It is not a secret that Apple and Samsung are currently fighting battles all over the world in a bid to rule the digital world as tablet king, however can these fights do more harm than good? Asking when a brand should fight the competition on the shelves and not the courts is the subject of this blog, and where the tally currently stands.
Battles have been won, but who will win the war?
‘History is written by the winners’, at least that is what I have always been told, and in those cases the winner is always clear. Here there is less of a clear cut winner, and thanks to competition laws there may never be a winner, simply two companies that are eternally locked in a bid to get each other banned. Apple won this first battle in taking Samsun off the shelves, but is now losing ground as Samsung wins cases.
One of the most recent was on the 8th July, where the Samsung is described as “less cool” by a High Court Judge, a blow for Apple at first thought as they cannot have Samsung banned, but wait, a brand being described as less cool by society, that has got to be a blow for Samsung.
King of cool
As a brand if you are kind of cool then you can market your product on a wave of excellent customer reviews and customers who are raving about this to their friends. With cool at your side targeting the younger generation is very easy, with products rushing off the shelves in a wave of anticipation at the latest gadget.
Of course for this to happen the product has to work and fit customer requirements right to the core. Apple do this without flinching, their products are designed and developed with the customers in mind, first and foremost. Apple achieved something that many people had written about but never got to work.
Samsung by legal definition is now not cool, it does not have the brand following of the High Court, it is described as a totally different product. Not such a bad thing when you think about the amount of developers that can now freely have their apps and ideas published with less of a hold on the terms and conditions, there are risks to users from malicious content, but in a free world there always are.
Marketing the legal way
Every court case has given each company the option to talk about their product, Apple as usual have kept quiet and commented little on each specific case, however Samsung did come up with a winner on the 9th of July. “Should Apple continue to make excessive legal claims in other countries based on such generic designs, innovation in the industry could be harmed and consumer choice unduly limited.” Samsung showing that competition in the industry actually increases the innovation, which is much better for consumers.
Without a doubt it is better to make sure that customers have the power of choice rather than just one, no matter how brilliant it is, customers have taken the design of the iPad to mean tablet, anything else will just not fall into this class, hence there is no “coincidence” that the competition see what Apple produced as the definition of what a tablet is.
Apple seem to act dismissively about the case, in what would be a perfect opportunity to focus on how they are defined as the cool product, something that will have mileage in a materialistic culture.
Intellectual property as a protection
So far this entry has shown that competition is good for innovation, encouraging new thoughts and ways of achieving customer satisfaction, all in the vein of new product development, driven by marketing and market research, analysing what a customer wants from a product.
Protecting a new idea is still really important, without it you can be robbed of the revenue your a rightly entitled to. So where is the line for protection and heavy handed litigation? Here is where marketing can come in and point out the differences to the most important people, the customers. They are looking for something that achieves their goals, not the moral dilemma of whether it is protected or not. If it is then you can remain in the market, and should a company win a case they will have the lost revenue repaid, however until that point it may be time to tell your customers your heritage.
So what of the future for patents? They will certainly be less general in their appearance, companies will have to think long and hard about what they can patent and why. Marketing will also have to make sure that these differences are correctly applied to the customers, here is where the battles can be won and lost, gaining a monopoly on a product does not always sit well with customers, negative boycotts are often more effective at undermining a brand.
The battles between Apple and Samsung will not be over quickly but we can all learn something from each side, protecting what your company does can sometimes give you the opportunity for good customer relations, but also shows the true nature of competition.
The other part, nothing that hasn’t been done or will be done, can’t be done by someone else. What you have to do is listen to customers and provide for them faster than the competition.
This blog post was written by Nicholas Jones at Coretium