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Computerized Investing > Fourth Quarter 2012

Apple: Innovator and/or Corporate Bully?

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

Somehow, another summer has come and gone. Here in Chicago, this summer was one of the hottest on record, so I am looking forward to a few months of crisp mornings and sunny and cool afternoons. As the trees begin to turn in northern climes, technology companies start ramping up for the holiday shopping season. By the time you read this, Apple may have already announced its next generation iPhone and, if the rumors are correct, an iPad mini.

Apple has been making headlines for different reasons lately, after a San Jose, California, jury found that Samsung had violated numerous Apple patents. This suit smacks of irony, since former Apple CEO Steve Jobs once quoted Picasso, saying that good artists copy and great artists steal. The jury handed down a $1 billion–plus judgment against Samsung, but most damaging may be Samsung’s inability to sell many of its handsets and tablets in the U.S. The impact on consumers is yet to be seen, but it could be far-reaching: Industry experts expect Apple to ride this victory into suits against other manufacturers. If Apple is successful, either all Android manufacturers will be paying Apple licensing fees, or Apple will make it too expensive for competitors to compete, which could put Apple in an all-but-monopolistic position in the U.S. All of this, however, is a not-so-veiled end run by Apple in its battle against Google and its Android operating system. By eliminating devices that run Android, Apple is effectively removing it as a competitor to iOS.

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