Since the jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion on Friday in the Apple v. Samsung copyright case, there's been no shortage of analysis on the Internet about the ramifications of the verdict. Opinion appears to be divided about everything from how the case will affect consumers to its influence on innovation and its impact on companies such as Microsoft and Research In Motion (RIM).
Samsung, in a statement following the verdict, maintained that the decision will hurt both consumers and innovation. Stanford Law School fellow Vivek Wadhwa agrees with Samsung's analysis.
"You've taken a major competitor out of the marketplace," Wadhwa told USA Today. The implication, of course, is that less competition means higher prices and less inclination toward innovation.
Vice President of the Asia-Pacific ICT Practice at Frost & Sullivan, Andrew Milroy, agrees. Speaking to ZDNet, Milroy argues that phone makers may feel they have to "manage risks" for their products. Not only will the increased costs of risk management be passed on to consumers, but such management may result in "playing it safe," which will result in phone makers pulling away from innovation and reducing consumer choice.
Designers will also feel their choices are restricted. This verdict could create a minefield for product designers, according to Bill Flora, creative director at Tectonic design firm in Seattle. They'll be constantly second-guessing whether various features step on Apple's toes, Flora told The New York Times. Designers may feel that "pinch to zoom," for example, is off limits. This gesture has become so common to touch interfaces that it will be like designing a car with a square steering wheel, Flora said.
Not so bad
Others are more optimistic about how the verdict will impact innovation in the market.
"Within a product cycle or two, consumers will begin to see exciting, new, and different-looking designs," Christopher V. Carani, a partner at intellectual property law firm McAndrews, Held & Malloy, told The Washington Post.
"If a permanent injunction is ordered, the Apple victory will create some delay to market for look-alike smartphones that need to be redesigned," Carani added. "But this should be viewed as a perfect opportunity to go back to the drawing board."
Analysts and experts are also concerned about the future of fellow phone companies Microsoft and RIM. The companies might benefit from handset makers who feel the need to avoid Android phones in the post-verdict world, Eric Zeman from InformationWeek argues.
"Android hardware makers looking to diversify their product portfolios might decide to develop some non-Android devices to protect themselves," Zeman reasons.
"Even if new players don't join the Windows Phone team, existing players might ramp up their Windows Phone roadmaps," he adds. "Companies such as Samsung, HTC, and LG have each fielded a dozen or more Android phones per year, while offering just one or two Windows Phones. Balance that ratio out a bit, and Microsoft benefits."
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