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Patents Apple

Why Apple Denied the Google Latitude App 308

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-a-coincidence dept.
awyeah writes "A recently revealed Apple patent looks remarkably similar to the functionality of Google Latitude, which Apple relegated to WebApp status earlier this year. Obviously if Apple is working on their own version of Google Latitude (or owns the IP rights to this functionality), they'd be hesitant to put an app with the same functionality on their devices from another company."
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Why Apple Denied the Google Latitude App

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  • I Smell Patent War (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:20PM (#30623718)

    This begs the question, if Google already had an app out, who did it first?

    Obviously the patent process takes years.

  • Times change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qwavel (733416) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:32PM (#30623844)

    Back in the day we (including myself) used to get mad at MS for all the anti-competitive things they did.

    Now Apple comes along with stuff that MS never dreamed of (or could have got away with) and everybody loves them. Now I get to listen to my friends talk about what a wonderful and cool company Apple is and how they invented everything.

    What is going on here?

  • Obviously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mliu (85608) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:35PM (#30623876) Homepage

    "Obviously if Apple is working on their own version of Google Latitude (or owns the IP rights to this functionality), they'd be hesitant to put an app with the same functionality on their devices from another company."

    That's not obvious at all to me. It harms the vibrancy of their marketplace, it harms the goodwill of the developer community, and ultimately, it would appear to harm the competitiveness of the device by hindering competition for improved functionality. The only reason they can get away with this BS is because they're Apple, the 900 lb gorilla of the new generation smartphone market at the moment.

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:36PM (#30623882) Homepage Journal

    I have an iPhone, and it's a wonderful device, but as soon as my contract runs out (maybe sooner), I'll be moving to a different platform, and this is exactly why.

    As long as the iPhone is a closed platform with the only way to get apps through the app store, you will be dealing with this. Apple isn't going to allow competing applications on the device because they simply don't have to. They give a good song and dance about how closed the device is being about the "user experience," but the simple truth is that they don't want competition from other sources. That's their business model, it's how they work.

    It's a crying shame, because Apple really is a good company when it comes to style and design, and especially in figuring out exactly what scratches consumers' itches. But this is almost historically identical to what happened with the Macintosh a couple of decades ago. They kept it so closely-held and closed that when the PC came along, which allowed users to shrug off proprietary and use it how they wanted to instead of how some company told them to, Apple damn near went out of business.

    I really do hate to see them rebuild their reputation (and market value) again, just to throw it all away like they did last time, but damned if it doesn't look like that's exactly what they're trying to do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:42PM (#30623976)

    Either way, this is a pretty clear example of why no company should be allowed to have control over what software consumers can put on devices that they own. It was wrong when the phone companies tried to be sole arbiter, and it is just as wrong for Apple to play that role. It is guaranteed to be abused sooner or later in a way that prevents competition in the marketplace and harms consumers. It was only a matter of time.

    I so badly want to see the FTC slap Apple with fines every day until they open the iPhone up to apps sold outside the app store without Apple vetting. That is the only action that sets a strong enough precedent that consumers are in charge of devices that they paid for and have a right to tinker.

  • Re:Times change (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:44PM (#30623998) Homepage

    I've got an iPhone. I generally like Apple. I'll admit some of this stuff seems a little ridiculous. I'm not that mad at this, here's why.

    Apple tends to make good interfaces, so the Apple app will probably be good. It's not like Google's app is being denied to be replaced with some horrible piece of junk. It could be worse.

    But the real thing is while Apple is doing this, it's WAY better than the pre-Apple cell phone world. I can buy a game (like Bejewelled) that connects to Facebook for $3. Games used to cost $3 per month. And it wasn't full featured, it was one little mode. Google Maps is free. Cell companies used to have terrible programs for an extra $10 a month.

    Compared to desktops, the situation is poor. Compared to where cellphones were, it's great; so I'm willing to accept it. As more competition comes around (Android gaining steam) Apple will be forced to improve.

    Apple has been in the cell phone market for 3 years now. Apps have been available for 2 years.

    Basically I'm not impatient yet. If nothing changes in the next year or two, I will be. But for now, my cell situation is so much better than it was 2 years ago, I'm happy enough.

  • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:44PM (#30624004)

    No manufacturer has the right to prohibit person A from installing on a device he owns software written by person B: any legal or technological measures to this end are immoral, and ought to be barred by consumer protection laws.

  • by kithrup (778358) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:48PM (#30624034)

    is that it requires that the app approvers know what patents Apple has in the process.

    This is of course a possibility; it's also a possibility that there's an IP lawyer looking over every submitted (or even ever just-about-to-be-approved) app, for just that kind of thing. But that doesn't really fit with the workflow descriptions that have come out into the open, so I don't think it's very likely.

    (It's also possible that he reviewers are given general directions occasionally, such as, "All Google-submitted apps must be sent to such-and-such for review" or "Any app that uses location services in a social network context must be approved by upper management." Obviously, I made those up :).)

  • Re:Times change (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:52PM (#30624088)
    >> MS has a monopoly and Apple doesn't.

    That is a piss poor excuse for any corporate to get away with anti-competitive behavior. But that's the only thing apple fanbois can come up with.

    MS - I have to use it at work and I let it be that way. But I have never own an apple product and never will. They are so much worse than MS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:53PM (#30624104)
    Yep, it's been about five minutes. Time for another Apple story! Yay!

    Oh, and I'm not surprised some pompous fool has corrected your use of "begging the question." Saying the words "begs the question" begs some pedantic jackass to tell you that you didn't use it correctly. It's like a meta-beg.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:13PM (#30624334)
    While I agree that it is in the consumer's best interest to have Apple open the store to all comers I don't agree that the FTC has legal grounds to slap them with fines (I know you didn't SAY that they had it - just sort of implied that maybe they could). Anyway, the lack of open access to the store is why I don't have an iPhone and instead waited and waited and waited and finally got a Droid (which I am thrilled with). It's also why anyone who cares about this type of issue shouldn't get an iPhone. We all talk about voting with our wallets. Some even practice it. But I sure see a lot of iPhones in the hands of folks who really (if they practiced what they preached) should have known better.
  • Re:Times change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Burdell (228580) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:14PM (#30624342)

    My crappy little free phone can run Google Maps and any of a half-dozen or so other GPS mapping programs that I can download for free. The people that write them don't need my phone manufacturer or cell provider's permission. They can compete with the GPS app that came with the phone. The same is true for web browsers and so many other things. Why is it that when Apple is afraid of the slightest bit of competition and locks it out at every opportunity, people accept it (even for one minute, much less for two years)? Apple's app may be the best thing every made, but if that is the case, it'll be more widely used than Google's on its own merits, not because Apple is afraid to let Google compete with them.

  • by toppavak (943659) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:23PM (#30624440)
    The patent application [uspto.gov] was filed on June 30th 2008. Google released Latitude February 4th, 2009. This would seem to indicate Apple was first, but there's a key difference between the products. The Apple patent specifically deals with sharing location information by text message and only by text message, Google Latitude makes use of mobile internet connections. There's no patent dispute here, merely Apple acting like Apple and rejecting apps which may compete with current or planned functionality that Apple wants to deliver over their platform.

    I am by no means a big fan of Apple or Apple products in general, but for those screaming "anti-trust" Apple is entirely within their right to do this (although whether its the "right" thing to do is questionable) considering A) Apple has nothing near a monopoly over the smartphone market B) A monopoly over one's own product is hardly a monopoly and C) Even if Apple were able to completely supplant Google Latitude among iPhone users, they're not going to be selling their software on the other 90% of smartphones out there anytime soon.
  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:27PM (#30624466)

    It's been pointed out before that Apple doesn't crackdown on jailbreakers

    Other than occasionally pushing out updates with little purpose other than to brick jailbroken phones, you mean.

    Besides that, you're right...

  • by Belial6 (794905) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:38PM (#30624564)
    No. It is not. When they sell it to you, it stops being their product and becomes your product. If Apple wants it to remain theirs, then they should not sell it. They should rent it, or just keep it for themselves.
  • by RattFink (93631) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:42PM (#30624602) Journal

    is that it requires that the app approvers know what patents Apple has in the process.

    ...or far more likely it could mean that approves have a list of gidelines in which they refer to when approving apps, and those gidelines forbid certain kinds of apps, such as those that allow tethering or ones that show the presence of friends on a map that Latitude offers. I don't see why it would require anyone to be in the know of internal app development there.

  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:16PM (#30624932)

    No, by the time they went to clones, that damage was already done. The Mac was this very expensive solution that didnt do much more than a PC that cost $1,000 less. They couldnt compete and decided to sell clones.

  • My device (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:28PM (#30625072) Homepage

    "they'd be hesitant to put an app with the same functionality on their devices"

    But, you see, it's my device. I bought it. I'd like to be able to choose between the Google product and the Apple product and use the best one.

  • Re:Times change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:36PM (#30625148)

    Apple does shitty things, but isn't in a position of direct power over other companies

    What was the topic of this story again? Oh yes, that Apple denied Google's app from the app store because it would compete with Apple's own offering. Sounds like power over other companies to me.

    But the whole "Microsoft is a monopoly" argument never really worked for me. If both Microsoft and Apple do something that is morally wrong, then more people will be affected by Microsoft. But this doesn't make it less morally wrong for Apple. Not being the monopoly is not a "get out of jail free" card.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @03:39PM (#30625814)
    Again, what does that have to do with monopoly? You don't seem to know what that word means. It's like saying Toyota has a monopoly on making Toyota Corollas. It's nonsensical and meaningless.
  • Equivalency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Powys (1274816) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @04:37PM (#30626364)
    What if Microsoft were to ban the installation of OpenOffice, LotusNotes, Word Perfect, etc. because they compete with their Office? I bet this would be a whole different conversation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @05:06PM (#30626648)

    That isn't what "begs the question" means.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @05:35PM (#30626898)

    Obviously if Apple is working on their own version of Google Latitude (or owns the IP rights to this functionality), they'd be hesitant to put an app with the same functionality on their devices from another company."

    If this were Microsoft, we'd be talking about how evilly they were using their monopoly power, to quash a competitor.

    How interesting that we say Obviously Apple would do this...

    In other words, we have already taken for granted that Apple is an even more evil monopolist than MS.

    Microsoft tilted the playing field by giving their software an advantage (such as private APIs), but they never (that we know of) "blocked" competing application programs altogether from their platform, for the purpose of ensuring they were the first to market...

  • Re:Equivalency (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toriver (11308) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:33PM (#30627426)

    Yeah, it's not like Microsoft explicitly aded code to DOS to prevent Lotus 123 from running under the motto "DOS ain't done until Lotus won't run". Oh wait, they did.

    These days they stick to FUD instead of code, thankfully. Maye because they were one presidential election away from an antitrust conviction back when Bush Jr. came into the office?

  • by toriver (11308) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:44PM (#30627526)

    Google's app was probably full of Googlish "we will scrape all info we can find on your device and send to or servers just in case" features that Google fans seem to find a shedload of excuses for.

  • Re:My device (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShinmaWa (449201) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:45PM (#30627542)

    But.. you see.. it's their store. They paid for it. They can choose what they want to sell.

    If the device is tightly bound to the store and you knew that ahead of time (as well you should have), then it's rather your fault for purchasing the device, isn't it. Caveat emptor, and all that.

  • "Bricking" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @09:08PM (#30628474) Homepage

    You mean besides bricking jailbroken phones?

    For one thing, before people started gratuitously applying the word "bricking" to iPhones, that used to mean an action that rendered a device useless beyond repair, which I've never seen happen to an iPhone. As messed up as it may get, you can almost always get back to a known working state.

    For another -- unsurprisingly, updates that expect a given phone state are often unkind to phones in a modified state. Failing to test for and accommodate a hacked phone state is a bit inconvenient, but if it seems like a "crackdown" to you, I don't know what to tell you.

  • *splat* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by garote (682822) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @09:56PM (#30628738) Homepage

    Gee, that sounds an awful lot like how jailbreaking voids your warranty, DOESN'T IT. What were you complaining about again?

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