Mobile Competition Part 2: Great Artists Steal
1. gallitoking (Posts: 4700; Member since: 17 May 2011)
great follow up story... great job Michael...
125. Steal (unregistered)
It was a steal!
2. Bob (unregistered)
Well all these 'Phone operating system wars' will settle down one day and finally there will be only one 'market leader'. Almost 6.5 billion people in the world, these 'wars' are concerned to a fraction of people. Windows phone could be the winner.
74. ayephoner (Posts: 837; Member since: 09 Jun 2009)
like there is only one car manufacturer?
like there is only one computer OS?
what on earth makes you say this?
79. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Admittedly, there may be more than one computer OS, but it's not like it's much of a competition there. Windows is still at 86% of the market.
Still, I doubt there will be one market leader mobile OS any time soon. And, even if there is, it's not like iOS or Android fans would be quiet. I mean we all see how quiet OSX advocates are, and that's barely 6% of the market.
3. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)
Good article, but I disagree on one point. I think ip should be protected because in the tech business that's how you make money. Ideas.
That's why Apple has been so successful.
9. Mark (unregistered)
11. Commentator (Posts: 2641; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
That's how you make money in any business. I agree that Samsung should be sued over the similarities of the TouchWiz UI, which is a blatant copy, but I'm not convinced that their Galaxy S/Tab form-factors are similar enough to iPhones and iPads to warrant legal action. TouchWiz is useless (IMO) anyways, so Samsung should just take it off their phones.
12. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
If that were true, how would any open-source products like Firefox, Linux, Android, etc. ever make money?
In tech, as in all business, you make money on execution. You make money on marketing IP correctly, and that's why Apple has been so successful. Apple knows how to build beautiful and accessible devices, and market them so that the general public understands why they should buy it.
HP and Palm have proven that having a good, protected IP doesn't mean anything if it isn't executed right.
18. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)
They'd have to come up with original ways to implement functionality.
22. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
There is no such thing as "original ways". That's the point, everything is built upon what came before it. Because of that, there's no real intellectual "property". You can't own an idea, because that idea has roots in everything you've learned from others. Nothing is original, but many things are innovative.
37. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)
Whether original or innovative, the concept behind patent law is that the 'inventor' gets a period of exclusivity to encourage them to expend the effort and $ to invent. The exclusivity is something that investors will invest in if they think they can make a return on their investment.
I wonder if Apple would have gotten into the phone business if they didn't think they had an angle from a patent perspective.
112. waveydavey (unregistered)
To piggy back, part of the idea of patents is to also encourage inventors to share new technologies and still reap rewards through licensing. I guess this might still be what you call shared exclusivity: "pay me, and you can join the club too".
55. AppleFUD (unregistered)
well put. . . taco50 can't grasp that idea. that all of apple's "IP" is nothing more than tweaks to existing tech. . . maybe he's just one of those simpletons that is easily hypnotized by marketing and whatnot. . . and just believes it all. You know, like the old lady that thinks a soap opera is real.
93. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
theres no point trying to explain...in tacos eyes everything apple has ever done is nothing but original even if the facts state the so called original idea existed before apple came up with it...your article explained everything perfectly...
51. biophone (Posts: 1900; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
Mike great article you changed my opinion on IP.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
Steve jobs would be proud of you mike. However I don't like blatant copies they should add your own innovations especially in design but for features I am ok with "stealing."
14. where IP is concerned (unregistered)
I think IP should be recognised more, but not so much as overly-protected patents to be used to sue and keep ideas to oneself.. I agree with what Michael H has brought up in the article in that ideas are meant to be shared and made ubiquitous, so that as new ideas become standard, everyone benefits, and the system and manufacturers are forced to continue to innovate.. by protecting IP with so many patents, the system is effectively restricting innovation, because new ideas are generally built upon existing technology and and implemented in a way that's appealing to everyone.. just like how the iPhone revolutionised the touchscreen smartphone era, it wasn't that the tech did not exist, or Apple invented the tech behind it, they simply got the headstart and ideas to implement it in the best possible way then..
likewise, it only stands that consumers are allowed to enjoy the innovations and ideas that are shared and spread around into our everyday lives.. if you think about it, how much would it suck if everyone had to buy a Ford Model T because every other car company back in the days were prevented from building a car that was as good, or better, based on the tech that was in the original Ford.. if the patent war existed back then, effectively, no other car companies would be allowed to build a car with 4 wheels, using a combustion engine, gear systems to vary speeds and other innovations back then..
16. vu2ikl (Posts: 11; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)
well.. that's because as Michael said. all the "innovative" ideas have roots in some old ideas. so that is not actually a complete new idea as such.
27. remixfa (Posts: 14252; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
And as soon as apple has a patent for icon colors and a menu grid, I will agree with you.
Apple is the king of stealing, which is why they have to share their gargantuan profits with everyone else. They keep losing patent infringement lawsuits.
52. biophone (Posts: 1900; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
Steve would agree with you
116. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
That line has been taken out of context by people with simple minds. First of all, that was Picasso's line, not Steve's. 2ndly, what Steve meant by what he said, is to LEGALLY own ideas from people that they hire, not literally from anyone. But of course, readers with low IQ will take what he said literally. Oh well.
Use common sense. If all that Apple have are stolen IP's, they would've been shut down a long time ago.
119. s (unregistered)
In that case apple should be sued for making any 4' or bigger phone screens since they sued samsun for coping the shape square from their products
6. surya_020 (unregistered)
Very good article...nice work phonearena....appreciated..finally the winners will be consumers who will get better products for what they are paying :)....
8. Penny (Posts: 1361; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)
Very well written article and a thoughtful take on the nature of innovation. I come from a background of user-centered design, and we too were taught that innovation is not about inventing a new product, but taking a currently existing product and finding ways to make it better for the user.
10. Nick Graham (unregistered)
That was the most beautifully written article I have ever read! This is a fanboy must-read, because it made me realize that this competition is in fact not winnable and there's no point in flaming other operating systems
13. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Thanks! I hope you went back to Part 1 if you didn't read that.
17. Nick Graham (unregistered)
I did and I loved that one too. It helped me decide to go the WP7 route :)
15. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
Nice article, bookmarking these two in same folder for others to read! Good job
Michael! A tad more serious than the last one but still brilliant! I probably couldn't write an article purely on Phone manufacturers disputes and IP. Btw is Basil K still working at PA? I liked him.
19. bolaG (Posts: 468; Member since: 15 Aug 2011)
Great stuff Mike. To bad even after all the fanboys read this article the wars will never end.
23. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Doesn't mean we stop trying to end the silliness.
28. remixfa (Posts: 14252; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
on the flip side, if you ended the silliness the boards would die and advertisements would go down.. which means less money to go around for PA staff. :)
Thats why we have you writing inciteful articles that take a middle ground, and others writing stuff that is nothing more than flame bait to entice us into fighting. That "look what samsung is copying" post yesterday is point in fact of that.
You realize you spent an entire paragraph saying samsung is copying apple, but ya never brought up the fact that apple gets sued time and time again and normally loses for copying others with things that are actually patented. tisk! :)
there is a difference between design similarities and patent infringement.
29. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
I've always contested that Samsung is liable on design charges, but not necessarily patent charges. Besides, the point of the article wasn't really rooted in the patent system, but more the public perception of the ecosystem. We all know the patent system is broken and ridiculous, but we may not realize how that broken system affects our own perceptions of the market.
20. protozeloz (Posts: 5387; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)
don't know if this applies but here goes a good example of why Ideas should be "shared" between companies to come up with a much refined product.
everyone know webkit, ad for those who don't
webkit took info from a GNU Lesser General Public License project, when Apple took it the project was lacking stuff but they saw future on what they saw, adding some improvements webkit was born, thanks to the webkit being open source many other companies took it ad developed their own versions based on what the webkit was not only making their changes better but also giving it some new improvements.
other example could be the first generation iPhone, it took some stuff that was available and added its own IP to make a new device, I personally think that making a picture puzzle out of mixed puzzle parts should be considered an even greater achievement that creating an armed puzzle with your parts only, apple looked at that moment at something other phone companies din't saw, or maybe where doubtful to create.
no company can make a product successful without taking some of the things that are hovering around, market moves around seeing whats available for you and asking the question "how about we?"
21. Sniggly (Posts: 7227; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
It was a great article, Michael, but you missed out on what angers those of us who dislike Apple the most: we don't mind that Apple does what works and is willing to recognize and imitate others' great ideas. What angers us is the double standard Apple has of being clearly willing to take from everyone else, but going totally apes**t the moment a functionality, feature or design cue they came up with first shows up on a competitor's device.
24. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Why should that anger anyone? Why even pay attention? It's all part of the strategy: Apple iterates on a strict cycle, and can't allow others to run too far ahead. Apple doesn't want to kill innovation with these fights, it just wants to control the pace of innovation to fit its schedule.
26. Sniggly (Posts: 7227; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
Because that's a strategy that a fascist regime uses, not a business. "Nobody else is allowed to do this but us! WE must be the innovators! How dare anyone but us get money for their ideas?!"
30. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
You can't as easily choose an alternative with a fascist regime. If you don't like how Apple does business, don't give them your money. To call the company fascist misses the point entirely.
34. gallitoking (Posts: 4700; Member since: 17 May 2011)
hope he listen to you Michael.. but they want Apple to be like Android so they can dump Android.. thats why he is so emotional on this topics... so much for being neutral like you said huh Michael?...
39. Sniggly (Posts: 7227; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
When they're actively trying to use government muscle to lock everyone else out of the market (i.e. banning products WORLDWIDE which will take months to redesign in order to get around the broken patent system) Apple is starting to seem more like a fascist regime, albeit one that isn't completely in power yet.
I haven't given a cent to Apple, and likely never will, but the problem is that even if I don't their actions still stand to impact my environment as a customer. If they are successful in banning every Android product from the market (like they're clearly aiming to do) then that removes the choice I have been making as a customer for the last three years.
I get the argument: "If you don't like it, don't give them your money." "If you don't like it, don't move there." "If you don't like it, don't vote for them." "If you don't like it, MOVE OUT." The problem is, though, that eventually if we take this kind of approach and ultimately don't raise a public voice of protest, how much more power are we ultimately giving Apple to bully who they want to bully? We may not live within their fascist regime, but we can sure as hell still be affected by the wars they've started.
Am I still missing the point, Michael? Or are you still missing mine?
46. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
I think you're grossly overestimating the ramifications of the legal action. Apple can seek an ITC injunction, but keep in mind, no company has EVER been granted one. Samsung lost its case more because of the packaging, connector cable, and power adapter rather than the actual design of the Tab itself. Everything Apple does is ultimately just a nuissance, and a waste of money, because there are no teeth behind it.
My point is that Apple is acting like a d**k, and probably doesn't put consumers first, but it isn't doing anything illegal or anticompetitive at all. There's no law stating that Apple be an abusive husband with its customers. I'd really like it if there were, but it's the choice of the company whether its brand can take some heavy mud slinging.
49. Sniggly (Posts: 7227; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)
Hmm. Granted, their efforts may come to naught here in the U.S., but they have been successful in their efforts elsewhere in the world, which is still a dangerous precedent. They're trying not only to mess with their customers, but the customers of their competitors.
They may ultimately fail, but the fact is that they're TRYING, which is still upsetting.
80. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Apple is trying, but the only place it is succeeding (or even has a chance to succeed) is with Samsung products where the cords and adapters are blatantly copied from Apple and TouchWiz is very Apple-inspired to say the least. Any fight other than with Samsung may result in settlements and exchanges of money, but none of the other battles have any chance of ending in any kind of embargo.
94. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
i would like to say that touchwiz 4 is nothing like ios...the cord and adapters i agree does look like the same in the US but in the UK they are nothing a like...my guess is just like the US carriers like to change the design of the phones,do you think they maybe also change the design of the cords and adapters...even the actual; packaging is different in the US...just a thought...everryone keeps saying the tab and ipad look the same from the front but thats because both samsung and apple go for the minimalistic look which has proven popular...also with that being the only thing similar,there is alot more differences...even if i were right it would have been better if apple were more like other companies and accepted loyalties instead of actually trying to ban and take choices away from people...i dont care if you a fanboy of android or apple etc but you should never accept choice being taken away from you.
47. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Or rather, it's up to Apple if it wants to be a bully. Sorry, got this conversation mixed up with illa. You're calling Apple a bully, illa is saying Apple is abusive with its customers (or negligent at least.)
31. ilia1986 (unregistered)
Awesome Article, Michael!
However - I think that what also angers a lot of people - like myself who DO own Apple products - but feel mistreated - is one of the things you wrote in your article: Apple likes to implement features when they are fully mature and optimized.
However if one looks at Android, one already sees a lot of unique features, which are totally absent from iOS to this very day - which already were fully implemented when released by Google. Widgets, live wallpapers, unobtrusive notifications, full voice control, etc etc were not just underdeveloped betas at launch. Sure, they can be further optimized and tweaked - but they were certainly not in beta-like stage when they first got to Android. Which brings me to:
Hardware longevity. Or rather lack of thereof. We are talking about the cellphone industry here which as we all know moves faster than a pissed off Dominic Torreno in Fast Five. I believe that a consumer simply CANNOT afford to wait for his phone's manufacturer's to meticulously tweak and optimize every single thing in every single major feature. Widgets were very cool @ 2009 when they first appeared. They were practically a necessity as noted by many reviewers of the iPhone 4 - @ 2010. Now the world is SCREAMING about them - as of WWDC 2011 in frustration - because Apple decided to implement them "differently". You yourself said that iOS is little but a glorified app launcher.
That's why people like myself are Angry with Apple. For withholding key features - for the sake of maximizing profits. Because when Widgets do come out - let's say in iOS 6 - I bet that only the iPhone 5\6 will be able to use them. Despite the fact that a 528Mhz, 192 MB Ram G1 could use them the day Android 1.5 launched. How Do I know this? iOS 4. Available for the iPhone 3G. Not available on the iPhone 2G. Despite same exact identical Hardware.
Let's not even talk about video recording and editing, iOS 5 photo editing for iPhone 4 only and a lot of other things.
That's how Apple works. It produces an underwhelming feature-wise product - makes everybody believe that it's the best ever - and then a year later makes a slightly better underwhelming feature-wise product. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.
32. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Forced obsolescence is Apple's way of creating false scarcity. There can't be too many choices, or the device isn't as new and cool. It's also another way that Apple controls the pace of innovation. You can't innovate as quickly if you have to make everything compatible with older technology. Besides, what's so terrible about paying $200 every 2 years for a new device? Even PCs start to feel sluggish after a couple years, with the speed of iteration in the mobile space, why would we want people with 3 year old phones slowing us down?
33. ilia1986 (unregistered)
Well first of all - two key points:
1. When it comes to PCs - you can format the thing and\or install Linux - and it runs like new.
2. Not everywhere phones cost 200$ for a 2 year contract. That's a very very spoiled price. Here @ Israel you get to either buy the phone via a carrier - which will cause you to pay about 65$ monthly - for 36 months AKA 3 YEARS to get that super hot smartphones at almost zero price - which originally is about 5000 NIS (GS2 price here) which are ~ 1350$ just for the phone. OR you can buy the phone from the free market, unlocked which is much cheaper - but still costs about 800$
Now - as for innovation and control. The thing is not so much as of how quickly a company decided to innovate on it's behalf. It's about what the end user - the customer - is robbed from - for quite a significant amount of time - until the company in question "Does it right". And when it does - oh look there is the iPhone 8GS which is better now, and that new feature we just implemented @ iOS 8? Well. We're removing it @ iOS 9 because it turns out that Widgets are just not cool in 2023. You see where I'm going? Product features - particularly when it comes to software features - have their time. And the time of Widgets was @ 2009. 2010. 2011 max. everything else is regarded by me as "too late for the party".
I mean, seriously. I own an iPhone 4. Someone else owns an HTC Evo 4G. Both made at about the same time.
Why does the Evo 4G have Widgets and Live wallpapers, while my phone does not? It's that simple for me. And I also believe that it's that simple for the Average Joe. The only reason imo that the Average Joe doesn't ask that question is because he\she are so obsessed with the iPhone as a status symbol - to the point that they do not care what they are giving up.
I am not the Average Joe. I bought the i4 because I was betting on possibility of Apple continuing the trend of user customization started @ iOS 4 with the inclusion of Homescreen wallpapers and folders. Needless to say how wrong was I when WWDC 2011 came by.
Sure, you can keep a closed ecosystem and all - provided you outfit it with the same key features as your competition. This is true of many other product types as well.
So no - it's not the 3-year old which is slowing us down. It's that 1-year old phone which is not getting those same software features which existed a year BEFORE that 1-year old phone was even manufactured. As of this day.
38. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
I understand that IPhones get very expensive in other parts of the world. However, I don't agree with the rest of your assessment.
Apple doesn't have a responsibility to the customer unless the customer stops buying. Until that point, Apple's only responsibility is to maximizing profits. So, of Apple wants to hold out certain features it's Apple's choice.
Besides, widgets are nice, but are love wallpapers really changing your purchase decision?
66. ilia1986 (unregistered)
Of course Apple doesn't have the responsibility. That's my whole point! Apple doesn't have to do anything! They can sell people a wooden brick and call it the best iPhone ever - and when it comes to Apple - they WILL sell it as long as it doesn't hurt it's profit margins.
It's not about what they have to do. It's about what is the right thing to do. And the right thing to do, is to provide your product with the same key features as your competitor's product. Just because the people who bought your product deserve to have these features as well. That is the right thing to do. And considering that implementing widgets and live wallpapers does not require a software engineering team of 90,000 people - seeing how some guy managed to create some HTML widgets and put them on cydia along with a simple management tool.
Moreso we are not talking about some recent feature. As I said - widgets have existed on Android back in 2009. We are in 2011 now. And Apple still has not implemented them.
As for the purchase decision - yes. If I would have known that @ WWDC 2011 Apple would not introduce widgets - unlike many speculated that they would - I would NOT have bought the iPhone 4. Because I believed that Apple would be generous\smart\competent\decent enough to provide it's products with the same key features as those of their competitor's.
A cellphone is a very personal item. For many people. When it comes to customization - many people, including myself - find it paramount to be able to customize the look and feel of the device to suit their needs and desires. It's HTC's prime philosophy concerning their products: Make it yours. Yours, not like everybody's. An iPhone to this day still looks like an iPhone in 2007. A homescreen with rows of icons. It's like wearing the same clothes everyday, or eating the same food everyday. It's unbearable.
81. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
As I pointed out in Part 1 of this piece: customization has never been a hallmark of Apple products, and you shouldn't expect it to be. If you like to customize the look and feel of your device, I don't know why you would be considering an iPhone at all. That's like buying a pear and being upset that it doesn't come in neat segments like an orange. You have the responsibility to understand what you are buying.
Apple doesn't have the responsibility to match features, and it's not even a matter of the "right thing to do". If you want widgets, and Apple doesn't have them, don't buy Apple. It's not that difficult. It is Apple's decision whether or not to include features in its device. We don't know the reasoning, maybe Apple doesn't want to mess with the now-iconic UI of iOS by adding something like widgets. Maybe Apple doesn't want to take focus away from the apps (and inside those apps are ads. No ads in widgets.) Maybe the minor time save of widgets just isn't worth it to Apple. Maybe Apple doesn't want to compound the criticism of "copying" Android.
Apple's entire business model has always been to make devices that are simple to use, easy to understand, and users know what they're getting. Adding widgets is a huge change to the UI, and you can still get all of that info on iOS by just launching an app. Yes, iOS looks today exactly as it did in 2007, because that's the way Apple wants it. If you expect that to suddenly change, that's your issue, not Apple's.
114. ilia1986 (unregistered)
Should I not? Why not? Apple made steps at the right direction with iOS 4. It was more than legitimate to expect them to continue this trend.
Apple doesn't have a responsibility to match features? Really? Ever saw a new car without a built-in radio? Without electric windows? Without electronic lock? You know - these aren't necessary - but they add value.
Why are you acting so forgiving towards Apple? Why do you think that as long as a company is profitable it can do whatever it wants with it's product? What about us? The consumers? Do we not deserve to have similar features? Especially in light of the "Apple copies Android, Android copies Apple" thing. The two operating systems are remarkably similar. Yet one of them is undeniably lacking in features. And it's not the one represented by a green robot.
I care not what is Apple's strategy. I purchased a product based on existing features of a competitive product - and based on the direction that company choose to go towards in their latest software update (iOS 4). The pattern chosen matches the direction in which those unique features on a competitive product lie. That's why I chose the iPhone 4. I would have chosen the Galaxy S - if it had a flash on it's camera. So I choose a product which I believed was going to be significantly similar feature-wise after the next software update. Needless to say I was disappointed. And because I am not as forgiving towards a product lacking in features - like you appear to be - I will absolutely not buy another Apple product in my entire life. Ever.