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Samsung expected to adjust designs after $1B jury award to Apple

Matt Hamblen | Aug. 28, 2012
Samsung intends to fight Friday's landmark jury award of $1 billion to Apple over smartphone and tablet patent violations -- possibly for years.

The biggest problem in making redesigns is how long they might take. Design adjustments by various Android manufacturers could take them longer to bring products to market, giving Apple the ability to sell more of its products, analysts agreed.

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty issued a note that the $1 billion in damages is "relatively insignificant" given Apple's $120 billion in cash and investments. But she added: "In our view, the bigger win for Apple is the competitive ramifications if other smartphone vendors experience lengthened product cycles and are forced to alter their software and hardware to endure unique designs relative to Apple products."

Ben Reitzes at Barclays also said that "competitors might think twice" about how they compete against Apple, thereby slowing them down while Apple sells more products. He suggested that if Apple sells 10 million more iPads and 20 million more iPhones because competitors are slowed down, it would add $17 billion in revenue and more than $5 in earnings per share.

Apple may ask U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh on Monday for as many as 20 Samsung products it wants barred for sale in the U.S., but it isn't clear whether that would include the latest Galaxy S III or Galaxy Note smartphones and the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet.

The range of smartphones that Samsung has produced in the last year, especially the Galaxy S III, have more distinctions from the iPhone than some earlier Samsung smartphones, analysts noted.

Sun Tae Lee, an analyst at NH Securities and Investment in Seoul, South Korea, said Samsung must make it a priority to stop any injunction against Galaxy S III sales in the U.S. and to avoid any impact on the upcoming Galaxy S IV.

"Apple could demand Samsung stop selling devices," and Samsung would create alternatives, said Jeffrey Kagan, an independent analyst. "I would bet that Samsung is already working hard at just that ...That's why long term I don't see this [jury award] as being a problem for Samsung or Google."

Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray offered a similar view. "Net-net, we do not believe Samsung will see any meaningful interruption, likely only minor interruption, in device sales in the U.S.," he said. "We do not believe further settlements [instead of lawsuits] are likely to hamstring Android in any serious way."

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said the jury's verdict will apply only to older devices. "I think many of the Samsung phones may have already moved the impact will primarily be a financial penalty if it holds up on appeal," he said.


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