHERE’S THE COMMITTEE THAT WOULD DO THE MARKETING STRATEGY for Windows Mobile devices?  

  34. guna says:

    i develop stuff for winmobile and a wince device developer.

    i beleive this topic is not much about tech stuff, much on marketting.

    coming to the point: i would blame Microsoft on the whole thing and not the manufacturers. After all mfrs just try to make some Winmobile device; it is not like Nokia S60 where they make S60 device and use Symbian platform for this. Afa Winmobiles are concerned its about making a device for Winmobile software.

     Its not about the technical problem that Winmobile has, its about the usability(for which Microsoft wins desktop market). Can you really imagine poking the device to type a mail with that tiny SIP keypad, its really tough. I dont understand why folks at Microsoft prefer to design a device that resembles desktop PC. C’mon.

     I recently saw a leaked doc of Winmobile 7 Ui(dont question me for its authenticity) and there was a image showing MsWord 2007 look on the device. I know a few business people who use Winmobile; i knew that they have never in life launched office applications. Microsoft is spending time on things which people least use. In that picture, it shows Annual Report open in Word; pls dont try to convince people to type company’s Annual Report on 240×320 screen. All people need is just a document reader, no one is gonna edit/write office documents on mobilephone. May be if Microsoft still wishes to market their desktop products through winmobile: just name the single application as Office reader.

    I am a admirer of WinCE, but not Winmobile itself(though i dont advocate for latest device from some fruits company), all i would argue here is if Microsoft really thinks to make some usable devices with variety in mind: dont make the ui shell for winmobile yourself. Let the OEMs do it. Else if Microsoft beleives to have uniform UI across, please make the model standalone and give the devices yourself. Dont try to pretend varieties with same crap from across manufacturers.

  35. ghopper says:

    iPhone’s new price will be $199 and it offers pretty good enterprise services.

    With such agressive pricing from Apple, do you think HTC will follow and lower their prices? I’m looking into developing for mobile, but I’m not sure which platform to use now. Obviously I’d like to develop for the most popular platform.

    Do you think with Apple’s strategy, they will gain much more marketshare now?

  36. sam says:

    considering that ms is disappointed with the 18 million license total sale this year compared to a possible 10 mil from apple, i would think that wm is more popular.

    the thing that bother me the most about ms is that they have not manufactured their own phones. knowing how well their os will work in certain environments is an advantage the apple has at this time.

    it’s just a matter of time the ms will manufacture their own phones and destroy the iphone. the fact that the os from ms is more superior now is proof that the iphone does not have a chance if ms built their own phones.. just ask sony.

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