The real winner in Samsung vs. Apple: Microsoft?

Could Microsoft be the real victor in Apple's patent win over Samsung?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Watching the tweets roll in while the Apple vs. Samsung patent verdict was read aloud in court on August 24, I saw a number of tech watchers proclaim the victor in the case to be Microsoft as much as Apple.

Huh? Didn't a jury in the case just suggest Samsung owes Apple $1.05 billion in total damages for infringing on a variety of Apple utility and design patents?

Yes, they did. But some of the Windows Phone faithful -- and even some of the doubters -- are speculating today's decision could lead Samsung and other Android phone makers to leap into Microsoft's arms as the only safe and viable alternative out there.

Here's the quick and dirty background: A nine-person jury has been hearing testimony for close to a month in court battle between Apple and Samsung over patents for smartphones and tablets. Apple sued Samsung first over patents last April, and Samsung countersued two months later. The trial covered both of those cases wrapped up into one, as CNET's Josh Lowensohn explained during CNET's live blog today.

(Heck, even Microsoft hater and CrunchFund partner MG Siegler said "Windows Phone just got a huge boost today." So it MUST be true.)


Other amusing and thought-provoking tweets from various members of the court-watching peanut gallery:



Microsoft has cemented a number of patent-licensing agreements with Android phone makers -- including Samsung -- to date. But it hasn't managed, so far, at least, to convince many of these phone vendors to go whole-hog with Windows Phone. 

My only observation on all this, since I haven't followed the Apple vs. Samsung proceedings in anything but the most cursory way, is that Microsoft often advances when its competitors fail. Exhibit A: Xbox vs. Sony PlayStation. In a number of cases, Microsoft's marketshare in a given space has grown not because of anything the Softies did proactively, but because of its rivals' missteps.

Might Windows Phone be another example of this? Thoughts?

Editorial standards