Apple vs Samsung

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I have been digesting information from the Apple vs Samsung trial with a view to what the verdict might mean for developers.

First of all, I and many others think the patent system is flawed particularly with respect to assessment of prior art. Nevertheless, I believe Samsung lost this trial as much as a consequence of its culture. Asia has a culture that copying is ok. I personally believe Samsung went too far with the TouchWiz overlay and hardware design to create something like the iPhone. Google even warned Samsung of this early on. If you look at Android devices from Motorola and Sony Ericsson they are far less likely to be taken for an iPhone in the eyes of the mass market (and a US jury).

Another factor was that, unlike in other countries, the US Court didn’t suit Samsung and their weak witnesses and lawyers ran out of court time

What does this mean for developers? Is Samsung doomed? How will this affect Android? I believe this is a very short setback for Samsung and Android. I believe this trial has come too late for Apple. Android already dominates. Any import bans will be for older devices and only for the US – a fraction of Samsung’s market. Newer devices already avoid the contentious features. For example, I believe bounce-back only made a brief appearance in Android 2.x devices. Samsung was also unlucky because it got caught by Android’s slow device update.

As mentioned on TechCrunch, Samsung is probably a healthier company BECAUSE they copied the iPhone. "It only cost $1 billion to become the #2 most profitable mobile company". Another way of looking at it is that the trial might have made the US public more aware that Samsung devices provide a more affordable alternative to Apple’s.

In the longer term I believe this trial will make Android stronger. Google and hardware OEMs will innovate more in order to differentiate themselves further from the iPhone and iPad. Think more input methods, form factors and better industrial design. People (mainly the financial markets) who think that this will mean a mass exodus to Windows Phone are dreaming.