Apple and Samsung have been duking it out in Courts around the globe for almost 7 months now. While their dispute on the surface centers on patent infringement and the like, a more abstract concern for Apple is not only lost iPhone sales, but the ramifications of losing a potential iTunes user.
A few weeks ago in Australia, Apple’s lawyers explained to the Federal Court in Sydney the danger of lifting the temporary injunction that currently shackles Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1.
“This is going to be launched on the market with the velocity of a fire hose and [the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is] going to just come in and take away iPad 2 sales so quickly that by the time we get to final hearing the full impact of the patent infringement will be [felt] to the detriment of Apple and to the benefit of [Samsung].”
Consequently, these users will be “seduced” away from the iOS ecosystem.
Samsung, meanwhile, rebutted:
People will choose either to stick to Apple because you like Apple and you like the operating system and you like the link to iTunes and so on. Or you want a completely different system and you’ll move in the direction of Android.
That simple explanation, however, belies the ultimate problem facing Apple, and indeed, the very crux of Apple and Samsung’s legal dispute.
These legal proceedings aren’t about customer preference for Apple over Samsung and vice versa. Rather, they’re the result of Samsung copying the look and feel of Apple’s iOS products – both in software and hardware design – to such an extent that most users would either a) be unable to differentiate between an Apple product and one from Samsung or b) settle on a subpar Samsung device because it’s close enough to being an Apple product.
That’s not to say that some consumers won’t find Samsung’s offering superior, but getting to that point by misappropriating Apple’s intellectual property isn’t playing fair.
Apple also raised concerns that every Galaxy Tab sold would cost it future app sales as the users would become “Android people”. Apple’s iTunes App Store dominance would be challenged if customers were “seduced” or “sapped away by the Galaxy Tab and its infringements”.
“They’ll then be Android people and the investment in the apps that they make to purchase on their Galaxy Tab will be something they can’t use on an Apple product,” Apple’s lawyer said.
Apple’s iTunes Music and App Store are essentially Apple’s silent killers. They keep people tied into the iOS ecosystem and promote the sale of iOS products. That said, Samsung’s alleged patent infringement has a doubly disadvantageous affect on Apple.
One – it results in a lost sale of hardware for Apple.
Two – this lost sale is compounded by the loss of a potential iTunes user. Consequently, said user will be less inclined to purchase an iOS device in the future.
And again, just to clarify, beating Apple via superior software design and elegant hardware engineering is one thing. But merely copying Apple’s blueprint without contributing anything original to the table runs afoul of patent and copyright law – which is why Apple decided to sue in the first place.
Lastly, we do recognize the irony in Apple’s statements about Android apps not running on iOS devices. You might remember that Apple was sued multiple times by various entities on account of the fact that music downloaded from the iTunes Music Store was, for some period of time, unplayable on non-Apple MP3 players.
As it currently stands, the Australian Court is considering a temporary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 while it goes over each party’s respective arguments. Apple, meanwhile, is hoping to expedite proceedings and have a full hearing on the matter by November.
Samsung said it would need until next year to firm up its case but Apple’s lawyers bristled at this suggestion, arguing they were “just met with a brick wall which is to [Samsung’s] immediate advantage, not ours”. Apple is worried that Samsung will have released future product revisions before this case is resolved.
Which, we can’t lie, doesn’t seem to be a bad legal strategy if you happen to be on team Samsung.
A ruling on the matter is expected to be handed down tomorrow.