Feeds

Woz warns that patent palaver will stifle startups

Still unsure about Tim Cook's reign

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Apple cofounder and number-one fanboi Steve Wozniak has warned that the current land rush for patents is going to stifle innovation and could cripple the next generation of startups.

"I care so much about the young person that has some technical knowledge and wants to start their own business," Wozniak told the Australian Financial Review. "Companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo! all started by new thinkers with new ideas. Now, with this big patent situation, there are certain categories that are heavily blocked off because the big companies make sure they own it all."

Woz recounted how when it developed the Apple II, Apple had been forced to pay a $2 per computer licensing fee to RCA for the right to translate letters into pixels that could be displayed onscreen. Only a big firm with a large research budget could have examined this and filed the patent on it, but having to pay rankled Woz – and that was back when patents weren't the disruptive force they are today.

Apple is perfectly willing to play the patent game itself, as recent history has shown. But Woz gave his old company a pass on this, saying it was better than most. "Apple is the good guy on the block of all of them," he opined. "It is creating so much and is so successful and it is not just following the formulas of other companies – [Apple is] totally establishing new markets that didn't exist."

One could argue that mobile phone operating systems were doing just fine before Apple came along, and the current patent spat over Android has nothing to do with innovation, and everything to do with trying to hamstring a successful rival. Arguing in court that a rival company's tablets shouldn't look like, well, a tablet, is also hardly being the "good guy on the block" for encouraging innovation.

Apple was in a unique position, he said, because it owned the entire stack, from operating system down to its own retail arm. A company such as HP, to use his example, was making similar sorts of products as Apple, but couldn't tie them together because it doesn't own the operating system.

As for the replacement for his friend Steve Jobs, Woz said the jury was still out. It was too soon after Jobs' departure to see if Tim Cook would put his mark on the company, Woz ventured.

"It is hard to judge yet because Apple products still look like they did under Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs has stamped his mark on products that are three years in the queue," Wozniak says. "I want to see the special touches [under Cook], not just an iteration to the iPad 3." [Editor's correction "The new iPad"]. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.