Apple -to put it mildly- is not the most popular company around these parts. Having said that, we rarely go on rants against them or even mention them at all on our articles. Apparently, Apple doesn’t like that, and they’ve decided to test how much the Android community can despise them. Yesterday they decided to put their lawyers where their mouth is, and go after HTC.
People at HTC yesterday woke up to some rather unpleasant news, Apple filed a lawsuit against them over alleged infringement of 20-odd patents. Some of the patents are related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware, while others have nothing to do with the iPhone and go as far back as 1995. In some cases the patents are so broad they could sue everybody and their mothers, and it’s mind blowing how the U.S. Patent Office even granted them in the first place. Take for example patent #7,657,849: “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image”. Yes, sliding your finger across a phone to unlock it is patented. Fun fact: That patent was just granted February 2, apparently for the sole purpose of being used in this lawsuit. I won’t go into detail about each patent ’cause most of them get very technical/boring very quickly, but you can read the whole document here if you’re into that kind of thing. Also, the guys over at Engadget did a breakdown of what each patent means, and they came to the same conclusion I did: This lawsuit is all about crushing Android.
Steve Jobs had something to say about this whole ordeal:
“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”
Apparently during Jobs’ liver transplant they went ahead and replaced his brains also while they were at it, ’cause 1996 Steve Jobs has a completely different opinion on these issues.
Remember what Steve Jobs said about Google a couple of weeks ago? Let me refresh your memory:
“Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.”
This lawsuit is Apple’s first attempt to do just that. There’s no doubt that Jobs is going on a warpath against Android; he simply doesn’t want the PC vs. Mac episode to happen again. Of course, there’s another reason for Apple’s interest on Android. The platform is taking off fast, Android phones are everywhere and with version 2.1 Android has reached maturity. It’s not a coincidence Apple hasn’t gone after Palm, and Windows Mobile is almost completely absent from the lawsuit -even though HTC makes both Android and WinMo phones. In Jobs’ mind, the Pre and Windows Mobile are not a threat to the iPhone, Android is. Android is now pretty high on Apple’s target list, and they won’t hold anything back. However, Apple might be running out of ideas on how to fight Android. I don’t think they would have gotten into this mess if they had some revolutionary new thing to announce for the iPhone in the summer. If they had something in the works that would make Android phones look like toys, why bother going after HTC? Maybe I’m wrong; maybe they’re attacking Android on two fronts. So far, it looks like they’re taking the “evil” road, acting like a spoiled child at the playground that doesn’t play nice with the other kids. Instead they should be innovating and actually making better products than the competition.
This lawsuit could have far-reaching implications on the mobile industry; at least Apple hopes so. They’re requesting a permanent injunction; this would bar HTC from importing and selling phones in the U.S., along with attorneys’ fees and triple damages with maximum interest. Yes, they’re not only ballsy enough to sue in the first place but they want to bankrupt HTC in the process. Apple hopes to make other phone manufacturers and carriers think twice before supporting Android. People at LG, Motorola, Samsung and everybody at the Open Handset Alliance now have to wonder if they are next on Apple’s hit list. Even if Apple loses this lawsuit, they are making OEM and carriers ask themselves if Android is really worth the ire of Apple’s lawyers.
It’s not hard to let emotions take over whenever Android and Apple share the same news. This whole debacle is the ultimate example of that. HTC is the biggest supporter of Android right after Google. The first Android phone came from HTC, half their phones have Android, and the best Android phone today is built by HTC. So when any company puts HTC’s success in jeopardy, it’s personal for us Android fans. I’m glad to see that the community didn’t hold anything back yesterday, proven by the hundreds of comments left across all news sites and by some hash tags on Twitter. Feel free to speak your mind about Apple’s actions in our comment section as well.
UPDATE: Google contacted TechCrunch regarding Apple’s lawsuit, and they had this to say:
“We are not a party to this lawsuit. However, we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it”
Something tells me Google will become more involved in this lawsuit either publicly or behind closed doors, and this is not the last thing they have to say.