Apple's legal team are back at it again with yet more patent infringement claims, this time against the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and for the first time, Google's Android 4.1 operating system.
It's no surprise to see Apple taking legal action against yet another Samsung tablet, but what is surprising, is Apple's decision to take the fight directly to Google with a case against the Android operating system.
Until now, Apple have refrained from squabbling with Google in court, instead focusing on the smartphone and tablet designs of hardware manufacturers like HTC, Samsung and Motorola, alongside their custom Android user interface modifications. Apple’s software infringement claims have focused on features added on top of Android by third parties, rather than the underlying operating system itself, built and distributed by Google.
But things are about to change. Google are on the verge of rolling out a brand new line of Nexus products, all running a pure, unmodified version of Android, referred to in the industry as ‘stock Android’. The Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 devices will all retail for considerably less than their Apple alternatives, and with the holiday season approaching, this could have a significant impact on Apple’s Christmas sales.
So what does the Galaxy Note 10.1 have to do with a future legal battle with Google?
Well, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is the precursor to Google’s upcoming Nexus 10 tablet. The Nexus 10 is built by Samsung and borrows heavily from the Note 10.1’s design. Whether the Nexus 10 design is enough of a departure to avoid the wrath of Apple’s legal team remains to be seen, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a Nexus focused infringement claim following the launch of Google's new Nexus range on 13 November 13.
Targeting Android 4.1 along with Samsung's own 10 inch tablet looks to me like the first step in a legal offensive against Google. If Apple can win a claim against the Galaxy Note 10.1, then they can hit the ground running when with a case against the Nexus 10.
Google have specifically developed the Android design language and user interface to avoid any potential patent claims from the likes of Apple, so exactly how Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is infringing any of Apple’s patents is anybody’s guess.
Things are a lot different than they were a year ago. Google are now selling a million Nexus 7 tablets a moth, activating more than 1.3 million Android devices a day, and are showing no signs of slowing down.
As of next week Google will be competing directly against the iPhone, iPad and iPad Mini for the first time with its own hardware and software combination. With Google’s comparative, and in some cases more advanced, hardware available for considerably less than Apple’s offerings, it appears the gloves are officially off.
With this level of competition, and Apple’s continuing efforts to sever its ties with Google, it seems inevitable that Apple will up its game and shift its legal attention toward Google in the months and years to come.