This month we’ll see the start of Apple’s patent trial against Samsung. Samsung has recently become the face of Android, hence a win for Apple would be a significant blow to Android. However, some people are not happy with these lawsuits. “Hey Apple why are you mad with Android, just innovate.” How many times have you read this statement before. It’s in the comment section in the most popular blogs and you can also find it in articles fromblog writers themselves. They think it’s a waste of resources for Apple to be pursuing these cases. Even Apple’s competitor HTC, has recently expressed their disappointment in these lawsuits. In a statement to PCWorld this is what HTC had to say:
HTC is pleased with the ruling, which provides further confirmation that Apple’s claims against HTC are without merit,” the company said in a statement. “We remain disappointed that Apple continues to favor competition in the courtroom over competition in the marketplace.
But hold on a minute, Apple did innovate with first iPhone and continues do so recently with the new MacBook Pro. For the doubters among you, please listen to what Steve Job had to say about Apple’s track record in producing innovative products through the years at the start of the video below. I will say over the years Apple has been one of the most innovative technology company in the world and currently holds this title outright.
Steve Jobs introducing iPhone in 2007
Lets explore why Apple is pursuing these lawsuits. Everyone accepts that Steve Jobs is a very intelligent man, however his characteristic as a visionary seems to be understated. He predicted the revolution of the personal computer (PC) when he launched Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak in 1976 and in 2010 Jobs predicted the downfall of flash on mobile devices. But most importantly, he predicted what will happen with the iPhone with regards to competitors trying copying it. One of the favourite tagline from his 2007 presentation was, “and boy have with patented it.” He was very confident that Apple has created something beautiful, which was at least five years ahead of what was around in 2007. I would like to quote Steve Jobs from his interview at D5 with Walt Mossberg, this is at the 21.45 mark in the video (I’ve edited the quote to provide a better reading experiece):
Japanese comsumer electronic company couldn’t do software as well as it can be done. Preeminent makers of consumer electronic until recently. Couldn’t do software as well as it needed to be done. If you really look at the iPod its software. It’s a software product in beautiful hardware. Its software in the device, software on pc or the mac and its software in the cloud with the store. Software wrapped in a beautiful package and the Japanese consumer electronics companies couldn’t make the leap to create that kind of software. That’s why Apple enjoyed the success it does with the iPod. If you look at handsets, it looks very similar. The handsets manufacturers have got their hardware down but they haven’t been able to make the leap to software and just like with PlaysforSure stuff, Microsoft have some software they could go license, its on small number of phones, but its of a certain calibre. And so if you really look at a iPhone its software wrapped in really wonderful hard ware. And so people… the usual suspects will try to copy the hardware and it will take them sometime and maybe they will and maybe they wouldn’t be able to copy the hardware. But the software is at least five years ahead of anything we have seen out there. And its really hard to do it. We spent years working on this, remember we started with an operating system that we have been working on for well over a decade when we started. And we started with a browser safari, which is whats in iPhone, Which is regarding by many as the best browser in the world…
So what went wrong? this was not the way things were meant to turn out according to Steve’s prediction. The OEMs have caught up with iPhone’s hardware and software years ago. Some can even argue that the OEMs have gone past Apple at this point five years on. I will tell you what went wrong. Dr. Eric Schmidt joining Apple’s board of directors on August 28, 2006. History would show that this is the greatest mistake Steve Jobs has ever made. Steve Jobs trusted Dr. Schmidt and probably dreamt of working closely with Google to dominate the world. Apple with their beautiful hardware and Google with their great software and services. This would be better than the Microsoft-Intel partnership. However,the visionary Steve Jobs was betrayed by Google’s hierarchy and he didn’t saw that coming. It was probably impossible to imagine that a prominent member of his board would make a competing software (Android) to his iPhone OS (now iOS). But if that wasn’t bad enough, Android was given away to competing handset manufacturers for Free. Check out Dr. Schmidt sharing the Stage at iPhone introduction in 2007:
Dr. Eric Schmidt introduced at 9.40 mark.
Google had a brilliant engineer in Andy Rubin who was already working on a mobile handset OS project at the time. However, with the launch of the iPhone OS, Andy dramatically redesigned his OS to look and feel similar to that of the iPhone OS. I would like to emphasise look and feel, because here is Android before and after the iPhone. I’m of the opinion that Eric Schimdt’s inside knowledge of the iOS whilst on Apple’s board, enabled the Android team to switch course very quickly. Consequently, instead of having a five year lead, iOS only had a about two years. This couple with exclusive contracts with mobile phone operators around the world proved detrimental to the iPhone reign. Jobs was right that the OEMs would not be able to copy the software quickly, but he didn’t anticipate that Google, his number one software partner would help them. So, why did Google produced Android to compete with iOS? Some may say that Google wanted to control their own destine with building a mobile OS. However, I would rather look at Vic Gundotra (SVP at Google) had to say at the 1.29 mark in the video below:
Google I/O 2010 – Keynote Day 2 Android Demo – Full Length
It appears that even Vic was sceptical at the beginning that Google needed to make a mobile OS to compete with Apple. I believe that Vic original thinking was right. Google should have concentrated on producing brilliant softwares and services for all operation systems to compete with Microsoft. By investing value resources in Android, Google took their eyes off the ball on the next big thing – social. Consequently, Google is now playing catch up to Facebook with Google plus.
Where does this leave us? Lawsuits. Apple has no other choice, innovations like the iPhone and iPad does no come along frequently and cheaply. Its takes vision, money and time. Apple cannot afford to be the developer of the world. Steve Jobs understood this and his predecessor Tim Cook understands this. So what about the Apple-Google partnership? At the announcement of iOS 6, Apple has clearly demonstrated that their relation with Google is broken beyond repair. Apple is now getting into bed with Facebook and Google’s Maps Application has been chucked out of iOS.