Patent News | "Samsung and Apple, Patents and Television"

By: Ewan Spence
Category:Patent News

The ongoing patent trial between Samsung and Apple continues to dominate the thoughts of tech commentators, blogs, and business reviews. There’s no doubt that the ruling is going to be key to many areas of technology and consumer electronics over the next few years and that a lot is riding on the outcome.

Many people have wondered about the timing and why Apple has went for the action at this moment in time. The consensus is that they want to put a marker down before some mythical ‘game changing’ technology is brought to market.

The obvious changer is the next iPhone – while the iPhone 4s did bring us Siri, it was very much a point release. Whatever the next iPhone is called (iPhone 5 is obvious, but then so was iPad 3… I’m expecting the next iPhone to simply be called ‘iPhone’) it’s likely to be a significant jump over its predecessors and many manufacturers will be keeping a very close eye on what it contains and how much wiggle room around the patents there will be.

But I think the area to look at is not the obvious territory of smartphones. The next few years are not going to be about smartphones, or tablets, it’s about a complete change of the ecosystem in the home. Capturing the living room is an area where Microsoft (with the Xbox) has the biggest beach-head with the current major smartphone bases. You could argue that Sony have part of the equation as well with the PlayStation 3 and the Xperia line of Android handsets.

And Apple have a corner as well with Apple TV – the little hobby that continually threatens to break out and become a third rocket ship alongside both the iPhone/iPad portable devices and the MacBook line of computers. Walter Issacson’s biography of Steve Jobs left the tantalizing clue that Apple had nailed the true interactive TV experience, which would give Apple the third leg of the modern media tripod.

Have we seen this true experience yet? Probably not. But when we do, it’s likely that a lot of people will be playing catch-up (either in hardware or in the press) with Apple’s fourth generation Apple TV.

Who’s the biggest TV supplier in the world? Who’s marketshare would Apple be targeting aggressively? Who has the most to lose and would need to react to Apple as quickly as possible? Who’s been hauled into court by Apple to stop them ‘copying’ Cupertino?