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Day October 26, 2011

5by5 | The Critical Path #11: The Thermonuclear Option

Episode #11 • October 26, 2011 at 12:00pm

Dan and Horace talk about patents and litigation as a means of defending innovation. We go way back to the beginning of the last century and talk how patent wars have played out in the past and how they affected the fortunes and fates of innovators.

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and TinyLetter.


IMPORTANT: I made an error in claiming that Mauser litigated for royalties during WWI. The litigation with Mauser preceded the war, but the bullet design used in the rifle was the subject of litigation before, during and after the war. The story of that patent fight is described here: The Tale of the Spitzer Bullet Patent Lawsuit | asymco

To read more about the Wright Brothers patent war see: The Wright brothers patent war – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The other tablets

Analysts have to count things in order to measure value. It sounds easy but it can be tricky. As I pointed out with PCs vs. iPads, if you count an iPad as a PC you can get into a lot of trouble with your clients. But if you don’t you end up directing them away from confronting an existential threat. Only very rarely is a market report published in contradiction to widely held sustaining beliefs. More often than not analysts bow to the source of their paychecks and in so doing show their rear end to the truth.

This comes up again now with respect to how to count tablets. Consider that there is little difference in architecture, software or design between an iPhone and an iPad. They run the same OS, use the same microprocessors and have similar communication methods, inputs and sensors. However they are considered completely different products and counted as part of separate markets. The only physical attribute that differs is the screen size. So we have to conclude that the size of the screen is a huge determinant factor in deciding whether a product is a tablet but not a smartphone (or music player).

But what about tablets themselves? Their screen sizes vary widely. A 10″ screen is certainly a tablet device, but a 4″ screen certainly isn’t. Where is the boundary exactly?