Bonum Certa Men Certa

Apple's Legal Attack on GNU/Linux and Mistreatment of Developers Already Costing it Business

Steve Ballmer



Steve Jobs
Original photo by Matthew Yohe, modified by Boycott Novell



Summary: Apple upsets some of the very same people who made the company what it is today, including some of the inspirers

Apple is likely to learn the hard way what Microsoft is still learning. Attacking developers is not a wise step to take. First of all, according to this bit of news from the EFF, "All Your Apps Belong to Apple" [if you develop for Apple platforms].

The entire family of devices built on the iPhone OS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) have been designed to run only software that is approved by Apple—a major shift from the norms of the personal computer market. Software developers who want Apple's approval must first agree to the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement.

So today we're posting the "iPhone Developer Program License Agreement"—the contract that every developer who writes software for the iTunes App Store must "sign." Though more than 100,000 app developers have clicked "I agree," public copies of the agreement are scarce, perhaps thanks to the prohibition on making any "public statements regarding this Agreement, its terms and conditions, or the relationship of the parties without Apple's express prior written approval." But when we saw the NASA App for iPhone, we used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to ask NASA for a copy, so that the general public could see what rules controlled the technology they could use with their phones. NASA responded with the Rev. 3-17-09 version of the agreement.


Here is another new post that's titled "Why I don’t use Apple products"

1. Apple’s software is not open-source.

[...]

2. Apple is not open-anything.

[...]

3. They are even closed about other software you can install.

[...]

4. The final straw. Not only does Apple control exactly how you can use any Apple device, they now want to take away your choice to use any other device as well. This week they brought a lawsuit against HTC, the developer of the majority of Android phones, alleging 20 Apple patent violations. Many of these patents seem to be comprised of trivial ideas that should be non-patentable and/or ideas Apple itself stole from other companies. It is clear that Apple is scared of the consumer choice that competition brings and is scared of the innovation that is possible within the open Android framework. Patents were intended to promote independent innovation by protecting small inventors from being scooped by large established corporations. Apple is hijacking the patent system to protect the interests of their large corporation against any competition at all. This is an incredibly dangerous precedent to set that could stifle innovation for many years to come.

[...]

In the important realm of science, technology and ideas, I believe that the continual conversion of ideas and development effort into the private property of companies like Apple is a great threat to continued free innovation.


Apple is attacking Linux at this moment [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It's using software patents. Earlier today (or yesterday) it turned out that Apple was also bullying Sun (patent extortion) over innovative software that Sun was offering to GNU/Linux users, so this aggression is nothing new. Here is some more information about that:

Former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz has a nice insider take on the latest patent craze including how he sent Apple's Steve Jobs and Microsoft's Bill Gates packing when they came looking for a fight.

[...]

In the case of Bill Gates, Schwartz said Gates tried to extract a licensing royalty for OpenOffice, a free productivity suite developed by Sun, because Gates said it copied Microsoft Office.

Schwartz responded by drawing comparisons between Microsoft's .NET platform and Sun's Java technology, which he believed was some of the inspiration for .NET. "We've looked at .NET, and you're trampling all over a huge number of Java patents. So what will you pay us for every copy of Windows?" Schwartz asked. That brought the meeting to a hasty close, he said.


The president of the FFII also found the following news gem this morning:

Apple talks tough to handset makers



[...]

Citing "industry checks," Reiner writes that:
"Starting in January, Apple launched a series of C-Level discussions with tier-1 handset makers to underscore its growing displeasure at seeing its iPhone-related IP [intellectual property] infringed. The lawsuit filed against HTC thus appears to be Apple's way of putting a public, lawyered-up exclamation point on a series of blunt conversations that have been occurring behind closed doors.

"Our checks also suggest that these warning shots are meaningfully disrupting the development roadmaps for would-be iPhone killers. Rival software and hardware teams are going back to the drawing board to look for work-arounds. Lawyers are redoubling efforts to gauge potential defensive and offensive responses. And strategy teams are working to chart OS strategies that are better hedged."
[...]

Why pick on HTC? Reiner speculates that as the earliest and most aggressive user of Android, HTC was the perfect proxy for Apple's real target: Google (GOOG). It helped that Apple and HTC didn't have any supplier relationships that could be disrupted by a protracted legal battle.


Apple continues to show that it's not cool and gentle. Au contraire -- Apple is becoming quite a bully, maybe because of arrogance. It is indicated above that Apple's behaviour has begun turning developers and potential customers away.

"Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D."

--Steve Jobs, Apple CEO

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