iPhone 5 release date, iOS 5 based iPad 3 rebuke Android

Even as Apple is within minutes of announcing the release date for the iPhone 5 with iOS 5 and the only real mystery is whether the iPad 3 will come with it, Apple’s legal department is quietly carrying out a scorched earth policy in which the Android platform is rapidly in danger of disappearing from store shelves. In some nations it’s already happened. With so many Android-based phones and tablets sporting hardware designs which have borrowed generously from Apple’s iPad and iPhone (here’s more on the iPhone 5 release date), Apple has had a fairly easy time of taking Android manufacturers like HTC and Samsung to court and walking away with crushing rulings. Various governments have joined the fray, including that of the United States, elevating it from a corporate dispute to an international trade issue. And yet even as Apple attempts to lay waste to competing products which were built with what it says is stolen technology, some skeptics, even among Apple’s user base, have cried foul. It’s not that Apple isn’t right in protecting its innovations. It’s that they feel Apple needs the competition from Android, or from some other competing platform, so as to keep Steve Jobs and company on their toes with each new model. I say bullshit.

If there were a truly innovative competitor offering up products which forced Apple to try harder with products like the iPhone 5 and iPad 3, I’d say go for it. Push Apple to push itself to the brink. But like nearly all of its competitors, Android is just a another copycat. Sure, there’s the unique twist in which Android was designed to be an iPhone ripoff but warped into what geeks would want the iPhone to be. But that isn’t helping things. If anything it’s making things worse. Lacking any marketable features or advances of their own, these companies are marketing outdated garbage like Flash as if it were a desirable feature, which confuses consumers to the point of allowing a harmfully obsolete technology to gain an extra five minutes of life. And even when competitors try, the result ends up being something like BlackBerry Messenger, an analog joke of a feature which might have been considered innovative back in 2002, which incidentally was the last time anyone considered the BlackBerry platform to be innovative. So instead of continuing to push forward, Apple has to stop in some instances and reach backward in order to churn out silliness like iMessage, which only exists because Apple wants BlackBerry users to switch to the iPhone 5. I’d rather Apple spend its time coming up with twenty-first century features…

But, skeptics say, any company without competition is going to run itself amok, either drunk with power or lazy to the point of no innovation or both. Look at Microsoft during the Windows heyday, they say. But Apple’s DNA is different, at least with Steve Jobs at the helm, than that of any other tech company. Want proof? Look at the heyday of the iPod, from its introduction in 2001 to its mainstream baptism in 2003-2004 to the beginning of the end when Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007. Throughout those six formative years, Apple pushed the iPod forward with every new model. From the original hard drive based brick to the iPod mini to the iPod nano, each year brought an iPod which was thinner, more sophisticated, and usually cheaper. And this all happened even as the iPod had basically no competition…

Apple wasn’t looking to outpace the Dell DJ (yeah, Dell once made MP3 players) or the Sony NW-HD1 (yep, that’s what it was actually called). Instead Apple was looking to expand the size of what was an obscure niche MP3 player market at the time Apple entered it. Through innovation, through changing the game with corollary products like the iTunes Store, and even through driving its own prices ever-lower in the face of absolutely no real competitors, Apple wanted to not just dominate the MP3 player market but take it to the mainstream. Sure, Apple made tons of money as the MP3 player market grew thanks to the iPod. But it’s a different kind of greed which drives Apple: the gameplan is to offer products which are so innovative and so mainstream-friendly that the market will grow so huge that it’ll become a cash cow which didn’t exist before Apple got into the market…

And with a gameplan like that, there’s just no need for Apple to be “pushed” by products like Android and BlackBerry. Android in particular, with its philosophical insistence that “consumer tech” products return to the overly complicated, geek-oriented dark ages in which mainstream consumers saw technology as a necessary evil even as they invested in it. Sure, Windows dominated computers in the 1990s. But most people hated their computers during that time. Contrast that with how most people feel about their iPod or their iPad or how they’re so eagerly looking forward to the iPhone 5 release date. It’s because they know that each Apple product is going to bring something better than the last, that it’ll somehow manage to get even easier to understand even as Apple packs in more features. Contrast that with Android phones. Outside of the geeks and tech enthusiasts for whom the Linux-based Android was specifically designed for, most Android users either hate their phone or feel ambivalent toward it. Android, then, is the Windows of its era…

In any case, Apple’s gameplan involves innovating its way into the hearts and minds of mainstream consumers, who will then allow Apple to innovate its way into their wallets as well. Apple is just as greedy as the next corporate giant. But its evil gameplan just happens to coincide with exactly what (non-geek) mainstream consumers want. The idea that Apple needs something like the geek-worshipped Android breathing down its neck in order to keep wanting to innovate is laughable. So if Apple happens to have enough legal success to deliver such a severe blow to Android hardware that the competition begins to disappear from store shelves, only two things come to mind: first, those thieves had it coming. And second, anyone who’s been paying attention to Apple knows that products like the iPhone 5, iPad 3, and future launches like the iPhone 6 and iPad 4 after that aren’t going to be the slightest bit less innovative if Android does happen to disappear along the way. Apple’s evil gameplan, in which it takes our money and gives us exactly the kind of products we were hoping for, won’t be interfered with either way.

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