Last updated: October 26, 2011 - 8:47pm
[Commentary] Did Google “steal from iOS?” It depends what you mean by “steal.” If we define “steal” narrowly, the answer is almost certainly “no.”
There haven’t been any allegations, for example, that Google obtained a pirated copy of iOS source code and incorporated it into Android. This would have been a reckless and stupid—not to mention unethical—move on Google’s part. Similarly, I don’t think there’s been any allegations that Samsung’s hardware was built by slavishly copying the implementation details of Apple hardware.
On the other hand, if we define the term broadly, Google and Samsung clearly did “steal” Apple’s technology. A number of key concepts, such as pinch-to-zoom, were first introduced on the iPhone and later incorporated into Android. The iPhone was an innovative product, and obviously Apple’s competitors are going to want to match it feature for feature.
The important question isn’t whether such “stealing” occurred, it’s whether we want to live in a world where it’s illegal. Do you want to live in a world where only Apple is allowed to make phones with pinch-to-zoom capability (and dozens of other features) until 2027? I sure don’t.
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