[Poll] Has Apple Gone Too Far?

The rise of Apple as the darling of the technology industry was a decade in the making. The company had fallen on hard times before its co-founder and guru Steve Jobs came back in 1997 and redefined what Apple computers stood for.

A decade later, in 2007, Apple released the iPhone, and love for the company as well as its revenue have skyrocketed since. But will the litany of lawsuits coming out of Cupertino, finally sour public opinion?

The iPhone and iPad are two of the best-selling consumer-electronics products of all time. Each iteration leads Apple’s sales to greater heights. To many, Apple can do no wrong.

They think that every decision is right, every mistake is someone else's fault. 

Others have come before. Research In Motion's BlackBerry was once so ubiquitous and heavily used in businesses that it earned the nickname “crackberry.” Nokia was a dominant global cellphone maker for years. Both companies now struggle, their once loyal customers likely toting iPhones right now. Poor decisions and bad timing led to their downfalls. 

The same fate is not coming to Apple soon. The company enjoys undeniable momentum, having sparked the global market for smartphones and tablets. The true mobile-computing revolution, however, has not been the technology, but the market Apple created. 

To protect its market and thought leadership, Apple has turned to the legal system. The company owns a clutch of patents for the design and functionality of touchscreen computers and it is using these patent to beat its competitors, if possible, into surrender.

Apple has sued Samsung, HTC and Motorola in courts around the world. New patent claims are filed by Apple and other companies in the mobile industry so regularly that it is hard to keep up. 

The current case in point is the battle being fought between Apple and Samsung in a California court. Apple claims that Samsung willfully copied the design and functionality of the iPhone, and is asking for billions of dollars in damages. An Apple win here could set a precedent that leaves other companies vulnerable to Apple patent claims. 

But the courtroom battles are straining the affections of buyers and the trade media. Comments on Apple/Samsung articles that we have published are more vitriolic than usual even if Apple still has phalanxes of staunch, vocal supporters.

Apple-bashing is not a new phenomenon. Yet more people are questioning Apple’s motives and whether it is still a mobile innovator.  

“Apple is a technology-recipe company,” said Logan Hale from the Web show Tek Syndicate. "They take interesting things that other people have done and they add a little garlic, maybe some cilantro, and then say, blam, this is lovely." Hale said the product "is delicious, and you like it, and then you run around to most of your friends and say ‘look at what Apple has invented.’ Well, they have not invented most of those things."

Have your opinions of Apple changed? Has it become a bully? Can it still innovate? Let us know in the comments.