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.

Thread beginning with comment 587058
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
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

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

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.

Even that part had been done before. Have a look at devices that ran Windows Mobile 6 Professional. They were PDAs with a phone added in, right down to having the phone dialer in a separate app. They sucked horribly due to awful resistive touch screens and an even worse user interface, but the PDA+phone combo does predate the iPhone by a few years.

Reply Parent Score: 3

oskeladden Member since:
2009-08-05

Actually, one of reasons many long-time PDA phone users like me weren't interested in the iPhone when it first came out was that it wasn't anything like a PDA phone. It lacked things like Exchange support, a proper Agenda view, and productivity apps, all of which were central to PDA phones as they then were. People with iPhones were gently ribbed: Why on earth would anyone want a phone whose key selling feature was that you could simulate ants falling off the screen when you shook it (this was one of the more popular programs via the original installer.app)? Why would anyone with sense prefer that over a phone where you could actually do important stuff?

One of the reasons WinMo, Palm, Blackberry and others were as complacent as they were after the iPhone came out was that they thought folks like us in the C-suite were the natural market for smartphones, and that such phones should therefore be designed around our needs. The iPhone wasn't, so it wasn't a real threat. Phones like the TyTN 2, with its tilting screen-and-keyboard, were where the action was. The rest of the world didn't really need anything more sophisticated than S60, surely. What would they do with it?

In hindsight, it's easy to see that all this was horribly wrong. Apple's genius lay in seeing that the bigger market wasn't us folks, but our spouses, kids, and anyone with a decent-paying job. There was a huge market for smartphones out there, which nobody was targeting (occasional stuff like Sidekick apart), because most companies were focused on a very narrow market - and that a phone targeted at the needs of this narrow market would not appeal to the broader market. Google's genius lay in seeing that Apple had figured out the right way of targeting this market. The failure of others lay in not figuring this out straight away - which is why their OSes faded into irrelevance.

So no, I'd argue that not only was the iPhone not a PDA phone, but its success was due to the precise fact that it broke away from that model.

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