Apple Sucks

Apple SucksI’ve been unhappy with Apple for decades and this recent case against Samsung is a good example. I know there are a lot of Apple apologists out there. These are the same people who made excuses for Apple’s use of sweat shop labor. On this point, I have a question: why is it necessary for Apple to save a couple of dollars per unit? Would they really lose any sales if a $169 iPod was $172? I doubt it. And that is all it would cost to have made these units in the United States, or at least under more humane conditions.

But the main thing is that Apple has been a pox on the high tech industry. Microsoft was a problem because they slowed innovation due to their dominance and incompetence. Apple has managed the same thing with all of their “look and feel” lawsuits. This is rich coming from a company that while innovative in their packaging has never created any innovative software or hardware.

I’m not a partisan in the Apple-PC wars. I just don’t care. Give me a computer and I will use it. So I think I’m objective when looking at the industry. And in this Apple-Samsung lawsuit, Apple sucks. Matt Yglesias makes most of the argument today:

To look specifically at what I’m unhappy about, the jury upheld several Apple patents which amount to saying that if there are now-standard elements of touchscreen user interfaces that Apple did first in iOS now only iOS can use them. Another aspect of the case relates to the allegation that Samsung products have been violating Apple’s “trade dress” by basically looking too much like iPhones. That I’m less concerned about. What troubles me is the verdict upholding the US Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to say that, for example, Apple should have a legal monopoly on the pinch-to-zoom feature which I think is a great example of how the modern-day patent system has gone awry.

Think about cars and you’ll see that, of course, lots of different companies make cars. But they all have some very similar user interface elements. In particular, there’s a steering wheel that you turn left and right to shift the wheels and there’s a gas pedal and breaks that you hit with your right foot. Imagine if the way the automobile industry worked was that each car maker had to devise a unique user interface. So maybe GM cars would have a steering wheel, but Toyotas would have a joystick, and Honda you would steer with your feel and use your hands to control the gas and breaks.

The part of the argument that Yglesias doesn’t talk about is how UI elements free up consumers from being stuck with a particular company. Using his excellent analogy about cars, if you knew how to drive a Toyota, you would be far less free to move to GM because you wouldn’t know how to use its steering system. This is madness. What’s more, these software patents are bullshit. They stop innovation; they don’t encourage it.

Shame on Apple.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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