Apple won a landslide court victory over a major patents dispute and Samsung now owes the former US$1.05bn. That is a huge sum but not something that will change the game. The more important impacts are the long standing aftershocks of this decision. One thing to note is that this ruling is only valid in US markets. Internationally, the status quo holds.
Apple: No Real Effect
Apple gains bragging rights but besides that nothing really much. Samsung is its closest competitor but the US market tends pretty aggressively to its domestic champion Apple. This victory will allow Apple more breathing space but not by much.
In the longer run, Apple’s buisness approach will alienate them among their partners. Samsung was a huge partner to them and you can be sure their current partners are thinking twice. Apple closed door styled strategies will remain their limiting factor.
Apple’s decision to litigate rather than innovate leads me to believe iOS 7 will be the same damn thing all over. Just as it has been since iOS 1.
Samsung: Damaging in the US, Ugly UI has to Go
Samsung will face injections that should easily pass through. This means that a good number of Samsung products will face bans from being sold in the US. The upside is that these bans should only affect old products like the Galaxy S2 and those before that. New product lines that have been in a market for 6 months or so will be untouched.
This means most of the Samsung phones that may receive bans are 2 years old or even older. Do you still remember the Samsung Gem, Fascinate Replenish? Dinosaurs.
The Galaxy S3 will be left unhampered. This may actually be a good thing for Samsung in the long run because if consumers want to buy a Samsung product in the US, they will now have to buy the latest line from the Korean based firm.
Looking at future products, this can be very good news for Samsung fan boys. I personally do not like Samsung’s designs. I was pretty convinced (even as one that doesn’t favour Apple) that Samsung did rip off many UI elements on its TouchWiz interface.
Samsung’s TouchWiz interface is the main thing that has to go and that is really a good thing. TouchWiz’s design looks terrible in its current form and it is ironic that they are getting sued for the aesthetics of an ugly looking UI.
The poor looking design of TouchWiz was the key reason I went for a HTC One X as compared to a Galaxy S3. I don’t know if Apple feels insulted. By going to the courts they are implying Samsung made a close copy of their UI. Frankly, TouchWiz looks terrible. Sometimes imitation may not be the biggest form of flattery.
Samsung will continue its massive growth in markets outside the US especially Europe and Asia. Hopefully, this will force them to design a much better looking UI as well.
Microsoft & Nokia: Extremely Good News
In Apple’s attack against Samsung, it praised Nokia’s Lumia series for having a beautiful design without needing to copy. While they may have done this because Nokia and Microsoft Windows Phone OS is not a threat to iOS currently, they do still have a point. Nokia’s Lumia series and Microsoft’s Windows 8 UI looks really good and is actually a step ahead of Apple’s early 2000s beveled style.
This also ties in really well with the launch of Windows 8 hardware in the coming months. Microsoft could not have hoped for a better outcome.
US Customers: Patent Laws Reduce Consumer Surplus
In the short term, US customers will face a lower variety of products. But most of these product lines that will be lost are products that are either old or not really popular. As much as a lower product variety will result in a loss of consumer surplus. The impact is not great. Consumers still have access to top of the line Samsung products.
Google & Android: No Effect
Ever since Ice Cream Sandwhich, Android has shifted its design focus forward to avoid lawsuits. It must be remembered that TouchWiz and not Android is getting sued here. Stock Android will continue unhampered. HTC’s Sense UI and its competitors are unaffected.
The long term view of this landmark court ruling is simple. Samsung will be forced into a redesign. Other Android based manufacturers will be looking for ways to ensure they do not commit the same mistakes as Samsung to avoid lawsuits.
In short, Apple’s competitors will be moving forward to avoid being seen as copying iOS design while Apple will continue to sit on it’s rather dated looking OS.
In technology, the best defense has always been to aggressively progress and innovate. Apple unwittingly kick started this process for some of its competitors while looking to stand still on its own designs. Maybe Samsung will now design better products, maybe my next phone will be from the Korean giant if the new designs are actually up to par.