So last weekend I came across this quote from Tim O’Reilly, someone I really trust to tell the truth, either way, on technology. This was in regards to all the talk on the Apple vs. Samsung trial. More will be coming, but this definitely represents my feelings all along the way that NO ONE could create any new technology from the ground up without ‘borrowing’ from others.
I agree with your basic point here, but your historical analogy for Apple stretches the facts pretty far. There are decades between Apple’s near-death experience after Windows rather than the Mac dominated the windows and mouse paradigm, and their resurgence with Mac OS X, then the iPhone.
But it’s very true that Apple didn’t lose out to Microsoft because of copying. In fact, the original Mac interface was itself inspired by the Xerox Alto and other work at PARC. That’s the real disingenuous part of Apple’s argument. They copied from Xerox, and the Microsoft copied from them. But in each case, it was execution (and business model) that made the difference.