Newsletter Issue #651: Imitation is the Sincerest Form of — Imitation

May 21st, 2012

Apple remains embroiled in serious intellectual property lawsuits. Some companies are being sued by Apple, while others are suing Apple. While there’s probably little end in sight, Apple has had some notable victories in recent weeks, but whether there’s going to be a permanent alteration in the consumer electronics business as a result is anyone’s guess.

Meantime, there are loads of products available that sorta/kinda look like they might have been made by Apple, although a closer look will reveal a few differences, and a different manufacturer’s branding. However, if you bring these clear and present resemblances to the attention of those companies, they will attempt to redirect your attention to the alleged differences. Maybe the smartphone that resembles an iPhone, more or less, has a larger screen or lets you use a stylus, as if anyone cares.

There are even rumors these days that Steve Jobs actually approved the design of a bigger iPhone as one of his final acts before his passing. As with most Apple rumors, however, the truth won’t be known until the next iPhone appears. It will either have a larger screen or it won’t. If it does, it won’t be because the competition features bigger displays on their high-end products.

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One Response to “Newsletter Issue #651: Imitation is the Sincerest Form of — Imitation”

  1. dfs says:

    Imitation is what you do when you are fresh out of imagination and talent. It feeds of one or both of two hopes, that some of the original’s success will magically rub off on you, and that the typical consumer is too dumb or too uninformed to appreciate the difference between your copy and its original. It’s amazing that imagination and talent are in such short supply in modern America. But that’s probably an optical illusion. The problem is not that we have any shortage of imaginative and talented people, it’s the way most of our big electronics firms are structured (this goes for the big software outfits like MS and Adobe as well). Their internal cultures appear almost deliberately designed to filter out innovative ideas, which have to pass through so many committees and levels of bureaucracy that they never manage to make their way to the surface. There are other reasons as well. Corporate fear is one. For inst., the reason that Xerox invented the graphic user interface but didn’t develop it was that because of their success in the copier market they were already afraid of a federal antitrust suit and they figured that moving into the computing market would increase that chance. And it would take a whole team of psychotherapists to figure out why IBM was so reluctant to involved in the personal computing market, but fear was probably part of the mix of motives. Another reason is that when you replace gearheads with Harvard MBA’s as top management of such corporations, that’s pretty much a death sentence. You can almost formulate a law that once an electronics or software outfit has achieved a certain level of size and success it falls victim to a kind of corporate hardening of the arteries, starts clinging to old ways, and ceases to make any more meaningful forward progress. Let’s hope this never happens to Apple. But then again, a law is a law.

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