Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The BlackBerry Story

I'm something of a gadget luddite. I hate cell-phones, so you won't be seeing me carting around a BlackBerry any time soon. What does interest me is the story of the patent lawsuit surrounding the gadget. And quite a tale it is. There are lessons for lawyers and businessmen throughout, but to me the bigger picture of the application of patents in the computer age is summed up toward the end:

"'There's a tremendous amount of innovation and hard work that goes into taking an idea and realizing it and then making it into a product,' Mr. Lazaridis [alleged BlackBerry innovator] says defiantly. 'There are 16 million lines of code in BlackBerry. Sixteen million. It's hard to imagine 16 million lines of code. They all have to work in harmony and perfection to make this thing do its job. Are you trying to tell me that one little concept is more important than another little concept, and that it didn't take man-years and man-years of effort to make all that stuff work?'"

You see: computer software is just math. It doesn't matter if you use geometry, a unit circle, or complex numbers to derive the sine function. The end result is the same number.

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