Someone Stole Your Brilliant Business Idea?




 You’re in good company. Even the late Steve Jobs had his complaints about this. In a biography of the Apple founder, Mr. Jobs complains that Android was “grand theft”, and he vowed to fight back. Is Android a rip-off of the iPhone? It certainly followed Apple.  The iPhone was launched in 2007, Android was launched in October, 2008. Apple introduced its App Store in July, 2008. Android Market came out a few months later. Even though it entered the marketplace later, by 2010, Android captured 44% of all mobile app downloads in Q2 2011, passing Apple’s 31% stake (see CNET report) The numbers are hard to crunch (remember, iOS is on multiple hardware devices made by one manufacturer, and Android sits on over 40 smartphones made by six manufacturers), and Apple’s system comes out on top by some measures, but by August 2011, some estimates put Android at a leading 48% of the smartphone market share.

So there is no doubt that Android has stormed from behind as a credible alternative to Apple’s ecosystem, but does that make it a “stolen idea”? Not from the perspective of intellectual property law, since there is no protection in the overall idea of a mobile platform that can run third-party apps. The real question is whether Google copied iOS code (there’s been no suggestion of that), used Apple’s trade-marks (nope), or infringed any of Apple’s patents (see this story for one of the many Apple vs. Android patent fights). 

In any event, there is a fine line between infringement and inspiration. Legend has it that Mr. Jobs was “inspired” by the mouse he originally saw at a Xerox research facility. Neither did Mr. Jobs invent the MP3 player or the idea of a mobile device running third-party apps. My Palm Treo was doing that years before the iPhone was launched.

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

No comments yet. Be the first.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.