Usually it’s Apple products and inventions that get copied or if you want “stolen”. The list of examples is endless starting with Microsoft Windows that is an evident rip-off of Mac OS. The most recent example is Google Android that is a rip-off of the Apple iOS and HTC that just can’t stop borrowing ideas from the Apple iPhone.
It always has been like this and probably it won’t change… but wait, hold on for a moment. Isn’t Steve Jobs the master-ripper, the king of the idea-thiefs who stole the UI for Mac OS from Xerox? There is no clear answer IMHO.
Xerox PARC has been a research facility that was intended to inspire people. Apple paid them in stocks and moreover hired some people from there and continued the development of the graphical user interface so it was not exactly stealing the idea (More about this epic “inspiration”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_graphical_user_interface & http://www.mackido.com/Interface/ui_history.html). Steve basically took a very promising concept, put some work in it and then brought it to the market. The iPad is the same FTW! It’s no Apple invention but they took this promising concept (everyone thought it’s dead BTW) improved it and brought this great product to the market.
Right now the other Steve over at Microsoft wonders what went wrong with the slate/tablet PC running XP, Vista or 7. Why is it not selling? (More: http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/07/ballmer-and-microsoft-still-doesnt-get-the-ipad.ars). He probably knows the answer!
Yes, it’s the developers and the software that makes the iPad unique. It’s the tons of great apps that run on iPhone and iPad. All designed to work with the touch technology. In the end the iPad is software just as the Mac is. Ever wondered why Apple is so determined on the Psystar Mac clones? It’s because they exactly know that it’s Mac OS X that makes a Mac. The box you run it on doesn’t really matter. The Amtek iTablet (http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/05/x2-brings-the-amtek-itablet-back-from-the-abyss-forgets-that-no/) on the image below will never be a true competitor for the Apple iPad because it doesn’t have this huge amount of mobile software that Apple has in the App-Store.
In my opinion the worst that could happen right now to Apple is that Google Android tablets kills the iPad. I start seeing them everywhere for less money than the iPad. A good example is the 1&1 Smart Pad in Germany (http://blog.1und1.de/2010/06/30/einfach-smart-das-11-smartpad/). So what was that about “don’t be evil” at Google? They are trying to “get their foot in the door” in many areas. So far they only really succeeded in search. I hope they stop messing around so much in areas where they don’t belong. It’s what Microsoft has been doing for many years and they didn’t become very popular with this approach.
BTW: Wozniak confirms the controversy between Apple and Google 😉 … and Schmidt can’t answer a simple question: “how the fuck is Google making money with Android”. Not sure but Google is in general such a mess that maybe someone forgot about that or Schmidt just doesn’t want to answer!
Image by Jesus Belzunce