Posted by Franklin Mills,
Aug 30, 2012
Whilst the recent $1bn ruling in Apple’s favour in its dispute with Samsung has given Apple a huge commercial victory over one of its closest rivals, has it also inadvertently lead to the end of innovation in the mobile market?
I’ve always been a secret admirer of Apple products (the MacBook is genuinely a thing of beauty), however in recent years I have eschewed both iPhones and iPads and have firmly been in the android camp (as a proud owner of an Xperia S and a Galaxy Tab). Yet, regardless of my personal preferences, it is plain to see that Apple’s arrival into the mobile phone market and tablet market (yes, there were tablets before the iPad, just not very good ones!) has genuinely revolutionised markets that had become stale and devoid of genuine innovation, with manufacturers content to pass off an extra megapixel and new handset colours as something for us to get excited about.
The arrival of the iPhone and iPad forced traditional phone manufacturers to innovate, to develop new products and debunk their tired and dated operating systems in order for them not to become irrelevant (see Nokia and Motorola) in an age where smartphones really are becoming ‘smart’! This has been great for consumers and technophiles as all the manufacturers have strived to grab market share through creating must have products by implementing the latest technologies, from Siri and NFC through to 3D displays and 4G into their products. Although some of these technologies are genuinely new, a large proportion have been created by refining what has gone before. Whilst not innovation in is truest sense, if no one were able to build on what had gone before, I would still be using my Nokia 3210 (and creating amazing monophonic ringtones) and typing this on a 386 PC!
The recent win by Apple in its long running dispute with Samsung over the infringement of patents for some of its smartphone technology, whist undoubtedly great for Apple (who wouldn’t want an extra $1bn dollars added to their balance sheet!) is however less of a positive outcome for consumers.
Why? Not because of the fine, but because Apple is also seeking to ban the sale of several of Samsung’s products including the Galaxy SII, which was last year’s biggest selling handset! This means not only a significant reduction in choice for consumers in the short-term, but long-term could signal a return to a lack of innovation in the mobile and tablet markets as manufacturers fear releasing products or technologies that are deemed too similar to their rivals; and could also lead to less product innovativation from Apple themselves as they have less incentive to continually improve their own products for fear of being left behind by their competitors.
Competition has been a key driver of advancements within the smartphone and tablet markets and has been great for consumers whichever side of the android, iPhone or Blackberry fence you sit on.
Samsung have announced that they will appeal the court’s ruling and as a lover of technology and ‘innovation’ I for one hope they succeed!