1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
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 }

Rob L January 28, 2010 at 9:43 am

Other than the beginning, good post.

A few things about the beginning, though. The iPad will be demolished in the eBook reader department. The screen is backlit, therefore it gets more difficult to read in the light, unlike the e-ink readers which work the same way as books. The battery life is just a small fraction of that of even the poor e-ink readers. The Kindle and Nook have free 3G. It’d be absurd to pay a monthly 3G bill if you used the iPad mostly as a reader, and it doesn’t even work as a phone.

The iPad has too many problems to number. It’s going to get destroyed in every market. Some zealots will get one, of course, but it’ll likely go down in history as the Newton did.

Greg January 28, 2010 at 9:55 am

The iPad is going to be a huge bust. It is essentially a mixture between an iPhone and a laptop, taking the worst parts of both. Too large to fit in your pocket, it must be carred around (most likely in a backpack that could easily fit a laptop). The processor and storage space are very poor compared to even low end laptops, and it has all the limitations that iPhone users hate the most. You cannot run more than one application at a time, and it doesn’t support Flash. It has no USB ports, and no tactile keyboard. Finally, with a price high enough that one could simply buy a laptop twice as powerful with ten times the storage space for the same cost, I don’t see anyone purchasing this except for those who wish to own one to show it off.

Jobs is great at showmanship and hype, but people think too much before spending $500 to make this a success.

Not all new products are a step forward.

Wayne January 28, 2010 at 10:15 am

I’ve heard others reporting on the iPad too. Seems the comments range from “greatest thing since sliced bread” to what Rob L said. Too heavy and big for an eReader. Bad virtual keyboard for a laptop. It might make an initial surge due to apple fans. It may make some inroads into high end educational facilities. In the end I don’t think we, as a society have gotten to the point of accepting a tablet computer. But that’s all besides the point of the article.

Good work on identifying yet another way in with patents mess with a free market. I enjoyed the article. Thanks.

Silas Barta January 28, 2010 at 10:18 am

Anyone want to see my response, or it is easy enough to see the flaws on your own?

prettyskin January 28, 2010 at 10:28 am

Apple itself is an imitator and shared in profits before it possessed unique knowledge and profits. Lots of great technologies we find in today’s products were created by individuals or groups whereby the main purpose was innovation and discovery rather than hype and profitability.

Just because Apple can get to the patent office first does not make it a great, great innovator. It just shows that Apple gets to the patent office fast with lots of money in tow and is fearful of competition.

This is likened to aircraft technology –still using the same technology to flight planes. Adding bells and whistles give the appearance of something grand and innovative. Laptops like aircrafts are due new innovations –iPad is not that innovation for replacing laptops. Unfortunately, the massive is awaiting that replacement –nothing has come close to date. iPad is deemed a failure in this respect, dead on arrival.

Curt Howland January 28, 2010 at 10:42 am

My wife was asking me a couple of days ago how Apple avoided the charge of “monopoly” that has plagued Microsoft, when it is Apple that controlls the entire machine and its OS as well.

I told her that Apple made no allusions to competition, and never did. They sell hardware, software is just something that comes along with it. A copyright/patent (does it matter?) on the BIOS ensures that MacOS boots only on Mac hardware, and so it goes.

Yet compare that very pretty Apple hardware to what has happened in the competitive world of PC hardware: Apple hardware has consistently lagged behind what PC hardware is capable of at 2-3 times the price.

If Microsoft had limited itself to “defending its pattents”, I doubt any accusations of “illegal monopoly” would have been brought.

All that said, I won’t buy a dedicated e-book reader until one is produced without DRM. I expect it will run Linux, but who knows?

It could be that DRM will be legally required before anyone produces one without it.

Slim934 January 28, 2010 at 10:57 am

I have to agree with everyone else.

The iPad really is not anything that special. It really seems to be an amalgamation of things that apple decided to throw together to fill a product gap that it had: the tablet pc market.

If you read the reports on it from gizmodo or kotaku you’ll find that they all say essentially the same thing:
This thing provides no real benefits in any of the product uses it supposedly claims to. It certainly does not do it at the price point that it is asking for.

I do find many of the patents it filed for that thing to be quite disturbing in their broadness. I can only hope that this system collapses sooner rather than later.

Ryan January 28, 2010 at 10:59 am

There are a lot of whispers out there about Apple’s anti-competitive retail behavior. This site is so obsessed with anti-IP rhetoric that it is blaming patents on Apple’s position in the market. In fact, it has been said that Apple engages in a lot of frankly anticompetitive business products that keeps the competition off of retail shelves.

Not everything is about IP, you know. When we cling to fringe issues like patent anarchy, we make ourselves look ridiculous.

Jeffrey Tucker January 28, 2010 at 11:02 am

Ryan, you are making my point. As I said, Apple’s success is not due to IP – its IP only prolongs the period of profitability after new technology is released and inhibits the imitative behavior that is essential to the market process.

Gaurav Ahuja January 28, 2010 at 11:05 am

And with Mr. Tucker’s post and Ryan’s comment, I will not buy another Apple product ever again. Apple’s computers never impressed me much compared to its competitors.

Jake January 28, 2010 at 11:19 am

Another point I’d like to draw attention to:

“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.”"

Proximity detection can be done by a variety of technologies already widely available and already commonly used on the market. I suspect that in 15-20 minutes of looking I could find many examples of handheld products incorporating such technology.

Consistency of color from display to display is a common problem that has been addressed in various means for at least 10 years, I imagine longer.

My digital camera records the original orientation of an image and displays it accordingly no matter how I hold the camera, this has been a common feature for years.

I don’t know what, precisely, is meant by timeline based manipulation of audio and video… but that description brings to mind just about every piece of software on the market for such tasks.

These patents do not even represent significant innovation, it’s not like Apple is creating novel new features or abilities, they’re not spending tens or hundreds of millions of dollars developing new technologies. They’re taking commonly used, off the shelf, technologies, and by the skill of their legal team forbidding competitors from using them in competition with Apple. That they can get a patent on these things shows just how broken and defunct our patent system is (I personally doubt one can design such a system that actually works, but that’s another discussion).

In my experience this is what firms generally do with patents. What’s patented is not the newest, greatest, idea, and it does not represent huge investments of time and money. Firms see a market-ready technology and ask “how could we get a patent on using this in our industry?” I’ve been asked on numerous occasions to engage in this very exercise by my employer. Even though patent lawyers and other apologists will tell you cannot get a patent that is “obvious to one skilled in the art”… clearly that standard is not applied with any measure of consistency.

Paul Vahur January 28, 2010 at 11:19 am

Here’s my take on iPad: this is not-so-great beginning of a great tablet market (probably dominated by Apple).

Steve Jobs said in the presentation that they aimed to make a device that is better doing some key things (better than laptop or smartphone). These are: browsing, e-mail, photos, video, music, games, e-books.

I think that iPad would super great at photos, replacing paper albums or bringing back the paper album experience. It will be great for casual web browsing – behind the kitchen table, on the couch, I guess lot of people would appreciate that. Same probably applies to e-mail. Playing games would be nice too, no problems there. Video – if you are at home you are better off with your TV-system, but it’s good device when you are traveling (planes). Music – that one I don’t understand, at home you have your home music system, on the road you have iPod or iPhone. So there is no place where it would be the best device to listen to music. E-books – that remains to be seen, e-ink has it advantages but people might put up with the glare because of the convenience of having all your stuff there.

Generally I see it as a great device for kitchen-livingroom area to get into internet and showing your pictures. Also helping you being in touch and entertain you while you are on the road

I see that Apple is taking quite a calculated risk with iPad – they took an existing platform (iPhone) and enhanced it little bit, they probably did not invested very much money on that. If it fails, they can take it. If it takes off, they have a new product line to develop further.

I think the real killer iPad will be probably version 3.0.

Stephan Kinsella January 28, 2010 at 11:34 am

I happen to think Tucker is right: the iPad is a huge game-changer. It will be to portable computing waht the iPhone was and is to smartphones.

But this is tangential–we needn’t debate this here. Apple is a successful company with innovative, popular products, even if some people here do not like the iPad. The question is why they are successful. They are successful for the reasons Tucker gives. I’d argue that even if Apple itself benefits somewhat from patent protectionism, it is also harmed by it, and even it would be better off overall in a really free market that did not have patents. But even if they would suffer on net by having their patent pork subsidy pulled, that does not mean it’s necessary for their success.

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.

As for the comment above by Ahuja about not buying Apple’s products because they are not lily white–if you do that you can’t buy anyone’s. We have to live in the real world. It’s no sin to buy an iPad.

B.K. Marcus January 28, 2010 at 11:47 am

John Gruber at Daring Fireball is very impressed with Apple’s new hardware, the iPad’s speed in particular.

He adds, “They are Microsoft and Intel rolled into one when it comes to mobile computing.”

Allen January 28, 2010 at 11:51 am

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

Similar in thinness
Similar in weight
Bigger, better display
Bluetooth
USB
Keyboard
OS X (multitasking, Safari with Flash, Office and other apps, etc)
Longer battery
Much more memory
Bigger hard drive
Camera
Tactile keyboard
WiFi
One can put all the eBooks in the world on it and in any format.
Doesn’t need to be synced with iTunes, obviously, to do anything with it
And much, much more

Yeah, it doesn’t have a multitouch display, but the display is bigger and better, and it kills the iPad in every other area.

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

Juraj January 28, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I never liked Apple.

Many of their products are great and innovative compared to their competition but I have pretty much always had a bad experience with Apple owners (some hype crowd being ignorant of anything besides labeled Apple) and the price is just ridiculous if I can get the same for less. I also don’t like being locked in – their appliances/software do not play well with 3rd parties, only Apple.

The IP problem just reinforces my view of the company.

I have been a Windows user for a long time but switched to GNU/Linux a year ago and I have not looked back since (or at Apple).

geoih January 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Qoute: “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, …”

Other than being slow and in need of a back light, I think the first generation Sony eReader is great, especially with the new (free) firmware upgrade. I can carry massive amounts of material on a 2 gig SD card. When I need more, I just need another SD card, and I can access them all in my pocket. You can’t do that with paper.

I’ve finished reading Human Action and am now working on Man, Economy and State, with Power and Market, all free from Mises.

I think people are so critical of these electronic readers because they’re thinking of them like computers, not books. As ‘books’, I think they’re great, with one major fault: a large initial investment. I only have one because I got it as a gift.

Kerem Tibuk January 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Is it a sin to buy a song for .99 cents through itunes, since we have an inalienable right to download the song for free?

Frank January 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Patents grants the owner a monopoly. That is a fact. But everyone has patents from Microsoft to Dell to Sony. Don’t think that these companies don’t use patents for protection of their products. Since everyone can and does have patents in many areas that crossover into Apple’s, you didn’t answer what Apple is doing differently. It’s not simply about having patents or protecting them, everyone does that.

Apple is innovating to stay ahead. The system is working they way it should.

Check here for some new ideas:

http://lowendmac.com/ed/fox/10ff/the-apple-monopoly.html

Kerem Tibuk January 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm

“My wife was asking me a couple of days ago how Apple avoided the charge of “monopoly” that has plagued Microsoft, when it is Apple that controlls the entire machine and its OS as well.

I told her that Apple made no allusions to competition, and never did. They sell hardware, software is just something that comes along with it. A copyright/patent (does it matter?) on the BIOS ensures that MacOS boots only on Mac hardware, and so it goes.”

No. The reason Microsoft is the target of assault, is because Microsoft is a much more successful company that has competitors on a very wide ranging areas.

Apple was almost bankrupt and it was Microsoft that saved its ass before the Imac and Ipod and Itunes that makes everyone think Apple as a very successful company.

The reason? Apple was an arrogant company that patronized its customers where Microsoft allowed itself to be patronized by its customers by adapting.

Mark Hubbard January 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm

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

Mr Tucker said, nicely proving my own point in a multitude of other threads:

There is something very wrong here. Innovations are supposed to advance the social order …

The utilitarian argument. Ahem, I’ll repeat that. The utilitarian argument for no IP spoken like a true socialist.

Surely in a free, capitalist society, innovations are supposed to profit the innovators.

Kinsella said:

The question is why they are successful. They are successful for the reasons Tucker gives. I’d argue that even if Apple itself benefits somewhat from patent protectionism, it is also harmed by it, and even it would be better off overall in a really free market that did not have patents.

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

The proof of this? (Of course there can be none.)

Jeez.

[Footnote: I will not be buying an iPad, but only because there are a range of more dedicated specialised and competing devices that fulfill my needs much better. For me an iPad would be to just add another laptop to the collection. But good on Apple for its successes. Good on Microsoft. Think of how much these two firms have 'advanced society' (Mr Tucker), all the while seeking their own profit and to own their IP. Think where we'd be without these two companies and their IP.]

Silas Barta January 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm

@Stephan_Kinsella:

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? 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?

Second of all, if we know that the returns during stage 1 are larger due to IP, then, sure, I can stipulate to the fact that the returns would be lower without it. So, producers would expect lower returns accruing to the quality of (the copiable part of) the design. So, without IP, the optimal investment in better designs (which provide benefits to everyone for the rest of time) is lower.

So products would be cheaper but have worse and slower-improving design. This is a vindication of the efficiency of IP-free property regimes … why again? I’m still trying to work that one out.

(Oh, I know, right: this is when you start to change the subject and act like consequences are completely irrelevant. We know the drill by now.)

David Veksler January 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm

“The iPad is going to be a huge bust. ”

I found the perfect comic for you Apple haters. It’s three years old, but still appropriate:

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/9/6/

darjen January 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm

iPad is missing almost every function I would expect a modern computing device to have. not only that, but you can only run Apple approved software, which is a huge turn-off. it won’t compete with eInk readers, which are a LOT easier on the eyes than LCD screen.

Android is where the tablet market is headed this year, and it will overwhelm Apple. Sorry folks, Google is where it’s at.

filc January 28, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Great Post Jeffrey. I didn’t know about those 3 stages Bastiat mentions. makes perfect sense though, I need to read more Bastiat I Guess!

Shannon Love January 28, 2010 at 1:55 pm

It’s easy to see patents as monopolistic when the owner is a large, long established company but they clearly play an anti-monopolistic role when the owner is a very small, new company.

Without any patent protection, big companies would steal ideas from small companies and then flood the market place a long time before the economic success of the small company’s idea provide the capital to compete.

It’s just hard to see this. It’s like when leftist criticize private property rights by pointing to big property owners while ignoring that private property protect small property owners to a much greater extent than it does owners who have the resources to protect them on their own.

Historically, when property rights have weakened, it is the small property owners who have suffered, not the great one. You didn’t see any big corporations losing their property after Kelso did you? No, it was all small property owners on the wrong side of the tracks economically or politically.

Intellectual property protection works the exact way, they protect small people who have good ideas but don’t yet after the production, marketing and distribution capability to compete with large established firms.

There are of course, practical problem implementing any property system and that is where our contemporary system breaks down. However, the basic idea is sound. When someone creates something, regardless of their lack of wealth they deserve the right to control that creation for some period of time and to profit thereby.

Peter Surda January 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Dear Silas,

> Second of all, if we know that the returns during
> stage 1 are larger due to IP, then, sure, I can
> stipulate to the fact that the returns would be lower
> without it.
If with returns you mean revenue, then this is correct. However, IP affects both revenue and costs, whether directly or indirectly by favouring the business models that depend on the monopoly-rent. It’s the difference between those two that businessmen are interested in. We have no way of knowing in advance whether the result would be a profit or loss. Neither does the businessman, unless of course he eliminates the influence of costs, e.g. by being a patent troll. I think that at this moment, patents are the most abstract legally recognised “IP”, so that makes a patent troll quite safe. He has no inputs that are “higher level property”, and he has no outputs that are “lower level property”. Sound like a very reasonable business plan to me.

That being said, I fail to see the point in articles like this one. Apple is a successful company. They have “intellectual property”. So what? They are launching a new product and opinions are diverging whether this will be a success or flop. Who cares?

Mark Hubbard January 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm

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

Perhaps a rejoinder for a more balanced editorial stance on IP issues here.

Magnus January 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm

This just about sums up my feelings on the iPad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQnT0zp8Ya4

Shannon Love January 28, 2010 at 2:13 pm

The problem with patents in the case of computer hardware isn’t so much with the concept of patents itself but rather that the patent timespans we use today were established in an earlier time when technology changed much more slowly.

The length of patent has to be in sync with lifespan of a particular technology. To serve the function of protecting innovators while not hoarding technology, a patent should expire no more than halfway through a technology’s economic lifespan. That is, the patent should expire long before the technology it covers becomes obsolete.

The patent length in the US is IIRC, 17 years. That is forever in computers. There probably isn’t a single pieces of computer technology from 1990 that isn’t completely obsolete yet a patent granted back then would only be expiring just now. It as if all the patents for automobile technology were a century long so that patent issued in 1909 was just now expiring.

It’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater on patents. The basic idea is sound as history as proven, we just need to tinker with the law to make them relevant to the modern world.

Magnus January 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Mark Hubbard: Perhaps a rejoinder for a more balanced editorial stance on IP issues here.

What makes you think that this website OWES you the content you want?

If you don’t like the content, you can just go elsewhere, you know.

klasseng January 28, 2010 at 2:17 pm

@Kerem Tibuk
Just let the “Microsoft saved Apple” idea die! It was never true.
1. Apple was losing money but still had lots of cash at that time, no where close to being bankrupt .
2. Microsoft was caught using QuickTime code in Windows Media Player (they hadn’t even bothered removing the Apple copyright lines in the code!!!!). The financial arrangements came about in the settlement of that issue.

Silas Barta January 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

@Peter_Surda:

That being said, I fail to see the point in articles like this one. Apple is a successful company. They have “intellectual property”. So what? They are launching a new product and opinions are diverging whether this will be a success or flop. Who cares?

I know I’ve been saying this a lot, but this quote above exemplifies what I like about you: you oppose IP, but you don’t robotically defend every anti-IP screed.

That’s harder to find than you might think…

Mark Hubbard January 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm

That being said, I fail to see the point in articles like this one. Apple is a successful company. They have “intellectual property”. So what? They are launching a new product and opinions are diverging whether this will be a success or flop. Who cares?

Those of us who want freedom, Peter, we care.

As I said above, this post again shows what’s at stake in this crucial argument for individuals and for capitalism in the 21st century. The anti-IP argument is evil wrapped in utilitarianism and false philanthropy – anarchist socialism seems to be the main agenda.

In a free, capitalist society, innovators profit from their innovation. In a society without IP they are slaves.

Of course, from this it will be seen that a capitalist society is built on minarchy and mandated government.

Peter Surda January 28, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Dear Mark,

> Those of us who want freedom, Peter, we care.
You don’t want freedom. You want a big brother that makes you feel protected. Ok, a little big brother :-). Freedom means facing the risk of defeat instead of hiding one’s insecurities behind a higher power.

The path to recognising one’s own limitations and errors is a tough one. I was lucky enough never to be deeply emotionally attached to any particular ideology. Those that have such an attachment are facing an uphill battle.

J Cortez January 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I’m inclined to believe the iPad is the result of current thinking on OS and hardware development– The idea of selling the base system and using an online storefront to sell other component system parts. While I’m sure it’s profitable as a business model, my experience is that it’s annoying and inefficient from an end user perspective.

As far as the device: There is no true multi-tasking. The screen is backlit which makes it less readable in brighter light compared to other electronic readers. Plus, much of the user’s experience will be largely dictated to and controlled by the app store, which Apple micro-manages and controls tightly. Most importantly, there is no USB, making hardware add-ons much more difficult if not impossible via the 30-pin port.

The video is good, the accelerometer for games is also good, but really, the only thing I truly liked is the virtual keyboard– Which is something I’ve dreamed about as a child in the late 1980′s, but their version looks too small and cramped. (Then again, the first cars, by current standards where horrible deathtraps with no amenities. The future is bright for virtual keyboards, I think.)

From my marginal tech geek perspective, I think the iPad is not impressive. However, what the average person on the street thinks might be completely different. My first impression of the original iPod that first appeared years ago was that it was very inferior to comparable devices. The market verdict, however, was the exact opposite. They’ve sold millions since.

I would personally like to see what competitors responses will be, that is, provided that they are allowed to come to market without the usual patent thicket legal interference.

Curt Howland January 28, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Mr Hubbard,

“In a free, capitalist society, innovators profit from their innovation. In a society without IP they are slaves.”

You mis-quoted. In a society WITH IP they are slaves.

Remove the statutes. Let there be freedom and see what the market creates.

There is obviously a great deal of demand for “protection” of ideas, let that demand be met in the most efficient way possible.

Anything else is slavery to someone else’s idea of right and wrong. Just because it’s YOUR idea of right and wrong doesn’t make it better than anyone else’s.

As Shannon Love points out, the statutes are arbitrary. Their duration doesn’t work for anyone, just as all socialist institutions result in everyone being equally poor.

Remove the statutes. Some will fail, others succeed where they might have succeeded and failed differently under IP, but they will do so in FREEDOM.

Vitor January 28, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I read that it needs an adaptor even for USB connections, and that is ultra-lame.

Russ January 28, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Peter Surda wrote:

“You don’t want freedom. You want a big brother that makes you feel protected. Ok, a little big brother :-).”

Even Ancapistan would have PDAs. Those wouldn’t necessarily be “Big Brothers” in the Orwellian sense, but they would be “little big brother[s]” that make one feel protected. Security is a human need, even in Ancapistan.

Russ January 28, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Mark Hubbard wrote:

“In a free, capitalist society, innovators profit from their innovation.”

Not if they have a poor business plan, they don’t. IP is mercantilist protectionism applied to a certain segment of the market to allow certain “innovators” make money, even in the absense of a good business plan.

“In a society without IP they are slaves.”

This is complete nonsense. Without IP people still have self-ownership and normal property rights. The idea that all rights come from IP is completely unfounded. This kind of Randian hyperbole isn’t helping your cause, Mark.

Mark Hubbard January 28, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Russ makes a good point. The whole notion of PDA’s is just a bureaucratic solution around a single minarchist government, so that anarchists can ‘change the language’ to the extent they’re technically not living in a big bad little state. Properly mandated government fulfills the same function.

And I wonder how PDA’s would get on defending themselves in an age of terrorism where there are barbaric belief systems that hate the West and hate freedom, per se, and would have no compunction on the use of extreme aggression to wipe out freedom, and all enclaves of. Though that’s another topic altogether – or is it? I imagine the armaments industry works on IP?

mpolzkill January 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Russ: “they would be “little big brother[s]”

Wrong, you can’t fire a big brother.

“Ancapistan” is such an oh-so-cute piece of propaganda as well. Much like Silas’s “IP-free property regimes”. No regime, no rule of any kind is required to refrain from putting copycats in cages, Silas. When we were all closer to full-fledged adults back in the 90s did we used live in no-smoking ban regime. Ridiculous.

mpolzkill January 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Arghh, garbled. Should have read something like:

Did we then live under a no-criminalization-for-smoking-in-bars regime.

The eight-hundred pound gorilla in the room is always that if this is the best you can do in convincing people not to copy, you IP advocates will need world-government. And to go out on a limb and define something with Russ around; that’s anti-libertarian.

Mark Hubbard January 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Correction, in a society with no IP, if innovators are not slaves, then they are stupid. They will see their effort, and their capital, squandered for the benefit of second handers.

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.

Peter Surda January 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Dear Russ,

> Security is a human need, even in Ancapistan.
Indeed. But the feelings that are created by your needs can cloud your judgement. In Mark’s case, his desire for security is stronger than that for freedom. That was the point of my post.

mpolzkill January 28, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Someone help me here, did Henry Ford get a patent for the assembly line? I don’t know if he even invented it, actually. But lets say he did, I guess that makes him an idiot in Hubbard’s blinkered view. J.D. Rockefeller was another dummy who was an incredible innovator and maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think he had much need for patents. Funny, it always seems to be the most unimaginative people, who scream the loudest for IP.

Curt Howland January 28, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Mr Hubbard,

“Properly mandated government fulfills….”

You mean if it’s done right this time, or if it has the right people in charge?

I’ve heard that same argument made in favor of government over, and over, by people who will not face the fact that coercion is inefficient.

Or who never absorbed Mises’s “Socialism”.

ABR January 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm

“Fujitsu, which applied for an iPad trademark in 2003, is claiming first dibs, setting up a fight with Apple over the name of the new tablet device that Apple plans to sell starting in March.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/technology/companies/29name.html?hp

Russ January 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Peter Surda wrote:

“…the feelings that are created by your needs can cloud your judgement. In Mark’s case, his desire for security is stronger than that for freedom…”

I don’t think that you really know Mark well enough to psycho-analyze him. This is no better than when he chalks up our anti-IP stance to our desire to steal.

mpolzkill wrote:

“”Ancapistan” is such an oh-so-cute piece of propaganda as well.”

It’s cute, I’ll admit, but it’s not intended as propaganda. It’s just shorthand way of saying “a geographic area that follows anarcho-capitalist ways”.

mpolzkill January 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Russ: “shorthand way of saying”

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

A widespread condition of maximum intolerance of crime (anarchy) is like Lao Tzu’s comment about the Tao, to paraphrase: whatever can be said about the Tao is not true.

With homo sapiens, the Tao will never be followed en masse, and there will never be an “Ancapistan”. When not completely lorded over by the belly and groin, human brains are too noisy, too panicky and too conceited.

- – - – - – - – - –

“I don’t think that you really know Mark well enough to psycho-analyze him”

The State sure knows people well enough. They know all about what Surda described and they always win pitting one groups fears against the rest.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: