The Macalope: Of battles and wars

The Washington Post’s Brian Fung says the war between Apple and Samsung is all over but the shouting. And you’ll never guess who the winner will be.

Or, well, you probably will.

“Apple won the battle over headphone jacks. But Samsung is winning the smartphone design war.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Hugo Kessler.)

The design war. Really. Have you looked at the two companies’ phones?

The war between Apple and Samsung spans so many fronts, in so many different countries, that it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s on top.

Brian will now demonstrate exactly how hard it is.

Take a U.S. International Trade Commission finding Friday that Samsung cellphones violated two Apple patents. Reports have been quick to label the decision a victory for Apple …

Possibly because it is. Literally. Apple literally won that decision. It didn’t win every single piece of it, but look at the statements the two companies issued and it’s pretty obvious who won.

Apple: “Yay!”

Samsung: “Crappity, crap, craaaaaaaaap.

The Macalope is paraphrasing a bit there, but not that much, really.

But while Apple may have won this particular legal encounter, Samsung is still in a stronger position to win the broader war for dominance of the smartphone market.

Define “dominance.”

(Spoiler alert: he never does.)

The company’s Galaxy S4 smartphone has sold more than 20 million units since May.

That’s not bad. It’s also nowhere near the number of iPhones Apple’s sold. And yet Samsung is in a stronger position. Somehow.

The ITC also ruled in Samsung’s favor over a long-running dispute about the look of both companies’ hardware.

See, Apple’s wins aren’t indicative of any kind of long-term advantage. But Samsung’s are. Forget the fact that the Obama administration vetoed the most recent ITC ruling, which came down in Samsung’s favor. In fact, just forget everything that works in Apple’s advantage and only pay attention to things that work in Samsung’s advantage. That’ll make this a whole lot easier.

Apple has been pointing out forever out how Samsung seemingly copied the rounded corners and rectangular screen of the iPhone. Never mind that most objects generally, you know, have edges, rounded or not …

The Macalope is very open to arguments that Apple’s infamous “rounded rectangle” design patent is, like many patents, too broad. But the absurd level to which pundits go to try to make it sound like Apple tried to patent nature are reaching epic levels of willful obtuseness. As it turns out, you can actually produce a smartphone that doesn’t have rounded corners. You may not be able to sell many of them, but it can be done.

Look at it this way: the whole smartphone industry depends on making nice-looking rectangular things.

You’re deep, Brian.

How well Samsung can adapt to a U.S. import ban will depend on the scope of the ban and the company’s stock of newer devices. But the fact that Samsung is already beginning to move in a different direction means that Apple must soon look to open up another front.

Wait, are you saying Apple could actually alter its existing products or even release new products that attempt to better compete or alter the playing field of consumer electronics?!

Wow! That’s amazing!

Because the whole premise of your piece seems to run counter to that idea. That’s why it’s so amazing.

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