Feeds

Woz warns that patent palaver will stifle startups

Still unsure about Tim Cook's reign

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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"]. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.