Consumers Likely to Feel Impact of Apple Defeat of Samsung

By Scott Martin, USA Today


Apple's swift victory in defense of its iPad and iPhone designs with a jury verdict of patent infringement against Samsung is likely to have wide-ranging effects on other device makers that run Google's popular Android operating system — and on their customers.

It could mean higher prices for the coolest features, different choices in mobile devices, and devices that work in less familiar ways. It means Apple's rival smartphone and tablet makers, and Google, will have to scramble harder.


The next step for Samsung is to appeal to the federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., which could take a year or more.

"The smart money is going to say this is the end of Act One, we've teed it up for the federal circuit, and we'll see what's on for Act Two," says Robert Merges of Boalt Law School at the University of California-Berkeley.


"The bottom line is (that Apple has) shown the world that they are going to use these patents, and you better keep a wide berth, or get out of the mobile market," says Merges.

Makers of Android devices designing their next products likely are steering a wide path around Apple's litigation and will take the Samsung verdict into account.


Apple's goal is to keep iPhone and iPad as distinctive as possible, says Merges. The more design elements that others knock off, the more Apple's coveted profit margins are threatened. "If you want to charge twice as much as the other guy, your phone has to be twice as cool and distinctive," says Merges.

It's an open question as to whether Apple will take aim directly at Google next. Competition between the two has grown fierce, ranging from competing online mapping services and mobile ad platforms to media stores and cloud storage. Google added another one in June, taking on a new title: hardware maker. It launched its in-house designed Nexus 7 tablet, as well as the now temporarily discontinued Nexus Q music device.

Google's Android operating system holds 64.1% of the world's mobile phone market, according to researcher Gartner, and Apple's iOS holds 18.8%.

Still, Apple's iPad is forecast to take 62.5% of the global market, vs. 36.2% for Android-based tablets in 2012, says researcher IDC, which predicts 222 million tablets will ship by 2016.

Patents, says Merges, ultimately are the way for Apple to take advantage of innovations to differentiate itself for as long as it can to keep a "coolness" edge.

"Hopefully, you can milk that for as long as possible, and the guys in the back rooms are coming up with the next big thing."