No one gives a shit about TechCrunch anymore. Its strongest writers left the site once its founder, Mike Arrington, bailed. Some of them, like MG Siegler, make the occasional writing appearance, but the exodus of talent like Jason Kincaid, Sarah Lacy and Paul Carr has left the AOL-owned site with 35% less site traffic than before the hemorrhage…and some less talented pens. Which leads us to the star of this piece.
Meet Jon Evans, a columnist who gets to write for TC about once a week. He’s a pretty transparent Android fan (not that there’s anything wrong with that) who has nibbled around the edges of Apple ignorance in his postings. This must have been leading to something, because he just went whole-hog batshit today about the Apple-Samsung verdict.
I read a lot of tech writing and the Apple-bashing stuff is pretty formulaic. Linkbait title, standard disclaimer about Apple’s greatness to inoculate the writer followed by what the author wants to really say: how much something Apple did – or allowed to happen, or was still incorporated as a company while it happened – is the worst thing ever. Jizzmodo excels at this type of writing. As much as it pains me to say this about a site that MG still writes for, Evans’s rant about Apple v. Samsung is the worst thing I’ve read on the topic. Seriously: it’s more cringe-inducingly bad than an episode of this season’s True Blood and makes about as much sense as a Beck song. Because of my anti-hitwhore policy, I’m not going to link to the article, but I will copy and paste it in its entirety for due panning. As an Android enthusiast, I’m sure Evans won’t mind my copying something wholesale without proper attribution.
Look, I get it. It’s a great story, maybe the greatest in the history of American business. From Day One, Apple did things the right way: clean, elegant, beautiful. But they were brought to their knees by Microsoft’s colossal mediocrity. Their visionary founder was forced out. They teetered on the brink. And then–bam! They were saved (ironically, by Microsoft.) They regained their footing.
And then they built one of the most remarkable corporate empires that has ever been constructed. And they did it by doing things their way. Clean. Elegant. Beautiful. Insanely great.
So I can see why people who were Apple users during the dark days have a messianic zeal. Their ultimate triumph, after such long suffering at the brutal hands of inferiors, must seem to them more than remarkable. It must seem righteous. Add that to one of the weirdest and most unexpected things about the twenty-first century–the extent to which so many people defensively identify with the operating system on their phone–and Apple must seem like a living testament to the ultimate victory of truth, justice, and the American way.
This complimentary kick-off of to the piece is typical of Apple trolls, and it’s dripping with the requisite sarcasm. It’s the usual left-handed attempt to lull the reader into thinking the writer admires the company and tries to make it look like it pains him to have to say what he’s going to spend the rest of the piece saying. I like to call this the “I love Apple, but…” disclaimer. The person thinks Apple is great/has been an Apple fan forever/owns numerous Apple devices, etc.
But there’s nothing even remotely admirable about their latest coup.
The road to today’s American patent system was paved with good intentions, but it has become a walking catastrophe, like a natural disaster that won’t go away, or even a kind of monster perpetually stalking the tech industry.
So the right to patent innovations conferred upon the innovators by the government is rife with abuse. I think we can agree that that’s the case. The patent system itself isn’t doing any “stalking”, but if I were to start to pick at Evan’s points now, I’d be banging on my MacBook through the long weekend.
And Apple’s knight in shining armor just went and retained the monster’s services.
Translation for the confused: Apple invoked its right to protect its intellectual property. I guess the knight is…Tim Cook? No, that wouldn’t make sense, because the suits started before Cook was CEO. Jobs? How could he “just retain” the…oh for Chrissakes I just told myself I wasn’t going to do this.
There was a kind of understanding. Maybe you signed on to using patents only defensively. Maybe you wasted billions on patent portfolios to ensure a kind of Cold War mutual-assured-destruction détente. But you didn’t cut a deal with the monster unless you absolutely had to.
What. In. The. Actual. Fuck?
There is no “understanding” with the patent system. An entity can use patents as a deterrent against other people who hold patents that may be used against them (check out the verdict to see how successful this strategy was for Samsung), but they can also be used to – you know – protect the rights you have as an innovator by calling infringers to the carpet.
Apple didn’t have to. But they did anyways. Was it effective? Hell, yes–in many ways. And most of them are bad for everyone.
The reasons being:
The best part of Evan’s non-existent list of reasons is that he used the term “most” to indicate a quantity of at least 3 – and proceeded to list exactly none. Even the laziest Apple troll will at least link to someone else’s lame caterwauling when pitching a fit about Apple. Nothing. Perhaps in Evan’s mind, the “bad reasons” are universal truths he doesn’t feel he has to go to the trouble of specifying. Maybe it’s left to the reader to imagine all of the horrible things that could spawn from Apple’s win.
$1B in damages. Must. Start. Patenting. Everything.—Aaron Levie (@levie) August 25, 2012
A QED in tweet form from the founder of one of the million Dropbox knock-offs. I wonder why he should be concerned about someone successfully defending their patents. I guess Evans’s nebulous rant does provide a link – to a nebulous opinion. If only his wet fart of incoherence was as mercifully short.
Of course it’s perfectly understandable that Apple would act in their own self-interest for the sake of a billion dollars (not to mention Steve Jobs’s declaration of “thermonuclear war.”)
Anyone who analyzed the Apple verdict worth a shit - even the ones who think it’s the end of the world – know it’s not about the money. Apple is sitting on north of 100 of those billions, and it’s unlikely to see the entire amount of the reward, especially when you consider what the company had to and will have to shell out to its lawyers to collect it. For Apple, it’s about defending the stuff they make from the people who want to reap the benefits without putting in the work.
But this time they shouldn’t be celebrated. They should be castigated. Their deal with the patent monster wasn’t the right thing to do for anyone else but them–and that includes their users. Competition from Android makes iOS better, and vice versa.
Apple’s decision to call out and follow through on Samsung’s egregious infringement was the right thing to do for innovators whose innovations are protected by intellectual property everywhere. Competition and IP are not mutually exclusive: witness the products of Palm/HP and Microsoft. They exist in the same space as Apple’s IP, yet have managed to avoid the wrath of Apple’s “deal with the patent monster”, whatever the fuck that means.
One may ask how the written word can broaden its context more generally without an effect on reality.
thanks to the patent monster, the tech industry is lost in a legal swamp, its visibility occluded by a thick and noxious cloud of FUD, stalked by vicious trolls. Thanks to Apple’s latest move, the swamp is now deeper, the fog thicker, the patent trolls more deadly. No fanboy anywhere, no matter how devoted, should be applauding.
And with that fireworks finale of non-specific frothing, Evans concludes his piece with some analogy with no parallel in the physical universe. The thing that is designed to protect IP has gone from a “generally bad thing” in detente to all Apple’s fault once they decided to use it for its intended purpose. How has the Apple verdict made patent trolling – which was alive and well long before Apple decided to challenge Samsung’s Korean photocopier – any worse? If you dragged your eyeballs across the broken glass of this piece to its conclusion, you won’t be surprised to see that none of it is explained.
And so concludes our introductory course on Apple trolling, courtesy of Jon Evans at TechCrunch. You can see better-argued versions of the above spewed across the comment sections of tech blogs everywhere. With this illogical glob of anti-Apple ejaculate – coming from a site that used to be one of the most respected in tech – TC has fallen into bed with the likes of Gizmodo. I hope they’re paying MG a shit-ton to keep writing for them. That’s the only reason I can think that he’d allow his writing to appear on the same site as this turd.