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Woz Fears Stifling of Startups Due to Patent Wars 300

An anonymous reader writes "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says that Apple and other tech companies' patent hoarding could prevent entrepreneurs doing the same thing that he and Steve Jobs did in starting a computer company in a garage. Woz also says the jury is still out on Tim Cook as the right CEO to lead Apple forward after Steve Jobs." He still gives Apple a bit of a break: "'Apple is the good guy on the block of all of them,' he says. 'It is creating so much and is so successful and it is not just following the formulas of other companies – [Apple is] totally establishing new markets that didn't exist.'"
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Woz Fears Stifling of Startups Due to Patent Wars

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  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:12AM (#39627099) Journal

    because it goes against the corporate way...

  • by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:12AM (#39627101)

    Of course patent chests are there to stave off the attacks of other massive companies - heck, look at the Facebook response to Yahoo's patent attack - it snaps up a quick 800 patents and uses the new ones against yahoo in retalliation - but they are also used (probably much less noticably) to swat at the small flies that the big boys want to get rid of.

    What better way to make some easy cash, when a start-up has a good idea, point out that your patents invariably make their product "infringe" then come out with their product under your own name - and possibly use your new patents to broker another settlement with some other big player in THEIR new emerging technology.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:14AM (#39627111)

    That's why most startups don't do real business anymore: their model is to hype an idea and be bought up early, by a large corporation with its own protective patent portfolio.

  • What break? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeeeb ( 1141117 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:15AM (#39627119)

    He still gives Apple a bit of a break: "Apple is the good guy on the block of all of them,” he says. “It is creating so much and is so successful and it is not just following the formulas of other companies – [Apple is] totally establishing new markets that didn’t exist."

    I'm not a huge Apple fan but that seems pretty much true to me. They weren't all 100% original (what is?) but iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad have pretty much all created new markets or massively expanded existing ones. I mean I can't remember seeing rows of tablets on sale at my local electronics store prior to the iPad but now every company and his dog seems to have a tablet product. In fact the only tablets I remember hearing about before the iPad were laptops with touchscreens and huge price tags slapped on."

  • Collective Amnesia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:24AM (#39627161)

    Everyone is going to forget about how apple tries to stop everyone with vague patents: lock screens, touch screens, tablets, launching applications by touching icons.

  • Re:What break? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:24AM (#39627169)

    Apple hasn't created anything. Everything existed before. Apple excels at marketing. That's it. They use the same chipsets and the same technology as everybody else. It is so bloody frustrating. Then they get rewarded for removing features and making shit HARDER to use. Yet some how we again say "look out easy it is" when in reality the majority of people run into more problems and can't figure the damm thing out. Is it better than some of Microsoft's offering? Not really. It offers a slight improvement by being the smaller player in some markets. The cost is significant though.

  • Re:What break? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:26AM (#39627185)

    Yeah, relative speaking they're "good". Relative to Bill Gates and his mob, and relative to a lot of other stuff that goes on in corporate America. Even so, they play pretty hard ball, and don't think twice about rolling over their developer community if it suits their supposedly higher purpose. And they're playing pretty hard ball in squashing the incumbents in books, music, magazines, newspapers, film, apps, etc etc. I guess some of those guys deserve to be squashed, but still its going a bit far saying Apple are pure good guys.

  • Re:What break? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:26AM (#39627187)

    No, none of those things they did created a new market. They just moved their brand into an existing market, and somehow, perhaps through sheer customer devotion, convinced enough people there was money in it to bring it together.

    I suppose you could say it was a "massive expansion" but Woz's phrasing was "totally establishing new markets that didn't exist" and that is not true at all.

    That's just rampant fanboyism.

  • Re:Oh Please ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:30AM (#39627201)

    Um... you do realize that AirPrint support is built in to most recent linux distributions, right?
    Apple implemented it in CUPS 1.4.6 (and you can get it running on earlier versions with a little work, since it's mostly just combining a few existing standards).

    But why let facts get in the way of apple bashing.

  • Oh, nonsense. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:38AM (#39627251)

    Apple's savior is an MP3 player. They didn't invent the market, they just made it shinier than it was before.

    If you've read Jobs's bio, he was ready to go nuclear on Google over Android, so yes, Apple's just as ready as anybody else to pound you into sand if you dare try to make anything resembling their products. Apple is not a good guy. If you love Apple products, they're just YOUR bad guy.

    Finally, few people are qualified to tell whether the newly appointed head of a half TRILLION dollar company is going to be successful. Woz is probably more qualified than I am, but not by much. Tbh, I truly believe the only people who are really qualified to know are living in 2017, if not 2022 or so. Ask one of them.

  • Re:What break? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:40AM (#39627265)

    Apple finishes their products though (some use the term polish) unlike many other manufacturers. HTC/Samsung and the rest of the makers of smart phones and electronic gadgets have a tendency to rush things to market and just throw them out before they are complete. They are often not very well thought out and have major bugs and glitches or poor performance in comparison to Apple products.

    Like my brand new Galaxy Nexus for example had a glitch where the sound would randomly go up and down, then they fixed that and now the phones connection is intermittently lost, to top it off the camera and speakers suck both hardware and software wise in comparison to the 4s iphone's. All that was needed was a little more time to iron out the bugs and add some polish, but typical big manufacturers just simply can't or choose not to do so.

    While I dislike Apple's products due to the lack of options, such as a larger screen, removable battery etc.. you simply have to admit they spend an awful lot of time and care on their products to make sure they are polished and the major bugs are worked out.

  • Re:What break? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:42AM (#39627275)

    Because creating a new market is synonymous with fulfilling a previously unrecognized need. It actually is something useful. Not useful in the same way as inventing agriculture was, but useful nonetheless.

  • LoL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daath93 ( 1356187 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:46AM (#39627289)
    Really? Woz is actually going to say anything about patent trolling being bad after his company has just about sued everyone who makes something with a rectangular screen for patent infringement? THAT is f'n priceless.
  • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:56AM (#39627343)

    I disagree. Apple is following the formula of Microsoft, which is to abide by no morals and have no shame.

  • Re:What break? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drcagn ( 715012 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:56AM (#39627345) Homepage

    You're thinking too much like a techie. Regardless of whether the new market was carved out of excellent tech or excellent marketing, Apple is still carving new markets. If the iPad didn't exist, do you think the tablet market would look anything like it does today? No? Then Apple pretty much created a new market.

  • Re:What break? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:04AM (#39627381)

    Expanded the market, perhaps. There were tablets on the market long before the iPad was under development. They just kinda sucked, so there wasn't much demand.

    iPhone? A polished convergence of the touchscreen PDAs and cell phones, without a stylus.

    iPod? The first model lacked features (and had less space) compared to its competitors.

    What market did Apple create, other than the App Store, again?

  • Re:What break? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CoderExpert ( 2613949 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:08AM (#39627403)
    Despite the perceived "fanboyism", there is some truth in that too. I used to think Apple users were huge fanboys before. But this year I got MacBook Air and despite some quirks like different keyboard layout (I'm used to PC) and Finder trying to hide much of the file system, I am quite impressed with it. It is very polished, and despite the GP saying that Apple doesn't innovate, I haven't for example seen multi-touch trackpad in any other laptop. It makes a great difference. The quality of it is also much better than I have used before, as is screen and audio quality (I always wondered why my headphones sounded like shit with my old laptop even while it cost 3000 dollars!).

    The overall product is very finished. On top of that you get a nice UNIX system on the background and tons of apps that come with it. For example Automator and the system-wide services menu for your scripts make a HUGE difference.

    And of course, there are also many commercial games available for the platform and now that Steam is too, there should just be more. Linux just cannot compete that. Even if you are a geek, OS X is a very good choice, as it's pretty much what Linux on desktop should be.
  • Re:What break? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ryanrule ( 1657199 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:12AM (#39627431)
    I expect this to go away. This sort of perfection was the result of a giant cock up top who could say, "X is not acceptable, fix it, no alternative." Your average exec is an mba, who all about cost vs reward. Not the engineering mindset of X or nothing.
  • Re:What break? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slippyblade ( 962288 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:18AM (#39627459) Homepage

    You haven't seen multi-touch trackpad in other systems because of... PATENTS!

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:27AM (#39627511) Homepage

    You say yourself that there was no market because they sucked.

    Make things that don't suck, and the market emerges.

    Look, I get tired of the mindlessness of the Apple critics.

    I was a smartphone user for years and held off for two years on getting an iPhone once iPhone was released because I was sure that it couldn't be that much better, that it was all hype. After all, I already HAD a smartphone that I was completely satisfied with (a high-end Treo).

    Boy did I feel stupid when I finally got my first iPhone (a 3GS, some months after it had been released). I realized that I had been walking around using a Treo when I could have been about 10x as functional and connected on the go using an iPhone, which was a device in a completely different *universe* if you actually wanted to get stuff done with your phone.

    Listen, everyone *knew* there was no market for tablets before iPad. That was exactly the critique and it was spot-on. But Apple executed so well (and at half the price that people had imagined) that they CREATED a market out of whole cloth. Hell, half the people on Slashdot still argue that the iPad market is non-existent and will dry up just as soon as people "wake up" and realize that the device they're using is... I don't remember how the argument goes, exactly. Useless? Overpriced? Stupid? Whatever. I dont' care. The market didn't exist until iPad.

    Listen, in 2007 I was a hardcore Linux user. Slackware 2, 3 -> Red Hat 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 -> Fedora 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. I walked around with a Treo. I was one of the few tablet users with a Toshiba Portege m200, an upgrade from the separate Thinkpad T-series and Vadem Clio tablet team I'd used previous to that.

    In 2009 I finally grudgingly tried an iPhone and a day later had one of my own. By 2010 I was all Apple with an iPhone, an iPad, and a Macbook Pro. It's not because I'm an apple fanboy. I *was* a Linux fanboy and an irrational Apple critic, and I realize that only in retrospect.

    Maybe you don't like Apple products, but to question whether or not they created the market for capacitive touch low-button smartphones or capacitive touch tablets that run a mobile OS? That makes you sound like an irrational Apple critic of the same sort that I was.

    Apple makes fabulous stuff. They are *not* the Apple of 1997, but most Slashdot Apple critics don't realize that because they're steadfastly trying to convince themselves either that (1) Apple is incompetent at everything but marketing (despite a decade and a half of growth) or (2) Apple is the second coming of Microsoft (who was never, ever as creative or innovative on their very best day).

  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:41AM (#39627561) Journal

    Seriously, what a fucking blind spot, Woz. If anything, Apple is the most vicious patent suer of all. I really hope B&N fucks Apple's patent portfolio for good.

    I am particularly irritated by Woz's assertion, because it just plays into the zombie-Jobs reality distortion field.

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:42AM (#39627563) Journal
    We are all aware that patents do this, and it's not an accident. This is what patents are for.
  • Re:LoL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kahlandad ( 1999936 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:50AM (#39627599)

    Woz wanted to give away the Apple I schematics for free... I don't think he's the Apple founder you should be bashing.

  • Re:What break? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:51AM (#39627805) Journal

    and a good balance between battery life, performance, looks and cost that no-one else was achieving at the time.

    And who else is now? Serious question.

  • by TomHeal ( 2261306 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @03:44AM (#39628019)

    Here is my summary:

    Apple got to the top fairly because it has great products. That is good.
    Apple is trying to stay at the top by killing its competitors unfairly. That is bad.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @04:54AM (#39628245)

    That's why most startups don't do real business anymore: their model is to hype an idea and be bought up early, by a large corporation with its own protective patent portfolio.

    Fantastic. So now it's not just the product that is complete vaporware, it's the entire business too.

    Go figure that our legal system would be so damn broken as to literally change the entire purpose of a new business.

  • Re:What break? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by boaworm ( 180781 ) <> on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:12AM (#39628309) Homepage Journal

    There have been many multi touch implementations, just because someone was the first to file doesn't mean they were first to think up the general concept. Hell any kindergartner that's given some finger paint is prior art for 'multi touch' as far as I'm concerned.

    Most inventions feels "obvious" once you have used them, but before that you wouldnt think of them. And putting crayons on a paper is hardly the same as using hand gestures to control a computer. Don't get me wrong, I dislike software patents. I just dont think your example is very good.

    To give you an example, back in 2006 I bought an iPod Movie. The ones that look like the original iPod. I loved it and it worked fine, I watched movies on intercontinental flights before there were inflight entertainment systems on my carrier. My only reservation was the limited screen size. So my idea was to put a bigger screen on the back of the device, hidden behind the metallic case. So you would control it with the scrollwheel and once the video was playing, you'd flip it and watch the screen on the rear side.

    Now that every device has a touchscreen it seems so obvious to control your gadgets by touching the screen, but at that time it never ocurred to me. I just saw the obvious problem of not being able to fit the touch-scroll-wheel on the front without reducing the size of the display.

  • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:28AM (#39628383)

    This deal is insane. The next Internet bubble is going to burst soon.

  • Re:What break? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:34AM (#39628407)

    >What market did Apple create, other than the App Store, again?

    Wait... you mean a curated software source with automated installs for ease-of-use, quality control and malware protection ?
    Linux had that in mid-1990s.

  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @06:53AM (#39628745) Homepage Journal

    iPhone? a jump? the only thing it did "first" was capacitive touchscreen.

    same goes for a lot of other tech and "markets". they didn't create application selling.

  • by HuguesT ( 84078 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @06:58AM (#39628771)

    Apple is innovating in the iDevices department, nobody can say the contrary. They own the market, everybody is rushing after them and so far, failing. However a tablet is purely a consumer device. What about the developer market, the enterprise, and the innovators that have made Apple possible ?

    Here I do hear you, they are letting OS X go fallow. Mountain Lion is already a huge disappointment, as was Lion before it. Its cloud support is lackluster, the server parts are even more dreadful than before. OS X cannot really be recommended for developers on the desktop anymore. Think that the only halfway decent software RAID solution for OSX is the one coming from the abandoned port of ZFS all these years ago and picked up by enthusiasts. GCC is stuck at 4.2 and LLVM is not really progressing compared to the GCC behemoth. As far as I can tell, we are not sure Apple is going to ever upgrade the Mac Pro again. The list goes on.

  • Re:Woz and Jobs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @07:33AM (#39628927)

    Street Smarts is a nice way of saying Snakeoil Salesman.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.