Over on the Tech Liberation Front, the Show Me Institute’s Tim Lee is questioning my post on the role patents played in the development of Apple’s new iPhone. Unfortunately, it seems that Mr. Lee has been brainwashed by the mythology of the anti-software patent crowd. While I don’t have time to go through all the logical and historical inconsistencies of his post, the best place to begin is probably the rhetorical question that he poses near the end of his post:
Even if Nokia does a lot better than Microsoft and manages to clone the iPhone interface in, say, 2 years, that still means that they’ll be perpetually 2 years behind. Why would consumers buy a knockoff of the 2007 iPhone from Nokia when they can buy the 2009 version from Apple?
Why? Because consumers always do! The vast majority of consumers aren’t buying cutting edge technology, and Nokia’s phone will inevitably be cheaper (because reverse engineering is less expensive than inventing and less risky), integrate additional features, and be otherwise “good enough.” And “good enough,” often wins in the marketplace.