Samsung Laughs Last & Best?

The tech world lately has been buzzing about the verdict in the patent-infringement case that Apple brought against Samsung, for allegedly copying for its Android-based smartphones many features for which Apple thought it held patent protection. And the jury did largely rule in Apple’s favor, in what the NYT’s writer called a “decisive victory.”

But was it really so decisive? Over in Germany, the Bild Zeitung begs to differ:

Patentstreit mit #Apple – Darum lacht Samsung über die Klatsche


The take there is rather that the jury’s verdict was one of the best things that could happen to Samsung, despite the $1.05 billion in damages it was ordered to pay Apple. (The case is now on appeal.) Why?

  1. First of all, that $1.05 billion for Samsung is not really serious money. It can afford to pay that, easily: its net profit just in the second quarter this year was $4.5 billion.
  2. OK, if the money isn’t a serious consideration, maybe the possible prohibition (a judge has decide, after appeal) on selling any more of those Samsung smartphones that violate the Apple patents will hit Samsung where it hurts? Not really, says this piece: “A sales prohibition is hardly a problem!” That’s because Samsung is so capable of bringing out new models that skirt the new prohibitions that the company will hardly miss a step. Indeed, there’s little doubt it already has such models prepared and ready to sell right now.
  3. Then again, while Samsung can probably handle a sales-prohibition as above, most of its smaller competitors could encounter problems in doing the same – which they would have to do, however, to avoid being hauled to court by Apple as well. So the effect of this ruling on the Android smartphone industry could be that of separating the men from the boys – and propelling Samsung well ahead of its competitors.

Finally, there is the oft-cited principle that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Through this landmark case alone Samsung has been able to increase the reach and recognizability of its brand substantially. Indeed, the article cites a recent poll conducted in Asia which for the first time puts Samsung in first place when it came to brand recognition, ahead of Apple and all the others.

On the other hand, one must also keep in mind that this analysis has no byline*, and that it was published in the foremost example of the German common or “street” press – i.e. a publication more known for its nude women on page 3 than its business analysis. Is it plausible nonetheless? I leave that to readers to decide.

*Well OK, it was apparently written by Bild’s “Daniel,” but I can’t find any last name.

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