One company’s response to the jury verdict in Apple vs. Samsung was still missing: Google’s. The company has now responded to The Verge, and there’s almost a certain bitterness in their language. Not, as you would expect, directed at Apple; no, the bitterness is directed at Samsung. The message Google is sending to other Android OEMs? Stick to stock Android, and you’ll have no problems.
Most of the software and design patents at play in the Apple vs. Samsung case related to Samsung’s own TouchWiz, which, in my view, adds little to nothing to Android – in fact, it only makes it worse. Take bounce-back scrolling, for instance; this ground-breaking, highly innovative technology developed by Apple’s top minds is not part of stock Android, which opts for a blue overscroll glow instead. Apple also invested significant resources into developing the perfect phone icon, and, after millions and millions of dollars of research, decided that Nokia and every other phone manufacturer ever was right: green is the best. TouchWiz goes with green, stock Android has blue.
Google has picked up on this, and basically states that had Samsung used stock Android, they wouldn’t be in trouble.
The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims. Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the US Patent Office. The mobile industry is moving fast and all players – including newcomers – are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.
This is not entirely true, of course. One of the devices to be found infringing on the bounce-back patent, for instance, was the Nexus S 4G; even though Android doesn’t have bounce-back at this time, I’ve been told the Nexus S 4G used bounce-back in its application drawer (confirmation). This effect is now gone from Android. The Nexus S also infringed the pinch-to-zoom patent.
Still, using stock will greatly reduce the attack vector, so we may see more Android OEMs opt to go with stock instead of custom skins and launchers, and that’s a good thing. I could even see Google use this to their advantage; they could aid in protecting Android OEM’s from Apple’s courtroom attacks… If they opt for stock Android. Otherwise, you’re on your own.
In other words, this jury verdict – if it stands, and that’s surely an ‘if’ – may lead to more stock Android devices, meaning it’ll have had at least one positive effect on the industry.