The verdict is in.
Apple won just over $1-billion in damages from Samsung for patent infringement.
As somebody who has used the iPhone since the 3G model (currently on the 4S) and who has had about a week’s experience with an el-cheapo Samsung Android device I can say I am not surprised. Compared to Blackberry OS, which I have extensive experience of from the enterprise environment, and also compared to Windows Phone (which I played with once in a shop), Android feels largely derivative of iOS. Both Blackberry OS and Windows Phone are different paradigms.
But here’s the rub.
I think what Android has done, in many cases, is innovation by iteration. This is something that happens often – where invention happens in the way ancient cities rose. You always build the new levels on the old foundations. In this process they have come up with innovations that are beneficial to the end-user and that MAY NOT have existed ever before. Swype, for example, is a superior alternative to typing as it fully uses the glass screen surface in a way that is more suited to the medium than tapping and in fact leads to faster text input. Would I love to have Swype on my iPhone? You bet.
So what really is on trial here, is the US Patent Law’s inability to acknowledge this basic inherent truth about creativity.
Apple themselves have innovated by iteration in their development of the mouse, just to cite one example.
What should happen is for acknowledgement within patent law of iteration and let the market decide. If a company chooses a new paradigm, let’s see if Windows Phone can be beat Apple and Android. If Android takes on iOS then let them duke it out to make each other better – because, let’s face it, iOS has improved because it too has built on some of the innovation within Android. I’m looking at you here, Notification Centre.
Ideas flourish when they exist within open systems. When they are free to jump from brain to brain and to get better with each jump. It is time patent laws acknowledge this. And it is time for companies like Apple and Samsung to dedicate their time to out-innovating each other so the consumer can decide and choose from the very best human ingenuity can offer.
Further reading on innovation by iteration, click here.