First off, let me start by saying that I am a technological agnostic: I use gadgets, devices, and software from a variety of different companies. I love my IPod (though ITunes is a painful program to use), I am a huge advocate of Windows and Linux Operating Systems, and my phone is a BlackBerry (or “Crackberry” as I affectionately call it). Usually, end-users don’t care about what company their gadgets came from, as long as it works and performs its desired function.
And really, this is what every software company strives for: usability, functionality, and versatility in every one of its products. We cannot fault a company for that. What we can fault a company for its questionable practices. Cue Apple….
On Wednesday October 20th, Apple introduced their new upcoming release of Mac OS X Lion. During this keynote they highlighted a bunch of “Brand new features”. The odd thing is, they’re not brand new at all and seems to have been ripped off, at least conceptually, from Linux distribution Ubuntu with a new glossy finish and different name. For brevity’s sake, I’ll just list them:
App store vs. Ubuntu Software Center – For the Mac OS, Developers will be able to distribute their apps directly to the user’s desktop. Updates can also be spread in this manner. However, earlier this year Canonical released the Ubuntu Software Center with Lucid Lynx which does the exact same thing (although updates are handled by the update manager on Ubuntu so there is some difference how updates are handled).
Multitouch vs. UTouch — Multitouch has been around for a while, but up until very recently much work has not been done on it. However, now it seems all major operating systems are hopping on the touch bandwagon and Mac OS is no different. Apple should be commended for attempting to add another layer to the Mac OS experience. With Lion, Apple is introducing a “gesture library” that can be used to manipulate both the OS itself and native applications. The thing is, Ubuntu has done just that; with 10.10, UTouch allows at its very core the exact same functionality.
Launchpad vs. Unity — With Lion, the Desktop is arrayed in a nice, pretty, IPad-like grid. And to be fair, the inspiration for this may have been the IPad. However, it’s worth noting that the Unity shell that Ubuntu has been using for their netbook edition since 10.04 is the exact same idea.
This is concerning because Apple should give credit where credit is due. Due to the dominance Apple has over the market share relative to Ubuntu people who know next-to-nothing of Linux distros might be tempted to assume that Apple came up with these “innovations” and the reverse is true: ubuntu ripped off Apple. Ubuntu has performed some amazing accomplishments to the software ecosystem, it is a shame that they wont be recognized for these innovations.
So, is this just a case of convergent evolution, or an abuse of open-source software. What do you think?
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