Apple v. Apple
I think what bothers me most about Apple's lawsuit against HTC is that I can't see a positive ending for Apple. Perhaps I'm too geeky to see it?
If Apple loses their suit, obviously they lose. The doors are thrown open, and companies will feel free to push ahead with phones that include more and more of iPhones unique-until-now functionality. It might be a net win for consumers, or it might not. No other company has yet demonstrated the ability to deliver an experience as nice as Apple's, so I suspect the drawback of market confusion might outweigh the benefits of unencumbered development.
Now consider: If Apple wins, and HTC and others are forbidden from selling phones that infringe on Apple's patents, I think they still lose in the sense that the general perception might be that Apple's technology is ahead of the competition only because they sue to artificially limit the competition.
Apple claimed they were ten years ahead of anybody else when they announced the iPhone, and on the day, I believed it. I mean, do you even remember the state of the art in 2007? Then, as competitors struggled to bring their flagship products up to par, Apple seemed to keep raising the bar. While it's easy to pick holes in Apple's corporate policies or AT&T's poor service, the iPhone itself is still ahead of everything else. Still, as Google's Android improves, the gap is shrinking, perhaps faster than Apple expected.
I do believe, as the American founding documents proclaim, both that patent protection can help to encourage progress, and that the originators of new ideas deserve exclusivity for a limited time. Further, I do believe that many of Apple's developments are unique and non-obvious; a survey of the market in 2007 gives evidence of that. What's interesting to me is that, even though Apple may have the right to sue HTC, it may still be a bad idea for political or marketing reasons.Continued on the next page