Worst of the Week: Mirror, mirror


Hello! And welcome to our Friday column, Worst of the Week. There’s a lot of nutty stuff that goes on in this industry, so this column is a chance for us at RCRWireless.com to rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way. We hope you enjoy it!

And without further ado:

Not sure how much everyone is following the ongoing court battle between Samsung and Apple over who stole who’s designs, but it’s pretty funny. I will admit that I am only following it on a superficial level, mostly because court proceedings generally incite my narcolepsy. However, that superficiality is enough for me to get a good laugh.

The basics of the argument are that Apple is accusing Samsung of copying the design of its iPhone and iPad for its Galaxy tablets and smartphones. In addition, Apple claims the copying was done on purpose to confuse consumers into buying Samsung products instead of Apple products.

(I am sure there is more to this than what I have just described, but this is the funny part and thus the only part I really care about. I am also ignoring all of the intellectual property rights cases that are swinging their ways through the court system as well because unlike Apple crying that Samsung stole its look, IPR cases are not funny. They make me angry due to their complexity.)

I think most would agree that Samsung’s products do bear a striking resemblance to their Apple counterparts, something that I am also sure Samsung was aware of when designing its products. But, the funny part is that just about every smartphone currently on the market also looks like an Apple product in some way just as Apple products look like previous handset designs in some way.

I know Apple would like everyone to believe that before the iPhone and iPad, the wireless world was still in the Dark Ages where devices did not look like slabs of plastic and glass covered in magical white, black or silver color. Unfortunately, boring designs have been a trademark of the wireless space for years, despite the best intentions of those wacky Fins from Nokia.

The best part of the argument is that consumers were “confused” by the similarities between Samsung and Apple products. I do not doubt that consumers are in general confused by most of what happens in the mobile space, but to think that someone would take that confusion to a level where they would somehow walk out of a store with a Samsung product rather than an Apple product is a stretch.

I sort of likened this argument to one car company suing another because their cars look similar. I would guess that 90% of people in the world could not tell the difference between a Toyota Camry and a Honda Accord without looking at the badges, and even then most would still be confused. But, you don’t see Toyota dragging Honda through a kangaroo court case claiming that because the Accord has four wheels and a design that blends in with the scenery it stole Toyota’s “edge.”

All of this “reasoning” is really moot as we all know the real reason Apple is raising a stink is that Samsung is garnering significant ground in the smartphone space, and Apple has way too many lawyers and way too much money to sit around doing nothing about it.

If anything Samsung should be slapped on the corporate hand for being so boring with its designs. Sure, consumers have been trained to like anything that Apple designs, regardless of how cumbersome or awkward that design is. But, to just go with the flow is just being lazy.

However, we have also seen that those companies that break from the mold often find the going difficult, so can’t blame Samsung for not trying to succeed.

In the end, both parties should really be ashamed as the sight of two “grownup” companies having to tie up overburdened courts with something as trivial as this is an embarrassment for all involved.

OK, enough of that.
Thanks for checking out this week’s Worst of the Week column. And now for some extras:

–For those up on your Brazilian telecom, you are well aware that last week Brazil’s telecom regulator lifted a ban on new line sales to a trio of the nation’s three largest wireless operators across a number of states. The regulatory body noted the ban was initially instituted due to a significant number of complaints by consumers in those markets regarding network quality and customer service issues.

When news of this broke, I initially shrugged it off as just being some sort of weird international thing like bidets and pay-toilets. However, after further thought, I realized that unlike bidets and pay-toilets, what Brazil’s government did was pretty awesome.

Imagine if the Federal Communications Commission actually banned Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel from selling services in Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming because the carriers offered horrible service and were rude to customers. Just imagine.

–Voice over LTE technology may still have some bugs to work out, but what it does not need to adjust is its acronym: VoLTE. In an industry drowning in capital letters, these four, with a little help from a lowercase “o,” stand out. It’s like the best name ever for a “James Bond” villain, or some sort of light saber technology from “Star Wars.”

IMS Research released a report this week predicting the “wearable technology” market will generate more than $6 billion in revenues by 2016.

I understand there is a good angle to this wearable technology trend when it comes to health care and the like, but for some reason all I can think of when I hear that term is a bad-ass future of crime fighting hybrids.

I welcome your comments. Please send me an email at dmeyer@rcrwireless.com.

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About Author

Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”