In Apple’s latest bid to bury Google’s Android mobile operating system, fulfilling a promise made by the late Steve Jobs months before his death in October 2011, the company today won a broad and sweeping patent on what essentially amounts to the smart phone GUI – the generally recognized user interface found on smart phones of all kinds, whether powered by Android, iOS, or Windows Phone. This means that Apple could now hold what is being called “the mother of all software patents,” giving it the power to ultimately shut down all devices that are in any way similar to the iPhone or iPad. The patent covers virtually all aspects of the touch screen user interface in use today by mobile device makers like Samsung, Nokia, and HTC.
Speaking of HTC, the company recently filed a counter suit against Apple in a Florida court. Recently, HTC accused Apple’s Macbooks and iPhones of infringement against patents owned by HTC. The patents in question were acquired by HTC from Hewlett-Packard. HTC further asserts that Apple has infringed on other patents involving devices running iOS and Mac OS X. Apple plans to counter sue, but has not issued a statement.
As the patent wars wear on, its effects on consumers have grown. In a recent poll of employees working for one marketing firm in North Carolina, the majority of respondents (75%) agreed that while the patent lawsuits between major technology companies are annoying and potentially damaging to a brand’s reputation, it will not affect their decision to purchase new technology in the next year. 25% of poll respondents reported that they think Apple’s reputation has already been damaged, at least a little, by public coverage of the technology giants’ legal battles. If Apple controls the patent on such an essential thing as the general touch screen user interface, it could completely monopolize the industry it already leads – making the company seem like a corporate bully and putting an end to innovation through competition.
In today’s news, Apple released its earnings statement, coming in at 15% below where they were this time last year. While still better than the predicted decline of 24%, this marks a potentially interesting turn in the tides of mobile tech as more consumers flock to Android devices, especially smaller and less expensive tablets competing with the iPad. Apple is now holding its breath, hoping to recap some of its losses with this fall’s release of the highly anticipated iPhone 5.
Melonie is a technology blogger who enjoys answering questions about adt alarms when approached for her expertise.