Greg's Bite: Apple's problem with 'thermonuclear war'
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Greg's Bite: Apple's problem with 'thermonuclear war'

By Greg Mills

The late Steve Jobs famously stated that he intended to make "thermonuclear war over Android" since it was a stolen product.

Since then, untold millions of dollars on both sides have been spent trying to hash out Apple's valid smartphone and touch screen tablet patent rights. As Apple has become painfully aware, enforcing patent rights around the world is a very costly and highly unpredictable process. Radioactive fallout blows both ways in nuclear war.

Apple's patent litigation has sparked a bidding war the last few years over any patent remotely related to cell phones and mobile computing. Apple has patented everything patentable they can in the US and many other countries. A lot of intellectual property comes out of its R&D efforts. As the old order of dumb cell phone manufacturing companies fail, the legacy patents they hold are often the greatest asset left over when the dust settles.

The prospects for RIM and Nokia are looking particularly grim these days. Both companies tried to compete with Apple and Google in the smartphone operating system sector with proprietary operating systems. Nokia gave up on their smart OS that was in development and embraced a snake in choosing the Widows Mobile OS over Android.  

Microsoft has not been as helpful as advertised and even destroyed Nokia's chance to sell some of their first round of Windows Mobile phones.Announcing months ahead of time that the next Windows OS incarnation would not run on existing Nokia smartphones effectively made obsolete the current Nokia Windows phones a long time before the new phones could be launched. When you shoot yourself in the foot you figure you had it coming. When your software partner shoots you in the foot, it tends to sour the relationship.  

RIM has announced that the long overdue OS needed to operate their latest and greatest smartphones will come out in January. Only then will we know what major gaps there are in that platform. RIM is not likely to be around much longer as it continues to shed market share to Apple and Google. Their patent portfolio may offer investors some consolation as stock prices plummet.  

The truth is, that there just isn't enough market out there for more than two or, Microsoft hopes, three mobile operating system platforms. Apple has shown that the infrastructure required to succeed in the smartphone market is based on three legs: a decent touch screen operating system, good hardware and lots of apps.  Even with decent hardware, a flaky operating system and almost no apps may doom RIM's new products before they are even launched.  

Apple pretty much attacked the handset makers rather than Google head-on in the legal nuclear war since a lot of actual infringement is due to modifications to the open source Android OS. The military concept of "divide and conquer" seems to be working for Apple. Despite Google's stated plan for defending Android handset makers from Apple's onslaught, Samsung and the others can now see that Android is far from free. By the time you pay Microsoft and Apple off for their intellectual property, the Android OS cost factor will be noticeable on their bottom lines.

The notion of nuclear war is that you take no prisoners, you just ignite your enemies with a blinding flash of released energy and they are dead, the war is over, just that quick. The sanitized version of nuclear war seldom takes into account the spread of radiation that blows back your direction. The doomsday aspect to nuclear war has actually protected the world from it as it would certainly take a mad man to set it off. 

While I doubt Steve Jobs would easily have settled for royalties in Apple's battle with HTC, Cook is more of a pragmatic leader and he sees the long term reality that Android is here to stay, patents not withstanding. Even billion dollar judgments are not going to stop Samsung and the rest. It is better to collect cash royalties than be distracted by a costly holy war that isn't going anywhere anyway.  

All of this goes to prove that product development secrecy is a far more practical solution to the copycat problem than patents alone. By the time a patent is allowed these days, the window of technical usefulness of the technology is at least half over. Technology is advancing far faster than the intellectual property rights system that is supposed to protect innovators.  

All a patent gives inventors is the right to sue in Federal Court. The US Federal Courts move with all the speed of a glacier, and it costs so much to litigate that only the world's largest companies can do battle there. That is why the international trade commissions have become the de facto quick fix for patent disputes.   

While the actual deal between HTC and Apple was intended to be kept confidential, already tidbits are coming out that for less than US$10 per phone, Apple is blinking. For HTC's part, the money is well spent. Apple has the money and attorneys  to beat them to death, win or lose, and to keep uncertain future product development.  

Apple can possibly even block HTC's right to even sell its products in the US. The Samsung win has to be on the minds of all the Android gang. Even if Samsung is able to overcome the judgment against them, a retrial would likely come out the same way.

I suspect that had Apple been willing to have made cross-licensing patent deals earlier, the other Android handset makers would already have settled as well. Look for Samsung, Motorola and the other Android handset makers to settle with Apple. The royalty cross-licensing deals that are quite lopsided in Apple's direction will be the only hope of justice Apple is likely to see.  

The legal nuclear war is probably just about over, and while Apple didn't destroy Android as Steve Jobs hoped, it is likely that Apple could see $2 billion dollars a year coming in from Android licensing deals. This will put a lot of patent attorneys out of work.  

On another sour note, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that Surface sales had been "modest." That is Microsoft spin language that means, in plain English, devastatingly morbid.  The guy at Microsoft responsible for Windows has just been canned. Reviews of their critical new Windows PC OS have been very negative as well. Numerous large companies have already stated that they intend to "sit this PC OS upgrade out." Sounds like the Microsofts Vista 2.0 debacle.

I hope Microsoft is not able to hire Scott Forstall. He might actually be able to fix Windows for them.  

Finally, a good note to end on; while Google has placed my street in the "later on" category for getting the super fast 1Gig Internet service installed, I caught installers from Atlantic Engineering, the contractor installing Kansas CIty's high speed Internet fiber, stringing that magic black cable three doors down. That has to mean we will get service sooner or later here. Sooner would be fine.  

That is Greg's Bite.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

The best video player on mobile
We all know the stock video player on iOS is not particularly convenient, primarily because it asks us to hook a device up to iTunes to sync video in a world that has things like Netflix. [Read more] | Read more »
Four apps to help improve your Super Bow...
Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and whether you’re a Panthers or a Broncos fan you’re no doubt gearing up for it. [Read more] | Read more »
LooperSonic (Music)
LooperSonic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: LooperSonic is a multi-track audio looper and recorder that will take your loops to the next level. Use it like a loop pedal to... | Read more »
Space Grunts guide - How to survive
Space Grunts is a fast-paced roguelike from popular iOS developer, Orange Pixel. While it taps into many of the typical roguelike sensibilities, you might still find yourself caught out by a few things. We delved further to find you some helpful... | Read more »
Dreii guide - How to play well with othe...
Dreii is a rather stylish and wonderful puzzle game that’s reminiscent of cooperative games like Journey. If that sounds immensely appealing, then you should immediately get cracking and give it a whirl. We can offer you some tips and tricks on... | Read more »
Kill the Plumber World guide - How to ou...
You already know how to hop around like Mario, but do you know how to defeat him? Those are your marching orders in Kill the Plumber, and it's not always as easy as it looks. Here are some tips to get you started. This is not a seasoned platform... | Read more »
Planar Conquest (Games)
Planar Conquest 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $12.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: IMPORTANT: Planar Conquest is compatible only with iPad 3 & newer devices, iPhone 5 & newer. It’s NOT compatible with... | Read more »
We talk to Cheetah Mobile about its plan...
Piano Tiles 2 is a fast-paced rhythm action high score chaser out now on iOS and Android. You have to tap a series of black tiles that appear on the screen in time to the music, being careful not to accidentally hit anywhere else. Do that and it's... | Read more »
Ultimate Briefcase guide - How to dodge...
Ultimate Briefcase is a simple but tricky game that’s highly dependent on how fast you can react. We can still offer you a few tips and tricks on how to survive though. Guess what? That’s exactly what we’re going to do now. Take it easy [Read more... | Read more »
SoundPrism Link Edition (Music)
SoundPrism Link Edition 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ***Introductory price for a the first few days after launch - if you're reading this, get it while it's fresh out of... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12-inch 1.2GHz Silver Retina MacBook on sale...
B&H Photo has the 12″ 1.2GHz Silver Retina MacBook on sale for $1399 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from... Read more
iPads on sale at Target: $100 off iPad Air 2,...
Target has WiFi iPad Air 2s and iPad mini 4s on sale for up to $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for... Read more
Target offers Apple Watch for $100 off MSRP
Target has Apple Watches on sale for $100 for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: - Apple... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 13-inch Retina MacBook...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off original MSRP, starting at $979. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free... Read more
Macs available for up to $300 off MSRP, $20 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Watch Super Bowl 50 Live On Your iPad For Fre...
Watch Super Bowl 50 LIVE on the CBS Sports app for iPad and Apple TV. Get the app and then tune in Sunday, February 7, 2016 at 6:30 PM ET to catch every moment of the big game. The CBS Sports app is... Read more
Two-thirds Of All Smart Watches Shipped In 20...
Apple dominated the smart watch market in 2015, accounting for over 12 million units and two-thirds of all shipments according to Canalys market research analysts’ estimates. Samsung returned to... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up...
B&H Photo has 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $180 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 12″ 1.2GHz Gray Retina MacBook: $1499 $100 off MSRP - 12″ 1.2GHz Silver... Read more
12-inch 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale fo...
B&H Photo has the 12″ 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $1199 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model... Read more
Apple now offering full line of Certified Ref...
Apple now has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Subject Matter Expert - Experis (Uni...
This position is for an Apple Subject Matter Expert to assist in developing the architecture, support and services for integration of Apple devices into the domain. Read more
*Apple* Macintosh OSX - Net2Source Inc. (Uni...
…: * Work Authorization : * Contact Number(Best time to reach you) : Skills : Apple Macintosh OSX Location : New York, New York. Duartion : 6+ Months The associate would Read more
Computer Operations Technician ll - *Apple*...
# Web Announcement** Apple Technical Liaison**The George Mason University, Information Technology Services (ITS), Technology Support Services, Desktop Support Read more
Restaurant Manager - Apple Gilroy Inc./Apple...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.