In my last post, I discussed the fifth birthday of Apple’s smartphone (the “iPhone”) and discussed how bittersweet the anniversary is when you consider that Apple has won two injunctions against Samsung (one for the Galaxy Tab, the other for the Galaxy Nexus) this week. I think that Apple is wrong to place injunctions against Samsung, regardless of whether or not Samsung stole Apple’s ideas (though I am convinced Samsung did not). Why do I think this? I think Apple is wrong because it is a case of the guilty pointing out another’s guilt.
In Apple’s statement against Samsung, the company said that Samsung’s “blatant copying…is wrong” and claims that Apple needs to preserve its credit for original ideas. This sounds pious, does it not? Who would not want to preserve his or her ideas if he or she felt that they were being threatened or stolen and credited to someone else? The problem with this statement, however, is that Apple sounds “in the right” when the company is guilty of the same thing of which it has accused Samsung.
One victimized group of Apple’s copyright infringement happens to be the company’s own developers. Marco Arment is the developer of Instapaper, one of the apps in Apple’s very own App Store. Instapaper allows you to mark articles that you want to read but do not have time to read in a given moment. If there is an article in a magazine or an Internet blog or magazine that you want to read, just click “read later” and you can click over to the bookmark or article whenever you can. Marco Arment invented this app and developed it as a way to add to the convenience of reading on the go. Apple, however, used the idea as a way to make money; they took Arment’s idea and ran with it. If you own a current iPad (or iPhone) and are reading an article (from Flipboard, for example), you will notice that you can click the square and arrow symbol at the bottom right of the iPad screen and “read later.” This “read later” function is not Apple’s, but is copied and stolen (dare I say it?) from Marco Arment.
While the developer seems to be okay with the integration of his idea into the iOS platform, it is still stealing nonetheless. Apple can notice Samsung’s “blatant copying” of the “shape of the hardware, user interface, and even the packaging,” but seems to blind itself to its own blatant copying of the work of Marco Arment. While the “read later” function is a basic one, so is voice functionality and user interface; if Apple can sue for basic functions, so can Marco Arment. The fact that he has not issued an injunction against Apple and its iOS platform shows an immeasurable amount of undeserved grace. Perhaps Apple should extend this same grace to Samsung.
Apple is guilty of “blatant copying” with other apps as well, such as Notification Center involving LockInfo, Notified, and IntelliScreen. The developer of the app MobileNotifier saw his app integrated into iOS5. Apple hired him some time before WWDC (knowing that his app would become integrated into the new iOS platform). Apple copied his app down to even the very background of his original app. You can view it here. David Ashman, developer of the LockInfo app, responds negatively in a YouTube video when asked about Apple running with his app idea. The MobileNotifier app information can be found in the same article written by Alex Heath, titled “Apple Owes the Jailbreak Community an Apology.” Other apps that have been stolen from the jailbreak community are as follows:
- ICloud was once known as “Evil Penguin’s iBye” app, developed by James Emrich in Cydia.
- Ryan Petrich developed an app known as “rich text”; Apple placed “rich text” into its own iOS5 platform one month after Petrich placed it in Cydia.
- IOS5 camera improvements come from jailbreak tweaks FastSnap and CameraButtons.
- WifiSync is a “blatant copying” (Apple’s words about Samsung) of Greg Hughes’ app called by the same name. Apple also stole Hughes’ logo as well. Imagine the look on his face as he watched WWDC 2011 and saw that Apple had stolen his idea.
- Photo App improvements are “blatantly copied” from PhotoAlbums+, a Cydia app.
- IOS5’s “Personal Hotspot” feature is “blatantly copied” from Cydia apps “MyWi” and “PdaNet.”
The case of Greg Hughes is an interesting one. At the time he submitted his app “WifiSync” to Apple, Hughes was a United Kingdom college student. This is what the Huffington Post tells about Hughes’ tragic ordeal:
“Hughes [wifisync app] was rejected from the store [App Store], but not with a standard form email. Instead, an Apple rep personally called him to let him know that the app did not meet certain security standards and would not be allowed in. He also asked that Hughes send along a resume” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/09/apple-wi-fi-sync_n_873960.html).
The fact that an Apple representative called Hughes (as opposed to a traditional rejection email) leaves room for questions. The fact that Greg was also asked about his resume is another important clue that we cannot overlook. The representative was saying indirectly that Hughes was smart enough to work for Apple, that he had a good app, and that the company wanted his idea as its own. Even if it did not violate security standards, the app had promise—Apple never asks individuals to submit resumes if they do not value the individual’s talent and work.
After all of the charges against Apple (for which Apple is guilty), how can the company turn around in such a hypocritical manner and place an injunction on Samsung’s products? How is Apple any different than Samsung? Jailbreaking strides in Apple’s innovation provide one reason why you should perform an iPhone 3GS jailbreak sometime soon.