Thursday, July 5, 2012

Has Apple Gone Too Far?


After suing multiple companies and even their own supplier, don't you think Apple has gone far enough with suing all these other companies? I understand Apple feels like other companies are copying your work, your ideas, but isn't that how competition works? Someone takes an idea and improves it. Even after gaining such huge developer support and making Apple a household name again and not some dead company that needed help from Microsoft. Lets take a look at how it affects Competitors, Consumer, and Apple itself.

How it Affects Competitors

        Of course it would affect competitors, since they are the ones getting sued in court. But the reason they are getting sued is mostly due to patents. But patents should be very specific things and not something you can use to take almost every company to court with. But I have to give credit to Apple for this one.

        By building the foundation for all smart phones they became the number one competitor in which all companies should abide by and attempt to compete with. By doing so they also grabbed all the patents they could. meaning they got the key to beating themselves and swallowed it. But maybe they have gone to far, since the purpose of the patent system is to push innovation and competition. You can't push competition without having a feature that everyone wants or is a huge selling point. In my opinion I think Apple is abusing the patent system, but that's not to say any other company isn't either. But by doing so you are almost doing what the anti trust system was meant to prevent. This is where the patent system fails. It allows for anyone or any company to patent something very broad. And sometimes some companies can go a little to far, such as suing your own supplier.

        As many of you already know Apple and Samsung have a long history of patent wars. But here's whats different about this company. Samsung is Apple's main supplier for components. Samsung provides the hardware for iPhones, iPods, and even the display for the New iPad. By suing your supplier you're going in to a sensitive area. If this continues for long Samsung may as well stop supplying components to Apple. But here's why they don't. Apple is one of their customers, by using Samsung's memory, CPU, display, and RAM, in fact they're a pretty big one. 

        By supplying Apple components Samsung gets money to invest in development of their products such as their Super AMOLED screen technology which has also been a main selling point in their Android phones, which in turn helps them eat away at Apple's market share. Ever wonder why Google bought Motorola Mobility? Not because of Google's intentions of creating their own phone, they already have Samsung for that, but for the patents. In fact with all the patents they have by buying Motorola Mobility they could easily blow any phone maker out of the market. So why doesn't Google do that? You have to remember that Google has no intentions on building hardware, they only made the Nexus for developers, so that it would expand Android's market share, and the Nexus 7? To make Google Play more popular, they even mentioned it as a "media consumption device" multiple times at Google I/O. Instead they are doing what Microsoft did many years ago. Saturating the market with their software and then selling a product that's only available on their platform. 

        But Google can't just saturate the market with Nexus devices, they need other manufacturers to help them. Remind you of Microsoft? So for now Google will keep its army of manufacturers. But if they have patents that could destroy any other phone manufacturer why not go for Apple? For now Google has been defensive in terms of patents unlike Apple who has been charging head on towards other companies for patent infringement. Since Apple has patents that can take out Android and Google has patents that could destroy the iPhone both companies have been keeping a safe distance. But Apple doesn't stop there. Instead of attacking the brain they attack the heart, and without that the brain dies. I basically mean if you attack other manufacturers and take them out Android won't last long since one of its main principles is choice. One of the many reasons Android has become very popular. Its like removing every PC manufacturer in the world. Imagine where Microsoft would be then? They would die off pretty quickly because they wouldn't have a widely accepted platform to release new products on. Now lets take a look at how it affects the life blood of all companies (no, not money), the consumer. 

How it Affects the Consumer

        The thing that keeps every company alive is the consumer, and you can't get the consumer's attention without having some feature or service everyone wants. Usually as the result of competition consumers get the features they want. But with all these law suits occurring some form of loss is bound to happen, and where there is loss, prices go up. And when prices go up consumers become more and more reluctant in buying products. Plus with all of these lawsuits there are a few occasions in which devices are banned. It has already happened to HTC and currently too Samsung's Galaxy Nexus. Things like this prevent the user from buying the products they want and create a bad image of Apple in their mind. Just take a look at the #boycottapple movement on Google+. Movements like these will spread and soon will start to affect Apple, but that will be discussed later on. Plus lawsuits like these also limit competition meaning companies can't innovate like they could in the past, bringing new features to the market, and further advancing technology. 

        If you have taken a look at smart phones in the past they haven't really brought anything new to the table yet only bringing incremental hardware and software updates nothing too really revolutionize the industry. The only real innovation I have seen in the industry (for now) is the Retina Display and the new CPUs released by Qualcomm (by utilizing a 28nm process) and by Samsung's Exynos CPU. Sure our devices have become smarter, but have they become more intelligent? Some innovations have occurred in that area as well thanks to Google Now since it learns from your habits and plans your day for you. For now that feature is safe from Apple, but a few attempts from Apple to attack Android directly have occurred. Such as successfully banning the Galaxy Nexus in a lawsuit due to the unified search. Basically meaning that the ever present search bar on the home screen on ICS has been modified now so it will only display search results and not results from within your phone. For example emails, music, documents, and other files. But based on history Steve Jobs copied the idea of a mouse and  GUI interface. So if Apple is suing Google then they’re just contradicting everything they’ve done as a company. Yet for now Apple has been keeping a distance away from Google Now which is a major Siri competitor. And if they really believe that Google is stealing their ideas, boy are they are wrong. That’s how business and competition works, taking an idea and improving it. By suing Google it shows that Apple is feeling threatened, and when that happens a consumer isn’t likely to buy your product. And we all know what happens when the consumer doesn’t buy your product. The company falls apart. Almost like deja vu for Apple when they had their Macs back in the 80s through the early 90s. Now lets take a look at how it affects Apple.

How this affects Apple

Now when a company is earning money its bound to do good right? But it's how they made it. Sure, Apple made money off the iPhone, but now they have moved from making money off innovation to making money money off patents. Or at least protecting themselves from any other competition. But if that were to occur why has the US out ruled the AT&T merger with T-Mobile if the purpose of the out ruling was to promote competition and prevent a monopoly. Isn't that what's occurring here as well? And usually a product leaves a lasting memory when it seem like a more personal experience. Apple does a good job with that. But that may also leave a bad look on their company. Right now Apple looks like a selfish company. Due to the fact that the constant suing occurring and the way they treat it. There's a difference. Apple uses suing competitively, while others use it for a patents main purpose, keeping someone from using your idea. They also say history repeats itself. Back in the mid 90s Apple sued Microsoft for "copying" their GUI design from Lisa. But what's interesting is that Apple was in a period of loss during that time as well. See any similarities here? Instead of Microsoft it's Android. Well I don't know what's next, but I can confirm something; old habits die hard.

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