Apple, Android Vendor HTC Settle Patent-Infringement Fights
The Apple-HTC agreement ending their legal fights is significant, Howe said. "I think this settlement indicates a softening of Apple's legal thrusts, but it's one that started more than a year ago. Most just haven't noticed it until now." Dan Maycock, an analyst with Slalom Consulting, said the latest settlement "is a sign that the 'smartphone wars' are winding down and that Tim Cook is eager to end the patent fights. I imagine HTC is paying Apple as part of the [undisclosed] settlement, and is a sign that OEMs may try and avoid going to court in the future for patent conflicts. I'm not sure what this means for Samsung and Apple, but I imagine that legal situation isn't going to wind down there any time soon." On Nov. 5, Apple's patent-infringement lawsuit against another rival, Google's Motorola Mobility unit, was thrown out of court by a federal judge in Madison, Wis, in a royalties dispute. The new Apple HTC agreement comes as Android use has been going through the roof worldwide. Android hit 500 million device activations overall in mid-September, just as Apple's latest iPhone 5 was about to launch.A recent IDC research study on Nov. 1 showed that Android was the operating system of choice on 75 percent of the 181.1 million smartphones that shipped around the world in the third quarter. That number is five times the 14.9 percent market share of Apple's iOS for the same period. The IDC report shows remarkable progress for the four-year-old Android OS against competition that includes the widely popular Apple iOS, a drastically smaller BlackBerry market, Microsoft's multiple Windows Phone efforts and the rest of a straggling field. Android was on 136 million smartphones shipped in the quarter, compared with 26.9 million smartphones shipped by Apple, according to the report. For Android, that was a 91.5 percent year-over-year jump from the 71 million Android smartphones shipped in the same quarter one year ago. Apple's iOS was the only other mobile operating system to have a double-digit market share for the quarter. Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS shipped on 7.7 million smartphones in the quarter, while Symbian shipped on 4.1 million units, according to IDC. Windows Phone 7 or Windows Mobile shipped on 3.6 million devices, while Linux shipped on 2.8 million units.
The U.S. market for feature-rich smartphones is still expanding at a rapid clip, with two-thirds of new mobile phone buyers opting for devices that can do far more than their old-style flip phones, according to a study from Nielsen released in July. Google's Android operating system is the beneficiary of this surge, although the iPhone still holds sway.