Steve Jobs may no longer be introducing new, altering devices into the market, but Apple has already built itself a solid foundation to continue its success into the future. (Photo : REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov )
The current episode of the Silicon Valley soap opera involves two of the biggest players in the mobile market: Apple and Samsung. Both companies are worldwide brands, and both companies are trying to be the dominant player in the smartphone and tablet industries - something Apple can claim, but probably not for long. As push comes to shove, the companies are now in the courtroom, arguing what seems like, frivolous claims.
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Granted, the ongoing lawsuit between Apple and Samsung involves the very dull area of patents. I'm no legal expert, but it's not hard to see why patents are important. They allow for those with originality and new ideas a chance in a market where copycats and better financially-backed firms would otherwise dominate. Apple claims that Samsung has literally ripped off its iPhone and iPad designs.
As reparation for the damages, Apple is asking for $2.5 billion if it wins. So far, the case seems to be tilting in Apple's favor, as preliminary injunctions against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 were handed out in June.
Apple has repeatedly claimed that Samsung is designing, marketing, and selling its devices as essential Apple clones - hoping to snag any unwary customers who were looking for an Apple device, but instead found out they had gone home with a Samsung. Is this a realistic complaint?
I find it hard to believe that someone would confuse Apple's iPad or the iPhone with any Samsung device; people buying these devices are more likely than not somewhat tech-savvy, and as long as you're literate, it shouldn't be hard to look for an "Apple" tag on the box. On top of that, a poll of Best Buy managers by Samsung showed that most Samsung tablets were returned due to glitches, and not because people confused them with iPads, like Apple claims.
Apple has also gone to great lengths to showcase internal documents showing how Samsung studied the iPhone and iPad. Why wouldn't they? Once again, barring legal technicalities, it seems only natural that a company that is behind would study the more successful firm in hopes of learning from it. Is this blatant patent infringement? Some icons do look like Samsung's creative team got lazy, but that will be up to Judge Lucy Koh to decide later this month.
One thing is for sure: the rivalry between Apple and Samsung has never been more intense. Samsung outsold Apple in smartphones almost two-to-one in the second quarter of 2012 and the Galaxy S3 is the first smartphone to capture consumers' imaginations the way the iPhone does. The reason that this case is important to us is because the mobile market is becoming the most important tech market, and as Apple's initial runaway success era comes to a close, competition will come from all corners.
Samsung, Google, Amazon - all of these companies will be looking to take a bit out of Apple's...apple. But if the companies need to go to the courtrooms every time they feel threatened, then the future of tech looks very frivolous and petty indeed. Personally, as a consumer, it's better for me if there's a little competition to fuel the fire.
What do you think about Apple vs. Samsung? Who do you think is in the right?