Since I moved to the great United States a few months ago – I have been bombarded by various threads of self-criticism by the all pervasive media. Indeed, freedom of speech is something this country takes extremely seriously; and when that freedom is applied to talking frankly about one’s own problems, it becomes a veritable theater of the self-centered. So I have been hearing “our government is incompetent”, “we are losing the innovative edge”, “we spend too much on foreign wars”, “we ignore education”, “our justice system is totally screwed up”… etc. To tell you the truth, this is one of the things that I like about this place – they wear their whines on their sleeves. And it is very entertaining – if not underdone. This place, for all visible signs, is not in such a bad place… and maybe it is this unrelenting self-critique that spurs them on to higher levels. So I don’t take a lot of this whining very seriously. Except the one about the justice system being totally screwed up. Especially when applied to wider business practices of US companies.
The company under the microscope over here is the largest company in the world (in terms of market valuation) – and has been responsible, consistently over the past few years, for inducing a kind of mass hypnosis/hysteria that was once the domain of crazy diminutive dictators. I really loved the first (and only) Apple device that I owned – an iPod. It was easy to use and held all my songs. I cringed every time I had to fire up iTunes to add a few new tracks to my collection, but hey it was a small price, at least in the beginning, to pay for the ultimate design experience. That love lasted for a couple of years – before I realized there were cheaper devices which offered more in terms of utility and performance – and my iPod was relegated to a dust gathering corner in my collection of classic tech oddities.
And Apple didn’t stop, while the hubris surrounding its products has escalated to ridiculous proportions… Apple has now become, possibly, the most valuable brand in the world. But this is apparently not enough for Apple. Having lost the PC race to Microsoft, this time they are determined not to lose the mobile race to Android and the various manufacturers that support it. They have successfully managed to sue HTC on some critical software components, and have put their future in the US in jeopardy. They have been after Samsung since their Galaxy class of devices have started selling like hot cakes and have beaten almost every comparable Apple device in terms of performance, features, value and even design. In fact last quarter Samsung sold more mobile devices than Apple. I have been an Android user since the past three years – and I can safely say that the Android is a better and more powerful operating system than the iOS and that the devices from Samsung and HTC are better devices than the iPhone.
Yet, today, Apple managed to move an injunction in a German court, accusing Samsung of copying the iPad, while designing their Galaxy Tab 10.1 inch tablet. So now Samsung will not be able to sell the excellent Galaxy Tab in most countries in the EU – leaving the iPad uncontested in a key market.
I felt sick inside when I read this. In spite of my personal dislike for Apple devices and marketing hype – I used to respect them as a genuinely innovative company which has more or less shaped the technology landscape today. Smartphones and tablets represent a huge, fast growing market – with headroom for more than one manufacturer to exist. But stifling competition through legal wrangling is something that is decimating, in this humble blogger’s opinion, all the good work that Apple has done. Nowadays, I am a vocal anti-Apple campaigner… and I will continue to be so. I try to tell who ever is willing to listen that a Samsung-based Android phone is way better than an iPhone – in almost every possible specification. (and frankly with my awesome Samsung Infuse, it is not so difficult to convince people!)
I do this, because in the name of “user oriented technology” which began with the invention of the mouse and the venerable iPod, Apple today is just another large American corporation trying to fill their coffers with their users’ hard earned money.
I am a firm believer in Karma – and I know one day sooner or later – all this is going to come back and bite Apple Inc. in the ass. Till then I will enjoy what the rest of the world has to offer… and believe me… there is a lot!
Update: The designs used for the case against Samsung have been released. Someone please tell me that is not ridiculous!!