After remaining silent for an uncomfortable length of time, Google finally had something to say on the verdict. In a statement to The Verge, the company said this:
The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims. Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by
[pullquote]Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system[/pullquote]
the US Patent Office. The mobile industry is moving fast and all players — including newcomers — are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.
The most interesting comment in this press release was, “Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system.” – Really! I’m sure pinch to zoom, unify search and bounce – back (whatever form its in) still exist in the latest Android operation system. Maybe I’m wrong on this.
It has been well documented that Google provided huge amount of support to Samsung in its fight with Apple. Of course, this is expected given that Samsung is now the undisputed face of Android. On the other hand, Google is clearly not taking the full blame for whats happening to Samsung here. Could this be the first sign of cracks in the Google-Samsung relation?
First, lets look at this report from the KoreaTimes:
With Samsung Electronics staggering from a stomach punch in its high-profile intellectual property dispute with Apple, Google seems unsure whether it should step in to support its friend or look the other away.
[pullquote]Industry watchers believe the San Jose verdict will end up exposing the seams of what had been a tight Samsung-Google relationship.[/pullquote]
While the mobile industry is moving fast and all players are building upon ideas that have been around for decades, Google said, the issues between Samsung and Apple deal with Samsung specific software implementations and hardware design decisions.
The statement didn’t please Samsung executives, some of them saying they were “unhappy.’’ Google assisted Samsung in the U.S. court battles, offering advice on legal and technology-related issues, similar to the way it has been helping other Android makers like HTC.
Industry watchers believe the San Jose verdict will end up exposing the seams of what had been a tight Samsung-Google relationship.
Now, here is my theory on this. From the beginning, Apple realised that they cannot destroy Android completely, however they can restrict it to selective manufacturers. In this way instead of having an opening mobile operating system available to all OEMs, Android would only be available to OEMs with deep pockets. In this case, Samsung.
According to the records, Apple approached Samsung several times in 2010 to strike a deal:
For instance, starting in July 2010, Apple representatives provided notice to Samsung that it infringed Apple’s patents and designs. On or about August 4, 2010, Apple representatives met with Samsung in Korea and showed a presentation titled “Samsung’s Use of Apple Patents in Smartphones.” This presentation emphasized Samsung’s copying of the iPhone and identified two of the patents-in-suit (the ’002 and ’381 patents), giving Samsung actual notice of at least these patents, and many more. On or about August 26, 2010, Apple sent Samsung an electronic archive file containing claim charts further illustrating Samsung’s infringement of Apple patents. A presentation document that accompanied these claim charts identified the ’002 and ’381 patents as two patents that Samsung products infringed, and it substantiated these allegations with text from the patents and photographs of Samsung devices illustrating infringing functionality. Apple later presented these slides to Samsung at a meeting in Cupertino, California on or about September 9, 2010.Moreover, even after Samsung indisputably had actual notice of its infringement of all of the Apple patents-in-suit as a result of the filing of this lawsuit, it continued the development, manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of electronic devices as to which there was no objectively reasonable theory of non-infringement. Samsung continues its wilful infringing.
Here is a slide from one of these meetings.
As you can see here Apple was requesting $250 million for the CY 2010. Why didn’t Samsung accept this deal? To put this into context Samsung’s profit last quarter was $5.9 billion.
In my opinion Samsung was asked to hold out by Google. Google anticipates that Apple was engaging in a divide and rule strategy. This approach is not good for Google’s business model, which is to provide Android for free to all OEMs. Apple was cleverly trying to dictate, which OEM would be able to use Android and make a reasonable profit.
However, after this verdict – you can rest assure Google’s plan will begin to unravel. Samsung is going to switch to plan B, which is to take up Apple’s offer. This obviously depends on whether the deal is similar to that offered in 2010.
I believe Android would continue to dominate for a long time. However, Microsoft and Apple will be earning more money from this mobile operating than Google. I expect Google to eventually become vertically integrated through Motorola. Despite this, Samsung will remain the undisputed king of Android due to their superiority in hardware.
Sources: Koreatimes, Court Records