Apple of California or Taipei iPod Contractors? "Birth of iPhone" is "Game of Thrones" Saga

In the Game of Thrones (which am watching for the first time, binging Seasons 1, 2, and 3 during an Xfinity free-access trial).  It's about the rightful sons and daughters, or "bastard" sons of Kings, and their rights and claims to Kingdoms and Thrones.

In our world, the Patent or Copyright or Claim of invention is the coveted throne of the modern "Rightful Heir".  And the stakes - for Titans like Apple, Samsung, Sony, or Foxconn - represent a far more wealth than the "Iron Throne" at King's Landing.

Game of Thrones keeps our interest, in part, by slowly revealing more dimension in characters introduced in a previous season (before killing them off and replacing them, perhaps with a new actor less willing to negotiate better salary.. another contract manufacturing angle).  For those of us who study planned obsolescence and contract manufacturing, the history of Android (especially Samsung) vs. Apple smartphones is just as fascinating.  (There's even a 'bit player' I know personally, a kind of Hong Kong Tyrion, that I know pesonally.  Proview's Rowell Yang of the four fingers received a check from Apple for $60M five years ago. He had trademarked the name "iPhone" while I was a consulting with Proview).

In last weekend's, there's a fascinating chapter to the claims that Steve Jobs is the rightful King. father of the smartphone.

The Wall Street Journal's mini-documentary describes the "birth" - though I'd say "discovery" - of the iPhone.  It's all true, and give credit to Apple where it is due.  But many "missed the episode" of the Kings of Technology in Taipei, and how their development of touch-screen technology, and role as subcontractors (Mike Daisy's "slaves"), needs to also be filmed, to tell the true story.

How the iPhone Was Born: Inside Stories of Missteps and Triumphs  

On the iPhone’s 10th birthday, former Apple executives Scott Forstall, Tony Fadell and Greg Christie recount the arduous process of turning Steve Jobs’s vision into one of the best-selling products ever made.

As reported to me, the iPhone prototype came out of the iPod (then 50% of Apple sales) - just as described by Forstall, Fadell and Christie.  IPods were being assembled then by Chinese contractors such as Hon Hoi Precision, aka "Foxconn", which would later manufacture the iPhones (and be hysterically criticized by Mike Daisy).

Whether or not the iPhone is the modern day Dragon in Thrones, it's lineage is suspect.

Watch the video from WSJ above.

Watch for minutes 2:15, when the iPod folks are brought into a room to see, for the first time, Steve Jobs ping-pong-table size touch screen.  They were amazed and hadn't seen the technology before.  (Are we supposed to think Jobs made it in his garage?)

Then notice minute 3:00, when the iPod crew are told to make something better or that Jobs would "give the job to another kid".

I know the other kid.  And it's the same kid who made the ping pong table size touch screen Steve Jobs showed his American crew.

What follows, according to the Taiwanese side of the story, is that Steve Jobs basically does to China what Chinese engineers had been doing to USA for almost a decade.  China has long been blamed for taking on work as subcontractors just long enough to steal key engineers or know-how and then copying, reverse engineering, and mocking up the patented USA invention.  Boo hoo, it's called "shanzhai", and as we've described before, it's the equivalent in China of a musician stealing a guitar riff.  Copying (and improving on) someone else's "patent" is just not culturally understood.

So tell it one way, and Apple did the same thing.  Told another way, Apple beat China at its own game.  What I like about either way is that it puts the Geeks on equal ground.

If you want to know more, find out which engineers left Taiwan for Vancouver, Canada, during the months Steve Jobs spoke about "giving the job to a new kid".  It was bringing the touchscreen know-how from Taipei... genius not patent.

No comments: