Outside counsel Jason Bartlett for Apple Inc. is surrounded by reporters… (Peter DaSilva )
It took a couple of days, but Google has finally responded to the $1-billion-plus jury verdict against its partner Samsung Electronics for infringing on Apple’s patents.
Its take on the impact of the verdict on its popular Android mobile software: Most of the claims don’t relate to “the core Android.” (Pun intended?)
“The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims,” Google said in an emailed statement Sunday night.
Google has been giving away its Android software to device makers. Jurors on Friday awarded one of the nation’s highest verdicts in a patent case against Samsung, which is the biggest user of Android.
Analysts were quick to say this would hurt Google, whose Android software had surpassed the iPhone.
"This verdict is a major victory for Apple vis-à-vis the Android ecosystem,” Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., wrote in a research report. “We believe this is unambiguously negative for Google and the Android ecosystem."
But Sacconaghi added: “We don’t think it is a game-changing loss for Android. Given the rapid pace of innovation, relatively short product cycles, and global nature of the smartphone market, we think it is very unlikely that Apple, Microsoft or any third parties could strike a mortal blow to Android through litigation.”
Needham analyst Charlie Wolf says Apple will use the jury verdict as leverage against Google.
"The bad news for Android licensees is that the three patents represent but a handful of the patents in Apple's arsenal. We anticipate Apple will assert many of these reportedly even more powerful patents in future cases against Android licensees,” Wolf wrote in a research note. “Google will be forced design workarounds of the violated software patents, which was the intent of Apple's lawsuit, not the monetary award. These workarounds are likely to materially degrade the Android user experience relative to the user experience on Apple's iOS operating system."
In a statement, Google said the mobile industry is “moving fast.”
“All players — including newcomers — are building upon ideas that have been around for decades,” Google said in the statement. “We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.”
JP Morgan Chase’s Doug Anmuth estimates that Android’s current market share is approaching 60% of all smartphone shipments. By contrast, Apple’s iOS, he wrote in a note, is in the mid-20% range.
“Within Android specifically, Samsung accounts for more than 50% of all Android smartphones shipped,” he said. “Google’s Motorola has over 6% of Android smartphone share and about 3.5% of the total smartphone market.”
“We believe the Apple-Samsung patent verdict out Friday night after the close is a negative for the Android ecosystem as it likely puts more pressure on Android OEMs to clearly differentiate devices and it suggests the courts may be willing to tightly enforce software and design patents in the future. For Google and Motorola in particular, the ruling may help shape the development of future devices and also put more pressure on Google to increase Motorola’s market share in smartphones,” Anmuth wrote. “We believe Google shares could see some near-term weakness on the ruling.”
A hearing on Apple’s request for a permanent injunction against the sale of some Samsung devices in the U.S. is scheduled for Sept. 20. Samsung has indicated it will ask the judge to overturn the jury verdict and plans to appeal the case.
S&P Capital IQ analyst Scott Kessler said there’s no question the verdict is a net positive for Apple.
“We believe the decision solidifies Apple’s strong position in the mobile market, validating its intellectual property. We also now see new perceived uncertainties related to Android devices and software,” he wrote.
Google shares fell 1%, or $9.13, in Nasdaq trading Monday. The stock was up 5% on the year.
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