Apple's new court based tactics
Resorting to patents to squash competitive threats could backfire on Apple.
|Apple's new tactic of going after the competition based on patent rights is undoubtedly a sign of how threatened it feels by the rise of Android, with HTC the whipping boy of choice.|
Apple knows that its future doesn't lie with just building boxes and laptops to run its Mac OSX. The company read the runes and saw that the future was a mobile and increasingly social one, where people would constantly communicate and want to be in touch with their various tribes. For that prescience Apple deserves fulsome credit. The iPhone was the game-changer that set the complacent competitors scattering for cover. But now, just three years after Apple was the upstart to the market, it appears to have turned the tables, deciding that, rather than face the competitive pressures of the marketplace it has so efficiently entered, it instead plans to utilise its patents to provide itself with an edge. Of course, this is nothing new. Lots of companies have used this tactic in the past. Nokia only recently sued Apple over alleged patent infringements and Apple has counter sued. But Apple has now for the first time decided to use its claimed patents (some 20 of them) to attack what it must see as the biggest threat to its potential for market dominance of an always-on mobile world. In attacking HTC, the current darling of the Android set, Apple is making it abundantly clear that it sees the danger that Android poses to its market share of mobile social space. It's a rich seam waiting to be mined as marketers salivate over the opportunities to deliver geo-targeted messages to people in the right place at the right time, with the right demographic profile. Apple probably recognises that it can't keep the competition at bay purely on features and functionality for much longer but it's going to use every legal tactic it can to push back on the ambitions of a number of other smartphone makers. And if that means resorting to the courts in a pre-emptive strike, then so be it. Of course, for a company that's keen to be considered 'cool', quite a few Apple fans have their doubts about this brave new world of litigation for market advantage. Maybe some of that cool will be tarnished in the process.