Mar 232010

This is what TMA gets when he fusses around with Verizon phones (aside from better 3G service in NYC):

Those are the two “Clock” apps in the HTC Eris and the iPhone, respectively. Aside from the passing similarity between the 2 Timer tabs themselves, the 4 tabs across the bottom, World Clock, Alarm Clock, Stopwatch and Timer, use the same text and almost identical icons. Wow.

Now I realize the freetard chuckleheads want to scream about how the patent system sucks because such nebulous things like “naming a World Clock” and “sliding Hours and Minutes placeholders” get undeserved protection and that the winner is always the person with the biggest patent portfolio and litigious crappy blah, blah….


Excuse me while I reassemble my head.

As I was saying, kudos to the Obvious Brigade and their comments about the patent system. The shittiness of the system itself belies a pretty important point. Someone – probably a team of someones – spent months developing a way to represent 4 important things you might want to do with time on the iPhone. They came up with the names, the icons and the functional elements of each individual tab – in short, they put more work into it than anything you’ve ever worked on.  Android 1.5 comes along and says “that’s pretty cool” and absconds to a degree that’s almost comical: 4 almost identical icons in the same order, with the same names. Android’s “cut and paste” routine also extends vertically: notice from the top down the input for the timer, the alert sound when complete, the “start” button and the 4 icons are all in the same order.

There are a lot of things short of this comparison that would make innovation more competitive and less litigious. This exceeds that point. This is theft, plain and simple.

I had attributed a lot of the negative press around “Apple vs. Google” as just a way for hacks to drum up page hits (which it still is) and perhaps a little bit of the Jobster pissing on the fence posts along his property line, however poorly the USPTO lets him define it. When I see stuff like this (which is not one of the documented claims against HTC by the way), I can understand why Apple is dropping napalm too.

Mar 062010

This Time It’s Personal
Steve Jobs was not leading Apple when the company lost the infamous “Look and Feel” lawsuit waged against Microsoft. Based on the existence of an ill-advised licensing agreement struck by then-CEO John Sculley, the courts ostensibly  gift-wrapped the Macintosh UI for Microsoft to pillage. When you listen to Jobs talk about the loss, he absolutely seethes. All of the marketing about Apple’s role as the innovator that Microsoft copies stems from something that was entirely out of Steve’s control.  It was much worse than if Jobs himself had lost the Mac’s GUI. But he didn’t. The person he personally recruited to put a Mac in every household – the person who ultimately betrayed him gave it away. This theft may not be all there is to Apple’s assault, but it’s definitely present. Consider the phalanx of patents cited, the unannounced nature of the attack (according to HTC) and Jobs’ own words about the lawsuit: they all suggest some of this came from a place that wanted to avenge a loss – and prevent another. To some, the “belligerent-feeling” nature of the suit is enough to detract from its virtue. It feels “evil“, “bullying” or “unnecessary“. The core of this sentiment, made by some of the smarter people on the tubes, is that this kind of whack-a-moling inhibits innovation, which leads me to my next point.

Apple is not Microsoft
Apple is not motivated by market share, earnings per share or number of markets entered. Apple’s motivation begins and ends with the design of excellent user experiences. The perception that Apple will get to a place in the industry where it stops innovating, sits on its cash cows and perpetuates its existence by bludgeoning more dextrous upstarts with its patent portfolio is simply never going to happen, at least not while Jobs is alive. Jobs relentlessly whips the crop at Apple, pushing innovation like WiFi, Firewire and DisplayPort to the point where comfortable technologies like floppy disks, serial connections and removable media drives are phased out with pundit (and occasionally fanboy)-wrankling regularity. Apple outpaces any other computer or consumer electronics maker in terms of version hustle. Anyone who believes that Apple is capable of laying off the gas at the expense of bleeding-edge innovation does not know the company.

Which, as usual, focuses the discussion not on the playa, but the game. The patent system is busted, but it’s the only game in town. If you’re in the computer business, if you’re not playing, you’re losing. This isn’t a case of Apple vaguely threatening *nix users with unspecified patents in an attempt to ward of people from using open-source OSs (*cough* Microsoft *cough*) or Apple trying to leech innovation and cash from competitors (*cough* Nokia *cough*). Jobs said “We’re not in the technology-licensing business”, which is different than “We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas”. If you listen to how Jobs describes what his company is about, you’d have no trouble understanding why Apple is defending its IP. That doesn’t stop pundits from slapping other companies’ motivations on the things Apple does, but then again, without drama, there are no pageviews.

In the 1990’s Jobs had to watch from the shore as his rudderless ship was boarded, plundered and almost sent to the bottom of the ocean. Regardless about how you feel about the means or the intent, he sure as hell isn’t going to let it happen again – not on his watch.

Mar 052010

Here’s a hint: you leave it on the doorstep, light it on fire and ring the doorbell.

Dragon Dictation is perhaps one of the coolest apps on the iPhone. For those not familiar, Dictation is an app that displays a single “record” button when launched. You then speak into your iPhone, and your audio is transformed into text, with some startlingly impressive accuracy. Unfortunately for many users and Dragon, the program uses AT&T’s network to transmit speech to Dragon’s servers to perform the transcription. If you’re in one of those “minor” markets like New York City or San Francisco, guess what happens about 1 out of every 4 times you finish dictating your Oscar acceptance speech?

Best part is having 5 bars

About that package – I hear brown paper dipped in candle wax lights especially easily.

 Posted by at 3:31 pm  Tagged with:
Mar 022010

/cue Debussey, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune

HTC, upstart mobile phone maker saunters along a beautiful forest path, oblivious to the exquisitely-crafted “No Trespassing” signs. Sun is streaming through the trees as the company approaches a glittering spring. They stoop and drink deeply, savoring the delicious, refreshing water.

/cue shotgun pump

“Say…you got a purty mouth…”

 Posted by at 12:52 pm  Tagged with:
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