Mobile Wars: The Empires Strike Each Other

7 03 2010

The biggest news over the past week has been related to Apple suing HTC for infringing on 20 iPhone patents.

As illustrated by the above New York Times illustration, Apple’s suit contributes to a slew of lawsuits between companies in the mobile ecosystem. Lawsuits over intellectual property aren’t uncommon. More often than actually protecting patents, these lawsuits are intended to slow the process of innovation amongst competitors and drain some financial resources.

Obviously, phones are looking a lot alike these days. I’m reminded of the automobile industry, which has a competitive system where multiple manufacturers build similar vehicles at various classes, such as mid-size cars, station wagons, trucks, etc. Every year one automaker edges out the other with a certain efficiency or technology, and the next year every other automobile manufacturer catches – with one coming up with the next grade feature upgrade.

After these patents settle, I think we’ll likely see the automobile economy settle in. Yes, there will be leaders who own mass market shares and niche players, but consumers will likely have an appetite for multiple vendors so long as parity exists.