Developer calls Apple's Tiger a copycat

Apple refutes claims that its new OS copies the work of Konfabulator's creators.
Written by Ina Fried, Contributor
Apple Computer is predicting that rivals will mimic Mac OS X Tiger, but one developer says it's the new Mac operating system that is doing the copying.

Arlo Rose is outraged at the similarity of Apple's Dashboard, previewed earlier Monday by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, to his Konfabulator, a $25 Macintosh program. Both programs allow easy access to small programs called Widgets, which can perform a number of useful little tasks.

"It's insulting, is what it is," Rose said in a telephone interview. "They could have at least offered to work with us or to buy it."

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Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Computer
Apple, for its part, maintains that Dashboard is the company's own creation, noting that Widgets have long been a part of Mac OS X and the NextStep OS.

"The goal isn't to be like anything else," Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller said in an interview. "It's not his stuff. What we've done is ours."

Rose and co-creator Perry Clarke released Konfabulator in February 2003. "There really wasn't anything like it when we came out." Now, Rose said, a number of copycat programs are on the market.

By treading closely on outside developers, Rose said, Apple risks killing the incentive to write Mac software. "Why should developers want to work on their platform?"

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Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Computer
The controversy comes as Apple is itself showing a series of posters at the conference here that assume Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., will copy Apple's features for Longhorn, the next version of Windows. Slogans include "Redmond, start your photocopiers."

It is not the first time Mac OS X has stepped on what some see as other's turf. Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., previously expanded its Sherlock search tool to add features such as movie times and yellow pages in a format that closely paralleled a third-party tool called Watson.

Rose is trying to make the best of the situation, taking advantage of the fact that Tiger won't ship until next year.

"Cupertino: Start your photocopiers," reads a newly erected Konfabulator home page. It also asks, "Why wait until the first half of 2005, when you can get the original Dashboard now?"

In the long run, though, Rose knows that he will have a tough time competing with something that is a built-in feature of the operating system.

"We're either going to have to move to another platform or work on some other project."

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