Thereís enough greatness and pettiness to go around in the cramped courtroom of Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose Federal Court where Apple and Samsung are suing each other for patent infringement.
Apple deserves some kind of acknowledgement for creating something unique with the iPhone, a distinctive looking handset that put Web access in your pocket along with a phone and music wrapped in easy to use software. In its own way, the equally distinctive iPad also was different from tablets that went before in its clear focus on consumer Web browsing with really easy-to-use software.
But how do you express that in the arcane language of a patent? The patent system is encrusted with obtuse procedures and stiff, vague language. It needs a course with Strunk and White, the masters of crisp writing and thinking. As many have noted, patents have become a quantity game, not a quality metric.
Apple did a reasonable job trying to write patents on all the neat little ideas it put into its casings and coded into software. But they should not have been written as a few dozen patents, rather they should have been written as a few dozen claims in one iPhone patent.
Imagine an iPhone patent with claims on the shape of the device, the metal bezel, the big screen, the colorful, well-lit icons on a black background that bounce back and snap to the screen. Imagine them written in plain English rather than fusty patent-ese.
There would be no problem for a jury of average San Jose Joes and Janes determining whether or not such a patent was violated.
Excuse me, now, while I proceed to take Apple off its holier-than-thou pedestal. I am as touched by anyone by the emotional language of Steve Jobs that still lives on at Apple and has been invoked often in Judge Kohís courtroom, but letís tell the other side of that story.
The lofty language of Steve Jobs also acts as a drug to dupe talented Apple employees into overworking and living unbalanced lives. It has been used to brainwash Apple employees into believing they are somehow better than other people that put their pants on one leg at a time.
Get real, Apple! You donít own the rectangle with rounded corners. You didnít invent the smartphone, capacitive touch screen displays or browsers on handsets.
You arenít the only creators of beauty on Planet Earth. Compared to Samsung you donít do much work on forwarding the fundamental technologies that give us the LCDs, batteries, communications networks and microprocessors we need to make cool gadgets of all kinds.
That said, you used all those components damn well. So give yourself a pat on the back, and take that chip off your shoulder while you are doing it.
And while youíre getting humble, letís hear a little more candor about how the electronics industry uses low-cost labor. It didnít start with you by any means, but maybe you can use your clout and fat bankroll to bring some meaningful reforms to labor practices. After all, your complex designs that require lots of hand assembly have certainly pushed the edge of this dark side of the Industrial Revolution 2.0.
What I see at the heart of the matter is that this case will define how smart phones are copied going forward. I don't think Apple has the right to rounded corners in a device, but it is not right if I see a smart phone and I confuse it with an Apple product.
Where do you draw the line?
A nice balanced view of both sides. I think at the end of the day, it seems that nowadays that the gladiators of old are replaced now by armies of lawyers doing pretty much the same thing - bloodying the competition into submission or death irrespective of any fundamental moral rights or wrongs that may exist. Reams of arrows before are replaces by reams of money now, and the one who has the most, usually wins.
The patent swamps are filled with alligators, patent lawyers, pharma companies, a sprinkling of engineering, and elsewhere it is mined, so careful where you stand or step. What was good in the late 1700s no longer serves us now. Pharma companies want protection for as long as possible, but business patents, software patents, and many electronics patents outlive their technology. Even though prior art exists in many electronics patents, the legal fees are too high to risk court cases for many, who simply settle. It should be easier to invalidate poor patents, but again, the cost is too high, which is not something engineers can solve, and the legal guardians have no incentive to. We will visit this same mess in ten years time.
Appple could have found alternative key component suppliers instead of Samsung but so far They have not. What this tells you is Samsung has probably the lowest cost of production for Apple and the moment Apple switches to other suppliers, either your iphone price will go up or Apple won't make as high margin as it used to. I bet it is a big headache for Apple right now.
Samsung and Apple are too big as suppliers/customers not to work with each other.
But given the fierceness of their handset competition, Apple would be wise to find alternative key component suppliers if it can find any who can deliver what Samsung can.
First, don't see evidence that Samsung deliberately hold it back from Apple; second, even they did, there is nothing wrong in it. Apple must have been well aware of this when they made the decision unless you want to say Apple is stupid
Back in Mar 2012 Apple brought out the iPad with its A5X dual core quad graphics processor in it Fabbed by Samsung still with their old 45 nm non HKMG gate oxide process. The result: a larger die, more heat dissipation requiring a heat spreader and clumsier spread out arrangement with slower SoC to Memory access.
Just 2.5 months later in Jun 2012 Samsung brought out their own Galaxy S3 with a Quadcore SoC built by their latest 32 nm HKMG gate oxide. Result : smaller and faster die uses only 1200 mWatt, no heat spreader, memory stacked over SoC, higher bandwidth.
Could Samsung not have hurried up their 32 nm process to build the A5X for Apple and save Apple a lot of technical hassles ? Did they deliberately hold it back from Apple, their largest Customer & Competitor ?
What does Wall St. have to say about Apple continuing to depend on Samsung, their largest competitor for a key component like the SoC which has such major impact on system performance ?