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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11555/apple-the-monopolist/

Apple the Monopolist

January 28, 2010 by

iPad

Apple’s products seem light years ahead of the competition. By the time the competition starts getting vaguely close to making a product that approximates its excellence and elegance, Apple announces the new thing that is more astonishing than ever, and the whole thing starts again.

This came home to me this last week when I once again tried the Sony Reader, only to realize (once again) that it is nowhere close to being as good a reader as the iPhone itself, which is a product miles and miles ahead of the hundreds of phones you see lined up at Wal-Mart or Verizon. The same is true in laptops.

Now of course we have the iPad, which not only bests every ebook reader on the market but seems like it could smash the laptop market too. Whatever the future is, it seems to belong to Apple.

How can one company be so consistently amazing and yet be so consistently alone in this regard? One part of the answer is obvious: it is a great and innovative company. It deserves all credit for being so.

However, in free enterprise, entrepreneurs make money by emulating successful producers and improving on them in a way that will threaten the market share of the dominant players. In this way, profitability can only be assured by constant innovation and cost cutting, all to the benefit of consumers.

We see this process at work in the design industry — whether fashion, architecture, or home products. The rich pay high dollar for unique products, only to have knockoffs appear at discount stores, at very low prices, a few years later.

Why doesn’t it work this way with Apple? Why is the competitive process of emulative rivalry not working as it might? Well, it’s the patent, the government-granted monopoly for this sector of innovation. Apple has a massive patent war chest that grows by the day, and is open about its desire to retain it. Apple’s Tim Cook said last year, “We like competition as long as they don’t rip off our IP. And if they do, we will go after anyone who does.”

Of course this blows away a central point of market theory, namely that successful firms teach and inspire other entrepreneurs to change their production plans, drifting away from less profitable paths toward more profitable paths, to adopt the new process that consumers have suggested is the most socially desirable path. This cannot happen if the winning company is working with the government to short-circuit the process.

And sure enough, the U.S. Patent Office granted Apple a number of patents on the eve of the launch of iPad. One covers a proximity detector in handled devices. PCMag further reports that Apple gained patents for “the management of wireless channel bandwidth, with applications in video conferencing; color management, so that colors are accurately represented across a range of devices; an image-rotation patent, that orients the image to the same orientation as to when the image was originally captured; and two other patents, covering switching IC ports to card slots, and timeline-based manipulation of audio and video tracks.”

There is something very wrong here. Innovations are supposed to advance the social order, not merely cause everyone to cling to a single company as the savior of mankind. I asked an Apple fan why it is that Microsoft gets such a bum rap for its patents but the same crowd rarely blasts Apple for the same activity. The answer: because Apple’s products are so good.

Yes, that’s right. It’s products are great, great enough to be profitable without the artificial subsidy. As Bastiat said, all innovation goes through three stages:

  1. one firm possesses unique knowledge and profits from it;
  2. others imitate and share in profits;
  3. the knowledge is widely shared and no longer profitable on its own, which thereby inspires new knowledge.

What Apple’s patents do is artificially prolong the first stage — to the detriment of all. But, one might say, Apple would not be so innovative were it not for the patent office. Actually, that line doesn’t make any sense. The patent office is open to all. Apple seems to be the company with all the greatest hardware innovations. In other words, what is unique about this company is not its patenting ability but its innovating ability — herein we find its value added to the world. Would that it could add that value without having recourse to the state to prevent others from emulating its success.

{ 85 comments }

Luke January 28, 2010 at 5:47 pm

I was looking for unity in the Libertarian movement and walked into the IP debate. Forgive me, I will move on to another thread.

(8?» January 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I have the new iTouch, which I consider to be the greatest handheld computer to date.

What I’ve read about the iPad though, makes me wonder why anyone would want to pay so much for so little?

Here’s the killer, there is no multi-tasking. It is strictly a single usage device.

The only value I can see that this device provides is to alert me to presence of people with more money (err… credit, I mean) than sense. There is nothing that it does that another cheaper device does not do better (including video).

Stephan Kinsella January 28, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Allen:

“It’d probably be better to just save up for a cheap Macbook Air:”

I have an air. At this point I’d trade it for an iPad. I love the Air’s size, I love its instant on, I love OS X. But the Air is VERY HOT, VERY SLOW, cannot even process Skype video chats. It’s poorly designed. I WISH tehy would improve the processor, battery life (which is terrible) and heating, and make a 15″ version–my dream computer. But if you gave me an IPad I’d trade my Air for it.

“I think people are too smart to purchase the iPad over the far better alternatives out there.”

I don’t recommend you make any bets on that! :)

Hubbard: “Why am I not suprised to see the anti-IP lobby (the looter gang) aggressively bashing up on a successful company?”

Hubbard, I love Apple. I am all Mac. Lew Rockwell loves Mac. Jeff likes Mac. What are you babbling about?

“Well if that were the case they wouldn’t have filed patents?”

Given the system, they need patents to defend themselves. And having patents lets you protect your market–erects barriers to competition.

But the system imposes costs on you too.

” I mean the arrogance of this. This is one of the world’s most successful companies, and Mr Kinsella informs us they’re doing it all wrong and could be doing much better.”

? I think they are doing fine, adapting to a statist system. In a free market, they’d do even better.
Silas:

“‘ To Silas’s snarky comment, it is clear that Tucker is right: that patents do extent stage 1 of Bastiat’s three stages of innovative production. In other words, artificial rights granted by the state skew and distort the market. Big surprise.’

“That’s not incredibly insightful, nor is it good economics. What is the “right” length for stage 1?”

Whatever prevails on the market. When the state prolongs it they distort the market, just as when the state lowers interest rates.

Hubbard:

“Mr Kinsella, despite your statement on that other thread, there seem to be a number of pro-IP libertarians left.”

No real libertarians. :)

Hubbard: “Kinsella says Galt’s Gulch is anarchist: it is anything but. It’s full of innovators escaping those that seek to live off the products of their minds.”

Anarchists can’t be innovators? Vas?

Alexander S. Peak January 28, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I do not recall any IP protectionism being employed by the people of Gult’s Gulch, nor do I recall hearing about the one judge in Galt’s Gulch enforcing an IP claim. (In fact, if I recall correctly, the judge didn’t do anything judicial.)

Patents have no place in a free market. They may have a place in a corporatist state, under state socialism, or under fascism, but they are incompatible with the free market.

Sincerely,
Alex Peak

Silas Barta January 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm

@Stephan_Kinsella:

me: “That’s not incredibly insightful, nor is it good economics. What is the “right” length for stage 1?”

you: Whatever prevails on the market. When the state prolongs it they distort the market, just as when the state lowers interest rates.

So, in other words, you failed to read the rest of my comment, where I pre-empted this possible response for its circular logic. Remember this?

you know based on what the market does, *given* a set of property rights. But which property rights should exist is the very question to begin with! Do you not see the circularity?

Is it too much to ask that you give responsive replies?

Peter_Surda, help me out here!

Mark Hubbard January 28, 2010 at 8:54 pm

I do not recall any IP protectionism being employed by the people of Gult’s Gulch, nor do I recall hearing about the one judge in Galt’s Gulch enforcing an IP claim. (In fact, if I recall correctly, the judge didn’t do anything judicial.)

Well, Galt’s Gulch was envisaged and written by the woman who said:

Patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal “Patents and Copyrights”

Mind you, I realise that anarchists have no respect for anyone’s ownership of IP and are trying to re-write the whole bloody novel.

Magnus January 28, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Is it too much to ask that you give responsive replies?

What kind of response do you predict that you will most likely receive from people as the result of your comments? How do you predict people will respond? With openness? With generosity? With curiosity? With praise?

History and common sense will tell you that such responses are unlikely if not impossible. It’s not reasonable to expect people to respond in the opposite way that you invite them to respond. You already know this, of course.

So, the question is: why, do you think, you prefer, invite, and do everything in your power to receive hostility?

What is it about you, your emotional life, your childhood, and (I am sure) the parenting you received that have brought you to the point where you repeatedly seek the kind of responses you naturally and inevitably get?

Debating IP is merely the means by which you are relating to people. The real question is: why do you choose to relate to people in your chosen mode?

Fritz January 28, 2010 at 9:05 pm

It’s like we learned when we were 3: if you don’t want anyone to know your secret, don’t publish it in a worldwide public database detailing every excruciating step in the build process using not only words but images as well. Or maybe my parents were strange??
Ideas aren’t property, or every single sci-fi writer and film maker would be getting royalties for a touch-screen, electronic, information-containing device. Setting up all kinds of stipulations on how IP is different is just denial. Or take a base product: olive oil. What if someone had a patent on that? Now it’s a little asinine but for some reason it makes sense the more complex an idea it is? Not to me. The first person to do something doesn’t have a right to be the only person to do something.
What I also find intriguing, is all this open-source gadgetry and software that exists! I thought patents were necessary and yet there aren’t many copies of these ideas. Strange indeed…

danq January 28, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Is it just me or does anyone really care about “the future”?

I don’t think high prices are so much Apple’s patents, they are inflated just to market themselves as “the future” as you say.

It’s the same with cell phone accessories. There is no way these things cost anything near those prices to manufacture, market, and sell.

Well at least I’m saving money… :)

Jeremy January 28, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I might not be up to date on things within the movement, but if I’m not mistaken Rand didn’t have many kind words for libertarians. If that’s the case, I have a question: Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the objectivists here insist on being grouped in with the libertarians (who are supposedly divided on the IP issue) when Rand herself was hyper-exclusive? I think Tucker, Kinsella, et. al. deserve kudos for having the patience to put up with the same arguments from the same people on every single IP related thread. Not that the dispute is trivial, but I suspect Rand herself would have ex-communicated dissenters of a similar nature. I respect the Objectivist position but I think it’s time they stopped being so divisive, especially if they want to be counted among libertarians. Of course, I may be completely off-base here…

Silas Barta January 28, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Hm, I wonder what its says about someone who’d rather talk about my childhood than debate the issues at hand?

Let’s stick to the topic, Magnus.

(Btw, the reason people make ill-informed responses to me is that they don’t have a better way to respond, not because my tone has somehow upset them. See: your nearest mirror.)

George P. Burdell January 28, 2010 at 10:21 pm

A few points. First, Apple is a horrible monopolist, that has always been their modus operandi. However, they have historically not had a majority market share, so no one, other than some technical enthusiast, have noticed. But, like with the app store and the move to a PC architecture, Apple will eventually have to open up their platform, or someone else will either beat their product or will create a product that is almost as good as the iPad, but more open that will take away market share from Apple.

Second, the number of patents does not really mean anything in the technology industry. Most of the patents are frivolous and/or have prior art and would not hold up in court if they were ever challenged. Microsoft got in trouble not too long ago when they claimed Linux violated 200+ of Microsoft’s patents. However, when Linux users and a few foundations called Microsoft’s bluff, Microsoft retracted their claim.

Lastly, Apple laptops are not miles ahead of all other laptops. While Apple does have excellent general consumer-laptops, Lenovo (formerly IBM) Thinkpads are legendary among the business-user and power-user segment of the market, Alienware makes some of the best gaming laptops, and Asus is a leader in netbooks.

Gene Berman January 28, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Silas Barta Mark Hubbard Shannon Love

Let’s take our side of this discussion off the thread.
Email me (gene.berman@verizon.net) as to how and where we can discuss the intrusion of extremism into what was originally intended as a site specifically devoted to the dissemination of Austrian/Misesian economic theory. Suggestions? Comments? (But not here, please.)

Gil January 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm

So there news abuzz in the U.K. about a dedicated 3-D sport channel. Yes, innovation has slowed to a crawl – not!

Gil January 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Phew! For a second I thought Magnus had beaten me to the punch when I saw a youtube link. So here’s the youtube video mocking Apple users:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZGIn9bpALo

Magnus January 29, 2010 at 7:23 am

Hm, I wonder what its says about someone who’d rather talk about my childhood than debate the issues at hand?

Let’s stick to the topic, Magnus.

I’m sure you’d prefer to stick to the pointless business of pretending to discuss IP. That’s a key part of being stuck in your current psychological state — you not only prefer but desperately WANT to remain in an imaginary condition of martyrdom. You are the lead actor in your self-serving fantasy as the lone voice of reason in a world of irrationality, or however you see it. You don’t ever want that to end, I am sure.

People don’t take your “arguments” seriously because the obvious purpose of them is to act out your psychological problems, not to “debate” anything substantive or arrive at any conclusions. If that were true, you’d habitually do the opposite of what you always do. You clearly want the kind of responses you always get. Why is that?

Only you know why. Only you know the underlying reason you continue to engage in this pattern, week after week, year after year.

Kerem Tibuk January 29, 2010 at 8:51 am

I actually agree with Magnus.

There is something wrong with Silas Barta. Why would anyone keep engaging idiots over and over, week after week, year after year?

Go and find something else to do Silas Barta.

clay barham January 29, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Depending on bureaucrats in a central, big government, to create new jobs that grow beyond just field stoop labor is impossible, as the Old World has shown. Creating new, challenging, growing and changing jobs has only been done by individuals, free pebble droppers who think out of the box and make wakes and waves, with no fear of punishment by government elite. They create the small business that, when successful, grows to large businesses, such as Apple and Microsoft. That was proven in America and is the reason for its prosperity when compared to high unemployment Old World managed economies, cited in Save Pebble Droppers & Prosperity on Amazon and claysamerica.com

Russ January 29, 2010 at 2:33 pm

mpolzkill wrote:

“Russ: “shorthand way of saying”

I see. Kind of like “Fairyland”. (haha)”

Nope. Just a catchy shorthand. I have used the term “Ancapistan” for years, since the time when I was an anarcho-capitalist myself, and used to hang out on anti-state.com.

mpolzkill January 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm

That is a frivolous, fundamentally wrong-headed word to use, Russ. It’s no wonder you turned back to statism.

Scott D January 29, 2010 at 4:13 pm

“That’s not incredibly insightful, nor is it good economics. What is the “right” length for stage 1? How do you know? Well, you know based on what the market does, *given* a set of property rights. But which property rights should exist is the very question to begin with! Do you not see the circularity?”

If the “property right” is unjust, then it is no right at all. It is a state-granted privilege. And, just like mercantilism, we can see the effects of IP, who benefits and who is harmed, in its market distortions. I see no circularity.

Magnus is right though. I won’t bother checking back here, knowing the insulting comments I’ll get from you, if you bother to respond.

Russ January 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm

mpolzkill wrote:

“That is a frivolous, fundamentally wrong-headed word to use, Russ. It’s no wonder you turned back to statism.”

You need to grow a sense of humor. This is the kind of anarcho-puritanism I expect from you, though. It seems your only source of joy is rooting out heresies.

Russ January 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Scoot D,

I have to side with Silas on this one. The whole argument is: Should IP be considered property? Only after we have determined what should be considered property should we “let the market decide”. When SK, in answer to Silas’ question, says that we should just let the market figure it out, that raises the question: *which* market? The market with IP, or the market without? SK assumes the market without IP, which implicitly assume that IP should not be considered property. This may not be a circular argument, strictly speaking, but it is at least a form of the begging the question fallacy.

mpolzkill January 29, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I don’t think that you really know me well enough to psycho-analyze me, Russ.

This “puritanism” line of yours is typical of you public atheists as well. Totally fabricated to fit your bias. How about you give that a rest, too?

There’s only a handful of “heresies”, and you know them. Don’t steal, assault or murder. And there’s nothing to laugh about regarding what your big brother in D.C. has done since all you poor little sheep got so rattled by 9/11. That’s always the only subject with us, because you should know better, quisling.

Russ January 29, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Quisling?! Yeah, a religious fanatic hates nothing more than an apostate, huh?

mpolzkill January 29, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Come on Russ, that’s a stretch, even for you. There was nothing remotely religious about Quisling or why he is despised. He probably just thought he was being utilitarian. I was also making a reference back to your old hyperbole about me calling you a Nazi. I said you’re no Nazi, just a tiny little quisling.

Alexander S. Peak January 29, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Mr Hubbard writes, “Well, Galt’s Gulch was envisaged and written by the woman who said…”

I’m familiar with Rand’s position on IP. I did not comment on that. It was not my intent, in writing my response, to make consideration of the original intent of the author, but rather to analyse what we can know of Gult’s Gulch from a purely literalist perspective. Rand makes no mention whatsoever, if I recall correctly, of IP being enforced in Gult’s Gulch. One can debate whether it’s good or whether it’s bad that she makes no mention of this, but it’s not my intent currently to engage in such a discussion.

I do not know what you mean by your claim that anarchists are trying to rewrite Atlas. The only mention of anyone rewriting it that I know anything about is the attempts of various people to write it into a movie script. Last I heard, attempts to turn the book into a movie have been suspended again.

Sincerely,
Alex Peak

Ohhh Henry January 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm

I’m familiar with iPod Touches because my kids have them. While they are very nice gadgets, they have a couple of very irritating features. The first is their attachment to iTunes, the second is the lack of support for various movie formats. Both of these appear to exist because of Apple’s attachment to “intellectual property”, meaning they try to force you to pay for expensive, legally-licensed content instead of free, shared content.

To modify your iPod or iPhone to be more flexible and useful is called “jailbreaking” by the people who do it. How appropriate.

I’m told that in China (where else) there are iPod Touch imitation products which function similarly but which are far more open to loading and sharing content. I assume that very few people in China feel the need to pay Apple $1 for every song and $20 for every movie (or whatever iTunes charges). The way that foreigners describe it to me, the USA is in danger of becoming a technological backwater because of this commitment to abstract and unenforceable “property” law.

Kerem Tibuk January 30, 2010 at 2:11 am

“I’m familiar with Rand’s position on IP. I did not comment on that. It was not my intent, in writing my response, to make consideration of the original intent of the author, but rather to analyse what w
e can know of Gult’s Gulch from a purely literalist perspective. Rand makes no mention whatsoever, if I recall correctly, of IP being enforced in Gult’s Gulch. One can debate whether it’s good or whether it’s bad that she makes no mention of this, but it’s not my intent currently to engage in such a discussion.”

Enforcement of a right is not a primary aspect of that right. Many people confuse this regarding rights.

If everyone behaved ethically there would be no need for enforcement and the lack of enforcement wouldn’t mean there were no rights. I don’t remember enforcement of any tangible property rights in Galt’s Gulch either. Does this mean Galts Gulch was a communist utopia?

Adolph Cervantes February 6, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I have an Android with Verizon, and it is not all that. Apps are terrible, to many force closes, very slow. It is just not the same as an iPhone. The iPhone is still 5 years ahead of every one else. Verizon service is getting slower and slower and customer service sucks. We need a carrier that will step up and provide the service. The iPhone is the best hands down.

Jaycephus April 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I had an ATT phone prior to getting the DROID on Verizon. My experience is just the opposite. It’s fast, slick, and does everything I see my iPhone acquantances doing, and it has fast 3G that covers far more areas than ATT. My iPhone buddies tend to turn green around the gills a bit when they play with my Droid. With the recent upgrade to Android 2.1 (the latest version out), my Droid has a very similar experience to what is advertized for the iPad (pinch-zoom, animated gallery, book-reader, mp3-player, vid player, games, etc.), minus a video store. And Amazon is coming out with both a Kindle and an Amazon Video app for Android. (They already have a DRM-free MP3 download app that I use a lot.) Granted, the Droid is smaller than an iPad, but between my Droid and my laptop, I would have to be a true apple fanatic to spend $500 on an iPad. To say the iPhone is FIVE years ahead of everyone else is just blatant apple fanaticism. IMO, the Droid/Android 2.1 is easily ahead of the current iPhone in general, though you could certainly find positive points in iPhone’s favor. You might be surprised to know that a survey in March by ChangeWave Research found that respondents chose the Android OS over iPhone for their next future smart-phone purchase, 30% vs 29%. Another survey of developers found that 87% were ‘very interested’ in iPhone dev, up from 86% the previous quarter, but the same survey saw Android rise from 68% to 81% as devs see the Android market growing. That says a lot of apps will be targeted at both platforms. AdMob has also tracked mobile OS traffic over the last year, with iPhone actually dropping in the last few months and Android rising to a near dead heat. The Droid beat out the iPhone in sales over the first 74 days of each phone. FIVE years behind? Really? Check out the new HTC Droid Incredible that is about to release on Verizon. Its essentially the Nexus One with new 8MP camera.

I’m not an Android fanatic. I’d go back to a WinMo phone if they get their act together and make a better phone than the competition. I’m more familiar with .NET programming than I am C++/Android Java, so I’d rather develop for WinMo phones as well. But right now, the Droid simply is the best phone for me. Due to ATT coverage, the iPhone wasn’t an option. I almost didn’t buy the Droid due to iPhone fanatics trashing the Droid in YouTube reviews, but somehow the reviews didn’t match the in-store experiences I had, and now I’m extremely glad I bought it.

Jaycephus April 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm

The US PO granted a patent to TRW for the resistor-capacitor circuit. (Yes, a resitor and capacitor in series.) They also granted a noted patent-abuser (now dead but survived by a corporation whose only purpose is to collect fees for the use of his so-called ‘IP’) a patent for the use of an utterly undefined ‘camera system’ on a factory production line for broad, undefined purposes. This patent was successfully used to collect licensing fees from all producers of industrial bar-code & 2D code readers and machine vision system manufacturers. The largest machine vision maker stood up to this company and fought this patent over the course of about a decade, finally succeeding in getting this instance of patent-abuse ended.

The truth is that you can patent just about anything that is ‘unique’. Apple just got the patent on the ‘design’ of the iPhone. (I thought Dial had that design sewn up long ago.) It appears that every aspect of these devices must be patented, not just to create a ‘monopoly’ on the design, UI, etc., but also to defend oneself from companies like Apple. If you create a panoramic UI for a phone, you better patent it. Oops, too late. MS just patented that. But they have to, or then Apple will add that to their iPhone OS, patent it, and sue you. So now companies have to engage in defensive patenting. LIke TRW’s R-C circuit patent, MS may never sue anyone for ‘infringing’ on their panoramic UI patent. But now it is a weapon they can use against enemies like Apple who may attempt to sue because, for example, the Zune does something the iPod already does. Then MS lawyers can counter-sue on some other patent they own, and finally licensing rights are quietly exchanged to end the battle. One thing these examples have in common is that the ‘innovations’ in question were not first created by the respective companies. They were only the first to apply to the US PO. So is there anything about patents as currently implemented that are compatible with Free-Market Enterprise?

Jaycephus April 17, 2010 at 11:50 am

I bought an original Mac 128 and printer for about $2500 after student discount when they first came out. It was a great system that really was years ahead of IBM. Unfortunately, it was a very closed system. A new user like myself couldn’t easily create programs for it. Their initial advantage was squandered over the next several years, mainly due to the fact that Apple and third-party software was very thin, which IMO was a result of the barriers to entry Apple erected in the name of controlling user-experience, ironically keeping ‘the masses’ out of development. There was a distinct dissonance between the famous 1984 commercial, and the reality of being a Mac user. That was the last Mac I ever owned. Later, Apple did learn to open up more, making any barriers to entry much, much lower, but you can still see this control in the current iPhone. It IS a tradeoff. Do you keep as many buggy apps out of the Store as possible, creating up to a 2 or 3 week lead-times between every update, vs the Android Market experience of often seeing a program update appear on the Market the same day a bug is reported?

Like any monopoly, or emerging monopoly, can it be maintained in the face of a distributed, open system that encourages development, offering the system itself, and the tools to develop for free? Much is made of ‘fragmentation’: The monolith of MacOS on Mac Hardware vs the varieties of PC competitors, and the (increasingly fragmenting) monolith of the iPhone OS and hardware vs the exploding variety of Android devices. The prevailing opinion is that a monolith has advantages that outnumber the disadvantages, but I think they tend to resemble the advantages/vulnerabilities of a monopoly. The competing non-monolithic systems are more open and can be quicker to innovate on both the hardware and software side. Thus we see the Android OS, Market, and devices beginning to surpass what Apple is providing. The advantages the iPhone held, with the exception of the number of apps in their Store, has melted away in the past few months. The iPad never held these advantages, with the exception of the Store. There were already tablets and similar devices that exceeded the specs of the iPad selling for less money prior to the release of the iPad. Additionally, there are other tablets and iPad competitors nearing release. Android-based tablets are poised to deliver the exact same experiences the iPad offers for much less money. (BTW, you can buy a non-3G iPad and a Sprint 3G/4G wifi hotspot device, getting faster internet in 4G areas than you can get with the 3G iPad for less money! It is a

Jaycephus April 17, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I bought an original Mac 128 and printer for about $2500 after student discount when they first came out. It was a great system that really was years ahead of IBM. Unfortunately, it was a very closed system. A new user like myself couldn’t easily create programs for it. Their initial advantage was squandered over the next several years, mainly due to the fact that Apple and third-party software was very thin, which IMO was a result of the barriers to entry Apple erected in the name of controlling user-experience, ironically keeping ‘the masses’ out of development. There was a distinct dissonance between the famous 1984 commercial, and the reality of being a Mac user. That was the last Mac I ever owned. Later, Apple did learn to open up more, making any barriers to entry much, much lower, but you can still see this control in the current iPhone. It IS a tradeoff. Do you keep as many buggy apps out of the Store as possible, creating up to a 2 or 3 week lead-times between every update, vs the Android Market experience of often seeing a program update appear on the Market the same day a bug is reported?

Like any monopoly, or emerging monopoly, can Apple’s ‘monopoly’ be maintained in the face of a distributed, open system that encourages development, offering the system itself, and the tools to develop on it for free? Much is made of ‘fragmentation’: The monolith of MacOS on Mac Hardware vs the varieties of PC competitors, and the (increasingly fragmenting) monolith of the iPhone OS and hardware vs the exploding variety of Android devices. The prevailing opinion is that a monolith has advantages that outnumber the disadvantages, but I think they tend to resemble the advantages/vulnerabilities of a monopoly. The competing non-monolithic systems are more open and can be quicker to innovate on both the hardware and software side. Thus we see the Android OS, Market, and devices beginning to surpass what Apple is providing. The advantages the iPhone held, with the exception of the number of apps in their Store, has melted away in the past few months. The iPad never held these advantages, with the exception of the Store. There were already tablets and similar devices that exceeded the specs of the iPad selling for less money prior to the release of the iPad. Additionally, there are other tablets and iPad competitors nearing release. Android-based tablets are poised to deliver the exact same experiences the iPad offers for much less money. BTW, you can buy a non-3G iPad and a Sprint 3G/4G 5-device wifi hotspot (the Overdrive) for $99, getting faster, unlimited internet in 4G areas than you can get with the 3G iPad, all for less money. There’s almost no reason at all to buy a 3G enabled iPad. Of course, that means any tablet with wifi can easily be on the same ‘internet’ footing as an iPad with 3G, if not better footing given the Sprint 4G speeds.

Australia Ugg Boots September 10, 2010 at 4:48 am

Apple, of course, doesn’t comment on “rumors and speculation.” But according to Chen, the new iPhone will go into production in April and should be available to consumers in June or July — just enough time for the rumor train to go into full speed.

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