Apple - Where to Go From Here?
Written by Warren Muggleton on 12 September 2012« Return to Reading Room
The dispute between Apple and Samsung has been running for several months now, involving many meeting s in court, which became more intense this June. There have been many concerns with similarities in the design of Samsung's mobile phones, breaching the Patent-Protection of Apple's design and function of their devices. On 24th August 2012, the jury in San Jose, California, reached a guilty verdict of infringement of Patent-protection, meaning Samsung have to pay in the region of $1 billion to Apple, therefore restoring Apple to where they would have been without the infringement- the basics of compensation. But what do Apple do from here to maintain their superiority in the technology market or even to find peace?
According to the Daily Mail, "we're likely to see a ban on many mobile devices from Samsung" (Gillmor, 2012). Currently, Samsung are selling 120 models of mobile phone in America. However, because of the infringement on Apple's Patent-protection, this will decrease because "Apple asked for a preliminary injunction barring sales in the U.S. of eight out of the 28 infringing Samsung products" (Bonnington, 2012). As well as this, many other phone companies could be restricted in their phone sales, since "either all Android manufacturers will pay Apple a license fee, or Apple will simply make it too expensive, via lawsuits, for other phone makers to compete" (Gillmor, 2012). Samsung have been checkmated - even if they could afford to pay Apple the damages of approximately $1 billion, Apple will have dominated the smart-phone market in America. By their use of the American Patent system for full-bodied protection of their product, Apple have come a huge step closer to technological domination.
But the case goes further than this. Because Samsung used Android operating system for their phone, Apple have taken this up with Google as they were represented in the grand scheme of things by Samsung alongside other phone companies using Android, such as HTC. "Several of Apple's complaints against Samsung have to do with the appearance of physical products and onscreen icons" (Duncan, 2012), one technology website says. These same complaints do apply to other Android devices and they are even calling against certain phone's software in the similarities of their running, since Patent-protection covers functions as well as aesthetics. What really aids Apple is the fact that they have Patent-protection on the majority of their devices features, such as 'pinch-to-zoom'. Although companies are very likely to claim these are invalid, Apple are so headstrong in this Patent-protection they can argue infringement on anything from the use of scroll to the look of a Settings button. In my view, Apple seem to have every area covered and it seems we are "likely to see a ban on many mobile devices from Samsung and other manufacturers in the wake of this case" (Gillmor, 2012). I therefore believe that soon the iPhone will be 'one of a kind' with no or very little competition.
However, the Guardian does give us a glimmer of hope of avoiding total domination by Apple. Apparently, behind the scenes of this dispute, "The two companies are keeping lines of communication open at a high level" (Reuters, 2012). Larry Page, Google's Chief Executive, and Tim Cook, Apple Chief Executive, have held telephone conversations hinting towards a truce involving conflicts over functions and features. Again, Apple's use of Patent-Protection has been the centre of the dispute because Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, considered Android a "stolen product" and it infringes certain functions of Apple's running software. It seems very easy, therefore, for Apple to go to court against Google and on top of this, they have been growing ever more distant from Google in their systems, involving moves such as saying "it would no longer offer Google's YouTube as a pre-loaded app in future versions of its iPhone" (Reuters, 2012), meaning the infringement of Patent-protection would seem clearer to the court. So why hold talks with Google? It may be to do with their newfound reputation as an 'uber-bully': perhaps this potential move of pacification is to remove such a status, soften the edges of their rising domination. Maybe even an air of calm before the storm...
In my view, Apple seem very likely to dominate the smart-phone market in America. Through overhauled use of the Patent, they are now in a position where they can see off most of the competition put forward by Android. For Apple, Patent-protection has provided them with compensation of $1 billion and the American market on the side. What is next in the 'sue-everywhere scheme?' Computers, tablets?
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