Why does Apple fear Samsung?

David Liu April 21, 2011 0

Apple has quite the history of filing lawsuits against Android-device manufacturers. To date, it has brought both HTC and Motorola to court for alleged patent infringment, and its newest target is Samsung. Filed last week, the lawsuit states, "Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple's technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products," citing Samsung's range of Galaxy S devices as well as the Galaxy Tab and the Nexus S as mere copies of the iPhone and iPad. “The copying is so pervasive," says Apple, "that [they] appear to be actual Apple products.”

What? I'm sorry, but the blanket statement that Apple makes is more than a stretch–it's patently ridiculous. For one, Samsung's Epic 4g, Intercept, Transform, and Acclaim smartphones–all of which are referenced in Apple's lawsuit–have slide-out keyboards. GIven Apple's current anti-button crusade, phones with hardware keyboards can hardly be said to resemble something Apple would make. Okay, maybe some of Samsung's phones have an iPhone-aping silhouette–you might mistake a VIbrant's shadow for that of an iPhone–but a rectangle with rounded corners can hardly be called "unique."

In addition, Apple claims that Samsung has been copying iOS's icons for its TouchWIz UI. So why, then, does it specifically include the Nexus S, a phone that runs on 100% bone-stock Android 2.3, in with this argument? The Nexus S doesn't use TouchWiz UI, and its icons bear no resemblance to those of iOS. In my opinion, this discontinuity in Apple's argument makes its entire lawsuit seem more like an episode of nerd-rage against anything and everything Android, rather than a calculated legal action regarding a specific patent infringement.

Frankly, it's pretty clear here that Apple isn't afraid of patent violation, it's afraid of competition. It had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to corner the fledgling smartphone market—which, back in 2007, consisted of business-oriented Blackberries and the highly Blackberry-esque T-Mobile Dash—with the original iPhone, and then it received that opportunity again last year by bringing the first mainstream tablet computer to the market. Those brief stints of exclusivity brought about an attitude of superiority and arrogance, and now Apple is afraid that some devices that aren't iPhones might steal its spotlight. Apple has really come a long way since its anti-establishment, alternative-choice 1984 advertisement.

An excellent summary of the lawsuit, written by SB Nation's Nilay Patel, can be found here.

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