Andrew, the answer for now is no. But we’ll see how it goes.
PXLated, did SMTP, IMAP and POP3 copy MCIMail? Seems an open email system, which we have now, and nobody owns, is a whole enchilada.
How about graphical browsers? Who invented those, and for what reasons? Did Mozilla copy Microsoft when it put tabs, plug-ins and dozens of other original features in Firefox? Do you find IE a superior experience today?
Yes, lots of open source work is derivative. So what? Lots more of it is original and inventive. Open and closed are not always at odds. The construction business is filled with open and closed building materials and methods, and they get along just fine, because construction is inherently modular.
There have been tablets before and they’ve been too hard and strange to use. The iPad will be a breakthrough here, just like the iPhone was. And its appeal will go beyond geeks, just as the iPhone did. A year from now, when you walk down the aisle of an airplane, a third of the rectangles glowing at you will be iPads. They’re handy, pretty, have great battery life, and store well for not too much money. But they won’t do everything. And everything is a bigger market space than what Apple alone can control.
And don’t dismiss the rest of the world. Most of the world’s smartphones are not made by Apple. Open operating systems are catching up. There are lots of creative apps for Android that do what can’t be done on an iPhone. (Hence Verizon’s “Droid Does” ads.) Symbian-based hardware has some catching up to do; but when it does it will also still have the largest market share.
My own little project is currently working on iPhone, but can’t wait to do on other platforms what Apple won’t let us do. And that’s not just geeks talking, either.
What we have here is a new form factor in the world that has lots of potential uses, and lots of ways of creating those uses. Launching that will be one very inventive and pioneering company that can’t and won’t do it all. Nature will take its courses.