The three popular tech giants of the world – Apple, Google, and Microsoft –are in a constant tussle with each other to be the best and leading technology supplier. These three companies together have produced technologies ranging from the old floppy disk that had a memory capacity of 1.2 MB to the very modern technologies of cloud computing where there are nearly no bounds. With each passing day, every one of these heavyweights tries to push boundaries and conquer uncharted territories in technology. And in the bargain, they tread on each others’ feet. As a result, they are setting the battleground for an impending massive patent battle among themselves.
It is common knowledge that Google is an internet company, Apple is a consumer electronics company and Microsoft provides computer software. At first look, it might occur that they have varied fields to work in with no competition from the other two. But the three are very competitive that they try to use their technology in other domains so as to reach out to a larger population and try to lead the list of being a major technology provider.
The trigger to this battle can quite conveniently be related to the time when Google announced its Android OS. Google made the announcement a little after Apple launched the iOS in 2007 with its first iPhone. Within a year of Apple’s iPhone debut, HTC released its first mobile device – with an Android platform. Since then, the iOS and Android became a bone of contention with both companies competing to beat the other with hardware and software developments.
Where Google decided to keep the Android open-source, meaning, anyone with appropriate knowledge could modify it for the better, Apple didn’t give that privilege to developers. While iPhone enjoyed a firecracker entry, Android played the turtle game of slow and steady and soon enough became a highly preferred OS platform. Android accounts for 4/5th of global smartphones, while Apple has on a downturn with 2% loss in market share in the last two years.
But if you think Apple was losing its ground, then you are wrong. Apple being Apple simply changed its strategy. From being a company that innovated technology, Apple now changed its strategy towards adopting technologies of its rivals. And it worked! Apple went back to the battleground to fight head-on with Google.
Apple is now making headway into the Android Play Store with its own android-friendly applications. What it did was replicate Google’s strategy where the search engine company conveniently parked several of its apps in the iStore.
Where is Microsoft in this battleground?
Well, Microsoft joined the fray by developing its own applications for Android. The Samsung Galaxy 6 comes with preinstalled windows apps. Besides, we hear that Google plans to take over Microsoft’s very old but big Office business.
iRunway conducted a comprehensive teardown analysis of the Galaxy S8, analyzing its core hardware. Read more!
Microsoft bought Nokia’s Devices and Services business with an aim to compete with the already huge market fan of Apple and Google. By taking over an arm of Nokia, Microsoft made strong inroads to maintain production of both software and hardware in-house, similar to Apple. Also, the company has been able to tap into the market of low-end feature phones, which still account for half of all mobiles. Lumia 520 is a good example.
Interestingly, while Microsoft purchased Nokia’s handset business, it was unable to purchase Nokia’s strong patents; all it could do was get Nokia to agree to license its patents for 10 years. Nokia, a major player in the intellectual property market, decided to keep its patents, so as to get a big pay off at the expense of Android phone makers. As it happens, many Android manufacturers use Nokia’s patents and pay royalties.
With the three companies providing much similar technology, wars (read patent wars) are bound to happen. Apple famously won a case against Samsung, in which it got more than 100 million dollars in damages. This was seen by many as proxy-war against Google’s operating system. Microsoft, in 2010, claimed that Google’s Android operating system infringed some of its patents. After battling for five years, recently both companies came to an agreement to settle their impending battle.
It is clear that all these companies are trying to provide products with the best of technology – no matter the platform – without compromising on the ease of use. This does push them towards treading on each others’ feet, invading each other’s territories, and pointing to a future of ample patent wars.
May the best technology provider win.
(Featured image source: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Image has been modified to suit the requirement of this article.