Samsung has Google's backing in fight against Apple
By Kim Yoo-chul
The intellectual property battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple may have hit a turning point as the Korean company now appears to have the support of Google, which competes with Apple for supremacy in mobile operating systems (MOS).
Samsung and Google have a productive partnership in the technology sector. The former is now the world’s leading provider of mobile phones and the flagship maker of devices based on the latter’s MOS, which represents the industry’s best attempt to topple Apple’s consumer smartphone leadership.
Google being dragged into the bitter fight between Samsung and Apple was all too predictable.
A U.S. court recently ruled to block the sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphones, which were designed in collaboration with Google. Since the decision, the two firms have been working closely to create a united front against Apple’s legal offensive, said Samsung.
This is the first time Samsung confirmed it is getting help from Google in its legal battle with Apple. Google is also supporting HTC, a Taiwanese smartphone maker and a major Android player, which is also in a legal dispute with Apple.
It had already expressed ``deep regret’’ about the ruling from the San Jose court and claimed a different result will be reached when more evidence is presented.
Samsung and Apple has been engaged in an increasingly ugly fight since early last year, when the latter filed a lawsuit accusing the former for ``slavishly’’ copying the look and feel of iPhones and iPads in introducing its Galaxy lineup of smartphones and touch-screen tablets.
Samsung countered that Apple has been infringing on a number of its wireless patents and lawsuits filed by the two have been spreading across the globe ever since. The next court date between the companies in the U.S. is on July 30.
``It’s too early to comment on our game plan (with Google) in the legal battle; but we will do our best to get more royalties from Apple, which has benefited from our technology,’’ said a Samsung insider.
``The fight is becoming more dramatic and the possibility of a truce in the form of a cross-licensing deal, seems to be becoming likely.’’
Samsung is demanding Apple to pay 2.4 percent of the retail price of iPhones and iPads, while Apple claims the rate is excessive considering the companies’ commitment to fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing (FRAND).
The European Union is investigating whether Samsung abused FRAND-related patents, while Google is being investigated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as to whether it is illegally using FRAND patents acquired in a takeover of Motorola Mobility to block smartphone rivals.
After suffering back-to-back setbacks in the U.S., Samsung needs all the help it can get in its showdown with Apple. A previous court ruling also blocked Samsung’s newest Galaxy tablet from being sold in the U.S. The consecutive rulings may cost Samsung over $200 million, industry insiders say.
``A top-tier U.S. carrier Verizon is selling the Nexus model featuring long-term evolution (LTE). Samsung had expected to sell 100,000 phones per month, which means it’s now likely to lose more than $60 million. If the sales ban extends for two months, than there goes $120 million,’’ said an industry source.
``The ban on Galaxy Tabs will cost the company about $80 million.’’
Samsung said the rulings won’t have any impact on the sale of its strategically-important Galaxy S3 models after worries that it could become Apple’s next target.
Amid the legal fight, Samsung is increasing its share of home-grown-software embedded smartphones. Data from Strategy Analytics (SA) showed that the market share of the company’s Wave phone that runs on the Bada platform has risen to 1.6 percent, globally.
This is the first time that its mobile software has been listed in the global top 10. This week, the company will release profit guidelines for the second quarter.
Market analysts say operating profit during the April-June period will reach between 6.4 trillion won and 6.8 trillion won, another fresh quarterly record, thanks to rising sales of the S3. Within the two months since its release, over 7 million have been sold, according to Samsung officials.