The Macalope Daily: Winners and losers

Gizmodo’s Mat Honan has a dire message for Apple fans!

If Apple Wins We All Lose (tip o’ the antlers to Rip Ragged)

Wow. Really? All of us? Even with a head shaped like this?

Yesterday’s news that courts had ruled against HTC in favor of Apple was a tidy little victory for Apple. But HTC is just an initial skirmish in a much larger fight. The real war is against Android, and if Apple wins that, we’ll all lose.

Huh. Are you sure? Have you seen some of these Android users? Yeesh.

(That’s a joke, by the way. Some of the Macalope’s best friends are Android users.)

(OK, not really. The Macalope’s just saying that. But it’s still a joke.)

It’s okay for consumers to decide the victor in this fight. But it’s not okay for a handful of judges and lawyers to dictate the direction of technology.

The problem, of course, isn’t the lawyers and the judges. It’s the patent laws. Who makes the patent laws? The same collection of nitwits trying to push through SOPA. Don’t complain about Apple, don’t complain about judges, put the blame where it lies.

But the Cupertino Crew doesn’t just want to do that; it wants to kill Android. It wants Google’s mobile OS to go away. No settlements. No licenses. Dead. Jobs said as much, very explicitly.

The Macalope doesn’t know if you’ve noticed, Mat, but Steve Jobs doesn’t run Apple anymore. And even when he did, the company actually offered to license some patents to Samsung, although we don’t know for how much.

For Apple to win in the marketplace—and I mean total dominance here, the kind of thermonuclear war that an apoplectic Jobs described in Walter Isaacson’s biography—it would require both innovation on a massive scale, and real price competitiveness.

Actually, it would require more than that. It would also require being willing to let the carriers mess up the user experience however they want. Because the reason carriers push Android is because they can control it. Mat conveniently neglects to mention that part. The part where when Apple wins, we all win.

Honan seemingly tries to claim that Google had the same technology referenced in the HTC dispute before the iPhone was released, but the patent is actually from Apple Data Detectors which first appeared in OS 8 which, you may not know, was kind of a while ago. At any rate, the Macalope doesn’t even care he got that wrong. The aggravating thing is we basically agree what the problem is, we just don’t seem to agree on who’s to blame.

So that leaves the courts, where Apple keeps pressing its case—largely against device manufacturers. That’s not okay. The patent system is broken. Deeply, and profoundly so.

That’s completely true. But why is it exactly that Apple’s always the one that’s supposed to fight with one arm tied behind its back?

Granted, the iPhone was a sea change. So was the iPad. And Apple ought to be able to protect the innovations and intellectual property that set those devices apart.

SO WHY ARE WE ARGUING, MAT? Is this any way to spend the holidays? Even if it is traditional in most families? Oddly, the Macalope doesn’t remember seeing any heartfelt Gizmodo editorials when Motorola won an injunction on the iPhone and iPad in Germany. That ruling is one of the reasons the horny one sees this as just another skirmish in this ongoing war. Apple isn’t going to win them all.

I think a lot of this can be blamed on Apple’s past history. It lost big in the courts once before. And it’s determined not to do so again. In some ways, Apple is becoming the George Wallace of technology companies.

Mat then goes on to narrowly skirt Godwin’s Law by comparing Apple to a guy who just wanted to segregate minorities instead of murdering them (which is actually a rhetorical improvement for Gizmodo). But learning from their mistakes is what good businesses do. This is what separates Apple from companies like, oh, RIM. Just to use a humorous example.

Look, despite the good-natured ribbing, even the Macalope doesn’t want Android to go away. He frankly doesn’t even care if Android continues to enjoy the lion’s portion of market share (as a matter of fact, there may even be certain benefits to it). It somehow doesn’t affect his superior user experience even the slightest. But the real point is that Apple is not to blame for the sad state of patent law. When the rules of the game stink, you don’t blame the players.

[Editors’ Note: Each week the Macalope skewers the worst of the week’s coverage of Apple and other technology companies. In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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