The verdict heard round the world was handed down on Friday when Apple won its patent infringement case against Samsung. Its ramifications are going to reach beyond the immediate case (a Billion here or there is no big deal to a company like Samsung with 21Bn in their checking account). If you listen carefully you can hear the attorneys rubbing their hands together in anticipation. We are a mere minnow in the ocean of IP and tech value where the big fish sue the bigger fish but this is likely to send shock waves across the entire space. Software and hardware manufacturers will have to pay Apple or come up with a radically different solution to steer clear of similar threats.
As I have blogged many times in the past mobile is where the future lies, for example I just read a recent report which said that daily deals sites are getting more traffic from mobile devices than desktops already and that trend is going to become stronger over time. Having swung and hit Samsung as hard as they have there are no major cash prizes for guessing that Android is next. Shortly before he died Jobs summoned Brin and Page (the Google founders) to essentially yell at them for copying the Apple iOS with Android. I don’t think they reached a conclusion and Google is certainly unapologetic about the similarities between their baby and the iPhone. No doubt the courts will eventually get round to this too. Given the recent verdict there has to be a good chance Apple will win. That could be calamitous for Google in many ways. The very fact that they might lose will likely shake the market and may strengthen even further Apples hand. Back in the day when Android launched, a key driver for Google to essentially give away the platform was the thinking that eventually the world will be mobile and he who controls the handset will rule the earth. However handsets operate on networks and unless Google buys AT&T or T Mobile (and the might yet) the mere fact that Android devices may be significantly impacted by a verdict against them may well tip the scale towards more networks doing a deal with Apple. That way they aren’t in danger of being left stranded or scrambling to produce a non android non Apple solution. By the way on that point we should expect to see a scramble for exactly that from multiple sources…though how you come up with a competitor to an iPhone which doesn’t impinge on patents as fundamental as two finger zoom is beyond me.
When Jobs died he left a legacy of innovation which has driven our world and has been slavishly copied by many. The Apple team appears to be moving to paper up as much as they possibly can to secure every ounce of value they can from his legacy. Once upon a time leadership in cell phones was seen as a good business opportunity…with the dash to a mobile life underway that leadership is even more important. The much vaunted iPhone 5 is on the wings, a thinner larger more powerful 4G device is already poised to be the biggest launch in phone history. That launch coupled with the uncertainty generated by the Samsung verdict could well jump Apple to an even stronger position as this market accelerates. Can Apple find a new wave of innovation to continue what Jobs started?…who knows….but securing that legacy in the courts may yet win that battle after all.