In 1984, Apple Computer, Inc. aired what would become one of the most celebrated television spots of all time: a 30-second, 900,000-dollar, Orwellian masterpiece titled, naturally, “1984.”
Take a look:
At the time of its airing, the commercial was as much a commentary on the imposing nature of early commodity computers as it was an indictment against IBM, which at that time was thought to be monopolizing the entire personal and business computing industry. According to Apple, IBM was the bad guy.
Fast forward 27 years – Apple is looking a little bit like a bad guy themselves.
Just recently, Apple filed suit in a German court against tech giant Samsung, claiming that the latter company’s Galaxy Tab “infringes on 10 of [Apple’s] patents” and that the device closely mirrors the “look and feel” of its iPad and iPhone. As a result, “the court has granted Apple a temporary injunction against Samsung’s selling and marketing of the tablet in Europe, meaning all units must be removed from the shelves.” If Apple wins the suit, Samsung will be prevented from selling their tablet in Europe indefinitely.
When I first read about this, I thought, “Hmm… okay, maybe Samsung’s just a copycat. Maybe Apple’s the victim here.” Then I saw the following:
Yeah, that’s Apple’s iPad next to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. Not exactly the mirror image I was expecting. Are the tablets similar? Sure. Are they similar enough to warrant legal action on Apple’s part? Probably not.
Admittedly, I’m not familiar with the hardware specs of either device, but I’m going to have to argue that from a purely aesthetic standpoint, each seems pretty distinct.
I’m all for the kind of innovation that Apple has brought to the table for the past several years (decades even), but I’m a bit uncomfortable with their apparent quest to take over the mobile device market. In preventing Samsung from distributing their tablet in Europe, Apple would become precisely the kind of company they promised NOT to be in 1984. I may not be fluent in matters pertaining to intellectual copyright, and I’m aware of how seriously a company like Apple (which recently ranked as the most publicly traded company in the world) must take this kind of alleged infringement, but I’ll be damned if the tablets in question aren’t fairly dissimilar to begin with.
Honestly, I’m wondering whether Apple’s sudden beef with Samsung has something to do with the fact that the latter’s Galaxy Tab is the iPad’s only viable competitor in the tablet market.
What would Apple gain from this particular lawsuit if they were to win? One less competitor in Europe?
“1984 won’t be like ’1984,’” you say. What about 2011? What about after that?
Last I checked, competition breeds innovation. Remove the competition and, well, I guess we’ll see.
So, what are your thoughts on Apple, blog readers? Are they becoming the monopoly they promised NOT to be? Are they simply exercising their rights as a business? Let us know how you feel.