Not to be left out with Oracle suing Google for megamillions for infringing on their Java patents with Android, Apple are getting in on the action and suing various Android handset manufacturers for infringing on iPhone and iOS related patents.
Apple in my mind has been getting away with murder when it comes to dominating the smartphone market. Although up until recently, iOS based phones are no longer the top selling smartphone, with Android based smartphones currently outselling iOS. Apple’s approach to control the iOS platform is exactly what Microsoft fell foul of with the multiple anti-competitive lawsuits in the 90s, and they are blatantly getting away with it unchallenged. Think about it, this is Apple’s aproach to controlling the iOS platform:
- any software for iOS has to be approved by Apple, and only then can it be offered for sale or for free once approved
- iOS software can only be downloaded and installed via Apple’s own AppStore delivery mechanism
- you can’t install anything that’s not approved by Apple, and only mechanism to download and install is via their AppStore
- the only tools to develop apps for iOS are supplied by Apple
- apps for iOS must not emulate or simulate any other hardware or software platform that would allow them to run other software not approved by Apple
- Apple takes a cut on every copy of every app sold by 3rd party vendors via Apple’s AppStore
Now think about this. Apple control the hardware. Apple control the software. The only vendor you can buy software from is Apple. This a completely, 100%, closed environment, completely controlled hardware and software platform, entirely controlled by one company, Apple.
Whereas Microsoft went about their mission to dominate the PC platform with a legally questionable approach, I can’t imagine Microsoft getting away with any of the approaches above, and yet Apple and iOS appear to be getting away with it.
The ironic thing is competition via Android is most likely Apple’s free pass to continue with their current strategy – as long as competition exists they most likely won’t be challenged. If their greed gets the better of them however and they continue with lawsuits against companies producing Android handsets, if they go too far and damage the longterm prospects of Android, I wonder if they’ll find themselves walking down the same path already taken by Microsoft.