Thursday, December 30, 2010

Proprietary Software is neither cheating nor evil

There are usually arguments about proprietary and free/open source softwares and some even think proprietary software vendors have no other objective than cheating/evil but I don't agree.

Starting with MS Office and OpenOffice, MS Office is obviously better than OpenOffice in many ways. If you can't afford it then OpenOffice is a free alternative. OpenOffice may be cross platform, free, open source, capable of achieving what MS Office can achieve but you'll definitely notice MS Office is better.

Moving to Linux vs Windows Vs Mac OS X, try to hand over a linux pre-installed notebook, windows pre-installed notebook and a macbook to three different rookies and see how they get along with it. The linux user will find it least easy, he might even get totally stuck if there's no internet. Ubuntu is regarded as the most user-friendly linux distro but it is still far from Windows and OS X. A geek may customize his linux to make it look so easy to use and inviting (like I always do) but it'll take a normal user at least twice the time he'll spend on Windows or OS X to get his hands on the linux OS. If you can't afford the Windows OS or a Macbook, then the free linux is there for you. You may later find it interesting and prefer it to the other two but if first impression lasts longer, I'm afraid you won't want to give it a try.

Now to some almost incomparable ones:
  • Photoshop Vs Gimp? Naah, gimp can be a free alternative but you'll see what you're paying for in Photoshop.
  • Dreamweaver CS5 Vs ????. Netbeans (primarily a Java IDE) may be labelled 'the only IDE you need' which I kinda agree with but for overall rapid PHP development, I think Dreamweaver is better than the open source alternatives.
  • CorelDraw Vs What? OpenOffice Draw, Inkscape? Trying to draw a comparison here can only lead to laughter.
  • Proprietary Games Vs The Open Source ones, I'm sure an unborn child in a pregnant woman knows the better one.
It is true that proprietary software vendors forces you to newer versions to get more money from you which I don't like but its actually a newer version and they want to get paid for it. Remember, they used their resources to get it to that newer version.

There are cases of proprietary software that is not worth the money like Zend Studio (I didn't mean to blast Zend but I was disappointed when I couldn't find a worthy difference between it and Netbeans with Zend Plugin or even Eclipse with PDT) and so on.

There are also cases where the free and open sourced ones are almost as capable or even better like Firefox and IE or Android and iOS but they are much fewer compared to the reverse case.

My conclusion is simply that the free softwares are good and they are improving everyday but in most cases there is usually a better proprietary alternative. So you are actually paying for the extra feature, there is nothing evil in it. You pay if you think its worth it and use the free alternatives if they are not.

NOTE: Everything is my personal opinion, don't take anything personal but comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is Google Winning the Smartphone War?

As the smartphone industry continues to soar, investors are trying to figure out the best plays. Of course, the obvious winner has been Apple (AAPL).

But as with any dynamic space, the change can be disruptive. In fact, it looks like Google (GOOG) is gaining ground in the smartphone space because of its Android mobile operating system.

Actually, the recent traction has been stunning. For example, a recent survey from Nielsen shows that Google got about 27% of new mobile subscribers in the past six months, which compares to Apple's 23%.

It certainly helps that Android is free -- based on the open source model -- and relies on common programming methods, such as Java. More importantly, the system is incredibly powerful. Just look at the capabilities of the Droid X phone.

OK, so where's the business model? Well, Google believes that Android will allow the company to dominate the mobile advertising space. Basically, the default search system will be Google.

But there are some problems. First of all, mobile search is still in the early stages and it may take several years to get any scale. Also, search is not necessarily a common activity on mobile phones.

As a result, Apple may remain the leader for some time. The company has strong technology, with control over the operating system and hardware platform. And yes, Apple is rolling out its own advertising platform.

So, even if Apple is not the market share leader, it probably does not matter. The company realizes it is most important to capture the most profits.