Saturday, August 25, 2012

Apple is the biggest loser in patent war

Yesterday jurors announced the verdict on Apple-Samsung patent suit.  I wrote briefly about how everyone is loser because companies now have to spend more resources on defending against patent litigation and consumers will have less innovation to choose from at higher price.

I want to talk about Apple, the winner of yesterday's verdict.  Contrary to how it might look on the surface, Apple is the biggest loser of this patent war.

Here's why I think that is.

1. Apple has just brought Samsung copycat design in to everyone's view.

Fact was that no one mistook Samsung Galaxy's copycat implementation as Apple iPhone.  Not just the Samsung logo on the top, but screen size was larger, icons were less detailed.  What Apple just did with this highly publicized lawsuit was to bring the spotlight on Samsung's Galaxy phone and other lines of products from Samsung.  Unwittingly Apple just admitted that Samsung is a threat to commoditizing iPhone's premium market.  Now people are asking about Samsung.

2. The patent suit was a bad PR for Apple.

Apple is in a premium product business where design and philosophy matter.  Remember think different campaign?  Apple used to be known as a company with different way of doing things.  Not anymore.  Apple is pushing the software patent litigation boundary to a new front.  Many share the view that Apple's software patents infringed by Samsung should have not been patentable in the first place (Cult of Mac and Engadget to name a few).  Yes, it is thinking differently alright.  But not the way the guys in below picture are known for.

3. Apple will get counter suits from Samsung, Google and many others.

Now that flood gate has been open, Apple will not be immune from software patent suits.  Google has already sued Apple for patents that it bought from Motorola.  Samsung will no doubt bring additional counter suits against Apple.

4. Apple will not stop the other players from innovating by suing them.

Ultimately Apple's goal was to change the calculus on competitor's product design.  Apple wanted to discourage others from copying Apple's elements so that their design elements become commodity in the mobile market.  But Apple won't be able to stop that with litigation.  Only way to avoid commoditization is to out-innovate and deliver a product that customers love.

Even if Apple achieved its goal of patent lawsuit against Samsung teaching Samsung not to copy any design element, the cost is so much greater than gain.  I don't understand why Apple went ahead and stayed in the fight.

There is no winner in this patent war.  Because we all copy at one point or another to become great.

No comments:

Post a Comment