Monday, 24 October 2011

It's War!!

Never mind the events in Libya, there is a bigger war going on all around us, a war going on in the world of mobile computing, a war with no apparent boundaries, a war with millions of dollars at stake. I am of course talking about the ongoing patent case between Apple, the makers of the iPad, and Samsung, the upstarts from South Korea who brought out the Galaxy Tab. It seems that Apple, perhaps buoyed by the sympathy vote after the tragic demise of their founder, are suing the pants off of Samsung, because Samsung have dared to release a tablet computer that resembles the Apple iPad2.

Injunctions have been issued in several countries stopping Samsung from selling its products. Counter injunctions have been fired by Samsung aimed at the latest half baked iPhone version. It is all very ugly, just like a real war. And like real wars, there are plenty of innocent victims. And these victims are the consumers.

Because of all this corporate skirmishing, the consumer, that's you and me, folks, cannot choose for themselves which tablet computer to buy, in some countries such as Germany and Australia. Their right to choose has been stripped from them by lawyers and corporate suits.

And this is a crime, because the result is a restriction of choice. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is every bit as good a tablet as the Apple iPad, in some ways better, because it can connect to a laptop with its own dock, plus a supplied USB cable. You cannot do that with the iPad without purchasing all sorts of dodgy third party pieces of hardware. Also, the Galaxy is cheaper, and wifi and 3G options are bundled together. Why should I buy a more expensive product just because of the large number of apps available to the iPad?

That just makes me want to reach for my pills, because quite honestly, I do not care if Apple thinks Samsung has violated its patents by producing a similar machine. All I care about is having the choice of which tablet to buy. That is my right, and it is the right of all those German and Australian consumers who have been denied choice because of legal fiat.

Apple accuse Samsung of stealing the design of the tablet from its own product, and admittedly the two tablets do look and feel suspiciously similar. However, tablet computers featured in movies and TV long before the iPad came along - in 2001 a Space Odyssey in 1968 and Star Trek the Next Generation in the 1990s. The design idea therefore has prior provenance. Consequently, suing Samsung for producing a similar product to the iPad is as logical as Mercedes Benz suing BMW because the beamer has four wheels and a powerful engine.

So I bought a Galaxy tab, before Apple stops it being sold here in Malaysia. And I haven't regretted it so far...


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