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

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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organgtool
Member since:
2010-02-25

Android didn't consider touch-only input because at the time of development, capacitive touchscreens weren't out yet. At that time, only resistive touchscreens were out and they were horribly inaccurate and required violently stabbing at the screen with your finger or a stylus. If Google is guilty of anything, it is not being ready for the mass production of capacitive touchscreens. It was known years before the iPhone that capacitive technology would allow more fluid input and would finally make multitouch a possibility. LG, then Apple, realized the benefit of this technology and were ready to hit the ground running. Obviously Apple's implementation was better than LG's. However, just doing something better doesn't make it patentable. The fact is, Apple patented using capacitive touchscreens for multitouch which was an obvious use of capacitive screens long before the iPhone (I remember the hype about capacitive years before the iPhone came out).

So Apple is claiming that Google changed the course of Android to bite off of their market when the simple answer is that anyone with half a brain knew that capacitive plus multitouch was the way to move forward. The fact that Apple recognized that before Google was obviously the primary contributor to Apple's initial success, but it does nothing to prove that their patents weren't obvious to anyone who knew multitouch at the time and should have never been granted. Of course, the current judicial system in the U.S. continues to uphold entirely bogus software patents, so I fully expect the same outcome for this trial as its predecessor.

Reply Score: 4

jackeebleu Member since:
2006-01-26

Wait, wait, wait, so now, if touch screens weren't readily available, where did Apple get them? If this whole thing was so obvious, why did no one but Apple take the lead, and then everyone followed suit doing what was so "obvious"?

"anyone with half a brain knew that capacitive plus multitouch was the way to move forward" but no one did, so your saying that anyone should be able to come along after the cost of implementation has spent, and not the ability to recoup, because hey, everyone deserves technology for free. Salaries, Sallie Mae student loans be damned, your years of reserach should be free to all users and multi-billion dollar corps alike.

Ok, thanks.

Edited 2014-04-14 23:15 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

organgtool Member since:
2010-02-25

If this whole thing was so obvious, why did no one but Apple take the lead, and then everyone followed suit doing what was so "obvious"?


Somebody is always the first to do something, but that doesn't mean that what they did was worthy of a patent. Do you think that the first person that realized that they could sell products online should have been granted a patent that would have prevented anyone else from selling products online for 20 years? Most sane people would say that the "invention" was obvious, even if no one had already done it before. The same thing applies here.

but no one did, so your saying that anyone should be able to come along after the cost of implementation has spent, and not the ability to recoup, because hey, everyone deserves technology for free. Salaries, Sallie Mae student loans be damned, your years of reserach should be free to all users and multi-billion dollar corps alike.


How much do you think it costs to develop pinch-zoom and bounce scrollback? Those are things I could have done by myself in college in less than a week each (bounce scrollback within a weekend). You are clearly not a software developer and you're giving Apple way too much credit.

Reply Parent Score: 2

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Wait, wait, wait, so now, if touch screens weren't readily available, where did Apple get them? If this whole thing was so obvious, why did no one but Apple take the lead, and then everyone followed suit doing what was so "obvious"?


Prototypes are usually available for at least 10 years before they become a mainstream commercial product. The CD player was developed in 1969 but didn't become a mainstream consumer product for more than 15 years.

"anyone with half a brain knew that capacitive plus multitouch was the way to move forward" but no one did, so your saying that anyone should be able to come along after the cost of implementation has spent, and not the ability to recoup, because hey, everyone deserves technology for free. Salaries, Sallie Mae student loans be damned, your years of reserach should be free to all users and multi-billion dollar corps alike.


The world's universities release hundreds of billions of dollars worth of research every year for free.

Reply Parent Score: 2

unoengborg Member since:
2005-07-06

Wait, wait, wait, so now, if touch screens weren't readily available, where did Apple get them? If this whole thing was so obvious, why did no one but Apple take the lead, and then everyone followed suit doing what was so "obvious"?

"anyone with half a brain knew that capacitive plus multitouch was the way to move forward" but no one did, so your saying that anyone should be able to come along after the cost of implementation has spent, and not the ability to recoup, because hey, everyone deserves technology for free. Salaries, Sallie Mae student loans be damned, your years of reserach should be free to all users and multi-billion dollar corps alike.

Ok, thanks.


Actually Apple was not first with the idea of a touch sceen phone. Even the icons of the Prada was quite similar to what appeared in iOS even though the Prada version was in stylish black & white.

The iPhone-like LG Prada was. presented to the public months before iPhone was released, and the trend at the time was to make phones with larger and larger screens. It is no surprise that Apple was first, due to their brand recognition they could charge a high price for their product so, they could use the latest and still rare and expensive technology in their product.

So I would say smartphones a la Android would have happend with or without Apple. It's not like Apple developed the large screens, thy were just one of the first to be able to utilize them in their products.

By the way, as far as I know Apple have never complained about LG copying iPhone, even though their phones look no less like iPhone copies than e.g. Samsung phones, I wonder why...

Reply Parent Score: 4

Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

If this whole thing was so obvious, why did no one but Apple take the lead, and then everyone followed suit doing what was so "obvious"?


Except Apple didn't "take the lead"; as other posters point out, there were plenty of prototypes and even the LG Prada that pre-dates the iPhone.

Although what I really want to ask is: who gives a shit who was "first"? It's the fanboy equivalent of "First post!" and totally irrelevant.

Reply Parent Score: 3

spronkey Member since:
2009-08-16

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.

And no, it's completely inaccurate to say that anyone with half a brain knew that cap touch would be the way forward. 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. Even when the iPhone came out a decent portion of very intelligent people weren't 100% convinced it was actually a better way than using physical keys. Even now, physical keys have their own advantages that touchscreens do not - haptic feedback, for example.

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. 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.

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. 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.

My background is in HCI research - even a lot of the cutting edge university research on these sort of topics hadn't even considered some of what Apple brought to the table with the iPhone.

Edited 2014-04-15 00:14 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

organgtool Member since:
2010-02-25

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. And no, it's completely inaccurate to say that anyone with half a brain knew that cap touch would be the way forward. 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. Even when the iPhone came out a decent portion of very intelligent people weren't 100% convinced it was actually a better way than using physical keys. Even now, physical keys have their own advantages that touchscreens do not - haptic feedback, for example.

Maybe I overstated the obviousness that touchscreens would be successful. But that doesn't change the fact that multitouch was widely known as one of the major advantages of capacitive touchscreens way before the iPhone was introduced. There is no doubt that going fully-multitouch was slightly risky, but just because something is risky doesn't mean that it should be worthy of a patent to cover that risk.

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. 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.

If Google/Samsung simply aped the technology as many people seem to proclaim, then why did it take them many years to come up with their own implementation? Patents are supposed to explain how the technology works so that someone proficient in the field could read the patent and implement it trivially. So if the patent adequately explained how it works, Google/Samsung should have been able to implement it in a much shorter span of time. Otherwise, the patent was too vague on the important details and should have been rejected with a request for more information.

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.

So why does it matter then? If the "knockoff" is inferior, then the original manufacturer shouldn't have anything to worry about. They have a head start, a superior product, and superior brand recognition.

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.

How did Samsung use Apple's R&D as a basis when you admit that it still took them years to create their own implementation? If it took Apple several years to do the R&D and it took Samsung several years to create their own implementation, then how was Apple harmed? They had a several year head-start and Samsung had to do independent research to develop their implementation.

My background is in HCI research - even a lot of the cutting edge university research on these sort of topics hadn't even considered some of what Apple brought to the table with the iPhone.

I'm not sure that patenting HCI is necessarily a good thing. If the car was being developed today, HCI engineers would be patenting the steering wheel and leaving others to use inferior and unsafe methods such as joysticks.

Reply Parent Score: 0

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

The iPhone was a PDA that could make phone calls. It was as obvious as dog's balls to anyone with a bit of imagination.

Edited 2014-04-15 02:59 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 6

hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

One thing still plagues capacitive screens, they don't work well with gloves.

Nokia and Sony Ericsson were at the time both headquartered in nations that saw sub zero C temperatures for a large part of the year. End result, resistive screens where the way to go.

Also, i at the time resistive were cheaper and via the stylus made for easy adaption of a WIMP like interface (Windows PocketPC).

Hell, it still allows for more stuff to be crammed on screen than capacitive. Ever so often i curse web sites and similar that somehow lock the zoom but throws itty bitty check boxes at me in their mobile versions.

Don't recall having much problems with that while pocketing a N800.

Reply Parent Score: 4

galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

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...

Reply Parent Score: 3

daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

Indeed, capacitive touchscreens had been around for many, many years before that. All they did was stick one on a phone. I service ancient medical devices which have 486 chips in them and run an early version of QNX, and they have capacitive touchscreens mounted on the front of their CRT displays. It was always obvious the advantage these screens had over their resistive counterparts, along with their disadvantages.

Reply Parent Score: 4