August 25, 2012

Ihntako: Near-total Victory For Apple Stifles Phone, Tablet Design

Andy Ihnatko, writing for The Chicago Sun-Times:

“Friday’s verdict doesn’t feel like justice. It feels like the day when Apple lost a hunk of its public persona as sweet hippies motivated by excellence and freedom, who win by making the best products.”

It's a minor point in Andy's piece, but one with which I fervently disagree.

Apple's victory in its legal fight over Samsung's obvious and blatant copyright violations is only evidence of how well its managers have learned the painful lessons of the past: they popularized the graphic user interface in the early eighties, only to see Microsoft steal their thunder and crush their business with the same technology in the nineties.

Apple plays a game in a world of heavyweight contestants. They design and sell consumer electronics, some say the finest examples available of each product type. But sweet hippies and other nice guys do, indeed, finish last when their competitors will stop at nothing to beat them and they do nothing to stop it.

Apple's victory is only evidence that they understand the game they're playing, and they're playing it to win. Business, after all, is about making money, and letting the other guy take your money is just bad business. Bad business is not Apple's way.

The adage "hate the game, not the player" seems appropriate here. The problem isn't Apple dominating the smartphone arena. They did so fair and square, by building a great product, copyrighting it under existing law, and defending their copyright against a flagrant violator. Let's not lament an unpopular game well played, let's change the game.