Samsung victory was first battle in Apple’s war

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 5:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 5:23 p.m.

The first salvo in former Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ “thermonuclear war” against Android landed last week in an antitrust victory in the battle of Fort Samsung.

The maker of the popular Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets was found guilty of copying the inners and outers of the iPhone and was ordered to pay damages of at least $1 billion.

Additionally, Samsung might face stricter penalties in where and what it can sell going forward. Legalities and appeals aside, it’s as landmark as landmark gets in the tech world. Not for what it decided, but what it portends.

To fully grasp the scope of such a war, read Jobs’ proclamation made before his death: “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this.”

That’s no joke. I would bet if you got a chunk of his inheritance, it came with your marching orders in this pseudo war.

Why the grumpy stance from a man who virtually reinvented the tech world? Well, he did reinvent computing and did not want everyone eating his lunch after he died.

Close your eyes and think about the tech landscape circa 1997, when Apple swallowed its pride and took a $150 million peace offering from King Microsoft to keep its fledgling company from taking the proverbial dirt nap.

Your 1997 tech dream probably includes the likes of AOL, Circuit City, Dell, Yahoo and Hewlett Packard to name a few. Your computing was mostly on a desktop, and your music was still on a Walkman. Windows ruled everything, and Apple was for geeks.

Now open your eyes and look around. Things are much different, aren’t they?

Chances are there is some sort of Apple logo in plain sight. Yesterday’s tech giants? They are mostly dead or bleeding to death. Even Microsoft is but a shell of its former self. If not in cash, certainly in diminished ego.

Apple took that $150 million and went all Wheel of Fortune by buying an “i” as in iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. The company took a clunky OS9 and created a robust OSX, which had a baby, IOS, and they formed the V8 and V6 engines that have been driving the tech wagon ever since.

So what was the competition to do but steal a bite of the Apple? To borrow a football analogy, it’s akin to taking a pass interference penalty instead of getting beat by a touchdown-bound receiver.

You take your lumps but prevent the big play.

Samsung was the low-hanging fruit of opponents. Going after it made a statement because it is big, very big. It should make the fight with other handset manufacturers easy. HTC is already choking, and Motorola was falling apart before Google scooped it up recently like a dented can of tuna on the scratch-and-dent shelf.

Where does this really end? Google, of course. The company created Android and set out to make it the new “Windows” in that it just needed to license it to companies starving to get in the smartphone race.

It will potentially be up to a jury to decide if Google deserves a pass interference penalty of its own in all this.

So what does a drama-filled civil war between Goliath and Goliath mean?

Does not seem like monetary damages would suffice the vow Jobs made. Is there such an egregious sanction to warrant the death of Android?

Nobody really knows, but it’s why all eyes were on the first battle. World War “i” is sure to keep marching on and will no doubt have a profound effect on the very tech ground we walk on.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top