Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 14th Apr 2014 16:40 UTC

From a 2006 (pre-iPhone) Android specification document:

Touchscreens will not be supported: the Product was designed with the presence of discrete physical buttons as an assumption.

However, there is nothing fundamental in the Product's architecture that prevents the support of touchscreens in the future.

The same document, but a few versions later, from 2007 (post-iPhone):

A touchscreen for finger-based navigation - including multi-touch capabilites - is required.

The impact of the iPhone on Android in two documents. Google knew the iPhone would change the market, while Microsoft, Nokia, and BlackBerry did not. That's why Android is now the most popular smartphone platform, while the mentioned three are essentially irrelevant.

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You're making bold assumptions with hindsight. Serious technological leaders in the space were not prepared to bet on fully-touchscreen devices (Nokia, Samsung, Sony/E, Palm, Blackberry) until after Apple showed off their implementation.

Agreed. Some of them never really reached that point.

And no, it's completely inaccurate to say that anyone with half a brain knew that cap touch would be the way forward.

Totally agree.

It was a big risk by Apple to assume that a) consumers would like this, and b) it would actually work as the primary way to interact with a phone.

Again, totally agree.

1. Apple took great risks with the iphone, risks no one else was willing to take at the time.
2. Apple spent a great deal of time, effort, and R&D getting it right.

I get that and agree with it.

These were new and novel interaction techniques, where Apple in entirity had their skin in the game, spending money on R&D, evaluating interaction techniques, determining performance minimums, target acquisition size guidelines, affordances for touch controls.

All true. But getting to my point - you don't get patents for risk taking, you don't get patents for effort, you get patents for inventions. The rest of the industry was perfectly within their rights to ape Apple's design, because like it or not it was based on hardware that Apple did not have patents on. Cap touch is not patented by Apple, baseband processors are not patented by Apple, etc. etc. Aping ideas is not illegal, because ideas are not eligible for patent - and that is what things like bounce scroll and most of Apple's patents are (at least to some peole) - abstract ideas.

What all the fuss is about is software and design patents. Apple taking risks and spending enormous effort getting it right are not arguments for or against such things. It still boils down to:

Is software an idea or an invention?

My reason for posting is simple - Arguments about how much effort went into the iphone have no bearing on the argument about software/design patents.

It took Google/Samsung many years to reverse engineer (or otherwise determine) some of the things Apple had from day one - such as the need for high fps when dealing with direct manipulation interfaces.

That is the point. It took them a long time because it is hard. Apple did a wonderful job, they created a barrier of entry by doing so, and it worked - they made LOTS OF MONEY in the interim.

What Google and Samsung did is no different to what the Chinese knockoff manufacturers do. NOKLA and the like. They make it look similar, and function similar, completely "inspired" by the original - by that I mean, a copy to the best of their abilities. But in most cases they lack a lot of the design that made the original work well.

All true. And some people still think the original is better and are willing to pay a premium for it. Thus Apple still make LOTS OF MONEY.

At the same time though, you have all these "knockoffs" taking their own risks - going into markets under served by Apple, making refinements (notification pane, RFID, improved multitasking UI, etc.) - some of those things end up feeding back into Apple and probably would never have existed if not for the "knockoffs". Millions of people in Asia have smartphones right now (instead of 10 years from now) because of knockoffs... is that a bad thing?

If Apple keeps making their product better in the eyes of their customers they will continue to make LOTS OF MONEY. None of Apple's thriving balance sheet is a product of excluding competition - it is a result of them failing at it...

Had Samsung not been able to use Apple's R&D as a basis, Apple would likely have sold more iPhones. Alternatively, Apple would be making money from licencing their IP to Samsung. It was their risk, they should get their reward.

There it is - the meat of the argument... Apple deserves all of the reward because they took all the risks.

Bullshit. Its just not true. Apple got plenty of reward. Would they have gotten more had Samsung/etc. not aped them? My honest answer is no - because knockoffs drove them to double their efforts instead of sit on their asses and rake in easy money...

Samsung (and Google and everyone else) is the best thing that happened to Apple, their existence lead to far more money for Apple in the long run. Competition creates thriving markets, it creates jobs, it creates money.

locked down patented products create lazy market niches that never go anywhere...

You can say what you want about it, but in the grand scheme of things the smartphone industry as it exists now simply would not exist without the "knockoffs". Knockoffs are good for everyone, even the one getting knocked off (most of the time).

Time and time again this plays out in the tech sector. Some product or idea escapes patent protection (for whatever reason) and becomes hugely, ridiculously successful because of it. It seems completely ironic to me that anyone in the tech sector would argue for patent protection at all, but especially for software.

There is way more to it than simply rewarding the risk taker. Its only a zero sum game when you use patents to make it so...

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