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.

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2 responses

8 03 2010
peterlux

This chart is very interesting, as much for who’s on it as for who’s not–notably Google and Microsoft. Of course, they are involved in these wars too, even if they are fighting by proxy.

I think you’re absolutely right that we’ll see phones becoming more commodified with much of the differentiation happening in price/quality/fashion rather than uniqueness of features.

But for now, we’ll still see some jostling over feature set with netbooks, tablets, laptops, e-readers, cameras, video cameras, etc. converging and vying for the same consumer dollars.

10 03 2010
verasays

Hmm… I’m interested in the follow-up of this lawsuit. When I saw this news, I thought this lawsuit indirectly gave a sign: “The growth of the Android system is threatening Apple a lot.”

Then, I was thinking that why didn’t Apple just sue Google? Then I searched for a bit, and found that it may because that iPhone still relies on built-in Google Search function (which means Apple can earn some from Google)? But not quite sure it’s one of the reasons or not (Of course the truth are far complicated).

Nice chart and great timely post, Paolo!

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