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BLOG: Mobile in chaos -- Has the industry gone nuts?

Mike Elgan | Aug. 21, 2011
The answer is clearly yes. But why? (Hint: Blame Apple.)

The mobile computing industry went crazy this week.

HP, which has long been a leader in mobile computing, has announced that it will stop selling laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Meanwhile, Fusion Garage, which is the least-successful tablet maker ever, is getting back into the tablet business.

And Google, which has avoided selling handsets save for one brief failed attempt, is buying Motorola Mobility, one of the top handset makers.

And everyone in the industry, it seems, is suing everyone else.

Nothing makes sense anymore. What's going on?

The root cause of all this turmoil is Apple. While the mobile industry is becoming increasingly central to all computing, and is being woven into our lives like never before, Apple is the only company making real money at it. And it's driving everyone crazy.

Here is what's happening.

HP quits

The world's number-one PC company this week announced that it's getting out of the PC business. HP is has also long been a leader in mobile hardware -- and it's getting out of that business, too.

HP announced plans to spin off its PC unit as a separate company. It will stop making hardware for devices purchased as part of the acquisition of Palm Computing, and will most likely license the webOS platform software to other companies.

These announcements represent a radical departure for a company that has gone to great lengths and expense to remain a leader in PCs and mobile devices.

Fusion Garage won't quit

One of the most epic mobile computing fails in recent years was the CrunchPad fiasco.

Blogger Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, started a project in 2008 to create a cheap web-based touch tablet that would be called the CrunchPad. He worked with Singapore-based design studio Fusion Garage on the project.

As the project got nearer to completion, Fusion Garage somehow fired Arrington from his own project and launched the device under the brand name JooJoo. The tablet was a piece of junk, and failed in the market.

So that's the last we'll be hearing about Fusion Garage, right?

Wrong. The company announced this week that it would re-launch a newer, improved version of the tablet to be called the Grid10. The only reason this launch is making news is because of the controversy around and failure of its previous attempt.

I guess there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Google becomes rival to its partners, partner to itself

There are two kinds of mobile software platform companies. There are companies like Microsoft that make the software and cultivate developers and OEMs to support the environment. And there are companies like Apple that don't license their software but instead use that software only for their own hardware.


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