This may be a lesson Sony and Microsoft will have to take to heart if they are to stave off increasing encroachment from companies like Apple (Photo : Apple)
Documents and testimonies surfacing from the ongoing trial between Apple and Samsung in California over patent disputes show that Apple offered to license out certain hardware patents to Samsung in 2010, but the Korean electronics company refused. Even more surprising is that apparently Apple had licensed out some design patents to Microsoft, full with an "anti-cloning" disclosure. Could this be why Microsoft is so late to the tablet market, and could Microsoft's late entry be why Samsung refused the deal in 2010?
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Microsoft is finally releasing its first tablet, the Surface, with the new Windows 8 OS this fall. It will be Microsoft's initial foray into first-party production of tablet hardware, and comes years after Apple made moves with the iPad - another fully internally designed and produced tablet.
In a recent interview, Bill Gates said that Steve Jobs, "did something better than I did. His timing in terms of when it came out, the engineering work, just the package that was put together. The tablets we had done before weren't you know, as thin, they weren't as attractive as what came along."
Microsoft had apparently come up with tablets before, just not in the way that Jobs envisioned them. The Apple-Microsoft agreement shows that Microsoft knew Apple was ahead in some respects, and the deal might have been part of the reason that Microsoft held back in making a tablet for so long. The anti-cloning agreement between the two companies, the fear of legal costs and fueling the infamous "monopoly" image that Microsoft had picked up may have made holding back on a tablet more profitable than producing one.
When the Galaxy smartphones first came out, Apple decided to try and be nice and offer patents it felt Samsung was infringing on for a price. At $30 per phone and $40 per tablet, it wasn't cheap, and Samsung clearly thought so as it passed on the deal. The deal must have also come with some anti-cloning agreement, and perhaps Samsung saw what happened with the old Microsoft deal and decided it wasn't worth it. It knew there was a market, and decided to be aggressive, releasing tablets and smartphones until it would become the most successful in both categories.
The deal with Samsung, however, only includes hardware patents, and more leaked documents do show that Samsung might have blatantly copied from Apple's iOS in their own softwares.
Apple has finished their side of the case, and Samsung is currently presenting theirs. Judge Lucy Koh will determine the outcome in the coming weeks.