Someone I Used To Know

I’m feeling disillusioned and sad today.

When I was much younger I met someone that truly amazed me. They were young at the time too, full of interesting ideas and brilliant thinking. They were different to everyone around them and they stood out because of their genius. I loved being exposed to their thinking, and they made me see the world differently. They let me explore the world in ways I hadn’t really considered before. Looking back, I think I could even say their ideas have shaped my personality in ways that I probably wasn’t even aware of, and I ended up choosing a career path based on the passion they instilled in me.

They always impressed me. They had attention to detail that was astounding. They inspired me, and millions of others too. They came up with incredible ideas that were brilliantly different, and they had a profound influence on the world around them. Of course, they had influences of their own too, and they were often shameless about taking the seeds of good ideas of others and reinterpreting them in ways that surprised us all.

It wasn’t always easy for them. Like many others, they had their ups and downs.  Over the years my direct involvement with them came and went. There were times they disappeared from my sight and I didn’t think much about them, but they were still always there in the background, influencing others as always. Every so often we would get reacquainted, and I would remember what I loved about them. They really were quite amazing, and I often felt I had a special relationship with them because we had shared so much over the years.  A few years ago we rekindled our relationship, and I remembered why they were so special to me. I would always advocate for them, even when others were unable to see their genius.

Then they started to change. I don’t know whether it was the success that went to their head, or whether their ego had just grown out of proportion. But they changed. They started to be mean to others. They started to get ridiculously overprotective and precious about their ideas. At first one might have sympathised with them… being the popular kid isn’t easy when everyone wants to be just like you. The attention and success, which they wanted for long, finally arrived and everyone loved them, but as their popularity grew they started pushing others around. They jealously guarded their ideas, and instead of continuing to astonish us all with brilliance and insight, they started bullying others around them.  They became a fingerpointing whiner, so afraid of losing their popularity that they began to act in all sorts of antisocial ways to protect it.

They say there are two ways to have the tallest building in town. One way is to build the tallest building. The other is to destroy all the other buildings. Even though they really were the tallest building already, they decided to destroy the other buildings anyway.

I’m disappointed because I expected better. I’m disappointed because I still want to admire them and respect them, but it’s hard to admire and respect a bully. It’s disillusioning to have a lifetime of admiration for someone only to realise that they have changed to the point where you don’t even know who they are anymore. They have lost their soul. I still admire their brilliance, but I can’t stand who they have become. It makes me want to turn my back on them.

I’ve become appalled at they way they treat others, at the bloody-mindedness they have been exhibiting lately. I detest their greed, and how they can’t play nicely anymore with those around them, and the calculated way in which they greedily stomp on anyone they feel has wronged them.  Today, they really showed how greedy and selfish they can be, and it makes me very sad to see what they’ve become.

Oh Apple, I thought you were so much better than this.

CC Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/0rangeya/2058198168/ BY-ND

CC BY-SA 4.0 Someone I Used To Know by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

7 Replies to “Someone I Used To Know”

    1. Well, I think a better outcome would be a complete reappraisal of the patent system. When a company can patent the idea of a rectangle with rounded corners, or the idea of clicking on an email address to create an email, there’s something terribly broken about the underlying law.

      I think a better outcome would be for Apple and Sumsung to have settled their differences without it turning into the legal circus it became, which now sets a precedent that will have far reaching effects.

      I think a better outcome would have been for Apple to have beaten Samsung by building better devices rather than bludgeoning them with the blunt instrument of a broken patent system.

      I think a better outcome would be to enter into licensing agreements with Sansung instead of thermonuclear patent war on ideas that are dubiously patentable.

      I think that a better outcome would have been for Apple to reassess its own “originality” and to look at who had influenced it in the past, and realise that good ideas are good ideas and sometimes it doesn’t matter who comes up with them.

      And for whom? The only people this decision benefits is Apple,. and people who use an Apple device… but the options outside the Applesphere just got a whole lot narrower. If you want consumer choice, competition in the market, and the innovation that comes from that competition, this is a stupid decision. In the long run, this will create fragmentation, lack of choice, lack of standards, lack of innovation, more courtroom battles, and a general screw-you to consumers.

  1. Hi Chris,
    Apple isn’t pure or beneficent, but I think you’ll find that they tried to get Samsung to licence the IP they were using. They would probably have ignored the trade dress infringements if Samsung had licensed the IP. Samsung did it to others before Apple. They copied the Blackberry closely with calling it the koreanberry. Apple however has always licensed other’s IP (such as that of Xerox for the Lisa and Macintosh) or just bought the company when they thought it was cheaper. (I am surprised they haven’t bought nuance yet instead of licensing the Siri technology.)
    Apple have been burned on this before. MS Windows for example. Even there they licensed their TrueType font technology to MS making Win3.11 and later MUCH more usable. Remember the bad old DOS days where you had different fonts in different programs and they were all excrement?
    Samsung stole Apple’s IP and trade dress and didn’t want to cough up the cash or even haggle. They would have been wise to do so. They were blatant and so were carriers. Even here in Australia in Telstra shops you heard salespeople saying “get this Samsung Galaxy S – it looks just like the iPhone and behaves just like the iPhone but it’s much cheaper…” Dodgy dodgy behaviour. In the US Verizon was doing the same. Samsung has form on this issue and its a shame as they make good gear. Their Galaxy S III is a great looking phone and works really well and isn’t an iPhone clone anymore. A pity they didn’t try harder earlier to innovate instead of emulate.
    Oh and Apple’s shareholders’ interests have to be considered by Apple mgmt.
    Just saying… PeterSW

    1. HI Peter,

      Yeah, maybe I’m being too hard on them, and I realise that they are between a rock and a hard place. I can see that they have to litigate to meet the expectations of shareholders, and I can see why they would feel ripped off by Samsung’s fairly blatant copying of some of their ideas. So I get what they are upset about.

      I just can’t help recalling Steve’s comment before he passed away, that he was prepared to spend every last cent of Apple’s considerable fortune to destroy Android. I believe he said he wanted to “go thermonuclear” on it, according to Walter Isaacson. This feud with Samsung is about more than just Apple’s fiduciary responsibilities to their stockholders… it’s a bitter war waged against another company with very vindictive motives, and I think that’s what disappoints me most. It’s not the fact that they are protecting themselves, but rather the vindictive, anticompetitive way they seem to be approaching it.

      If Apple was one of my students, I’d be taking them aside right now and telling them they need to play nice, even if their friend did take their crayons without asking. Hitting and kicking and threatening to kill them isn’t an appropriate solution, but learning how to get along and come to a realistic compromise is.

      I realise that Apple offered to licence the technologies to Samsung, but I heard the pricing was quite unrealistic, about $30 per handset? I don’t know, there is probably lots to the story that I am unaware of.

      All I know is that every other cellphone maker will now have to think very carefully about the features and UI they put into their devices. Yes, it might push some of them to innovate more, or at least be more creative about ways to build features that do not infringe, but in the process we will end up with more fragmentation of the market, and instead of a reasonably standard UI that is consistent across lots of phones, we will have an Apple UI, an Android UI, a Microsoft UI and a Nokia UI, etc. It will be worse for consumers that want to move between platforms as they will be faced with a new device that looks and acts nothing like their previous one. And ultimately it means consumers have to start to make exclusive choices instead of using the technologies in ways they prefer (how long do you think before you won’t be able to have any Google-based apps running on an iPhone? Maps? YouTube? etc)

      Patents don’t protect against “doing things”, but rather against “how things are done”. Although all cars need to be able to steer and brake, it would be like every different make of car needing to have an entirely different method for steering and braking… Toyotas can’t have a round steering wheel because Mazda patented that idea, and the Fords are steered with a joystick, while the Hondas have a series of pulleys…. it just gets silly, and makes it very hard to have a standard method that allows people to jump out of one car and into another and feel like they know what to do. There is no doubt that the iPhone was a breakthrough device when it was released, but having made the breakthrough, much of that UI and form factor is now so “obvious” that of course others will try to use some of those ideas.

      All can say is thank goodness that the Web was invented by someone benevolent like Sir Tim Berners Lee, who who was content to do it to improve the world and make it a better place. Had a silicon valley company invented the web they would have almost certainly patented the idea of a hyperlink and then either bled us dry by charging per click, or forbid us from clicking “their” precious links.

      The bottom line is a seriously broken patent system that even allows this to happen.

    2. The other irony of course, is the fact that Samsung produce so many components for the iPhone anyway. I hear there is a Samsung factory in the US somewhere that produces nothing but iPhone parts for Apple.

      It would be interesting if Samsung turned around to Apple and said “get stuffed, we aren’t going to produce for you anymore”. Of course that would never happen… the amount of money changing hands in those transactions probably makes the $1.05Bn payout look like beer money.

That's all well and good, but what do YOU think?