I think that people are just being sentimental in this matter. There is zero innovation in a bunch of phones that look and act like an iPhone. I will say it again: when I buy something apart from an iPhone, it is because I don’t want an iPhone. Duh.

The Apple patent win will enhance innovation, not stifle it

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Apple versus Samsung

The verdict on the Apple-Samsung patent case is still causing ripples all over the world. For me, the issues that I am concerned with have been expressed in an earlier post, Aping Apple – Stupid, stupid mobile manufacturers. I have been concerned that there hasn’t been significant innovation by manufacturers in the last five (5) years. Much of what we have on ground have been the results of copy work.

PhoneBoy summarised it in his reply to one of my tweets on the subject days ago:

Can anyone answer that? How is a bunch of phones that look and act like an iPhone “innovative’?

Some have argued that there just so many ways you can design a smartphone. Let’s look at the issue of a rectangle with rounded edges. A mobile can have rounded corners without looking like the iPhone. Infact, many mobiles do have rounded corners and do not look like the iPhone at all. The HTC One X has rounded corners but does not look like an iPhone. Same goes for the Palm Pre, Pliris Blaze+, Motorola RAZR MAXX, Nokia 603, Nokia C7, etc, etc. I can keep that list going.

During the legal tussle, Apple mentioned Nokia’s Lumia design as an example of how this is possible. That is Apple themselves acclaiming a competitor! The N9/Lumia design is innovation. Though it is a rectangle with rounded edges, it is not copy work. The N9’s MeeGo OS and Swype UI are innovation. The Lumia 900’s Windows Phone OS and UI are innovation.

I think that people are just being sentimental in this matter. There is zero innovation in a bunch of phones that look and act like an iPhone. I will say it again: when I buy something apart from an iPhone, it is because I don’t want an iPhone. Duh.

We need innovation. We want differentiation in design and in how these devices work. We want choices. More choices is never a bad thing for a market.

People have argued that consumers didn’t know that they wanted an iPhone until Apple created one. If we follow the logical sequence of that argument, then if manufacturers innovate, I bet that there are many other ways to design both hardware and software of a mobile such that it looks and acts nothing like the iPhone and yet that consumers will fall in love with!

I am no Apple fan, but this verdict in favour of Apple will enhance innovation. Every other fallout is inconsequential. All that I am interested in is innovation.

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14 comments

  1. Mr. Mobility, this is entirely my opinion on the matter.

    Your article is insightful, thorough and to the point. No one can deny that Samsung didn’t copy Apple. The 129 page internal Samsung document, the subtle evidence from a Google and even a Samsung Exec, including the man hours spent by Samsung trying to make their devices as “cool” as Apple’s also bears irrefutable evidence to the patent right infringements!

    This is not saying Samsung is not innovative. Their Galaxy Note and the s-pen was something they did to bring us all back to the stylus. It is a good thing for many. When Dell came out with a 5 inch + Phablet 2 years ago, needless to say that it was a flop. But Samsung got the sweet spot to make it work this time around.

    This ruling in a round about way is a victory for innovation and might altogether come back to hurt Apple. How, you may ask. Because if companies start “thinking different” like the late Steve Jobs advised, there would be that chance of innovating and doing things differently, and thus leaving Apple behind to play catch up. That day is nearer than many think!

    Microsoft Surface, Nexus tablet and others are true innovations in form factor presentation and also in price point. Let’s see how Apple responds. But with so many players, and crowdiness in the Tech sector, a new disruption is highly recommended! And not copying with iPhone knock-offs!

  2. I have no doubt others will try to work around all those patents, thus ushering in innovation but I am concerned that Apple is allowed to get away with such frivolities as parenting the shape of a device, a shape that has been done severally in the past. It just is not fair.

  3. Those internal documents were adequately clarified. They just decided to believe what they want. There is company worth its salt that does not tire down and evaluate its competitors in other to provide better product or service. Apple may not admit it but they surely do the same.
    The lumia doesnt have round edges. It only has sounded sides. Its sharp at the edges.

    I know that samsung will still continue to dominate the market even after this verdict, but its annoying how apple tries to get rid of other phones from retail shelves through the courts. They lied about people buying galaxy tabs thinking they were ipads. Though they got patents for them, Apple didnt invent those things they claimed. The judge didnt allow a lot of other evidences to prove this.

    Just look at the pictures used by Mr Mo in this article. Apple claimed during the court proceedings that those were the phones home screens which is wrong. Truly that is iphone’s home screen but its not the home screen for the galaxy s. Its the Phone’s app tray. The home screen is not the same as that of the iphone’s.

    Everything apple got patent for were invented by other people. You can check out the video on youtube. Apple never invented any of those things. Neither the shapes of the functionalities in their devices. They can make them better though, which is where i will give them credit for.

  4. Its the general unfairness of it all that grates. Not the patent laws or whatever. Laws relating to IP are different in every country, it’ll be illogical if we’re to use the US Patent laws to judge Samsung and other similar so-called copiers. I still insist as much as Apple hasn’t been wholly successful in the same quest in other countries, then one can’t blame them for their COPY-CATing such frivolous patents

  5. Yeah, this thing about round edges on a phone. That’s something to be patented? Is it like, patenting the rectangular shape of phones as well? I’m trying to remember when I had my first square edged phone.

    Fact is, even if Apple got Samsung’s 25 devices banned in the USA, there’s always the rest of the world. And that’s a lot of sales.

  6. Lets make no mistake about this peeps, THIS WILL SERIOUSLY STIFLE INNOVATION!
    Do lets cast out minds back to 2000-4, when Microsoft ruled the roost. Everybody that went up against Microsoft LOST: do the names Novell, Netscape, Lotus, RealNetworks and Sun ring a bell? Yup. They were all strong-armed by Microsoft.
    Fastforward 10 years, and we see a new evil empire, one that has ovet $40bn (make that $41bn after the lawsuit) and with dwindling market share, will do ANYTHING to protect its market share!
    What will happen going forward is this: all Android competitors (ACER, HTC, LG, LENOVO, TOSHIBA, ASUS etc, will simply avoid Apple. Once the evil empire decides its going to launch a 7-inch ipad for instance, the competition will simply leave the space for them… its far better than getting sued for all your profits!

  7. Dear funwakinmade,

    Do lets cast our minds back to 2000-4, when Microsoft ruled the roost. Everybody that went up against Microsoft LOST: do the names Novell, Netscape, Lotus, RealNetworks and Sun ring a bell? Yup. They were all strong-armed by Microsoft.

    Apple is not a monopoly in the smartphone space. There’s Samsung, another giant and the number one smartphone maker, and there’s Nokia, still very much a huge player. Then, there are several others.

    Last time I checked in 2000-4, Microsoft was a monopoly in the PC software space. That is not the case here. The foundation of your argument is faulty, and the comparison fails at that point – the foundation.

    Of course, there are other faults. Let’s take one more: patents. Again, Apple isn’t the only manufacturer with patents. Nokia have much more than Apple have. Motorola have got a huge chest too. Then there’s Microsoft.

    Where exactly is the monopoly that you are talking about in this scenario?

  8. Here is a very good read. Google have been smarter than Samsung: How Android steered clear of Apple’s designs

    Though I do not believe most of these patents Apple is claiming originated from Apple, I do believe that if Samsung actually went out to copy Apple, then it must have some game plan which may have been achieved.

    How about using Apple’s designs as a launchpad? Leveraging on the designs to gain prominence and market share and taking it from there. The Galaxy Note and the latest Galaxy SIII are generally believed to be free from infringement and with Samsung already the smartphone market leader, it can continue from there. Even with the SIII believed to be ugly by some reviewers because of the effort to make it look different from Apple’s iPhone, people are still buying it. It has in fact broken previous records in sales. This could be smartness in disguise, after all from one of your recent posts, Samsung seems to be the only or one of the few manufacturers making gains among the other popular Android manufacturers.

    If you ask me, I think the LG L series line of phones are far better in looks than the latest Galaxy SIII although, those are generally low to midrange phone. If only LG will bump the features up to the latest hardware in the market, I think that design could be a winner. The latest dual core release in that series may suggest it is already thinking in that direction.

  9. Harry – that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking all along re. Samsung using Apples designs as a launchpad. I don’t know about the SGS3 being “ugly” (that’s down to individual perception), it was never going to be an iPhone in the looks department.

    As for LG’s L series, the jury’s still out on that. As has been proven with the sales of the SGS3, looks aren’t necessarily everything.

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