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Apple Is Giving Away Its Secrets By Litigating 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the letting-the-icat-out-of-the-bag dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple, by going to a jury trial to defend the patents of its most prized products, is allowing competitors and the public to see inside one of the most secretive companies in the world. From the article: 'While in court on Friday, Philip W. Schiller, Apple's senior vice president for worldwide product marketing, pulled the curtain further back when he divulged the company's advertising budgets — often more than $100 million a year for the iPhone alone. Also at the hearing, Scott Forstall, senior vice president for iPhone software, explained that the early iPhone was called "Project Purple." Mr. Forstall said it was built in a highly secure building on Apple's campus. A sign on the back of the building read "Fight Club." Behind the security cameras and locked doors, most employees on the project did not even know what they were working on.'"
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Apple Is Giving Away Its Secrets By Litigating

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  • These are secrets? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @05:30PM (#40889027)

    So the secret sauce I need to become a multibillion dollar multinational corporation is spend a lot on advertising, give my projects fabulous color names, hang up a fight club poster... Thats all it takes?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:05PM (#40890017)

      Yes.

      I mean iYes.

    • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:08PM (#40890037) Homepage Journal

      So the secret sauce I need to become a multibillion dollar multinational corporation is spend a lot on advertising, give my projects fabulous color names, hang up a fight club poster... Thats all it takes?

      It's so easy, a caveman could do it.

    • If you have enough money, there is plenty enough to make.
    • So the secret sauce I need to become a multibillion dollar multinational corporation is spend a lot on advertising

      You had it in the first one. The rest is meaningless window-dressing.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:40PM (#40890231)

        Tell that to Microsoft. They spent half a billion marketing Windows Phone 7 when it launched, but that didn't seem to help. They spent a fortune marketing Bing, even paying people to use it, but that didn't help either.

        Marketing alone is never enough. You have to have the right product at the right time.

        • by Grave (8234) <awalbert88.hotmail@com> on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:47PM (#40890273)

          Marketing isn't just about how much money you throw at it - your ads have to actually be good. The WP7/Bing ads have been awful.

        • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:40PM (#40890573)
          Except for the fact that Microsoft's marketing has been routinely pathetic (anyone remember the Vista commercial with Jerry Seinfeld? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImyK29QLs_A [youtube.com] )

          On the other hand Apple's marketing has been rather catchy (I'm a Mac, I'm a PC and the MacBook Air commercial)

          The biggest problem with Microsoft is that it tries to come up with improvements after the product is already out in the hands of the masses and makes so little improvements that for most its not worth changing. Apple comes up with a product and makes it desirable, it creates a mass market where there only was a niche market before. Apple didn't invent the MP3 player, it invented the market for the MP3 player other than among geeks. Apple didn't invent the smartphone, it made the consumer smartphone market.

          Apple is brilliant in creating a market where there wasn't one before. That, is great marketing.
          • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @10:31PM (#40890791)

            You're almost there. Apple's initial designs have some fairly serious problems, and then they iron out the bugs. Microsoft on the other hand seems intent to rush something out and play catch-up, but they never spend the kind of effort needed to fine-tune the design. Apple, or at least Steve Jobs, wanted everything to be perfect for the user so they are willing to pay a premium. Microsoft is aiming at the general market, often balancing price vs. design.

            iPod was not well-received until the third generation (2003) when a few redesigns were made and iTunes took off.

            iPhone had (relatively) abysmal sales until the end of the second generation, after at least one OS upgrade, and the third generation was on the way (3GS), making second generation less expensive.

            iPad was done very well, mostly because they were in development, realized the same could be done in a phone, and shelved it while they worked out the iPhone. The market was already there, in the form of subnotebooks such as ASUS EEE. They applied what they learned from the iPod and iPhone and got this one right early.

            Apple's marketing is the same way - lots of attention spent on the end user's experience, rather than how much it costs. Just looking at what we've seen already from the trial, Apple continually gets feedback from focus groups, and from various sources it seems they start before the product is out the door. I wouldn't be surprised to see many revisions of advertising before it gets out the door as well, although those are easier to update if it's not hitting the right note.

            Apple: worry about design over price, change the product based on user feedback

            Microsoft: Know corporations will buy whatever you're selling, eventually, and people will buy consumer goods for compatibility

            Different markets, different tactics. It doesn't help that Microsoft's "lost decade" basically left them with barely anything to show for it - a new OS that finally caught up with OS X because it was make-or-break with Vista's debacle, XBOX 360, and advances in its development tools. Microsoft's focus is not on the consumer, and "good enough" is ready for a release. "Good enough" does not exist for Apple, it always needs refinement. Not the mindless UI changes Microsoft has been putting on Vista, Office, and the Xbox dashboard, but addressing actual usability issues.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Apple: worry about design over price, change the product based on perceived user needs

              Fixed that for you. I never asked for them to take away the "save as" option. I never asked them to reverse the default mouse orientation in Lion. I never asked them to change the Safari icons to an asinine color combination where I can't tell the difference between enabled and disabled back buttons. I never asked them to take away functionality from my scrollbar. That is just their OS product.

              • by not flu (1169973)
                OS X has gone downhill since 10.4. I stopped "upgrading" at 10.6 because my laptop came with 10.5 and that was so buggy they had to advertise the next major version as having no new features!
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            On the other hand Apple's marketing has been rather catchy (I'm a Mac, I'm a PC and the MacBook Air commercial)

            Not [youtube.com] any [youtube.com] more. [youtube.com]

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday August 06, 2012 @03:48AM (#40892419) Journal

            It's also a matter of timing. NeXT was doing pretty much everything that the first OS X Macs did - in some cases better - up to a decade earlier. But back when NeXT was doing it you couldn't sell the machines at a profit for anything under $5000, $10000 for a decent one. A bit later, Apple was selling more powerful machines around the $1000 mark.

            The same thing happened with portable media players. The 1.8" hard drives made mass-market ones possible. Earlier ones had used 2.5" laptop drives (too bulky) or flash (64-128MB - enough for one or two albums) and weren't that appealing. The iPod would have been a disaster if it had been released any earlier, because the technology just wasn't there. If it had been released later, then it's possible that the Nomad would already have had enough mindshare that it would have been hard to compete. Apple entered the market at exactly the right time and advertised the hell out of their product so everyone knew about the iPod, whereas only people who read geek news knew about the Nomad.

            Their phones and tablets are a similar story. It's not surprising that everything looks like an iPhone now - the availability of cheap capacitive touchscreens make finger-based touch interfaces popular. We're around the 20th anniversary of Microsoft's first entry into the tablet market, but these machines were huge (remember the size of a battery on a 386 laptop?) and needed a stylus. Being able to interact with the system with your finger - or fingers - is a big shift. Apple jumped in right at the right moment, when a new technology made a new market possible. And, once again, they threw huge amounts of advertising money so people think iPhone-like phone instead of phone-with-capacitive-touchscreen.

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              Being able to interact with the system with your finger - or fingers - is a big shift.

              Yes, a big shift backwards into the land of Fisher Price.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            On the other hand Apple's marketing has been rather catchy

            One person's "catchy" is another person's "twee, smug, cloying, self-satisfied pseudo-hipster brainwank".

        • by Eskarel (565631)

          Microsoft also announced that WinPhone 7 was obsolete within 4 months of releasing the first decent phones for it, which is why when mine broke I bought an Android to replace it.

          Lovely phone, but the fact that it's never going to get any updates to give it the features it's missing is kind of a death knell.

          • by Carewolf (581105)

            What's funny they announced they would give feature updates to WP7 at the same time they announced they couldn't update WP7-hardware to WP8, somehow you end parsing 'will receive updates that will work on their hardware' as 'will not receive updates'. Now, is that a fault of MS, or a fault of your reading comprehension?

            • by Eskarel (565631)

              It's had feature updates, it got wifi tethering, and multi image MMS. It needs a hell of a lot more than that. The phone has a lot of really neat things, but it's about comparable in a lot of ways to a first gen iPhone. Without the update to windows 8 phone, you're not going to see it get where it needs to go. Add into that new phone OS comes with a complete new API which won't be supported by the old devices, but will be supported on tablets, the new win phones, and the three desktops that update to Window

        • In both of those cases, MS was trying to buy it's way into an existing market where people have to be annoyed with what's already there to even begin to think about changing brand.

          Apple tend to be the first to market with viable (thats important) product niches which create a market and are good enough to earn loyalty early on.
      • by russotto (537200) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:23PM (#40890455) Journal

        Which indicates another way to become a multibillion dollar multinational corporation: Sell advertising.

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:27PM (#40890131) Journal
      I also recommend an ace team of lawyers, to defend yourself against other megacorps who do not appreciate new competition. Megacorporations like Apple...
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I recommend an ace team of ninjas.

        Sure, they cost a little more, but unlike lawyers they have standards.

      • Don't forget Megacorporations like Samsung, Motorola, and Nokia; none of which don't have their own ace teams of lawyers and ongoing lawsuits.

        Everyone seems to think that Apple is the only one doing this.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Don't forget Megacorporations like Samsung, Motorola, and Nokia; none of which don't have their own ace teams of lawyers and ongoing lawsuits.

          Everyone seems to think that Apple is the only one doing this.

          Hell, it's not even a new thing. Even way back when there are plenty of lawsuits that targeted Apple - especially in the iPod (but pre-iPhone) era. Creative, Sony, they all launched lawsuits. Nevermind the plenty of class actions and individual actions. It was enough that really, if there was a week where A

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So the secret sauce I need to become a multibillion dollar multinational corporation is spend a lot on advertising, give my projects fabulous color names, hang up a fight club poster... Thats all it takes?

      Well, if the I you mean a charismatic CEO/Founder with a cult following.

      And if you were able to brand your product in such a way that people identify with it to the point of making it an extension of their personality.

      Yes, that's all it takes.

      Although, Apple being the market leader and controller, they have become mainstream and subsequently "un-cool". It doesn't help either that Steve Jobs is dead - their cool-break-the-rules-did-it-his-way-anti-big-corporation-stick-it-to-the-man-and-still-became-a-billi

    • by magarity (164372)

      What it really means is that the next time there's a rumor on the internet about Apple working on a new project called "project " it means it will be some new product. The secret is out!!!

    • by supersat (639745)
      Yes. This is why Project Pink (the Microsoft Kin) broke all sorts of sales records.
    • by Locutus (9039)
      that's what I was thinking. Back in 1995 Microsoft spend a few hundred million on Windows 95 and word was going around that they were spending over $500 million on Windows Phone 7 marketing.

      I guess it's interesting what they did and how they did it but it only that, interesting.

      LoB
    • by donaldm (919619)
      Apple like many software/hardware companies has patents and those patents are there for the world to see. If a so called patent is secret then it is not a patent and should not be defensible unless you can prove industrial espionage. All patents should be able to be understood by peers who normally are people who are equal in such respects as age, education or social class ... etc who with the right tools are able to implement that patent. In the case of software patents the right tools are the human mind a
    • Choosing colors for code names [wikipedia.org] has been done at least since WWII. Apple used to work on an operating system project called Pink [lowendmac.com] which was a disaster. Then there are the Yellow Box and Blue Box monickers they used a couple of years ago. These quaint little details of how Apple works are besides the point however it does show Apple's paranoid tendency towards secrecy. Remember that Foxconn employee who died after losing an iPhone prototype a couple of years back?
    • So the secret sauce I need to become a multibillion dollar multinational corporation is spend a lot on advertising, give my projects fabulous color names, hang up a fight club poster... Thats all it takes?

      Lumia sales provide evidence that such is a falsehood. At least Microsoft was useful for something.

  • Patents are publicly available documents...any way you go...there's no secrecy there at least...Thank you Google!
    • Re:Patents (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LordLucless (582312) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:15PM (#40890077)

      This story isn't about patents, even though the trials are. The things being exposed is exposing stuff like Apple's development methodology and advertising tactics. I guess it also goes to show that the secret to Apple's success isn't it's technological innovation, but it's marketing budget.

      • by bhcompy (1877290)
        And that has really never been debated. Apple is an advertising company that sells the products they advertise for.
      • by Karlt1 (231423)

        " I guess it also goes to show that the secret to Apple's success isn't it's technological innovation, but it's marketing budget."

        Right and marketing has worked so well for Microsoft.

        If all it takes is marketing to make a product a success without a product that people want, then why can't every company do it?

        • by nukenerd (172703)
          Because you need the capital to pay for the advertising before you get the revenue. Not every company has that capital.
          • by Karlt1 (231423)

            So you're saying neither Microsoft, Motorola, HTC, LG, Nokia, or RIM had the capital to advertise? You do remember that Apple was a relatively small player compared to these other companies when the iPhone was introduced? If Apple only markets, then why didnt any other company come out with a phone like the iPhone before 2007? Why were the first Android prototypes BlackBerty imitators? What happened to the Kin? What happened to Nokia? All of these other dead or dying phone companies were out years before A

  • Slow day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:07PM (#40890033) Homepage Journal

    This a slow day samzenpus? This article is bad, and you should feel bad [youtube.com].

    Possibly the worst headline ever. I notice nowhere in the summary or the linked article where Mr. Schiller specifically avoided commenting on the new iPhone due this fall. Don't worry, I'm sure there will be plenty of back and forth between fanboys and fandroids. Slashdot will get pageviews, and my karma will end up in the terlet.

    • by the_B0fh (208483)

      I'm with you. I read through the article, and I want my 2 minutes back. Though, that link to the patent for sawing the woman in half might have been worth it.

      The things they "revealed" are just standard shit people do in development work. $100mil for iPhone marketing is chump change - J&J spends billions in marketing annually. Hell, AT&T spent $150mil in marketing the Lumia - so fucking what?

  • So, by the way, is patenting something. The moment any big tech company files for a patent, hordes of onlookers start speculating on what's behind it.

  • by Meatbucket (2039104) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:12PM (#40890057) Homepage
    So I guess when I code a url in my app to point to the app store for posting a review I finally know what the "purple" means "itms-apps://ax.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewContentsUserReviews?type=Purple+Software&id="
  • ... someone inevitably leaves a prototype on a bar. No other company seems to have this problem. Yawn.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Blackberry, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony etc have the problem that nobody cares about their prototypes.
      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        One of my friends used to work at Rogers. Rogers and RIM have a deal where any time and unrecognized* BB device ends up on Rogers RIM gets notified immediately. And that can go very badly for whomever has the device because it's almost certainly stolen.

        One of my students did a co-op at RIM before that was the case, and I guess this deal with rogers came into being about 3 years ago. He worked there during a transition, where they initially had 'security' that didn't actually care all that much if you wal

    • That's because most other companies are pretty open on when they are going to release stuff. With Apple, its an annoying gamble if you are going to buy from them because if you are unlucky you'll end up with a product that 1 month later is obsolete and a better product is out with the exact same price. While other companies have some of the same risks, they usually decrease the price over the course of the product's life, Apple does not until the "big new thing" is out.
      • That's because most other companies are pretty open on when they are going to release stuff.

        So when exactly will the Galaxy S IV be out?

  • Secrets? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:42PM (#40890245)

    Uh, ok. I admit - I'm an Apple fanboy so I follow Apple news pretty closely but, thus far, nothing secret has been revealed. A large marketing budget for their key products? Uh, duh! A massive and secretive development process behind the iPhone? Seriously, duh! Literally, nothing at all that has been revealed thus far is anything remotely close to a "secret". The closest thing to a secret has been the revelation of specific prototypes but everyone knew there were prototype iPhone designs and most people already had a basic idea of what they looked like - now we have pictures. But the only people who consider any of this a secret are people who don't follow the tech industry at all and anyone who follows Apple surely finds nothing to be a shocking secret thus far.

  • ...most employees on the project did not even know what they were working on

    That's supposed to be surprising? I've seen many a project where the engineers, after a period of spec and requirements changes, didn't know what the hell they were working on...and they had to do it anyway. :]

  • by WankersRevenge (452399) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:59PM (#40890327)

    <old man rant>
    When Slashdot didn't cover the smart phone wars and we conversed open source and linux, then did a healthy microsoft bashing for good measure. I miss those days.

    I get that the editors love the traffic from Apple stories but I find them so damn tiring. Yes, they are a tech leader but does the Slashdot community need to notified about every little quibble? (hey look, a slashdot headline!) If Tim Cook so much as farts, it makes frontpage news here, followed by some idiotic editorial that would be modded flamebait if posted to a story.

    Slashdot reminds me of this video ... with Slashdot playing the role of Paranoia. Now, if only we could successfully "stab em".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bCD8M0EnxA [youtube.com]
    </old man rant>

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      <old man rant> When Slashdot didn't cover the smart phone wars and we conversed open source and linux, then did a healthy microsoft bashing for good measure. I miss those days.

      Well, Balmer's to blame... no fun in bashing microsoft any more.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apple's not doing anything spectacular. The company is just creating a product design that differentiates themselves from the competition and marketing it. They have a lot of money to do that. It's not like they really have anything all that unique functionality wise. They are dependant on the same companies Dell, HP, and everybody else is. That is they are dependent on Samsung for hard drives, Atheros/Realtek/Intel/etc for wireless chipsets, Intel/AMD for CPUs, etc. If they actually were to create a new pr

    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      Yes, people are stupid for not liking things for the same reason I do.

  • by RetiredMidn (441788) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:33PM (#40890525) Homepage

    These are the important secrets?

    It's more likely that Apple's competitors are going to look at this thin slice of evidence and apply it badly, as has been done so frequently in the past.

    I'm more worried about Apple drifting away from its own successful values than I am about somebody else "discovering" them on the basis of this trial's discovery.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Agreed. These are the sorts of things any serious competitor knows already, if not exactly they have a good idea about how much apple is spending on things and so on. They will hire former (disgruntled) apple staff, they'll pour over their public books, half of their competitors are also their suppliers so they know component costs, they can hire people from the phone carriers etc.

    • by LodCrappo (705968)

      Agreed. It would be a shame to see Apple forget the values it was built on: Steal ideas, Maximize profits, Lock in the consumer, and most importantly, lie. Always lie.

  • So i guess that means that Samsung now have to order themselves some big-ass Fightclub posters...
  • I find it curious Apple spends so much money on advertising yet its pretty seldom i have seen an Apple advert at all. Where does all that money go really? Since not much seems to end up in normal advertising one could suspect it was spent on guerilla marketing or astroturfing as i call it.

    • The money Apple spends on suing Samsung and other companies comes out of the advertising budget.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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