Apple Suit Threatens Wide-Ranging Effects

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-03-18 Print this article Print

5. Apple's power would grow

The last thing the mobile market needs right now is a more powerful Apple. The problem with the iPhone is that it has cornered the consumer market and effectively ensured that if any company wants to steal market share away from Apple, it will need to deliver something revolutionary that even Steve Jobs hasn't thought about. That's a tall order. But if Apple is armed with a successful lawsuit against HTC, its power in the mobile space would only solidify, making it an even more dangerous competitor for the rest of the market.

6. Unlock behavior would be gone

Assuming Apple wins its case against HTC, the company would conceivably become the only company allowed to offer touch-screen-unlock functionality. According to the lawsuit, Apple has earned a patent for the way users swipe across the iPhone's display when they want to access its main screen. That patent is extremely broad. If Apple wins its case against HTC, the company could potentially take down any other vendor that even attempts to offer unlock behavior in their phone's software. Considering that the unlock mechanic has become such an integral part of the touch-screen market, it could have far-reaching effects on users too.

7. The great browser setback

Apple's lawsuit explicitly targets the way users can interact with HTC's Android browser. Thanks to HTC devices' touch screen, users can drag their finger around a Web page from within the Android browser. The feature is similar to the functionality offered in Apple's Mobile Safari browser. If Apple wins its case on that patent, just about every other Android-based vendor would need to totally revamp how the browser in their devices interacts with users. How is that for damaging to the mobile market?

8. Screen shut-off too

Apple's lawsuit also includes a patent detailing how the iPhone's display turns off when it's brought to the user's ear. Apple claims HTC's devices perform a very similar action, allegedly causing the company to violate its patent. Screen shut-off is one of the most important features built into touch-based phones. Without it, users could press keys while talking or inadvertently perform actions. Without screen shut-off built into every touch-based device, the market could see a noticeable shift in consumer desire away from non-Apple products.

9. We don't need worried vendors

The last thing users need is worried vendors questioning whether or not they can add respective features to their products. Apple's lawsuit sends a message to other companies in the mobile market that Jobs isn't willing to allow smaller firms to pick up the scraps his company leaves behind. He's making it blatantly clear that, going forward, Apple wants to be the dominant company in the market. With a victory in the HTC lawsuit, it's one step closer. Vendors, worried that they will be Apple's next victim, could hold back features that they fear would violate one of Apple's many patents. That's the last thing the mobile market needs.

10. Where to from here?

Once Apple is done levying lawsuits on the competition, where does the mobile market go? The space is moving toward touch screens at an astounding rate. More and more users are looking for touch displays in their products. But they also want the functionality offered in the iPhone. If Apple has its way, only it will deliver an experience consumers and enterprise customers covet. And it could single-handedly change the way every company in the market operates.

Make no mistake, Apple's HTC lawsuit could set the mobile industry back. It's that far-reaching.


Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel