Apple-Samsung verdict – What’s a Billion Dollars Anyway?


Apple vs Samsung is in the books  (Round 1) – with a victory for Apple and a 1.05 billion dollar damage ruling to boot.  Meanwhile in South Korea, a court there went the split decision route, even banning products from both companiesin the South Korea market and finding infringement on both sides. If you’re a reader of this site, you most certainly have heard the news and all about its details somewhere in media. If you haven’t, well here’s a summary – a hometown jury found Samsung infringed on Apple’s patents for the iPhone. It’s rather obvious that Samsung is a big loser on this one as well as Google, which powers the Samsung devices with its Android operating system.

[Commentary Alert] – 

Most people will only hear of this particular outcome, but this is obviously not the end of the story. Samsung will surely appeal and most probably will not be spending one billion dollars in legal fees in doing so. It makes ample sense that business will go on as usual for some time to come. In fact there are a number of Apple vs Samsung cases going on, in as many as nine countries by some of the last reports. So this is what it has come to, let’s make a bunch of lawyers a bunch of money. That just rubs the wrong way, doesn’t it? Why not push forward and deliver something new? Does Apple really have a monopoly on rectangle shape touchscreen devices with rounded corners? – because that design element had been discussed in the case. What about the bounceback “overscroll effect” that was an element of the case.

This is a fast-moving market and the pace of change is undeniable.  Word is that Samsung had already modified a bunch of the product to work around the disputed patents. It is also being projected that this ruling could also lead to a significantly different and innovative product superior to the patent matters in this case.  Regardless, if the answer has produced evolutionary engineering tweaks to work around the disputed patents, then this all has a sense of being moot to some degree.  I get that Apple put a lot of work on developing, integrating, and polishing the iPhone product and made something unique and revolutionary. No need to get into the history of things here as there’s other places for that – and it can’t be denied.  Yes, there were other “smartphones” before the iPhone, I had one called a Treo 700 and it was very cool, clunky and painful all at the same time.

At some point the Samsung products, after their own trial and development hit the market, typically priced lower than the iPhone product. That seems to be the crux of Apple’s allegation – Samsung is making the same product and making it cheaper. The message certainly seems contradictory to Apple’s carefully fostered image of a better product and corresponding higher prices. It is a pretty fascinating position. Anyway it seems this can and will go back and forth, appealed, then escalated and so on. The Korean ruling found in favor of Samsung’s WiFi patents. The notification bar on Android somehow found their way to iPhones. These kinds of things date back to the entire history of computing, recall also that the whole Mac GUI was “borrowed” from Xerox PARC. It’s just the way it is in this industry, and thus cases like this do happen.

Hopefully, products, pricing and choice are not impacted by this long term, because that would mean the consumer ultimately loses. So while it all seems pathetic yet based on good reasons at the same time, it is exactly as crazy as it sounds.  This kind of thing will just play out and with a little luck it will all be for the better.  Let’s get back to making more phones with cool features, better, faster, and reliable.  The legal stuff – there’s enough market and consumers to support anyone in the game who wants to put out a great phone, we owe that to Apple.  The bottom line is that consumers are out there, they want choice, they want features, and that’s not going to stop.