I've never made it a secret that I'm a big fan of Apple products. I love my Mac Book Pro and my iPhone, but I have to say that Apple has been pissing me off lately. The company has decided to throw its legal weight around to protect its market share instead of letting the products speak for themselves. Two cases in particular stand out: the multi-touch patent and attempting to criminalize jail-breaking iphones.

Multi-Touch Patent

At the end of January, it surfaced that Apple had scored a patent for multi-touch technology and that it could, if it wished sue anyone else who used it. This legal maneuver seemed aimed squarely at Palm and the new Palm Pre (which I wrote about recently in Is the Palm Pre a Pre-tender or the Next Big Thing?). In this PC World article quoting acting Apple Grand Poohbah Tim Cook, it sounds like they may actually try to use the patent as a big stick:

Apple's acting chief and COO Tim Cook recently said, "we will not stand for having our IP [intellectual property] ripped off, and we'll use whatever weapons that we have at our disposal [to protect it]."

Now, not everyone agrees that Apple has a legal leg to stand on with this patent, but it's clear they filed it to put a legal obstacle in the way of companies trying to challenge their market share. And let's face it, Apple has plenty of cash in pocket to beat down most legal battles. Even if they ultimately lose, they made life difficult for their competitors.

The Jail Breaking Brouhaha

Just this week, our friends at Apple decided to use the Digital Media Copyright Act to make it illegal for people to "jail break" their iPhones. When people "jail break" an iPhone, they do so in order to load applications that didn't make it into the iTunes App Store. It appears with this move that Apple wants to make criminals out of customers who have the audacity to use applications it doesn't approve of on phones I might point out, people paid good money to own. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has taken up the fight and it should be interesting to see if they can slap Apple back down.

What is Apple Afraid of?

These moves suggest to me that Apples fears competition, and I'm wondering why. If you put their products on an even playing field and let the buyer decide, in my opinion, Apple is going to win hands-down. I don't recall too many other cell phones in recent memory where people stood in line for a week to get one. Lots of companies have made an MP3 player including Microsoft, but not one has come even close to the success of the iPod.

Clearly, trying to portray your competitors and your own customers as intellectual property thieves is not going to make friends and influence people. It's time for Apple to call off the lawyers and let the products do the talking. It's a strategy that hasn't failed them yet.

Apple's never been cool--you're just noticing it more these days. They've always had a superior attitude and never really had their customer's best interest at heart. I've always felt like customer to them were simply 'units sold.'

Hey Ken:

Thanks for the comment.

Honestly, I'm not concerned whether they are cool or not. I've always believed Apple makes superior products. What company has its customers' best interest at heart ever? They are all profit machines, but my point is that Apple makes damn good products and they should let them stand on their own instead of throwing up legal smoke screens to protect their turf.

Apple has been engaging in the kind of anti-competetive behaviour you mentioned for some time now. So, I found it quite amusing when they were sued by Cisco over the iPhone name.

They are also throwing their weight around with Google Adwords. Although it is perfectly legitimate "fair use" to use the name iPhone or iPod in an advert (I sell a stand for the iPhone called the BatRest), Google will not allow me (or anyone else) to do so because Apple have threatened them with legal action for trademark infringement. In fact, they instruct me to contact Apple directly to get individual permisison for each instance of an advert with any of these words in them but, since there is no propsoect of getting any response from Apple unless you want to buy something, this amounts to the finger. This feeble response from Google endorses Apple's "wrongful threat of infringement". Both companies are abusing their positions. Google's maxim is "don't be evil". "See no evil" seems more appropriate.

Mushy-pea:
Thanks for the comment. The Cisco suit was an interesting case of turn-about is fair play wasn't it? Thanks for pointing that out.

Ron

Cinchbald:
Thanks for the comment. I wasn't aware of that, but neither does it surprise me. Google seems to cave into anything Apple demands. Perhaps it has something to do with Eric Schmidt sitting on the Apple Board of Directors, but that is just stupid and petty. You're simply a small business person trying to make a living.

Ron

"Apple's never been cool--you're just noticing it more these days. They've always had a superior attitude and never really had their customer's best interest at heart. I've always felt like customer to them were simply 'units sold.'"

As opposed to Who? Microsoft? They are a company they are in business & quite frankly all I hear on these posts is rumor & speculation. If you jail break your iPhone you void the warranty. How exactly is Apple supposed to support a bunch of devices hacked in various ways? If you want to jail break the phone...fine, but don't expect Apple support. Yeah, you bought the device & you agreed to the terms. Go buy another phone if you don't like it. Second Apple is allowed to protect it's IP. Look what happened with MS in the 80's & 90's. I'm sure Apple does not want to see that scenario again. Third Apple hasn't sued anyone. So as usual we get a lot of white noise from irrational MS water boys, that need to take a look in the mirror. Funny....I usually have found the superior attitude on the MS side & IT deptartments that perpetuate that swiss cheese logic.

Fanboys will be fanboys. Nobody even mentioned Ms until you came along.

"Fanboys will be fanboys. Nobody even mentioned Ms until you came along."
No response...just the childish usual name calling. Nice. Okay as opposed to who else that is in business to make money? I'm sure you work for free.