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Friday, 30 September 2011 15:13

If Apple kills Galaxy Tab the consumer loses

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One cannot blame Apple for wanting to protect its market share in a space that it virtually created. However, if Apple wins its court battle against electronics giant Samsung and thus succeeds in preventing a viable competing tablet computer product from being sold, it will be a monstrous imposition on consumers.

 

There is no doubting that Samsung's Galaxy Tab, like a number of other Android tablet computers from a variety of vendors, is a similar product with similar features to the Apple iPad. But it is not the same. It uses a different operating system, different hardware and software applications designed specifically for Android devices.

The iPad was a ground breaking product to be sure but Apple cannot lay claim to the concept of tablet computing, anymore than it could lay claim to the concept of mouse clicks and graphical user interfaces.

If Apple seriously believes it and no other vendor owns the tablet space then why has it singled Samsung out and not gone after all of the Android tablet vendors?

Apple's response to that question in court is quite revealing, in fact an astonishing admission.

Apple has gone after Samsung because in effect it believes the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will offer serious competition! Did we understand that right?

Yes, Apple understands that Samsung is, like itself, a giant global corporation with equivalent marketing muscle.

According to Apple, unlike the other the tablet vendors, Samsung could actually provide consumers with a viable alternative to the iPad and convince them to buy a competing product - and perhaps put downward pressure on prices and encourage further innovation!

And here we were thinking that we in the western world lived in a society driven by capitalism and free markets, where vibrant competition was a sign of a healthy consumer economy.

Apparently this is not the case. Perhaps Apple has learned a thing or two from carrier monopolies like AT&T since it entered the mobile phone space.

As an iPad owner who happily paid a premium for what I think is a great product, I would be more than a little upset that when the time to upgrade comes round, there is still only one brand of device, still selling at a premium price and being upgraded and released at the whim of a monopoly vendor rather than due to free market pressure.

Apple has already succeeded in inflicting financial damage on its competitor by at least temporarily stopping the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from being sold in many countries around the world. It has also forced Samsung to counter-sue.

If Samsung does succeed in its legal counter-attack, it may well in turn inflict financial damage on Apple, which no doubt would be water of a duck's back. However, in any dispute where competition is given a free rein, the real winner is the consumer. In this case, if Apple wins, the consumer loses.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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