On Friday, August 24, the jury in the Apple v. Samsung case found that Samsung had infringed six of Apple's patents for mobile devices and awarded Apple $1 billion in damages - making the case one of the most expensive patent lawsuits ever.
The case may have wide-ranging implications for the very competitive smartphone market, especially non-iPhone platforms like Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone. Some analysts expect that the Windows Phone operating system will grow in popularity precisely because of its dissimilarity to Apple's iOS - and that Samsung, which already makes phones that operate on the Windows Phone platform, may choose to focus more on its Windows Phone offerings in the near future. Others fear that the lawsuit will lead to fewer smartphone options for consumers.
But fear not, smartphone fans. Though $1 billion is a pretty formidable number, so is Samsung's market share: Samsung shipped 44 percent of all Android smartphones in the second quarter of this year. And Android phones (Samsung and otherwise) accounted for about 68 percent of worldwide smartphones shipped in the same quarter, compared to Apple's 17 percent. (Hat tip: LA Times) What's more, according to ZDNet, the U.S. accounts for only 20 percent of Samsung's total smartphone shipments.
And in another bit of consolation for Samsung, the smartphones affected by the jury verdict are older phones - not Samsung's latest offerings, the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note. And Samsung has a bit of leverage over Apple due to the fact that Samsung is one of Apple's major suppliers of memory and screens, but Apple's component purchases only make up about 5 percent of Samsung's operating profit.
Samsung had this to say in an "internal memo" that it posted on its blog: "Certainly, we are very disappointed by the verdict at the US District Court for the Northern District of California (NDCA), and it is regrettable that the verdict has caused concern amongst our employees, as well as our loyal customers. However, the judge’s final ruling remains, along with a number of other procedures. We will continue to do our utmost until our arguments have been accepted."
I am disappointed, but not surprised, that more Japanese and Korean companies have not been sued for patent infringement. They are notorious for copying U.S. innovations. I applaud Apple for not settling and taking things to the mat.
This victory is just one of Steven Job's many legacies.