Apple's lawsuit against HTC may have soured my iPad purchase decision

Apple's lawsuit against HTC may have soured my iPad purchase decision

Summary: Apple sued HTC for infringing on its patents, which is yet another lawsuit in the continuing saga of Apple in the smartphone world. Will consumers think differently about Apple and HTC as a result?

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TOPICS: Legal, Apple, HTC, Nokia
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There have been several posts made about the Apple lawsuit against HTC (see my links at the end of this post) and I wanted to post my opinion on this and other recent lawsuits for my readers. I am not a lawyer, patent law expert, or investor in any of the companies involved with these lawsuits and am just posting my thoughts here as a consumer of smartphones. Most consumers are also not lawyers and really could care less about who came up with the idea first since all they want is the best experience at the lowest price. I am sure there are thousands of people who thought about new ways to interact with their phones, yet they didn't have the resources or care to seek a patent for this idea. I do not think companies should steal specific methods of creating features, but if the methods are common and result from a natural progression of thought then I am not sure it should be patentable. I also think that patents on user interface elements should probably not be granted in the first place since user interface improvements have been thought of by most of us and are not original ideas or technologies. Do you really only want a single company being able to use multi-touch, tap to open, etc.?

Nokia and Apple

The first Nokia lawsuit seemed to be valid since Nokia actually developed wireless technologies that others have been using for some time and were gaining a benefit with while actually reimbursing Nokia for usage of these technologies. Apple apparently refused to pay while using these wireless technologies so should end up paying Nokia something in the end.

Apple then countersued Nokia stating that Nokia infringed on 13 user interface patents. Have you seen the Nokia interface? It has hardly changed since I saw my first Series 60 device back in 2001 so it seems like Apple is grasping at straws here (again, this is my view as a consumer).

Apple and Nokia both filed to have each others products blocked from each others countries and this is completely ridiculous from a consumer standpoint. Will a government organization actually block an entire companies products from being sold in their country? Doesn't seem very likely to me.

HTC and Apple

HTC was the maker of the first incredibly popular Compaq iPaq back in 2000 and this was an extremely fast color display PDA. HTC has always been a rather innovative company (think of the HTC Universal, T-Mobile MDA, and Treo 650) and recently has spent a considerable amount of time and money on improving designs. They have pushed Windows Mobile beyond what Microsoft provided with user interface improvements such as TouchFLO 3D and HTC Sense while also improving the hardware experiences (look at how they rolled out the HD2 with capacitive touchscreens before the OS was even providing this natively). If I was Apple I would take a serious look internally first before suing HTC since there are probably many elements that Apple designers and engineers saw in HTC devices before creating the iPhone.

You can check out the patents that Apple is concerned about here at Gizmodo and see why I think it is stupid of the patent office to grant patents for things people naturally do or would have thought of doing on their phones. Why in the world are there patents for such obvious things as turning off the display as you hold a touchscreen device to your head, object oriented multi-tasking system, object oriented operating system, and more? Many of these were used by HTC and others way before Apple ever patented them. Starting to seem to me that others have the ideas and then Apple has the army of patent lawyers to go get patents issued by the government. Government inefficiency at its best, huh?

Apple is well known for their designs and making the user interface simple and easy. The first iPhone was a rather weak smartphone, but the user interface and fluidity of the operating system showed the world what a smartphone should be capable of doing and it did spur others to step up to the plate. We now see today how Apple helped get us to awesome devices running the Google Android and Palm webOS operating systems. Microsoft is finally responding with Windows Phone 7 Series later this year and it looks like Nokia will have competitive devices (in terms of user interface) with Symbian^3 and later devices this summer.

The iPhone 3GS is a great device and I personally recommend it for many people who are looking for a single device that does most everything they need. However, the iPhone OS is approaching 3 years old with very little changed in the user interface. Many of us have moved onto other devices because we find Apple has some weaknesses in the interface that others have improved upon greatly. I am specifically thinking of notifications, integrated services, and customization.

Will any of these lawsuits mean anything to consumers?

I understand most of the time these types of lawsuits take years to actually be resolved and many times all that happens is a company ends up paying to settle. I highly doubt consumers will see any impact for years to come and I sure hope that the legal system gets to the point that most of these are thrown out, unless there was actual theft of proprietary (and not common) technologies.

Personally, I am a bit sick of hearing about these lawsuits and Apple suing HTC actually leaves me feeling sour about Apple. I have been debating whether or not to buy an iPad since it really would not take the place of anything I own and is more of a luxury item. This latest lawsuit pushed me closer to NOT buying one because I am getting a bit tired of Apple's arrogance, even though I do really enjoy using some of their products. Consumers may hear about this lawsuit on the news and think twice about Apple and HTC, which could hurt both of them.

Is Apple worried about HTC and Google Android impacting iPhone sales? Do you feel any differently about Apple after hearing about this lawsuit? As a consumer, do you think there is any merit in these type of patent lawsuits?

Related ZDNet posts about the Apple-HTC lawsuit

Topics: Legal, Apple, HTC, Nokia

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113 comments
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  • lot of people will react

    There are lots of people out there right now swearing they will never buy another Apple product again if they manage to shut down sales of Android phones. Is this really what Steve wants? I mean they already have lost so much of their 'cool' you'd think they would want to preserve as much goodwill as possible. This will NOT play well.
    eggmanbubbagee@...
    • a lot?

      di you really thing anyone outside of these geek-websites will take
      notice? i don't think so. people don't care about that stuff. only we do.
      bannedfromzdnetagain
      • And tell me, will you honestly be recommending Apple products?

        And people who read these geek websites exercise quite a bit of power. Many of my friends bought iPhones because I had one. And now that they see me carrying a Palm Pre, they ask why I stopped using iPhone. When asked this question, they typically hear a rather long list of frustrations and my avowal never to buy anything manufactured by Apple ever again.

        It's funny, but people in my sphere of influence have stopped buying Apple products. My employees no longer ask for help to set up their personal computers with our computing infrastructure (see other post), and the number of Macs in my lab is slowly dropping to 0.

        While there are other reasons too, my dissatisfaction with Apple is a big reason for this. Now, are you really going to tell me that geeks don't have power to influence the purchasing decisions of others?

        The reason Mac and Apple have been resurgent in the past few years is due to disproportionate mindshare. Mindshare is directly related to good will, and Apple is in the process of squandering the good will. Few companies are in a position to survive such a loss. Microsoft, due to its monopoly and lack of real competition, was.

        I'm sorry, but Apple is not. There are too many alternatives for me to remain a dissatisfied customer of Cult of Cupertino.
        Rob Oakes
        • Yup n/t

          yup
          jgpmolloy
        • Apple, as a religion, not a company...

          As a two-decade resident of Silicon Valley, now retired into the mountains of Arizona (or as a Silly Valleyite would call it, "out there in nowhere"), I have had much experience with Apple, all the way back to a one-building operation in Cupertino. The problem is the incredible arrogance in Apple products. Nothing is designed to solve a problem, all are designed to be "cool" and unnecessary, but pricey. Lawsuits and "changing the world" videos are the stock-in-trade of the company. You pay twice what the market will allow because it's the "latest Apple product", at least until the overpaid have bought one and the product has to stand on its own value. Then, the price drops and the suckers moan.. why not try to legalize the arrogance too?
          robertcape@...
          • And there you went...

            ...right off the cliff.

            "Nothing is designed to solve a problem"

            See, you've got a perfect right to like or dislike any
            product, from any manufacturer.

            But that quote makes no sense and destroys your
            credibility.

            The iPhone was designed to solve the problem of
            making a computer you can carry in your pocket, and
            by the way, make phone calls on.

            The iPod was designed to solve the problem of carrying
            all your music with you in an easy to access fashion.

            The Mac was designed to solve the problem of
            WYSIWYG -- before the Mac, just laying out a word
            processing document was guesswork. You couldn't be
            sure what you'd actually get until you printed it.

            If you don't like Apple, fine. But don't insult their
            design sense unless you enjoy sounding stupid.
            Jkirk3279
    • What percentage of "cool" did they lose?

      There's another world out there that could care less about the day-to-day business wrangling of Apple and others.
      dave95.
      • Perhaps cool is the wrong word, let's call it mindshare

        Maybe "cool" was the wrong word to use, let's instead refer to it as mindshare. The single most important thing that Apple has going for it is a slobbering and drooling set of users in prominent places. This includes individuals in the media (Pogue, Mossberg, etc.) and powerful trendsetters (such as Al Gore, Merlin Mann, Steven Few and others).

        The fact that these people use and love Apple technology gives the company an enormous amount of free publicity. Moreover, it helps to dampen the anger when Apple's products fail to meet the hype.

        In case you hadn't noticed, Apple is starting to suffer some very public breakups with these types of users. Merlin Mann, for example, has been very unhappy as of late; and very vocal about it. There have been rifts and complaints from very prominent members of the Mac development community due to Apple's draconian iPhone policies. And the media have been far less forgiving of Apple's missteps than they typically are (for a good example, see Gizmodo's coverage of the yellowed iMac screens). Their actions centered around GV Mobile even prompted governmental investigation.

        These are all outward signs that the community goodwill responsible for the Mac's enormous mindshare is beginning to give way. Mac and iPhone have been adopted by many because happy and influential users were recommending it. And now, many of those influential users are no longer happy.

        I am a good case. Four and a half years ago, I purchased six Mac towers for research in my lab (spending nearly $30,000 in the process). I was initially very happy with the purchase. Tiger was a stable and mature operating system, moreover, the Open Source software that I used in my research ran very well.

        But since that time, I've had increasing problems with AppleCare and customer support. First Leopard and then Snow Leopard broke all of the software that we use internally (written in Python and PyQt). When I contacted Apple for software support, I was told that the configuration was "unsupported."

        At about year three (the same time that AppleCare was up), I started experiencing hardware problems with some of the computers. When I contacted Apple about extending the warranty (as is possible with nearly all other major manufacturers), I was told that they no longer sell extended support.

        Because of these problems (and the utter pain of making Open Source software work on Mac OS X), I have begun to replace my Apple towers with Dell Workstations. The computers are set up to run both Windows and Linux (via dual boot and virtual machines). Maintenance is much easier and I have had no problems with software compatibility. Moreover, the customer support (which I was able to purchase for five years instead of three, at the same cost) is excellent. When I did have a problem with one of the Linux boxes, I was put in touch with a high level specialist at Dell who helped me resolve the problem. I've been very happy.

        And here's the take home message, I will not be buying any more Apple products. As I've become more invested in Linux and Windows solutions, there is no reason to. And the software incompatibilities aren't worth it. Moreover, I refuse to buy Apple computers for employees or students for the same reason and I will not spend the time to help them get "personal" computers to work.

        This has resulted in two of the members of my lab selling MacBook pros and instead choosing HP mobile workstations, so that they can use the same machines both at work and at home. While their were some complaints early on, I've actually had several staff people tell me that they appreciate the change. It's made many things a lot easier.

        While this is a long story, the take home message is this: happy customers result in increased mindshare. Mindshare results in people willing to pay more money and increased profits. When people aren't happy, you lose that advantage. Unhappy customers poison your brand and encourage people to look at other products.

        Apple has squandered good will before, and they are doing so again. You can't maintain a blood feud with Microsoft, Adobe, and Google without looking like a petty tyrant. And you can't release garbage (iPad) and call it "revolutionary" without people thinking you're crazy.

        There will be negative fallout for Apple, it's only a matter of time. And it's because they are losing their mindshare.
        Rob Oakes
        • Losing mindshare or growing as a company.

          Apple seem to be growing faster than many other companies with record quarters. They're not this small company anymore just keeping their small Mac community happy. I expect cases like this to surface the larger and more aggressive Apple gets. Again they can't keep everyone happy as they continue to mature. But this is hardly the same as their beleaguered days.

          While I sympathize with the situation you went through, there are thousands of others that may be going through the a similar situation with a DELL, or HP or Microsoft themselves.
          dave95.
        • Apple will continue to grow unabated

          I am in a rather unique position or perspective here. In the 80s I actually worked for Jim Logan at MicroTouch in Woburn MA on the
          capacitive touchscreen. Great group of folks, fond memories, but definitely small company culture and mentality. Call it boutique, or
          whatever...excellent craftmanship, customer service and a passion for touch computing, PERIOD.
          Never gonna be a big money player.
          Apple has been part of my professional life since the Lisa. I have worked for them, was an Apple VAR with my own turnkey solution,
          built 4 companies doing software projects, and one building iPod accessories. It is the last that made real money, because Apple
          became a consumer products company.
          I would be willing to be real money...wait, I have, I am an Apple shareholder, lol that Apple's growth will continue unabated. If you look
          at NPD data on all computer companies, Apple continues to grow, others are stagnant or falling. Dell is a perfect example of a
          company that never innovated anything except a way of selling to customers.
          Apple retail stores are a phenomenon. They are the highest grossing per square foot retail chain IN THE WORLD and OF ALL TIME! In
          fact, no other company with a similar retail presence has ever come near the numbers Apple is posting...AND they keep getting BIGGER,
          quarter over quarter. They are the largest purveyor of digital music on the planet. They are the largest purveyor of UNIX on the planet.
          The iPhone app store is a money printing juggernaut that will grow exponentially with the iPad.
          Most people don't know Apple with a market cap of $190B is a bigger company than AT&T, Fedex, McDonalds, Google, Cisco, Oracle,
          Disney, etc. I predict Microsoft will continue to decline and while they may continue to have the enterprise desktop market, they will be
          a smaller company than Apple in five years or less.
          It has already been well proven that the tail wags the dog in terms of iPod and iPhone users buying Macs. This number has grown
          steadily and I see no reason for it to stop. Even the economy cannot stop them, even given the higher cost of Apple laptops, they still
          continue to grow sales with tight wallets in the nation. The other companies' have felt the pinch, Apple has grown.
          I appreciate their business strategy with IT...patent everything that others have not, and make people license it back to use it. It is
          perfectly legal, and increases the company's asset base in terms of actual value.
          I am now involved in delivering solutions via the iPhone App store, and cannot wait for the iPad to crank up the revenue.
          My point here is the people who will be consuming Apple's goods at an expanding rate will be happy to do so, and opinions like this,
          while everyone gets to have one, are ultimately meaningless.
          I would be willing to bet whatever you would like that this will have no effect on Apple's growth, as much as your righteous indignation
          may think that it will.
          Kevin Doyle
        • Let me explain something.

          "First Leopard and then Snow Leopard broke all of the software that
          we use internally (written in Python and PyQt). When I contacted
          Apple for software support, I was told that the configuration was
          "unsupported.""

          Yeah.

          Here's a piece of advice.

          If you have a production machine that's working perfectly...you don't
          HAVE to upgrade it !

          Leave it alone.

          Particularly if you're running Open Source or boutique software where
          there might not be a big company that can swiftly address
          compatibility problems.

          If you don't learn this lesson now, you'll end up with history
          repeating itself. Windows 7 will put out an update and your required
          programs will quit working.

          It's too bad you blame Apple for this.

          I've heard it before though, from people who apparently think Apple
          is in the business of customizing their software apps for free.
          Jkirk3279
        • Let's get real

          [i]Maybe "cool" was the wrong word to use, let's instead refer to it as
          mindshare. The single most important thing that Apple has going for
          it is a slobbering and drooling set of users in prominent places. This
          includes individuals in the media (Pogue, Mossberg, etc.) and powerful
          trendsetters (such as Al Gore, Merlin Mann, Steven Few and others).

          The fact that these people use and love Apple technology gives the
          company an enormous amount of free publicity. Moreover, it helps to
          dampen the anger when Apple's products fail to meet the hype.[/i]

          None of the iPhone users I know have any idea who these people are -
          except for Al Gore.

          Nobody much in this country realises there is any connection between
          Al Gore and Apple.

          Outside your small world where these things matter to you - there are
          people buying Apple product and liking it.

          Outside your small world Apple's mindshare has in fact been negative
          to non-existant - and yet they are growing in market share.

          This whole mindshare/cult/cool argument just makes no sense
          outside the world you live in.

          And what crap - there are 75 million OS X users, up to 3 times what
          there were.

          There are 24 million iPhone users.

          There are a small number of dissatisfied ones, as you would expect.

          90% of the windows users I know are struggling with their machines
          right now (yes, seriously, this is for real).

          I know of one iPhone user who has just had his iPhone replaced.

          The stats are not anything like your argument - and you are just
          pushing your desires onto the reality of the world in the hope that you
          prevail and that Apple doesn't get the market share you are worried
          they might.

          The whole argument about cool is in fact the marketing spin that MS
          pushes -' it's not good it's just cool', they have studied what stops PC
          users from buying Macs, unfortunately they have asked too many PC
          geeks and are preaching to the converted more than anything else.
          richardw66
      • With the right advertising they could lose a lot

        But who has the balls to put an ad out that shows Apple to be the petty patent hording troll that they are?

        I can see it now "Apple stifles innovation," and the next day a lawsuit is filed.
        T1Oracle
        • Never going to happen...

          Will come over like one of those trolling political ads. Wouldn't work.
          jgpmolloy
      • And this whole cool argument is a desperate defence mechanism

        MS and it's supporters love this one, say it's only 'cool' then claim it's
        not real.

        Having used many computing platforms, I use Macs for most of what I
        do.

        I do this for practical reasons, I couldn't care less about cool.

        I do not have an iPhone, I was not convinced by touch phones at all.
        Going on the feedback from those I know that have one, my next
        phone may be an iPhone though.

        The garbage from those above is just laughable , sorry but the non-
        geeks you are trying to influence are not reading. So the Geek Expert
        frustration with the iPhone will be wasted words here.

        The MS people are now arguing to themselves and a few of us who
        read these blogs.

        Maybe in Silicon Valley you see some of the Apple coolness, where I
        live that coolness doesn't exist - in fact having Apple product has
        form most of the last 20 years been seen as strange, as the PC Geek
        'experts' have dominated.

        So there was no way I buy Apple to look Cool, I buy it because I do not
        follow the politically correct 'PC' line and buy what works instead.

        Or I could buy a Win 7 Machine, so I get this wonderful new thing they
        have invented that they advertise on TV, the taskbar!!! not that they
        copied it from Apple or anything, they were only responding to the girl
        on the ad who wanted this new thing.

        Just because OS X had it since day 1, NExtStep had one before it, and
        there were a few around for Mac OS, and probably elsewhere - doesn't
        stop MS tryuing to imply
        that they and their users have done something wonderful by
        introducing it.

        This is why we have patents.

        And whatever the beliefs about who invented what, or who filed first,
        the patent cases will test this.

        Prior art before a patent will invalidate it - so don't think that filing a
        patent on existing product is what Apple has done and will win, they
        wouldn't win.

        IBM used to publish all their inventions and discoveries that they
        weren't patenting and send a copy of their publication to the patent
        office for reference to avoid anyone else patenting them.
        richardw66
    • Lots of people will react--POSITIVELY

      I am not employed by, nor draw my income from, either product or company. It would seem to me that there is a double standard being set here against Apple. People are in business to earn a profit. Sometimes a competitor will suffer and have to close, or change strategy. That is the nature of business.

      When I read about Apple "losing" business, I turn to the stock page and look at the business section of my local paper and that is not borne out in either place. There was lots of people (what exactly does that mean anyway?)swearing to turn away from Apple after the launch of the iPhone and Apple's exclusive relationship with AT&T. Fortunately, a greater number purchased the iPhone.

      The majority of the consumers will not care (and I don't know if they should) about Apple and Nokia's relationship. I disagree with you about how it will play. Let's see how things play out.
      Daniel56
    • Apple Hater = Wannabe Apple User!

      People can make all the statements they can drum up, but in the end
      they want to be or mimic the Apple user. Most of us have really been
      wondering; What the heck has taken Apple so long to move to protect
      against all the copy cats, and especially HTC in their blatant copying of
      Apple patents. You make it seem so trivial that these technologies are
      so commonplace that, well of course these patents can't be valid.
      Think again! Apple has finally put the copy cats on notice and
      manufacturers are going to think twice about ripping of patented
      technologies. Apple's 40 billion war chest will allow them to fully
      protect themselves this time around. They will not play to loose or tie.
      If Apple hadn't begun the smartphone revolution you would probably
      still think the Razr was innovative.
      mrcap
      • Not even close...

        I looked over the list of stuff they're suing over - and I gotta wonder exactly how many of those patents are based on prior art. Stuff someone else came up with, Apple copied and then patented because the original deisgner/programmer didn't think to patent the idea themselves.

        The RAZR phone was innovative - in so far as it was thin. Prior to that, most phones were much fatter. Motorola was able to cram a lot of features into an amazingly small amount of space. It's even more amazing if you consider how far cellular technology has come since it was first invented. The RAZR was quite the trendsetter prior to the iPhone's release.
        Wolfie2K3
        • Wonder...

          " I gotta wonder exactly how many of those patents are based on prior
          art. "

          Wonder all you want. If you have evidence that there's prior art, show it
          to HTC. So far, no one has done so in any of these forums.
          jragosta
      • Compared

        The iPhone is not a smart phone.

        I like Apple's iPod, very nice UI. But that's it.

        iPhone is not a smart phone.

        Maybe a Feature phone.
        anthonyinak