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By 2 March 2011 | Categories: news

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The latest brawl in the world of tech involves HP and BlackBerry holding company Research In Motion (RIM), with the former claiming that the latter copied its tablet PC user interface (UI). 
 
According to Laptop Mag, HP is claiming that RIM imitated the UI of its TouchPad tablet PC, running on Palm-developed webOS, for its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet operating on QNX-developed BlackBerry Tablet OS.  
 
Jon Oakes, director of product marketing, TouchPad, said that “there are some uncanny similarities. It’s a fast innovation cycle and a fast imitation cycle in this market, so we just know that we have the creative engine here to continue to build on what we have, and we’ll keep innovating, we’ll keep honing and those guys [RIM] hopefully will continue to see the value in it and keep following us by about a year.”
 
RIM’s on its part responded to HP’s allegations via Jeff McDowell, senior vice president for business and platform marketing. McDowell stated that the Canadian company “set out from the ground up to define a user experience that we felt would delight our customers, and we landed in a place that may look like other competitive devices. But there was no intention and no preconceived notion that this is what we want to end up looking like. In fact, I think QNX had that design lined up before we even started working with them.”
 
McDowell also went on by comparing tablet UI design to that of cars, which in due course start to look a lot alike. This, according to him, is because a big factor impacting on their designs is the manufacturer’s search for the optimal “coefficient to drag ratio” (airflow over the vehicle), which is tested via a wind tunnel. There’ll be a shape that gets the best wind resistance that a lot of designers will style their vehicle around.
 
This example also works when it comes to tablet UIs, when tablet makers are looking to optimise UIs to cope with multitasking on a smallish display. Eventually you’ll get tablet UI designs that look a lot alike each other.
 
HP did not reveal what, if any, actions they will take against RIM, apart from a tirade of words.

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