There are a few moral traits that really bother me. One is dishonesty. Another is laziness. And yet another is hypocrisy. It’s the latter that I think belongs to Apple, at least a little—they’re quick to complain when someone makes a product that’s in any way similar to theirs, but they have no problem whatsoever making products that are distinctly similar to others’.
I mentioned one example here, specifically the wedge shape that Apple has implied was “invented” when they designed the MacBook Air. Another example is the notification center that Apple introduced with iOS 6, which fairly mimicked the notifications that Android’s enjoyed from the start.
The latest, though, really takes the cake. I’m speaking here of Apple’s new multitasking paradigm in iOS 7, which is as blatant a ripoff of another company’s idea as I’ve seen yet in the smartphone (or maybe any other) industry. That idea would be Palm’s webOS, of course, and it matters not at all that webOS is technically dead as a commercial product. The point is that Apple has proven the fact that companies take ideas originating in other companies’ products and use them, sometimes improving upon them, in their own.
Apple Multitasking (second image from the left):
As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, I’m a strong supporter of intellectual property rights, including patents. I think that a legitimate invention should be recognized, and that a company that owns a legitimate patent should protect it in court. However, many of Apple’s own patents are less specific than many of the “innovations” that they’ve allegedly “introduced” that were actually created by someone else. And they’re quick to sue other companies for violating those (highly questionable) patents while feeling free to claim the innovations of others for themselves.
Now, I don’t think that the mere idea of using “cards” to representing running apps and the act of swiping them away to close them should be patentable. A specific combination of hardware and software used to accomplish those things would make for good patents, but not the mere idea of what they might look like or accomplish. But that’s not really my point here.
I’m not talking merely about Apple’s legal actions. I’m also talking about their attitude and their marketing: they hold themselves up as paragons of innovation and leadership in their chosen markets, and they’re quick to denigrate others who introduce a product that even vaguely resembles theirs. But they’re quite happy to blatantly copy anyone and anything they want, and apparently expect their fans and the media to ignore it. What’s sad is that, in many cases, that’s exactly what happens.
That’s hypocrisy, and I hate it.