By Rob Boggan
I feel the need to start this post off by saying that this is in no way going to be one of those heavily researched CNN-esque pieces. Nor will this be a heavily opinionated article, although there will be tons of instances where I slap my point of view over a few facts. I was doing my usual early morning web browsing this morning, it seems most of the tech sites I frequent are all reporting on a new Apple lawsuit, or publishing the accused rebuttals. It’s been a wild two years in the wireless industry, especially for those who manufacture smartphones and tablets. The industry has been ripe with innovation, and for the most part has come close to being an all out arms race, with one manufacturer constantly one upping the other with the latest and greatest tech innovation. We’ve seen phone go from having 512MB of RAM, to a full GB. We’ve seen phones move from 600MHz processors to 1GHz snapdragon processors, all the way to the new standard, dual core 1GHz processors. Leading the pack with overall sales sits the gang from Cupertino, becoming the number one smartphone in the US with just two devices on the market, and the number one tablet maker all within four short years.
Let’s dissect the “magical” Apple products here, the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2. Both are really awesome devices, that in a way “revolutionized” the way we communicate right? I mean Skype never existed before the iPhone and iPad right? While I’ll admit I’m not the biggest Apple fan, I do use their products ( by products I mean a Macbook Pro) and I can definitely see a difference in them, but I rarely see something that Apple themselves originally invented. Here’s where I feel Apple is drinking their own Kool-Aid a bit too much. Apple has made such a big successful business on improving on previously available technology, that they forget they’re not the originators. I hate to sound like such a pessimist or even an Apple hater, but the idea of the iPad is nothing new. In fact, rewind several years ago(think late 90’s well into early 2000’s) and the biggest handheld device on the market back then was….. the Palm Pilot. It was the first device to give users management of their personal lives on the go, beginning with calendar sync and contact management and eventually branching out into personal email without the need of a computer. Fast forward a few years and the Palm Pilot starts to lose ground due to the massive explosion in popularity of smartphones, namely the Blackberry and….gasp! Windows Mobile.
Smartphones really blew the doors off what we previously considered mobile communication. They took all our favorite gadgets, digital cameras, mp3 players, laptops, and cellphones and meshed into one perfectly concocted device aimed at mass consumption. In 2007, one phone completely changed the way that people looked at their smartphones and has done so ever since. The iPhone dropped, and shook the wireless industry to the core. With it’s introduction of “apps” and an iPod integration along with an easier user interface the iPhone was destined for greatness. Now for the average consumer, the fabled story of Apps and marketplaces and “slide to unlock” touch screens begin and end with Apple, but for those of us who’ve ever used Windows Mobile, or Palm smartphones know this isn’t the case. “Apps” as they’re know now, have been around for years, well before Apple, Android, and everyone else for that matter. I can remember having a T-Mobile Wing and doing a Google search on how to “hack” or “mod” my phone, and stumbled across GetJar and my mind has been blown ever since. GetJar is essentially a place where developers can upload their own personal creations for download across a variety of platforms usually for free. I can remember downloading Nintendo emulators, shortcuts to my favorite websites, games, and quirky mobile applications well before Apple made the term “app” a household name. However, Apple was the first big name company to accommodate these apps freely, and directly from the handset and all of a sudden small upstart GetJar essentially gets lost in the shuffle. See a pattern here?
Fast forward to the present day, and Apple is king of the hill across both mobile platforms: smartphones and tablets, and there’s no slowing them down. But, now there is a legit threat to their throne in Android, and all of a sudden the normal concrete confidence Apple showcases seems shaken. Over the course of the past 2 years, Apple has threatened and in most cases followed though on legal action on new mobile mammoths HTC, and Samsung about 12 times….. a piece. Apple claims that these two companies are infringing on their designs and patents, and Apple even went so far as to say Samsung is blatantly ripping off the design of the iPhone or iPad with their Galaxy S series. Where the irony comes in, is both of these manufacturers are heavily and directly benefiting from the roar of popularity of the Android OS (a direct and most threatening competitor to Apple’s iOS). A few years ago, when HTC first introduced HTC Sense to the world as a Windows Mobile supplier we heard not a peep from Apple, same with Samsung and it’s Touchwiz interface. Neither of these are new, they’ve been around for years, yet while both are enjoying massive commercial success with Android, and their handsets are really moving off the shelves both here in the states and overseas, Apple all of a sudden has a problem with them. Still need more evidence? OK, how about the fact that Apple, to date has never sued LG, whose Android phones bear a striking resemblance to Samsung’s? How about Motorola? Their phones are based off similar multitouch tech as the iPhone. No, Apple wouldn’t waste time with these two companies because each of their new releases simply get passed over in favor of HTC and Samsung, therefore not being a threat. Funny how Apple is selectively pursuing these almost frivolous lawsuits don’t you agree?
My “on the outside looking in” view is just this, Apple for the first time in it’s four year reign is feeling some strong heat from it’s competitors and is pulling out the legal eagles to ensure it maintains their grip on the mobile market. It’s my opinion that with all these strong arm tactics Apple must be feeling insecure about something. Need further proof? Read up in the recent “innovations” that are coming to iOS 5, namely a new “iMessage” system that sounds really really close to BlackBerry Messenger, and the new and improved drop down notification system that has been popularized by Android. Somebody, somewhere in Cupertino is starting to feel insecure about the significance of their products, and rather than competing by originally refreshing their products, Apple is taking the shortcut way out by bullying it’s opposition into submission. Don’t believe us? Ask GetJar how they feel about Apple’s bullying techniques.