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A device with a touchscreen and few buttons was obvious (osnews.com)
418 points by thomholwerda on Aug 26, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 426 comments



Why are PDAs suddenly that weird uncle you never talk about and only see at birthdays?

Because they ultimately failed in the market. There was a reason that the Blackberry and Treo type devices became popular. They worked better than the early touchscreen devices.

Those early deficiencies left manufacturers gunshy about creating more touchscreen devices. It was combination of hardware issues (resistive, single touch) and also software (graffiti, interface).

It was not obvious in 2007 that such a device (full touchscreen, no physical keyboard) would succeed. The early iPhone reviews specifically addressed the keyboard issue, since this was a Blackberry world. Practically all Blackberry fans at the time were saying that the device would fail because you need a physical keyboard.

(2007) http://allthingsd.com/20070626/the-iphone-is-breakthrough-ha...

The iPhone’s most controversial feature, the omission of a physical keyboard in favor of a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in our tests to be a nonissue, despite our deep initial skepticism. After five days of use, Walt — who did most of the testing for this review — was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years. This was partly because of smart software that corrects typing errors on the fly.


>> It was not obvious in 2007 that such a device (full touchscreen, no physical keyboard) would succeed.

Yes. All my Blackberry toting friends were pooh-poohing the notion of a virtual keyboard, and now, the loudest critics among my peers have totally jumped ship, singing a different tune.

Regarding PDAs being that "weird uncle"...

I've had just about every PDA form-factor going back to the clamshell Sharp Wizards (which had these weird touch panels) in the late 80s to the Newton Messagepad to Windows CE, Palm and eventually Windows Mobile. The iPhone is the first "PDA" that I actually consistently use. The way you used the core features of the phone (contacts and calendar) were vastly better than anything I used prior.

Of course, I would have no problem using any "post-iOS" phone OS, which would include Windows Phone, Android and Web OS, but there really is something about the first iPhone UI that made it special. Is it as special today? Not really, but in 2007, yeah, it was pretty revolutionary.


>> Why are PDAs suddenly that weird uncle you never talk about and only see at birthdays?

> Because they ultimately failed in the market.

I have always seen the iPhone as a hybrid product. To call it a phone with PDA functionality, or a PDA with phone capabilities is just semantics in my opinion.


> Because they ultimately failed in the market

They floundered for a while, but the iPod Touch is very successful today.


This has been spoken about over and over (refer to the heated discussion yesterday which wasn't my intention - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4431382). The core of the article again - looks at the concept of obviousness.

Refer here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inventive_step_and_non-obviousn... - "One of the main requirements of patentability is that the invention being patented is not obvious, meaning that a "person having ordinary skill in the art" would not know how to solve the problem at which the invention is directed by using exactly the same mechanism."

Predominately - "that obviousness should be determined by looking at the scope and content of the prior art; the level of ordinary skill in the art; the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art; and objective evidence of nonobviousness. In addition, the court outlined examples of factors that show "objective evidence of nonobviousness". They are: commercial success; long-felt but unsolved needs; and failure of others."

See also - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_35_of_the_United_States_C....

Again - this article is attempting to state "oh because PDA existed, that means that everything related to a device with a touchscreen and few buttons was obvious". but again, thats untrue.

I still believe - in additional the complex legal arguments - the comment below was one of greatest aspects that changed the lay-persons juror mind. Per the Apple lawyer Harold McElhinny

"In those three months, Samsung was able to copy Apple's 4-year investment in the iPhone, without taking any of the risks—because they were copying the world's most successful product ... No one is trying to stop them from selling smartphones, all we're saying is: make your own. Make your own designs, make your own phones, and compete on your own innovations."


This is silly, touch screen technology, faster ARM cpus and the rest make these things possible and came from elsewhere. My first computer with a GUI was 100mhz. As soon as smartphones got 600mhz+ and as soon as people get touch screens (foreshadowed endlessly in sci-fi) are you seriously suggesting that if you took a room of fresh graduates from a design school (which is a bar lower than "ordinary skill in the art" as most UI designers have years of experience) and brainstormed for an afternoon that you couldn't come up with all this? There is clear prior art on almost every aspect, it was just a new blend. And that which didn't have prior art was logical evolution (as I said in an earlier comment about phones unlocking + physical slide latch locks + touchscreen... slide to unlock, wow I don't think any designer could have thought of that /s).

I'm pretty sure there were mouse-gesture plugins for a couple of browsers before the iphone, forgetting the sci-fi prior art. So you are suggesting someone with a degree in UI design with knowledge of mouse gestures and presented with the problem of making a touch interface with a mobile would not find this obvious?


You wouldn't even need to put a bunch of geniuses in a room together for an afternoon. All you would have to do is get a team to watch any episode of Star Trek:TNG and create something like the slates the Enterprise crew used.

But the thing is, if the hardware components and UI skills existed, why wasn't anyone able to do it in the past?

I think the answer is that on the manufacturer side, nobody cared about end-users, and the nature of the business was that the carriers dictated a lot about what went into a phone.

So with the iPhone, here comes Apple, managing to get a carrier to play Apple's game, and saying "take our phone and its UX or leave it".

So sure, you might have been able to get a bunch of geniuses to come up with such a phone, but you probably would have had no ability to get it on the market successfully, because you wouldn't have been able to get any carrier buy-in without the clout of a company that has sold millions upon millions of portable media devices like Apple.

Until Apple came around, phone manufacturers treated the carriers as the customers, not the end-users. So if you take it that context, I doubt that something like the iPhone was at all obvious to the HTCs, Samsungs and RIMs of the world.


I think it's even simpler. Only Apple had the supply chain to build an affordable device. Everyone else knew the outcome would be too expensive relative to the feature set.

I love my iPad, but there's no way I would pay $1500 for it. It's just not that good. Only Apple could build one at a competitive cost.


>> Only Apple had the supply chain to build an affordable device

Don't disagree, but if you flash back to 2007, there was still a huge outcry over the "high" price of the iPhone.

People back then had forgotten that they had paid just as much for the first Razr.


What flashback to 2007 would be complete without considering Flash?

Remember how the lack of Flash was the biggest strike against the iPhone/iOS platform? How it was a design flaw that would cripple the platform from gaining wide adoption?


Also, don't forget that the first iPhone got a $100+ (150?) price break after the first month. They had no idea how popular it was going to be. Not even Apple had appreciated exactly how much the market was waiting for a good touchscreen phone.


Samsung obviously is capable of making a device like the iphone and making it affordably, since they are the supply chain. The fact that they make all the parts, but were unable to put them together, says something about Samsung.


If it was so obvious then why did it take a company that had NO history in making cell phones to make a good one with a usable touchscreen and gestures ?

Nokia couldn't do it. RIM couldn't do it. Samsung couldn't do it. LG couldn't do it. (LG did make a touchscreen, and I owned one before I bought an iPhone, and it sucked hardcore)

And they were on that market way before Apple.

Cry me a river if it hurts your feelings that Apple goes to defend their innovation.


The market was waiting for capacitive touchscreens to become viable. You can't use multitouch properly on resistive screens (or non-touchscreen devices). Apple pounced as soon as capacitive screens became viable - albeit extremely expensive at the time. The first iPhone was "ahead of its time" in the sense that the market wasn't really ready for it. The first iPhone was an expensive PoS - it wasn't until the app store came along and the price came down that it turned into a good phone.

No-one really thought to patent the obvious design decisions that would come with the viability of a large capacitive touchscreen - rectangular, large screen, few physical buttons, multitouch gestures such as pinch to zoom (that already existed elsewhere).

Apple are absolute masters at combining existing technology into an attractive package. They also have excellent timing at bringing products to market (just before the market is ready for them - see original iPod, iPhone, iPad, Macbook Air).

But to say that these "innovations" wouldn't have happened anyway is disingenuous - no competent observer seriously believes that the market would not have moved on to large capacitive touchscreen devices over the last 5 years.

Apple deserve plenty of credit for their OS animations, smoothness of UI and (either praise or damnation depending on your point of view) the curated app store. They don't deserve credit for "inventing the capacitive touchscreen phone".


If the market was just waiting for capacitive touchscreens to become available, why did it take all the others years to come up with anything competitive after the iPhone launched?

Why didn't they all have capacitive iPhone look-alikes ready in the lab then?

Isn't it more reasonable to assume that the mobile market would have stayed roughly as it had the previous 10 years, with incremental improvements in screens, displays etc?

Apple isn't credited with the first capacitive touchscreen phone, but I think they should be credited with making the first usable, mass market touchscreen smartphone.


> Why didn't they all have capacitive iPhone look-alikes ready in the lab then?

The Samsung evidence showed that they did. Not as good as the iPhone, certainly, but they were obviously all thinking about it.

> Apple ... should be credited with making the first usable, mass market touchscreen smartphone.

I completely agree with this. But they don't deserve a monopoly on it.

> Isn't it more reasonable to assume that the mobile market would have stayed roughly as it had the previous 10 years, with incremental improvements in screens, displays etc?

No. Not at all. The technology had been rapidly improving, and we would have seen phones with large capacitive touch screens, and features such as "pinch to zoom on a phone" anyway. Sure the implementation may have been different, but the idea that the market would not have moved on in 10 years is absurd.


What evidence was presented that Samsung had a similar phone in the works in 2007? One with a capacitive touchscreen and a user interface optimized for finger touch?

For all I know they might have been "thinking" about it, but why didn't they do more than think about it if it was that obvious at the time that capacitive touchscreen phones would dominate the future?

I didn't say the market wouldn't move. Of course it would, but probably with incremental improvements. Why? Because mobile user interfaces changed very little before the iPhone arrived.

All the biggest competitors in the mobile space had their own operating systems that were optimized for navigation buttons/softkeys moving a cursor around, and optionally a stylus. Even new contenders like Maemo and Android were initially designed this way. Something like the iPhone would probably have evolved eventually, but I think it's odd to think that the transition to all-display touchscreen phones would have happened at the exact same pace if the iPhone had not been introduced, and that Apple only was "lucky" to have a shipping product available at exactly the right time.


> Why didn't they do more than think about it if it was that obvious at the time that capacitive touchscreen phones would dominate the future?

Because, as I said, the market wasn't ready for large capacitive touch screens.

> All the biggest competitors in the mobile space had their own operating systems that were optimized for navigation buttons/softkeys moving a cursor around, and optionally a stylus.

Because, as I said, the market wasn't ready for large capacitive touch screens.

> Something like the iPhone would probably have evolved eventually

So we basically agree.

When I first saw the iPhone I thought it was the way of the future. But I thought the current form was awful. When the G1 came out it was even worse than the iPhone. The market simply wasn't ready yet; but Apple got in there with something barely usable for a price that a few early movers could afford.

Over time, both Apple and Google refined their systems into amazing, world changing devices.

There were two obvious ways of building these phones - 1. with menus 2. with icons. That is the way all feature phones that I know of worked. Google added widgets to this, and eventually Microsoft came up with the completely new idea of tiles.

> I think it's odd to think that ... Apple only was "lucky" to have a shipping product available at exactly the right time.

I never said anything remotely like that. It was entirely intentional that they put together the iPhone and brought it to market at the exact point in time that it became viable. That's why they are the most valuable company in the world. They deserve the huge success they have had, but, again, they don't deserve a monopoly.


So Apple brought it to market at the exact point in time that it became viable. The other companies were "waiting" as you say, so why did they wait so long? Didn't they see that the technology was about to become viable?

I don't buy that theory. By the sales of the first iPhone, the market was obviously ready. Had it been "barely usable" it would have flopped completely.

Capacitive touch screens use the same technology as touchpads, and I haven't seen any proof that those screens were too expensive before 2006 and that technological advancements broght the price down after that.

What I do think is that Apple was willing to bet on touchscreens and place bulk orders that made the price come down, whereas other companies happy with the status quo and unwilling to redesign their mobile operating systems to fit a new technology.


> why did they wait so long? Didn't they see that the technology was about to become viable?

As I've said ad nausium, the market wasn't ready for large capacitive touch screens. The technology was too expensive.

The market currently isn't ready for "wearable technology", like Project Glass. Every competent observer knows that some form of augmented reality/wearable technology is going to become important in the next few years, but it's currently shit.

If Google or some other company gets granted patents to the obvious design decisions that come with it, it will be a disaster for the consumer in the same way as granting "pinch to zoom on a mobile device" is a disaster for current consumers.

> What I do think is that Apple was willing to bet on touchscreens and place bulk orders that made the price come down, whereas other companies happy with the status quo and unwilling to redesign their mobile operating systems to fit a new technology.

They made a good bet, and they literally made billions of dollars from it. What they don't deserve is a monopoly on basic design ideas, like "pinch to zoom" and "rounded rectangles".


You've said ad nausium that the market wasn't ready, yet obviously the market was ready when the first iPhone launched since it became a big success.

By saying the market wasn't ready for capacitive touchscreens due to price, you're implying that this was the main thing keeping an iPhone-like device from reaching the market. Looking at the response from the competition after the iPhone launched, I don't think that's realistic at all.

I haven't seen any evidence that large capacitive touch screens were too expensive before 2007 and suddenly became cheap enough after that.

I also have seen zero evidence that any of the competitors were working on pure finger-touch based user interfaces before 2007. Which would be the case if the market was just waiting for capacitive touchscreen prices to come down.

I do agree that Apple shouldn't have a monopoly on touchscreen phones, and they don't, not even after this verdict. I don't like software patents either, but Samsung could have licensed the patents if they wanted to.


> Because, as I said, the market wasn't ready for large capacitive touch screens.

Hm, I don't think the reason competitors had their own operating system and stylus-based touch screens had anything to do with the market being ready for touch screens or not -- nobody created something that was usable, so of course the market didn't adapt to it. Bear with me on my small straw-man argument here: It's kind of like couchsurfing.com existed before airbnb.com, but few people let random strangers stay at their home before airbnb existed. You could say that "the market wasn't ready" or you could say that airbnb executed in a way that transformed the market. If Apple did not create the intuitive interfaces for the iPhone, we might still say "the market isn't ready for large touch screens".


    For all I know they might have been "thinking" about it,
    but why didn't they do more than think about it if it was
    that obvious at the time that capacitive touchscreen
    phones would dominate the future?
Note that obviousness of an idea and obviousness of the quality of that idea are two entirely different things. It is possible for two companies to have an obvious idea at the same time, but one doesn't think it's quite obvious that it's a good idea while the other does.

For example, many of us here on HN would agree that tv/movie video content streamed over the internet was an obvious idea even in the late 90s. But it wasn't necessarily an obviously good idea at the time.

Maybe you would agree (or not, doesn't matter, the point stands, just pick a different company) that Netflix was the company that made watching videos online enjoyable. Should they enjoy a monopoly on streaming video content over the internet simply because they had the vision to decide that the idea was obviously good enough to pursue at the time that they did?

If they had patented streaming video, or something smaller, like auto-detecting your available bandwidth to optimize delivery quality, would we be so accepting of them trying to destroy Hulu or Amazon VOD in order to protect that "innovation"?


Revisionist, much? The G1 came out a few months after the iPhone 3G, the first iPhone to support third-party apps.


So? The G1 launched in October 2008, over 1,5 years after the first iPhone, and it didn't even have multi-touch enabled.

So my question is still, why weren't competitors further along in utilizing capacitive touchscreens if these advancements were so obvious in 2006?


Because while it may have been obvious that it would happen eventually, nobody wanted to bet on when. It was safer to build the next iteration on known tech rather than gamble on being able to force the market.


If the market was just waiting for capacitive touchscreens to become available, why did it take all the others years to come up with anything competitive after the iPhone launched?

Because apple was the only one that hadn't invested in anything else. Simple as that.


My point exactly. :)


Your point seem to imply that innovation was required, mine that it was trivial.


If it was that trivial, I would at least expect Google or Nokias Maemo to have come up with such an interface before 2007.

I don't think the work put in by FingerWorks, and then the work put in by Apple to create the iOS user interface was trivial at all. It may not have been groundbreaking compared to what came before (ie most had been demonstrated by researchers), but I think it's obvious that a lot of work and design decisions went into creating it.


Of course at lot of work and design decisions went into creating it (just as any UI), but it was a logical next step.


Funny, I never said they invented the capacitive touchscreen, but that's apple haters for you. What they did that no one else did before is to put the right gestures, the right UI, environment to make it work. I had a LG Prada, it had a capacitive touchscreen so I obviously know Apple didn't invent it.. except the LG Prada was also behaving the same as Windows XP on a tablet. You use widgets like scrollbars instead of gesture everywhere. That's no iPhone.

"The first iPhone was an expensive PoS" ? it was the first phone with a good web browser, that's already quite something in itself. I can't imagine browsing the web on a phone without double tap to fit a paragraph, pinch to zoom and a good engine like Webkit. That made it a feature phone, more than a smartphone, at the time, with the lack of things like installable software, but it was a damn good feature phone, and for those who use lot of webapps, it was probably better than most smartphones too.

For the record, I hate the app store. I hate not being able to install software outside of the curated app store. But I give credit where it's due, even if there are a lot of things I hate about Apple, they did make the one touch phone that was actually usable, as opposed to POS like LG Prada or Samsung Croix (pre-android touchscreens) interface.

It is really obvious looking at some of the ac adapters and dock connectors that Samsung intended to copy the whole appearance of the earlier iPhones to ride on Apple's coattails. Samsung tried to copy everything from the UI to the trade dress to patented technology. They behaved like shady Chinese companies making cheap knock offs.


> "that's apple haters for you"

Comments like this do not add to the discussion.

"When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names." - http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


"Comments like this do not add to the discussion."

You'd have a point if that was the extent of the response.


The very next line of the guidelines reads:

> "That is an idiotic thing to say; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."


"The first iPhone was an expensive PoS - it wasn't until the app store came along and the price came down that it turned into a good phone."

Huh? Market wasn't ready? This is completely revisionist fantasy. In 2007, it was the best overall phone on the market, period, and the market was ready. People lined up around the block to drop $499 to $599 on a locked phone. They sold over 1 million phones in their first two and a half months. When they dropped the 8GB price to $399, they sold another 3 million phones through the Fall of 2007.

All evidence points to Apple bringing the capacitive touchscreen phone to market years before anyone else would have. That's what innovation is. Not invention, no, but only geeks and historians really care about invention. Innovation in the market is what enables people to actually be able to buy and use things.


> This is completely revisionist fantasy.

Revisionist? No. Personal opinion? Sure.

I personally remember the iPhone coming out and thinking it was awful. Fucking awful. And so did everyone I knew. When the G1 came out it was even worse. In my opinion, the only people that bought these awful phones were, to put it politely, "early movers".

> That's what innovation is. Not invention, no.

You're not really arguing against me. Apple deserve credit and riches for bringing a phone to market that people wanted. They don't deserve a monopoly. As you said, they didn't really "invent" anything

> only geeks and historians really care about invention

Maybe that's the way things should be. But right now the courts are involved, and the US courts (in contrast to some other courts) are saying that Apple have an exclusive right to features such as "pinch to zoom on a phone" that Apple didn't even invent.


> Revisionist? No. Personal opinion? Sure. I personally remember the iPhone coming out and thinking it was awful. Fucking awful. And so did everyone I knew.

I had the opposite experience. So did everyone I knew - they wanted one, badly. So did millions of others.

My point was that it was dubbed the "JesusPhone" in 2007, not 2008. You're entitled to your opinion, of course.

> They don't deserve a monopoly. As you said, they didn't really "invent" anything

If they have valid patents, then yes, they deserve a temporary monopoly on their approach. I don't like the terms of patents, they should be shorter. But I do think they exist for a reason.

> But right now the courts are involved, and the US courts (in contrast to some other courts) are saying that Apple have an exclusive right to features such as "pinch to zoom on a phone" that Apple didn't even invent.

They invent the first implementation of pinch to zoom ever, no. But they invented their approach to it as part of the broader innovation of the iPhone. That's what their patents are about, and they're so far deemed valid.


At the time the iphone was released I had one of the early HTC touch screen + slide out keyboard phones (Tytn or something like that). I recall laughing about the first iphones. Terrible e-mail support, no MMS, my year old phone had twice the capabilities. I couldn't understand why anyone would want such an expensive phone that was so functionally handicapped. What I didn't understand at the time was that the phone was never targeted at me, it was targeted at the general consumers who didn't care that it couldn't handle 5 e-mail accounts, VPN, etc, etc.

The iphone wasn't so much a matter of technological inovation as it was one of market building. Apple lept ahead of the incumbents by realizing that a 'smartphone' could be a device every consumer wanted, rather than something that 'business folks' used. It wasn't so much that the incumbents couldn't have thought up something very similar, it was that they were caught up dealing with their current target markets: business people whom needed a blackberry or Wmobile phone with exchange support, whom didn't want change, they wanted a device that did its job and didn't require them to think about it. Its very difficult for a company to have the foresight to produce a product that they know their current customers will hate.

This is classic incumbents vs newcomers leap frogging, if you haven't read "The Innovator's Dilemma" its worth checking out as it speaks directly to this pattern of development.


>> The iphone wasn't so much a matter of technological inovation as it was one of market building

I disagree. I think the iPhone was the first smartphone that worked. The killer app on the phone was that it was the first phone to have a modern mobile browser.

It was not a browser that "didn't suck", it was a damned good browser. I had an Eee at the time, and I would pick the tiny-by-comparison screen of the iPhone's browser over the Eee any day. Why? Because the smart tap-to-zoom really used the screen real estate effectively. On the Eee, I'd have to use both horizontal and vertical scrolling to read some content.

No mobile browser before the iPhone's version of Safari even came remotely close.


The problem is that it didn't work as a 'smartphone' at all. It couldn't connect to blackberry's e-mail server, it couldn't connect to exchange, it couldn't send an MMS, it couldn't multitask or run background apps, it couldn't copy-paste. The iPhone was completely incapable of replacing existing smartphones for quite some time. It took blackberry's monopoly on 'push' e-mail dying and several updates to iOS before it could actually compete in the existing smartphone market.

What original iPhone is, was the first 'smartphone' like device that every consumer wanted.


>> couldn't connect to blackberry's e-mail server

>> it couldn't connect to exchange

>> it couldn't send an MMS

Didn't realize those were "must-haves" for a smartphone (an enterprise smartphone, maybe), because I never did that with any of my Windows Phones prior to getting an iPhone. I used my Windows Phone for my consulting work, by the way.

>> it couldn't multitask or run background apps

That's a double edged sword. That's one thing I hated on my Windows Phone. If you accidentally left the camera running in Windows Phone and sent it to the background, kiss your remaining battery life for the day goodbye.

>> it couldn't copy-paste

On my list of things to have on a smartphone, that's near the bottom. Yes, it was a pain, but far from being at the top of my list of "smartphone criteria"

>> The iPhone was completely incapable of replacing existing smartphones for quite some time

Well, I don't know about other people, but it replaced my Windows phone with no issue.

--edit--

To be clear, my primary business use of a smartphone is to manage my contacts, calendar and e-mail.


> Didn't realize those were "must-haves" for a smartphone (an enterprise smartphone, maybe), because I never did that with any of my Windows Phones prior to getting an iPhone. I used my Windows Phone for my consulting work, by the way.

The _vast_ majority of the smartphone market at the time was enterprise. The consumer smartphone business didn't exist in any significant way. I had a Wmobile phone and didn't use exchange either, however you and I were an extremely small minority. Apple's inovation was changing that, opening up a real consumer smartphone market.


Now that you bring it up, an interesting observation on my peer circle pre-iPhone:

All the enterprise users I knew had Blackberries. Everyone else I knew bought their own Windows Phones (and some Palm users) and most did not use Exchange. So maybe it could be argued that to some degree, Windows Phones were the only equivalent to a "consumer" smartphone at the time.


*Windows Mobile phone

Windows Phone is completely different.


Oops, that's what I meant.


Actually, a obscure one did. Picsel browser, available on certain sony clie (palm OS) pdas had a very decent rendering engine for its time, tap to zoom and very smart gestures for zooming in and out (tap tap-drag). Miles ahead of the competition (ie, blazer and such...)


Opera was pretty good and did all sorts of clever things to make browsing easier on phones, Nintendo Ds's , set-top boxes etc.


This is total rubbish. I had a HTC TyTn II and everything on it worked, yes even IE. I could do everything I could on a conventional browser on that phone.

Websites have changed to accomodate mobile browsers now so Safari looks like it works great. Travel back to 2007 and it would suck just like everything else.


The Palm browser, as is noted, was actually pretty decent (I used it on the Centro).

The Android default browser (granted, appearing after Apple's) is superior on several points, in particular automatically zooming/scaling to the main body text of most web pages.


People don't own ideas, they are granted temporary monopoly on real innovations to encourage their disclosure so that they, in the short term, and society, in the long term, can profit. The question isn't "first" the question is "obvious". I would argue with gestures already established and real touch screens a group of designers would quickly come up with a latch (horizontal stroke), a door handle (curving stroke), a safe padlock/rotary phone (circular motion) and general patterns (nine dots, some pattern dragging across them) rather easily. Spreading the fingers or the hand to zoom was already in minority report (2002). Double taps to do something different is already in the double clicking of the mouse.

Apple is defending market share with lawfare, not innovation.


The latch is only obvious in retrospect; it involves the emulation of physical constraints that most non-engineers couldn't even describe succesfully (springy handle, locking at the end) and great resilience to unintended input.

If another manufacturer had made the iPhone, you would probably unlock it by pressing a sequence of keys. That's the most obvious design.


I respectfully disagree. My thought process was 1. Passcode (alpha or numeric) 2. If I don't want a passcode, I need something else, and a single button won't do. Ok, drag something.

The conclusion is obvious. You could argue that I am biased, and it would be impossible for me to counter. However, IMHO, sliding something was the obvious answer.


"drag something" was not a common interaction at the time, especially because there weren't any other products with touchscreens accurate enough for it (try to unlock a chinese %pad knockoff. they are 10x better than what existed in 2007). Remember, actually touching the screen was novelty.


Except that a single button WILL do. Because you still need to press it in order to wake the screen up on pretty much every phone on the market today.

Which begs the question why you wouldn't either go straight to the home screen or show a single continue button. Slide to unlock is not what most people would do in that situation.


I agree the latch is not a good comparison, but I did have "slide" to unlock on my walkman back in the day. (lock/unlock buttons)


"Obvious" and "first" aren't identical, but they're not as separable as you're making them out to be. It's a stretch to say that a sliding door latch counts as prior art against a "slide to unlock" patent; that's essentially asserting that if there's any previous analogy to a claimed invention, the claim should be denied.

Apple is defending market share with lawfare, not innovation.

That's kind of the point of patents. Apple got market share by doing stuff that nobody else in the phone market was doing. There were a lot of similar (but not identical) things that other companies did in bits and pieces, but there simply wasn't anything else like the iPhone before the iPhone. (I'd argue that the most revolutionary thing the iPhone brought to the market had nothing to do with the patents, ironically; it had a web browser that just blew the doors off anything available in a device that size in 2007. The biggest sign that Apple got that right is how dominant WebKit-based browsers are on mobile devices now.)

A lot of the hatred directed against Apple over their "patent wars" seems to me to be misplaced: Apple is not abusing the patent system. They're not an Intellectual Ventures style patent troll. They're actually using the patents that they're fighting over. And it's very hard to make a successful argument that Samsung wasn't intentionally copying a lot of things about the iPhone, if only because they thought Apple got things right that previous Samsung models didn't. (In fact, it's hard to argue that it didn't work: the more Samsung made their phones like iPhones the more successful they got.)

There are very good arguments to be made against software patents, maybe even against trade dress patents, and maybe even against patents, period, as John Siracusa has suggested. Maybe patents just don't do what they were intended to do anymore. But it's not realistic to expect any technology company to take a bold stand against the patent system by refusing to sue over perceived patent violations. And it's not even very honest to keep portraying Apple as uniquely litigious in this area; Nokia and Motorola both initiated suits against Apple, and while Microsoft hasn't been going around suing everyone, they've just been collecting license fees on Android from manufacturers. By some estimates they've made more money on Android than Google has.

If there's a problem here--and I think there is--it's with the patent system. The Apple-Samsung battle is a symptom of the problem. Let's not mistake it for the disease.


So one thing to understand about patent law. A combination of existing features can be novel if the combination together is novel. However, in that case, the protection is extended to the combination only, not the individual features.

Samsung isn't getting sued because Apple owns "pinch to zoom." That's not how you'd read the patent. What Apple owns is "pinch to zoom" in the context of a device containing a combination of all the other features. Samsung copied that device with that combination of features. With a device, I might add, that was changed from the default Android UI to look more like an iPhone.


>What Apple owns is "pinch to zoom" in the context of a device containing a combination of all the other features.

That's completely incorrect--read the patent. Apple owns pinch to zoom on a touchscreen, so long as that pinch to zoom allows you to pinch multiple times to continue to zoom.

Again apple owns an individual utility patent on what we consider pinch to zoom on touchscreens. If you use just that one feature you are infringing on their patent, and every android phone is infringing on that patent.


But that's not what the patents were for that were at issue in this case. They did it better, that's why they won in the marketplace. Now that other competitors are catching up in quality, they are turning to the illegitimate patents they were awarded to abuse the world legal system to go after them.


Obviousness here is being talked about with regards to "patents". It is highly possible to create a new good design without creating new inventions.

That Nokia, RIM and others could not do it does not necessarily imply that Apple had some really unique inventions that enabled it to do so. (That Apple claims to be so is a different thing. That Samsung willfully copied their design elements is also a different thing.)


Only Apple had the supply chain to deliver a product at a reasonable cost.


You can't be serious. Samsung has a far better supply chain than Apple. In fact, Samsung IS PART of Apple's supply chain.

But Samsung is not the kind of company that would take risks with a market and they'd rather ride on the coattails of those who are willing to push the innovation into the hands of the consumers, and it's not something specific to their mobile division, it's the same for their digital cameras, home appliances.. I've seen during the history of photography most of the big names doing something that may have impacted the market, while Samsung is just saying "hey, me-too!" months laters.


How many small devices -- not television sets -- had Samsung delivered before 2010 when the Galaxy S was launched? How many iPods had Apple delivered before the iPhone?

To cite a simple example: the iPod disk drive system was based on exclusive access to Toshiba's then-new hardware. Apple did many, many deals of that nature, including outright acquisitions, to gain a technology advantage. Samsung has done a lot to keep up, but only after watching Apple do it first.


Sorry but I actually laughed when you said this. You couldn't be more wrong if you tried.

Apple was in NO way comparable to the likes of Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Motorola etc who had decades of pre-existing relationships in the mobile and component industries. Not to mention those companies were competing for lowest cost in some areas so had plenty of optimisation work already built into their supply chains.


Is the iPhone an extension of the iPod, or conventional mobile technology? Apple did a hella lot to create the iPod supply chain and, because they sold direct to consumers instead of through carriers, knew a lot more about how to deliver the ideal experience.


My first computer with a GUI was 8MHz. I used a touchscreen with a light-pen in 1979. There have been countless groups of graduate students brainstorming since then.

I think you'll find nothing is obvious until after it's been done. If you directly present someone with the problem, you are already leading them to the solution. The real difficulty is finding just the right problem to fix, there are millions of possible "problems" or things to change in a phone.


155 comments and only one mentioning Star Trek.

That too me says how we ended up in this situation.

Apple did good, they made a standard out of the portable mp3 players and slowly got to the stage were the only thing to add was the phone part, they then slowly got the feature sets inplace, all with elegant, simple and usage designs. Many obvious, if you study human interaction then swiping to turn a page to open another is clear cut as it's intuative. So yes some already exist and many cases of prior art, but it is all about the patent's (feel a Weird Al song a comming on) baby.

Another factor was the technology, Sony P800 springs to mind and been many other touch screens since with what was the PDA domain and eventual death of. What with camera's, filofax's, payphones the mobile phone is borging alot of markets, soon be sole internet as well eventualy, already is for some today.

But as is the rule in IT, everybody always hates the leader, be it IBM in there day, Microsoft in there time and now Apple. Each company going thru that hate phase grows a large lawyer department and carry's on until somebody else takes the limelight and the hate away from them. It's one of the cycle of life in many area's sadly, but true.

Bottom line and back to Star Trek and SCI-FI in general, you can bet Hollywood had patented there technology imaginations. Now if only we could get the anti-pirate lawyers turned into anti SCI-FI IP lawyers and chasing technology companies then we would truely have a circular centipede moment and some potentualy good TV veiwing as it is after all, a geek soap opera.


Just because you can see the logical evolutionary history of a design in hindsight does not mean it's obvious.

One of the considerations for "obviousness" is "failure of others." Companies failed for a decade to have usable touch-screen devices before Apple came out with the iPhone. Within just a couple of years, smartphones all went from looking like Treos to looking like iPhones. Multi-touch was a game-changer and it wasn't obvious.


You're reinterpreting what's written to fit your argument. Failure of others should be considered to define obviousness when you come up with something new that succeeds where others failed. Not because you can patent something someone else invented just because you sold better than the original inventor. That's absurd.

Apple's inventions existed before, so there's prior art, that's all. It's this simple.


If everything Apple has done existed before then it should have been EASY to find clear examples of prior art to convince the jury of this.

But there were no clear examples. Just stretches of the imagination e.g. Star Trek.


> Within just a couple of years, smartphones all went from looking like Treos to looking like iPhones.

That's revisionist history right there -- every single phone from HTC going back to the original PDA/phone Pocket PC hybrids looked like iPhones. But they didn't have multitouch.


What I am not questioning is it's considered valid under law according to this case in the United States and abstracting yourself from the view of hating or not hating patent law - that's the test here.

It is irrelevant what a group of people can come up with 1 sec past the filing date, even on the other side of the world - the test is, given the available knowledge at the time of filing the patent and relevant to a person who is skilled in the art of the current available knowledge - would they be able to replicate the features detailed in the invention specification (essentially off my head).

In this case - it was ruled no. Despite all the prior art presented to the jury, despite all the previous evidence and so on and so on - it was considered wilfull infringement and a lot of the evidence presented showed that Samsung basically said "this feature of Apples is cool! lets copy that" ... which is pretty striking to lay-persons not skilled in law as jurors and tends to heavily weigh in their mind. And again, patent law considers - in some detail - that blends can in fact be new inventions. Patent law in the United States is very different to the rest of the world however and that has to be considered in this - the tests in Europe are much stricter and that's why many software patents aren't available there.

For context - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patents_under_the_Euro...


> No one is trying to stop them from selling smartphones, all we're saying is: make your own. Make your own designs, make your own phones, and compete on your own innovations.

A world where every product is completely differentiated from its competitors is neither possible nor desirable.

You can't stop Samsung from making smartphones, they're significantly entrenched already, but you can stop a startup. This ruling is a validation of the patent system as it currently exists. Just as MPEG LA can prevent startups from competing in video, the range of smartphone patents are thick enough to prevent any newcomers into the industry.

If Apple owns bouncy lists and Google owns shadowy lists and RIM owns whatever it is they do, what is a startup to do? Come up with something that is different just to be different, hope that it's not patented by someone, as I'm sure trolls are rushing to patent every variation of end-of-list animations possible, or more probably, not bother getting into the business in the first place.


That's competition. It's supposed to foster innovation and invention.


I find it very bizarre that "commercial success" can be sufficient evidence for upholding a patent -- isn't the point of a patent to aid in commercial success by allowing a temporary monopoly?


"Just to drive the point home: a device with a touchscreen and few buttons was obvious.."

I still don't buy it. This still misses the mark - it wasn't about a 'few' buttons, the iPhone was about none. All those pda's in the picture don't really mean anything to me. Sure, some of them had cell networking and a lot (most? all?) had wifi. But I would never consider the old pda's a mobile device. 'Mobile' to me comes from the term 'mobile phone', not 'mobile pda'.

To me, this article is typical of OSNews - if it's not Linux or open source, it bad/wrong/etc.

Anyway, Dan Frakes tweet wasn't talking about 'a few buttons being obvious' he said 'having no buttons/keys'. And like he said, if this was so obvious, then why wasn't everyone doing it in 2006? Howcome pda's didn't do this in the early 2000's? Because it took a visionary team of designers and execs (or just Jobs) that appreciates minimalism. No one at Compaq, HP, Microsoft's many pda OEMs would, no, could have done something like this. And don't forget the require stylus..


The LG Prada pre-dates the iPhone and was actually the first phone to have a capacitive touch screen. It had as many buttons as the infringing Samsung devices (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LG_Prada ). This was noticed at the time of the iPhone launch too: http://www.engadget.com/2007/01/11/iphone-and-lg-ke850-separ...

This is all silly though, Apple wasn't making the argument based on Samsung making a touch based phone. The arguments were on very small "inventions" like the rubber band effect and double tap to zoom. The design patent wasn't based on the fact that it was touch based, but that it looked like the iPhone (in shape and color). A weird thing to be able to patent if you ask me, but hey.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57500273-37/apple-v-samsun...


If you read the jury comments though, they made a single decision based on the overall look and feel of the device, and then applied that decision to all the arguments. Essentially, they felt like Samsung had broadly copied apple's look and feel, therefore apple deserved exclusive ownership of things like rubber band, whether they invented it or not.


I think that was a part of their decision. If Samsung had come forward and said, "ok, this this and this we copied, but that we didn't" I expect they would have gotten a better response. But the blanket denial killed a lot of their credibility.


The LG Prada was a feature-phone with a nicer display. If Samsung had released the Prada in 2008, they would have been at zero risk from retaliation by Apple.


The LG Prada was so bad you had to use 2px scrollbars with your thumb to scroll down a list, like a contact list. It was like using Windows XP on earlier touch devices. I don't think making something like the Prada in 2008 would have helped Samsung's case in any way, because it had none of the things that made the iPhone great, none of the features people copied from the iPhone.

The LG Prada was a complete failure, because your old, classic feature phones like those in clamshell form were MORE usable with their keyboards than the Prada and its really bad touchscreen and bad software. I wanted to go back to a regular phone real fast when I made the mistake of buying a Prada. Not quite the same experience that people have when they buy an iPhone.


Feature phone or not (you have to compare it to the original iPhone which wasn't a smartphone either), it looked a lot like the iPhone. Apple didn't invent touch screen phones, they "just" made them popular. It's a big accomplishment, but they didn't create the segment.


The LG Prada looks a lot like the iPhone ?

That's crazy. I couldn't think of two phones that looked less alike.


The other way around actually since the iPhone came out after it. But yes, if you were sent back in time to 2007 you would notice the similarity. I ran a mobile phone news website at the time, the similarity was definitely talked about (see the Engadget link in my OP).


The original iphone had a clean aluminum casing whereas the prada used generic black plastic casing -- I think people could tell them apart back in 2007. Practically all phones on the market were black. The differences were even bigger if you used either device for more than a minute.


And Apple quickly went to all black... The differences between anything Samsung makes and an iPhone are quite apparent too if you use them for a minute.


So what's the innovation here? Applying minimalism (an established style from the 60's) to computers and phones?

Is that really worthy of patent protection? Asked another way, should I be granted a patent to apply minimalism to other objects all around me? Suitcases? Refrigerators? Etc?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimalism


Yes. There are plenty of things left that could use some simplicity and minimalism. Patent away.


Why does that warrant patent protection? The idea behind a patent is to protect innovation, however the innovative cost in that sense is negligible.


You're confusing utility and design patents. They are different things and have different purposes and requirements.

Really, you're not the only one, but it is shameful that at this point in time so many people still don't know what patents are, yet comment on HN.


Fair point; I was too quick to comment there. I'm curious though: are you familiar with the reasoning behind the development of design patents? I've done some light research and not turned up much. It seems that trademark and copyright already provide fairly expansive coverage for non-functional IP, so I don't quite see the intent behind the design patent laws.


Here's a small article to get you going: http://www.finnegan.com/resources/articles/articlesdetail.as...

Here's a brief excerpt:

"Design patent secures for their owner a fourteen-year right to exclude others from making, using, selling or importing the claimed product and, thus, allows time to build up secondary meaning necessary to acquire product design trade dress protection. Trade dress protection can last for as long as product design trade dress remains in use and continues to identify the source of goods to consumers. "

And other one on infringement:

"Infringement of the design patent is found when an ordinary observer, giving the attention of a purchaser, perceives the patented and the accused designs as substantially the same, in light of the prior art."

In the court opinions on Gorham v White (1871):

"It is not essential to identity of design that the appearance should be the same to the eye of an expert. If, in the eye of an ordinary observer, giving such attention as a purchaser usually gives, two designs are substantially the same -- if the resemblance is such as to deceive such an observer and sufficient to induce him to purchase one supposing it to be the other -- the one first patented is infringed by the other."

This is why if Samsung creates a product whose design is substantially similar to Apple's, then infringement may occur. This is why the jury consists of "ordinary" people who are the right people to make the judgement call. Too many HN readers are complaining that the jurors should be technically minded because they are thinking of utility patents, and not design patents. You also fall in the same boat, but I'm guessing most HN readers don't even realize there is such thing as "design patents" and "trade dress protection". This is why lawyers are paid to do the arguing, while we sit back and yell from the sidelines.


Ah, thank you very much. With this context, the verdict does make more sense now. I have one last question for you though: I've seen mention of design patents for a bezel around a screen or rectangle with round corners, however should a design patent not cover the entire device? It seems if the idea is to prevent consumer confusion, devices should be viewed holistically, not piecemeal.


Unfortunately, I'm not an IP lawyer. This is why lawyers exist -- they know the historical reasons for why one should file a design patent piecemeal.

My guess is there must have been a prior case where one patented an entire device and the patent was not able to penalize an infringer that may have had a slightly different device. It's possible the defense may have shown that the patent is only valid if the devices are in the exact same category. But who knows, this is just a guess.

I should also note that I'm a different person that the one whom you were replying to in your previous threads.


> it wasn't about a 'few' buttons, the iPhone was about none.

Excuse me? Last I checked, the iPhone has at least three buttons, maybe four! Home, Volume Down, Volume Up, Power.


It's not a button, but if you count the mute switch, that's 5.


It's a dedicated hardware switch. I'd count it.


The funny thing about that switch is that in 2007, I thought it was the best invention in the world.

It was a pain muting my Windows phones because you had to fiddle around with the UI to change the profile to silence the ringer.


That switch was on every single Treo device from the 270 onwards, and numerous feature phones had a hardware mute switch as well.


Not saying that Apple invented that feature for all phones, but if you were coming from Windows Phone, it was a giant godsend.


PDA's usually had a few extra buttons because navigation using a stylus was always a bits awkward. If you ever tried scolling a web page using a stylus and scrollbars in Windows Mobile you'd understand why every PDA had a D-pad and a separate home button - it was a neccessity because of the stylus.

Apple was simply the first on the market with a touch-driven display, which let them drop the extra navigation buttons. It's not like nobody ever thought of having less buttons.

In any case, the invention of removing buttons should not be a patentable idea. The sheer absurdity of all, of Apple's patents is an abomination and makes the US law system look like a carnival.


I don't know about your iPhone, but my iPad has four buttons plus a scroll-lock switch.


Interesting take on "mobile," which is a bit of a fuzzy term. So, I take it you don't consider the wifi-only iPad or the Nexus 7 to be mobile devices? I guess the concept of "mobile Web" has really made things murky.


> if it's not Linux or open source, it bad/wrong/etc.

It's ideological.

There is a trend in these objections in articles like this and across hacker news. They simply ignore what was unique about the iPhone and trivialize it completely and then pretend like it was obvious all along. Notice the repeated comparisons to stylus based devices as prior art for multi-touch. They don't care about the differences, as long as it takes some sort of touch imput, they can rationalize that Apple never invented anything.

I see this as an admission that they know the iPhone was revolutionary but they are making arguments from an ideological, rather than rational perspective.

If the iPhone wasn't revolutionary, how did Apple go from selling no phones to the selling the most popular phone in just a few years?

They say it was "marketing" and a "slick package" and the "Advantage" of charging "twice the price" --- as if charging more ever was the path to easy sales volume!


If the iPhone wasn't revolutionary, how did Apple go from selling no phones to the selling the most popular phone in just a few years?

While I find a lot of the anti-Apple commentary here at HN completely frustrating, the fact that Apple made a lot of money is not proof that they were innovative or revolutionary. Steve Jobs telling them they needed it played a really big part. Another company putting out the exact same product probably would not have enjoyed the same success.


> If the iPhone wasn't revolutionary, how did Apple go from selling no phones to the selling the most popular phone in just a few years?

People were just enamored with the iPod, it was a good device and people paid to see if Apple would make a good phone as well, which it did.


This makes NO sense what so ever. Apple has had plenty of failures in the past e.g. Cube G4 so it is not the case that people will just blindly "buy and try" Apple products.

And the idea that ANYONE is going to spend nearly a thousand dollars and lock themselves into a year long contract just to "see if Apple would make a good phone" is plain and utter lunacy.


Don't you know how to argue without doing this type of argumentation that you so commonly uses in Apple versus Android threads? I am not a Apple or Android fan to argue how the US patent system sucks, or how Android sucks, or how Apple is evil, or how Apple is the only company that innovates, all opinions that I read here on Hacker News from people who generally know nothing about life, people just like me. I am really not into these type of discussion that you appear to be so eager to enter in HN.

It's easy to come and say that I am a lunatic, so what's your opinion? Why the iPhone succeeded among the early adopters? Were they all geeks that loved Apple? What about other places that are not the United States in which there's not a Apple store in every major city, do your analysis still stands?


>If the iPhone wasn't revolutionary, how did Apple go from selling no phones to the selling the most popular phone in just a few years?

Has everyone forgotten about iTunes? After I got my first iPod I wanted apple to make an iPhone (years before they did) just so it would work flawlessly with iTunes and I could stop carrying 2 devices.


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>> Why does Apple deserve protection from being copied when it could easily be argued that they copied or took a lot of inspiration from what came before them?

I don't know if they deserve protection, but the IP laws entitle them to it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like the lawsuit or the outcome, but bashing Apple for using existing law in a place like HN is misplaced energy.

If we're really outraged about the outcome, we should be hitting the social media channels in large numbers and trying to influence the politicians SOPA-style to get them to change the laws.


As someone who has owned a pre-iPhone phone with a touchscreen, and seen another one in the hand of a friend, no, what made the iPhone the iPhone is NOT obvious.

For the love of god, my LG Prada was so shitty I had to hit a 2px scrollbar with my thumb to scroll in the contact list. I can't contain the nervous laugh whenever some ignorant who never touched the device link to wikipedia proud of their attempt at mocking Apple. Web browsing on a touchscreen is a real PITA without something like the double tap making a paragraph fit the whole screen automatically too.

Like it or not but the iPhone, as a whole package, without just singling out a feature here and there, was a real innovation, a breath of fresh air that opened a new market and has been copied to death by some companies like Samsung. I hated my LG Prada but instantly loved my iPhone the day I bought one and I wasn't anything like an Apple fanboy.


"the iPhone, as a whole package, without just singling out a feature here and there, was a real innovation, a breath of fresh air"

Ah but then you admit, it's "the whole package" that is the real innovation, the individual pieces were really not that novel and a lot of them not even from Apple. Six months or a year later, as the technology became more available, most of these pieces would have crept in other smartphones. Apple didn't invent much except perhaps an internal process using exceptional attention do details and an execution speed that allowed them to iterate more and polish the final product better than their competitors.

They were more than well compensated for this since they dominated the high end smartphone market for 5 years and became the most valuable company ever. They do not, on top of this mountain-high pile of money, need nor deserve a progress halting, 20 year monopoly based on technology that would have appeared anyways on the market 6 months or a year later (albeit probably in a less polished way).

Proof that smartphone technology was getting cheap and the idea of making a smartphone with few buttons was the next obvious step in computing is that some guys in 2006 were even thinking about making it as an opensource project:

http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/News/Cheap-hackable-Linux...

In fact, I remember thinking when the first iPhone was revealed that Apple seemed to have somewhat copied the openmoko project. I was glad that a company with large teams of engineers like Apple was having a go at this type of smartphone idea since I wanted an openmoko type phone and I wasn't sure a small team of volunteers would have enough resources to do a good job at it.


> Ah but then you admit, it's "the whole package" that is the real innovation

Actually I would say scrolling by itself was an amazing innovation. Every phone/tablet/pda out there had to implement a scrolling interface for lists, whether it be for contacts, todo items, or call logs, however nobody has created a scrolling interface as usable as Apple's first scrolling interface on the iphone. Their flick scrolling with inertia was probably the first time I wasn't in pain scrolling through a thousand entries.

How can anyone disagree about scrolling being novel? If it was not a novel idea, Nokia should have implemented this on their phones so it wouldn't take a thousand button presses to get to the bottom of my contact list.

When something is novel, every instance prior to the invention would implement it (scrolling) in various different ways, and after the invention it would all be implemented in the same way that emulates the invention. I can't think of an instance where someone implements scrolling without a flick + inertia nowadays.

Hence, the invention brought something new to the table that was never used prior to its existence, and everyone now copies because they feel it is the proper way to do something.

Here's a simplistic straw-man: Prior to the transistor, everyone used vacuum tubes. After the transistor invention, everyone uses transistors.

Everyone used standard scrollbars on handhelds before Apple's invention, however they now use flick/inertia scrolling and nobody goes back to standard scrollbars.


Yeah right.

The iPhone is so obvious that your links shows a screen with scrollbars and I presume it worked the same way as it did on my godawful POS of a LG Prada : you probably had to hit the bars to scroll.

Still I admit that Openmoko had the decency to make the scrollbars bigger and give us arrow buttons widgets, which probably made it easier to use than the 2px bar of the LG Prada.

Anyway the openmoko is not a valid comparison point when we're talking about what Samsung did to Apple when they made the Galaxy S, Touchwiz (Android on samsung is not the same as vanilla Android), copied the (look) of the dock connector, AC adapter, packaging.. Openmoko doesn't have anything of the stuff that made the iPhone feel like magic.

Remember that the first Android phone didn't even support multitouch, for god's sake. And it was a year later after the release of the first iPhone. A year later and they still couldn't do anything close to it, and people call the iPhone obvious ? have some decency, please. The iPhone 3g has been released BEFORE the first android phone and it was already the second iteration of the iPhone. And the first Android phone (HTC Dream) was so far from being like the iPhone it isn't even funny. Compared to what the Galaxy S has become.


You are basically saying the iPhone was of higher quality- things worked better. This is true, but you can't patent quality.


Are you saying there is nothing to patent about the implementation of gestures on your touchscreen, as opposed to hitting widgets like scrollbars ? You couldn't be more wrong.

And people who cite things like the people who did multitouch with an array of cameras obviously don't understand patents. Patents are not about an idea but an implementation. The earlier multitouch stuff had nothing to do with the multitouch on a capacitive screen.


"Are you saying there is nothing to patent about the implementation of gestures on your touchscreen, as opposed to hitting widgets like scrollbar?"

Aren't touchscreen gestures just mouse gestures where a touchscreen replaces the mouse? That seems like an obvious amalgamation of two pieces of prior art.

EDIT: That doesn't mean that particular aspects of the implementation of touch gestures on iOS aren't patentable, but AFAIK that hasn't been what Apple has been suing on the basis of.


That's why Apple patented a lot of the small details that make the iPhone better, instead of just patenting quality.


You can definitely patent the specific things that makes it better and perhaps even arrange a bunch of things that, by themselves, would not be patentable into the right order to make one bigger thing that is patentable.


You should google "design patent". If the quality can be distinguished by an ordinary person, then the design patent is upheld. I think everyone on HN thinks patents are "utility patents".


Ever notice how Jony Ive looks nothing like a Googler?

This whole trainwreck of a discussion is fed IMHO by the big rift between common, male IT-oriented folks and the rest of the population around visuals, aestethics and yes, concepts like fashion.

Sit in the cantina of any company and you can tell who is development/IT. Neckbeards? Socks in sandals? Leather cowboy hats? Attachments on their belts? Unshapely bodies?

Aestethics do exist in that other group. Good code, clever algorithms, etc. Fashion too, in forms of buzzwords and technologies du jour. DjangoRailsHadoop... But visual aestethics? Nope, nada, utter incomprehension.

The utter genious of Jobs was to bring the aestethics of the outer world into software and computer hardware. Design already existed in other industries, see Braun, Sony, etc but no one applied it to software. Because "nerds" didn't even understand it. See it. Grok it.

These Samsung vs Apple debates show this faultline. No comprehension at all why a particular implementation of multi touch should matter, be worth something. It is all obvious, just UI, the thing you slap on top of your awesome program. Why should it matter how it LOOKS?! How can that be so important? Didn't the LG Prada looks exactly the same? Ok, it used scrollbars, but why is that different to how iOS does it?

Whenever someone claims that Apple's success is just about marketing, nothing relevant in their products themselves. Whenever it's just off the shelf components they took and re-arranged, super simple and OBVIOUS, I can't help to think about blind people arguing about the uselessness of colors.


Interesting take that gets to the heart of the matter but my interpretation is different.

Like you say, the genius of Apple and Jobs is an incredible focus on the simplicity and intuitiveness of their products. I have seen two year old kids able to use ipads. This was their innovation and it has won them millions (billions?) of loyal fans.

This was so radically different than the prevailing ethos in the tech industry at the time that their supporters feel they should be protected or rewarded for changing the industry.

However, there is a problem in granting protection for these types of innovations, in that we are setting a dangerous precedent for patents and innovation. The individual user interface elements that make up the iPhone, by themselves, are all relatively obvious. Swiping to turn a page is the natural evolution of the book. Movies like Minority Report suggest the range of gestures we can imagine given the appropriate technology. It's quite a stretch to suggest that something so similar to what we have done all our lives should be protected by law and in effect create a protected monoply and prevent others from using these ideas in their products.

Instead those that admire Apple and what they have done should continue to do what they have been doing, buy their products.

As someone who has owned multiple ipads, ipods, iphones, and mac books, I know how compelling their products are and the loyalty it breeds in their users. Therefore, I think it is unlikely that many will step back and think whether this really is the best result for our industry.


FWIW, when I was 3 I was already programming in BASIC on my Commodore 64 ...


Spot-on (though prepare for the down-votes).


"Ever notice how Jony Ive looks nothing like a Googler?"

What the f is this shit? This guy:https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-UxbxdEwXL7Y/AAAAAAAAAAI/A...

is the counterpart to Jony Ive. And that goes for the rest of your head-in-your-ass bigotry.


Hey, be civil -- no name calling if you disagree.

http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


QED. thank you.


Few buttons, PDA.

Tablet with news, Knight Ridder tablet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBEtPQDQNcI

Icons finger sized in a grid. Well given we already had desktops, and given it's a handheld device, then it's insanely obvious to have fewer icons in a grid at finger size. Low resolution screen compared to our desktops, hey maybe we should have fullscreen as the default.

Pinch to zoom, multiple sci-fi movies.

Slide to unlock. Phones already had something called "unlock', and physical bolt locks already slide... So we make a visualisation of what amounts to a sliding latch when when have the touch screen, pure genius, nobody besides Apple could have thought of that, right?

"Trade Dress" to stop competitors should also be entirely illegal unless there is no branding or logo on the phone, or the name is too similar or in some insanely small font. If it has "Samsung" written on it it's insane to argue that anyone would confuse these things. What if these rules applied to TVs, cars or bottles of perfume? Perhaps technically they do, but people have had such things for so long they don't think about them in that way. It's farcical that anything clearly identified as a different product on the box can be subject to such rules.

Apple products are like a good classy restaurant or hotel chain. They take ingredients everyone has and put a lot of work into fit and finish, they make the customer feel special for a slightly higher price. And they have a dress code that permits only a certain crowd in there (app store approvals vs. more free entrance policy of other application stores, and by the way apt-get and various frontends to it pre-date the app store). All due respect to them for doing a good job, but Steve Jobs' entitlement complex knew no bounds and there is no moral or logical merit to their claims only a slice of legal merit on the back of stupid laws.


>Icons finger sized in a grid. Well given we already had desktops, and given it's a handheld device, then it's insanely obvious to have fewer icons in a grid at finger size. Low resolution screen compared to our desktops, hey maybe we should have fullscreen as the default.

PalmOS had icons in a grid looking pretty much the same too.


Also see openmoko (2006):

http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/News/Cheap-hackable-Linux...

"The Neo1973 is based on a Samsung S3C2410 SoC (system-on-chip) application processor, powered by an ARM9 core. It will have 128MB of RAM, and 64MB of flash, along with an upgradable 64MB MicroSD card.

Typical of Chinese phone designs, the Neo1973 sports a touchscreen, rather than a keypad -- in this case, an ultra-high resolution 2.8-inch VGA (640 x 480) touchscreen. "Maps look stunning on this screen," Moss-Pultz said.

The phone features an A-GPS (assisted GPS) receiver module connected to the application processor via a pair of UARTs. The commercial module has a closed design, but the API is apparently open.

Similarly, the phone's quad-band GSM/GPRS module, built by FIC, runs the proprietary Nucleus OS on a Texas Instruments baseband powered by an ARM7 core. It communicates with Linux over a serial port, using standard "AT" modem commands.

The Neo1973 will charge when connected to a PC via USB. It will also support USB network emulation, and will be capable of routing a connected PC to the Internet, via its GPRS data connection. [...]

Moss-Pultz adds, "Applications are the ringtones of the future." [...]

As for additional software components, Moss-Pultz admits, "Quite a lot is there, and quite a lot is not there. We're hoping to change this." In addition to a dialer, phonebook, media player, and application manager, the stack will likely include the Minimo browser [...]

He adds, "Mobile phones are the PCs of the 21st century, in terms of processing power and broadband network access. "

Looks familiar?

I personally have always thought the iPhone was Apple taking the openmoko idea and running with it.

EDIT: added details


>I personally have always thought the iPhone was Apple taking the openmoko idea and running with it.

From the linked article,

" Cheap, hackable Linux smartphone due soon By Linux Devices 2006-11-07 "

Presumably that means this was 7th November 2006.

So, in exactly 2 months ( on January 9th 2007) , Apple was able to design a prototype based on this concept, write all the software and demo it onstage ?


True, but at the very least, this shows that at the time the iPhone was released (or just before), many of the concepts were "obvious".


If they were so "obvious", why hadn't someone created something similar to iPhone's interface? I owned the Nokia 770 -- a great internet tablet for it's time. I even hack soldered a wifi extension dongle to it so I could get better signal, but the browser on that thing was just horrible.

What other obvious ideas are out there right now that some company will make billions off of? There's a few right under your nose that you'll probably say is "obvious" 10 years from now. I guess that's why they say hindsight is 20/20.


I think the obviousness argument is getting a little confused in most comments about this case.

I am arguing that the technology itself was obvious. This is also what the OP is arguing. Several examples of prior art for patented technologies such as pinch to zoom, rounded corner rectangles, etc. have been presented in other articles here and elsewhere.

What is not obvious was the sum of each tiny part that Apple put into the design of the iPhone was commercially viable in such a spectacular way.

My understanding (though admittedly, I have not been following this case as much as some others) is that Apple is asserting several individual patents in the one lawsuit against Samsung. I argue that for the most part, each of these patents are "obvious". Sure, when putting all of them together into a single product, Apple made a successful device. However, weren't they just asserting several individual patents? I'm not sure they have a patent on "all of their working patents together in one device".

In addition, it is often the case that several groundbreaking inventions/ideas in science are not just spontaneously invented. Rather, they are the cumulative (and perhaps inevitable) result of small steps in other areas. For example, the invention of Calculus by both Newton and Leibniz, or the theory of evolution by Darwin and Wallace.

Yes, there are ideas which are truly revolutionary, but I'd argue that the iPhone was more the inevitable (I use the term very loosely) outcome of several small steps in related areas of technology.

EDIT: This is why I am so against the patenting of human genes. Sure, some companies have put billions of dollars into researching specific genes. But why should they get a monopoly on that gene, whereas every scientist who put work into sequencing DNA, cracking the genetic code, understanding hereditary, evolution, scientific thinking in general, and anybody before, gets nothing from it?

It feels a little like they are doing an economic version of a Steven Bradbury[0], because they raced to patent the "inevitable/obvious" solution first.

Apple refuses to admit that they got where they are (i.e. iPhone/iPad/iPod by "standing on the shoulders of giants" [1]

[0] http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=steven%20brad...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_on_the_shoulders_of_g...


I'd argue there are certain aspects of the iPhone that are truly revolutionary, even if the ideas may have existed in other contexts before. For example, the scrolling mechanism on the iPhone was not done by anyone else prior Apple's product, and now everyone implements scrolling with a flick/inertia. I think had Apple used the old style scrolling methods, we might still be using those today. LG had a 10 year head start on Apple for manufacturing phones when Apple's first phone came out, yet their LG Prada phone still had a painfully small scrollbar that you were forced to use.

I think Apple did create a product that warrants a design patent though. These are defensive mechanisms that prevent copycats from producing identical products in fashion where appearances and "feel" matter more than the practical purpose of the invention. Gucci applies for design patents all the time so that copycats won't produce an identical bag and sell it on the market.

Apple is worried about the same thing here -- they've produced a product that has a certain appearance and style they feel Samsung is making a direct copy of. Design patents can cover product packaging, and if you look at how Samsung packaged their tablets, you can see how identical the boxes are compared to Apple's.

So in summary, I have 2 main points: Apple can and should defend their design patents. The technology that Apple implemented for scrolling was non-obvious otherwise competitors would have implemented these long before Apple.


I agree that Samsung has gone overboard with regards to the packaging. However I feel that a design patent on a tablet form factor is not the best idea. Perhaps it works for fashion designers, and I am not denying that there is creativity in designing hardware devices.

However, as I look at all the various LCD monitors that are around the office right now, I can't help but think about what would happen if there was originally a design patent on the form factor of a monitor. They all seem to have relatively similar:

- border widths - button placements - rounding of corners - status lights and their positions

The same could be said for keyboards, computer towers, even many laptops. There is probably a finite number of practical design available when building a touch screen tablet. If all of them were to be patented, then nobody could build a reasonable tablet.

In response to your second point about the scrolling: It may well be true that the scrolling implementation was non-obvious. Based on your comments, I would agree that this particular aspect is perhaps non-obvious.

I'm just worried about the number of patents being asserted, and that it is highly unlikely that all of them are non-obvious, especially based on the coverage I have read. It seems more likely that Apple hit the big one with the iPhone by building incrementally on existing technologies and techniques, then adding some nice, non-obvious features, rather than building a device so chock full of non-obvious ideas that nobody else would have developed something which was somewhat similar to what we now think of as a smart phone using similar technology.

I don't think the few non-obvious ideas, nor the fact that they brought together existing technologies should be the basis for court fights and attempts to block importation of competitors products. I understand that this was a relatively narrow case, against Samsung and not Android in general, but it seems pretty clear to me that this it is a business decision by Apple to attempt to reduce competition through the courts.


I agree with your statement on LCD monitors, but where does one draw the line between design that can be patented, and one that cannot? While googling around, I found that philip morris has a patent on rounded corners for their cigarette boxes: http://www.google.com/patents/US5341925

There's probably only so many ways one can manufacture a box to store 10 sticks of nicotine, but they own a patent for the rounded corners box. Same may apply to handbags as well. Although you may perceive women handbags to be very different from each other, there are categories of handbags where it's harder to create extremely different designs due to constraints, for example many evening clutches are similar because they are all required to be small. Should cloning be allowed if constraints prevent designs to be significantly different from each other?

It would be an uphill battle to try and prevent all those fashion companies from filing design patents for products limited by constraints. So if one were to revamp the patent system, one would also need to be mindful of all those other companies who are not in the tech sector and may have a bigger voice.


> If they were so "obvious", why hadn't someone created something similar to iPhone's interface?

My Sony-Ericsson P800 (from 2002) was pretty close to the iPhone interface.


Yeah. Unfortunately, the hardware was atrocious, and despite the awesome work OpenedHand (now part of Intel) did on the interface apps, it wasn't that great even back then.

However, they did have a wiki page for some of the design back in 2006 showing pinch-to-zoom.


One of the big differences as far as PDAs go is that they required a stylus, and the touch was pressure sensitive. It couldn't be used just with your fingers.

The iPhone's touchscreen implementation was innovative. I remember quite a lot of debate in the period between the iPhone's announcement and release about weather or not a capacitive touchscreen on a phone would provide a terrible experience. There were a lot of very smart people out there who thought it just wouldn't work (greasy fingerprints came up a lot). At the time, for Apple, putting this kind of UX out there was a huge risk, and a major innovation in the industry. They really nailed it, and in hindsight it, like many other great innovations, seems obvious, but at the time it was far from it.

EDIT - here's a quote from a CNET article at the time: "11. Just how useful is the touch screen? The iPhone user interface looks elegant, innovative, and easy-to-use, but is it the best interface for a device like this? Whenever you do anything, the iPhone will command your full visual attention. "No buttons" may be sexy, but it also means you can't do anything without looking at the phone. The iPhone's iPod usability may suffer even worse from the touch screen. Have you ever tried to operate an iPod while it's in your pocket? You can do it, but it's hard. The iPhone will make blind iPod-surfing downright impossible. That said, it looks like the iPhone will eliminate accidental pocket-dialing once and for all."

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-9677208-1.html


This entire trial was a farce. The jury foreman admitted that they "skipped" prior art because "It was bogging us down."[0]

> "Once you determine that Samsung violated the patents," Ilagan said, "it's easy to just go down those different [Samsung] products because it was all the same. Like the trade dress, once you determine Samsung violated the trade dress, the flatscreen with the Bezel...then you go down the products to see if it had a bezel.

Seriously?

> "We wanted to make sure the message we sent was not just a slap on the wrist," Hogan said. "We wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable."

Except the purpose of damages is to compensate the patent holder, not to punish the infringer.

And let's not forget that they responded to 700 questions in 2 days. If they worked for 16 hours/day, that's 32×60/700 = 2.7 minutes/question. I find it difficult to believe that a group of highly educated patent lawyers, let alone a group of laymen, most of whom didn't even know what a patent was a month ago, could have come to an equitable decision on all the questions so quickly.

The way I see it, Samsung clearly copied many aspects of their phones from the iPhone. That was obviously unethical, but whether it was illegal is much more difficult to determine, particularly when Apple itself copied many aspects of the iPhone from past innovations.

I don't like to think of Apple as a pure innovator - I think of them more as an assembler. When they see a market in which all the hardware pieces are available and waiting to be put together, they do that in such a way that the final product appeals to the end-user, particularly through the design of appropriate software. For example, they entered the PMP market when hard drives and batteries were cheap/portable enough to make the iPod a reality. They entered the phone market when capacitive touchscreens were cheap/large enough - their real innovation was on the software side. I don't agree with software patents, but unfortunately that's the current state of things in the US.

At the same time, there's little doubt that there was bias towards the "home team" as well, especially when the jurors live so close to Silicon Valley.

I was honestly shocked that Samsung didn't overwhelmingly beat Apple in South Korea[1], although the WSJ suggests there was definitely a bias[2]. Samsung's chairman, Lee Kun-hee, has been found guilty in the past of tax evasion, bribing politicians, prosecutors, and judges, and then pardoned for it by the South Korean government. Not surprising when you consider that Samsung generates 20% of South Korea's GDP.

0: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2012082510525390...

1: http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/23/3264434/apple-samsung-kore...

2: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000087239639044423050457761...


The groklaw quotes were taken out of context. As far as I can tell, there's no evidence from those quotes that they skipped prior art, so much as skipped the task to move forward on others before circling back around to it.

> I don't like to think of Apple as a pure innovator - I think of them more as an assembler. When they see a market in which all the hardware pieces are available and waiting to be put together, they do that in such a way that the final product appeals to the end-user, particularly through the design of appropriate software.

Really? All Apple does is pick up the legos and put them together?

Sigh. I'm sick and tired of people twisting reality to fit an Apple anti-hero narrative.


> As far as I can tell, there's no evidence from those quotes that they skipped prior art,

Except the actual quotes.

> so much as skipped the task to move forward on others before circling back around to it.

So they skipped it. Whether they came back to it is somewhat pointless. That they skipped an earlier question means that later questions were based on uninformed assumptions about patents.

> Sigh. I'm sick and tired of people twisting reality to fit an Apple anti-hero narrative.

As opposed to what, suggesting in one sentence that they didn't skip the question, and then saying they did skip it but came back later, as if they are fundamentally the same? They aren't. Even the juror's admit that the ordering of questions was important to their verdict. Suggesting otherwise is silly.


You're inventing a false narrative, whole cloth.


They said exactly what was claimed. Grep for for "bogged" and read again.

Then again, maybe that's not what he meant to say. Because as read, these quotes suggest some pretty absurd things.


That would be because they're selectively quoted, out of context, by a biased party.


Well, you can read the same quote from CNET if Groklaw is the issue.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57500358-37/exclusive-appl...

I hope you don't consider CNET biased. If anything, they are usually criticized for being Apple-biased.


The cnet article was the original source for the Groklaw quote. The juror in the quote didn't mention anything about possibly going back to the issue. We don't know if cnet didn't run that part of the quote (why would they, they get more clicks with more controversy), or if the juror just didn't mention it. We do know that he isn't quoted as saying, "oh yeah, we never got back around to it".

And since they explicitly had to make the choice on the instructions (Y/N) on infringement, the safer assumption is that they did get back to it.


This is the same jury that awarded Apple $2M for a phone that, according to them, did not actually infringe upon any patents. Fortunately, the court fixed that up for them.

Given that they also have been quoted as not needing the jury instructions, actively ignored those instructions by indicating that the damages awarded were punitive rather than compensatory, and that they could have spent, at most, a few minutes on each of the hundreds of questions, it's hardly out of line to think that this verdict was rushed.


My understanding is that there were two jurers who were unconvinced about the prior art thing. It seems to me like what actually happened is that, rather than trying to convince those two jurers (i.e. coming to a unanimous decision), they just went with "majority rules".

Of course, there's no evidence to suggest that's what they did, but equally there's no evidence to suggest that they eventually went back to that question and debated it further.

Given that they admitted to ignoring the instructions on punitive vs. compensatory damages, it's not a stretch to imagine they also ignored the instructions on coming to a unanimous decision.


Instructions are advisory. They are meant to help jurors who are unclear of what the law says. However, they are not shackles on the jurors. Jurors are free to ignore them, and should ignore them when justice requires it.

For example, Jurors have the right to find a guy not guilty when caught red handed with marijuana simply because the law is unconstitutional. They have that right and that is intentional in our system. Judges on the other hand, tell jurors in their instructions that they "have to find them guilty if they believe he possessed the drugs". When judges do this, I consider it jury tampering, and unfortunately for innocent pot smokers, too many jurors listen to the instructions.


The problem with your argument is that jury nullification is designed to prevent unjust punishment. In this case the jury appears to have deliberately increased Samsung's punishment.


"Jurors are free to ignore them, and should ignore them when justice requires it."

And justice required them to use the courts to "send a message" and punish Samsung with more than "just a slap on the wrist"?


Groklaw has been a pretty reliable source for years now. Its disappointing that them presenting an opinion means they are labeled as "biased."


Groklaw has been a very reliable source for information, but to call them unbiased is naive. Groklaw has always taken an editorial viewpoint. SCO vs IBM? Oracle vs Google? Apple vs Samsung? They always have their favorites, so their analysis tends to skew that way. They don't try to hide it, and their reputation is top notch, but don't claim they aren't biased.

Normally, their viewpoint is right in line with most of the tech world. It just so happens that this time around, the tech camp is pretty well split on who the good guy was in this case.


It is one thing to interpret events, it's another entirely to suggest they are biased and therefore unreliable in their reporting or interpretation.


Funny how anyone posting on here who doesn't take a stridently anti-Apple position is accused of being "biased" (even when making ideologically neutral comments, I saw the other day)... yet pointing out that an agenda driven site, which has presented distorted and, frankly, dishonest, reporting of the situation is "biased" is somehow beyond the pale.

The reason you feel this way is because you're biased.

It's ok, I'm biased too.

The problem is, you guys seem to think that you can accuse anyone of being "biased" as if it were a counter argument that excuses you from the need to defend your points.

Here you're derailing the discussion because someone hat the temerity to speak the truth: Groklaw is biased. In fact, "biased" is being generous. They're driven by ideology to the point of being dishonest.

This article is a good example with their selective quoting and their lies about what was done.

For instance, the claim that the jurors had only 2 days to consider the evidence is a lie. They had the whole trial.


But, ah, nirvana... where did I call anyone biased? Can you find a single instance?

You're typing angry words at a phantom argument you created. I don't know who's face you glued on that straw man, but I'm bored watching you burn it down. Besides, you can take as pro or as anti-Apple a stance as you want. Personally, I think that's missing the point of this entire exercise.

Do you really think that people are upset about Samsung and Apple? They're upset about software patents and how ludicrously easy they are to get and yet how absurdly difficult they are to render invalid. The jury here says they decided (under the advice and guidance of a patent holder) to stop debating the prior art issue.

This is what we have a problem with.

For what it's worth, I think Samsung did attempt to copy Apple with its first round of phones and they did a damn poor job of it. Cheap knock offs looked like cheap knock offs, and I think they were made willfully. However, I think many of Apple's patents are invalid because they do not constitute real, protectable innovation.

If this were Samsung vs. HTC I'd be hoping for exactly the same outcome: a demonstration of the facile nature of software patents in the US. They do nothing to protect innovators; they only serve to artificially limit competition. For the sake of the industry and the economy I live and work in, they need to be radically reformed.


You didn't call someone biased, you made a conclusion about the meaning of the word bias, that reflects something we've seen here on HN very often. I was showing you how people on your side of the patent debate use the word, since you were on the, shall we say, receiving end of it this time.

You were taking offense at the use of the word. I was, in a sense, agreeing with you, and asking you to recognize that bias does not mean lacking in credibility. It simply means having an opinion.

Bias is not the weapon that some on hacker news seem to think it is (and your position was one as if it had wounded you....)

Hope that makes it more clear!


> you made a conclusion about the meaning of the word bias,

From a dictionary.

> I was showing you how people on your side of the patent debate use the word, since you were on the, shall we say, receiving end of it this time.

No. You were burning down straw men.

> I was, in a sense, agreeing with you, and asking you to recognize that bias does not mean lacking in credibility.

It does, in fact, hurt credibility to be biased. When it stops being an opinion accompanied by honest reporting and becomes manipulation (be it deliberate or not) is usually where we start calling it bias.

> Hope that makes it more clear!

I have no idea what you are talking about. I can only assume this is part of some larger conversation you are having with everyone at once and no one in particular.


Every news source is biased. It's a bit naive to think someone is reporting it with a historian-balanced viewpoint. Some people think NPR is "fair and balanced" only to find out they actually lean left. Groklaw has always reported favorably for linux during the SCO vs IBM trials -- there's definitely bias in the reporting. They tend to pick the side that wins them the most readers. Had they picked the "evil" SCO side in the trials, nobody would share the groklaw articles.


NPR is unbiased. Reality leans left.


What part is out of context? The fact that they skipped the question? The fact that you admitted they did as well?

They said they skipped the question. They skipped the question. The contention was they skipped the question. You disagreed, and then agreed.

You are acting the part of a troll, and being purposefully obtuse, and dishonest.


> The quotes that I said lacked context and don't actually say what is claimed?

Okay, let's look at the OP you replied to, and take at look at the claim you are disputing:

"The jury foreman admitted that they "skipped" prior art because "It was bogging us down.""

Okay. So, that's the extent of the claim.

Going by the quote from the juror: "In fact we skipped that one,", it matches up with the claim.

Claim: They skipped a question. Quote: We skipped a question.

I think it's fair to say they skipped a question.

Even you admit to this with your own quote: "As far as I can tell, there's no evidence from those quotes that they skipped prior art, so much as skipped the task to move forward on others before circling back around to it." You say here that there is no evidence that they skipped, but there is evidence the skipped the question and most probably eventually came back to it later.

However, skipping did occur, which was the original contention backed up by statements from those who would know.

It would seem that you are the one trying to invent, poorly, as you can't even avoid contradicting yourself in your own comment.

But, you might ask, why would skipping and coming back matter as long as they addressed the question.

Context. The questions were ordered in a specific order. Addressing them out of order is, in essence, answering the questions "out of context." Indeed, the quotes suggest (though admittedly not directly) that by skipping the question, they were able to continue. But if that question had been answered as they had expected it to, would it have impacted the outcome? I believe so.

After all, the context in which you answer a question determines the answer (which is fairly obvious).

In the end, you are trying to paint the jurors in a different light. One in which they abided by the rules set forth (which they've already admitted to not doing[1]) and using the worksheets provided to reach the judgement (again, something they've admitted to modifying).

So no, I'm not inventing anything. Couple that with the "expertise" offered by a patent holder, it's fairly obvious there are issues with the ruling.

That all being said, maybe it's okay the jury ignore the provided worksheets and rewrote them. Maybe it's okay that they ignore instructions given to them by the judge. After all, they are the jury, and they our last line of defense. If we can ask a jury to find someone innocent facing an unjust law, we can expect them to make their voice heard in other cases as well.

Regardless, my point still stands: They skipped a question, they admitted to it, as did you, and you seem foolishly trying to take on other conditions as if somehow that makes the "fact" untrue.

Honestly, how can you even suggest they didn't skip the question, and then say they did, and try to blame someone else for inventing false narratives? I mean, besides being dishonest?

[1] They were instructed: "You should keep in mind that the damages you award are meant to compensate the patent holder and not to punish an infringer." However, what they "wanted to make sure the message we sent was not just a slap on the wrist. We wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable."


Your extrapolation from off the cuff out of context quotes is mind boggling daft in its scope. Instead of providing supporting evidence, you're merely building a larger and larger narrative on top of the same incomplete data.

This is the same sort of reality twisting that we see out of the likes of the birther movement -- facts and supporting data take a back seat to whatever supports an appealing narrative.


I don't believe 3 days is enough for 9 people to come to a consensus on such a complicated matter. When I was a juror, it took us 2 days to decide a very clear cut shoplifting case with 1 day of arguments.

Our jury also selected a lawyer as foreman--from everything I've read, and my experience, I believe the most logically consistent scenario was that most of the panel simply followed where the "expert" led.

--I've used Apple products for years, so I'm not trying to construct an anti-hero narrative--

Also, you really like the word "narrative".


> I believe the most logically consistent scenario was that most of the panel simply followed where the "expert" led.

You have no evidence of this what so ever. And the other logically consistent scenario is that the jury didn't follow where the expert led.

And it is not a complicated matter IMHO. Once the document was produced detailing Samsung intentionally trying to copy the iPhone UI and the warning from Google then it was pretty obvious which way this was all going.


What lacks evidence? I can support all claims.

You, on the other hand, make unsubstantiated claims. You equate me with birthers, you contradict yourself... and even when faced with concrete evidence, you dismiss it out of hand. You even go so far as to lie by claiming I offered no supporting evidence.

No, I've provided evidence. You've merely attempted to insult and claim that the quotes are out of context, and when asked to explain yourself, you merely repeat, as if it will somehow make a difference.

Still, you've proven you are more interested in trolling with the birther remark. This is not reddit. If you cannot discuss things like an mature adult, leave. Feel free to disagree, but insults, ignorance, and trolling are not welcome here.


Then you should support them when you make them.

But extrapolating all of this from one single statement is irrational, ridiculous and frankly delusional.


> "Then you should support them when you make them."

I do. At least, I tried. Anything that couldn't be found in the thread, I quoted.

You, on the other hand, make unfounded and untrue claims.

> But extrapolating all of this from one single statement is irrational, ridiculous and frankly delusional.

I didn't do that. You can reread my comment, and you'll see that your statement is incorrect.

Also, by extrapolating all of what?

* That they skipped the question, which they admitted to? You cannot deny this. * That they did not follow the instructions as prescribed? They admitted to this as well. * That context is important? Something even you agree to.

All of this backed up with quotes above.


>Sigh. I'm sick and tired of people twisting reality to fit an Apple anti-hero narrative.

Makes a change from all the Microsoft bashing. Hard to fit a $ into Apple, though. A$$le maybe?

Apple might not have discovered or invented everything (macintosh GUI case in point). But Jobs and Apple in general have a habit of discovering useful technologies and commercialising them. It's a hindcasting mistake to say 'oh, well it was obvious that GUIs or iPhone style screens were always going to happen'.

Well, if it was so obvious, why is Apple continually breaking new ground?

The answer is that there are literally millions of good ideas that don't go anywhere. To pick some out, commercialise them, make them work and deliver for an affordable price. Well, that's innovation.

Egads. I sound like an Apple fanboi. Nothing could actually be further from the truth. But I'm tired of seeing the army of cutters heading for Apples tall poppy.


"Well, if it was so obvious, why is Apple continually breaking new ground?"

Herds.

More specifically group thinking and risk aversion. I can't say I really admire Steve Jobs but what I completely believe was that Steve's willingness to say "my way or the highway" on very very risky decisions and directions is the entire source of Apples "innovation."

This trial, and the documentation around the web about prior art, brought that into absolutely stark relief. I claim that any competent design and engineering group that was asked to make a 'smartphone' with the requirements Steve laid out for it, would have come up with something very much like the iPhone. However, there was no CEO in the world except Steve who had the balls to invest the company into those requirements.

Look at Tesla (the car company) and Elon Musk. GM could have made the car that Tesla built on the assembly line they used to build the EV1 but they didn't have the balls to commit to it. If you watch the Bloomberg video [1] it is absolutely clear that one of two things was going to happen, either Tesla was going to ship a car, or Elon was going to go broke. And in being so committed to his own vision of what needed to be done, he dragged a bunch of naysayers along.

Palm had proven people would buy a PDA with 'apps' and carry it around. RIM had proven that people would pay to have a phone they could send and receive email from. None of the 'big' players (Sony, Ericsson, Nokia, RIM, Palm) was ready to commit to making a phone where "phoneness" was a peer of "PDAness." So there were tenative steps pushed out there that were evolutionary on the existing products. A blackberry with some Palm features, Sony's phone with the touch screen, all that stuff you see that existed prior to the iPhone.

And one of the things you get when you are tentative, is timidity. A general sense that this can't possibly work, or that the chance of it working is really low. And people trying to protect their careers or their reputations won't say "We do it this way or else." They are not fearless. And for good reason, they've got kids that will go to college, spouses who expect steady employment, a 401k, a retirement plan. It is a really really hard conversation to have with your boss to say "I want to spend $100M on developing a product that you have to take my word for it will be awesome." The answer is, almost always, "Why the f*ck should I do that?"

But Steve (and through him Apple) did just that. Just like Musk put into production a $100,000 all electric sports car.

And when Apple proved that it wasn't a stupid idea to make a portable computer that made phone calls, the rest of the world was now free to act without fear that the idea was stupid, after all Apple made it work right? And sticking as close to the Apple 'formula' as possible was the safe bet.

That is why I don't think Apple will do it again, I don't think Tim Cook is able to make that kind of leap. Elon can, but he's already running two other companies.

[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/video/73460184-elon-musk-profiled-b...


I think the point most people like to make about Apple or any other company with regards to patents is a little different. Especially in case of Apple fans, most of them act like Ayn Rand fans. Though I agree that a whole lot of hard work is done to take things to the finishing line. And Apple is in fact a innovative company and deserves much credit for its success.

The whole point is nothing today exists in isolation. The ecosystem around you and other people's innovation play a huge role and are in many ways are responsible for your own innovations. Its a little like social security and taxes. Objectivists may argue that they must get all the pie they earn without giving anything back, because they earned it. But for them to earn it, the society and ecosystem around you- Stuff like roads, national/internal security, education, schools, industries, infrastructure ..<the list is endless>.. was already built for you. The ecosystem was conducive for you to 'earn' your pie. Without all that you would spend much of your life solving those problems first, leaving your actual accomplishments very little. Therefore if each person goes through the same thing, we go no where as a society or as a ecosystem. That is why 'giving back' is so important. Because that creates a feed back loop to achieve more as a society/ecosystem yet offering room for individual growth.

For Apple to be so successful. They had to stand on the shoulder of many giants. Even their design philosophy rests on the shoulder of a giant called Dieter Rams.

That is why their claims 'to carry the innovation burden of world' are not false but are ridiculous.

I agree that they had the what it takes to take risks. But to claim that they are responsible for all the innovation that exists out there and that they are innovating for the whole world is just ridiculous.


Certainly Gizmodo thought they were influenced by Rams [1] but that connections seems a bit stretched at points. I don't think Apple is a slave to his style. Ive is a talented designer in his own right.

That said, its not the design per se that made Apple so successful, it was Steve Jobs giving irrevocable support to the concepts he wanted built. In any other company, like here on HN, you can make an unequivocal positive statement about something and someone else will come out to tell you how wrong you are. They can be quite persuasive and influential too, and cause you to doubt your statement and lose your commitment to it.

I've been bouncing around the periphery of Steve Jobs wake my entire career, from dealing with folks from NeXT, hiring the previous head of the Newton division, "rescuing" people from advanced development jobs, working with Apple on their NFS port, etc etc. And you hear a lot of 'Steve stories' from folks. But I have never ever heard a story where someone told him, "Steve, I don't think your idea will fly." And he responded with even an ounce of doubt. In contrast I've heard lots of stores where people people said that and Steve told them they were an idiot.

Its a rare level of fearlessness that I suspect you can really only achieve when there isn't anything anyone can do to hurt you.

You see folks like Mark Pincus pull $200M out of Zynga which nets out probably north of a $100M and even at a sub-inflation return of 1.2% is $100K/month (tax free if its from treasuries). When you've got that sort of back stop, even if everyone hates you that is ok, they can't really touch you. Then all you have to do is be like Elon and be willing to throw it all away on something you believe in and people will take you seriously.

[1] http://gizmodo.com/343641/1960s-braun-products-hold-the-secr...


I really think that Apple's big breakthrough was in marketing, not innovative design.

This doesn't, by itself, mean that their design patents are invalid. But hopefully it gets rid of the strawman of "if they weren't innovative why did people buy so much of their stuff?"


That is why I don't think Apple will do it again, I don't think Tim Cook is able to make that kind of leap. Elon can, but he's already running two other companies.

I don't either. They had the right combination of a bold CEO and their backs to the wall with little to lose at the right time but everything they've done since then is just basically polish. They need to keep coming up with iPad-level hits to maintain their market cap and I just don't see something like that coming out of Cupertino now.


> All Apple does it pick up the legos and put them together?

That's how I think of them, and it's what I have great respect to them for. It can be worded to sound like a putdown, but in my opinion it should be considered a compliment.


I think of Apple like a great chef. Sure other cooks can use the same ingredients, but it all matters on the ratios, the temperature, the process etc. to come up with a stunning dish. And then Apple finds new ingredients that they integrate into their cuisine.


Maybe not a putdown, but it's silly to view Apple's defining characteristic as their ability to assemble a device from available parts.

If that ability is what makes them successful, then their rival phone manufacturers should be even more successful since they often use faster processors and bigger screens and more RAM than Apple.


It's not about the ability to put them together, it's about deciding what to put together, when to do it, how to market it and of course a big part: what software to put on it.

I'd never say "all Apple do is" about this, just that it is what they do, and they do it better than anyone else.


Except that the major parts- like a touch oriented UI- don't exist until Apple develops them.

And having seen them, other companies can't replicate them well at all because they don't do the research.

Calling them a lego assembler ignores all the real innovation they do.


Microsoft developed the "old" Surface (now called PixelSense) at the same time Apple was working on the iPhone. Both were released in very early 2007 after years of R&D work. Both had multitouch UIs of the type you seem to think are so innovative. Both arrived at these solutions at the same time because the wide availability of capacitive touchscreens (which neither MS nor Apple invented, mind you -- capacitive and multitouch tech was being done in lab environments back in the late-70s/early-80s by CERN, Bell Labs and others) made such UIs an obvious next step to anyone paying attention to the field.

Apple made billions off the iPhone while MS made peanuts off the Surface solely because of how each tried to bring their respective takes on the product to market. I give Apple all the credit in the world for knowing how to package technology up for mainstream use and bring it in at a price point the masses can afford, while Microsoft was dicking around with giant table size systems (primarily because being burned by the stylus-touch tablet market early, they had stupidly convinced themselves that general consumers didn't want touch at all) but you're totally wrong about this tech being completely innovative and non-existing before Apple came down from the mountain and presented it to us, because that isn't how it went down at all.

For someone who seems to have so little grasp on the real history behind all this stuff you should be careful about calling other HN readers out as you do in a post below this one.


Both arrived at these solutions at the same time because the wide availability of capacitive touchscreens

Strange conclusion, given that the original Microsoft Surface does not use a capacitive touchscreen.


His parentheses made you miss the rest of his sentence.

> Both arrived at these solutions at the same time because the wide availability of capacitive touchscreens (...) made such UIs an obvious next step to anyone paying attention to the field.

He was saying that capacitive was inspiration to both, not used by both.


Right, given the flammability of wood, fire was an obvious next step.

This is nonsense. It is just rejecting innovation out of hand by claiming that it was obvious.

Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc fallacy.


Perhaps it wasn't obvious, but clearly it was obvious enough that MS came up with it too.


Well this comment is ridiculous.

If timing and marketing is all that matters for market success then Apple should NOT have been successful with iPod or iPad since they weren't the first MP3 player or tablet. And they definitely didn't have the experience of companies like Sony when it comes to marketing.

You criticize others about grasp on real history when you seem so quick to ignore it yourself.


The question isn't whether Apple was and is successful. The question is whether they deserve a ~two-decade monopoly on concepts that were incremental improvements on ideas developed by others. The parent comment in particular is meant to address a previous comment by nirvana that claimed "touch-oriented UI" was invented by Apple.


I agree that it's about more than just timing and marketing, however I'd definitely suggest that Apple's marketing was superior to Sony's and played a big part in their success. Not the only part, but a big one.


Timing may not be as simple as "first".


>"Microsoft developed the "old" Surface .. at the same time Apple was working on the iPhone. Both were released in very early 2007... had multitouch UIs of the type you seem to think are so innovative. " >"Both arrived at these solutions at the same time because the wide availability of capacitive touchscreens"

There are many errors in this claim.

Capacitive Touchscreens were not widely available at that time at all, which is why the early iPhone ripoffs used resistive screens.

This is also why the Microsoft PixelSense used CAMERAS.

Quoting from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_PixelSense "It is a 30 in (76 cm) 4:3 rear projection display (1024x768) with integrated PC and five near-infrared (IR) cameras that can see fingers and objects placed on the display."

For emphasis: "and five near-infrared (IR) cameras"

>"For someone who seems to have so little grasp on the real history behind all this stuff you should be careful about calling other HN readers out as you do in a post below this one."

I think its hilarious that people would accuse me of having "so little grasp on the real history" when you just claimed that the Microsoft PixelSense used "widely available" "capacitive touchscreens".

So, which is it, did you know that it actually used cameras and thought you could lie and get it by me? Or were you genuinely ignorant of the "history behind this stuff" and just repeating what you'd heard from someone else because it fits your ideology and you live in the Reality Distortion Field where Apple never invented anything?

Seriously. 9/10 of the "rebuttals" I see on Hacker News are of the quality of the one you just posted... and not only were you blatantly and obviously wrong in a way that you wouldn't have been if you'd ever bothered to research any of this, but you accused me of not knowing my history based on a made up claim of your own.

The bottom line is you're following an ideology, and because that ideology has supplanted reasoning for you, you believe-- with the conviction of a religious zealot-- what you hear that fits your reality distortion field. And thus it is inconceivable to you that I might actually know what I am talking about.

IF you'd just said "Didn't the microsoft surface use a capacitive touch screen?" that would be very excusable. But even then-- and even if it HAD-- it wouldn't support the claim that Apple never invented anything, or specifically never invented a UI for iOS.

Unless you're also claiming that somehow the iOS UI is the same as the microsoft one... which would again be absurd and easily disproven.

See the thing is, you aren't even arguing on the topic-- you're just throwing out (false) claims to try and create cover!

If you were the outlier it would be one thing, but on any of these threads you can find hundreds of people posting this kind of easily disproven nonsense that doesn't even address the issue.

This level of discourse is just terrible. Please make arguments, please make them to the actual point. Even if you'd been factually right, you wouldn't have been addressing my point at all.


> Except that the major parts- like a touch oriented UI- don't exist until Apple develops them.

I worked on a tablet in '99. I wrote the widget library (we used Nano-X plus a custom widget library and font loader to keep memory usage down - this was a unit with 32MB RAM...) and managed the developers who wrote the apps that are featured:

http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/Linux-For-Devices-Article...

(the names on the people in the phone book are names of actual employees of Screen Media at the time, actually - I'm there too)

Notice how it is described: Not as something new, but as another entrant up against another product. Even in '99/'00 our touch based tablet was not a new idea.

In fact, one of the companies that Screen Media was co-located with was a touch screen importer and distributorship that served as our major go-to guys for ideas and information about what the touch screens of the time were capable of - we didn't invent any of the ideas of this type of touch screen UI because we could go to our local touch screen distributor and ask what was common practice in the market already. The only remotely new thing (and at least Ericsson, and probably others, beat us there too) was to apply it to a tablet type device rather than a kiosk.

We did use resistive touch screens, not capacitive, but the UI was most definitively "touch oriented" - there were no hard keys on the standard unit at all. Web browsing, phone functions, address books, e-mail, was all done via touch.

The tablet used a port of Opera, and Opera subsequently introduced gestures in 2001, but while gestures was then new to browsers, that was not considered anything revolutionary either - just applying existing, known technology in a novel way.

The idea that a "touch oriented UI" didn't exist before Apple developed it is fiction.


Your tablet used scroll bars. Why?


The device you linked to has a touchscreen and a UI, but it is simply a desktop widgets and metaphors with the minimal adaptations necessary to make it work with a touch screen.

None of the key metaphors or widgets Apple developed for iOS are present in that device.

To claim that Apple didn't invent anything in iOS, and use that device as an example is to claim that there was nothing new in the iPhone because Alexanger Graham Bell had phones before.

It is absurd. And to me, all it says is that you're desperate to rationalize this belief that Apple never invented anything.

Remember: I'm rebutting the claim that Apple just assembled off the shelf pieces, like legos.


I think you should take a step back. Honestly, you are making even people who agree with you cringe.

You are replying to a very informative post from a person who directly worked on a touch-screen device. What about that post made you think it was "desperate to rationalize this belief that Apple never invented anything"? I am trying to determine how anyone could read that post and come away thinking it was desperate.

And you are making giant leaps in your arguments. The comment does not claim that Apple never invented anything in iOS or elsewhere. He is rebutting your claim that Apple invented the "touch oriented UI". You ignored him and fell back to some more specific claims about widgets and metaphors (perhaps you should have been more specific to begin with?).

I will close by quoting from another of your comments in this very thread. You would do well to read these as a reply to your own reply above.

    The bottom line is you're following an ideology, and
    because that ideology has supplanted reasoning for you, you
    believe-- with the conviction of a religious zealot-- what
    you hear that fits your reality distortion field. And thus
    it is inconceivable to you that I might actually know what
    I am talking about.

    See the thing is, you aren't even arguing on the topic--
    you're just throwing out (false) claims to try and create cover!


Oh bullshit. We were doing finger operated gesture user interface on the Palm in 2000 (pie menus on virtual buttons for consumer electronic IR remote control interfaces). Lots of people were using touch screens with finger gestures. The Palm included a stylus, but if the interface was designed correctly you could certainly use it with your fingers, and pie menus (self revealing gestures) worked just fine, and there is lots of older prior art and research about touch screen pie menus and gestures.


It didn't take much to allow using the Palm with fingers - I used to write on it with my fingers rather than the stylus because I found it more convenient and still accurate enough.


Yes, and the telephone existed before cellphones, but that doesn't mean the cellphone wasn't innovative. Your argument doesn't address the point, and is a bullshit rationalization for a claim you can't support. I refuse to believe you are so stupid as to think that is a rebuttal.


At least (s)he wasn't resorting to ad hominem. How about you keep things on topic when debating?


"a touch oriented UI- don't exist until Apple develops them."

Hmmm. I'm still using my Palm Centro phone, which used to be a Treo, which used to be a Palm PDA, which used to be a Palm Pilot. All of those have a touch oriented UI, and most if not all of them pre-date iPhone by years.

So now I guess we can watch the debate about whether Newton or its competitors pre-date each other.


None of those have a touch based UI. Touch means finger touches. Very different from a stylus which is only touching one or two pixels at a time. This is very easy to sense because the stylus pushes two layers together physically and effectively is closing swithces. A touch is much difeferent, a finger is an amorphous blob over many pixels of a varying shape, and Apple had to figure out how to resolve that into a single pixel you intended to touch (so not the center) and ignore other things like knuckles on the screen, etc.

This is a major invention and a major difference, and that is just one part of what made the iOS touch UI.

This is the fundamental problem- you and others say nonsense like this, and I don't know if you're simply not well informed about the nature of these technologies, or you don't care and are making arguments because of ideology that you think will work propagandistically. I mean, I guess ofr many people they don't care that they aren't the same thing, they can just pretend like they are in debates like this, right?

I really don't know which. I keep hearing people claim that Apple stole from Xerox[1] and here you imply that the palm might have come before the newton and that it is up for debate.

What's next? The Mac stole from windows?

Seriously, what level of basic understanding of the history and nature of these technologies can I expect here on Hacker News? And do you get off the hook for repeating this nonsense simply because it fits your anti-apple ideology?

[1] I shouldn't need this footnote, but due to the aforementioned ignorance or dishonesty, I do. Apple licensed Xerox's early research into what later became the GUI by selling them pre-IPO Apple stock which made Xerox a pretty penny and would be worth over a billion now if they had never sold it.


> Touch means finger touches.

According to who, you? Feel free to argue around the technological improvements Apple have brought, but to argue that everything everybody has always called "touchscreen" isn't that... makes no sense.

And even by your strange definition of a "touch based UI", were Apple the first company to create capacitive touch screens? Hell, I don't think they were even the first to create phones using them, if I remember correctly LG beat them to it with the Prada? Not to mention how many people used Palms etc. using their fingers rather than a stylus.

As to working out how to ignore stuff like knuckles touching the screen... wonderful, I'm sure Apple did a great job in this area. I haven't used enough devices to really have an opinion of whether they were the first to perfect this, but it's irrelevant. Nobody is claiming Apple haven't done some stuff better than other companies - but even if you can definitively say that they created the first really good touch based UI, that's not the same as creating the first touch based UI.

You know what I expect from HN? Civilised discussion. All I've seen from you is rudeness, arrogance and a holier-than-thou attitude that could be summed up by the last part of your profile description.


Of course touch means finger touches. Writing with a pencil or stylus isn't called touching. This is pretty basic stuff, it just seems as though you have some axe to grind with this poster and want to nit pik at semantics, but in doing to it just looks rather childish.


> Of course touch means finger touches

I'm not sure that's true. For example, in the Tablet PC space, a touch screen could mean that a screen responded to a stylus, finger, or both, but usually, just the stylus! And even before the first iPod came out in 2001, screens in PDAs were referred to as touch-screens.

Handspring Edge, 2001: "THIS WARRANTY DOES NOT COVER PHYSICAL DAMAGE TO THE SURFACE OF THE PRODUCT, INCLUDING CRACKS OR SCRATCHES ON THE LCD TOUCHSCREEN OR OUTSIDE CASING."

Treo 650, released in 2004: "Fully integrated phone and PDA with digital video and camera capabilities Integrated Bluetooth technology Vibrant 320 x 320 touchscreen display" http://www.amazon.com/Palm-Treo-650-PDA-Phone/dp/B0007NP8PW

A review of Treo 650 suggests the finger worked on large areas, 3 years before the iPhone was released, but the UI buttons in the PalmOS were unchanged from small ones created 10 years earlier for stylus-access only. (In this light, Apple's innovation was to require action buttons to be at least 40x40 pixels with enough spacing from each other in their new iPhone OS, now called iOS.) http://www.mobiledia.com/phones/palm/treo-650.html "Extensive use of touch screen allows finger access but you will need the built-in touch pen for pulling down menus and making selections."

One could argue that Apple should not be allowed to sell a phone without a keyboard since they're improving on the Treo 650's design, just like Samsung should not be allowed to sell a phone with a larger screen and multiple physical buttons since they're improving on the iPhone design.


My overall argument was not about the terminology, but the claim that Apple invented touching with your fingers - so not sure why you picked this one point to disagree with me on if it's a childish semantic.

But if "touch means finger touches" in the tech world then what do you call devices designed to be used with a stylus? Not touchscreen? And in general English "touch" doesn't mean "with fingers" either.


> Writing with a pencil or stylus isn't called touching.

Yes it is. The user is touching the screen with the stylus.

This definition specifically includes pen and pencil: (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/touch)

The wikipedia article has a variety of touch screens which respond to objects, or fingers, or both: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touchscreen#History)

Apple refined existing concepts.


> I remember correctly LG beat them to it with the Prada?

You remember incorrectly. Regarding the Palm as well. In fact, your claim is a lie. It doesn't rebut the point I am making, and instead is making a post hoc ergo proctor hoc fallacy in order to knock down a strawman.

>You know what I expect from HN? Civilised discussion.

A key component of civilized discussion is reading what someone says, thinking about it, figuring out what they said and why they said it. Then thinking about where their error is, if you disagree with them, and presenting an argument to the point that addresses that error.

It doesn't involve spewing logical fallacies and then characterizing them in a derogatory fashion.

>All I've seen from you is rudeness, arrogance and a holier-than-thou attitude that could be summed up by the last part of your profile description.

One of the problems with Hacker News is that people often interpret the act of thinking differently, or presenting evidence that disagrees with the belief they'd like to hold, as "rude, arrogant and holier-than-thou" or other derogatory terms that they then feel comfortable throwing at people.

I can't count the number of times on this site I've gotten personal attacks, such as yours, responded by not calling them names (as I have not called you names in response) and merely illuminated what they were doing in the hopes that they could see their errors (I named your logical fallacies above, for instance) only to have it escalate.

Unlike you, I don't expect civilized discussion from Hacker News, because as a minority, I've found that the voting mechanism gives bullies a feeling of superiority and free reign to attack others.

I often leave this site for months at a time because I've been subjected to stalking, personal threats, harassment, and name calling.

But here I am in a thread where I know I'm the minority. I haven't gloated, I've tried to explain. When I've seen repetition of very obvious fallacies, I've asked, with genuine wonderment, if people are simply not aware of these things or not. (I mean, really, you cite the LG Prada... are you not aware of the details of that phone? You say "If I remember correctly", so it sounds like you could simply be repeating what you've heard from others.

Do you realize that almost all of the claims made in this thread of prior examples of work that negates the assertion that Apple is innovative are being made by people repeating claims they've heard elsewhere without understanding the context? (There's only two possibilities when someone tells a falsehood-- either an intent to deceive, or an error. I'm presuming an error here, which I suspect is what you call "arrogant", but the alternative is to presume dishonesty.)

So, yes, I'm not ashamed of my profile description. It's an explanation of why I'll just drop out of discussions and why I won't just roll over and repeat the falsehoods that would garner me much more karma.

Do you realize you never made an argument against the point I was making? You expressed some conclusions that, even if they were accurate, don't argue against my point.

For there to be discussion, you'd need to address my point, right? But you didn't. Near as I can tell you responded because what I said didn't agree with your ideology (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but that seems to be the motive, since you didn't respond to the point.) And in an ideological response like that, you're going to cite "proof" that usually amounts to talking points. "The palm had it!" "The Prada Had it!" But that isn't argument.

You didn't notice that the "it" is not the same, and that the it your talking about is not the same it I'm talking about.


I'll be honest, after that first paragraph I didn't bother reading on.


No good deed goes unpunished. I responded to your insults in a civil manner. But you cannot be civil. I'm not surprised.


You're delusional - sorry.

"I can't count the number of times on this site I've gotten personal attacks, such as yours, responded by not calling them names (as I have not called you names in response) and merely illuminated what they were doing in the hopes that they could see their errors (I named your logical fallacies above, for instance) only to have it escalate."

That says everything about you, nothing about me or this website. Look through the rest of the comments on this thread, notice how you're the only one getting into arguments while others are simply discussing and disagreeing with each other.

Notice how you're the only person I've written negatively about yet you're not the only person arguing for Apple - maybe, just maybe, what I wrote is about you, not about my hatred of Apple. Oh, and while my hatred of everything Apple fits your narrative beautifully, I'm actually a proud owner of two iPods (currently), an iPad and a macbook. Nowhere in this thread have I even come out in support of either side, all I did was debate a point in the discussion and pointed out that your attitude wasn't one that could win anyone over.

As it happens you're wrong in this topic, but the way you argue you wouldn't get many people to change their minds if you were right. And the fact that your comments in the past have led to stalking and threats... Clearly I'm not alone in my opinion.

Incidentally, you're now the second person I've ever criticised on HN, rather than just disagreed with. The first was a neo-nazi who proudly displayed swasticas on his website. I'm not an asshole, I don't call people out on their attitude because I disagree with them, I reserve it for people I consider need telling. It's fine if you disagree with my judgement of you, but don't be under any illusion that it isn't a judgement and is just my wanting to win the argument.


So, Apple licensed iOS from another manufacturer? Really? Who was it?[1]

That's the only way I could be "wrong about this topic". You didn't even notice that you weren't responding to what I said, but instead knocking down a strawman!

And despite that and your insults, I granted you leeway and responded in a civilized manner. And for that, you insulted me again, and then compared me to a neo-nazi with more insults.

I would guess you're trying to make me angry, but you're so far off the mark I'm mostly just perplexed.

Hacker News would be a better place if people focused on arguing to the point and not the person. I've responded to the point, you should too.

[1] I was rebutting the claim that the iPhone was assembled from off the shelf components, like legos.


I wrote on my Palm Pilot Pro in '98 using my fingers. I preferred it to using the stylus, because it was faster and more comfortable for me. (Incidentally, when I left the job where I used the Palm at the end of '98, it was to work on developing a touch based tablet which had no stylus at all - see one of my other posts in this thread).

The stylus on the Palm was optional for better precision. It was by no means necessary. Not only could I write reliably with my fingertips on a Palm Pilot Pro, it was precise enough with my fingers to play games and draw stuff with it.

> This is the fundamental problem- you and others say nonsense like this

It's quite rich that you claim this when you yourself are making spurious claims about how these devices supposedly couldn't be used reliably with fingers. I can only conclude that you yourself do not have firs thand experience with these devices, or have forgotten how they worked.


The idea that the palm was a touch based UI is simply false. You needed a stylus and the UI was designed for a stylus. You could do some things with fingers and some apps were designed for finger use, where it was appropriate.

The reason you needed a stylus is because the technology was not advanced enough to detect finger touches with the accuracy that the iPhone does.

Even if Palm had all of the algorithms that apple developed for iOS, the ARM processors in those palms was not fast enough.

To claim that Apple invented nothing new because you could get a Palm to react to your finger is frankly a lie. It is a shameful lie, because when you let your ideology drive you to dishonesty, you've lost all integrity.

I have given the specifics of how and why my claims are true, but you ignore them, and you post dishonest stuff like this.

I genuinely don't know if you are simply ignorant and repeating what you've heard from others how are lying, or you're lying yourself, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter.

For the record, I have owned Palms and Newtons and Compaq's stylus driven device (iPaq I think it was) etc.

None of them could be used completely by fingers and all of them were designed to be used reliably by styluses.

I never said they would not react to finger presses at all, and I never said they couldn't be used in a limited fasion with finger presses.... so pretending that I did is yet another dishonesty.


Alternatively, people are more used to writing with a pen than with their fingers.


None of those have a touch based UI. Touch means finger touches.

This is dishonestly revisionist, given how common it was to see people thumbing through applications on Palm devices. That Palms came with styluses doesn't mean that they weren't touch-friendly in a lot of ways, and that should be taken into account.


Since I don't know, I thought I'd ask -- were Apple the first to create a multi-touch UI for a phone? That would seem to me to be the major innovation in touch UI if that's the case.


Apple was neither the first to create a multi-touch user interface (the first consumer multitouch device I know of was the Lemur, but I'm sure that was predated) nor the first to put it in a handheld PDA-ish device or a phone (LG beat the iPhone to market with the Prada--which, incidentally, also used very few physical buttons in favor of software buttons).

The entire argument in favor of Apple's patents is bullshit, and nirvana has a history of bad-faith fanboyism on the topic.


I could be wrong (?) but I think the first Prada was capacitive but not multi-touch.


You are correct - the Prada II was capacitive and multi-touch, not the first one. Mea culpa.

It doesn't really change much, though, as "make a [Surface|Lemur|Diamondpoint] handheld" is about as obvious a conceit as one can want.


Hm, I'd argue it's not that obvious, otherwise companies would just try to miniaturize everything hoping that there's a market for it. Companies won't typically make this leap because it's fairly costly and their product manager may not get a bonus that year if the product is a flop. It's only obvious to you because everything is obvious in hindsight.


Whether something is obvious or not is irrelevant to this discussion.... the fact of the matter is, Apple created iOS, they didn't license it. The point I made was that Apple created that component, it didn't exist before. It was not off the shelf (as others were broadly claiming.)

Further, "obvious" is silly since nobody did it before them, and it is a post hoc ergo proctor hoc argument.


>"Apple was neither the first to create a multi-touch user interface (the first consumer multitouch device I know of was the Lemur, but I'm sure that was predated) nor the first to put it in a handheld PDA-ish device or a phone (LG beat the iPhone to market with the Prada--which, incidentally, also used very few physical buttons in favor of software buttons)."

The LG Prada was single touch and it did not have a touch UI. Just a gimmick screen that would let you launch functions. IT wasn't even a smart phone, it was a feature phone.

>The entire argument in favor of Apple's patents is bullshit,

Its only "bullshit" that the facts of reality don't fit your claims.

>and nirvana has a history of bad-faith fanboyism on the topic.

I do have a history of citing facts that deflate ideological balloons in response to people like you who lie about history and call me names.

It really is a shame that you choose not to be honest. I mean, that guy was asking a legitimate question, and you lied to him!


> The LG Prada was single touch and it did not have a touch UI. Just a gimmick screen that would let you launch functions. IT wasn't even a smart phone, it was a feature phone.

On this you are correct. I was thinking of the Prada II, which was multitouch. My apologies. That does not necessarily make Apple's use of multitouch the novel concept you assert, however--to me, Surface, Lemur, etc. make shrinking it down to PDA size (whether or not a phone radio is in the device or not) an obvious progression.

The rest of your post is more of the curiously self-absorbed nattering we've been seeing throughout this thread, however. "Ideological balloons" is funny--I own three iOS devices and two Android ones, I have no ideological allegiance either way. I do, however, have a rather strong aversion to using the court system instead of competing and I find it ridiculous that something like the iOS "bounce" at the end of a list is a patentable effect. I am not impressed by Samsung's attempts to copy iOS, either; I find them to be lacking in creativity, but I do not find a lack of creativity to be grounds for rent-seeking and legal action.

I also have a strong aversion to your style of posting, however--your brand of obnoxiousness is something I came to HN to get away from--so I will not be replying to you again. I am sure you will enjoy the last word.


Apple did not license iOS from someone else who invented multi-touch. I was rebutting the claim that they just assembled the iPhone from off the shelf parts, like legos.

You're so focused on your ideology that you're making an argument against patents (the context where obviousness would be relevant) in response to me saying Apple created iOS.

I find your need to characterize me, rather than address my point, and your dishonesty about the point I was even making, a form of obnoxiousness that I can do without, so feel free to ignore me. '

But don't pretend like I've done anything wrong here- you lied about me, and you characterized me and you called me names. Thus I must conclude you come to HN to be in the google distortion field, unpreturbed by anyone who would bring up pesky facts you don't like. And since I dared to make an argument you can't rebut, you feel fine insulting me.

You made the error, buddy, and you're blaming me for it. Shame on you.


I believe so, according to wikipedia, no other multi-touch phones existed before the iphone.


Precisely they used capacitive touch sensor (used on touchpads mostly at the time) instead of resistive standard used on PDAs; in practical terms this was a switch from notebook-like experience (which invites writing and checking small boxes) to magazine-like (smooth, glossy surface inviting sliding pages and large Nokia-like UI plus gestures to remove accuracy/finger-hiding problems). This way, multitouch rather just come in bundle with capacitive technology. BTW this is why I see the whole stuff as a mainly target group revolution -- simply way more people buy magazines than notebooks.


>What's next? The Mac stole from windows?

Actually Mac did borrow a few usability from Windows too.

1. Finder Sidebar: Windows Navigation pane

2. The Mac Path bar: Windows Address bar

3. Back and Forward navigation buttons in folder windows

4. Minimizing to document windows into app icon

5. Screen Sharing: Remote Desktop Connection

6. Time Machine: Backup and Restore

7. System Preferences: Control Panel

8. ActiveSync and Exchange 2007 support

9. Command-Tab: Alt-Tab

10. Terminal: Command Prompt

While most of these are so obvious and can also be called prior art, standing in Apple's shoes, its an innovation by Windows, they had it in their OS before Apple. If you find the above list funny you know that Apple tried to sue Microsoft for having a GUI. A GUI !!


They also took the multi-button mouse and made it (arguably) better.


And then they removed the buttons :)


Your response is non-responsive. None of these features were stolen in the original Mac UI from 1984 from windows because Windows did not exist in 1984. My point was people were claiming someone "stole" from something that came out later.

Also, most of the things you list appeared originally on the Mac, or the windows "equivalents" really aren't and haven't caught up to the mac.

The only thing that the Mac did take from windows-- that's on your list anyway-- is Alt-Tab.


> most of the things you list appeared originally on the Mac

Since you seem like a fanboy who loves to make up facts without any basis. Let's iterate over the list one by one in more detail:

1. Finder Sidebar: Windows Navigation pane -> Appeared in Mac = Mac OS X 10.3 Panther = Two years after the Navigation pane appeared in Windows XP.

2. The Mac Path bar: Windows Address bar -> Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard added an optional Path bar at the bottom of folder windows to display the path of any selected file or folder. Double-clicking a folder in the path opens that folder. This feature first appeared as the Address bar in Windows Vista, which began appearing nearly a year before Leopard shipped.

3. Back and Forward navigation buttons in folder windows -> Microsoft first put the Forward and Back buttons of Web browsers into its folder windows with Windows 2000. Oddly, Apple first included only a Back button in the original Mac OS X. It wasn't until version 10.2 Jaguar that a Forward button appeared.

4. Minimizing to document windows into app icon -> Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard adds an option for minimizing, which is turned off by default. Instead of creating a new icon in the Dock, you can have a document window minimize into the application icon it belongs to, as Windows has been doing with taskbar.

5. Screen Sharing: Remote Desktop Connection -> Appeared in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard which was already implemented in Windows XP.

6. Time Machine: Backup and Restore -> Really? Do I really need to prove that System Restore and Backup n Restore appeared before Time Machine??

7. System Preferences: Control Panel -> Before Mac OS X, Mac system settings were found in a set of separate files. Microsoft put all the settings in one convenient place. For Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah, Apple stole Microsoft's idea and called it System Preferences.

8. ActiveSync and Exchange 2007 support -> Macs have long been second-class citizens to Windows when it comes to Exchange Server. Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard added native support of Exchange Server's 2007's group scheduling, contact, and mail services.

9. Command-Tab: Alt-Tab -> Well you agreed to that.

10. Terminal: Command Prompt -> Windows has had the command prompt integrated since the very first version. Apple finally added Terminal finally after the 9th version.

Love your products and be loyal to your manufacturers, that is one thing but please don't turn off the logic side of your brain!! If you are going to respond to this comment please backup your statements too.


To be fair on 10, both OS X and Windows got that from earlier predecessors. And for 7, I'm pretty sure I remember System 7 and earlier having single Preferences folders, just like Windows 95's Control Panels. No idea which came first, but it's a pretty obvious idea once you strap a GUI on top of a config file. I'd be astonished if there wasn't a similar idea in every single GUI environment out there.


My fingernail works just fine, and with much finer control than my blob of a finger on an aPhone or iPhone. Apple added some cool stuff, but I definitely interact with my Centro's screen by touch, with very little error.


So you're claiming that Apple licensed Palm OS for iOS? Or did you misunderstand what I was claiming?


" And do you get off the hook for repeating this nonsense simply because it fits your anti-apple ideology?"

Ideology? It's just a phone.


Apple didn't invent touch UI. Ever been to a restaurant in the last decade?


Who is saying that Apple invented the touch UI? This is a false argument. Apple's patent is on a very specific type of touch interface and the interactions with it. Apple-style multi-touch interfaces did not exist before the iPhone.

And if they did, you could be damn sure that whoever did invent it would have been suing Apple left and right.


Come off it, there's no such thing as "Apple-style multi-touch", there's only multi-touch, and it doesn't belong to anyone.

It's disappointing to see people actually siding with Apple here. Is it brand loyalty that blurs people's judgement?

The fact that icons are sized and spaced similarly across these devices is because most people have a similar index finger size. It's obvious what the ideal icon size and placement should be on any touch device for optimal touch usability.

The legal defense of "obvious concept" is absolutely true. There are limits to how design can optimize details such as icon display, and touch input. The concepts Apple are trying to own simply do no belong to them due to their obvious nature.

Slide to unlock, the page bounce, the icons, all of it is obvious stuff once you have the hardware pieced together.

As a result of this lawsuit, Apple has lost me as customer. I am not rewarding childish hypocrisy. I do not respect billion dollar playground fights in the courts because someone else made a similar phone that has icons and multi-touch. What a waste of time and money.


A poster previously in the thread has said that touch screens did not exist before Apple used them; then when presented with a bunch of touch screen devices has said that touch must only be fingers.

But to address your point: multi touch OS

iPhone - 2007

Minority Report - 2004 (design ideas, not working implementation)


>A poster previously in the thread has said that touch screens did not exist before Apple used them;

This is a flat out lie.

>said that touch must only be fingers.

This is also a lie.

>Minority Report - 2004 (design ideas, not working implementation)

Completely different method, used cameras to sense hand positions in air, not physical screens.

And even if minority report showed a PDA with a touch UI in it, it would be completely irrelevant to the point I was making.


Having read some of your (very many) posts (that were made after mine) it appears you're now saying that Apple does not just assemble existing parts to create iPhone - that innovation happened in software and hardware to existing stuff and that iPhone is not possible without that innovation. (I think this a fair paraphrase of the most important point you're making; please let me know if I've got it wrong, and realise that I made a mistake and that I'm not lying to distort facts).

If we limit conversation to the sentence fragment "assemble components like lego" then most people would agree that Apple does more than that. It's unfortunate that someone in this thread used that phrase; it's unfortunate that you wrote such a broad response.

So, now we discuss whether what Apple (and it doesn't need to be Apple, my view would be the same about other companies) did amounts to patentable innovation.

We're not going to agree on that bit. But for me that's fine. You think the money and research and work that Apple did, and the result, is a significantly different implementation and so is patentable. I think it's a refinement upon existing technology.


nirvana is.

In the first two paragraphs of the post to which I replied, he explicitly says that finger-based touch "is a major invention".


It is, it is not an off the shelf component that apple just bought and assembled as other people were claiming.

I think its funny that people are responding to what I said, pretending I said something else, and then others are attacking me for saying what I didn't say... and you're saying I said it!

I guess it doesn't matter what I say does it? Everything gets distorted by the google distortion field.


After spending way too much time reading all of these comments, I think I have figured out the difficulty behind most of this subthread:

You're simply not clear or precise enough in your comments and statements. It takes you awhile to fully explain what you mean, and in the interim, rather than immediately realizing what has happened and making yourself more clear, you convince yourself that everyone else is crazy for not understanding exactly what you mean.

Please don't take this as a personal attack. I am merely observing. I don't think anyone here is out to get you. Most people are well-intentioned and are arguing against the precise statements you've written, not the ideas in your head. If you can't see that, then there may be no hope. But I'm hoping you will re-read some of this thread and come to the same realization.

Here's a quote from you:

    Except that the major parts- like a touch oriented
    UI- don't exist until Apple develops them.
This statement is horribly imprecise if, as I now believe, what you intended to convey was something like:

    Apple does not merely put together existing pieces of
    technology like legos. They created iOS from scratch,
    which represented a significant amount of original work
    in the area of touch oriented UI.
If you slow down a little, and really read what you are about to post to ensure that it reflects the thoughts in your head, I think you'll have a much more successful time debating with others here on HN.


>Except that the major parts- like a touch oriented UI- don't exist until Apple develops them.

Look back a few comments.


Your third sentence proves the first in the general sense. Prior to the iPhone no such Apple-style multi-touch interface existed.

My claim was merely that Apple invented the first Touch UI of that style.

Not all touch UIs.


You misunderstood what I was claiming. I was rebutting the claim that Apple just assembled the iPhone from off the shelf pieces.

Some restaurants do have iOS devices in them.

For you to claim that Apple didn't invent a touch UI, you would need to show that someone prior to Apple shipped iOS on one some device.

That's not the way Apple works. Apple doesn't license someone else's operating system.

Apple created iOS.


iPhone - 2007

Nintendo DS - 2004

You've shifted the goalposts from "touchscreen" to "touch screens only include things operated by fingers". The DS fits that requirement. Note that makers and sellers of touch screens don't make the distinction that you claim is obvious.


You're now claiming that Apple licensed the Nintendo DS OS and put it in the iPhone, which is so false I don't believe you believe it, and I suspect you've simply become confused about what the discussion is about.

I never said there was never a screen you could get a reaction from by touching before the iPhone.

Never said that at all.

I said that to build the iPhone Apple couldn't just use off the shelf components, they had to invent new ones.

Nintendo DS is not running iOS.


> I said that to build the iPhone Apple couldn't just use off the shelf components, they had to invent new ones.

They made refinements to existing technology.

> I never said there was never a screen you could get a reaction from by touching before the iPhone.

It's hard to know what you're saying - it keeps changing.

You said that "touch oriented OSs don't exist until Apple develops them" - (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4435702)

People have shown many examples of touch oriented OSs developed independently of Apple, released before iPhone.

The screen existed before iPhone. The software to drive those screens existed before iPhone. Integrating that combination into an "OS" has existed before iPhone. And the idea of multi-touch surfaces was shown in a movie (where characters interacted with both big screens and small portable devices) before iPhone was released.

You may say that I have ignored the rest of your post that I quote above -

> And having seen them, other companies can't replicate them well at all because they don't do the research.

> Calling them a lego assembler ignores all the real innovation they do.

Step away from the keyboard. Calm down. Maybe you'll realise that people don't feel the need to say "I agree with this bit" because they assume that they not talking to a rabid troll who'll accuse everyone of lying.


>Except that the major parts- like a touch oriented UI- don't exist until Apple develops them.

Umm... I guess you never used a kiosk before the Iphone then. Calling someone lego assembler is not necessarily a bad thing. You can put two and two together and create great things but people are bound to copy great things and make it better. That is how innovation drives forward. Ever heard of the phrase "Reinventing the wheel"? Well, if everybody had patents on their "wheel", then everyone else has to waste their time and resources on reinventing the wheel. Like, Reddit was 4chan and Digg put together with better improvements. Putting two and two might make u a lego assembler but the end result isn't that bad!


So, you're claiming that Apple licensed their touch UI from a koisk manufacturer? Do tell?

Because if you're not saying that you're not being honest about what I said.


> "you're claiming that Apple licensed their touch UI"

Obviously nobody in this thread is claiming such a thing. Perhaps they misunderstood your earlier point (or perhaps you made it poorly) and thus their counterpoints are irrelevant, but that is not the same thing.

You should be more charitable and less trollish in the way you choose to disagree with others.


Just like to add that there are innovations in terms of manufacturing that affect the marketplace at large that are solely due to Apple requirements. I'm talking about Gorilla Glass (factory funded by Apple so the inventor of the substance could churn it out for iPhones) and now Retina displays. Did Samsung build their own Retina production plant?

I also don't buy that essentially saying: "go find your own way to do this." Stifles innovation. Quite the opposite IMO.


Except that the major parts- like a touch oriented UI- don't exist until Apple develops them.

How does the LG Prada exist in this strange world of yours, then?


You're claiming the LG Prada runs an OS that Apple licensed from LG for the iPhone? Do tell. Apple didn't invent iOS? Really?

By the way, the LG is not multitouch, it isn't even a smartphone. IF Apple had licensed it -- necessary for the claim that Apple just assembled lego blocks-- the iPhone would not work the way it does.

%99 of the features would be missing.


Bespoke touch oriented UI systems have been around for a very long time, some of them surprisingly sophisticated and innovative. A mate of mine used to do interfaces for touchscreen information kiosks, for instance.


100% agree. I used a touchscreen kiosk back in 1982 at EPCOT. It wasn't resistive, could have been capacitive, probably was infrared or surface-wave.


And thus it is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

You're making the "graham invented the telephone so there was nothing invented to make the cellphone" error.


Except it's not irrelevant, because the user doesn't care whether it's capacitive, infra-red, or little gnomes perched on top of the screen translating your finger movements into magic spells. Apple didn't invent capacitive screens, nor did they invent multitouch. They packaged them cleverly and used what leverage they had at the time to force the price down.


Right and Graham invented the telephone so there was no inventions going into making the cellphone.


There were phone handsets with buttons on before cordless phones, so as far as the UI goes, there was little major invention initially.

The main inventive requirement in touchscreen phones is in making small, thin, cheap touchscreen modules. The UI concepts that then run on those kinds of devices have however been the subject of design studies for decades before that, and have been implemented in various forms on commercial touchscreen installations.

Also, much of the graphic polish of many of these devices seem to draw a direct lineage to stuff like the old praystation series of websites by Joshua Davis and his experiments with tsunami menus and inertial scrolling elements.


Yes, they pick up hardware and put them together. Why do you consider this as an insult to Apple? I don't think anybody implied what they are doing is easy. Obviously it isn't. If it were, anybody would easily be able to create a great product.


My comment was in reference to iOS which was not hardware and was not off the shelf. Looking at the hardware, much of the hardware in Apple devices is invented or at least designed by Apple. It is custom, not off the shelf. From the A5 to the unibody machining for the (alleged) next iPhone.


In terms of software, I agree. iOS was revolutionary.

In terms of hardware, I disagree. None of the hardware on Apple devices have been invented. The fact that they are specifically produced for Apple doesn't mean they were invented. We can't count A5 as invention because most ARM licensees design their own SoCs anyway. Samsung's Exynos isn't an invention either, it's just another ARM SoC. But if, for instance, Apple manufactured/designed a new kind of display (like Samsung's AMOLED) then that would count as inventing something hardware wise.


> Sigh. I'm sick and tired of people twisting reality to fit an Apple anti-hero narrative.

They are just as guilty as any other hardware/software manufacturer which tries to stifle human progress in the name of ego.

Let me provide my perspective, as flawed as it may be. In 2006, Nintendo released the Wii. To those who don't know, it, for better or worse (re)introduced motion within the context of video games. Immediately, Microsoft (Xbox) and Sony (PlayStation) criticized the Wii's motion controls – deeming them "childish" and "not what gamers want".

Today, we know how that story played out. We have PS3 Move and Xbox Kinect. At the time, I had hoped and dreamed that Nintendo would sue and strike back at Sony and Microsoft (not sure if they had the grounds to, mind you). I didn't want Microsoft and Sony to benefit from Nintendo's genius, especially after they essentially deemed motion control as a ludicrous novelty.

Today, Microsoft Kinect is making all sorts of cool innovations possible – not Nintendo. But in 2009, I would have been happy to hear that Microsoft would have no right to create Kinect. What a lousy outcome that would have been. Kinect, as a technology, is a benefit to a collective of people – and I was a dink to believe another outcome would have been better. Chalk it up to being a Nintendo fanboy.

Today I'd be incredibly angry if Nintendo had the power to overturn, punish or fracture the Kinect technology. And watching Apple fanboys defend a system that essentially holds us all back is incredibly painful to watch. Apple has created a contemporary masterpiece and it is now the baseline for which all better technology evolves. What happens if you get your way and no one can build in the direction that is proven to work?

Stagnation. Thanks for that.


> Today, we know how that story played out. We have PS3 Move and Xbox Kinect

Neither of which has really taken off for gaming. The Wii wasn't really a success either. Sure, they sold a lot of consoles, but the console is sold at - at best - break even (and only there after 3-4 years on the market). All the money is in the game licensing (Paid per copy from the developer to the console maker). Wii owners just don't buy that many games - I remember a study that pegged it at ~half what a typical Xbox owner bought.


If you do not consider the Wii a success then I wonder what it takes to reach that level for you. Everything I've read was that Nintendo made money on each Wii sold since day one. According to Wikipedia the Wii has outsold both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 by a significant margin. I would also say that most likely Nintendo has never made that much money from third-party games (I'm sure there are exceptions), for them the money is in their first-party games on their hardware. Regardless of your personal feelings towards the console itself, saying it isn't a success seems just wrong.


> Neither of which has really taken off for gaming.

I don't know about that. Last I checked, Kinect was doing well. In fact Kinect Adventures is #1 [1]

> The Wii wasn't really a success either.

Nintendo, until most recently, was the only console manufacturer to actually profit.

[1] http://www.vgchartz.com/platform/7/xbox-360/


Nintendo lost almost a billion dollars last year.

Kinect Adventures was a pack-in game, so that doesn't really count.

So far, there have been only 7 Kinect-required titles in 2012, and except for 1, all are either movie tie-ins or rhythm games.

The one exception is Steel Battalion, which managed a whopping 90,000 sales, and a 35/100 Metacritic score.

In fact, only 2 Kinect titles have even managed to break an 80 on Metacritic, both music games.


> Nintendo lost almost a billion dollars last year.

Its first loss since inception in 1889. Not bad for a company that didn't have any successful consoles.

> Kinect Adventures was a pack-in game, so that doesn't really count.

It does count. For 2 reasons: 1) you got Kinect Adventures because you bought Kinect - which is more money than any single game, and 2) if you decided to buy the Xbox with Kinect, you paid more – and seemed to be okay with it. Not exactly a complete failure.

> In fact, only 2 Kinect titles have even managed to break an 80 on Metacritic, both music games.

You're getting outside of the original point – Kinect is a great, inexpensive technology that is being used in all kinds of applications (i.e. interactive displays, teaching, robotics, etc.).


None of which disprove my main point that motion control _for gaming_ is DOA. Just like 3D.


Microsoft and Sony didn't copy Nintendo outright.

Stagnation. That's what you get when people duplicate ideas instead of leading with their own.


> Stagnation. That's what you get when people duplicate ideas instead of leading with their own.

Right. So the guy who invented the cell phone shouldn't have "copied" the guy who invented the cordless phone. Oh, and the guy who invented the touch screen phone shouldn't be able to make it because the guy who invented the cell phone (which can't exist because of the guy who made the cordless phone says "No") doesn't want someone to make a touchscreen phone.

That's stagnation and that's what you're promoting here. You're just splitting hairs by narrowing the focus to rounded corners, # of buttons, etc.

Truth be told, there are no original inventions here. Apple's products are evolutions of previous hardware created by others – let's not forget that.


Samsung didn't make just any phone, they copied the iPhone.

Microsoft at least managed to try something completely different with Windows Phone, and I think it's a hell of a lot more innovative than what Samsung did.


Explain, in detail, how they copied the iPhone? They look similar, but so do many of the other smartphones out there. When you say they copied the iPhone, I expect to see pretty much an exact copy. If you want to jump outside of the Apple fanboy camp for a second and look around an electronic store – you'll see all kinds of electronics that are almost 100% the same as the leading competitor. Laptops, TVs, MP3 Players, Washers & Dryers, Fridge, Stove – you name it. Then take a stroll down the Entertainment isle and point out an original movie.


I'm not sure how you can remotely compare kinect to wii. Move sure, but kinect isn't even close.


In terms of technology, they are vastly different. In the sense of discovery, market trials and R&D - the Kinect technology is an evolution of the Wii. If Wii did not introduce motion controls, Kinect would not be available. Period. I can validate this claim by the many quotes Microsoft (J Allard, et al.) spewed to the press about what they thought about motion control in video games at the time. This could have easily been Nintendo's argument had they attempted to derail Kinect.


I'm sorry but I think that's absurd. That's like suggesting Samsung had a problem with this trial because it made a phone. It's not that they made a phone, it's that they made a phone that stole the look, feel, and function of the iPhone.

The kinect is a motion gaming device, but that is where the similarities to wii end. That's like suggesting the PS3 infringed on the xbox because it's also a console.


I think that you and jasonlotito are talking past one another. Lets assume that the following are the questions:

    1. Looking at prior art, did Apple create original Patents X, Y, Z?
    2. Did Samsung violate Patent X, Y, Z?
    3. Which phones violate the patent?
    4. How much money should Apple get for each violation?
If you instead answer the questions as follows:

    1. Samsung violated Patents Y and Z
    2. Phones X, Y, Z violate patents Y and Z
    3. Apple should get $X, $Y, and $Z for each phone.
    4. The prior art does indicate that Apple did not create an original product.
The ordering of those answers leaves out important information for the decision on previous questions. In this case most importantly: that the prior art has a bearing on whether or not Samsung actually violated Apples patents.

>"In fact we skipped that one," Ilagan continued, "so we could go on faster. It was bogging us down." ... "Once you determine that Samsung violated the patents," Ilagan said, "it's easy to just go down those different [Samsung] products because it was all the same

This is the evidence to support that conclusion. From: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2012082510525390


Turing machine in Lego (no mindstorm). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W08poVdPTGo

Not that I'm a fan of Apple, but putting things together nicely is pretty damn valuable and innovative.


Have you read the jury Forman's own patent? It seems like he's got elite skills in the ignoring prior art department.


> Sigh. I'm sick and tired of people twisting reality to fit an Apple anti-hero narrative.

It'd be disingenuous to claim that no subsets of people, on HN and elsewhere, twist reality to fit an Apple hero narrative. Looks like people just have different points of view.


This entire trial was a farce. The jury foreman admitted that they "skipped" prior art because "It was bogging us down."

They later went back to it.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000087239639044427040457761...


I'm not seeing where they went back to it... It says:

"Mr. Ilagan, who is 59, said they watched the video 'very, very carefully' but decided to move on when the two weren't swayed. 'We didn't want to get bogged down,' said Mr. Ilagan, who works in marketing for a company that makes circuit boards."

Maybe I'm misreading it.


The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Another rationale is that they would have needed a unanimous opinion to overturn the patent on prior-art. And since they weren't going to get a unanimous opinion, they skipped it because they couldn't over turn the patent.

Without knowing all of the jury instructions, it hard to know exactly what happened.


The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

I've been agreeing with your other points, but I must disagree with this specific. Absence of evidence is definitely evidence of absence. Keep in mind that "evidence" is not the same as "proof."


Full text? I'm getting the paywall.



Apple did a really good job making Samsung's prior art claims look like straw grasping. Samsung screwed up the time-line on the Diamond Touch device which of course did not use a multi-touch display anyway. They claimed prior art on a bounce-back feature that worked in the exact opposite way as Apple's patent. Something like you open Safari and it starts bouncing because you are not scrolling. I don't think the jury was impressed and apparently this was the best Samsung had to offer.


I think the trial had a normal result given the legal framework. Sometimes trials like this might go a bit this or that way, but in general they will have results like this.

My own position on this is very simple: All (yes, all) patents should be abolished. The current law is the problem, not Apple or Samsung or the Jury or the judge.

I also think what Samsung did was – in part – morally reprehensible, but should have no legal consequences.


But surely Apple deserves to be compensated for all the development work they did. Who's going to develop the next iPhone caliber innovation if the only reward they'll receive is to become the wealthiest company in history? Oh wait...


and people act like all Samsung did was copy. You realize they wouldn't be the most successful Android OEM if they didn't do their own innovation as well. And no, people aren't rushing out the buy Samsung phones because they look like iPhones (I mean they don't even have an Apple on the back, should be pretty obvious to anyone that it isn't an iPhone), they are buying them because they are cheaper and can do 90% of what an iPhone can do. Changing that to 88% (removing the two behavior patents) isn't going to make a dent in Samsungs ability to sell to the masses.


More like they can do 120% of what iOS can do. It's the UI mistakes that hurt them now. TouchWiz and S-Apps demonstrate innovation, but some of it is extremely disorganized (phone app) or painfully copied from iOS (S Voice).


i was referring more to the Samsung phones that run 2.2 or 2.3. The ones that run 4.0 and 4.1 cost the exact same as the iPhone, so people who buy phones like the SG3 (and 6 months ago, the SG2) are doing so because they CHOSE Android, not because it looks like an iPhone.


Android 2.2 & 2.3 still had more features that iOS.

It was just ugly as hell.


Hm, I wouldn't be so sure... most "normal" people out there who don't read HN every day can't really tell the difference between an ipad and a galaxy tablet. My mom, for example, refers to both tablets as an ipad. She uses an ipad to read her news sites but when she tried to use my galaxy tab, she was confused there was no browser on there. I've experienced a similar thing on the train as well, people would point at my 10.1 tab and ask if that's the new ipad... tech people can sniff out brands from a mile away. You may laugh, but it's a different world out there. Back when I owned a motorola razr, I had people ask me if my phone was a new nokia model... nokia didn't even make anything remotely similar to the razr. These people have no concept of product names, they refer to tablets as ipads and phones as nokia.


Well, on the other side I saw lots of ads for the iPad on tv and I don't remember even one about other tablets (I don't know, it may be different in other countries), but because of that, every tablet will an iPad to normal people's eyes


For people who believe that patents should be abolished: how do you see an ARM-like company existing without patent protection? Or do you think there is no value in being able to transact in designs?


> Or do you think there is no value in being able to transact in designs?

I believe that patents should be abolished.

There is value in being able to transact designs. There are costs in the patent system. Court cases for example.

The question is "does the marginal benefits of patents over the alternatives, justify the costs?". And sometimes it might and other times it won't.


The designs would surely be copyrightable.


I ask for reform of the patent system, but I'm not sure how it should be reformed.

The existence of patent trolls is, surely, evidence that the system is horribly broken. Who is protected when a non-trading entity with no product is allowed to own patents and sue other companies for infringement?


It's harder to build an arm processor than just looking at one from some random phone you bought.

Most companies are going to need assistance from arm which arm can still charge for. Additionally the design can be copyrighted.


The jury can only decide based on the facts before it. NO PRIOR ART was presented to them. They argued about how that seemed weird. Then they decided that the discussion, which could serve no purpose anyway because they still wouldn't be able to decide based on prior art they were never given, was taking too long. So they moved on.


I don't know where you're getting that idea from. There was definitely prior art presented during the trial at least on pinch to zoom, tap to zoom and the bounceback on scrolling.


> For example, they entered the PMP market when hard drives and batteries were cheap/portable enough to make the iPod a reality.

Apple sold the original iPod for $399, which was the cost of the original 5GB drive to Apple. It was sold at a severe loss to begin with to push the technology and ramp up volume production of those drives.

> They entered the phone market when capacitive touchscreens were cheap/large enough

The iPhone's screen was far and away the biggest cost of the device. It was moving so many of them that dropped the price. You're accusing Apple of jumping at an opportunity when they see a cheap enough component. That's entirely not true, that is what their competitors do.

What they do is choose a key component for their device and drive down the price through massive volume sales that nobody else can achieve. It was true for the hard drive in the iPod, the flash memory in the Nano and the capacitive screen in the iPhone.

If you're saying they didn't invent the HD, memory or screen themselves, that's fair. But I don't think them selling the device at a loss counts as the component being "cheap enough". More like Apple believes in the technology enough that they're willing to do whatever it takes to push adoption, get scale discounts, and MAKE it cheap enough.


> Apple sold the original iPod for $399, which was the cost of the original 5GB drive to Apple. It was sold at a severe loss to begin with to push the technology and ramp up volume production of those drives.

I've never heard this before, do you have a source where I can read more? I've never heard of Apple willingly taking a loss on anything.

It also seems odd to me to talk about volume in an earlier era of Apple, e.g. this was when Jobs was still dead-set towards limiting the iPod to Macs (it didn't really take off until Windows support was added).


That is why companies are allowed to appeal the veredict (and presumably will do so), but the whole "jury trials are unfair" thing is not new and definitely affects all kind of cases, not just technology companies, and I don't think we will get a insightful answer on this subject on this forums (experts in law have been debating this issue for years).

As of now, this is the veredict, but its not game over for Samsung. If they think they have a case and they've been wronged, they should appeal and use this quotes as proof of wrongdoing by the jury. Let the judges decide on it, that's what they are for.


Trade dress is about what the average consumer sees and perceives? First to market matters here because even with a lot of patents covering the outside of the product there's so much more involved in trade dress. Therefore it doesn't matter that Apple copies, they were first to market and were copied in the market in a way that would be considered similar by laymen. Lawyers would have a much higher/harder standard of similar.


Trade dress infringement also doesn't apply if there is only one way or a "best way" of doing something. The law provides exemptions, so that one company doesn't have to make an inferior product just to avoid trade dress infringement.

A lot of what apple was calling "trade dress" was arguably just the best most obvious, or cheapest way of doing something--bezel etc...

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