I probably should have gone with a different title for this article, because the answer came to me about a millisecond after I finished typing. “Because they aren’t paying attention.”
There are plenty of reasons not to like Apple. They advertise and emphasize membership in their brand cult rather than compete on the merits of their product. They have no history or tradition of charitable giving despite sitting on a Scrooge McDuck-sized swimming pool of cash. Their products are manufactured in China in conditions that any US worker would find deplorable, and they are entirely unapologetic about that fact.
Personally, my number one reason to dislike Apple was the Koresh to its Branch Davidians; Steve Jobs. I was sure that upon his death the company’s more irritating tendencies (paranoid secrecy, P.T. Barnum-style product announcements) would fade noticeably, and that the unreasonable and hypocritical hatred of Google would vanish entirely. Apparently I was almost painfully wrong! Apple’s pursuit of Android’s demise continues, well after the death of the egomaniac that began it.
To understand why this makes no sense, compare these two quotes. From the Walter Isaacs biography of Steve Jobs:
Our lawsuit is saying, “Google, you fucking ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off.” Grand theft. I will spend my dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.
Picasso had a saying, he said “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” And we have, you know, always been shameless about stealing great ideas.
Pot, meet kettle. But the fact that Jobs would find no inconsistency between these two positions is no surprise. The belief that rules simply didn’t apply to him is a recurring theme in the aforementioned biography, and it was that belief that ended up killing him.
What I don’t get is why Apple continues to fight after Jobs’ death. It can’t possibly be to save face; any reasonable person that spends more than five minutes looking at the merits of the case reaches a conclusion along the lines of “Wow, the patent office is insane for giving you these patents, and you’re an asshole for trying to enforce them.” It must be a losing proposition to wage war on a wildly popular operating system and a hardware manufacturer that operates under a democracy rather than a totalitarian regime, right?
Oh, hang on, this is where I started. Nobody’s paying attention.