"If Samsung had not taken a hard look at the iPhone and asked why it was successful--and what it could do to incorporate some of the same features in its own products--the only reasonable thing for the company to do would be stop making smartphones. The same goes for any other smartphone vendor."
So then, is that how Apple came up with the iPhone? They looked at someone elses phone and said "How can I incorporate that?"? I don't think so, and that statement from the article is shortsighted. If that person worked in my engineering department and that was the best they could come up with, I'd fire them.
This whole discussion chain seems to be missing one important fact: Apple was disruptive about how they made a phone. It was completely different. It's not about the shape or the touchscreen, but about how those pieces were brought together.
It used to be (and may still be) that a program written for an Apple computer started with a system call to Gestalt(). I never got that until I looked it up. It means the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That's how they think. And obviously Samsung doesn't. I mean really, Android with a look and feel of iPhone? Did they engineer anything unique? Or is it all just open source, and whatever isn't is "lifted"?
Samsung copied. They had a choice. They could have gone off and leapt OVER Apple like Apple did to the rest of the world. But they couldn't or wouldn't, so they copied. It's expensive being disruptive. And time consuming. It's easier and faster to just steal. How pathetic. I won't buy a Samsung on principle.
Reply 2: It ISN'T wrong to emulate. It IS wrong to copy verbatim without paying a royalty. In many cases it may be unethical to claim patent or commercial rights to some forms of IP.
Recall that essentially EVERYTHING the user sees in computers, hardware and GUIs, are offshoots of research performed by Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) under (largely) ARPA contract during the mid-1970s. This technology was placed in the public domain before the government started paying for research AND allowing contractors to claim it as "proprietary." (An immoral use of my tax money, whether you ask me or not.)
PARC invented the personal computer (the Alto) and the windowing interface that Apple ripped off... uhhh... RESEARCHED... to deliver the pre-Mac Lisa. They also invented the laser printer, but OOPS! like computers in general, Xerox didn't really understand how to market anything that wasn't a copier.
Xerox, like IBM, created some revolutionary technology, but failed to continue to push products according to market demands. Nope, they continued to do it their way. (Lesson: evolution exacts a pretty heavy price for stupidity.)
The computer mouse was invented at Stanford Research Institute (SRI, now a non-profit on it's own) in the early 1970s(?) using ARPA funding. Public domain. The Alto GUI wouldn't have been possible without the mouse.
Apple set the standard and other companies invested heavily to develop their own products. Now Apple is crying "Foul!" when newcomers maybe do it better and cheaper. (Well, "cheaper" is deceptive: the purchase price of phones, PARTICULARLY the iPhone, is (somewhat stupidly) subsidized by the wireless companies. Wireless costs are going up because carriers have figured out they've been diddled by the arrangement: user fees don't make up the actual cost of the devices.)
Reply 1: Bert, this "ridiculous nonsense" didn't occur because IBM PUBLISHED the backplane spec as an open standard so people could build compatible hardware. Remember them little 3-ring binders that came with each and every PC? IBM PUBLISHED the SOURCES for DOS and BIOS to make sure apps and hardware would be guaranteed to work. When (ahem) overseas companies started selling clones, IBM had to wade into messy, and eventually fruitless, legal battles to block imports.
This never happened to Apple because, while they were building "a computer for the rest of us," they also never published a danged thing about hardware or low-level APIs. I always found it really odd that the "computer for the rest of us" was so stalwart about being data-incompatible with the PCs that comprised the other 95% of systems in use: moving files back and forth was a major pain. The clones chased sales volume, while Apple did everything Steve's way.
How hypocritical of Apple !! Anyone remember the Xerox Alto ? Yes, we're talking 1970's. It had a mouse, and a GUI. Several years later, the Macintosh appeared. The first thing that came to my mind was: When is Xerox going to sue Apple ? But Goliath did not sue David, and look what happened....
The older PDA-based phones using the legacy Palm, Windows Mobile and Blackberry OS with their one-finger touchscreens were so limiting in functionality, they still required extra buttons and navigation pads to be of any use. Apple designed a phone with a responsive multitouch screen with unique gestures adapted from their laptop trackpads that allowed their streamlined design. While much of the technology was not new (e.g. multitouch screens), Apple's application of it to a handheld smartphone via a set of intuitive gestures was. Regarding the trial, as some of the witnesses testified and the evidence alluded to, there were many design choices SamSung could have made to make their own devices more distinctive. They chose not to, and now we have a jury deciding how similar is too similar.
There are a variety of ways to protect a competitive edge: patents, copyright, design patents, trade secrets, etc. Each has its legal domain and limitations. Modern concepts of "intellectual property" have only developed since the appearance of the personal computer. For many that grew up before the 70s, the current mentality in indefensible. True, it is costly and frustrating for the originator of an idea to have it copied. But where there is no legal basis for preventing copying, that's life.
The combination of a touch screen on a mobile computer would certainly be "obvious to the man skilled in the art," and arguably not patentable just because you were the first to implement it. Would not the versatile characteristics of the touch screen be the reason to invent it?
What is worse now is that big money is paying to skew laws even more in favor of more big money. If Col. Edwin Armstrong couldn't meat RCA in the 40s, what chance does the maverick inventor have now?
Well stated, Bert. It's interesting that when you have a Zealot for product A, it follows that there will be "anti-zealots" with the same degree of fervency. Apple needs to go back to winning on the technical front, something that they've not been doing in the last 12 months or so...
Yes, I figured I'd get that reply. But there were also Apple II computers in those days. They too had keyboard and display.
I don't think it would have dawned on anyone to raise a big stink about a box with attached keyboard and display?
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
Brought to you by