Apple vs. iPhony: Why I Agree with Apple

Discussion in 'Headline News' started by Ed Hardy, Jan 18, 2007.

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  1. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    As a person who reads Brighthand, you're surely familiar with Apple's announcement last week of the iPhone, its first device that will combine the features of an iPod and a smartphone.

    But it's possible you haven't heard of iPhony, an application for Palm OS or Windows Mobile devices that will allow them to have something of the look and feel of Apple's next mobile device.

    This did not escape the attention of Apple... and it's lawyers. Monday morning, sites all over the Web, including this one, got a "cease and desist" order telling them to remove all references to iPhony.

    The Reaction

    The reaction was virtually instantaneous. Many of the sites who had received the orders wrote angry editorials defending their free speech rights.

    I know I'm swimming against the tide here, but I actually agree with Apple. I'm not one who generally likes to be pushed around by lawyers, but I can see things from Apple's perspective.

    [​IMG]
    (view large image)

    It seems to me that the whole point of iPhony is take advantage of Apple's hard work coming up with a new, unique user interface. I don't think the developer of the Palm/Pocket PC application was intending to charge for it, but I never like to see one person profit of someone else's work. Or do anything to take away from the real developer profiting from his efforts.

    And, despite what some have said, I think that iPhony could easily take business away from Apple. If you have a Treo that works almost exactly like an iPhone, why would you buy an iPhone?

    When it comes right down to it, the most significant differences between a Palm, Pocket PC, BlackBerry, or S60 smartphone are software. The user interface, to be exact. I suspect that many of you have strong feelings about what mobile devices you buy based entirely on the UI. The same is probably true about your desktops and laptops.

    So you need to realize that UI's are very important to companies. They spend huge amounts of time and money working on them.

    If you can accept that, you understand why Apple didn't just laugh iPhony off.

    Warning, Legal Stuff Ahead

    Also, there's the legal issue. I'm not a corporate lawyer, but as I understand it, if you don't actively defend your trademarked materials, you could lose it. I've been told that this is one of the things you absolutely have to do to protect your trademark.

    You might not consider one single developer working in his basement making an application take looks a lot like iPhone much of a threat to Apple, but how about if it was Motorola? Or Samsung? Or Palm? That could happen, and if Apple went to court to stop this theoretical product, its lawyers would be able to make a strong argument that if Apple didn't try to stop iPhony, then its trademark should be invalid.

    But let's not get caught up in the legalese. Just because something is legal doesn't make it right. The whole purpose of trademark law is to encourage companies to create new stuff. If they knew that someone else would immediately turn around and profit off it, why would anyone bother?

    That's why I think Apple had to send out the "cease and desist" orders. Its lawyers probably knew they would be ignored -- and think I'm violating one just by writing this -- but it serves a larger point.

    A Tough Call

    Like I said earlier, I don't like to be pushed around by lawyers, and I support free speech as much as the next guy.

    But there's another side of the coin. Just because a lawyer says it, doesn't mean that it's something I should automatically protest against. I try to see the bigger picture.

    And, as a final bit, while can't approve of iPhony, I'm not trying to demonize its developer(s). Actually, I'm pretty sure he/she is just a person who likes Apple and thought it would be nice to share the iPhone user interface with other mobile users.

    But perfectly innocent actions can have unintended consequences. That's why I have to be against iPhony.

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2015
  2. Heda

    Heda Mobile Deity

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    aawww, Apple doesn't like their UI being imitated by other dev's? sheeesh, should i even bring up the numerous UI enhancements that Apple has "borrowed" from countless dev's before them?

    Apple just needs to get over it, everybody in this industry borrows idea's from everyone else, Apple actually being 1 of the very worst offenders. apparently it's okay for them to do so, but noone else, the hypocrisy is funny.

    it's no surprise though, all major companies act this way. to hate or even vice-versa feel sorry for Apple is just ridiculous.
     
  3. DJ Rome

    DJ Rome Tinkerer & Dealer

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    The lawsuit, I feel, will fail at some point.
     
  4. PatrickS

    PatrickS Gadget Magnet

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    Good editorial, Ed. Bottom line is you either believe intellectual property is property, or you don't. The courts certainly do.
     
  5. Tom LaPrise

    Tom LaPrise Absent-Minded Professor

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    The only "new" or "unique" thing about that interface is the set of icons. Look at the stock Palm launcher. It has rows and columns of buttons you tap to launch apps. Palm had that over a decade ago. In fact, the iPhone launcher looks a lot like the Palm OS 1.0 app launcher with bigger, colored icons and a black background. The same effect can easily be had in LauncherX by using the large icon view and four app columns per tab, with the tab background black. Is Apple going to come after GoTreo Software too?

    Mo never intended to make any money from this app. I sure don't need a $500 phone, either.
     
  6. Snowball2

    Snowball2 Newbie

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    I wouldn't. Assuming a simple freeware program can make the Treo work almost exactly like an iPhone, then it's Apple's problem, isn't it?

    So, iPhony is free and legal, but you are worried that it will cut Apple's profits? Am I the only one who thought the above statement was absurd?
     
  7. Genjinaro

    Genjinaro ~3rdPrty 4ehvur!~

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    LOL the files for this thing are flying right now from forums to Bit-T :p

    *Someone verify this- or correct me

    Isn't Apple still fighting for the rights of the iPhone name from Cisco?
    If so, isn't the name up in the air? I mean I can see fighting the images but if this fight is still continuing with Cisco then they shouldn't have any clear rights to the iPhone iPhone-y references should they?
    Or was this settled already and I'm behind the times? :confused:
     
  8. holvoetn

    holvoetn Still a moderator ...

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    Yes, this is still ongoing.
     
  9. Curious Cat

    Curious Cat Mobile Deity Super Moderator

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    Very well written article! I'm placing a link to this at the Apple forum where we were having a discussion on this exact subject.
     
  10. r0k

    r0k Dazed

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    Welcome to Brighthand, Snowball2. A simple freeware program cannot make your treo or even your LifeDrive (via voip) work "just like" an iPhone. The issue is that if people perceive it does, then they might not even take the time to look at an iPhone. This would certainly hurt Apple's profits. I have iPhony on my Treo 650. It's a so-so launcher but it's cool to be able to show other people what the iPhone UI will eventually look like (minus the thumbpad on my Treo of course). So far only a few ho-hum responses and quite a lot of enthusiasm when I showed it. Will those I showed it to quietly decide they don't need to go see a real one when it comes out? This is certainly a risk. I'm not ready to delete iPhony from my Treo, but I will explain it more carefully when I show it to people.

    I happen to like apple. In our household we have one Mac Mini and 3 ipods. I'm so impressed with the Mac Mini that my next laptop will be a mac and my next desktop will be a mac, probably within the year. Unfortunately, the kids need windows for some of their programs or they would both be on Macs by now. I don't happen to like Apple because they are saints. Yes, they took their UI from Xerox and yes if they could, they would have you putting a quarter into your neck collar so you could breathe. I do happen to like the "Zen of Apple" similar to the "Zen of Palm". Simple is better. This doesn't mean Apple isn't a for-profit company with a group of well paid lawyers ready to pounce on anybody that threatens their future revenue. Apple is within their rights, and if Ed's summary of intellectual property laws is correct, they are doing what they must do even if they were happy with the "viral marketing" aspect of iPhony. For this reason, I have to agree with Ed in principal but not strongly enough to delete iPhony off my Treo... at least not yet...

    To get back to your point that iPhony is no real threat. There is something to what you are saying. Without the new touchscreen technology that Apple plans for iPhone as well as their built in accelerometer for orientation and their technology that knows when you have the phone up to your cheek, iPhony is nothing more than a launcher skin that "reminds you" of an iPhone.

    I'm still excited about the possibility of a cell phone with only one button that's smart enough to dynamically disable the touch screen while you're talking. I spent some time finding the "screen off during calls" preference on my Treo after inadvertantly hanging up on a few folks. Now there are plenty of times when I'd rather have the touchscreen on, but only off when the phone is against my cheek. This is impossible on any Treo.

    While materially, iPhony seems like no real threat to Apple, it can do some damage if people are ignorant of iPhone's real features and jump to the conclusion that by seeing iPhony on a WM or Palm phone they have seen iPhone and no longer need to see on "hands on". So the statement that iPhony will cut into Apple's profits may strike a lot of very reasonable people as absurd, but it isn't absurd to me.
     
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