Apple is one of the most powerful tech firms on the market right now. For a moment, it was the most valuable company in the USA (surpassing Exxon Mobil) but its recent assault on its major rival makes it look increasingly weak. Over the past few months, Apple has filed lawsuits against Samsung, HTC, Motorola and other Android users, accusing them of violating Apple’s patents. The targets may be varied, but it ultimately boils down to Apple Vs Google. The archrivals have been targeting each other for a long time now, and are being forced to compete on each other’s turf. Apple’s onslaught may seem like a strategic move to cut out the opposition, but critics are saying it smacks of desperation.
Apple has a good reason to be worried, already; Google boasts 550,000 Android enabled smartphone activations per day as of June. Apple could only respond with 366,000 daily activations. Moreover, even news of the upcoming iPhone 5 and the iCloud, both of which have tremendous pre-release demand, will not change the long-term trend of Android domination.
Apple has already managed to win some victories through injunctions of rival handsets such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, created by Samsung. It also has plans to stop Motorola from rolling out its own Android enabled tablets and smartphones. It has already managed to bog down HTC over a wide range of its increasingly popular smartphones. Apple is ready for war, and has already spent billions acquiring new patents in the hopes of either crippling or slowing down the rise of Android.
It has taken Google awhile to catch up but all indications are suggest that the company is getting set to respond in kind. Apple, itself is becoming increasingly vulnerable to lawsuits as well. Meanwhile, regulators in the US and Europe may soon intervene to restore to some sanity in the industry, which might adversely affect Apple because it has already invested so much into the patent wars.
Ultimately, even consumers may feel the consequences of this war, with rising prices, lack of choice, and slower pace of innovation. If every single application or function is patented, then it becomes increasingly complicated to go through the legal hurdles to get products out fast. If companies are forced to pay high royalty fees, then prices could also rise.
Patents were meant to increase innovation and reward parties for their efforts. However, the current system is being used and abused by both sides in a war that neither side is big enough to win.