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Will Apple sue Amazon for copying the iPhone?

May 7, 2014

Rumors have been circulating for quite a while about Amazon doing a smartphone. Thanks to BGR we’ve finally gotten a look at what Amazon’s smartphone looks like, and it looks a lot like…well…an iPhone. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, the iPhone has been enormously successful so it’s no shocker that Amazon might be…er…inspired by it.

Apple loves to sue other companies
Let’s face it, Apple has never been shy about suing other companies that they think have infringed on their intellectual property. The recent legal fights with Samsung are a good example, but there have been others over the years. At one point Steve Jobs even vowed to use Apple’s billions to destroy Android in court because he regarded it as a stolen product.

Apple has made it clear that they will go after anybody that they think has copied their work. The company has spent millions and millions of dollars trying to protect its patents and products. The end result has been somewhat muddled, but that doesn’t mean that Apple will stop sending its lawyers after those it regards as thieves.

In terms of size, we’re told that the phone is a bit large but is reasonably comfortable to use with one hand. Amazon’s unique gesture controls were designed in part to make one-handed operation of a large phone as easy as possible, and one source tells us the phone definitely succeeds in that regard.

Our sources tell us the device will feature specs including a 4.7-inch display with 720p HD resolution, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, six individual camera modules and a highly customized version of Google’s Android operating system similar to the one seen on Amazon’s various Kindle Fire tablets.

More at BGR

Amazon Smartphone

iPhone 5

Two strikes against Amazon?
Amazon recently released the Fire TV set top box, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple TV. That plus the new smartphone might be considered two strikes against Amazon by Apple’s lawyers. It makes me wonder if there will be some sort of legal tipping point where Apple decides that it has enough of a case to finally go after Amazon.

There’s no way to know what Apple’s legal department is thinking, however. They could be watching Amazon’s moves closely while preparing some sort of legal retaliation, or they could be ignoring Amazon altogether. One of the problems with trying to figure Apple out is that the company doesn’t willingly share much information about such things. So everything is pretty much guess work.

On the other hand…the Kindle Fire tablets
For the flip side of the question of Apple suing Amazon, we can look at the Kindle Fire tablet. It doesn’t look quite as much like the iPad as Amazon’s smartphone looks like the iPhone, but the resemblance is close enough that Apple probably took a look at the Kindle Fire tablet when it was released.

But no legal action by Apple ever happened in response to Amazon releasing the Kindle Fire tablet. So it may be that Apple won’t make any moves to sue Amazon when it releases its smartphone. Apple might simply consider Amazon to be a small, niche player in the smartphone market and could simply ignore the Amazon smartphone’s resemblance to the iPhone.

Too many lawsuits
While Apple is certainly a prominent example, it’s not the only company that tends to be lawsuit-happy. Many other technology companies sue competitors with alarming regularity, and frankly I’m rather sick of it. I wonder what new or improved products could have been created with the millions and millions of dollars that have gone to lawyer’s fees and legal proceedings.

Perhaps Shakespeare was right about lawyers.

What’s your take on this? Tell me in the comments below.


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3 Responses to Will Apple sue Amazon for copying the iPhone?

  1. salparadise on May 9, 2014 at 4:26 am

    It’s a smartphone – they all look the same. No seriously, it’s an oblong slab with a screen on one side. They all look the same. Minor variations in button layout, the shape of the edges, the name on the back and whatever absurd price tag is attached are the only real differences.

    Levis and Wranglers made trousers, they differed slightly. Marketing made your choice into some sort of statement.
    Thus it is with phones.

  2. Brian Masinick on May 7, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    If Amazon is actually either stealing or directly using anything that is either patented or trademarked and Apple can prove it, fine. Whether we like it or not, the current laws are written to protect intellectual property, inventions, brand names, and trade secrets. But unless this clearly falls into one of those areas, and that is questionable: 1. Android is not iOS, no matter how you shake it. So unless there is something specific, other than a vague familiarity in size and shape, that won’t hold up in court, or at least it shouldn’t hold up in court. 2. Samsung and Apple are both big, and they are both trying to lay claim to new areas. Amazon is also trying to lay claim to new areas. They are taking something old, a phone, and applying it to something new, or at least newer: Amazon, since the mid nineties, recognized that the future of shopping and doing business could be done using the Internet. Just as Google has turned the collection of collectible, searchable information into a huge business, and they’re using all forms of electronics to grow it, Amazon is doing the same with their end.

    Apple started with computers and morphed into communications and entertainment devices.

    Google started with search and morphed it into communications and multimedia.

    Amazon started directly with electronic commerce. Of the three, they’ve stayed truest to their original vision; they’ve just updated the delivery vehicle, first, just using computers and the Internet, then getting into the tablets used by Google’s Android and modifying it, and now adding another form factor with phones.

    All I see them doing is sticking with their vision and doing a Google thing by adding additional places and devices with which to promote and make use of their services and electronic commerce easier – from anywhere, using somewhat captive devices that directly, with a click here and there or even a voice command, can instantly purchase merchandise through Amazon.

    If anything, it is Google, especially, that is trying to encroach upon and exploit, from a different angle, something that Jeff Bezos saw and developed a long range plan for, long before Steve Jobs or Page, or anyone else thought of it. More than likely the Amazon devices have certain things in common with both Apple and Google devices. Isn’t that natural? They are all commodity, high volume consumer appliances.

    Therefore, in my view, all three companies are simply trying to slice the pie the way their respective company views it. Without question, in some spaces, all three companies are directly competing, yet in my view, they each have a very distinct vision:

    Apple sells computers and communication electronic devices which are used in the information services, communications, and infotainment markets primarily.

    Google sells advertising and information services; they use analytics to target markets. They have branched into hardware for computers, phones, and other electronic devices to funnel requests for information into their products and services. Few, if any, of their hardware products make money directly from the hardware sales; Apple, in contrast, makes most of its money from hardware and software sales, though now, Apple has turned more of that into music and entertainment sales, indicating that it is Apple that has made the largest shift.

    Amazon sells products and services through electronic commerce. Everything they do leads to that, so there is the common thread with Google. The only common thread with Apple, as far as I am concerned, is a little visual similarity to Apple phones and possibly some competition with iTunes and related multimedia services; otherwise this is more of a battle between Google and Amazon than it is a battle between Apple and Amazon.

    Let’s see how that actually plays out, but that’s my analysis on the matter; who cares what the device LOOKS like? The big issue is how will it complement their line of products and services, and how do those compete with other available options?

    • dragonmouth on May 7, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      “who cares what the device LOOKS like?”
      Have forgotten the “look-and-feel” wars of the 90′s?

      When it comes to patents and intelectual property, might does make tight. If you do not have the money (might) to defend your patents and/or IP, they WILL be taken awy from you by someone who has deeper pockets. Remember STAC Electronics vs. M$? STAC prevailed in the court of law, but M$ made then exhaust their cash reserves, forcing STAC into bankruptcy shortly after the case concluded.

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