Samsung targeted in Apples offensive against Android
Samsung Electronics is the latest among a growing list of technology companies to get entangled in Apple’s web of patent litigation. Nokia, Motorola and HTC are other mobile device makers that are embroiled in legal battles with Apple over technologies related to smartphones and software.
The lawsuits trickle beyond electronics makers, as Apple has sued or has been sued by Microsoft, Amazon and Eastman Kodak over a variety of products and services.
Industry observers say that Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung displays the company’s growing uneasiness about its strengths in mobile devices and online content stores beginning to be duplicated for products that run on Google’s Android mobile operating system.
Samsung, along with other handset vendors Motorola, HTC and Sony-Ericsson are flooding the market with Android smartphones that are shaping up as strong iPhone rivals. And in the nascent market for tablets, Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy Tabs have been providing the only meaningful competition to Apple’s iPads.
Apple chief executive officer (CEO) Steve Jobs made a jab at Samsung when introducing the latest version of the iPad last month, saying in a slide presentation that the company was among competing tablet makers that will make 2011 the ``Year of the Copycats.’’
It’s also worth noting that Apple’s legal attack on Samsung comes at a time when the company has been expanding its sources for components such as chips and screens.
Samsung, which boasts a dual strength in parts and finished products, has been making chips for Apple, including the Apple-designed A4 and A5 processors. It is also among the many companies that supply Apple with flash memory chips, liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and other key components.
However, Apple is now seen as strengthening its search for a Samsung alternative, with industry insiders linking the company to a foundry deal with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
If Apple does indeed intend to go in a different direction and alter its long-standing relationship with Samsung, Jobs and Co. will obviously have less reason to play nice when they feel Samsung is attacking with me-too products.
It’s premature to make any predictions about how the legal feud between Apple and Samsung will play out.
It bears further watching whether the legal action will prove as a stress test for the delicate bond between the two technology giants.
Samsung, according to Apple’s court papers, has been ``slavishly’’ copying the look and feel of the immensely-popular iPhones and iPads with its own smartphones and touch-screen tablet devices.
Predictably, a displeased Samsung says it will countersue. But it’s unclear how far the company will be willing to push the courtroom fights when its lucrative rival doubles as one of its biggest customers for chips and LCDs.
If one thing is for certain, it’s that the relationship between the technology sector’s oddest bedfellows is about to become stranger.