Samsung Going For “Scorched Earth” iPhone 5 Strategy

In the face of losing the processor contract with Apple, as well as analysts’ predictions that iPhone 5 sales will be astoundingly high, Samsung isn’t counting solely on its SG2 to combat the next iPhone.

For all of the excited smartphone users in Europe and Asia who have eschewed the Samsung Galaxy S 2 in anticipation for the release of the iPhone 5, things may have just taken a turn for the worse for you: Samsung is moving to make the iPhone 5 “illegal” in Europe.

A new article today in the UK’s Daily Mail indicates that Samsung is taking a scorched earth policy in combating the impending release of the iPhone 5 in Europe by wielding patents and legal gambits to block its official release. They report that “A Samsung executive told the Korea Times this week, ‘When the iPhone 5 arrives here, Samsung plans to take Apple to court here for its violation of Samsung’s wireless technology related patents.” The company line on this action is that it is a retaliation on Samsung’s part to combat Apple’s own aggressive moves in the court room against them. The article goes on to report: “This month, Apple even forced Samsung to withdraw a prototype tablet device from the show floor of a Berlin electronics show. Samsung’s larger Galaxy 10.1 tablet remains illegal in Europe thanks to Apple’s legal action.” The strategy, therefore, is to try and match Apple tit for tat in banning new gadgets from Europe.

Another article, from KnowYourMobile, indicates that Samsung is trying the same thing in Korea, which means that Asia is not safe from the legal avalance, either. And yet another, sent in by iPhone 5 News Blog reader Mark, suggests that Australia could be in the crosshairs as well.

But sidelining the iPhone 5 in Europe would be a much bigger victory than Apple squelching the Galaxy Tab.

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By Michael Nace

To be sure, there is more than just a legal duel at the base of this conflict; the fact that Samsung is due to lose its contract with Apple for making its chips is another motivating factor behind such a draconian move, which could bring about a “nuclear winter” in the smartphone market, with patent litigation holding up the free flow of way cool smartphones and tablets like the iPhone 5 and iPad. In the past, when Samsung had a stake in the iPhone’s success, perhaps their legal battles with Apple were more along the lines of a showpiece for the likes of investor relations. But if Samsung is marginalized as one of Apple’s top components suppliers, it could let loose the dogs of war.

How Does Anyone Win?

The reason why it is important to follow the legal battles that involve Apple, Samsung, the iPhone, and other smartphones is that is dramatically impacts we, the consumers. Because these legal battles are so cynical, no one appears to win in the end, since the legal victor gets branded as a villain by the group of consumers that they vanquished in the process of winning their lawsuit. Let’s imagine, for example, that Samsung manages to win their legal fight and keep the iPhone 5 completely out of Europe. Do they think that consumers who have been pining for an iPhone 5 will simply go out and buy an GS2? The more logical possibility is that the backlash against Samsung will hurt them more than keeping the iPhone 5 out of Europe would hurt Apple. Apple, after all, will launch the iPhone 5 in the U.S.

The same thing can be said conversely about Apple: those who wanted to buy the Galaxy Tab in Europe won’t love Apple any more by them killing the product that they wanted to purchase in the first place.

The conclusion to this ever-escalating cat and mouse legal game is going to have to be an overhaul of the patent system worldwide. Interestingly enough, that kind of thing is already underway in the U.S. government, where legislators are seeking for a way to put some checks and balances into place to keep legal injunctions from holding up  the launch of economy-boosting products like the iPhone 5. As the economy sputters in America and Europe, taking the iPhone 5 out of the game — especially as we approach Christmastime — isn’t going to help anyone.

Let’s hope that the big tech companies commit to competing with one another in the marketplace and not the court room, since that kind of competition always benefits the consumer.

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