Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Apple Win Over Samsung

By: M.K., Senior Software Engineer @ G2

On Friday the jury in the latest Apple -vs- Samsung case found that Samsung did intentionally copy Apple and infringed on Apple patents.  Apple was awarded $1,049,393,540.00 in damages.  This is less than the 2.5 billion Apple was asking for, but is still a significant amount.  Of course Samsung has already said they are appealing.
I personally think it was obvious that Samsung copied the iPhone. If you look at pre-iPhone Samsung devices and post-iPhone devices it's hard to miss.  While I don't necessarily feel that everything Apple patented should have been granted one, I do believe that Apple deserves protection for the R&D they put into developing the interface.  As far as I can tell patents are the only way they can currently get that protection.
It's easy to say that the interface elements and interactions are 'obvious' once someone makes them, but the fact is that the pre-iPhone phones and PDAs had been around since the late 90's and had not come close to the user experience (UX) of the iPhone.  With Windows 8 Microsoft has invested a lot of R&D effort into coming up with a UI that provides a good experience but is also different.  They also licensed a lot of technology from Apple.
A lot of my complaints with Android are about the lack of polish (I also have issues with fragmentation and device quality, but those are handset manufacturer and carrier issues).  The lack of polish, of a good UX in so many areas, is a serious drawback to the consumerization of Android.  All of the market analysis I have seen shows that while Android users do switch to iOS, iOS users rarely switch to Android.  I believe the reason for this is polish.  Yes Android devices are a commercial success (for Samsung), but they aren't 'sticky', Android doesn't appear to hold it's customer base once you start to eliminate price, carrier, and market differences.
Google is intentionally avoiding implementing features patented by Apple in the core Android OS.  Samsung implemented a lot of these features, IMO this is what made their handsets the most popular(and only profitable) Android devices.  They just got hit with a huge fine for doing so.  It doesn't appear that anyone in the Android space is investing in R&D to see how to provide a good, unique UX.

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