The Tablet Effect is Real

Canaries used to be taken into coal mines to detect accumulations of explosive gases. In the world of IT, the canary is an upstream supplier of components used to build gadgets. iSuppli has detected a huge oversupply of big RAM for those hair-driers. People are buying small cheap computers with a lot less RAM in them. Price drops for RAM are predicted to be about half over 2011 and two thirds since 2010. Meanwhile, RAM for mobile devices continues to ramp upwards. This does not bode well for Wintel which is anchored to hair-driers.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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29 Responses to The Tablet Effect is Real

  1. oldman wrote of LibreOffice, “It is to be fair, good enough for use by someone who only needs base functionality and doesnt need a personal database.”

    Exactly! LibreOffice has feature-bloat for most people’s needs. Why spend money on stuff that is not needed? I used to teach students about databasery and very few of them had any idea what a database was until they came to my class. Those folks would grow up to be adults in the real world with no need of a database most likely. In all my years teaching only a handful of my students had aspirations of a career that might involve using a database. Those were the ones most likely thinking of running their own business eventually. Still I showed them how to set up a MySQL database and to connect OpenOffice.org to it. It’s not very intuitive but it has become much easier than a few years ago. No more undocumented mumbo-jumbo… We merged an attendance database with our report cards last year. If I had stayed there, marks, mugshots etc. would all have worked by now. It’s not that difficult. There’s also flexibility. If you don’t like how LibreOffice handles databases, you can generate xml or text from the database and paste/insert it into LibreOffice. It’s all good. If the process is routine, the effort to create the procedure is amortized over many repetitions.

  2. oldman says:

    “Predicting libreoffice speed of catch on MS Office is going to be a little hard.”

    I dont think so Mr. oiaohm. I have downloaded and installed the new L—-Office and installed it under windows. Your so called new features amount to very little as far as I can see. The package still feels like office 97 and in terms of functionality. It is to be fair, good enough for use by someone who only needs base functionality and doesnt need a personal database. But it is no office. From what I can see itwill take man centuries of coordinated work to catch up with MS office if ever in the word, excel, and power point work-alike components. for the personal database component which barely has the functionality of access 2.0 the time to parity will probably be even longer.

  3. oiaohm says:

    Contrarian we have 3 major problems. With computers

    1) the non saturated markets are the poorest. Those markets also have the problem we can get not stats on them worth the darm to know what is going on.

    2) “The market for Windows OS and the market for Microsoft Office and the market for Microsoft Servers are all doing very well and increasing year over year as the overall economy improves.” There are a lot of signs that this is not 100 percent true.

    To move Microsoft Office 2010 more effectively MS has resorted to giving away Publisher with home and business here.

    In servers MS might have growth. http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2011/08/05/august-2011-web-server-survey-3.html But there is sign there is a problem. Remember nginx does not run on windows yet. So all the nginx numbers most likely are Linux. So very sooner Number 1 and Number 2 in Active sites could be FOSS tech fighting it out.

    3)financial results foolish dependancy. For microsoft to sell software the companies buying it have to make a profit. Right. Company using Linux has to make a profit as well. Microsoft is not the only company improving it state after the downturn. Redhat growth has not showed sign of slowing either.

    Also please forget that Microsoft has killed off many departments. So reducing costs so higher profits from doing that should be expected. Also Microsoft has been moving departments overseas to also reduce costs.

    Resources going into Linux development are still increasing.

    One of the big things that tells a tale is for years MS had zero debt. Today each report to the stock exchange you are seeing more debt taken out. Debt is exactly what a company does not want with the possibility of another downturn.

    Yes Contrarian there is a possibility that no company will have to beat Microsoft. That there own poor management takes themselves out. Finance reports to the stock exchange do suggest this possibility.

  4. In Canada it is a criminal offence to be able to predict the future.

  5. Contrarian says:

    It seems to me that I saw somewhere or other that most Fords sold in the USA were actually made in Canada. Ford was the one USA domestic maker that made it through the recession without a bankruptcy, acquisition, or bailout, though. Perhaps it is a bellwhether sort of thing that the #pogsons eschew Fords as they do Windows.

  6. Contrarian says:

    “They are selling $10 razors with $100 blades. They would be fine selling $1 blades.”

    I don’t think that is a very appropriate analogy, #pogson. A retail PC with a pre-installed Windows OEM license is much more akin to a disposable razor. It comes with a blade that you use until you feel like getting a new one and then you throw out the whole kitandkaboodle and get an new, fresh one to use.

    The same thing is true for phones and tablets. You can update the firmware, of course, but how many people actually do that? MP3 players, too. You buy the device, use it until you get tired of it, and you move on to a new toy.

    That is how it works in mass market commerce and consumers there really do not care a fig for how native tribes in the far corners of the earth look at economics. Maybe the Siamese are buying Linux in droves, maybe not. We do not have any reliable evidence that they are. They are currently not using Linux to any great degree, though; we do have reliable evidence of that although you deny it.

    What really tells the tale is the financial results of the companies that participate in those markets. That is where things will continue to happen and where you can tell for sure just what may be happening now and again in the future. The market for Windows OS and the market for Microsoft Office and the market for Microsoft Servers are all doing very well and increasing year over year as the overall economy improves. That is an inescapable fact.

    Some day it will all go away, I am sure, and something else will take its place. But not this year or next year or the year after that. When something does take its place, it will be a commercial market as well and it will not be Linux.

  7. The reason escapes me. My father bought a Ford in the 1950s. That was his last Ford. I have never bought a Ford and neither have my children. There are lots of other reasonable choices.

  8. Phenom says:

    Quote:
    Manufacturers are in a bind. They are selling $10 razors with $100 blades. They would be fine selling $1 blades.

    Pogson, again, there is a reason for people to purchase a ford, and not trabant.

  9. Exactly. The longevity of PCs make that other OS look good because the cost per annum is so small for the licence but the costs for patching and fighting malware is huge per annum. So, if you consider costs over the lifetime, small cheap computers running GNU/Linux or Android/Linux etc. make a lot of sense.

    Manufacturers are in a bind. They are selling $10 razors with $100 blades. They would be fine selling $1 blades.

    The end-point of this evolution is that suppliers of hardware and software will be supplying commodities that cost little but are valuable. The way to make a living doing so is to add value in services and optimizing efficiency. M$ has it backwards as does Intel and AMD. Google starting supplying services and is moving into hardware with a business model that kicks butt.

  10. oiaohm says:

    oldman you have messed my assumption up.
    “Your assumption seems to boil down to the notion that that Commercial software simply cant keep innovating forever and eventually the FOSS community will replicate enough of the features of enough of the major commercial packages to erase the difference.”

    High end sports cars are still produced today. So yes commercial software can keep innovating for ever. But there becomes a point. I need todo a max of 100 km per hour in my car in a decent way.

    So a 100 000 dollar sport car would be completely waste of money to get job done.

    Lot of people check email on phones/tablets lot of people don’t have need of MS products any more.

    Basically the PC we know is becoming the high end sport car in the car market. Most people don’t require it any more.

    The same thing risk happening it MS Office. Its the nature of the beast you can only add so many features before you have added every feature 90 of the population needs or wants.

    Sorry oldman libreoffice is not the only open source office suite. http://www.calligra-suite.org/ and the horrid gnome office.

    calligra as koffice predates openoffice source code release.

    koffice was a replacement to something older still going and nasty siag most common reason saig is still going is its low memory and cpu requirements. http://siag.nu/. So its not that FOSS could not produce its own.

    So FOSS had Office suites before openoffice and libreoffice. calligra and libreoffice have always been about the same feature level. In particular ways calligra is closer to MS Office enterprise than what libreoffice is. Biggest issue with calligra office is that it don’t run well on Windows not features.

    In a lot of ways Libreoffice and OpenOffice has done the FOSS office suite location harm. Since it removed most of the will to port calligra to windows.

    Ideal of course is calligra ported to windows and libreoffice and calligra duke it out. This will see development rate increase. Foss does best in a competition driven market against other Foss. Foss has an issue of getting flabby when its only has to compete as the cheapest to get market share.

    Chrome vs Firefox. Both FOSS now Firefox is developing faster than when it was Firefox alone.

    Speed of development of libreoffice is many times faster now that commercial cherry picking is not going on as well. So the first 10 years of Openoffice it was not a full blood FOSS project. It was a FOSS code base but management controlled by commercial interests. Ie Openoffice was not allowed to surpass StarOffice.

    Also have a good look at the libreoffice download site oldman something strange happened the newer version is smaller than the older version even that the newer version has more features. Code clean ups that were not allowed to happen under Sun and Oracle rule are now happening.

    Predicting libreoffice speed of catch on MS Office is going to be a little hard.

  11. notzed says:

    The PC industry is headed for a big crunch. It isn’t necessarily that it’s tablets as such, it’s just there is no longer a reason to keep spending big on hardware. Hardware has finally out-stripped the ability of software to soak up the excess cycles, ram, and hard drive space. This enables novel form-factors such as tablets to offer decent performance, but just as importantly, allows the general computer user to not only step off the upgrade treadmill but also to go have a nap under a tree as well.

    With margins already razor thin, they’re selling devices that are so reliable they can run continuously for years with zero physical maintenance, so cheap even anyone can afford one, and so fast they no longer need to be upgraded constantly to maintain a usable system. Just how are they going to keep making more money?

    When “most people” just use their computers to play music, watch a blurry video on you tube, play a shitty flash game, or send an email – just how much RAM can you even use? 4G will be more than enough for most common tasks (and most uncommon ones for that matter) for quite some time yet. More than that will just be niche.

  12. Contrarian says:

    “it is based on a commercial package that was donated to the community due to the IMHO boneheaded decision of a now defunct commercial entity”

    McNealy was not a rational person, IMO. He took things much too personally where Bill Gates was involved and eventually he managed to run Sun into the ground by not focusing on his knitting. OO, after the failure of the effort to create the “computer is the network” sort of service product, was just a barking dog that McNealy unleashed in the hope that it would spoil some of Microsoft’s office automation business. It seemed rather spiteful to me, but it had little effect on things. A whole bunch of people who have little or no need for MS Office and who would likely never buy it to begin with now have something to amuse their curiosity. Hoorah!

    The LibreOffice shism allows GPL puritans to fuss over the licenses as well and provides a topic for discussion in the monthly LUG meetings around the country. Everyone is thus intellectually engaged and no one is damaged.

  13. SUN’s response to M$’s monopoly was entirely reasonable. SUN got what it wanted, an office suite, lock, stock and barrel, for less than one round of licensing from M$. They could not make much money selling it because of the lock-in that was far stronger in those days so they shared it. That way they got others to help with the support/documentation. That’s a smart move which Oracle has now messed up. LibreOffice is going well.

  14. oldman says:

    “This has repeated over and over again. Question is how far away is the criss caused by people not upgrading.”

    Your assumption seems to boil down to the notion that that Commercial software simply cant keep innovating forever and eventually the FOSS community will replicate enough of the features of enough of the major commercial packages to erase the difference.

    Perhaps, perhaps not. But considering to this day that the only reason that FOSS has an office suite that is even withing 10 years of MR office in terms of function and feature is because it is based on a commercial package that was donated to the community due to the IMHO boneheaded decision of a now defunct commercial entity. I think that that point is far far in the future if at all.

  15. Contrarian says:

    “because FOSS on Linux in the end is not enough”

    The FOSS “business” is an incomplete entity, I think. It only has a couple of the pieces needed to survive on its own. FOSS has software creators and maintainers, but nothing else. If a proprietary company comes out with a popular product, the FOSSers line up to copy the features and functions of the proprietary product once its usefulness and appeal have been demonstrated, but it does not generate any such initiatives on its own.

    After years and years of FOSS development, what is the big news in that realm? LAMP, of course, just as it has been for 15 years. Firefox? Well that is, at the end of the day, a copycat IE and needed the remnants of Netscape donated to it as well. No money there anymore anyway. OO? Ditto with the added note that there is a lot of dissention in the ranks and so “Libre Office” is now the darling with the two now sharing the minimal usage levels.

    The only real news is Google’s Android and, with the Motorola Mobile purchase, that doesn’t look like much of a FOSS initiative at all. Google seems to be struggling to monetize the endeavor although it is a Linux derivative. There is a question though as to whether this is something to move FOSS forward or if it is actually just the sort of highjack once feared by the GPL advocates.

    Generic FOSS is not a leader. It follows commercial successes at a distance and always will since it lacks the essential product marketing elements of a real business.

  16. oiaohm says:

    oldman I remember 1996 when I told that computers cases would not sell under $1500.

    Issue is the downward pressure is not letting up.

    XP was the last MS OS to sell massive numbers. After that saturation has hit.

    Slowdown is not a sign that Windows 8 is going to sell well.

    Its the same problem as cars. You only have so much space to put cars in. When you hit the saturation level. Competition gets way harder.

    “FOSS on Linux in the end is not enough”

    Really you missed it. What is Windows 8 offering people that XP or 7 will not for them equally as well.

    Saturation point. Windows 8 most likely will not be good enough to drive sales. The Saturation force is currently very strong and will get stronger.

    Moblie phones and tables are displacing some of the market space of the desktop. Displacement make the Saturation problem worse.

    FOSS is really in a good location. To sit back and watch MS do it self in. Record growths could not last forever. Remember ford in the early days sold massive numbers then when the Saturation point came lot of companies went bust.

    This has repeated over and over again. Question is how far away is the criss caused by people not upgrading.

    Yes this problem is not something FOSS has to worry about. FOSS is taking advantage in particular areas of this change.

  17. oldman says:

    “So the entry machines to attract buyers will have to drop in price. I don’t see a memory expand for Windows 8.”

    But it will indeed happen Mr. oiaohm, because FOSS on Linux in the end is not enough, and those who want function and feature that is not found in FOSS on linux will help drive the price of that low end 4Gb system down to affordable levels.

  18. oiaohm says:

    Phenom does not change the fact that these days most of the developed world for pc has slowed to mostly replacing the dead.

    So the entry machines to attract buyers will have to drop in price. I don’t see a memory expand for Windows 8.

  19. More RAM may accelerate that other OS after it has finished seeking and swapping all over a hard drive but it still will be sluggish until the “hourglass” (or whatever else they use to tell us to “wait, please wait”) goes away. One of my key hatreds of M$ is that they think they know best what is good for us and that waiting should be included in that. Waiting may have been necessary in the distant past but with a true multi-tasking, multi-user OS, one should never have to wait.

  20. Phenom says:

    Twitter, I am sorry to inform you that your conclusion is completely incorrect.

    Falling RAM prices makes it cheaper to built computers with > 4Gigs RAM, which would make Windows fly even on a mediocre CPU and not that brilliant hard drive. In other words, device manifacturers can skimp on CPUs and HDDs and still produce rather usable systems.

    With cheap RAM, next generation of laptops will have a minimum of 4 Gigs, and average of 6. As a result, the world will migrate totally to 64-bit, Windows 8 will fly, and everyone will say that Windows 8 is faster than Windows 7 / Vista. Now I give you three guesses who the winner is.

  21. twitter says:

    I’d say the drop in RAM prices is a good indicator that Windows 7 has failed. Despite a lot of noise by Microsoft boosters, Windows 7 has done worse sales than Vista and that’s why Microsoft’s bottom line keep sagging. I’d already written Windows 7 off based on the increasing proportion of PCs that ship without Windows. I’m somewhat surprised that RAM makers let themselves get burt by Windows 7 the way they did with Vista, but the fall in prices is a sure sign that whatever little roll out party Microsoft had is over.

    Thanks for the news Mr. Pogson!

  22. oiaohm says:

    Contrarian the insane thing here is Novell only major-ally profitable department is the SUSE support department.

    Novell custom software is mostly a blackhole.

    IBM does sell support contracts for Linux. This is why IBM does make some of the best Linux usage documentation you can find. So IBM Linux department makes a profit.

    IBM custom software also make a profit.

    Redhat also does some closed source products.

    The one key thing here is support companies for Linux do make profit. Also seam to take the least risk.

    Microsoft in fact does not make a profit from Novell old operations. Most of the Linux groups Microsoft does deals with are attempts to prevent Microsoft losing market share so resulting in Microsoft paying those companies for the right.

    Really Microsoft best thing they could do is bite the bullet and release there own Linux. But the problem is they insulted the Linux world so much they have todo try to proxy it.

    Novell income from its Suse and all its product lines dropped when it did the deal with Microsoft.

    Historically Novell is last in a long list of companies that have done a deal with Microsoft in the Linux world. Result is normally Microsoft pay them but even so they go out of business due to there users moving to other providers.

  23. Contrarian wrote more nonsense, “IBM was very successful before Linux ever became noticed and they hardly “ride the wave” as you suggest.”

    IBM was not an early adopter. When they thought it was about ready, they invested heavily, contributed code and had a prompt return on investment. They’ve had a lot of gravy since then.

    There are few businesses that use no GNU/Linux. I am not going to waste my time listing them.

  24. Contrarian says:

    “I cannot parse “non-FOSS companies”. ”

    You are trying for some sort of paraphrasing of what I posted? Admittedly, my use of “non-Microsoft companies” was clumsy and I would have changed it if I could have edited my remarks after viewing the finished post. I meant, of course, “companies other than Microsoft itself” and I can see where the meaning is not totally clear although the context certainly helps your understanding.

    “The mind boggles. Lots of companies have ridden the waves of FLOSS: IBM, RedHat, ZaReason, Top500 HPC systems, governments, auto makers, etc. What more do you want?”

    Your failure to smoothly alliterate a list of companies of note is proof enough of the failure of your thesis.

    IBM was very successful before Linux ever became noticed and they hardly “ride the wave” as you suggest. Red Hat is the singular company that is a realistic play for Linux, of course, but it is about the only one of any note. Even then, it is a very small actor on the technology stage. Zareason is a small business formed as a custom builder of PC systems that apparently buys the cheapo white boxes in China and resells them to MS haters in the US. The rest is just typical hand-waving with no definition of just what success these industries owe to Linux beyond some motherhood suggestion that they are somehow better off because of it.

    At last report, you could have included Microsoft in your list since they made more money selling custom system software that included Linux (from Novell) than Red Hat itself made from their own operations.

  25. oldman says:

    “Clearly a company using GNU/Linux could be called a FOSS company.”
    Not Necessarily.

    IBM for instance takes every opportunity up upsell to their system p and system z running their proprietary OS’s as a foundation. They will also be happy to sell you their proprietary websphere middleware as well. FOSS is a tool in their business arsenal, nothing more.

  26. Contrarian wrote, “From the history, it would seem to be a success story of how non-Microsoft companies can get in on the popularity of Windows and ride the waves themselves. You don’t see that happening with FOSS.”

    I am not sure how to parse that. Do you mean, “From the history, it would seem to be a success story of how non-FOSS companies can get in on the popularity of GNU/Linux and ride the waves themselves.”?

    I cannot parse “non-FOSS companies”. Clearly a company using GNU/Linux could be called a FOSS company. Do you mean M$, etc. as non-FOSS companies?

    The mind boggles. Lots of companies have ridden the waves of FLOSS: IBM, RedHat, ZaReason, Top500 HPC systems, governments, auto makers, etc. What more do you want?

  27. Contrarian says:

    “an example of a hair-drier pushed by Wintel”

    It is hard to understand what you are on about with that post, #pogson. “Wintel” doesn’t “push” anything, it merely aggregates PCs by type. NCIX is “pushing” that rather extreme unit and I would think that you would brag on it as it is a Canuk outfit to boot.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NCIX

    From the history, it would seem to be a success story of how non-Microsoft companies can get in on the popularity of Windows and ride the waves themselves. You don’t see that happening with FOSS.

  28. Here’s an example of a hair-drier pushed by Wintel:
    http://source.ncix.com/eblast/eblast-pre-oc2011/lp-index.html

    It only needs a 620W PSU… System 65W idling… CPU alone working hard 83W

  29. Contrarian says:

    “This does not bode well for Wintel which is anchored to hair-driers.”

    One size to fit all, #pogson? Perhaps that can be the case, but it will doubtless be a Windows based device if history and market dynamics are any indication.

    As to the immediacy of the problem, it seems to me that a glut of memory and falling memory prices are just what the doctor ordered for a renaissance of Windows, if it is the RAM hogging beast that you suggest that it is. Power consumption is not much of a bother to me, certainly, and I have not seen any of my day to day acquaintances moan about the power bill served up by their computers.

    Gamers brag of the response they get from such highly powered beasts and other “power” users still eagerly pay for the latest and fastest (and power greediest) machines available. My own humble workstation, now almost 5 years old, sits in its compartment in my desk, powered 24/7, and is barely warm to the touch. I think you are trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

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