Apple slapped for Samsung statement, but come on, give peace a chance

The UK court may have reprimanded Apple for its Samsung statement but I already know it’s likely I’ll always feel Apple [AAPL] is justified in thinking Google was inspired by many of its iOS ideas when it came to development of the Android OS. That’s my personal opinion at this time. But I also think it's time to stop fighting and get back to inventing.

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[IMAGE: c/o Mojo Baer, Flickr.]

Give peace a chance

Personal opinion aside, the smartphone wars must stop. I wish all the parties in all this foolish litigation would simply man up, say sorry, and reach non-punitive deals with one another, so the focus could turn to products, not politics. 

Everyone has attempted to make their point, it’s time for litigation to end. 

Right now I don’t see Samsung taking any interest in reaching settlement. Motorola Mobility seems resolute on trying to take billions more dollars from Apple for use of its wireless networking patents than it takes from any other firm. Google has shown no peace offering. It’s only really Apple that says it would prefer to avoid legal action, while engaging in legal action. I no longer care about who to blame. I just want the litigation to end.

Litigation is wasteful. Courts are not experts to judge these matters. Court findings in one country are different in another. There’s quite clearly no international consensus on patent protection. 

All that all sides in the affair so far have really accomplished is to show that the patent protection they pay so much cash for is almost valueless when it comes to the courts. It doesn’t seem to matter what historical evidence exists, how many patents you own, or what marvelous arguments the lawyers make, the courts don’t really seem to have a clue: else why would every judgement made so far be open to so much criticism?

It’s time for Apple to end its Android war. It’s time for the Android people to at least admit the debt they owe Apple. It’s time the incredibly damaging, incredibly expensive, incredibly pointless litigation got filed in the history bin. Litigation’s getting no one anywhere, so we may as well find a new way to compete.

Products

Today I’m urging all sides to stop being so inventive in terms of snide jabs at the competition; today I’m asking all sides to simply get over it, like the rest of the human population who don’t have the time or the money for litigation they might need to help them cope with adversity. It’s time to issue final statements, to find peace, reach mutually beneficial arrangements and move on.

There’s lots of reasons why it is time, but I’ll focus on just one. The pace of change and technological advance cannot continue indefinitely. 

Why do I think this? 

Because we’re going to reach a point at which a smartphone processor is already as fast as that of a PC. We’re going to arrive at a destination at which graphics power is pointless to improve; cameras capture images already more than good enough; and the relationship between components, processor and motherboard have been finessed to a point at which better will no longer be better than best.

We’re going to reach a point at which technological advance will not be enough, because it won’t make enough difference. As smartphones become commonplace, beyond a small segment of die-hard technologists, most people will buy the things because they can afford them, they work properly and they look pretty. Apple’s offering will always be popular because its devices tend to be the best made, best designed and most interesting, but the market will continue to expand.

Those involved in the smartphone value chain reading this shouldn’t feel offended by what I am saying: it’s a huge compliment really, because in my opinion you’ve driven the pace of technological change so fast that right now the only way to go for mobile devices (other than the continuing evolution of tablet devices) is off the device.

The next step will be wearable devices, connected devices, cloud services, et al. Smartphones will innovate themselves out of their current position as cheerleaders for the Post-PC age, and themselves be replaced by something else. 

The best analogy I have is the printer industry. Everyone has a printer today, and at some point maybe a decade ago print manufacturers realized they had innovated to a point at which it had become pointless to innovate any further and changed their business models so you pretty much buy a printer for peanuts and are then forced to pay through the nose for the ink.

I’m not certain smartphones have come to that point just yet, but they will I think and soon. 

Just get over it

While I believe the litigation between manufacturers reflects the depth of competition which has driven hardware and software innovation to evolve at such a rapid pace, I also believe it’s time for it to stop. It’s boring, damaging and tarnishes all sides. All sides. I can’t see any side that can truly claim to be a hapless victim in all of this. 

To my mind, everyone concerned in mobile device development deserves a huge round of applause for speeding innovation in the sector at such a rate: we’ve got to a point where an iPad processor runs at 1.4GHz, which is an awesome achievement. So well done to all of you for that. 

It’s time to focus on product development and the evolution of the Post-PC connected device age in order to claim the first place innovation prize. 

  • I’d like to see the litigation battle end and the patent system changed in order to make it fairer for small inventors and not just super-giant-multinational corporations such as Apple, Samsung, Google et al. 
  • I’d like to see a fair and comprehensible international framework of patent protection put in place to protect ideas. 
  • And I’d like to see the Android massive take a deep breath and attempt to say sorry to the Apple people, and the Apple side to grumble a bit, say: “We still think you copied us,” and then for all parties to move on and let bygones be bygones.

Because it’s time. Because everyone watching this stupid soap opera has become bored witless by these unending cases. Because no one is winning. Because everyone looks bad. Because it costs billions. So what’s the point?

Get back to inventing. You’re all better at that, or so you all claim. The ones that aren’t won’t last long because consumers kind of know what’s cool and what isn’t. Which may surprise many corporate types who clearly think consumers are stupid, which we’re not.

Building better futures

Surely it’s time we got to move on to more exciting stories, such as:

  • How connected devices can save lives in developing nations;
  • The improvements in educational attainment that can be generated through use of tablets; 
  • How the Big Data generated by mobile devices can potentially help limit disease, save lives and reduce man’s damage to the environment.

Surely it’s time to begin to look at the application of these technologies on improving our world, rather than focusing on the arguments made by highly paid suits in courts staffed by people who probably aren’t really equipped to make decisions concerning technologies they can’t possibly really understand? And who (rare in the current economy) all get paid more than anybody else?

I’m not holding my breath, but let’s end the smartphone world war. The world’s got enough problems without this corporate self-focused myopia. 

Time to move on. Time to turn the page. Time to reach a deal.

Just stop it.

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