Dear Leo –
I was listening to Mac Break Weekly this morning on my commute and truly enjoyed your conversation about software patents and Apple’s behaviour in regards to it. I personally feel that Apple’s pursuit of market share via litigation is reprehensible. With that, software patents are necessary. As a software developer I know that I work very hard in designing and implementing the algorithms I use to make the programs I write do what they need to do. The problem with the current system is that the concept rather than the algorithm is being patented.
If you think about it, AltaVista (or maybe Lycos was the first) could have patented a “system of indexing the contents of a computer network” and used that patent to prevent Google from even existing. Apple is trying to control the concept of unified search and not the algorithms that they use. If Apple could show that the algorithms and methods used by Google copy Siri (which they obviously cannot), they would have a legitimate case for a lawsuit.
I think Apple knows that it’s tossing money out the door in many of these lawsuits but in keeping competing products out of the market they are using litigation rather than innovation to reacquire market share that they lost. I look at the announcements that Apple made during WWDC regarding iOS6 and I see some nice features – none of which are especially new to the world – but nothing ground breaking, revolutionary or even especially innovative. I have used iOS products since I bought the first generation iPod Touch and Android phones since the Nexus One. I have enough experience with both to be able to say that Apple is now in the same position (software wise) that Microsoft had been when it released Windows 98 – nice evolutionary jumps but nothing special. I would love to see Apple spend the time and energy more in innovation and less in litigation.