Courtesy of Samsung
Techeye has learned some very important lessons recently. First: when harnessing a team of cats to a toy wagon, you should wear extremely thick gloves. Or sedate the cats. And second: the biggest beneficiaries of today’s patent laws are lawyers.
If you blinked even once in the direction of a news outlet last week, then you’re probably aware of the Apple v. Samsung verdict delivered by a California jury. However, if you’re one of those creepy folk who never blink at anything, then here’s the gist of it: Samsung was found guilty of “willfully” infringing a number of Apple patents, particularly those related to software and design; Apple was found not guilty of infringing Samsung’s patents.
The upshot is that Samsung now owes Apple at least $1 billion (a figure that may rise) and sales of the Galaxy S and SII smartphones will likely be banned in the US.
Was it a fair decision? Depends who you ask. To some, the verdict is proof that intellectual property rights are respected in America. Or American intellectual property rights, anyway. To others, the verdict is proof that patent law – at least as regards things like software and design – does more harm than good, encouraging litigiousness and stifling innovation, particularly among smaller companies which often fall victim to “patent trolls” (firms that stockpile patents in order to shakedown legitimately innovative SMEs).
Let’s face it, though – consumers are the clear losers in this patent war, in the short to medium term (admittedly, new features and devices may be spurred in the longer term). Apple has had a taste of victory and may sue other companies; also, having to pay a tithe to Apple will cut competitors’ margins, forcing them to raise prices.
A richer, smugger Apple might be great for shareholders, but not necessarily for consumers. The firm already has plenty of money for R&D and new products. And, for all its reputation as an innovator, Apple has a bad record of sticking to cumbersome proprietary standards and technologies long after they are outmoded. The 30-pin dock connector is one prime example (though rumors indicate Apple may have finally capitulated on this, giving the iPhone 5 a new connector). The purposely byzantine file organization system employed by iPods is another.
This week Techeye is featuring one of Samsung’s latest products. It won’t take the sting out of that $1 billion verdict, but the firm can consider this a consolation prize of sorts. A very cheap, hastily written consolation prize.
Know this: the Galaxy Note 10.1 doesn’t infringe any patents. Probably. As its name indicates, this tablet has a 10.1-inch display. Also, it runs Android 4.0 and there’s a quad-core Exynos 4 chip under the hood. There are two storage-size options: 16 GB ($499) and 32 GB ($549).
The Galaxy Note 10.1 differentiates itself from competitors in two ways. First, it’s got a well-designed stylus, recognizing over 1,000 levels of pressure. And second, it offers a competently executed split-screen function, allowing true multitasking for perhaps the first time on a tablet. On the down side, the device costs about the same as an iPad with worse screen resolution and battery life.
Oh, one other thing – don’t expect photos taken with the Galaxy Note 10.1 to win a Pulitzer. The tablet has a 5-MP rear-facing camera and a 1.9-MP camera in the front, and both are underwhelming performers.
So if you’re going to stage elaborate photos to impress your friends on Facebook – photos of, say, a bunch of cats strapped to a little red wagon filled with beer and ice – do yourself a favor and use a real camera. And wear thick gloves.
Ever infringed a patent? Let us know: email@example.com
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