> rewind fifteen years, and its microsoft and bill gates all over again
I couldn't help but make this connection, too. In 1988, Apple tried to sue MS for "look and feel", and the courts decided copyright didn't extend this kind of protection (although they succeeded in defending specifics like the trashcan icon). Now they have obtained patents for much of the same things, and are trying a different -- and more expensive to challenge -- tack.
It is interesting that Apple sued MS after their market share had started slipping, and that the period around and after the lawsuit was one where Apple became more and more marginalized, reviving with the introduction of the iMac in 1998, ten years later.
Although Apple has been met with great success with many products, and the iPhone has been the undisputedly smartest of the smartphones, they are seeing some real competition now (even I am probably buying an HTC Desire now). It took Windows a while to get anywhere close to the Mac, and it arguably never surpassed it in usability, but once it got close enough, a competitive hardware and software left Apple in the dust marketwise. Let's see if the same is about to happen to mobile phones.