Washington, DC — In a narrow 5-4 iDecision today, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed Apple a victory that is certain to have reverberations beyond the computer industry. Beginning January 1, 2011, the letter i will be removed from the alphabet and may only be used with express written permission from Apple.
This means that in addition to a 73% share of the music player market and a 25% share of the smartphone market, Apple will now own 3% of the Roman character market. While that number falls well below Apple standards, the ubiquity of Apple’s favorite vowel makes it potentially more valuable than all other company properties combined.
Justice Clarence Thomas, speaking for the court’s majority, says “The constitution does not grant equal status to every letter in the alphabet. Without Apple’s support and investment, the letter i would be as faceless as the letters m and r.”
Expect the controversy to boil over as the January 1 changeover nears.
“A linguistic catastrophe,” says language expert Sophia Bettenelli. “Honestly, that leaves us with only four real vowels. Remember, y is only sometimes a vowel.”
Justice Stephen Breyer, writing the minority opinion, says “We are born with an inalienable right to every letter in the alphabet. Apple is merely squatting on this property and should be promptly evicted.”
“Apple is shooting itself in the foot,” says Oren Spalding, Professor of English at Dartmouth. “The i has power only because it is everywhere. Taken out of commission, it will suffer from neglect. It will become less valuable to Apple, not more.”
Merrill Lynch analyst Adelaide Hughlett strongly disagrees. “The value of the i increases with its rarity. Simple supply and demand. Once Apple has its foot in the door, the remaining 25 letters may fall like dominos.”
How exactly ’s the January 1 changeover go’ng to work? The Supreme Court dec’s’on mandates that an apostrophe w’ll take the place of the m’ss’ng letter, ensur’ng that the flow of commun’cat’ons w’ll cont’nue un’mpeded. Good luck w’th that one.