Opinion

Regarding Values and Hypocrisy

Mr. Javed Anwer, writing for The Times of India blog

No Apple, it’s not about values 

When the verdict in the first Apple vs Samsung case was announced a few weeks ago, many people said Samsung deserved it. Some felt the punishment was too harsh but the consensus was that Samsung took the “inspiration” thing too far. Essentially, it copied some of the stuff Apple had put in iPhone 3GS. 

LOL. 

Saying Samsung copied some of the stuff from Apple is like saying Pritam copied some of the song ‘Ya Ghali’ for his ‘Ya Ali’. 

Coming from a company that has followed Android’s lead after introducing iPhone in 2007, it is a bit rich.

LOL again. Saying that Apple followed Android’s lead is even more rich. Especially considering Android started life as a something else and then Google made a U-turn when they saw the iPhone and launched something else entirely

Since 2007, the iOS user-interface has remained more or less same. 

And for good reason. Apple pretty much nailed the UI at launch, which is why they did not make any radical changes over the years. Android looked like shit at launch; even the most hardened Android fanboy would admit that. The UI changes in Android were brought about by necessity rather than any urge to innovate.

Check out Google’s homepage, for example. How much has it really changed since launch? I mean, big, important changes, like the ones you see on Android? None. That’s because Google nailed the simple and effective UI right off the bat and hence they did not bother changing what was already great. Which is not something you can say about the original Android UI. 

Apple also knows the importance of not making major changes to something that people are used to, a decision only those who really understand design can make. 

Many of the big features have come only after Android added them. Take the example of multitasking. Or over-the-air updates. Or the notification bar, which was ripped off by Apple from its competitor. Or advanced voice controls. 

Multitasking has existed on Symbian and Windows Mobile even before Android was invented. If you follow Mr. Anwer’s logic, it means Android copied multitasking from these two platforms. As for OTA updates, other devices had that before as well. Did Android copy that too? 

The notification system is the only thing Apple really took from Android. Apple made enough changes to make theirs look different, such as having the option to close each item individually (which Android took in ICS), individually disable notifications for every app (which Android took in Jelly Bean), ability to invoke the notification tray in any app, including fullscreen ones and have apps like Weather and Stocks to display content in the notification area. But at its basis it still uses the same drop down tray, so for that it shall forever remain a copy, no matter how many changes Apple makes to it. 

As for voice control, Android had them before and then were completely blown away when Siri came along. If you think Siri is not a big enough deal then you got to wonder what made Google release a competitor in the form of the Google Now so quickly. Also, even if Apple had acquired Siri, it’s still their property, just the way all the patents that Google is now hoarding courtesy of Motorola are Google’s property. 

Next, iPhone is expected to have a bigger screen, clearly inspired by Android phones and LTE connectivity, something that Android phones have for over a year now. The list is long.

Yes, because no one had big screen phones before Android. Oh, wait.

If Android phones invented big displays then Apple invented touchscreens. 

As for LTE, seriously? Are we now attributing technologies created by third party to Android? Again, by that logic, Android copied Bluetooth and Wi-Fi from a million devices that came before it. 

Motorola virtually created a mobile phone. 

Which remains their biggest achievement since. 

Samsung is the world’s most prolific manufacturer when it comes to core parts in computing devices. The company makes RAM, displays, hard disks and is among a handful of firms to own and operate a chip-fabrication plant successfully. It is the same plant where Apple bakes the processors that power iPhones and iPads

This is somehow related to how innovative Samsung is in the mobile space. 

HTC began selling touchscreen smartphones at a time when Apple was only toying with the idea of iPhone in its labs.

This is what HTC phones looked like before the iPhone and this one immediately after the iPhone was announced. 

Apple’s patent suits are all about business.

You don’t say. 

Samsung is Apple’s chief competitor. HTC is a strong competitor. Motorola is a competitor as well. These are the companies Apple is targeting. Apple is not going after Sony, which implements an eerily similar ‘slide-to-unlock’ in its products. It is not going after LG. It is not going after Huawei or ZTE. Not at the moment.

Is it a fight over values? Hell no!

Apple is going after the companies that threaten it in the market.

You can say Apple is going after Samsung because it is the most successful. You can also say that Apple is going after Samsung because they have been the most blatant of all in terms of copying Apple’s IP. Ever wondered why Apple did not sue HTC or Motorola or Nokia for copying Apple’s trade dress? All lawsuits against these other companies were usually for other patents, mostly relating to software features. Apple went after Samsung hardest because they have also been copying Apple the hardest.

I can even make the argument that Samsung’s success has been because they copied Apple. I mean let’s face it, how many people bought Samsung phones before they made the Galaxy S? 

To me, Apple’s decision to go after Samsung was not just because they copied or because they were successful but a combination of both. It seems that the only way to be successful now is be like Apple and Samsung knew this and Apple hated them for that. Others such as HTC and Motorola were more careful in what they lifted off Apple and went their own way. They are not doing so well right now. 

Across the world, use of Android is surging. 

The classic “Android is winning” argument. Let’s continue to compare three handsets from one company, all high-end and sold in limited markets to millions of Android devices from dozens of companies at every price point in every market. Yup, makes a lot of sense. 

Except when it comes to making profit off by selling those phones, Apple still leads the pack despite the aforementioned disadvantages. Funny how that works out. 

Many people just don’t see any value in iOS and iPhone.

Except for, you know, the millions and millions who still buy the phone and break sales records with the launch of every new version. Nope, people just don’t see the value. 

Yes, Apple is trying to compete through litigation…

Yeah. It’s not like they have any real products in the market that people would want to buy. 

…asking courts to slow down its competitors.

The competitors are doing that on their own. 

That’s it for tonight folks. Tune in next week same time, same day for more expert analysis on expert analysis. 

Opinion

Regarding Apple, Samsung and the patent system

So Apple won the lawsuit against Samsung today. Not that it was a surprise. Anyone who doesn’t have Samsung or Google’s dick shoved up their ass knew what the outcome was going to be. Samsung blatantly copied Apple in the past and they got what they deserved. 

What happens now is a sudden rise in the number of patent experts in the world. By “patent experts” I mean anyone with an Internet connection. And you’ll hear the same thing that you heard the last time when Apple won a lawsuit, that the patent system is broken. 

Notice how the patent system is always broken when it’s Apple who wins the case and some how it is justice or karma whenever they lose? 

I’m not an expert on patents so I won’t comment on whether the system is broken or in need of a reform. I also won’t talk about whether Apple’s patents are genuine or bogus. 

What I will say is that in the end, regardless of the genuineness of the patent, Samsung chose to infringe it. They could have avoided doing that, as several other manufacturers do, but they didn’t. 

In my opinion, anyone who infringes upon existing patents either needs to pay licensing fees or stop using it, unless the patent is owned by a patent troll who does not make any products but simply hoards patents, waiting for someone to use them and then strike them with a lawsuit. 

Apple has been found using other’s patents in the past, for which they have had to pay licensing fees. Samsung should be treated no differently. I’m especially less sympathetic towards Samsung because they willfully infringed them, simply to try and make their products look as close to Apple’s as they can. 

It’s easy to sit in front of your computer and comment upon whether one company is right or wrong in suing someone for illegally using their IP when it’s not your work being stolen. Imagine writing an article and having someone steal and publish it under their name, having made just minor changes so that it wouldn’t look exactly like yours but you know that it essentially is.

When you wrote the article, you did not create the language for it. You used words and sentences and grammar that existed before. But the final product was still yours. Others can use the same language or grammar, but not the same words in that same order. That is essentially what Samsung did and why Apple sued them. 

What I find appalling is people completely disregarding what Samsung did and fixating on Apple’s patents, as if it somehow makes what Samsung did less terrible. Reminds me of the times a rape victim is blamed for dressing inappropriately when in fact it’s the rapist who should get all the blame. What Samsung did was wrong and debating on whether Apple’s patents are good or bad is not going to make it any less wrong. 

So for once, let’s concentrate on the real wrongdoer here and not look for opportunities to talk shit about Apple, even though I know how some people love doing that. 

Reviews

Quick hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S III

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time now and finally today I managed to spend some time with the Galaxy S III at a Croma. Here are some quick observations. 

  • Isn’t as ugly as I thought it would be. At the same time the design is absolutely uninspiring. Only thing I liked about it is the way the keys below the display are completely invisible until they light up. 
  • The size and weight seem about right for a phone with a display that big. I didn’t have a One X side by side to compare but the S III definitely felt a bit more compact. It’s also very light but feels well built nonetheless. 
  • The display looks stunning. I knew despite what the PenTile matrix layout might suggest, the quality is going to be excellent. The display on the One X is still a tiny bit better but overall they are both very similar and very good. 
  • Performance was really good. The phone never lagged or stuttered and everything was smooth. 
  • TouchWiz is still tacky. It is severely toned down compared to older Samsung phones but it still looks bad. I’m not a big fan of Sense either but I gotta say, it does look a lot better than the TouchWiz on the S III. Having said that, as with previous versions, Samsung’s UI is very functional with some clever functions thrown in, such as the shortcuts in the notification screen. 

That’s about all I could gather in ten minutes. I wish I could say I’ll write more when I get a review unit but with Samsung India not giving out any of those that’s gonna happen. 

Still, if I had to choose between this and the One X, I’d go with the latter. The Galaxy S III is a good smartphone, but the One X has a significantly better design and UI and the display is also a tiny bit better. In every other aspect, the two are mostly identical. The One X is also cheaper, which further helps its case. 

Opinion

Few thoughts on the Galaxy S III

Wanted to post this right after the event but I was quite disappointed by what I saw. So I waited a while till I could generate enough fucks for me to be able to write this. So here it is. 
  • The design is terrible. It’s even worse than what I expected it to be. I don’t expect Samsung to design good looking phones. That’s like expecting Apple to make an ugly product. They are just not capable of doing that. But the fact that the phone managed to disappoint me despite my low expectations means something is seriously wrong with it. The worst part about it is the back that actually looks like Samsung’s low-end Android phone. I’m not sure what made Samsung’s designers think that it was a good idea to make their flagship model look like their low-end models. When the iPhone 4S came out, people were wondering how people would tell their phone apart from the previous iPhone 4. Galaxy S III users will have to worry about how people will tell their phone apart from one that costs 1/3rd of that. 
  • The display seems impressive. I assumed it would be the same as the one on the Galaxy Nexus but it is a bit bigger. Some people are complaining about it having a PenTile matrix. I think that’s just being pedantic. The Galaxy S III has a pixel density of 300 PPI. You seriously think you will be able to make out the difference at that resolution? 
  • Samsung has opted for placing the keys below the display unlike on the Galaxy Nexus, which in my opinion is a smart move. Let’s face it, Android developers are dicks and it would take them years to adopt Google’s new system in ICS. Till then, you will have annoying menu buttons popping up on the screen like on the Galaxy Nexus and the One X. Having the menu button at the bottom is also very convenient. Google’s moronic decision to move it to the top of the screen in ICS makes it a pain to reach, especially on phones with bigger display. Now everything is within your thumb’s reach at the bottom of the screen. 
  • The phone seems to be pretty thin but that’s not such a big deal considering it is wide enough to land planes on. Android manufacturers seem to be having a hard time grasping how big a normal human hand and the thumb on it is. They seem to think that as long as you can hold the phone in your hand you will be fine, which is why we see abominations such as the Galaxy Note. But what about using the phone? Is your thumb automatically going to stretch to celebrate the fact that you now have a ridiculously big phone with a 5-inch display? 
  • The new SoC is good. Very good. It bested Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 in CPU benchmarks and even managed to beat the A5 on the iPhone 4S. Of course, five months later Apple will blow everyone out of the water again but for now the Exynos 4 Quad is the king of the benchmark hill. 
  • The camera seems to be identical to the one on the Galaxy S II, which is not bad because that is one of my all time favorite cameras. It’s just faster now thanks to the new processor and optimizations. 
  • The S-Voice seems like a Siri rip-off on surface, which is mostly because it is. But it has a few advantages over Siri. First of all, it can understand more accents. Secondly, it can launch applications, something that Siri inexplicably cannot do. Finally, you can launch S-Voice itself with your voice. It always felt silly to me that you have to launch the voice controlled feature on your phone with a button. Why not go all the way and have the whole thing voice operated from start to finish? Having said that I don’t think S-Voice is able to find Wolfram Alpha results for you, or suggest restaurants based on their menus or anything clever like that. 
  • The eye-tracking thing is cool. I feel like punching poodles whenever the phone’s display switches off when I’m reading something. This feature can come very handy. It remains to be seen how well it works in the dark and how much battery the front camera consumes. 

Overall, I think the launch event was a bit anti-climatic. The Galaxy S III is by no means a bad phone but I think we all expected a bit more than just an evolutionary upgrade. Samsung is the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer and the most profitable Android phone manufacturer but their phones don’t reflect that. The quality is there but it’s wrapped up in such a mundane shell that it generates practically zero emotions. 

Unfortunately, people will lap it up as usual, even those who are now complaining about it. People who buy with their head and not their heart. One can’t help but feel bad for such people. It must suck to be so practical all the time. To compare spec sheets and buy the one with the greater numbers. Then again, that’s practically every Android buyer out there, including myself whenever I’m pondering over which Android phone to buy. And you can’t blame us. Without the emotions, all that is left in these phones are the numbers.