03 February 2011

When Emotions Run Amok

When it comes to Microsoft, I have long argued that they got lucky in their deal with IBM. After that, pretty much everything they ever did was either ripped off from someone else — as in stolen — or a very obvious “inspired by.” (They did occasionally buy stuff as well, but not if they could avoid it).
In terms of revenue, the vast majority of their revenue comes from what I would call misappropriated technologies — if not legally, then certainly ethically.

There are some Apple fanboys who make the argument that Apple is better because Microsoft “steals” everything it sells, etc.  I’m starting to get bored with this argument, in part because it presupposes that intellectual property actually exists, and in part because it is nothing more than a hysterical tautology.  I’ve already addressed my views on IP, so I’ll address the hysterical tautology instead.

There are several questions I have for people who make these sorts of arguments.  First, at what point does inspiration turn into theft?  How much inspiration is too much?

Second, is it possible that competitors in this field could independently come up with similar or identical ideas independently, especially in light of the fact that they have similar interests and backgrounds?  What proof do you have of your assertions?

Third, if a company “steals” a concept and is able to execute it while the company the idea is “stolen” from cannot, is the company that stole not entitled to the revenue?  What if the company that “stole” the idea is merely better at executing the idea?  Would they not be deserving of revenue?

Fourth, are the originators of any given idea always capable of both executing an idea and profiting from it?   If not, why not allow companies that can execute and profit the idea do so?

Fifth, why is execution of an idea not given the same weight as origination of an idea?  Aren’t both necessary to ensure that a product gets to market?  So why is there such a preference for one over the other?

Sixth, isn’t the entire history of the world founded on people copying others’ ideas?  Aren’t derivative works crucial to economic growth?  If so, why are you upset about Microsoft copying from someone else?

Ultimately, when looks at Mr. Ritholtz’s complaints in the light of logic, it becomes immediately clear that his response is emotion-driven, and that the code of ethics that he appears to desire would severely retard economic progress and growth.

1 comment:

  1. Microsoft is disgusting because they break the law. Microsoft routinely engages in conflicts of interest, forces shoddy products on the consumer, and suborns government officials. Microsoft goes beyond the bounds of what is LEGAL. Amusingly, Apple was originally funded by sales of "rainbow boxes" of questionable legality.

    It also happens that their products are inferior the the Xerox PARC originals, but that's also true of Apple. Both Microsoft and Apple copied from Xerox.