In the mobile OS market, patents are incredibly important to software companies such as Apple and Google. Intellectual property is an expansive battle group for Apple. Patents give them the ability to essentially have an idea for a product 3 years down the line, and “own” that idea for the three years before it, stopping anyone else from using it without at least paying them a royalty.
This of course can lead to ‘patent squatting’ which is where companies such as Apple basically just hoard patents to stop competitors using them – And sometimes you have to wonder if some of these ideas really are worth patenting. Perfect examples of this are Apple’s patents on a disappearing vertical scroll bar (Here is the actual patent and source of header image) and the wedge-shape of the Macbook Air… and the sad thing is I’m not kidding. They have a patent for a very common design of Ultrabooks. If you ask me, it’s a bit of a joke. Patents like these seem to have been requested (and granted) simply to make things that little bit harder for the competition.
This style of patent-hoarding already shows Apple’s reluctance to be open with iOS. Google’s Open-Source Android is currently iOS’s biggest competitor however, his style of operation for apple would never work, as they rely on the sales of their iPhones and iPads to form a large portion of their profit, of which iOS is part of the selling point.
An open iOS also wouldn’t work because in all honest, Apple is precious about how customisable their software is. Think about it, have you ever been able to choose a theme in iOS or or your Mac? Nope. Maybe you can change some colours or a wallpaper, but that’s about it, whereas Android is often customised by individual manufacturers. Apples iOS and its hardware devices are specifically designed to match, and also to be part of an online-linked ecosystem where iOS is the centre. Going open-source would change this completely, allowing other manufacturers to take revenue from Apple, and making iOS much more customisable and less recognisable to the average user.
If you take anything away from this post it should be that firstly, Apple loves squatting on ridiculously broad patents and secondly that Apples whole game-plan involves wooing you with iOS, and then signing you up to everything else so that when your plan finally comes to an end, you think “Well I’ve got all my stuff on iCloud and in iTunes… I may as well just get the new one”.