Apple/Samsung legal shenanigans benefit Samsung’s sales... maybe

The unexpected outcome of the increasingly tedious Apple/Samsung legal dispute is an increase in Samsung’s Galaxy S3 sales, according to data from Localytics.

Far too much has been said by every media pundit (particularly those with no knowledge of international patent law) about Apple and Samsung’s your-phone-looks-my-phone lawsuit without mobiThinking needing to way in… until now. In the latest round, Samsung added iPhone 5 to its US patent lawsuit and a U.S. court removed a sales ban against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1. Meanwhile, Judge Richard Posner asks: do patent and copyright law restrict competition and creativity excessively? (The last one is worth reading). But it is the graph below and comment thereon from Localytics that encouraged this blog to break the vow of silence.

The research isn’t based on actual sales, but the number of new Samsung Galaxy SIII handsets seen by apps using Localytics app-tracking analytics package from July 31 to October 1, 2012. Even so, it’s interesting, not just for the unexpected stats, but also the Localytics’ conclusion that this might signal the “beginning of mobile OS ambivalence”.

Week over week Galaxy S3 growth with iPhone 5 launch noted

Localytics stats suggest that Apple’s legal battle with the world’s largest phone vendor had cemented the perception that the companies’ smartphones were similar. The same week that Apple won a US $1 billion claim against Samsung for patent infringement, Samsung saw a massive spike in sales for Galaxy SIII (which was already seeing large week-on-week increased sales)- which runs the Android OS – and then Samsung saw a second spike when Apple announced the new iPhone 5.

Yesterday Samsung added the iPhone 5 to its patent lawsuit against Apple and other manufacturers. This comes after Apple was awarded $1 billion for Samsung’s infringements. But sales of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III haven’t been hurt and appear to have been helped by the news. The powerhouse Android device saw average growth of 9% in new devices each week since August 1st, with huge spikes in Galaxy S III adoption occurring after the Apple lawsuit verdict and after the iPhone 5 announcement.

Beginning of Mobile OS Ambivalence?

Localytics states: “A possible implication of this analysis is that a portion of smartphone users appear less tied to a particular operating system, instead comparing the full package of device, mobile network and available apps before choosing what to buy. This not only creates new opportunities for Android device manufacturers but also new Windows 8 devices. For app developers, this underscores the importance of having a presence on the top two or three platforms for your market.”

A return to the time when no one cares what operating system (OS) ran their cell phone might be wishful thinking… unfortunately. But the point is that nobody should care. In the same way that no one cares, nor should care what OS runs their car, TV and pretty much everything else except smartphones and PCs.

A consumer has a right to purchase whatever device they want for whatever reason they want e.g. it’s pink or it’s got a big screen or comes with free headphones. And they have a right to expect that they can bank, order pizza, navigate, read the news etc with their preferred bank, pizza supplier, mapping provider, newspaper, regardless of what OS it runs. In the same way that they expect all TV programs to work on TV regardless of the OS.

No right-minded company would discriminate against customers based on what OS their car or TV ran, but that is what some companies do when they restrict their mobile interactions to a native app for one or two mobile platforms. Nobody is suggesting that companies shouldn’t invest in native apps if they choose, but to do that at the expense of a mobile-friendly Website would be a mistake and an affront to the customer’s right to choose.

The advantage of a mobile-friendly Website it is OS agnostic (as all mobile phone users should be allowed to be). That means that it should work (assuming the site has been built correctly) on all smartphones and most feature phones with a mobile browser.

Most companies that have successful mobile applications had a successful mobile Website first. At Mobile Marketing Live in London this week Paul Francis, head of commercial systems at Dominos Pizza, which has numerous native apps for different platforms, pointed out that if companies only do one mobile option, they should do an HTML5 mobile site.



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These patent battles are simply getting ridiculous, this is just one example of how dumb the results can be and ultimately why companies do it. I hate to see the day where customers are the ones hurt by these power struggles.

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