[More from Mashable: Apple Awarded $1 Billion in Damages in Samsung Trial]
Apple CEO Tim Cook is certainly raising a glass tonight now that his company has walloped Samsung in its patent-infringement case to the tune of $1.049 billion. But there's another CEO who must be feeling pretty good, too: Steve Ballmer.
Yes, the jury's verdict had a lot of facets to it, and the infringement was very specific. The Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab, among other devices, emulate iOS's "bounce back" (the bounce that happens when you scroll to the end of a list) too closely. The Galaxy S 4G and Fascinate ripped off double-tap to zoom. And the Vibrant? It just looks way too much like an iPhone.
[More from Mashable: Apple vs. Samsung Verdict Is In: Apple Wins]
It's riveting reading, to be sure, but the takeaway for Android manufacturers is certainly: You get too close to the Apple's products, and you risk getting the crap sued out of you. To a large extent, Samsung is just a proxy, albeit a big one, in the war Steve Jobs declared on Google's Android platform. He famously said he was willing to declare "thermonuclear war" over what he saw as blatant stealing of the iPhone's design.
The verdict is certainly going to be appealed, but any company who put a lot of stock in Android has got to be more nervous now than they were yesterday. Luckily there's another major platform in the smartphone market -- one whose "look and feel" isn't anything like that of Apple's iOS, and is practically guaranteed not to get sued by them.
That's Microsoft's Windows Phone, of course, and you can bet the team in charge of its hardware partnerships will be fielding some calls over the next little while. Now that Apple's been given an enormously powerful precedent to hold over any Android competitor that it thinks might be infringing, anyone deep into Android has got to be looking to diversify.
Windows Phone is extremely attractive, particularly now. With the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft will unite its desktop/tablet and phone operating systems with shared code. That means it's going to be incredible easy for developers to make apps that work across all Windows machines. Windows Phone also has a clear hardware leader in Nokia, so other manufacturers will never have to worry about being the only one carrying the torch.
On top of that, the OS is actually good. Windows Phones are generally well reviewed by both influencers and consumers. Criticisms generally focus on the lack of support for better hardware, but Windows Phone 8 will change that. True, its app catalog is nowhere near as robust as iOS's or Android's, but that gap could close quickly with the boost it gets from Windows 8 developers.
Of course, even if manufacturers flock to Windows Phone, it's not like Android's market share is going to dry up -- and indeed, it would be a tragedy if it did. Of the major mobile platforms, Android is the most open and customizable. So many manufacturers have embraced it because of its adaptability, and as a result consumers have an incredible amount of choice among several different device categories, not just smartphones.
That touches on the big downside to shacking up with Windows Phone: You have to concede a big chunk of hardware freedom. Microsoft has seen what's happened with Android's fragmentation problem, so it keeps partners on a tighter leash as to exactly what kinds of devices can run the OS. But given the $1 billion penalty handed out today, some manufactures may see that as a small price to pay.
Today's victory is definitely a somber day for the Android platform. Yes, it was just Samsung. And yes, it was just a few specific features and patents. But it was also the biggest victory yet in a larger war Apple is waging against Android. For any manufacturer that doesn't want to end up as collateral damage, Microsoft promises sanctuary.
Windows Phone may be a lightweight on the mobile battlefield right now, but at least it's not a target.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
- Technology & Electronics
- Handheld & Connected Devices
- Windows Phone