Apple and Google will no longer be involved in direct intellectual-property lawsuits against each other, which may signal a more strategic litigation plan on Apple's part. In a joint statement Friday night, the two technology companies announced a deal had been reached that would settle all current lawsuits following years of disputes in the Android versus iOS smartphone battle.
Indirect lawsuits will still continue, so Android device manufacturers may still end up in court against Apple, but at least Google and Apple will no longer face off in legal battles. Rather than fighting in court, it appears the companies are focused on pushing the industry forward by working on patent reform.
No Longer Jobs' Apple
On a greater level, the landmark decision to end the patent disputes between the two tech giants is one more example of how Apple has changed following former CEO Steve Jobs' death. Jobs had vowed to fight Android at all costs, and that fighting frequently took place in court. In his own words, Jobs wanted to "destroy Android, because it's a stolen product," so it is unlikely that he would have made the same agreement with Google.
Competing in the courtroom has become an increasingly common way to gain market share and put down competitors, and while Steve Jobs' motivation for legal action was different, it got Apple into the same type of situations. Apple and Google are two of the biggest names in consumer technology, so any truce between the two could reverberate throughout the industry.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been criticized for his handling of the company in many situations, but his ability to compromise when necessary is something that will continue to help Apple in the future. The lawsuits between Apple and Google have been little more than a way to fight over smartphone market share.
An Ulterior Motive
From the outside it seems as though Apple and Google have embarked on a completely new path, with statements like "Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform," but the agreement may not actually be as beneficial as some would like to think. While the two companies may indeed be working toward some type of patent reform, that will not prevent intellectual-property lawsuits from occurring in the tech industry.
In recent months Apple has shifted its focus away from Google and toward Samsung, so this agreement may come down to Apple wanting to focus on its real competitor in the smartphone market. Steve Jobs may have viewed Android as the enemy but as time has passed, Samsung has actually taken over and it has done so by its own will. As a result, legal battles between Apple and Samsung have begun to take place totaling more than $1 billion. Without having to worry about Google, Apple may simply have more time on its hands to deal with the companies that are actually taking away its market share.