Apple and Google: the result of their patent wars

The net impact of Apple and Google taking each other on in the courts has not seemed to affect the public and their buying decisions.  Android phones are being activated at a rate of 1.3m per day!  The Samsung S3 outsold the iPhone 4s in the US in August, though admittedly this was just before the iPhone 5 was due to launch, but it is still the best selling phone on T-Mobile in the US.  It has however made a lot of lawyers very rich. In fact these two companies have spent more on law suits than R&D.  It makes me wonder just what improvements in their products and services we might all have been enjoying if they had decided to invest in them rather than in this legal battle. 

Many years ago I was involved in a top level bench marking mission to top Japanese corporations.  One of our executives asked why they were willing to share their ‘secrets’ with us and they replied “By the time you have succeeded in copying us, we will have moved on..”  In a fast moving world, it seems to me that focusing on the thing which drives you forward is a better bet than looking over your shoulder.  It is interesting that Apple introduced a chip into their new ‘lightening’ cable (the one that connects the new iPhone and iPod to your PC) to ‘authenticate’ it as a genuine Apple accessory.  Within mere months of its introduction the reverse engineers have discovered that it is a relatively simple chip, in fact far simpler than those used in print cartridges, and it is likely to be easily bypassed.  The thing that no one has succeeded in copying Apple in, is its style and joined-up offerings, that make the vast majority of its users feel secure, looked after and chic.

The irony is that they have quite different strategies.  Apple want to create a safe ‘walled garden’ within which they control everything and make sure it works.  Google are interested in the whole net experience and seek enable technologies that will extend and enhance that experience, such as mobile phones, tablets & programs that draw you into engaging more with them such as Google maps.

So what are the lessons for the average business?  I think they are:-

  1. Be clear on what are really good at
  2. Be clear on your strategy
  3. Understand why your customers choose you
  4. Focus on the things that drive you forward
  5. Don’t forget that it is often the quality of the relationships you have that are your key differentiator.  In real life, most of us do not have such distinctive offerings as Apple or Google, and people do business with people they like and those who help them to be successful



  1. Gizmodo
  2. BGR

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