×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why Google Choosing Arduino Matters

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the every-vending-machine-everywhere-please dept.

Android 118

ptorrone writes "Earlier this week at Google I/O, Google announced the Android Open Accessory kit which uses the open source hardware platform, Arduino. MAKE magazine has an in-depth article about why Google choosing the Arduino matters, why Google picked Arduino and some predictions about what's next for Apple's 'Made for iPod' as well and what Microsoft/Nokia/Skype should do to keep up."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

118 comments

Why Google Choosing Arduino Matters (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36113488)

It doesn't. Now suck my four inch cock.

Re:Why Google Choosing Arduino Matters (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36113664)

Sorry, I want a cocktail, not a weenie roast.

Re:Why Google Choosing Arduino Matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36114782)

Your comment would have been applicable to an Apple thread.

Mods, please mark the parent as offtopic.

Slashdot comment system (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36113526)

What's going on with the comment system? A couple of days ago the spacing between the folded comments was reduced to almost nothing, making the total page length smaller but giving cluttered text. Today that's reverted, but only the top half of the line of folded comments is being displayed - the text's been cut in half horizontally.

Also, where exactly is there any information about the updates the slashdot site goes through? Or do things just keep changing oddly for no apparent reasons?

Re:Slashdot comment system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36113684)

How is this moded negative one? It's completely true.

Re:Slashdot comment system (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113862)

I am seeing the same thing. It started as of today, possibly since mid-afternoon ET, though I couldn't be positive it wasn't happening earlier.

Whoever's maintaining the website is making things worse, not better.

Better would involve loading all comments on a single page, or at least making it an option. Having to click the "get more comments" button a dozen times to make sure I've got all the comments in a subthread is bogus.

Better would be limiting the thread-expand-o-matic to the title bars of articles, instead of anywhere in the body of any article in the thread.

Better would be making edit-boxes expandable, or at least telling them the right way to wrap text.

Re:Slashdot comment system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36113892)

The get more comments button is annoying, especially when it's to get more 4-5 rated comments. I should be able to see those more easily. When a bigger news story breaks, I can read about it anywhere. I come here for the insightful comments, but now they are becoming a pain to read.

Wake me (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36113538)

when this thread dies down and the dust clears. Bits is bits, I dont care if they are x86, Power, ARM or otherwise just give me the porn and give it to me now!

As someone who tried this... (5, Informative)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113554)

It already existed (an android-arduino "interface"). It only matters because google is behind it now (with an official API), but whoever wanted to do stuff before already could.

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114086)

And besides, there are billions of iPod docking ports out there, so this isn't really going to affect those device manufacturers much anytime soon.

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114174)

Except if someone comes up with a nice "ipod to android" converter. Still, part of the appeal of the ipod docks is that Apple have kept the shape of the products more or less the same. This allows just about any generation to fit into the docks.

Re:As someone who tried this... (3, Informative)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114662)

Personal anecdote: while the docks fit, the ports are not (fully) backwards compatible.

My IPhone 3GS (~2-years old) refuses to charge from an audio base station bought for my previous-generation IPod (~ 4 years old) -- placing it in the dock pops up an error on the phone that says "Charging is not supported for this accessory"

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114856)

Yeah, the older devices require 12V (FireWire) charging. New ones require 5V (USB) charging. There was also a change from FW-only to FW-or-USB to USB-only for data, but that had better overlap -- the power requirements just switched overnight.

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36117154)

No, that isn't it. FireWire charging has been out for years with the lineup. Our portable speakers charge everything but the newest nano just fine. (In airplane mode for the iPhones of course.)

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

Shompol (1690084) | more than 2 years ago | (#36117594)

I heard that Apple builds in an "unlicensed charger protector", which blocks you from using third party chargers (except those manufactured by Apple partners, naturally). Chargers are a big business for mobile manufacturers: incompatibility allows them to charge $30+ for something that would normally cost $5, not to mention having to buy a new set of chargers every time you change your device.

Re:As someone who tried this... (4, Informative)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114468)

AFAIK you need to have the accessory approved by Apple to connect via the docking port and there is a NDA/Licensing agreement that requires you pay Apple a certain amount for each accessory sold. You also have to purchase a chip from them to integrate your hardware. And they require you to submit your financial records/bookeping so that their auditors can be sure you are paying them the fee for every unit of your hardware you sell. This doesnt seem to apply to all accessories, but it does seem to be a real problem for a lot of them. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/news/4272628 [popularmechanics.com] Also, if you dont, Apple will sue you: http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/04/apple-gets-go-ahead-to-move-against-unauthorized-accessor-makers.ars [arstechnica.com]

So, yeah, this could have real impact. Going out and grabbing an Arduino board vs all that draconian stuff is gonna be interesting.

Obviously I have a bias here being an Android app dev, but I believe the two approaches to accessory development are vastly different. And just because Apple has a huge lead out of the gate does not mean they will retain it.

Re:As someone who tried this... (0, Flamebait)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114584)

Draconian? Yawn...

Businesses who make money selling Apple connectors have to pay money to Apple. It's not onerous, it's business. Every single iPod, iPhone, iPad owner needs at least one dock connector. Only a very small fraction of Android users will even know about this Arduino kit. So as a business decision, it's silly not to pay a small bit to gain access to such a lucrative market.

Those that can't get their products to sell enough to be worth the cost of entry aren't going to be missed, pretty much be definition.

Now, on the hacker side of things, Google's choice is very interesting. But it's silly to act like this is going to have any notable business impact whatsoever. You may as well think Sony, MS, and Nintendo's licensing model for games is in trouble because game companies can make games for Windows, Mac, and Linux without paying such a license.

Re:As someone who tried this... (4, Insightful)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115080)

If we compare this to the car industry (as it used to be before it got all digified as well), there is/was a big industry making aftermarket parts - everything from brake shoes and taillights to radios. AFAIK nobody ever got sued by Ford for making a Ford-compatible steering wheel. I think the car makers basically felt that the accessory market (i.e. 'bells and whistles') helped their market. They were never particularly thrilled about aftermarket replacement parts, but they didn't stop it. Folks had, and still have, the choice to go to the dealer or go to NAPA - or JC Whitney. And sometimes it's better going to the dealer. Of course, while it's under warranty some things still have to be done by the dealer - but in most states the car makers can not disallow the warranty under if you get your oil change done by someone else.

Of course, that's changing nowadays. Here in MA, Toyota successfully fought off an attempt to pass a state law requiring car makers to release the computer repair codes to third party repair shops, so they could hook up their expensive diagnostic machines and find what was wrong. (I don't recall if this was a legislative thing or a court thing.)

While I agree that Apple may have the right to charge a toll for everyone crossing their bridge, I disagree that it's a good idea. Case in point was the recent article on /. about the demise of independent music because of Apple's 30% rake off the top. Another case in point - I haven't bought an Apple product since 1996, so that's about $30,000 worth of business they haven't gotten. I published software for the NeXT, and had Macs through the early 1990s, but I don't want to be locked into either them or MS. I want the on-ramps to the highway to allow ALL traffic that fits the lanes - I don't want separate ramps for MS, Apple, Google or whatnot.

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115416)

While I agree that Apple may have the right to charge a toll for everyone crossing their bridge, I disagree that it's a good idea. Case in point was the recent article on /. about the demise of independent music because of Apple's 30% rake off the top. Another case in point - I haven't bought an Apple product since 1996, so that's about $30,000 worth of business they haven't gotten. I published software for the NeXT, and had Macs through the early 1990s, but I don't want to be locked into either them or MS. I want the on-ramps to the highway to allow ALL traffic that fits the lanes - I don't want separate ramps for MS, Apple, Google or whatnot.

Somehow I think Apple has gotten by without your $30k. Their "restrictions" are mostly invisible or reasonable. If they weren't, people wouldn't be voluntarily buying Apple products. So while you might think the way they act is bad, most people don't.

And the idea that buying a Mac "locks" you into them is as bit of a stretch. Apple uses open standards for just about everything, and it's very simple to export from everything they make.

I use Macs (as you might have guessed), and I have absolutely no fear that if Apple were to ever become as bad as Slashdot seems to think, I could quite simply migrate to Windows or Linux.

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116576)

I will tell you what I miss - back in the day I used MacProject. Today I have been unable to find a product, open source or commercial, that does everything as well as MacProject did.

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 2 years ago | (#36117132)

Apple uses open standards for just about everything,

really? not only do they have their own standards, but if you dare to try and get involved they will slap you down. here's just two examples
facetime - where's the published specs for 3rd party integration?
itunes - where's the usb sync specs? hence no linux client, and Palm (now HP) faced a moving target trying to emulate a iDevice

Re:As someone who tried this... (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116730)

The situation as I understand it, not being a lawyer but having done a fair amount of research on the subject, is that you may freely reproduce the part so long as it is covered by neither copyright nor patent and you don't reproduce any trademarks normally on the product, so you may have to do more than a simple mold and cast job even to just make a simple cast part.

In practice a whole car is covered by a design copyright but not a single fender. You can sell all the bodywork at once but not a complete car wearing all of it. And even that is OK if you buy the bodywork from the actual manufacturer. Buying aftermarket bodywork and selling a car that looked just like another car might land you in court, but I don't know that it's ever been fully played out. For example the GT40 is being made in the original [body] design by multiple manufacturers.

The situation vis-a-vis secret codes is that there are standard and non-standard codes, the standard codes are mandated in the specification but access to the non-standard codes is not. Further, IIRC only the powertrain codes must be implemented so body codes could just be undelivered unless you send a special command. This has led to a whole bunch of OBD-II snooping.

Finally, the automaker (or anyone else) cannot deny you warranty protection for a replacement part unless they can show that the replacement fails to meet specifications. In the specific case of oil the oil is graded so you only need to buy a lube of the proper grade. In any other case they're going to have to provide specifications in court to prove that your part fails them.

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#36117294)

What I'm afraid of is that the car manufacturers (and the blender manufacturers, etc.) will take a leaf from the ink jet printer makers' manual, start embedding chips in everything from engine parts to door panels to who-knows-what, and set up the cars' computers to not start if the embedded chips don't agree - then assert a copyright violation if aftermarket makers try to duplicate the logic. IIRC Lexmark's attempt to assert copyright this way got squashed in court - I hope so. In the past, the real situation was that if you could physically design a part that matched the bolt pattern, the car makers really couldn't stop you. Now by abusing IP law in similar ways, they may be able to essentially prevent car owners from modifying the cars, just as the computer and software companies have been striving (and mostly succeeding).

It's already pretty much impossible to tune an engine differently without buying someone's reverse-engineered hotrod chip for the computer. This is legally the case officially to satisfy Federal anti-pollution laws, but it's also very much to the benefit of the car makers and the dealers. In fact that was the justification used to oppose the MA law I mentioned - the car makers were "concerned that non-certified third party mechanics might not keep the car within official pollution standards". Of course that's mostly hogwash.

Re:As someone who tried this... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36115086)

"Businesses who make money selling Apple connectors have to pay money to Apple. It's not onerous, it's business. "

The key point you are ignoring is that under Apple's system, Apple holds *all* the cards. If you invest millions of dollars developing a new innovative accessory and they think it is a threat to them, or if they decide they'd rather sell it under their brand, then they will shut you down and you have no recourse thanks to the agreements you have signed. Yes this is "just business", but that don't mean it is *good* business and Google have just upped the ante fairly significantly. People used to dismiss Linux as an embedded platform all the time with a similar argument to yours and now Linux completely dominates the market, so the idea of open in the device space is already proven.

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115464)

"Businesses who make money selling Apple connectors have to pay money to Apple. It's not onerous, it's business. "

The key point you are ignoring is that under Apple's system, Apple holds *all* the cards.

How am I ignoring that? That's the very foundation of my point. It's Apple's system. If you want to play with them, you abide by their rules. It's in Apple's interest that their rules don't drive away third party manufacturers, while simultaneously making sure third party manufacturers don't piss in Apple's pool. That's why Made for iPod exists. It's not a profit center, it's mainly a way to make sure MFI products work well.

If you invest millions of dollars developing a new innovative accessory and they think it is a threat to them, or if they decide they'd rather sell it under their brand, then they will shut you down and you have no recourse thanks to the agreements you have signed.

Wow, that's pretty scary! I suppose you can cite an example of this happening, right? I mean, if not, and the dock connector has been around for the better part of a decade, you'd think maybe it's not something you need to worry about.

Yes this is "just business", but that don't mean it is *good* business and Google have just upped the ante fairly significantly.

Google hasn't "upped" shit. If you want to sell your product to many hundreds of millions of people, you pay a small pittance to Apple. Just because Google's system doesn't require a license is pretty much inconsequential to whether or not one will make products targeting the iPod dock connector. You don't create products in a vacuum. You need customers. Apple's customer base is far more lucrative than Google's.

People used to dismiss Linux as an embedded platform all the time with a similar argument to yours and now Linux completely dominates the market, so the idea of open in the device space is already proven.

Who dismissed Linux, as an embedded platform? And what exactly what their argument? You seem to think people are going to flock to Android because of this? Embedded systems are distinctly different from things that involve complex user interfaces. Linux's advantages in the embedded space are pretty much nullified when it comes to computers. Why do you think XP quickly dominated the netbook?

Re:As someone who tried this... (2)

LBU.Zorro (585180) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116096)

How am I ignoring that? That's the very foundation of my point. It's Apple's system. If you want to play with them, you abide by their rules. It's in Apple's interest that their rules don't drive away third party manufacturers, while simultaneously making sure third party manufacturers don't piss in Apple's pool. That's why Made for iPod exists. It's not a profit center, it's mainly a way to make sure MFI products work well.

You're making an assumption that isn't actually true, or at least isn't completely true. It is in Apple's interests to keep some third party manufacturers, but as with the Apple AppStore itself it isn't in Apple's interest to keep all of them - it certainly isn't in their interest to keep anyone who competes too closely with their own branded and thusly profitable peripherals. You are correct, MFI isn't a profit center for them, however the iPod, iPhone and all iDevices that use the connector and play with the MFI certified peripherials are a profit center (and Apple peripherals are also profitable for them), therefore close control of MFI and connecting to 'their' devices is what they're after.

To an extent I'd agree with you, MFI does tend to make the peripherals work well with the devices (although like anything the older peripherals are useless), but control is the purpose, not just a good working experience.

Wow, that's pretty scary! I suppose you can cite an example of this happening, right? I mean, if not, and the dock connector has been around for the better part of a decade, you'd think maybe it's not something you need to worry about.

I half agree with you here, but not totally. As far as I know the situation is similar to that of the Apple AppStore, in that you're under an NDA and you can't really talk if you want to keep doing business with Apple. If you don't care about doing business, then you can risk breaking the NDA, but as there's a significant difference between hardware and software it's not likely that you'll be a straw-man that's not worth suing.

Based on Apple's tactics with the AppStore, it's more of a case of a track record than no evidence. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Apple has done it, after-all where's the drawback for them? It's much easier to control small numbers of large players with a lot to lose than large groups of small players with nothing to lose.

Google hasn't "upped" shit. If you want to sell your product to many hundreds of millions of people, you pay a small pittance to Apple. Just because Google's system doesn't require a license is pretty much inconsequential to whether or not one will make products targeting the iPod dock connector. You don't create products in a vacuum. You need customers. Apple's customer base is far more lucrative than Google's.

In your opinion Google hasn't "upped" shit, in other people's opinions it might have - certainly it has interested me, a lot more than any hardware integration with an iDevice would do. The important point to realise with this is how many people might now tinker with Android and Arduino - people were tinkering with Arudino and Android already, and this makes it official (or at least easier for some). Now, I agree, it's unlikely that any one of these will suddenly mass-produce something, after all they're just small tinkerers. However it is very likely based on the number of people who will look into it (assuming there is a large number for a cheap, open and easy to use platform) that a lot of things that are good will come out of it. And this is where Apple may lose out, after all if you create a nifty hardware dongle, release the app into the Android Market and you're good to go - show me the speedy lifecycle of Apple hardware and apps?

Yes some of them will be rubbish, some of them won't work, a lot will be incredibly unique and useful for only a handful - but it'll be more than you'll ever get out of a iDevice unless Apple removes the barrier to entry. Show me the current crop of innovative devices that are MFI certified? There are a million different types of speaker docks and that's about it (yeah there are a few more, and some interesting ones coming up but nothing to shout about really).

Large corporations are very interested in profit, and not for doing something for the fun or interest of it, which means the higher the risk (aka the more innovative a new product is - especially because innovative doesn't mean good or popular) the less likely they are to do it. Your argument of not creating customers in a vacuum is literally a large company argument, not one because I want to create an Android controlled aircraft, boat or RepRap machine. Sometimes (as with Apple's original iPhone) you need to *create* the market - and that's where innovation matters, that's where controlling to closely hurts you and being open can help.

Who dismissed Linux, as an embedded platform? And what exactly what their argument? You seem to think people are going to flock to Android because of this? Embedded systems are distinctly different from things that involve complex user interfaces. Linux's advantages in the embedded space are pretty much nullified when it comes to computers. Why do you think XP quickly dominated the netbook?

Here I pretty much have to agree with you - when you get down to it nobody's buying iPhones because they run on BSD and Android because they run on Linux it's about the user experience, the advertising and what you can do with it. That said, people are already flocking to Android, this gives another reason for it especially for anyone who likes hardware - and there are hackerspaces all over the world.

Honestly, if you were at home thinking you'd like to do something with electronics and a mobile device it is now easier to go with Android, and a nightmare to go with iDevices - that matters, although how much? It's something only time will tell.

Z.

Re:As someone who tried this... (2)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115126)

Well, perhaps the draconian characterization was a bit inflamatory, but I don't find your "it's just business" arguments in the least bit compelling either.

Apple's use of a proprietary, non-standard, and patented connector appears from my perspective (admittedly I am not hardware expert) to be a bit of rent seeking. USB and FireWire have been around a long time and Apple has, since the introduction of it's MFi program, attempted to add the restrictions to headphones. Would you think it OK for them to charge a tithe for using the 3.5" heaphone jack? (They don't unless you want to use the MFi logo currently, but you get my point)

Those that can't get their products to sell enough to be worth the cost of entry aren't going to be missed, pretty much be definition.

That's a really bad way to look at the world. First, it's not really true due to the fact that consumers don't always reward the best products. Often they "go with what they know." Further, cost of entry being artificially inflated doesn't help anyone but the company inflating. If you read the first link I posted you'd have come across a good example of this where speaker/dock makers were saying they could have made better speakers if they didn't have to pay so much in fees to Apple. The original MFi fee was 10% of every accessory sold (it's now a flat fee structure per unit sold AFAIK). In a lot of industries 10% is the profit margin, especially in the competitive accessory market. Anyways, here's the relevant quote:

"If we didn't have to pay Apple for the dock and auth chip, we could have made a much better speaker for the same price," said an official at a major electronics maker, who, like several sources for this story, requested anonymity because of fears that speaking with the press could jeopardize his company's relationship with Apple.

Now if Apple's connectors were truly revolutionary here then maybe there's a case to be made. However, I find it far more likely that the patented connection there is novel at best. It's also bad for the system of capitalism and innovation in general to let the big, entrenched players construct artificial walls to entry.

Your game analogy on the other hand is an interesting one. I'm not sure you are applying it correctly though. Surely many more PCs are sold in a given year than xboxes, and that's clearly because they are more general computing devices with standardized connection ports beaing a commonly touted feature. Also, MS, Nintendo and Sony have all dabbled with, or currently have, alrenative ways of working with their products (thinking software/mini games/web broswers/OtherOS etc). None of them are great, but it's there, so they have clearly considered using it as a wedge to drive against competitors.

So if you limit your analogy to games, (an artificial reduction of the analogy), then yes, it sort of provides an example of this. However if you look at the bigger picture then things aren't so clear cut. I do agree that clearly this is done elsewhere in business and much money is made off of it and that it is unlikely to disappear overnight. I just was saying it will be an interesting competition between business models. But it's far from clear who the winner would be. And I don't condone MS/Nintendo/Sony for behaving that way nor car manufacterurs with their attempt at proprietary computer codes of OBDI stuff. Interestinly too, the same guy in the speaker quote says this at the end:

The same official who was concerned with speaker quality explained that "Apple sales are predictable," making the market for third-party products equally simple to measure. Apple works closely with the companies to provide forecasting and stock availability numbers once CEO Steve Jobs has unveiled a product. "It's an expensive relationship," said the company's product manager, "but a profitable one."

So that does show that it works -- clearly there are upsides and profits in that market for those involved. But to dismiss the business case for an open-platform approach would be as silly as Apple dismissing Android back in 2008 as no real threat to the iPhone.

Anyways, one last semi-preachy idea I had: Interchangable parts revolutionized the world -- so as consumers should we not reward those companies that promote interoperability and punish those that rent-seek with patents and licenses and such? Isn't it a bit of our jobs as the more technically inclined not to just shrug our shoulders and say "oh well, it's just business."

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115608)

Well, perhaps the draconian characterization was a bit inflamatory, but I don't find your "it's just business" arguments in the least bit compelling either.

Apple's use of a proprietary, non-standard, and patented connector appears from my perspective (admittedly I am not hardware expert) to be a bit of rent seeking.

The dock connector itself was brilliant. It allowed Apple to have one connector that has been able to keep up with every update these devices have gone through. Instead of FireWire, USB, line-out, digital out, HDMI, composite, component, etc., etc., one connector has been able to serve all these needs, many of which weren't even expected.

As far as "rent seeking", the MFI isn't directly profit-motivated, but instead to make sure that products made for the iPod work well.

USB and FireWire have been around a long time and Apple has, since the introduction of it's MFi program, attempted to add the restrictions to headphones. Would you think it OK for them to charge a tithe for using the 3.5" heaphone jack? (They don't unless you want to use the MFi logo currently, but you get my point)

No, I don't get your point. Are you trying to say that Apple is going to somehow force all headphone makers pay Apple in order to work in an iPod? Because that's insane. They will never, ever, ever do this except where it's a technological necessity (specifically, a previous generation iPod shuffle, which had no buttons, so the headphones *had* to have the buttons).

But in order to listen to an iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc., Apple will never force you to buy a MFI pair of headphones.

Those that can't get their products to sell enough to be worth the cost of entry aren't going to be missed, pretty much be definition.

That's a really bad way to look at the world.

That's not how I view the world. That's how I view Apple's choice in business model. And it's hard to argue with, but I see you'll try...

First, it's not really true due to the fact that consumers don't always reward the best products.

I never said they do. I said products that don't sell well aren't likely to be missed. And like I said, this is pretty much by definition.

Often they "go with what they know." Further, cost of entry being artificially inflated doesn't help anyone but the company inflating.

Just like "draconian", calling this "inflated" is hyperbolic. The cost of entry is not significantly raised. Also, you can't call it "artificial", when it's Apple's playground. It's like saying the cost of entry to a ballpark is artificially inflated because you have to buy a ticket.

If you read the first link I posted you'd have come across a good example of this where speaker/dock makers were saying they could have made better speakers if they didn't have to pay so much in fees to Apple. The original MFi fee was 10% of every accessory sold (it's now a flat fee structure per unit sold AFAIK). In a lot of industries 10% is the profit margin, especially in the competitive accessory market. Anyways, here's the relevant quote:

The prices are raised across the board. That 10% doesn't cut into their profit margin any more than some other fixed cost does. You just raise your price by 10%, like everyone else. This is only really an issue for high ticket items, since a percentage increase would have much greater impact as the price raises.

And like you said, this is no longer the case. In other words, Apple rectified the situation. A situation that isn't even that problematic except for a small subset of Apple's licensees. Sounds like they are making efforts to mitigate problems that people have. That paints pretty much the opposite picture than you are presenting.


"If we didn't have to pay Apple for the dock and auth chip, we could have made a much better speaker for the same price," said an official at a major electronics maker, who, like several sources for this story, requested anonymity because of fears that speaking with the press could jeopardize his company's relationship with Apple.

A completely meaningless statement. You can say the exact same thing about them selling their speakers at Best Buy. Or FedEx shipping rates, or taxes, or anything else.

Now if Apple's connectors were truly revolutionary here then maybe there's a case to be made. However, I find it far more likely that the patented connection there is novel at best. It's also bad for the system of capitalism and innovation in general to let the big, entrenched players construct artificial walls to entry.

Walls to entry, of Apple's ecosystem. You are perfectly free to make your own MP3 player with its own connector. I'm not sure what you think is wrong here. Do you think Apple should license their connector for anyone to use for whatever reason? For free? Why? It's Apple's device and Apple's connector. No one else is forced to use it.

Your game analogy on the other hand is an interesting one. I'm not sure you are applying it correctly though. Surely many more PCs are sold in a given year than xboxes, and that's clearly because they are more general computing devices with standardized connection ports beaing a commonly touted feature. Also, MS, Nintendo and Sony have all dabbled with, or currently have, alrenative ways of working with their products (thinking software/mini games/web broswers/OtherOS etc). None of them are great, but it's there, so they have clearly considered using it as a wedge to drive against competitors.

If you want to make games or accessories for an Xbox, Wii, or PS3, you have to pay MS, Nintendo, or Sony. If you want to make devices for the iPod, you have to pay Apple. It's pretty simple and straightforward. I'm not sure what PCs have to do with it, except that it makes my point even stronger. If the more numerous PC's openness has not limited the appeal of consoles, how is something that has a much smaller market share, like Android devices, going to affect the iPod?

So if you limit your analogy to games, (an artificial reduction of the analogy),

Games, controllers, memory cards, video adaptors... And it's silly to point out that an analogy has limits. Analogies are naturally of limited scope. That's why they are analogies and not simply the thing they are being compared to.

then yes, it sort of provides an example of this. However if you look at the bigger picture then things aren't so clear cut. I do agree that clearly this is done elsewhere in business and much money is made off of it and that it is unlikely to disappear overnight. I just was saying it will be an interesting competition between business models. But it's far from clear who the winner would be. And I don't condone MS/Nintendo/Sony for behaving that way nor car manufacterurs with their attempt at proprietary computer codes of OBDI stuff. Interestinly too, the same guy in the speaker quote says this at the end:


The same official who was concerned with speaker quality explained that "Apple sales are predictable," making the market for third-party products equally simple to measure. Apple works closely with the companies to provide forecasting and stock availability numbers once CEO Steve Jobs has unveiled a product. "It's an expensive relationship," said the company's product manager, "but a profitable one."

So that does show that it works -- clearly there are upsides and profits in that market for those involved.

Exactly. This whole time you've been trying to make the case that entering into a deal with Apple is risky and only benefits Apple. Yet here we are. This should be obvious, if the MFI program was untenable for third parties, then they wouldn't be making products for the iPod.

But to dismiss the business case for an open-platform approach would be as silly as Apple dismissing Android back in 2008 as no real threat to the iPhone.

iPhone sales are up over 100% year over year. Even the iPhone 3GS outsells all other Android handsets. Android isn't a threat, it's just another product. But Google's adoption of Arduino? The very idea that it's a threat to Apple's MFI program is absurd. I mean, laughably absurd.

And why is this? Because MFI is profitable for third parties. Even if they also decide to make products for Android (and even though the cost of entry is lower, the potential profits are MUCH lower), they are still going to make products for the iPod.

Anyways, one last semi-preachy idea I had: Interchangable parts revolutionized the world -- so as consumers should we not reward those companies that promote interoperability and punish those that rent-seek with patents and licenses and such? Isn't it a bit of our jobs as the more technically inclined not to just shrug our shoulders and say "oh well, it's just business."

Only if all else remains equal. But all else isn't equal. The iPod is a superior product. Why would I buy a shitty MP3 player, for no reason other than to punish Apple or reward Coby for using USB instead of a proprietary connector?

And the dock connector isn't as bad as you think. It's a net positive, in fact. It makes money for everyone, and the consumer gets a better experience. Hackers and nerds might have their feathers ruffled a bit, but it's not like Apple is forcing MS or Google or anyone else to adopt their standard. If someone wants to go for the hacker market, let them. There's enough room for everyone.

In fact, that's exactly what Google has done. The idea that normal people are going to care is amusing. They didn't care about all the USB mp3 players, what's going to make them care about this?

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

CodeInspired (896780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116034)

Why are you so adamantly defending a business model that results in nothing other than an across the board 10% price increase? It may work, as you have explained, but it’s definitely not a “good” thing for anyone other than Apple (or Sony, or Nintendo, or any other company just looking to add profit through licensing fees). I know I’m not the only one who would prefer 10% better speakers instead of paying the Apple tax.

Re:As someone who tried this... (2)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116614)

Well you seem to be missing my point, not sure if I wasn't being clear or what. I didn't deny it's profitable, I posted that you were correct on that part of what you were saying, but you seem to be upset about it anyways? Anyways, I'm not here to argue which is better, Android or iOS, that seems a huge waste of your, and my time.

But I am confused how can you really think that Android is no threat to the iPhone when it just surpased iOS in US market share. It hasn't caused the iPhone to fail overnight, but you're crazy if you think Cupertino isn't totally stressing how to move forward in the the next few years. In 2008 no one would have predicted Android taking #1, they would have thought it laughable, myself included. But here we are in a fiercly competative market, and it's great.

Anyways...My two main points are this: 1) Apple's proprietary connector *seems* like fake invention in order to extract license fees. And thus the entire mess they make people go through, (especially sending them your financial records and the per-unit tithe) seems like fruit from the poisonus tree. This is not to say that the ecosystem has no benefit. And of course I don't think they are required to license things for free -- but I don't think it's valuble when companies make up fake products in order to get a license fee or patent. It's not 100% clear to me that this is what is happening here though. I readily admit I'm not a hardware engineer, nor have I reviewed their patent(s) -- but it's hard to imagine technical reasons why USB and Firewire would not have sufficed at performing the job. And you havent really provided any evidence to contradict that. Do they have to use a standard? Of course not. But is it good for consumers when companies rebrand existing technology and throw a shiny new patent on it?

Regardless -- the point is -- it's clearly and obviously a higher barrier to entry. And one that *can* work for certain types of businesses and/or certain markets with dominating players. But it's not the *only* one.

2) On the other hand, Google's open-API approach (in this instance) vastly contrasts the business style of Apple, and could make for very interesting market competition in the years to come. If you really think this will have no effect, see above point about how much the G1 and Android were a total joke compared to the iPhone in 2008.

Rest of the post I will just try to address quickly as this conversation is draggin on at this point.

- The consumer argument is offtopic -- both ecosystems will provide ample accessories.
- You contend there is, and will continue to be, substantially less money to be made in the Android accessory market but have nothing, not even an anecdotal fact or statistic to back that up.
- Most Android devices use microUSB
- Coby is a bad example when discussing Android and iOS etc. I'm not saying go buy a flip phone or tin can and some yarn or some crap. All things *basically* are equal when discussing high end smarphones. They have their pros and cons. But I agree that it's obviously not the only thing to consider.
- With regards to Apple fixing the fee structure, the flat fee itself is more than the cost of some USB cables, so it could easily be a much higher percentage. I didn't say they were fixing it, just that it has changed. You just assumed they made it better.
- Entering into deals with Apple *is* risky, they can kick you out of the garden and clone your product at any time (same is true for anything built upon a layer of someone else's technology) However, using open standards makes this far less likely to happen.
- If the connector has no real tangible value beyond providing a road to a patent, then it benefits no one but Apple. Consumers are paying more for less and/or companies need to shave off the margin.
- The speaker/dock maker's statement was not meaningless because you have to make you product fit within a certain price point to sell. Adding 10% to your cost could mean that consumers will just ignore your product.
- Your games analogy was reductive because it ignored many of the key features of the devices your were comparing in order to fit your analogy, it also put and arbitrary use-case on it (gaming), and compared devices with very different purposes (console vs PC). Which have significant other factors at work, such as piracy, different processor specs, DirectX vs OpenGL, etc.
- The fact that you're arguing that an open-API approach can't have an impact just seems irrational given the evidence of Android's and Linux's success in the past few years.
Anyways I think I've written enough walls of text for this topic, but other than the insulting yawn stuff earlier (not really a big deal though), I do enjoy a good debate, so cheers for that.

Re:As someone who tried this... (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116038)

It's not just the money. For example, Apple requires a special authentication chip to be integrated into gadgets (though not headsets, keyboards etc.) that want to talk to the iPhone over Bluetooth, or it won't let them connect. This means that if you already have an existing Bluetooth-based widget, you can't release an iPhone app to talk to it, even if you can upgrade the firmware on your widget. You have to sign an NDA and contract with Apple, design a new version of the widget (with custom firmware for the Bluetooth controller, which may mean redesigning to use a different Bluetooth controller), and get everyone who's already bought one to pay again. Plus pay money to Apple for every one sold, of course.

Looks similar to the IBM days (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | more than 2 years ago | (#36117850)

The situation with Apple requiring a special chip be purchased and then paying them a fee for each product sold vs the Android open access and anyone can build an accessory to sell reminds me of the early Apple vz IBM days. Apple made all the hardware and software while there were many IBM clones. Due to the more open nature of the connectors and operating systems that run on each PC, the IBM version won out in the end. Apple products have always been praised for being well build and easy to use. I stayed away from them because I wanted to get into guts of whatever I was doing. I felt too restricted on Apple. It's just interesting that this new competiton looks very similar.

Re:As someone who tried this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36114964)

Slashdot's comment system is so perpetually fucked up. What's with only seeing the tops of all the letters now?

And I still can't click links in comments. It expands/collapses random shit instead of following the link. Wait - the second one I tried just worked. I feel lucky.

And half the time, "continue editing" flicks straight back to preview mode.

"magnetic core memory" extension board (3, Interesting)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113562)

A friend recently made a "magnetic core memory" extension board for an Arduino:

http://www.corememoryshield.com/report.html [corememoryshield.com]

Just an example (with pictures) of what can be done with these things. (Magnetic core memory was the main form of non-volatile memory for computers from the 50s through to the 70s.)

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113654)

Magnetic core memory was the main form of non-volatile memory for computers from the 50s through to the 70s

It was also the most commonly used form of RAM; I have an old Fortran textbook that says something to the effect of, "Semiconductor memory will probably become popular over the next decade." It is also the reason we still speak of "core dumps."

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113720)

Honestly this seems like something that would still have a place in modern applications that require very high reliability. I know it's horribly slow compared to what we have today but I wonder if it could have ever been fast enough to be useful in a modern system. Say for safety systems on reactors, in flight, and some labs...

Sometimes flights of fancy are just that though.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

MattskEE (925706) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113824)

With modern chip fabrication techniques they could potentially integrate a ferromagnetic material deposition into a stand chip process, and then possibly they could achieve densities and speeds of storage that are relevant in today's world.

But at the end of the day the target to beat is always silicon. Even if each bit of silicon non-volatile memory is less reliable, they can integrate vast numbers of bits in a given die area, and thus they have enough storage space that they can throw tons of error correction data into the storage. Industry's decision making process for a technology like this is basically "if it can be done in silicon, do it in silicon". So there needs to be some incredibly compelling benefit to magnetic core memory to make it more valuable than silicon in a given application.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36113946)

Its called FeRAM.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferroelectric_RAM

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116062)

As the AC said, there's something called FeRAM that basically does that. It uses the ferroelectric effect rather than ferromagnetism, and the physical structure is more similar to DRAM than to core memory, but it has pretty much the same properties. (In particular, it's non-volatile and writes erase the data for the same reason that they did in core memory.)

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 2 years ago | (#36118178)

It's basically old-school flash, with the benefits that it doesn't stop working after awhile and it's radiation-hard. It's also a lot slower than flash (possibly slower than a modern HDD, I don't recall the r/w timing), so I doubt we'll see it resurgent. I also believe it was hand-assembled up to the end, because there was no way to reliably automate the intricate threading process.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36114318)

You mean like Viking, Mariner, Voyager, Pioneer?

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115072)

It's also very large, and very expensive. Being a silverback, I remember when the cost dropped below 1 cent per bit - that's $10,000 per megabit! I think it was about 1975. And IIRC the highest density 1024-byte core card at that time was about eight inches on a side. I think they were all still hand-assembled at least until then.

Ahh, Here's better data (a bit later) [wikipedia.org] :

In 1980, the price of a 16 kW (kiloword, equivalent to 32kB) core memory board that fitted into a DEC Q-bus computer was around US$3,000. At that time, core array and supporting electronics fit on a single printed circuit board about 25 x 20 cm in size, the core array was mounted a few mm above the PCB and was protected with a metal or plastic plate.

These days it might be possible to use chip-making techniques or 3D printing to 'print' very tiny core memory units, building up the conductors and ferrite a layer at a time.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113858)

"Core memory would probably have been a lot less popular had it been a write-only technology" :)

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36114166)

That's awesome! I didn't know anything about those, but that's a GENIUS way of doing it. I wish they'd introduce concepts like these in A+ kinda classes, 'cause it'd make understanding memory much easier.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114278)

Magnetic core memory was the main form of non-volatile memory for computers from the 50s through to the 70s.

I was working with a system using magnetic core in 1991. IIRC there was 64000 30-bit words internal to the CPU crate and 2 external units of 256000 30-bit words. The system was phased out during 90s.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

nsaspook (20301) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114308)

was working with a system using magnetic core in 1991. IIRC there was 64000 30-bit words internal to the CPU crate and 2 external units of 256000 30-bit words. The system was phased out during 90s.

UYK series?

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (2)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114508)

AQS-901. Airborne, real-time acoustic processing. For added flavour we patched binaries on-tape with paper tape patch reels.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

nsaspook (20301) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114694)

We mainly used UYK-20s with old UYK-7s for fire-control. Those babies could take abuse. We ran ours with battle-short switches enabled because in the comm shack it would get so hot the ECL chips on the CPU boards would give errors and halt unless you set it to run until the machine melted.

http://www.kh6bb.org/photos1.html [kh6bb.org]
Yea, we used tape readers for program loading, mainly mylar but as you said some patch tapes were paper.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115210)

Overheating wasn't a problem for these systems. The aircraft cabin was kept a chilly 15 Celsius (60F, approx) to keep the electronics happy... not so good for the crew though. The magnetic core memory was a godsend when the aircraft power glitched. You could restart the software, state largely intact, without having to reload from tape.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36114404)

That's fascinating. I had no clue the Arduino could do such cool stuff. It's not like any other microcontroller, or even the same Atmel microcontroller on a different dev board, would be able to interface to obsolete memory types.

Nothing against Arduinos -- they're a fine dev board -- but I don't get why so many so-called geeks think they're something special and unique. Or why they think it's on-topic to mention here...

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (4, Insightful)

TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114476)

There is nothing intrinsically special about Arduino in the same way there is nothing intrinsically special about Ubuntu. The thing that makes them special is the communities that build around them helping each other.

This means that getting started with Arduino means I get to do cool stuff with microprocessors sooner. I actually implemented a link for fire panels over Ethernet using Arduino and some basic programming knowledge. I could have used a range of other systems to do the job but I selected Arduino because I could buy some of the "Shields" off the shelf and was able to make the rest using prototype boards.

Time to market 3 weeks. Experience before with Microprocessors 0 weeks.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

xded (1046894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116212)

Nice learning project!

However ferromagnetism is not for learning only. Check stuff over at TI for FRAM powered uCs [ti.com] and their advantages.

The standardization brought by Arduino both in hardware and software tools is good, but people should understand that a '90s Atmel microcontroller isn't all what's out there...

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 2 years ago | (#36118430)

a '90s Atmel microcontroller isn't all what's out there...

Indeed. I just bought a TI Launchpad [ti.com] for US$4.30 (with free shipping!). It's a complete development board for the MSP430 MCU, and you can download a free IDE (not open-source, but you can use mspgcc too). Nowhere near the third-party support the Arduino has, but it's a capable little chip and only costs a (US) quarter in quantity.

Re:"magnetic core memory" extension board (1)

xded (1046894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116250)

Nice learning project!

However ferromagnetism is not for learning only. Check over at TI for FRAM powered uCs [ti.com] and their advantages.

The standardization brought in hardware and software tools by Arduino is good, but people should understand that a '90s Atmel microcontroller isn't everything that's out there...

Had a "core memory" terminal and acoustic coupler (1)

clay_shooter (1680300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36117656)

I picked up a magnetic core memory based terminal and acoustic coupler in college. It was ancient even when I got it in the early-eighties. The unit weighed about 60 pounds and came with 4(?) ferrite bead memory boards that were maybe 10x10 inches. You could turn it off and unplug it and it would always turn back on with your last screen contents. I chuckled every time I turned it on because it was pretty unusual behavior for a terminal. ADM3s were popular around that time but I kept the beast of a terminal for years because I thought it was retro-cool.

Yes, but (2)

Zerth (26112) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113594)

Why are they charging nearly $400 for something that you can buy separately for $200?

Re:Yes, but (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36113620)

Why not?

I'll sell it to you for $800.

Re:Yes, but (2)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113758)

200$? An arduino costs 20-30$ O_o.

Re:Yes, but (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113972)

Apparently the Arduino-based Google Android tool costs a lot more than just an Arduino (or than an Arduino plus a couple of USB shields.) It's an open design you can build yourself, but they're not selling the hardware cheap.

Re:Yes, but (2)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113780)

Probably because Google doesn't want to get into the Arduino hardware business, but they do want to make getting the proper board as easy as possible. If price is not an issue you can get precisely the right board from directly from Google. If you are on a budget, you can do a bit of research and save yourself some money. Everyone wins.

Re:Yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36114136)

I've been selling an Android bridge board for a year for $40. email me. mkb at libero dot it

Re:Yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36114518)

Nah, wait till Sparkfun makes this available. They'll crank them out for much less.

Ideal for commercial applications? (1)

no_opinion (148098) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113770)

Arduino is great, I've got my own, but it seems like the choice you'd make if you were pursuing hobbyists instead of commercial device manufacturers. Am I wrong?

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (4, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113996)

Well, you can use the same chip (ATmega2560) for any commercial application, so you can use the Arduino for prototyping and then reuse the code for the final product.

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114680)

I seriously don't understand the Arduino obsession that so many people have. It's just another chip, it's not any more special than others out there, it's not cheaper, or faster, or easier to use. I mean it's just an AVR with some pre-attached IO modules. The only difference I can see between Arduino and any other ATmega based eval board is that it comes with some dumbed down programming environment for people who don't want to use C/assembler.

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (4, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114744)

I'm not Bad Analogy Guy so I'll be a bit more literal: The point of Arduino is precisely that dumbed down programming environment, it brings the concept of basically making something computerised (to a point) to an a MUCH larger group of people than before. Right now there are tons of people out there doing things with these chips, making all kinds of little hacks and projects, that would ordinarily have thought "Hey what if I could do X? Oh, too complicated, what a damn shame" and are instead thinking "An arduino could probably do that".

Now for anyone that really does know coding and how to work chips and whatnot giving them an Arduino and making them use it "normally" is like giving them Duplos, but it's still Strictly Better for everyone to have these kinds of easily accessible solutions around for all the people that DON'T know that kind of thing. Sure a lot of them basically just sit there in easy-mode and never go any deeper but others will learn more in time, and just having it THERE makes the concept that much more ubiquitous.

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (4, Informative)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115222)

I agree 100%. Arduino is like the legos of microcontrollers. I've used many plain Atmel microcontrollers before and there was a steeper learning curve, whereas Arduino has been very quick, cheap and FUN!

There is also the benefit of reasonably standard IO wiring, so that when the community shares projects they are dealing with common hardware layouts.

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (3, Insightful)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114882)

You just answered your own question, and you still don't understand?
"it comes with some dumbed down programming environment for people who don't want to use C/assembler."

Bingo!

How many people do you know that were taught assembler in school? I was taught because I was in an industrial electronics program, emphasis on industrial manufacturing and maintenance. I think they quit teaching assembler to CS students in the mid '80s, and quit teaching C soon after, shifting to C++/Java. How many people do you think were programming PCs when you had to flip switches, as compared to just typing it in and hitting enter?

CLUE: Make something convenient to use, and people will use it. Make it necessary, but inconvenient, and people won't. Are you sure you're smart enough to be allowed here?

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36114936)

Heh. I bet back in the mid '80s, electrical engineers didn't need to know a blessed thing about programming anything. Now, a microcontrollers class (with almost everything in assembly, a little C towards the end) is required for EEs at my alma mater. It's not like it's not taught anymore, just the mainstreaming of microcomputers means a different set of people need to understand how a computer works so they understand what happened when their C code crashes it.

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (1)

clay_shooter (1680300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36117932)

Heh. I bet back in the mid '80s, electrical engineers didn't need to know a blessed thing about programming anything.

Right and we could only run our vacuum tube devices in electrical storms because there was no electrical grid.

I was a lab TA for a micro-electronics course. We used Z8 processors building traffic light controllers and the other projects they still do today. I loved the Z8 either with a built in serial port the piggy back 2K EPROM or the embedded basic interpreter.

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115102)

This makes it good for learning how stuff works, doing a quick on-off hack, etc. But this article seems to imply they want to make production hardware from it. And for production hardware you'd want to be a bit more robust...

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#36117684)

Well, that's the difference between a lab prototype and a production model, innit? Unless you're one of those people who (A) don't believe in prototyping, or (B) think you can stick a case on your prototype, box it up, and sell it as the production model.

And frankly, this does feel like a hobbyist toolset, but a lot of very influential system designs started out as some hobbyist's garage project.

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | more than 2 years ago | (#36115938)

There's a course in assembly that's required for all Software Engineer and Computer Science--Computer Technology majors at my university right now. They're offering the course this semester, in fact.

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116744)

Furthermore, if I want to work in assembler I have to think a lot more about what the processor is doing. This is less true on non-x86 architectures since you don't have to stuff particular data into particular registers so much but it's still an issue. Arduino lets you use C which is good enough for most purposes since today we can afford to use hardware inefficiently. If you consider that an Arduino around a buck runs 8MHz then you can see how true that is.

Re:Ideal for commercial applications? (1)

Builder (103701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116118)

Rapid prototyping.

You can build something and take it to a VC without ever needing to solder a connection.

Lame (-1, Flamebait)

TheTyrannyOfForcedRe (1186313) | more than 2 years ago | (#36113896)

Arduino is the Visual Basic of the embedded world.

Re:Lame (4, Insightful)

Naurgrim (516378) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114000)

I see I did not get in before the Arduino haters. Yes, I know, it's a simple board, I understand that it's not a PIC or whatever embedded thing you prefer. I accept that. But it's a nice, easy to use board. It's fun. You can do stuff quickly with it. It's good for quick little things. I'm sorry that us Arduino users don't measure up to your expectations. I'm not going to tell you that you are wrong for your embedded choices. Can I get the same courtesy?

Re:Lame (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114328)

Don't forget, you can always pull the chip off after you're done testing (replacing any board-specific code with target specific) and burn it into production devices.

There's no reason it needs to stay on the Arduino dev board. It's just so handy that way that few feel the need.

The end of "Made for Ipod" ?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36113930)

Okay, while this is kind of interesting, it was obviously written by a horrible optimist. One of his claims is that, by releasing a toolkit designed for the arduino, not only will Google get a whole bunch of professionally made new accessories, and this will lead apple to abandon the "Made for Ipod/Iphone" designations.

He's obviously overlooking two points:
1. This is obviously designed for those who make hardware as a hobby. It's a cool hobby, and every once in a while something that would be useful generally comes out of it, but makers aren't making stuff that the average person wants.

2. He really thinks that Steve Jobs is going to let anyone wrest control from him in the i-device market? Jobs is easily the same level of control freak as most Communist dictators (not the same level of evil, but Jobs isn't going to let anyone spoil his private utopia).

Re:The end of "Made for Ipod" ?!? (1)

stilldead (233429) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114102)

1. This is also designed for anyone who wants to make money. People/companies who have never touched Arduino in their life may become interested and start developing interesting things. A giant market share can attract a lot of attention.

2. Steve Jobs is currently busy hoping someone will develop an Android/Arduino based liver/pancreas/spleen/who knows what other internal organ replacement and not giving nearly as much time to his dictatorship.

Re:The end of "Made for Ipod" ?!? (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116210)

1. This is obviously designed for those who make hardware as a hobby. It's a cool hobby, and every once in a while something that would be useful generally comes out of it, but makers aren't making stuff that the average person wants.

You know what caused the last couple of tech bubbles? The fact that it's really easy to write some software as a hobby, then commercialise it later. Google wants to do the same sort of thing with Android accessories. If 1,000 people make an accessory as a hobby, then one of them may have a really great design. They can then probably get funding to turn it into a shipping product (I imagine that Google has primed some VC funds to do exactly that). Going from working prototype to shipping product is largely a question of having sufficient money to invest.

Because it's too weak to "tether" (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114200)

The AtMega (the actual CPU) is too weak to use enough data to load down the cellular network. You couldn't, for example, decompress video with it. So people aren't going to build accessories which let you watch TV over your Android connection.

There's nothing wrong with those parts, but they're for tiny programs.

Re:Because it's too weak to "tether" (2)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114240)

Don't most Android phones have the bits needed to watch TV over the network connection built right in?

Re:Because it's too weak to "tether" (2)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114644)

Depends. It could be that the part will basically be used to repackage data so that a on-phone app can deal with it.

Consider their demonstrated use case of a exercise bike feeding activity data to a phone app that then use that as input for a game.

Not *just* Arduino (5, Informative)

brian.swetland (1739666) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114386)

Keep in mind that the *any* device that supports USB Host mode can be an Accessory. There's a full open source reference implementation for Arduino, but the protocols are documented and open and you can implement it on any hardware you like.

Docs and Specs: http://accessories.android.com/ [android.com]

Google IO Talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7szcpXf2rE [youtube.com]

Re:Not *just* Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36115310)

microchip has announced a android development kit.. for all you pic fans out there.

http://new.eetimes.com/electronics-products/electronic-product-reviews/boards-buses-products/4215898/Microchip-rolls-Accessory-Development-Kits-for-Android?Ecosystem=embedded

Why did Google choose Arduino? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36114596)

For blog cred

What i would have hope for: (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116044)

that they say: from android 3.0 on devices are expected to have usb host functionality to get access to the app store and must mandatory implement usb standard protocols to talk to hardware.

advantages:

-standards hubs exist

-Mass storage could be attached

-HID devices could be uses AND the specialized HID devices designed for the use with Android devices could be used with other devices

-Testing of the device could happen easily on your personal computer

-Availability of hundreds of ultra-cheap reference implementations including small microprocessors.

Until they do this: Thanks, i will stay with some arduino bluetooth module. Costs a little extra, but can be attached to anything.

Bluetooth also works well for Arduino (1)

AC-x (735297) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116234)

It's a nice idea, but only supporting a usb connection? I've already used an Arduino with a bluetooth module to communicate with my android phone over a BT serial connection, worked rather well.

Perfect for open hardware projects like RepRap? (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#36116460)

Just posted here: http://groups.google.com/group/openmanufacturing/browse_thread/thread/8d32987e3767c868# [google.com]

So, is this going to make an Android phone an important part of a lot of open source hardware projects (including RepRap perhaps)?

Note also:
    http://faircompanies.com/diy/view/make-your-own-open-source-android-smartphone/ [faircompanies.com]
"Flow DIY is an open source hardware platform so anyone can make a smartphone with the Android operating system and the exact capabilities one is looking for. Its components as well as the final creation by the user are open source, a first step toward the generalization of DIY devices. Interest is growing in personalizing not only software and web applications, but in everyday devices. A legion of DIYers are demanding tools to create increasingly more sophisticated devices. ..."

As I've said elsewhere, with the turnover rate of Smartphones, in two or three years, today's generation of smartphones will be free-as-in-discarded. :-) So, it can make sense to build stuff for them, especially since if they are free-as-in-discarded-beer then they can be free for kids to use for educational things (like instead of the OLPC XO-1). Reference:
    http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-November/006250.html [listcultures.org]

That's one reason I started working on Android software (and under a three-years-and-its-free-under-the-GPL model that I am still conflicted
about).
    http://www.artificialscarcity.com/ [artificialscarcity.com]

Still, sadly my Google Developer Smartphone died several after I got it and I never got around to sending it in for replacement, so I guess there is an amount of old phones that will not be usable for similar reasons (but I doubt that will be the majority). Also, as people have pointed out, the Smartphone batteries tend to go, making them less useful as they age (although I guess you could hack in some alternative power if you were motivated).

Still, I'd suggest that if one is making an open manufacturing project that requires computing, integrating an Android Smartphone might be an interesting idea.

Re:Perfect for open hardware projects like RepRap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36116926)

I think the idea here is that every accessory will also function as a charger. Your ex ex ex android phone with a battery that lasts 5 minutes should work fine with accessories, since it will be topped off constantly by the accessory.

But this standard is not compatible with the versions of Android that are out now, so it's going to be a while until these devices begin to lie around in drawers.

Re:Perfect for open hardware projects like RepRap? (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36118656)

So, it can make sense to build stuff for them, especially since if they are free-as-in-discarded-beer then

I'm pretty sure nobody would want my discarded beer... but if you do I can start getting some mason jars to put it in.

Android @ home (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36116510)

The coolest thing about this presentation came right after the stuff about accessories (Video [youtube.com] ). Google claims that they have "designed an open, wireless protocol" for devices that don't speak WiFi or Bluetooth. This is supposed to enable "very low cost connectivity with anything that's electrical in your home".

A little more detail: link [techradar.com] . Seems that it's low speed, which is okay, and that they're using the 900 MHz band which means that sadly it's not going to be for Europe.

USB Media control? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36117928)

Does this mean car and home stereo/media player manufacturer's can finally start supporting Android USB media control in competition to the annoyingly ubiquitous 'ipod docks'? (obviously the dock part would be dropped in favor of USB cable due to different physical form factors). I really want to be able to skip songs with steering wheel controls...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...