Why Apple’s win against Samsung is a win for innovation and bad car analogies suck.

In a post by Matthew Yglesias on Slate, he attempts to suggest that if Apple’s victory against Samsung would apply to cars, it would be bad for the consumer, suggesting a similar case in the car industry would, among other things, prevent manufacturers using steering wheels, for instance. This is a lousy analogy. Let me explain why.

The fundamental actions one does on a phone are not at stake here. Smart phones can have touch buttons, use a numerical touch pad to dial numbers, have a qwerty keyboard to input text, pop-up menus and all the other fundamental common features. What is being addressed here are software features that Apple spent years designing, such as pinch-to-zoom, which the big companies can simply licence from Apple or not use (it’s not like they can’t afford to). A better analogy would be Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, which, like Apple’s ideas, can be licensed. Does anyone attack Toyota for patenting their system?

If you want to see a world where companies like Apple cant take the huge risks they did to bring the iPhone to market, you only have to look at the world of PCs, where everything is pretty much a copy of everything else, and companies are were afraid to do anything unique until Apple came along and changed things with the iMac, or, more recently, the MacBook Air and iPad. In the PC world, companies were still making machines with very out-of-date VGA, PS-2 and serial ports for years after they were essentially redundant — because everyone else did so and they had no serious innovation (except increases in processor speed and hard drive size) to push them forward.

Even more telling was the phone market before the iPhone. The only interesting design that came out for years was the Motorola Razr, and the software for it has always been rubbish. We had to put up with being locked into whatever software came with the phone with no chance to get upgrades or new features without buying a new phone. While this is still true now, partially, the world of 3rd party software has exploded to a degree that may even exceed what is available for regular PCs, making it a moot point. This vast improvement has come about because of Apple taking huge risks. If companies weren’t allowed some sort of protection against their innovations being directly copied, we’d have little innovation at all, as everyone would just copy everyone else, and that would most definitely be a huge loss for the consumer.

As Google has pointed out, Apple’s win against Samsung isn’t about Android. If it wasn’t already obvious, it is about Samsung trying to steal from Apple’s successful ideas rather than make their own. We’ve already spent enough time, first with PCs and then with phones suffering from a lack of genuine innovation. That there is anyone out there who would rather go back to that time truly astounds me.

4 thoughts on “Why Apple’s win against Samsung is a win for innovation and bad car analogies suck.

  1. I’ll shoot. You know very well from Twitter (as we are followers of each other) how much I disagree and dislike Samsung. To a fault, I would say and I’m as objective as it gets about hating Samsung.

    That company should NOT be the head of any sort of governmental organisation. As it is they are the largest conglomerate in the world… BUT, unlike other large corporations, they are hardly bound by any strictures at all. In S.K., their grocery markets (accounting for more than 50% of grocery stores in the country) sell copied DVD/CD’s. Same thing goes in electronics stores.

    The gouge prices on life insurance and are known for dumping toxic materials into the air and water all over Korea. There is NO where you can go to get away from them. A win here is great.

    Great will be getting the world’s eyes on them – maybe people in Korea will wake up to what a tryant this corp. really is. But it will take foreign press and patents to get the ball rolling. These buggers have absolutely no respect for patents themselves nor innovation. They dominate and swallow and that is that.

    Your lengthy analogy is apt. My rant is pointless.

  2. the only interesting phone design was the Razr? this screams a very limited, if not very american view of the market. for example take a look at things like the P800i. apple did very little that was actually inovative. all they did was go for capacitive rather than resistive screens and market the bejesus out of it.

    1. That decision to go capacitive meant people could finally interact with their phones. Now we have loads of other phones that aren’t Apple that use capacitive screens. I know you hate Apple Mark, but at least they had the balls to heavily invest in something that has made using a smartphone much easier.

      I think we’ll see lots of cool designs and interactive features from many manufacturers now. But prior to 2007, the smartphone really was dead except for email. I know they were around for half a decade, but they did very little. The original iPhone had to wait half a year to get native apps, but when it did, it opened the barn.

      Every company markets the bejesus out of things. Please come to Japan or Korea. Most have nothing at all to do with the product they are selling. It is all celebrity endorsements, or stories to do with a product… and all these companies release dozens of phones a year, hoping something sticks.

      Truly, Apple took hold of a few simple ideas and made a revolutionary product. There’s nothing else about it. Another manufacturer could have, but they didn’t. I think Apple got lucky that no one else designed their own OS. Microsoft’s merely mimicked the desktop and palm’s was a decade out of date.

      I now have a 2,3 Android device which I find very cool. I’d not have used it if it had resistive screen input. And something very realistic tells me that without devices like the iPod touch/iPhone to shoot for and kill – items that attract attention, love, hate, and copycats, there would be very little use in smartphones today.

      Apple’s innovation led to revolution. There’s nothing else in it. Hate them or love them, unless you hate smartphones/smartplayers as they are TODAY, you owe them at least a nod.

      If not, that’s okay, too!

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