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Apple Sues HTC for Patent Infringement
March 2, 2010 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Apple sues smartphone manufacture HTC for patent infringement. Digital Daily has the court filings, and includes a list of popular HTC Android and Windows Mobile phones targeted in the concurrent ITC Complaint to block importation of those devices into the US. Engadget has a little more information, including HTC's initial response. Listed patents are all seemingly software patents, a controversial area of patent law. (via Daring Fireball)
posted by 6550 (126 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I read about this earlier and was totally disappointed in Apple. Who the hell cares if a competitor also developed multitouch? You stole mice and windowed environments from Xerox PARC's work!
posted by mathowie at 1:44 PM on March 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


I will bet big bucks this all resolves via settlement.
posted by bearwife at 1:45 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Patent law is a right mess at the moment. It'd be really, really wonderful if we'd just done the right thing in the first place and not allowed software patents in the first place.
posted by koeselitz at 1:47 PM on March 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


I saw this on Gizmodo the other day.

Chances are this will come to nothing. Most of the patents are for parts of Android, and I think most of the specified phones are Android phones.

There's no way Apple isn't infringing some patent or other of Google's, so google countersues and everyone ends up in a big patent sharing agreement.

Just look at Intel and AMD for example, They can rip each other off with abandon because none of their chips would work without each others patents. (Note that the microchip industry is far more patent based then the software industry)

That's why companies ordinarily only start suing over software patents when they're just about dead. If they have no hope of ever releasing a product (which will undoubtedly rip off some patent stuffed in a filing cabinet somewhere) then it actually makes sense for them to try to make money off the patents they do have, and nothing else.

Anyway, things like this take years to go through the system.
posted by delmoi at 1:47 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


honestly, this sounds to me like apple's attempt to scare manufacturers away from making Android phones. that's speculation, obviously, but that's my initial reaction.
posted by shmegegge at 1:49 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it doesn't get resolved by a settlement, I think Apple is going to have some of their patents invalidated.
posted by wierdo at 1:50 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, PARC wasn't usin' it.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:51 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


The ’849 Patent, entitled “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image,” was duly and legally issued on February 2, 2010 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ’849 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit C.

I know nothing about anything, so how does that work out?
posted by june made him a gemini at 1:51 PM on March 2, 2010


oh good. my Eris on "the list".

i have an iPod Touch too, Apple! i'm in both camps!

seriously tho - Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image ?
i know it's all about making a better mousetrap and all, but really? sliding your finger on a screen can be a patent? i guess.

i hope my SO isn't grumpy tonight so i can make him explain all this to me.
not that it will make any more sense cause as mentioned above, the system is pretty much a mess right now.
posted by sio42 at 1:52 PM on March 2, 2010


ha - took too long typing.
posted by sio42 at 1:52 PM on March 2, 2010


mathowie: "I read about this earlier and was totally disappointed in Apple. Who the hell cares if a competitor also developed multitouch? You stole mice and windowed environments from Xerox PARC's work!"

Their sales department and shareholders. Remember the first ipod? It had a microdrive in it to store far more data than many people had mp3s. And for a length of time (it's long enough ago that I can't find citations anymore on this), Apple had an exclusive contract on the technology. Same goes for the clickwheel stuff.

Even your example of PARC is wrong. They actually bought the technology from PARC, in exchange for Apple stock. Xerox made off handsomly even if their research dept closed down afterwards. But that deal is why they were furious when Microsoft copied their point and click UI.
posted by pwnguin at 1:54 PM on March 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Patent law is a right mess at the moment. It'd be really, really wonderful if we'd just done the right thing in the first place and not allowed software patents in the first place.
The European Patent Convention (EPC), Article 52, paragraph 2, excludes from patentability, "in particular
1. discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
2. aesthetic creations;
3. schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;
4. presentations of information."
Europe has it right (although there are some exceptions, read the article if you want to know more)

Some of their patent claims are insane as well, for example:
The ‘453 Patent, entitled "Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor," was duly and legally issued on June 3, 2008 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘453 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit H.

The ‘599 Patent, entitled "Object-Oriented Graphic System," was duly and legally issued on October 3, 1995 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘599 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit I.

United States Patent No. 5,481,721 entitled "Method for Providing Automatic and Dynamic Translation of Object Oriented Programming Language-Based Message Passing Into Operation System Message Passing Using Proxy Objects," issued on January 2, 1996...

United States Patent No. 5,519,867 entitled "Object-Oriented Multitasking System," issued on May 21, 1996…

United States Patent No. 6,275,983 entitled "Object-Oriented Operating System," issued on August 14, 2001…

United States Patent No. 5,946,647 entitled "System and Method for Performing an Action on a Structure in Computer-Generated Data" issued on August 31, 1999…

And of course the ones on multitouch, etc. But a lot of these are for basic parts of an operating system on any machine. Now, of course patent titles may just refer to the way of doing a particular thing, but in the case of things like "object oriented multitasking system", I mean just about any 'method' is going to be transformable to another 'method'
posted by delmoi at 1:54 PM on March 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


I refuse to use any non-apple phones until they guarantee to cripple my web browsing by not supporting flash and calling it a feature.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 1:54 PM on March 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


delmoi: “Just look at Intel and AMD for example, They can rip each other off with abandon because none of their chips would work without each others patents. (Note that the microchip industry is far more patent based then the software industry)”

I would hope so – but isn't that utterly different? I mean, hardware patents are another ballpark from software patents, I think. Hardware patents are handily quite easy to issue properly, so long as you have enough of the right kind of expertise; it really is about an original design or solution, and it's sensible to break microchips into pieces that owe something to this or that design. The patent office has been granting those sorts of patents for hundreds of years, and while it makes some mistakes, it seems capable of handling that sort of business.

Software patents, on the other hand, are so ridiculously broad and so new that these companies are treating it basically as a new frontier to be carved up. When you can patent things like an interface to unlock a cell phone and scroll bars and such, the lines are unfortunately quite blurred. I'm sure that, not only are some of these patents completely nonsensical in any really rational way, but they're probably self-contradictory - that is, two companies could probably be said to hold the patents on the same thing, in a certain light, depending on how you read them.
posted by koeselitz at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


You stole mice and windowed environments from Xerox PARC's work!

Due to horrible sins apparently committed in a previous life, I have had to sit through many marketing presentations in my time. The one commonality of all of them is that whenever marketing experts are looking for examples of innovative, forward-looking and beloved companies, they always invoke Apple. I have had many self-dubbed experts tell me that Apple invented the mouse and the GUI.

I have little doubt that in a generation, this will be the accepted truth and only cranks will differ. Charles Lindbergh is not celebrated as the 27th man to fly across the Atlantic, now, is he?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:01 PM on March 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh Apple, you scamp!

I had a revelation of sorts, earlier today. I've been eager to get the new MacBook Pro when it comes down the pipe but then it was like... why?

Virtually every single other PC manufacturer has adopted Intel's new i3, i5 and i7 chips. Has Apple? No. Virtually every single other PC manufacturer offers BluRay drives. Virtually every single other PC manufacturer offers HDMI output. Virtually every single other PC manufacturer offers a tablet product.

Apple? No, no, no, no, no.

And every single other PC manufacturer offers these things right now.

I priced out a top of the line HP Envy and with a quad core i7 and 320GB SSD drive, it was roughly $2500. Not that you could make a MacBook Pro that would compete with that, but I tried - and a machine that completely pales in comparison comes in at $3,300.

In fact, did you know on the current MacBook Pro notebooks that you have to *log out* and *log back in* to switch between discrete and integrated graphics? Yeah, I'm not kidding.

And I asked myself... why am I continuing to bend over and fucking take this? So I can have a sweet aluminum case? So I can run OS X? This is like the epitome of style over substance. My next machine is definitely going to be a PC.

And the way things are going, with issues like this, my next smartphone is going to run Android.

Fuck you, Steve.
posted by kbanas at 2:03 PM on March 2, 2010 [37 favorites]


I know nothing about anything, so how does that work out?

The patent process is woefully inadequate to handle the quantity and depth of applications recieved. Thus, companies may apply for patents years before these patents are actually granted or denied. That's why you may see on items "Patent Pending", as this is a valid way of saying hey we might have a patent on this later so don't you try anything, buckaroo.

So in this case Apple filed for its patent on December 23, 2005.

Having the actual patent in hand, IANAL, would probably make it easier to go ahead and start some legal shit.
posted by cavalier at 2:04 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


ExitPursuedByBear: “I refuse to use any non-apple phones until they guarantee to cripple my web browsing by not supporting flash and calling it a feature.”

Is there, er, an extra 'not' or 'non' in there?

Also, give it a year, tops. Flash will not be necessary. It isn't now, since you don't need Flash for Youtube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, etc. Seriously, mark my words: Flash is a dead man walking. And the end can't come too soon.
posted by koeselitz at 2:04 PM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Apple's lawsuit is really ugly. For the folks above saying "this will come to nothing", that's not clear at all. It will certainly come to many years of litigation and tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of lawyer fees. It will doubtless slow down the pace of innovation in smartphone and PDA user interface. It's gonna make a big mess, and Apple is 100% to blame for choosing to pursue competition in this way. Jobs language about "stealing" is particularly offensive.

Aggressive IP lawsuits are nothing new for Apple, dating back at least to 1988 when Apple sued Microsoft over look-and-feel copyrights. (HP, too). And lost, but it took four years. That was the lawsuit that prompted Xerox to sue Apple, in 1989 (they lost). pwnguin, what do you mean by They actually bought the technology from PARC, in exchange for Apple stock? Do you have a reference on the licensing? Did it come after the suit?

The US patent system is deeply broken, particularly in the area of software and business model patents. The only reason it hasn't caused all innovation to come to a screeching halt is most innovative companies aren't abusing the patent system to protect their competitive position. Apple should be ashamed.
posted by Nelson at 2:07 PM on March 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


That's why companies ordinarily only start suing over software patents when they're just about dead.

Or a startup who doesn't yet have a patent portfolio of his own starts intruding in Their Territory. Patents themselves have only a tenuous justification. Software patents have hamstrung the industry, and the only reason people aren't up in arms about it is that it's an invisible, self-censoring kind of hamstringing.
posted by JHarris at 2:13 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I refuse to use any non-apple phones until they guarantee to cripple my web browsing by not supporting flash and calling it a feature.

Please let us know when you find a smartphone that supports Flash.
posted by ardgedee at 2:15 PM on March 2, 2010


Please let us know when you find a smartphone that supports Flash.

Um, there are several.
posted by kbanas at 2:17 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would hope so – but isn't that utterly different? I mean, hardware patents are another ballpark from software patents, I think. Hardware patents are handily quite easy to issue properly, so long as you have enough of the right kind of expertise; it really is about an original design or solution, and it's sensible to break microchips into pieces that owe something to this or that design. The patent office has been granting those sorts of patents for hundreds of years, and while it makes some mistakes, it seems capable of handling that sort of business.

Software patents, on the other hand, are so ridiculously broad and so new that these companies are treating it basically as a new frontier to be carved up.
Yeah, I totally agree. Like I said, the semiconductor industry is very patent-based, while the software industry is not at all. The only time you hear about software patents is when some company is going belly up and is trying to squeeze the last bit of money out of their assets before they sell their Aeron chairs on eBay.

Maybe Apple thinks that Cellphones is more like a "thing" and less like a "computer" that can run any software.

And anyway, Steve Jobs has always kind of been an asshole. Screwing people over to get the top since the time he ripped of Woz on that breakout machine. Telling people he'd give them Apple stock and not doing so, etc. It's worked out well for him, why stop now?

Also, down with flash! pretty soon we'll be downloading javascript based video codecs along with our videos!
posted by delmoi at 2:18 PM on March 2, 2010


I know nothing about anything, so how does that work out?

Once the patent is granted, you can sue on infringement that occurs any time after the patent was filed for and before it expires. Note, however, that there is a six year statute of limitations on patent infringement. You can actually sue after the patent expires for infringement that occurred while it was in force so long as you sue less than six years after the infringement occurred. This is all further subject to the equitable doctrine of laches.

Now, of course patent titles may just refer to the way of doing a particular thing

In fact patent titles are completely and utterly meaningless except as a tool for indexing. They have no effect whatsoever on what the patent actually covers, which is defined by the claims as read in light of the specification.
posted by jedicus at 2:19 PM on March 2, 2010


Please let us know when you find a smartphone that supports Flash.

The first one that comes to mind is Android. Which, obviously, is a platform, not a phone, but, yeah.
posted by kbanas at 2:19 PM on March 2, 2010


Flash is a dead man walking. And the end can't come too soon.

Hahahahaha... oh, my sides!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:19 PM on March 2, 2010


Please let us know when you find a smartphone that supports Flash.

Seems pretty likely it will be all of them bar Apple by the end of the year.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz : mark my words: Flash is a dead man walking. And the end can't come too soon.

My wife, the smart one in the relationship, has been telling me this same thing. It sounds like HTML 5 is going to do a lot to kill it dead.

It'll be an interesting thing to watch.
posted by quin at 2:20 PM on March 2, 2010


Nelson: "hey actually bought the technology from PARC, in exchange for Apple stock? Do you have a reference on the licensing? Did it come after the suit?"

For this, yes. Wikipeida:
The first successful commercial GUI product was the Apple Macintosh, which was heavily inspired by PARC's work; Xerox was allowed to buy pre-IPO stock from Apple in exchange for engineer visits and an understanding that Apple would create a GUI product.
There's also a studio360 interview with former PARC John Seely Brown, who also notes this. Unfortunately, we're not in a world yet where people write HTML to cite specific time regions of internet hosted audio, and I'm not about to listen to the whole thing again for this. But it's there, as I recall from listening a few months ago.
posted by pwnguin at 2:21 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


ardgedee: "Please let us know when you find a smartphone that supports Flash."

Here's one:
The Nokia N900 also features 1 GB of application memory and up to 48GB of storage. Maemo browser is powered by Mozilla Technology and includes Adobe Flash 9.4 and full AJAX support.
posted by pwnguin at 2:23 PM on March 2, 2010


I refuse to use any non-apple phones until they guarantee to cripple my web browsing by not supporting flash and calling it a feature.

Don't they all do that now? Are there any shipping phones that do support Flash?
posted by scottreynen at 2:24 PM on March 2, 2010


Why are they just going after HTC? They don't develop Android, they just make hardware. They're a member of the Open Handset Alliance but lots of companies are, most obviously Google.
posted by octothorpe at 2:24 PM on March 2, 2010


The first one that comes to mind is Android. Which, obviously, is a platform, not a phone, but, yeah.

Woah. Android doesn't support flash out of the box, but obviously there's nothing stopping Adobe from releasing flash for Android, since it's an open platform. Apple won't let anyone ship virtual machines on the iPhone, so Adobe couldn't release it there.

With the Android NDK, they could probably get decent performance as well.
posted by delmoi at 2:24 PM on March 2, 2010


Flash is a dead man walking. And the end can't come too soon.

You'll have to pry my Kitten Cannon from my cold, dead hands.
posted by hellojed at 2:26 PM on March 2, 2010


> The Nokia N900 ... includes Adobe Flash 9.4

I stand corrected. I was discounting the current hype around Flash 10.1 because isn't shipping yet.
posted by ardgedee at 2:27 PM on March 2, 2010


IIRC They were one of the first non-apple manufacturers with a touchscreen only phone, more of less simultaneous with the iPhone. That may be a factor.
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on March 2, 2010


I understand the anger at Apple, but I'm not sure how people would like their darling to act. Apple invents extremely commercially valuable software technology that is, under the current system, patentable. That's pretty much what they do right now. As many have noted there is nothing special about their hardware -- they are good at industrial and UI design and consumers are apparently hungry for that. The former is not readily patentable (design patents aside) and the latter is.

So Apple, knowing that this stuff is patentable, can either patent it or not. They must patent it, otherwise someone else will (prior art examination being the joke that it is) and they will be sued out of their own inventions. Having patented it, they must enforce their patents. Leaving aside the issue of whether that is a legal requirement, it's a commercial requirement. Under the current patent system, like it or not, this IP is the most valuable asset Apple has. What else would it's shareholders expect it to do?

This suit may indicate a failure of the patent system, but it's hard for me to understand how it's engenders disappointment with Apple.
posted by The Bellman at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


pwnguin: If you let me read a paper your working on, with the understanding that I'm also working on a paper, does that give me the right to plagiarize you? Obviously not. But that's what Apple did - to a certain extent. I would argue that "Looks and feel" should not be copyrightable/patentable.

And then turning around and suing Microsoft for doing the same thing.
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2010


Heh, in the early 90's (93 actually) I used to work on a Xerox Docutech. It was a production copy machine, about 20 feet long in an "L" configuration that cost our company about $250,000. It used a laser to draw the image on the PR belt instead of reflected light - think scanner and big-ass laser printer. You interacted via touchscreen or mouse and keyboard through an icon-based interface.
posted by vapidave at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


HTML 5 is not magic
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


HTML 5 does streaming audio/video great but AFAIK, it doesn't do games and I'm sure the fact that flash does do games is exactly why Apple doesn't want it on the iPhone/iPad/iPod. They don't want to open up any back doors to application developers to bypass the App Store.
posted by octothorpe at 2:31 PM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


In 2009, I was standing in line to get an iPhone 3GS. I was dragged there by a friend who was going to buy me an iPhone. Who am I to argue - free phone right? I felt like such a dork standing in that line to buy a gadget. Everyone around me was high on something, they had something or knew something that I didn't. Everyone's teeth were shining at me thru their smiles so they were either happy to talk to everyone around them while waiting in line for this gadget or they ate people. I knew something was up, this had to be a cult of some kind. Everyone was talking so fast, and flicking apps back and forth on their old iPhones so quickly. There may have not been any illegal drugs, but everybody around me had taken something. Why were these strangers so happy to see me? Why were they so happy to talk to me about recording their menstrual cycles on their phones? "This app right here is a vibrator - it has 3 speeds!" I wasn't sure that I needed my phone to do that.

So I'm standing in line, playing with the iPhones and I was really impressed how well I could read webpages on the Safari browser. A thought popped into my head "Could I browse porn and use the vibrator at the same time?" I didn't ask anyone around me that question, I'd really feel like a dork. I had no doubt in mind that this iPhone that everyone was in love with and waiting for and so happy about could do something so simple. Of course they had thought about this. Was this gadget lust?

We all know how this story turns out. You can't use the vibrator apps and surf porn at the same time. Something to do with multiasking or something. Apple doesn't allow the iPhone to multiask. While I still think the iPhone is a cool phone. In fact it is the best phone that I've owned; I no longer lust over Apple stuff. It just seems like so much potential has been wasted. Let me know when the vibrating safari comes standard.
posted by Drama Penguin at 2:31 PM on March 2, 2010 [15 favorites]


Apple: BAWWWW Different
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:31 PM on March 2, 2010


Why are they just going after HTC? They don't develop Android, they just make hardware.

Patents give the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing anything that implements the claimed invention. The patents in question cover software in conjunction with hardware. Thus, as the hardware manufacturer and seller HTC is the primary infringer. Arguably Google infringed too when it developed the software (there had to be prototypes, after all), and it could possibly be liable under a theory of contributory infringement, but Apple is free to pick and choose whom it will sue.
posted by jedicus at 2:31 PM on March 2, 2010


Having patented it, they must enforce their patents.

This is totally false. Patents do not need to be enforced. Just look at the Unisys GIF patent.

You know what a GIF file is, right? Well, Unisys had a patent on the LZW compression algorithm used, which they'd had since 1985. And people used gifs all over the place, it became a huge standard, and the only way to do animation on the web, and the only way to do lossless compression for vector art, interface elements, etc. Anything that is a photograph looks like crap with highly compressed JPGs.

Then, in 1999 four years before the patent would expire they suddenly decided to enforce their patent, despite the fact that gifs only became popular because anyone could use them. There was no reason in particular why the LZW compression method had to be used, or even the GIF file format. It was the impetus for the creation of PNG files.

They got some money from graphic design software makers, who had to pay because gifs were so popular, and Open source software couldn't (legally) work with GIFs at all.

Then, on june 20th, 2003 the patent expired, and everything was back to normal.

---

The "patents need to be enforced" thing is a common misconception.
posted by delmoi at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


They must patent it, otherwise someone else will (prior art examination being the joke that it is) and they will be sued out of their own inventions.

The examination system may be a bit of a joke, but once Apple caught wind of the application or the patent it would cite its own prior art to the examiner (in the case of an application) or throw the patent into reexam (in the case of a granted patent). In the worst case, Apple could produce its prior art at trial. Large, well-funded, IP-savvy companies like Apple do not get 'sued out of their own inventions,' not unless both in-house and outside counsel are asleep at the switch.
posted by jedicus at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2010


Maemo browser is powered by Mozilla Technology and includes Adobe Flash

Is that the same as Maemo Firefox, which has Flash disabled now?

"We’ve decided to disable plugin (not to be confused with add-ons, which are supported) support for this release. The Adobe Flash plugin used on many sites degraded the performance of the browser to the point where it didn’t meet our standards."
posted by scottreynen at 2:36 PM on March 2, 2010


Of course, I follow Artw's non-magic link and I see that the very wife I referenced earlier actually specifically said that HTML5 wouldn't actually kill Flash, just relegate it to a lesser roll. I should probably pay more attention, huh?
posted by quin at 2:36 PM on March 2, 2010


HTML 5 does streaming audio/video great but AFAIK, it doesn't do games

yeah it does
posted by delmoi at 2:37 PM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


octothorpe: “HTML 5 does streaming audio/video great but AFAIK, it doesn't do games and I'm sure the fact that flash does do games is exactly why Apple doesn't want it on the iPhone/iPad/iPod. They don't want to open up any back doors to application developers to bypass the App Store.”

What the hell is 'do games?' What makes Flash capable of 'doing games' where HTML5 can't? I don't understand what you mean. Flash can animate objects based on clicks and keyboard input. HTML5 can animate objects based on clicks and keyboard input. What else would you need to 'do games?'
posted by koeselitz at 2:39 PM on March 2, 2010


delmoi: "I would argue that "Looks and feel" should not be copyrightable/patentable."

I'm reviewing my comments, but as best I can tell, I never indicated I supported this behavior or law. I'm merely pointing out that this doesn't reflect a change in Apple's strategy. If you supported Apple products because they weren't evil like Microsoft, you haven't been paying attention.
posted by pwnguin at 2:39 PM on March 2, 2010


Apple doesn't allow the iPhone to multitask.

Primarily because a) the processor and memory aren't really up to it b) the battery isn't up to it and c) the complexities of multitasking in a nice way on a limited device like the iPhone are beyond the capabilities of a lot of the App Store developers, many of whom are relatively unsophisticated programmers (not that there's anything wrong with that). Apple carved out a few exceptions for phone conversations and music playing because in the former case it would be a crap phone if you couldn't talk and use the other features at the same time and in the latter case the music playing is offloaded to a separate chip, so it doesn't impact performance much.

The practical upshot is that allowing multitasking on the iPhone would've resulted in poor performance, poor battery life, fewer good apps, and a lot more bad apps. This was a conscious design decision, not some evil conspiracy from Apple to deny you Vibrating Safari.

Now, now it's a different question whether it still makes sense to prevent multitasking on a device like the iPad, which has a much more powerful processor, a bigger battery, a bigger screen, and a more experienced developer base. But the iPhone, especially the original and iPhone 3G, is a pretty limited device in terms of hardware and preventing multitasking makes a lot of sense in that context.
posted by jedicus at 2:43 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


scottreynen: "Is that the same as Maemo Firefox, which has Flash disabled now?"

Maemo has many browsers, but the two big ones in my mind are MicroB and Fennec. MicroB is the default comes-with-the-phone browser and uses Gecko and some tile-rendering system for performance. Fennec is what you're calling Maemo Firefox, and their helpfully disabling youtube would be of consequence if the browser weren't dog slow in all situations.
posted by pwnguin at 2:43 PM on March 2, 2010


What else would you need to 'do games?'

My understanding is that real time, synchronized sound support in HTML5 is lacking. Also, sophisticated games have terrible performance. The HTML5 version of FreeCiv, for example, has frame rates in the single digits even on modern machines running modern JavaScript engines.
posted by jedicus at 2:44 PM on March 2, 2010


delmoi: Before you jump on me, please read my comment. In particular the sentence after the one you selectively quoted. Thanks.
posted by The Bellman at 2:46 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


delmoi: The "patents need to be enforced" thing is a common misconception.

Yeah, it's trademarks that must be enforced... if you knowingly let people infringe a trademark, you stand a high risk of losing it.

Copyrights and patents, on the other hand, don't require enforcement to remain valid, and you can selectively pick your targets. AFAIK, the fact that you haven't tried to enforce copyright or patent claims on others has no bearing on any individual case.

If you sue for patent infringement, demonstrating that other entities have taken licenses to the invention in question, particularly after court cases, will make it easier to extract damages from your current target. The first target has the best chance of defending.

Because of that, patent trolls will often attack small companies first, and offer them sweetheart settlements ... the small companies will often fold, because litigation costs can ruin them. That gives the trolls a case portfolio they can use to go after bigger fish.
posted by Malor at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2010


Maemo has many browsers, but the two big ones in my mind are MicroB and Fennec

Thanks. It looks like MicroB still supports Flash. Anyone know how well it works?
posted by scottreynen at 2:51 PM on March 2, 2010


I'm reviewing my comments, but as best I can tell, I never indicated I supported this behavior or law. I'm merely pointing out that this doesn't reflect a change in Apple's strategy.

Right. I'm just pointing out that the "They paid PARC for the GUI concept" is incorrect. They offered Xerox the opportunity to buy Apple stock at full price (but before the IPO) in exchange to see what they had, send their guys over, etc. But that's not the same thing as giving them the rights to it. In order to say that Apple paid Xerox, there would need to be an actual contract saying what the terms were. Not just "Xerox got some money from Apple, therefore, apple can take what they want.

Also I'm not an apple fan.
delmoi: Before you jump on me, please read my comment. In particular the sentence after the one you selectively quoted. Thanks.
Ah sorry. I saw that and thought "That's wrong!" without reading the rest of your comment. As far as it being a commercial requirement, I don't think that's really true in the software industry. Like I said, with software you really only see patent infringement suits when companies are going belly up or when they are used "defensively" when someone sues you, you can counter sue.

The copyrights on the actual code are very valuable, but the patents are not something that has a lot of value in the software industry because the litigation is so expensive, you open yourself up for countersuits and so on. Most shareholders are not out there demanding lawsuits, I don't think.
Primarily because a) the processor and memory aren't really up to it b) the battery isn't up to it and c) the complexities of multitasking in a nice way on a limited device like the iPhone are beyond the capabilities of a lot of the App Store developers, many of whom are relatively unsophisticated programmers
My G1 doesn't have a problem it. Nor does any other android phone.
posted by delmoi at 2:57 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


AFAIK, the fact that you haven't tried to enforce copyright or patent claims on others has no bearing on any individual case.

Not at law, no, but as I mentioned above the equitable doctrine of laches can come into play.
posted by jedicus at 2:58 PM on March 2, 2010


The ’849 Patent, entitled “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image,” was duly and legally issued on February 2, 2010 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ’849 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit C.

I know nothing about anything, so how does that work out?


First-to-invent versus first-to-file.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:59 PM on March 2, 2010


delmoi: Thanks. I disagree with you about the commercial realities, but that was a classy response.
posted by The Bellman at 3:02 PM on March 2, 2010


My understanding is that real time, synchronized sound support in HTML5 is lacking. Also, sophisticated games have terrible performance. The HTML5 version of FreeCiv, for example, has frame rates in the single digits even on modern machines running modern JavaScript engines.

Yeah, sound is still lacking. And Javascript has no no multithreading whatsoever which is a huge waste now that CPUs are scaling out to more cores rather then scaling up to more cycles.

But it's a work in progress, and those problems are solvable.

posted by delmoi at 3:06 PM on March 2, 2010


HTML 5 does streaming audio/video great but AFAIK, it doesn't do games and I'm sure the fact that flash does do games is exactly why Apple doesn't want it on the iPhone/iPad/iPod. They don't want to open up any back doors to application developers to bypass the App Store.

Surely most current Flash games wouldn't work that well on a touchscreen-only device anyway -- not without a redesign of the game. There is no keyboard (at least not without halving the screen), the touchscreen is different to use compared to a mouse cursor (accuracy and visibility), and the screen resolution is small compared to what you could have on a desktop computer. And of course, the CPU hog problem.

So perhaps there is some truth to the idea that Apple doesn't want Flash because it would provide competition to their App Store, but that's buried deep under the real problems of running current Flash games on such a device.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 3:10 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even before the current Adobe/Apple hatefest brought on by the iPad announcement HTML 5 was becoming the new Web 2.0 in terms of ludicrous claims by people with not much idea what they are talking about. Which as a developer specialising in clientside code has been more than a little annoying. CANVAS is neat, VIDEO tags are neat , but neither of them are a complete Flash replacement, not to mention it's not a real standard yet, uneven implementation across browsers will hold people back from developing in it, etc... etc... etc... I generally resent having chunks of Flash in whatever I do and try to get rid of them as much as possible, but I don't see them going for a long time yet.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


But it's a work in progress, and those problems are solvable.

Yeah, "W3C Recommendation in the year 2022"... they've got some time to polish up the rough edges.

posted by quin at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2010


My G1 doesn't have a problem it. Nor does any other android phone.

Your G1 may have both a bigger battery and a faster processor than the iPhone. Also, it is very easy to shoot yourself in the foot doing Android app dev. It's a real platform that lets you make real mistakes. Like mistakes that power-drain the battery. The iPhone OS gives up multitasking as a defence against bad apps.
posted by GuyZero at 3:22 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh no, two large corporations disagree with one another! This has serious implications for my personal technology-gadget acquisition habits! Whatever shall I do? Whose products shall I consume now? WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK ABOUT ME IF I ACQUIRE THE WRONG GADGET?
posted by aramaic at 3:27 PM on March 2, 2010


Thanks for the citation, pwnguin. But the specific Xerox/Apple agreement Wikipedia notes is exactly the kind of gentlemanly sharing of intellectual property that most of the industry operates under. Xerox lets some Apple guys come over and see the cool stuff, Apple thanks them with the chance to make a lucrative investment, and everyone wins. That's a far cry from a formal patent licensing deal. Xerox treated Apple kindly. Apple, by contrast, is looking to strangle HTC (and by proxy, Google).

I understand the anger at Apple, but I'm not sure how people would like their darling to act.

I'd like Apple to act like other innovative tech companies. File lots of patents, sure, the system is garbage but you can't afford to ignore it entirely. Keep those patents handy for when you need them in a cross-licensing swap, or to file a defensive lawsuit.

But Apple's not doing that. They're going on the warpath. They're saying "no, no one else can unlock a phone with touch gestures without our permission". They may also be saying "no one else can build a touch screen interface with heuristics without a license from us". And that is utter, innovation-stifling bullshit. And if other companies had treated Apple that way, specifically Xerox, Apple would not be where they are today.
posted by Nelson at 3:30 PM on March 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Virtually every single other PC manufacturer offers BluRay drives.

Yeah, but the resolution on the new iMacs is so sick BluRay sucks comparatively.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 3:45 PM on March 2, 2010


Your G1 may have both a bigger battery and a faster processor than the iPhone. Also, it is very easy to shoot yourself in the foot doing Android app dev. It's a real platform that lets you make real mistakes. Like mistakes that power-drain the battery. The iPhone OS gives up multitasking as a defence against bad apps.
Android can shut down apps if it thinks they're using too much power, the Apps are supposed to be designed to be able to save their state and quickly exit when the OS asks them too. The OS keeps track of all the resources that various programs are using too. It might be theoretically possible to drain the battery quickly, but if you're using the standard libraries you'll have to do some unusual stuff to make it happen.
And that is utter, innovation-stifling bullshit. And if other companies had treated Apple that way, specifically Xerox, Apple would not be where they are today.
Or if creative had sued over the iPod. I mean, an MP3 player with a hard drive? Total ripoff of the NOMAD.

delmoi: Thanks. I disagree with you about the commercial realities, but that was a classy response.
Thanks!
.
posted by delmoi at 3:57 PM on March 2, 2010


Software patents are dirty scum
posted by mathowie at 4:17 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Steve, Steve, Steve...I'm guessing everything you're accusing HTC of stealing from Apple are things Apple stole from Nokia. Wait, let me guess, Nokia's lawsuit against Apple is frivolous but Apple's suit against HTC is totally righteous amirite?

As for Flash, yeah somebody hit it on the head when they said Apple wanted to lock iPhone/Pad/Touch user into the app store. Sure you don't have to have Flash, you can download a different app for every Flash heavy site you visit (YouTube, Vimeo etc...) me, I prefer to use one app - Firefox. HTML5 won't reach the sort of penetration Flash has for years and people need their streaming pr0n NOW.
posted by MikeMc at 4:18 PM on March 2, 2010


WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK ABOUT ME IF I ACQUIRE THE WRONG GADGET?

Some of us are more concerned about being $400-500 in the hole on hardware that's no longer supported by a company being sued out of existence. Hardware that I personally use to help me manage diabetes that I can just barely control with a lot of information and reports right at my fingertips. It's easy to see HTCs & iPhones as some kind of keeping up with the Joneses status marker, but there is the possibility that for some people it's a bit of a necessity.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:19 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


i guess i'll get an android next.
posted by empath at 4:21 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Virtually every single other PC manufacturer has adopted Intel's new i3, i5 and i7 chips. Has Apple? No.

You can get a 27" iMac with an LGA1156 i5-750 or i7-860. You can get a Mac Pro with one or two Nehalem-based Xeons (the server/workstation equivalent of LGA1366 Core i7-9XXs).

It's a bit of a question whether or not Apple will adopt the i3 and i5-6xx stuff, since these things have Intel graphics on them, and Apple has moved from Intel to Nvidia for that.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:31 PM on March 2, 2010


i don't even know why it matters, applezoids will still by their stuff even if they're better products out there
posted by Dholliga at 4:32 PM on March 2, 2010


My HTC Hero has multi-touch and multi-tasking, and I like it.

That is all.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:42 PM on March 2, 2010


The iPhone OS gives up multitasking as a defence against bad apps.

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn’t work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:45 PM on March 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


Dholliga: "i don't even know why it matters, applezoids will still by their stuff even if they're better products out there"

I really hate this applezoid/fanboi/apologist crap that people use in these debates when they've run out of rational argument. It's analogous to 'you wouldn't understand, you're not a parent' and the likes. But I'll address your point nonetheless.

iPhone OS remains absolutely untouched by the other mobile platforms out there: in terms of the quality of both out-of-the-box system applications and third party applications in the App Store. This applies in particular to MobileSafari, which is objectively the fastest phone browser out there, and is responsible for most mobile internet traffic. Apple supplies this superior platform, on arguably the most beautifully designed hardware, for no consistent price premium.

So what do people moan about, here and elsewhere? They moan about multitasking: so go try Android, which has it, and see how quickly you require a task manager application to kill rogue processes. They moan about Flash support: a huge security hole which decimates battery life, and whose :hover events (like aiming a gun in a game) wouldn't work on a touch interface. (I mean at times it uses 100% CPU on MacBook Pros playing YouTube fergodsakes!)

It comes down to one simple fact: Apple chooses to take responsibility for its users' experiences on its platforms. It won't support Flash if it detracts massively from, say, the battery life. Same goes for multitasking due to it's affect on stability and speed. Apple accepts any loss in performance as its own failure, which is in turn the core reason for their unmatched brand loyalty and expectation today.

When they (or anyone else, for that matter) do work out how to elegantly cater for these issues, they will be included. Apple waited ages to perfect the select/cut/copy/paste language of the iPhone and it shows: it's a remarkably seamless, minimal, and usable implementation. Would this be the case if they'd rushed to include it on day one? Look at a Palm Pre for the answer to this question.
posted by stepheno at 5:15 PM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Or if creative had sued over the iPod. I mean, an MP3 player with a hard drive? Total ripoff of the NOMAD.

Both were Johnny-come-latelies. I had a PJB-100.
posted by Slothrup at 5:16 PM on March 2, 2010


Why does every news item about Apple have to devolve into a war between geeks who think that average consumers care about "multitasking" and Apple fanboys who'd sell their soul for the chance to fellate Steve Jobs?
posted by Slothrup at 5:20 PM on March 2, 2010


Apple chooses to take responsibility for its users' experiences on its platforms.

Apple chooses to control its users' experiences on its platforms, and frankly its insulting that they make these decisions. Well let's not give them flash support, as it drains the battery too fast. Let's not give them multitasking due to it's affect on stability and speed becuase it can't handle it.

Sheesh. Why not let the consumer use the product how they want? Because then they will find out how inferior they are to other offerings. Minus the polished aluminum case.
posted by Big_B at 5:30 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you need to multitask Safari with a vibrator either your genitals are in a strange place or your eyesight has not gone as bad as the old wives would have us believe.
posted by bonaldi at 5:34 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


"so go try Android, which has it, and see how quickly you require a task manager application to kill rogue processes"
I have switched to Android. I downloaded the task manager, and I never use it. You quickly learn which apps suck and which work well. Android can be slow sometimes, and I'll admit that that's what drove me to download the task manager, but I don't agree that killing rogue processes is at all common. This may have been more of problem pre-2.0, but I don't think it's still an issue.

"Apple chooses to take responsibility for its users' experiences on its platforms. It won't support Flash if it detracts massively from, say, the battery life"
Maybe they've improved it since I switched, but turn on push notifications for more than one email account and see how long your battery lasts. Why would they give you the option of killing your battery life with email notifications, but not with Flash?

What does everyone do? They adapt. They turn off push notifications for all but their favorite account... or they keep a charger at work, one in the car, and one at home. Why would anyone argue that giving me a choice is a bad thing? If you don't want Flash on your phone, great. Why do you think I shouldn't have the choice?

"Same goes for multitasking due to it's affect on stability and speed."
I have had fewer browser crashes on my Droid than I did on my iPhone. I know this isn't just my experience because I've talked about this with a number of iPhone users. You get used to the browser crashing and you work around it. You set up more homescreen bookmarks and download more apps so that you're not actually doing much navigating on the browser. I use the Droid's browser much more than I did the iPhone's.

Maybe it's not for you, but I think I gained a lot more with multitasking than I had to give up in stability and speed.
posted by SAC at 5:46 PM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


geeks who think that average consumers care about "multitasking"

The average consumer may not care about multitasking. But if you put it in terms of something like "I can stay logged into my Google Talk account for chatting while using other applications" the benefits of a multitasking operating system may be more obvious. And, yeah, the downside on Android is the potential need to use a third party task manager to kill programs.

Anyway, I may be biased here as a happy user of an HTC Hero, although I tried to keep the post pretty neutral, but I'd hate to see Apple stifle the phone company that is making the best phones today, outside of Apple. Regardless of where one falls on the Apple love/hate spectrum (and the extremes on either end are silly) I think it would be a sad day for consumers if Apple ends up with no real competition at all.
posted by 6550 at 5:47 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


They moan about multitasking: so go try Android, which has it, and see how quickly you require a task manager application to kill rogue processes.

Uh... how about never? I have never installed or used a task manager on my Droid or Nexus and have no issues.

To be fair, I did have that problem with my G1, but that phone had a lot more (HW) issues than the newer ones, and the newer Android versions (2.0 and 2.1) have greatly improved the multitasking behavior... but G1 doesn't get 2.0/2.1.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:50 PM on March 2, 2010


If there's any justice to the world, Google will have patented multitasking in a phone and then use it as a counter-suit against Apple.
posted by Nelson at 5:50 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a task manager on my Droid but I've used it like three times in four months of owning the phone. The multi-tasking facility of the phone is pretty wonderful, it generally "just works" and you don't have to think about it.
posted by octothorpe at 5:56 PM on March 2, 2010


Apple chooses to take responsibility for its users' experiences on its platforms. It won't support Flash if it detracts massively from, say, the battery life.

And of course that fact that Flash isn't that big Pile O' Fail known as Quicktime doesn't help either. Apple's got some nerve, honestly they make some of the crappiest, resource hogging software around, iTunes for Win has got to be the biggest POS to come out of a major company in years.
posted by MikeMc at 6:23 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's no way Apple isn't infringing some patent or other of Google's, so google countersues and everyone ends up in a big patent sharing agreement.

Just look at Intel and AMD for example, They can rip each other off with abandon because none of their chips would work without each others patents. (Note that the microchip industry is far more patent based then the software industry)

That's why companies ordinarily only start suing over software patents when they're just about dead. If they have no hope of ever releasing a product (which will undoubtedly rip off some patent stuffed in a filing cabinet somewhere) then it actually makes sense for them to try to make money off the patents they do have, and nothing else.


For a very, very short time, I worked for a company that made patent management software. One of their products kept track of how many of your company's inventions possibly infringed (whether it was bullshit or not) on a competitor's inventions and vice versa and presented graphs of the situation. If the infringements were out of balance, a company would know that they should take legal action. If they were in balance, usually the practice was for the company to just let it go.

That might not be the situation here, but big companies' general attitude toward patent infringements are probably at play here. They don't necessarily believe in the patents' substance. They're just another way to attack a competitor and make them use up resources.

(I'm not saying this is a good practice or anything like that.)
posted by ignignokt at 6:32 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now, now it's a different question whether it still makes sense to prevent multitasking on a device like the iPad, which has a much more powerful processor, a bigger battery, a bigger screen, and a more experienced developer base

Sure is harder to fit an iPad between your legs, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:17 PM on March 2, 2010


Apple gets sued weekly. This seems pretty much how things work these days.

I refuse to use any non-apple phones until they guarantee to cripple my web browsing by not supporting flash and calling it a feature.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear


I read things like this and I think they're sarcastic comments. And then I think, wow, maybe flash does have fans outside of adobe. Some times I forget that possibility. If I never find another website depending on flash it will be too soon. Many sites are already leaving it behind, and I can only hope that continues.

My next machine is definitely going to be a PC.
posted by kbanas


That's cool. Did you know microsoft is even allowing its users to design windows now? Can't wait to see you in one of those 'that was my idea' commercials.

It just seems like so much potential has been wasted. Let me know when the vibrating safari comes standard.
posted by Drama Penguin


Haha. I'm amazed what my iphone can do. I basically don't need a computer 75 percent of the time now. There's basically nothing I can't do with it. Some people would rather use an android phone, and that's great also. But the iphone is the phone that changed everything. Ever seen the prototype android phones before they decided to model it after the iphone? Terrible. If you're using a touch phone today, you can thank apple for leading the way and pushing the envelope, regardless of how you feel about the company or jobs.

So I don't get the hate for the iphone in that respect (well, I understand delmoi, but that's what he does), but even more so, to look at the iphone and say 'so much potential has been wasted' borders on so absurd that I can't believe you weren't smoking crack when you typed it.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 7:25 PM on March 2, 2010


kbanas: “My next machine is definitely going to be a PC. ¶ And the way things are going, with issues like this, my next smartphone is going to run Android.”

Not to be a fanboy, but you should consider using the same basic system on your computer that you're using on your phone: Linux. A modified Linux kernel is at the heart of Android, and the most popular version of Linux available now, Ubuntu, is (in my opinion) much easier to use and more powerful than Vista or Windows 7. And you can download it for free and try it any time you want on any machine you want, so it's a lot more flexible - take it from me, I spent the weekend installing Windows 7 on a friend's computer, and the install there is significantly more difficult. And they release new versions of Ubuntu much more frequently – there's a whole new one every six months, updated automatically on your computer, so you can be certain you've got your operating system absolutely up to date. Check it out, and if you like what you see, here are some simple instructions for switching to Ubuntu.
posted by koeselitz at 7:51 PM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd say Nokia and Blackberry were the phones that changed everything. Apple just made a smart phone that was unabashedly useless for business, but sexy enough to inspire casual users.

I've great respect for Apple's ability to get home users to embrace good existing technology that improves their lives. For example, wrapping incremental backup in a star-field and time travel motif was pure genius.

Apple has never been a technology leader of course, yet they recognize the right good enough feature set for consumer electronics applications with sublime clarity. They are then fearless about deploying a solution that appears woefully inadequate by all existing metrics, yet embraces all those users who simply didn't need the fancy business features. You need real guts to admit "we're sell consumer electronics not powerful business machines" before you'd ever deploy capitative multi-touch, for example.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:55 PM on March 2, 2010


Does anybody in this thread regularly use flash on their phone?
posted by empath at 8:04 PM on March 2, 2010


All of this multitasking talk is giving me flashbacks to 1986 when the Mac fans said only game computers like the Amiga did it. These phones are all more powerful than a 7.16 MHz 68000, too.
posted by rfs at 8:31 PM on March 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Does anybody in this thread regularly use flash on their phone?

Yes, I watch YouTube vids (recently it's been I, Claudius during my commute (with headphones, of course.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:52 PM on March 2, 2010


The HTML5 version of FreeCiv, for example, has frame rates in the single digits even on modern machines running modern JavaScript engines.

There is such a thing? Awesome!

Er, were you making some other point too? I seem to have overlooked it.

Apple makes computers that rely, now, exclusively on legal and technical shenanigans to distinguish them from other manufacturers. The only reason OSX doesn't run on a standard machine is because they don't want it too. It doesn't support newer processors. It tends to come with grossly less memory and hard drive space as comparable machines from other companies, even discounting price. Count price, and you can easily get twice the computer from someone else for the same money. They can get away with that because of that damn exclusivity thing, and that only works, as much as I like OSX, because of the Cult of Apple.

It's a nice little niche that Apple has made for itself, but ultimately the processes that keep it available to them are incestuous, and the deformities are starting to show.
posted by JHarris at 1:00 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I watch YouTube vids on my phone as well. I have an iPhone. Not the greatest example of why the iPhone sucks for not having Flash.
posted by salmacis at 1:15 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, Apple threads. Plus ça change.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:10 AM on March 3, 2010


It comes down to one simple fact: Apple chooses to take responsibility for its users' experiences on its platforms.

Uh yeah. The problem is now they're trying to take responsibility for everyone else's experience as well. "Play in our sandbox or you can't have a phone with multitouch" is kind of a bullshit thing to say, especially when it's based on flimsy, B.S. patents.

If apple wants to control people's UI experience on their phones, that's their choice. But people don't want them 'controlling' everyone else's phones as well.

Yes, I watch YouTube vids (recently it's been I, Claudius during my commute (with headphones, of course.

Android phones have a native youtube player, which is integrated with their browser. So you don't need flash to watch those videos on Android phones.
posted by delmoi at 2:24 AM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're using a touch phone today, you can thank apple for leading the way

Time travel on my 3+ year old (HTC manufactured) touchscreen phone? There's an app for that.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:54 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dunno.
I'm an MAC user, this is being written on a Hero. As an engineer, I think the iPhone just isn't there yet. And you can't hack it like you can Android. I have this to practice iPhone-style interfacing.
As for the lawsuit; publicity to keep Apple on your mind till the iPad launch. Or distract from the problems therein...
posted by djrock3k at 7:39 AM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


My Nokia N97 (not Android) does flash just fine. Also: 10 Things Symbian Does Better Than Android, and in some case, the IPhone.
posted by psyche7 at 12:29 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Psyche7, your 10 things Symbian Does Better Than Android link got messed up.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:14 PM on March 3, 2010


I'd say Nokia and Blackberry were the phones that changed everything. Apple just made a smart phone that was unabashedly useless for business, but sexy enough to inspire casual users.

How does that explain the utter dominance of Mobile Safari? Nothing before the iPhone was tolerable for browsing the web. Accessing the web is a pretty fundamental feature these days. I spend more time browsing the web on my iPhone than I do making phone calls.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 2:20 PM on March 3, 2010


Soupisgoodfood, just wondering where you're getting the "utter dominance of Mobile Safari"? According to the latest numbers from Statcounter, Opera is the leading mobile browser with approximately a 3 percent lead over the iPhone. There appears to have been a brief window last year when the iPhone was dominant but that hasn't been the case since.

Not snarking, I'm genuinely curious. Unless I'm reading that fairly simple graph incorrectly?
posted by JaredSeth at 2:42 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


If there's a lingua franca for mobile web it should be Opera Mini. I'm not sure there's another browser that's usable on half as many devices.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:28 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although, JaredSeth, you forgot to add iTouch to iPhone, and North America stats have the iPhone alone being used more than Opera.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:32 PM on March 3, 2010


An Explosion of Mobile Patent Lawsuits, NY Times info graphic.

Judging from the graphic:
Nokia is issuing the most lawsuits (7) while on the receiving end of 2.
Apple is on the receiving end of the most IP lawsuits (3 patent + 1 copyright), while issuing 2.

It doesn't clarify who's the most aggrieved or most wronged, and it doesn't do any weighting of the severity in any claim, but it makes fairly clear that pretty nearly everybody who makes a mobile phone is either dragging somebody else into court or being dragged, or both. It looks like a circular firing squad. Neither the companies involved nor their customers will benefit.
posted by ardgedee at 6:56 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


ardgedee: "It looks like a circular firing squad. Neither the companies involved nor their customers will benefit."

Don't be fooled. The arrows are pointing at each other, but the net effect is a circling of wagons. When the litigation dust is settled, it will be clearer to new entrants just how tall the barrier to entry in this market is, as all those arrows will be pointed outwards.
posted by pwnguin at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Warning: long post ahead with responses to many different folks...

koeselitz wrote: "Flash is a dead man walking."

In the erotic fantasies of geeks, maybe. In the real world, Flash has a lot longer to go. Say, until all the major browser makers (and especially MSFT) both support HTML5 and agree on a common codec.

ardgedee wrote: "Please let us know when you find a smartphone that supports Flash."

My Nokia E61, released in 2006, supported Flash. Every one I've owned since has also supported Flash.

scottreynen wrote: "Is that the same as Maemo Firefox, which has Flash disabled now?"

No. Firefox Mobile is a slow piece of junk at this point. MicroB, the default browser, works much better and works with Flash. I don't get why everyone is being so fighty over this. Do I really need to post a freaking YouTube video of me visiting YouTube on my N900? :p


jedicus wrote: "Primarily because a) the processor and memory aren't really up to it b) the battery isn't up to it"

And all this time I thought the 3Gs had a 600MHz A8 and 256MB of RAM, which is far more powerful than many phones that have been multitasking since the early '00s.

stepheno wrote: "which is objectively the fastest phone browser out there"

As long as the deck is stacked, you're correct about that. If you disable Flash support on either the Nokia S60 browser or MicroB, they are faster than the equivalent iPhone's. (Except in the case of JavaScript, which MicroB does not handle as well as Safari) I can't say how the Android browser performs relative to Safari, having never used an Android phone.

Dennis Murphy wrote: "But the iphone is the phone that changed everything."

For me, S60v3 changed everything. It was the first OS to come standard with a good browser on a phone. v2 was great for getting things done that didn't involve the web, but v3 meant I could do almost anything I can do with a PC anywhere. Built-in VoIP, a real web browser, WiFi, and a litany of other things.

Soupisgoodfood wrote: "Nothing before the iPhone was tolerable for browsing the web."

Saying it doesn't make it so. Just because you didn't use it doesn't mean it didn't exist.
posted by wierdo at 1:04 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nokia/Symbian couldn't sell ice in Coke in Atlanta in summer. That S60 pre-dates the iPhone only proves how poorly they took it to market.
posted by GuyZero at 1:07 PM on March 4, 2010


GuyZero wrote: "Nokia/Symbian couldn't sell ice in Coke in Atlanta in summer. That S60 pre-dates the iPhone only proves how poorly they took it to market."

Yeah, that would be why it has had the biggest worldwide smartphone market share for the past decade, and for most of that time, they had a literal majority of the smartphone market, not the mere plurality they have today. In one of their most lackluster years in my memory as far as newly released phones, they managed to ship nearly 80 million Symbian phones.

Note that the next highest numbers are not posted by Apple, but by RIM.

Call me when the iPhone OS has shipped on 250 million handsets worldwide.

Symbian hatred is pretty much confined to the US. Probably because Nokia couldn't get a carrier to take one of their good phones without cocking it up to save their life. The US carrier branded models are almost universally pieces of junk, usually because the carrier asks for less RAM to keep cost down, but then loads a bunch of crapware on it that eats up what little memory remains.

If Nokia had convinced the carriers here to leave their phones alone ala Apple, they would very likely have done far better here. In other countries, the carrier-branded changes tend to be little things, like adding a different default theme or including alternate line support and that sort of thing.

I'd love to see Apple sell an iPhone 3G sans-subsidy for under $250 and still make a profit.

The tl;dr version: Nokia's woes are almost solely confined to North America, and then most specifically to the US. Symbian owns the market in the rest of the world, and is positioned to improve as Nokia moves Symbian into lower-end handsets for developing countries.
posted by wierdo at 1:32 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that would be why it has had the biggest worldwide smartphone market share for the past decade

Because moving the goalposts is the best way to have a productive discussion (just kidding) you have to admit that Symbian had a very weak 3rd part ecosystem of apps although perhaps this is just my North-Americaness showing again. Even WinMo had a small third-part app market but I never saw anything for Symbian. Didn't they used to charge for the SDK?
posted by GuyZero at 3:18 PM on March 4, 2010


GuyZero wrote: "you have to admit that Symbian had a very weak 3rd part ecosystem of apps although perhaps this is just my North-Americaness showing again"

I don't have to admit any such thing because it's not true, aside from the short period just after the ABI break in Symbian 9. There are tens of thousands of native applications for Symbian, not to mention all the J2ME apps that run on Symbian phones.

And no, the SDK hasn't cost money since at least 2005 or so, when I got my first Symbian handset. I think there was a time in the distant past when Eclipse or whatever IDE it is they use cost money, but the SDK itself was free.

Unlike with Apple, I can go write an application for Symbian and not pay anybody a dime unless I either want to use one of the sensitive capabilities or get it on Ovi Store. Since it's not the exclusive means of distribution for Symbian, Ovi Store isn't anything near a requirement, although it does seem to be gaining in popularity as of late.

You get the word out through blogs and the like, not through store placement. I think that's a good thing in general, since as an end user it's much easier to ignore the crapware that way.

It occurs to me that this is an excellent example of the old adage "if you repeat a lie enough, people will believe it." I'm not saying you're consciously doing it, but it's amazing how much the Apple fanboy cries of "it's revolutionary!" have penetrated people's thinking even where, as it is in most cases, it's completely untrue.

The iPhone's "revolution" was in the UI and eventually the tight App Store integration. Everything else it does was done before, including smartphone platforms with more apps than any one person could possibly make use of.
posted by wierdo at 3:46 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I should point out that I do respect the iPhone for what it is. It's better polished than any other smartphone platform, and it puts the various things that everybody else had been doing for years together into one slick package.

There are significant tradeoffs that I couldn't live with, however, so it's not the platform for me. As my friend used to say about Red Hat in its early days (I think he read it on the Internet somewhere): "It's great. It holds your dick for you while you take a piss. The only problem is that sometimes it ends up making you piss on your shoes." Apple made it easy by taking away options from the user. The most regularly annoying one to me? The lack of application organization.

The multitasking thing is even more stupid (IMO), but it doesn't slap me in the face every time I want to do anything with the phone. ;)

I'm not saying people shouldn't use their platform of choice, I'm just trying to clear the RDF-induced misconceptions the state of the smartphone market pre-Apple.
posted by wierdo at 3:54 PM on March 4, 2010


I may pooh-pooh the success of Symbian but don't accuse me of being an iPhone fanboy. Never owned one, unlikely to buy one.

As for repeating lies, I think it's the North American vs ROW bias you identified before. Symbian might as well be from Mars from a NA perspective. It's literally alien.
posted by GuyZero at 3:58 PM on March 4, 2010


Sorry, I didn't intend to imply that you were a fanboy. I was trying to say that the people who are have repeated their misconceptions enough to change reality, as it were.

FWIW, I do occasionally see other people with Symbian phones around, but it is pretty rare, aside from the Cingular/at&t branded N75 and 6650, which did seem to sell reasonably well. Sadly, those are both poor examples of the power of Symbian, thanks to their cost-cutting lack of RAM combined with the Cingular/at&t bloatware.
posted by wierdo at 4:06 PM on March 4, 2010


Apple removes Wi-Fi finders from App Store
posted by homunculus at 9:22 AM on March 5, 2010


Surely this...
posted by wierdo at 1:56 PM on March 5, 2010


It appears the problem with those stumbler apps was that they used private APIs. That's grounds for deletion or rejection from the App Store. If true, they have a good opportunity to be re-accepted if they remove the offending code.

If you search the App Store for "wi-fi" (link launches iTunes), you can still find a variety of stumblers and wi-fi finders that use geolocation. Contrary to the CNet article's implication, Apple doesn't seem to be targeting the genre for deletion.

The CNet reporter is being lazy by claiming 'There was no explanation as to what Apple meant by "private frameworks."'It's been known for over a year that Apple does not allow the use of private and undocumented APIs in third party apps, and Apple regularly rejects apps on those grounds. It might be a downer that Apple doesn't permit access to nice things, but the restriction is hardly a secret and developers violate it at their own peril.
posted by ardgedee at 9:28 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


aside from the Cingular/at&t branded N75 and 6650,

I have a 6650 (the newer, clamshell one) and it is awesome except for the lack of RAM (as you noted) and the bloatware that can't be removed. Plays vids, reads MeFi, has built in GPS, tethers. And it's not a "smartphone" according to At&t due to the lack of a keyboard, so I get the el cheapo unlimited data package, not the jacked up version.
posted by Big_B at 9:09 AM on March 9, 2010


Jonathan Schwartz on being threatened by Steve Jobs...

In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass*, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP.” (IP = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.) If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.”

My response was simple. “Steve, I was just watching your last presentation, and Keynote looks identical to Concurrence – do you own that IP?”

posted by Artw at 3:33 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Of course, he never shipped that thing, so all his big talk might just be him being full of it)
posted by Artw at 3:38 PM on March 9, 2010


Sun's inability to ship a product has nothing to do with Apple unfortunately.
posted by GuyZero at 9:43 AM on March 10, 2010


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