This is a dangerously broken and, for Jobs, hypocritical idea. Where would Apple and the rest of us be today if Audio Highway or Diamond "owned" the idea of an MP3 player? If Microsoft "owned" the idea of a tablet computer? If Ericsson "owned" the idea of a touchscreen smartphone?
This, of course, is what is broken about software patents today. We're handing out ownership stakes in pure ideas within a system intended to protect realized, specific implementations.
I’d say the iPhone contain specific, realized ideas. Thus, I challenge this statement. To me, if you can’t accept Apple patenting the specific, tangible things they do to make the specific, shipping products they sell, you might as well join me over here in saying that all patents are broken.
They’ve solved an awful lot of problems at one infinite loop. I’m sure they have filed plenty of overly broad patents, and plenty where you can toss out half or more of the claims, but like Microsoft, they have pumped billions into R&D that has resulted in actual products with discernible differences from what came before them.
Apple is neither a patent troll nor is it a copycat shop like most of the PC manufacturers. If Apple doesn’t deserve patent protection, nobody does. And yes, I’m perfectly fine with the idea that nobody does.
But even before that, in 1991 Pierre Wellner at Xerox published and demonstrated multi-touch gestures including the pinch.
Despite all this, Apple still managed to get a patent on multitouch gestures and continually claim it as their innovation. They filed the patent in 2007. In my opinion, the patent system is really broken.
Apple doesn't have a total multitouch idea patent. This is the sort of widely repeated ignorance that makes everyone think the patent system is totally broken when it's just mostly broken.
Here is a better history of multi-touch by one of the researchers in the field:
The claimed infringement is Android's "Linkify" functionality. What does "Linkify" do? It scans free-form text for recognizable items (e.g. URLs, email addresses, phone numbers, etc. Apple originally did something similar with the Mac help system and patented it in 1996 and is now suing HTC, etc. over the functionality.
To me, this is an open-and-shut example of Apple attempting to claim ownership of an unrealized idea. What do you think?
Oh, by the way, I almost forgot the best bit. Even if you do think this is patentable, there is an open-and-shut example of prior art. Netscape Navigator 2.0b1, released in 1995, included "Live URL" support within its mail and newsgroup client, which does exactly what you think it does.
Apple claims it has a patent that can prevent Android from doing the same thing today. To me, this is an obvious abuse of the patent system (and I feel similarly about slide-to-unlock, photo gallery scrolling, ...).
I'm not saying Apple has no quality technical patents (the design stuff is a whole different discussion), but I'm very skeptical of the ones they're asserting against Android manufacturers. By and large, they seem to revolve around functionality that, once you've seen it being used, you need no other technical information to reconstruct it. To me, that sounds like the look-and-feel lawsuit all over again, dressed up in patent clothing. In my opinion, if the change of outfit means the suit ends up going the other way, we will all be poorer for it.
And while I don't think a "no patent" system is the best answer, it does sound a lot better than the the current system of flimsy, overbroad patents leading to rampant patent abuse from all players. I'll add that I, personally, don't distinguish much between practicing and non-practicing entities, I care far more about the quality of what you're asserting than about who you are. I'd even argue that there are cases where a practicing entity abusing overbroad, flimsy patents to stifle competition in an area can be worse (for society) than a non-practicing entity merely trying to "tax" the same area.
Hell, we might actually have seen more innovation in the mobile space if competitors weren't so quick to copy what Apple has done.
Having said that, it's also hypocritical to an extent for Steve Jobs to complain about stealing good ideas. I'm sure everyone here has read the folklore.org bit about Bill Gates telling Jobs that they both stole from their neighbor...
Or push notifications?
If Jobs wasn't fantastically rich his attitude would plainly be hypocritical and antisocial.
It's a great patent filing system and it generates A LOT of patents, but the company is definitely not innovative.
Most other companies that are less keen on such a system will not file these bogus and broad patents.
Your whole image is based on non-engineer-driven products.
 Excluding the A5 CPU
Apple is like that apocryphal hot girl in high school who got the nerds to do her homework. Due to her popularity - it's almost impossible to question her intelligence without bringing a world of hurt down upon yourself, yet despite her good grades and high social status, she isn't generating very many fundamentally new ideas on her own.
Besides, clearly the UX, making the better case, and the marketing, etc. is actually the hard part, because there's dozens of companies making chips. There's only one out there releasing Apple-level consumer goods.
I don't really think it's fair to compare the R&D budgets - there's a lot of difference - MS has an extremely broad array of software (multiplied by i18n), while Apple has an extremely vertical stack of products. I don't think these differences can be hand-waved as being theoretically financially equivalent.
Also, the behavior of the market always has been to try and "borrow" successful features from other phones. Coders borrow good code. Researchers cite other papers. This is a very common thing. I'm not sure why someone as mature as Jobs would explode on this matter.
And what's up with the photo? Is the article trying to say that they talked about such a serious matter at Starbucks? "C'mon Eric, lets get some coffee and let me tell you how I'm going to sue your company and drop a nuke on it."
Palm owes a lot to Newton.
Android has arguably stolen many such details from iOS. You can debate whether that should be legally actionable or not, but the ideas were copied, nonetheless.
The whole concept of Android shifted once iPhone was introduced. What the Google team had been working on wasn't even close.
It details this and how Google had been working internally on two paths for Android. They were originally going to go for the Blackberry style phone at first, but internally were working on "The Dream" which was the G1. Apparently, Android had been working on this pre-acquisition by Google. Levy wrote something to the effect of -- when Apple announced the iPhone, the Android team knew they had to ditch their plans and focus on the G1 to be competitive in a post-iPhone world.
My desktop browser can also point at google.com. It also has a status bar at the top, unrelated to the browser. I can also open up a browser-specific settings window and overlay it on the browser.
The guy on the macbook pro next to me also has a browser he can point to google, with settings overlay if he wants, and an unrelated status bar at the top.
Your screenshot does not make an argument.
But 'do I still have to go through a menu dialogue to input a website'? Well, yes. Once I'm at a site, the URL bar disappears, and I have to interact with the phone to get to a point where I can enter it again. It's not specifically 'a menu', but it is 'reveal to me this interface'
To steal is to make it your own, to so thoroughly understand it that you can move it forward as if it was always yours. To copy is to simply have it for today without having the understanding it takes to have had the idea in the first place, and so you can't go forward.
Schmidt was elected to Apple's board in August 2006, a year after Google bought Android (and over a year after Apple started work on the iPhone). Unlike Apple, Google's smartphone ambitions weren't secret. Could they seriously expect Schmidt to file everything he learned about Apple's smartphone plans in an unmarked section of his brain that he didn't use when he was at his day job?
Techcrunch the day Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple's board:
"back in August 2006 when he took the seat Google had virtually nothing even remotely competing with Apple’s core products and services. "
2005: Android is a "mobile software company"
2007: Android prototypes look like blackberrys
2008: G1 launches as a iphone knock off with noticeable differentiation (horiz slider).
2009: Droid first high end Android smartphone, another horizontal slider
Jan 2010: Google releases a Google branded straight up iphone clone, Jobs flips out.
They were known at the time to be a re-assembly of parts of the Danger team working on a smartphone OS. To me, that's enough to know where Google's ambitions were pointing. The huge volume of "Google phone" rumors that started long before Android was unveiled says to me that plenty of other people saw that too.
I just don't see how, too anyone paying attention, "Google is working on a Danger-inspired smartphone OS" doesn't automatically imply "Google is working on something that could easily crash right into the iPhone."
Maybe there's more in the book but given Jobs's penchant for fact-bending, hyperbole and, what's the polite word again, 'mercurial nature' it's hard to really tell what the source of the falling out is. Maybe Jobs didn't expect Google to go after high-end devices or form the Open Handset Alliance. Maybe Google was unhappy with how closed Apple wanted to keep their platform. Just look at how close the dates of things like Apple's iPhone release, OHA announcement, Google spectrum-bidding, Apple iPhone SDK announcement, etc, are. There was obviously a lot going on and it probably had very little to do with *BSD origins or information available at board meetings.
If you really believe Google desired openness for reasons more altruistic than strategic, try running your phone with Android compiled entirely from source.
Google releases source for perhaps two thirds of what matters with the consumer experience. Apple releases source for perhaps one third.
I can see Jobs getting angry about that, especially since he always seemed very proud and protective ("and boy have we patented it!") of the iPhone's multitouch. It strikes me as more than a tad hypocritical, but the personal betrayal might explain the reaction.
Whether or not that is "stealing" is another debate; however, it wasn't until the original iPhone arrived that the slab form factor became ubiquitous.
Apple deserves tons of credit for making that form-factor much more elegant, but the idea that other companies are "stealing" by trying to come up with their own interpretations of that elegance, without acknowledging that Apple did the exact same thing, is just silly.
I would sympathize with Mr. Jobs here if his company wasn't the most valuable in the world, that continues to deliver record-breaking profits and generates enough wealth to make many a small nation jealous.
My point is not that Apple deserves to be ripped off because they're flush, but rather that customers know the difference between great products and obvious imitations. Those same customers are the ones contributing to the incredible wealth creation around Apple.
In short: when you're the heavyweight, don't sweat the knockoffs.
If it wasn't for Microsoft competing with Apple, we would be so far behind where we are today. E.g. Steve Jobs resisted making a computer with a separate monitor so hard, that if he wasn't pushed out of the company, Apple would never have released the Mac II. Now imagine that in a world where Apple also had a monopoly on the GUI.
Competition is good! Copy things and improve upon them, that's how we move forward.
This idea of stolen design makes no sense. Should patents on dropdowns be allowed, how how buttons, windows, hyperlinks, menus, etc, etc? Or how about cellphones itself?
Should car manufacturers learn from each other? Somebody copied gears, automatic transmission, catalytic converters, airbags, radios, sun roofs, convertibles, etc.
Somebody has an idea, others follow. That's how it should work. That's how we get the best products. That is how we keep competing.
It's not that Android stole iOS code or something.
The idea of multitouch does not have much value (in the sense that a lot of money was spent on it, something had a great idea), the value is the implementation.
On that note, I'm really glad Android is spreading like wildfire. It will be the dominant OS this decade and the way the majority of the world's population (not just the status-conscious and some Westerners) interacts with their most personal computing device. A feat Jobs could never achieve, either with the Mac, nor iOS.
Don't know what you mean about white-wash. If there's something specific about the reasoning you disagree with, feel free to point it out.
Regarding the gotcha quotation: I'm pretty sure you don't understand what Jobs meant by "stealing". Presumably you don't understand what Picasso meant by stealing, as he didn't do anything analogous to copying his competitors' designs. Jobs always wanted to be seen as doing something the world had never seen before, to wow audiences. It's hard for me to imagine that you think Jobs wanted to be a copycat.
Here is the comment I deleted:
I see a lot of folks say, "Jobs is a hypocrite, Apple has stolen lots of stuff." This continues to be edifying only on a superficial level. Context continues to matter.
You may believe that software patents are bad. You may even believe that patents are bad. But please don't pretend that some people's use of innovative ideas aren't more important and more credit worthy than others. The public doesn't believe this and you probably don't either, if you think carefully about it.
The world is a chaotic, ambiguous place, but that hasn't prevented us from judging whether entities in specified circumstances have stolen ideas from others. For example, I understand that Carlos Mencia is derided in the comedy community for being a joke their.
No one believes that you shouldn't be able to stand on the shoulders of giants. For example, the claim that Jobs is hypocritical because OS X is based on BSD is a non-starter. BSD was used with permission, legally and morally.
Put yourself in Jobs' shoes. You spend every waking moment to bring something wonderful and new to the world. You pour your sweat and love and passion into it. You trust people. And one of the people you trust starts competing against you directly AND copying your work down to a pretty fine detail. This wouldn't bother you? We're not talking about Robin Hood here. We're not talking about a charity or not for profit corporation with a transparently open source project. We're talking about another company taking your ideas to make money for themselves.
If you ask a normal person on the street who copied whom in the smartphone business, they'll say Android copied iPhone. And they'll be right. And that's why Jobs was mad.
Multitouch was not a APPL invention anyways, but still they did a brilliant execution and kudos to them! If you are agreeing that Android was a copy of iPhone as it has multitouch then okay 10 points to Apple. Now for notifications if you use the argument that the only evolutionary solution is the one that is currently being used - the same argument can be used against Multitouch (which again, if ever introduced to handheld devices - would work the same way)
I own an iPhone (3GS) and I work with both Android and iPhones, but the programming experience is completely different; it is very difficult to see it as anything more than a convergent evolution. No doubt the emphasis on touch came from the iPhone, but beyond that, I don't really see the similarities.
This Judas mythology that has sprung up around the Google / Apple relationship doesn't fit the facts as I've see them thus far. It doesn't make sense to put oneself into Steve Jobs' shoes when Steve Jobs was wrong / emotional (unless we want to understand why he was wrong). And he was wrong, unless you believe a cackling Google CTO returned to his office one day and refocused the company on putting out the Android OS to fight with iOS.
Consumer beliefs have very little basis in reality. If you asked me when I was 5 years old, I would have said Transformers copied Go-bots, eventhough Go-Bots had been released as a toyline and an animated series well before Transformers. I was wrong - and I'd be a fool to get mad over that years later when the facts were clear.
The comment was deleted, but as the original poster mentioned the importance of context, I have reproduced his or her comment below. I don't have any malice towards the poster in question, I think it is a prevailing attitude and one I wish to challenge (or be appropriately chastised for my own mistaken perceptions)
The world is a chaotic, ambiguous place, but that hasn't prevented us from judging whether entities in specified circumstances have stolen ideas from others. For example, I understand that Carlos Mencia is derided in the comedy community for being a joke thief.
Put yourself in Jobs' shoes. You spend every waking moment to bring something wonderful and new to the world. You pour your sweat and love and passion into it. You trust people. And one of the people you trust starts competing against you directly AND copying your work down to a pretty fine detail. This wouldn't bother you? We're not talking about Robin Hood here. We're not talking about a charity or not for profit corporation with a transparent open source project. We're talking about another company taking your ideas to make money for themselves.
Yeah it looked like blackberry.
"it is very difficult to see it as anything more than a convergent evolution."
Viewing it as "covergent evolution" is a stretch. Blockbuster new product comes out, everyone rushes to copy them. That's exactly what happened.
"It doesn't make sense to put oneself into Steve Jobs' shoes when Steve Jobs was ... emotional "
OTOH it does make sense to recognize that he was emotional before passing judgment on him as though he uttered those same words in a emotion free context years later.
I've heard the Blackberry thing before; that's why I mentioned the touch screen that was no-doubt inspired by Apple. (I had seen touch screen phones in Singapore long before Apple had one, but that's neither here nor there).
Once touch was settled on as the main input source, the convergence of design decisions was almost a certainty. Calling Android a clone of iOS on that fact alone belies the fact that the underlying programming (Intents, etc..) feels completely different. The claim that the UI feel is similar is fair, but it's not as if we have completely different steering wheels on different cars. Standing on the shoulders of giants, great artists steal, etc..
I was being charitable by describing Jobs as emotional months after the fact, thus clouding his judgment. The alternative reading was that he was being purposefully dense, or intellectually dishonest.
I guess it's a subtle distinction, but there's a difference between just copying from Apple because you don't have any ideas of your own and responding to the consumer demand that came about due to Apple's influence. People wanted multitouch devices. Google didn't need to look to Apple to know that, you could derive it independently by doing a simple consumer survey of what smartphone consumers wanted.
Google added what people wanted and brought an OS to the market that had that and a whole lot of innovative features that the iPhone didn't. That people look backwards and only see the features inherited from the iPhone, but Android was years ahead of iOS in many other respects, some of which persist to this day.
But most certainly it is never wrong to make products consumers want. That's the basic tenet that makes capitalism and the free marketplace work - that the consumer wins is the overriding principle. Anything that gets in the way of that is the problem, not the solution.
And this is what Android looked like: http://gizmodo.com/334909/google-android-prototype-in-the-wi...
I've overheard quite a few conversations in random Silicon Valley cafes, from startup pitches, to arguments over money, to people detailing their health problems. Given how open people are around here about discussing anything and everything in public, seemingly no filter, that would have been an interesting meeting to have randomly witnessed.
Does he have to hold such a grudge? A bit ridiculous and a bit petty.
He did and he lost.
Bill Gates was friends with Steve Jobs, got insider info on Apple's efforts, then started an "open" competitor to the Macintosh with Windows.
Steve Jobs inspires and educates his friends so profoundly that they become his enemies.
There is no proof that Eric Schmidt got insider information. Android had been in development for awhile and was only changed to be more of a touch screen after the iphone got released.
2. Eric Schmidt was the CEO of Google at the time. It's obvious that his position on the board of Apple and foreknowledge of the iPhone gave him a huge advantage.
I hadn't seen even one of these before the iPhone (there were a few people who used them, but i would say their market share would be less than 1% in smartphones)
Blackberry was never popular where I live, so I mainly saw touchscreen smartphones and Nokias (and I really hesitate to call the nokia symbian phones "smartphones")
I think the rapid expansion of the smartphone market (led, in large part, by the iPhone) is tricking your eyes. Touch-screen smartphones were a significant part of the pre-iPhone smartphone market. But unless you were specifically paying attention to them, you wouldn't have seen that because the smartphone market was so much smaller back then.
HTC alone had over 15 models of touch-screen phones released before the original iPhone. I think that kind of blows away "your less than 1%" made up statistic.
All you need to do is look at Android in 2006, and Android today. Googles goal with Android back then was to use it on dumb phones and feature phones. To bring Google to every cell phone. That's what they would tell Jobs and Forstall, while behind their backs stealing the iPhone design.
So one of the features that, according to your misinformed opinion, originated in iPhone, was actually done before by a company started by a guy who runs Android.
Then again, I doubt Danger Inc. was the first to come up with the idea of integrated application store. It's really a logical evolution of PalmGear, which operated since 1997 and was the biggest application store for Palm OS devices. It was a website but it's not such a great leap to integrate that directly into OS. It couldn't be done in 1997 because PDAs didn't have internet connection but finally the wireless technology caught up and Apple was the second company to do the obvious.
The same goes for multi touch. It has been done in other contexts before - Apple didn't invent the idea. The single touch UI was done years before on Palm devices. I'm not sure if Apple was the first to do multi-touch specifically on a phone but it was, again, an inevitable evolution of existing ideas. It just happened that Apple was designing the first gen of their product from scratch at the time when multi-touch screen technology was mature enough for mass market so they could bake it really well.
Mobile Safari? How is a web browser on a phone Apple's invention? Palm OS had decent browser a decade earlier. Safari is better but only because the hardware available to iPhones is orders of magnitude better than the hardware on those Palm devices.
But the real problem with such arguments is that you completely discount the tens of thousands of ideas that Apple had to "copy" (using your terminology) from earlier phones. Sure, they've added a few things of their own, but so did everyone else. The nature of technology business is that you take the best of what exists today, you add a few unique pieces and release an improvement version. It's myopic to complain that Google copied some ideas but completely ignore the Apple's massive copying of ideas that is iCloud (just to give one example).
But multi-touch, inertial scrolling, mobile safari (With ability to zoom in and out of text), pinching to zoom, the idea of not wasting any space for keys, changing orientation of screen based on actual orientation, proximity sensor, visual voicemail, no carrier crapware, etc etc etc including the app store -- made the iPhone a major leap in smartphones -- that vaulted the whole industry an order or two of magnitude above where they were at that time -- I feel.
Android took all of this from the iPhone. In fact, Android as a phone is very similar to iPhone -- except for minor usability tweaks, and more flexibility to customize. I definitely think Android is a derivative product of the iPhone.
Inertial scrolling, yeah, that's a good call, and the only one you mentioned that's a legitimate invention.
It wasn't obvious and there were a lot of skeptics about giving up a physical keyboard. Typing on a screen just hadn't been done sucessfully.
You say this is obvious now, but what phone did you own in early 2007? I had a Palm Treo.... with a keyboard.
I guess when I mean multitouch was inevitable, I meant as a technology and not necessarily on the phone. Yes, Apple did perfect that technology first, but I saw demos of multitouch on tablet-like devices years before the iPhone. There were no commercial products that I can recall, but they were working prototypes and not just demos.
In North America.
The App Store? Perhaps for payment, I don't know. But Debian has had a 'centralised online repository from which you can effortlessly get all the software you want' since 2001 (apt). It's what drew me to Debian in 2007.
Mobile browser? My cheaparse Ericsson non-smartphone from ~2004 had a mobile browser in it. The screen was just too small to be useful, and the uplink too slow. There were even webpages made specifically for mobile phones then, catering to the smaller screen size.
Apple is a talented design company, but they didn't 'invent everything good in tech'.