...or; How Apple copies and claims innovation

Whenever Apple launches something the blogosphere lights up, as such it's been impossible to miss the much hyped Leopard update. Advertised as an innovative update to a innovative product, even I was tempted to take a look at the "what's new" documentation. Oh man their marketing of Safari annoys me...

Text: Mac OS X Leopard, 300+ New Features. Even Leopard innovations have innovations.

The new and "innovative" features

Browsing through the documentation I quickly grew tired of the marketing speak, although some of the new features looks interesting, calling them innovative is stretching things. The "greatest thing ever" approach also seems a bit over the top, my impression is that this is about as big of an upgrade as 2nd edition was to the original Windows 98. Before completely dismissing this as a well designed and well advertised attempt to squeeze some extra bucks out of its dedicated user base, I decided to take a look at the 13 new features listed for Safari (it should come as no surprise that I consider the browser to the most interesting part);

  1. Fastest Web Browser; Browse briskly. Safari is the fastest web browser on any platform
  2. Enhanced Find; Instantly and graphically locate any text on the current web page. Safari highlights every instance of the word you’re searching for and even dims the rest of the page so you can focus on the results of your find.
  3. Movable Tabs; Rearrange your tabs with just a drag and drop. Change the order in which they appear or separate them out by pulling them into a separate window.
  4. Pull Tab into New Window; Separate a tab into its own window with a simple drag and drop.
  5. Easily Create Tabbed Bookmarks; Set a bookmark for an entire set of tabs so that you can view them later, all at once.
  6. Merge All Windows; Combine all your open browser windows into one single, tabbed window
  7. Full History Search; Easily find web pages you have visited. Safari indexes all of the text in websites that you browse. Even weeks later, Safari will be able to find a web page that matches your search.
  8. Reopen Windows; Go back to a set of windows you were viewing after closing them or even after quitting Safari.
  9. Resizable Text Fields; Resize any text field to the size you want because the original design was too small or you just have a lot to say. The contents of the web page will reflow to make room for the resized text field.
  10. Preview Controls for PDFs; Gain new control over PDFs you see on the web. With Preview controls built into Safari, you can zoom in and out, navigate PDF pages with the sidebar, even open the PDF in a separate Preview window.
  11. Remove History Items Periodically; Choose the time interval at which you’d like your browsing history to be automatically deleted.
  12. Desktop Picture; Turn any photo you find on the web into your Desktop Picture with one click.
  13. Warning Before Closing Tabbed Window; Have Safari warn you before closing a window with multiple tabs, just in case you meant to close a single tab.

Spoof on a classic ad. A PC is portrayed by a boring looking man, a Mac is portrayed by a copy machine.Of the twelve "innovative new features" listed by Apple, the browser I use every day (Opera 9.5, alpha build 9603) does everything except items 6, 9 and 10 right "out of the box". There's several options to get re-sizable text fields, I imagine having Adobe Reader installed would let me gain control over PDFs on the web and although Opera doesn't have an automatic "Merge all windows" feature, I can do this easily enough manually. So if we consider what innovation is...

innovation - in·no·va·tion

  1. something new or different introduced
  2. the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.

There's nothing here that gives Apple bragging rights for being innovative. Given that all features from the list have been available in either Opera, Firefox, OmniWeb or Internet Explorer for a long ting now, there's nothing innovative about it. In fact I'd say that what Apple is doing here, despite claiming innovation, simply is copying innovative features from other innovative browser creators.

The "fastest" web browser on "any" platform

That leaves the first item from Apple's list, that Safari is the fastest web browser on any platform. With such a claim you'd think they'd brag about all platforms Safari is available for and prominently place a few visually pleasing graphs detailing how superior their browser is. Nope, nothing at all.

Opera is available for Windows, Solaris, QNX, OS/2, MacOS, Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, Windows Mobile, Symbian OS as well as many proprietary OS's found on various devices. Conservative counting and this makes 10+ platforms.

From what I can find, Firefox is availible (counting both official and unofficial builds) for Windows, MacOS, Linux, FreeBSD. OS/2, Solaris, RISC OS, SkyOS and BeOS. Conservatively giving 9+ platforms.

When it comes to Safari there's the Mac OS X version and one for Windows (currently in beta). I'll be nice and give Apple half a platform point for supporting the iPhone (even though it runs OS X); That makes a grand total 2.5 platforms! In other words a somewhat Ford-like claim; Any platform as long as it's OS X or Windows.

Lastly there's the claim that Safari is the fastest web browser. If we ignore tests that clearly gives wrong/unusable results for Safari, all that I've seen are tests that rank other browsers in front of Safari.

Come to Norway

This is obviously only a small subset (4,34%) of the advertised new features in Leopard, regardless they're not in any way innovations on already a innovative product. Makes me wonder what would happen if someone took a closer look at the rest of them, if statistics are anything to go by... ;-)

Hopefully they'll launch and promote the new Leopard/Safari in Norway as well, we have strict laws when it comes to claims made in marketing material (especially the blatant lies and willfully misleading kind) and it will be fun to see Apple trying to defend these (blatant lies and clearly misleading) claims.

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