Today's jury award of $1.05 billion in damages to Apple after Samsung was found to have blatantly ripped off its designs will have a ripple effect through the entire Android community. I wouldn't feel too good if I was HTC right now -- or Google.
After 21 hours of deliberation, a nine-person jury sided with Apple on a majority of its patent infringement claims against Samsung. Apple originally asked for $2.75 billion in damages, Samsung asked for $421 million in its countersuit and got nothing. (Complete coverage).
While Samsung's the biggest offender, almost every Android smartphone looks practically the same these days and just about any Android OEM could be the next target of Apple's legal team.
Take a look at the HTC One X (pictured above) ... or Jellybean for that matter. They're spitting images of iOS. Right down to the size and proportion of the icons and the menu bar and dock. If the current crop of Android smartphones didn't have larger screens, they'd be practically indistinguishable from iPhones from a distance.
To better understand how egregiously Andrdoid copied iOS one need to look no further than a Windows Phone (above). Its UI is completely different and a genuine departure from the "icon grid" home screen layout found on iOS. Android, by comparison, is a shameless lift of the iOS home screen. The only difference is that that Google tries to switch it up a little by changing the swipe animation or the scrolling direction.
In what's sure to be a precedent-setting case, Samsung, HTC and all the Android OEMs will be forced to completley re-think and refine their user interfaces so that they're not so "Appley" or they'll risk being on the receiving end of a legal whooping from Apple.
Google now needs to take a long, hard look at its Android UI/UX and I bet that big changes will be coming to the next flavor of Android, a.k.a. "Key Lime Pie." In fact, I'd venture to say that Apple would have a pretty good case against Android and that it might be able to deliver a similar blow to Google in court (although it's not quite a slam dunk).
Google's digging in it's heels and isn't going to roll over. It's already lawyered up in preparation for Motorola Mobility's patent infringement case against Apple in which the Google-owned hardware maker claims that Apple infringes seven of its patents (including location reminders, email notification, and Siri).
Regardless of the merit of the Motorola action, Apple will be going into the courtroom with a serious head of steam after its major legal victory today.
Does Google have anything to worry about? Isn't Android essentially an iOS clone?
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- Samsung / Apple verdict: The aftermath