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Posted : 2014-04-10 17:46
Updated : 2014-04-10 18:10

'Apple should rather focus on innovation'

By Kim Yoo-chul

Yukari Iwatani Kane
A former Wall Street Journal reporter says that Apple should shift the focus of its business to "innovation" from patent disputes with Samsung Electronics.

In a written interview with The Korea Times, Yukari Iwatani Kane said that Apple's consistent claims that its design patents were copied by Samsung are rather "excessive" and "overblown."

"To be frank, I'm not sure what the purpose of the dispute is. It's not about the money, so it's about curbing competition," Kane said.

"But even if Apple wins the next round of lawsuits, I don't know that it's going to make any difference to the markets. I doubt any consumer will say, ‘I'm not going to buy the Galaxy because it's a copy of Apple,'" she added.

Kane spent almost two years writing the book "Haunted Empire: Apple after Steve Jobs," for which she interviewed sources and other journalists and consulted with The Korea Times for material about Apple's key rival, Samsung Electronics.

Kane pointed out that the firm's long-running patent dispute with Samsung Electronics and Google Android backers indicates that the firm is worried about Google Android, which currently has over an 80-percent market share worldwide.

"I would've thought Apple's resources would be better spent focusing on innovating the next insanely great product that no one has."

She pointed out that Apple is losing its luster and claimed that is "business physics."

"It's impossible for a company to remain at the top forever because there are so many forces that are pulling them to the center. How do you stay hungry when your top executives are worth tens of millions of dollars, or in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars, for example?" she said.

Regarding her book, she said, "I was covering Apple for the Journal during Steve Jobs' last years. The book I had actually intended to write originally was the story of how Apple went from near bankruptcy to the tremendous success it is today.

"But as I began working on the project, it became clear to me that the more interesting question was what was happening at Apple now without Steve Jobs," she added.

When asked about the focus of the book, she said, "Part of what I also wanted to do was to write about Apple from a truly global perspective. Its products are made in China, its biggest rival is in Korea and its biggest markets span the world."

"That means that Apple's risks and opportunities come from around the world, and while people have paid attention to the opportunities in markets like China, there is not enough understanding of the risks, so I wanted to shed light on that as well."

Apple is known not to comment on books about its products, so Kane said she was surprised when Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook talked about what he thought of the book.

"Tim Cook called my book ‘nonsense.' I actually see it as proof that my book touched a nerve because Apple never comments on books. If it really was nonsense, why would he even bother?" said the author.

From what she has observed in the market, she thinks it is unlikely Apple will reach its profit target from the TV business.

"Apple is used to 30 to 40 percent profit margins. But the television industry is doing really well if they have 5 to 10 percent margins. The cost is also mostly in displays, and since Apple doesn't own that technology, I'm not sure how they can make money off a television. TVs are not like cell phones. People don't buy a new model every year."

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