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How the Apple/Samsung Verdict Could Turn Mobile Inside Out

Mushroom cloud

Samsung sucks. The TouchWiz-ard steals other companies’ concepts and designs, and puts out inferior products with them. Apple is a thwarter of openness, a hypocritical dictatorship built on hipster iTwits and claims of greatness, while putting out — you guessed it — inferior products.

If you follow the patent war between these companies, then chances are, you probably believe fervently in one of these positions. And you’re not alone. The ruling against the South Korean company, which forces it to pay a hefty sum (in excess of $1 billion dollars) to Cupertino, has already produced both cheers and outrage across the Web. And all this, just on the judgment alone.

But there’s more to the story than just whether mobile fanboyism can handle the decision. There’s the aftermath, and what the mobile-oriented public may see in the months and years ahead. The Next Web did a decent rundown of some scenarios, so here are some highlights on what the future could hold:

  • Apple, as it keeps on keepin’ on: Is there any doubt that the company will continue going after any and all perceived patent infringers? And now that there’s a precedent, the witch hunt may become easier than before. The company has already put in for a preliminary hearing, probably to request the ban of certain devices, and all that could lead to some very visible UX changes spanning OSes, product design and other user-facing features — particularly from its main competition: Android.
  • The blow to Samsung: “The areas in which Samsung ‘won’ mean that it did not infringe upon Apple’s IP…,” notes The Next Web. In laymen’s terms, that would mean Samsung won’t have to totally overhaul its product line. But it could be required to pay out royalties to Apple and will probably throw some money toward fighting specific device bans — and that’s on top of the large judgment already awarded. Of course the company is expected to appeal the decision, but even if it doesn’t win, Samsung fans need not worry about its demise. The corporation is huge after all, and this won’t destroy them. But it will hit the company where it hurts — not just in the wallet, but also in its reputation among everyday consumers, who (right or wrong) could begin to look at the brand as a rip-off of the iOS product line. And all that could wind up altering the course of its future line-up — from design to software to the number of product releases, and other unforeseen aspects.
  • The impact on the industry: It’s likely that other Android OEMs will get pulled into this, and that could have sweeping implications for the industry. If they have to deal with royalties of any kind, you can bet those costs will get passed along to the consumer, sending Android device prices sky-high. Or long-term, it might hamper profitability to a point where the risks are no longer worth it.
  • The bright light at the end of the tunnel: On a positive note, across the board, manufacturers of all sizes will have to pay more attention to intellectual property and patents, which means that fewer “also-rans” will come to market. As a result, the public might see greater innovation reaching the light of day, and against a decreasingly cluttered mobile landscape, at that.
  • And just when you thought you heard it all… Here’s a wacky thought: Could this actually be a good outcome for Samsung? That’s what Robert Scoble, Apple pundit and insider extraordinaire, seems to think. He made the case that the Android maker came out ahead, citing that Microsoft ponied up $8 billion for Skype, but it “only cost $1 billion [for Samsung] to become the #2 most profitable mobile company.… So, for 1/8th of a Skype Samsung took RIM’s place and kicked HTC’s behind.”

Do you agree with Scoble’s assessment? Disagree? And how do you think the future of mobile could be affected by the ruling? Weigh in with your opinions in the comments.

[Via The Next Web 1, 2]


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Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...


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