Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has officially entered into settlement talks with Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930) the top Android phonemaker. The companies both claim hope for reaching an intellectual property cross-licensing pact, which would preserve their deep $8B USD business relationship, which mostly involves Apple paying Samsung to produce its iPhone and iPad CPUs at a semiconductor factory in Texas.
I. This is the Sound of Settling?
While there’s little assurance the pair will be able to reach an amicable agreement and put an end to their expensive international legal conflict, comments by Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterate Apple’s claimed optimism about a compromise.
Mr. Cook, who will participate in the settlement talks along with Samsung’s CEO, commented on the ongoing litigation during his company’s earnings call, in which Apple reported record profits and record global sales of its iPhone 4S smartphone. He stated, “I’ve always hated litigation. We just want people to invent their own stuff.”
“Frenemys” Apple and Samsung have agreed to consider settling.
[Image Source: TechnoBuffalo]
That comment seems to offer a very different perspective that late Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs who embraced litigation as a way to destroy his hated competitor. Mr. Jobs is quoted as saying, “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
While Mr. Jobs indeed escalated Apple’s legal war against Android — dubbed by some as “The Patent Wars” — to his dying breath, his 2011 passing may have cleared the way for an armistice.
II. No Tablet Hybrids for Apple Users
In the conference call Mr. Cook also took a jab at the Windows 8 tablet-laptop “hybrids” that ultrabook chipmaker Intel Corp. (INTC) and OEMs are pushing. While he stopped short of criticizing Windows 8, which is expected to pop up in many traditional tablet designs, he argued that hybrids are a pointless form factor.
He comments, “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user.”
Oddly Apple’s current “Lion” (OS X 10.7) and upcoming “Mountain Lion” (OS X 10.8) operating systems have put much focusing into converging the company’s iOS mobile operating system with the personal computer iOS line — seemingly the same approach Tim Cook is blasting Microsoft, et al. for taking.
Responding to questions of whether Apple might be interested in “converging” its MacBook Air and iPad lines into a hybrid, he argued that such a product would feature too many “tradeoffs” to live up to Apple’s high standards. He adds, “We are not going to that party, but others might from a defensive point of view.”
Despite the skepticism, the public seems at least curious about hybrid tablets. Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992) has received a great deal of attention for its “Yoga” hybrid design, which will join the well-received IdeaPad family of laptops, which Lenovo launched in 2008.
Apple CEO Tim Cook says hybrid tablets like the Yoga will disappoint [Image Source: Lenovo]
Lenovo, which is growing faster than Apple in the personal computer market, is packing the 17 mm thick convertible with high end technology such as an Ivy Bridge processor, a 13-inch 1,600×900 pixel display, up to 8 GB of DRAM, and up to a 256 GB SSD.
In tablet mode, the Yoga’s keyboard is merely dormant behind the touchscreen. Other hybrid tablet/laptop makers have opted for a slightly different approach, going for fully detachable designs. The highest profile example of this alternate approach has been ASUSTEK Computer Inc.’s (TPE:2357) “Transformer” Android tablet/laptop. The first generation model has sold relatively well, albeit not provided much of a serious challenge sales-wise to the iPad.
By contrast sales of the second-generation model — the “Transformer Prime” — have been abysmal. Asus is expected to launch a third-generation model dubbed “Transformer Infinity” sometime this quarter. The upgrade model will feature a higher-resolution 1,920×1,200 pixel screen and improved GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth to eliminate the signal issues found in the Prime.
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