Suing Google wouldn’t get Apple far since Google doesn’t make its own phones or tablets and gives away its operating system for free. Instead, Apple has sued companies that sell physical devices using Android, a rival to Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. In particular, Apple believes Samsung has followed a strategy to copy its products and then undercut Apple’s pricing.
For Apple, it’s easier to point fingers at the handset makers who generate revenue and profit off of Android phones, rather than Google, which only indirectly generates revenue through mobile advertising and services. It’s also easier to display an iPhone next to a Galaxy device and show the similarities and describe how the iPhone predated other rival smartphones. Work had started on Android before the iPhone launched, making it harder to persuade a jury that Google was a copycat.
Overall, the lawsuits are part of a broader effort by Apple to halt the momentum of Android, which has long surpassed iOS as the dominant mobile operating system. Apple isn’t just looking for damages; it wants the phones barred from sale. Legal experts say Apple could deal more damage and potentially reap a higher reward going after multiple handset manufacturers than by just striking at Google.
“It is much more effective to sue the device makers as their incremental margin per device is low relative to the benefit that Google gets from having access to your eyeballs,” said Chris Martlett, CEO of MDB Capital Group, an investment bank that maintain an intellectual property database. “Ultimately if the device companies can’t make a good margin on the phones, they will go out of the phone business. This ends up being a much more effective route to hurting Android.”