10 Reason Why the Apple Lawsuit with HTC Could Set Back the Mobile Industry

News Analysis: Apple's lawsuit against HTC could prove to be a long-lasting headache for the mobile industry. HTC says it will vigorously fight Apple's lawsuit and prove that it doesn't violate the company's patents. But if HTC loses, or even if some of Apple's patents infringement claims are upheld in court, the lawsuit could set the mobile industry back in a number of ways. This is how it could happen.

In a statement released earlier this week, HTC said that it plans to vigorously fight the patent infringement suit Apple recently filed against it. The company contends that it is without fault and in no way violated patents Apple currently holds in any of its Android-based phones or Windows Mobile devices.

At this point, both companies are posturing. If no settlement can be reached, we can expect a long and drawn-out legal battle that will cost the companies both money and time. In either case, it's not a rosy outcome for either side. But it might not be a rosy outcome for the mobile market either. Apple's lawsuit is far-reaching, and if it wins on even just a few of its charges, the company could drastically change the mobile industry.

Going forward, every company offering a mobile device needs to watch this lawsuit carefully. If it turns out badly for HTC, Apple could have a field day with other firms in the business. And the mobile market will suffer.
Here's why:
1. Apple has its precedent
Apple's decision to sue HTC before any other vendors is rooted in its desire to set a precedent by which it can target other companies in the space. If Apple either settles with HTC or wins the case, the company could potentially bring suit against other phone vendors it believes are violating the same patents and make them either pay up or stop offering their products. We need competition in the mobile market. If companies fear Apple, it could kill off much of the iPhone's competition.
2. Android is a viable iPhone alternative
If nothing else, Apple's HTC lawsuit shows just how badly Steve Jobs and Company wants to take down Android. The lawsuit includes several Android features that Apple takes issue with. The company even went so far as to buy Android-based HTC devices to give the court physical evidence showing the similarities between Google's OS and Apple's. If Apple has its way, it will seriously hobble Android OS, widely considered the only viable alternative to the iPhone. That could negatively affect vendors, carriers and even consumers.
3. Google is next
Make no mistake, if Apple wins its case against HTC, the company will take its victory to Google's doorstep. Apple has a real problem with Google. In recent months, the battle between the two companies has heated up and a war of words has erupted. Apple's lawsuit can be the company's trump card. It can target Android and force Google to drastically change its operating system. If that happens, Google's OS could be put into a precarious position as it tries desperately to compete with iPhone OS.
4. Where will it stop?
If Apple targets Google, when will the company stop? Depending on how the lawsuit is settled, Apple might have the ammo it needs to take on Microsoft, RIM and other Android vendors. At this point, Apple has only indicated that it has issues with HTC, but if it wins in court, there is no telling who might get drawn into the same legal morass. As farfetched as it may seem right now, Apple might be able to systematically dismantle any and all competition.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...