The Macalope Weekly: The sincerest form of jerkery

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The Apple v. Samsung verdict came in too late for the Macalope to talk about it last week, but that just means we have a whole week’s worth of crazy coverage to discuss. You’d think it wouldn’t be at issue who won, but some people think that everyone was a winner. Well, everyone except you. But copying? Really? Is it really copying to make a phone that looks just like an iPhone? Or a laptop that looks just like a MacBook Air? Is it? Is it really? (Yes, it is.) And, finally, our opinions are all well and good, but what do the Apple trolls have to say about this verdict?

Winners and losers

Well, the trial of the millenium is all over except for the appeals process (so we should only be hearing about it for eight or nine more years), and it’s hard to declare it anything but a win for Apple.

Unless you go to one of those new-age grade schools where everyone’s a winner, like Robert Scoble and Farhad Manjoo apparently do.

Now, the idea that it was still better for Samsung to have copied Apple and be forced to pay over a billion bucks than to have tried to innovate on its own may not be completely without merit. Is a billion dollars a lot for R&D over five years? Depends on how much the company spent themselves or what it could have done otherwise. These guys sure seem to have a low opinion of Samsung’s ability to come up with an original idea.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t appear that Samsung’s exactly all backslaps and rounds of champagne over the verdict (tip o’ the antlers to Lessien).

“It’s absolutely the worst scenario for us,” a senior Samsung executive said as he rushed into the company’s compound in southern Seoul.

Maybe Scoble and Manjoo’s deep thoughts just haven’t been translated into Korean yet. The Samsung folks will probably be all smiles once they get the good word.

Read more…

Andy Ihnatko thinks “the biggest losers here are consumers”, who will be forced to pay more for any phone that looks like an iPhone, because iPhone copy machines like Samsung (feels good to say that with legal backing) will just pass the costs on to consumers.

The Macalope’s no big fan of these patent suits, but he’s much more of a mind with Marco Arment.

Smartphone and “tablet” manufacturers will keep doing what they always do: sell us their products at the highest prices they can possibly charge for them to maximize total revenue.

As Jean-Louis Gassée notes:

Last year, Apple and Nokia settled an IP “misunderstanding” that also resulted in a “Tax”…but it was Nokia that played the T-Man role: Apple paid Nokia more than $600M plus an estimated $11.50 per iPhone sold. Where were the handwringers who now accuse Apple of abusing the patent system when the Nokia settlement took place?

In other words, while this might not be the best thing for consumers—and it certainly isn’t good for competitors who haven’t already come to terms with Apple—this is hardly the phonepocalypse.

Life imitates Apple

You Apple nerds, you think everything revolves around your favorite company. As if.

See, this whole Samsung thing can be easily explained with two words: natural evolution.

That’s right, say it again aloud: natural evolution. That’s the phrase executives have latched onto like an Alien face-hugger, attempting to deposit their Apple-copied eggs into it. (Sometimes these metaphors get away from the Macalope.)

Samsung wasn’t copying Apple, it’s just that smartphones naturally evolve into flat touchscreens with minimal buttons on the front and slide to unlock and a virtual keyboard and an Apple logo on the back and oops we went too far.

But it’s not just Samsung that’s sussed out the natural evolution of things. No, no, no, no, no. A world of five nos. Take Ultrabooks for example. Lenovo’s COO Rory Read told us a year ago that the fact that Ultrabooks all look exactly like the MacBook Air was …

“…just a natural evolution of the space.”

Natural. Evolution. See? It’s simple. And natural. And evolutional.

Forms evolve over time and they just naturally evolve into designs Apple happens to not necessarily invent but certainly popularize. See? What could be more natural? Or evolutional?

Another example: the Maingear Solo 21 all-in-one PC. Now, to the uneducated eye of the typical Apple strawman nerd, it might look almost exactly like an iMac. In fact, it actually does look almost exactly like an iMac, but with the obligatory row of additional ports. But the point is, while laptop forms just naturally evolve over time to look like the MacBook Air and smartphone forms just naturally evolve over time to look like the iPhone, desktop forms …

Yeah, you’re getting it.

Desktops evolve into forms that have an all-in-one enclosure around the screen with an aluminum stand supporting the device from the back and curving around to the bottom with a hole in the back for cables and … well, just look at an iMac.

Or, if you don’t have an iMac, maybe you can look at the HTC tablet that looks just like an iMac. See, sometimes in natural evolution there are mutations that can’t be explained. See also: tablets that look like the MacBook Air.

Finally, to drive this point home, when software forms evolve beyond outdated metaphors of the 1990s into metaphors that Apple doesn’t even use—like, say, Microsoft ditching the Start menu for a tile-based interface—they naturally immediately evolve into something that Apple does use. Naturally. Like the Dock.

See how that works?

It’s all very understandable and completely natural.

So please, Apple dorks, spare us your cries of “Copycat!” because they only show how little you understand both nature and evolution.

Saturday Special: The man knows lame

Well, as long as we’re at it, let’s scrape the bottom of the barrel by hopping on over to Business Insider to see what Henry Blodget vomited up onto the Internet about the case.

“Let’s Be Honest—Apple’s Patent Lawsuit Was Totally Lame” (no link for Blodget because of his many atrocities against good taste, but tip o’ the antlers to Wes Kroesbergen).

Totally. I mean, did you see what juror number five was wearing on her feet? Toe shoes! So lame!

So, why does Blodget think it was ♫ Lame! A shame! No one else to blame buuut Apple! [clap-clap, clap] Apple! [clap-clap, clap] ♫

It’s bad for consumers.

Terrific. The guy who committed securities fraud is lecturing Apple on what’s good for consumers.

Because to the extent that Apple persists in pursuing this lame-o…

“Lame-o.” He wrote that. A grown man.

…(and totally un-Apple-like) competitive strategy, it will result in consumers having fewer excellent non-Apple smartphone choices.

Right. Because the only way to make excellent smartphones is to copy Apple. Sucks to be you, Apple!

Actually, the Macalope doesn’t buy this for a minute. You don’t have to look any farther than Windows Phone 7 to see that you don’t have to slavishly copy Apple to make a nice smartphone. Is it as nice as the iPhone? No, the Macalope doesn’t think so, but he doesn’t think Samsung’s pizza box-sized phones are that great, either.

The richest and most powerful company in the world—a company that generates more cash in a day than most companies generate in a year—is suing a competitor for imitating some cool features, features that, arguably, shouldn’t have been patentable in the first place.

What are these features?

And now, as with Dvorak, we’ve reached the reductionist part of the argument where Blodget will pretend the case was about less than it was really about. Blodget lists four items, reducing them to trivialities, and calls it a day.

You get the idea.

We do. You’re a tremendous jerkweed.

Sorry, but even filing for patents on these features, let alone enforcing them, is beyond lame

♫ Lame! A shame! No one else to blame buuut Apple! [clap-clap, clap] Apple! [clap-clap, clap] ♫

…especially for a company that is already so rich and powerful.

So, only weak companies should get patents? And, hey, whatever the Korean word for “newsflash” is: Samsung is a huge company in its own right. So spare the Macalope your tears for bad ol’ Apple beating up on the poor lil’ chaebol. Samsung has a weapons division for crying out loud.

Apple, of course, was not granted patents specifically on the trivialities that Blodget complains about (with the possible exception of the iPad design patent, which was the one that Samsung was found to have not infringed). All of the design and trade dress patents were more broadly on how things look and are done on the iPhone.

Again, consider Windows Phone. None of these design patents could be used against it because, shocker, Windows Phone is unique. Apparently expecting companies to come up with unique designs is “lame.”

Apple suing competitors for copying minor features is not about “fairness” or “justice” or “innovation” or even money ($1 billion is chump change).

It’s just lame.

It’s just about lameness. Got it.

The Macalope’s not naive enough to think that Apple’s targeting of Samsung has nothing to do with it being the other big fish in the water. But, really, the level of copying here was laughably egregious. And they’re still at it! It is almost not hyperbole to say that if Apple had not taken action, Samsung would soon have shipped a device with Jony Ive’s smoldering glare.


[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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