CxO Report

Viewpoint

Data at The Edge

With more and more critical data residing at the edge of the enterprise in remote or branch offices (ROBOs) and on client systems, the ability to reliably protect and quickly recover this data has become more critical to business continuity and end-user productivity.

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Vendor Highlight

Mobile Broadband Boost

As the demand for a smooth and seamless integration of Wi-Fi access becomes increasingly important part for the mobile broadband service, Ericsson has announced its 3GPP compliant Wi-Fi network access, control and management solutions.

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Back in 2003 the then fledgling Chinese technology company Huawei found itself facing legal proceedings from technology conglomerate Cisco. The claim was based on the fact Huawei had copied the networking giant’s IOS software and used it in its own switches and routers.

 

During the legal battle, Cisco was able to demonstrate to the court the same bugs and text strings used in its products were also present in the Huawei Quidway lineup. One year later, Cisco agreed to drop the legal proceedings against the Chinese rival with an understanding it would drop the product range and change the manuals. 


The agreement also included Huawei would drop the command line interface and other parameters, which were an obvious verbatim copy of Cisco’s intellectual property. In return, Cisco agreed not to pursue further legal action against Huawei, and both corporations would concentrate on what they do best, innovate. This was a clear case where one party's intellectual property was copied and found to be a clear violation of copyright laws, but was settled diplomatically.

Legal Wrangling

Apple’s litigation could end up damaging the vendor’s reputation. Ultimately, it  will result in a consumer mindset change that the once king of mobile innovation is now a corporate bully, and consumers will eventually side with the underdog, which today is Samsung. Putting Apple’s claims into perspective is akin to creating a patent to cover the timer function on Charles Strite’s first pop-up toaster. Every toaster built since has a timer, whether electrical or mechanical.

 

It is simply a natural progression that subsequent advancement would have this “innovation” and preventing others from using it would simply be anti-competitive. Allowing a patent to be created based on a “gesture” seems incredible at best and bizarre in the extreme, but these are the type of arguments Apple is using as the basis to protect its image and brand.

If Samsung had simply released a smartphone which ran the same operating system (OS) as Apple such as in the case of Huawei vs Cisco, then this would be an open and shut case. However, Samsung uses Google’s Android OS and this has its roots in the open source community. Apple’s arguments are based on cosmetic functionality nuances. The iPhone and iPad products clearly operate differently than Android based products and run different code.

 

This is further complicated in the way each Android vendor can create its own customised skin for the front end interface, and it is this front end interface, which Apple is using to pursue its competitors. What is it that Apple is afraid of? As a technology leader, it should innovate not litigate, its focus should be the next killer product, which leaves the competition in the dust. I believe we will see a significant slowdown from Apple in the innovation department, as it shifts gear and becomes an enterprise that specialises in patent law.

History Repeating Itself

I believe what we are seeing today is a replay of the personal computer battle back in the early 1980s. At the time, most personal computers were the size of a small house, without any graphical capability, and required a computer specialist just to install a printer. When the Apple Mac first appeared it was unlike anything else. It featured a mouse and a point and click GUI, and for the first time, people could start using a PC without any specialized training.

 

Bundling proprietary hardware and software together came at a cost, making the early Macintosh significantly more expensive than competing text based IBM rival’s. As a result, sales of the early Mac were sluggish and eventually gave way to the WinTel platform (Windows running on generic Intel platforms). Had Apple created a licensing agreement back then for its graphical OS, the computing landscape would look rather different today. This is a scenario we are seeing replayed today with smartphones and tablets.

The App Store and the Development Phase

Already the Android OS has a far greater market share than Apple's iOS and the fact the OS is also free of any licensing costs and is open source, doesn’t help either. The number of available applications on Apple's app store compared to Google’s play store was the metric used to determine the popularity of the competing platforms. However, this lead has gradually eroded during the last 18 months, forcing Apple to shift strategy. Initially, Apple required potential developers to purchase a dedicated Intel based Mac and a subscription to the developer program.

However, Apple subsequently made downloading the Xcode development platform free, although still vettes applications before they allowed to be included in the App store which Apple enjoys a percentage. In addition, applications can only be installed from the iTunes store. Android is free of this type of restriction and applications can be installed either directly or via the Google play store. Furthermore, the Android SDK is available for Mac, Windows and Linux. This makes Android development much more flexible in terms of access to the end devices.

The Killer Product

Whatever your opinion of Apple and its products, there is no denying its products have been phenomenal in capturing the imagination and converting technology into a fashion accessory.This is something no other vendor has been able to replicate. Apple’s brand perception is so strong that regardless of how the team back at “Apple Legal” believe the iPhone has been “slavishly” copied, the dedicated followers will remain loyal based on the brand alone. Apple would be wise to focus on this key differentiator, rather than continuous sea of litigation, which in the long term can only do more harm than good.

 

 

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