January 28, 2014 12:44
Samsung and Google have formed a patent alliance in a bid to dominate the global smartphone market. Already Samsung phones run on Google's Android operating system, but on Monday the two firms said they signed a broad cross license deal.
Although the two companies did not reveal the scope and types of their shared patents, they said both existing patents as well as those due over the next decade will be included.
Since 2006, Samsung has ranked No. 2 after IBM in terms of the number of registered patents in the U.S. each year. The Korean electronics giant has around 100,000 patented technologies.
According to market researcher TechIPm, Samsung own 23 percent of the fourth-generation LTE technology patents registered in the U.S.
Google for its part dominates the global mobile OS market. More than 80 percent of smartphones sold around the world are equipped with the Android OS. Google has around 50,000 patents, but though it lags behind Samsung in terms of the sheer number, it is a behemoth in the field of software.
The latest patent-sharing deal signifies closer ties between the two companies, whose relationship has been amicable and unique. While cooperating in hardware and software where they have an edge over each other, they have also sought to stand on their own feet in the mobile business.
Samsung has tried to develop its own OS called Tizen to lower its dependence on Android. Google, meanwhile, has stepped up efforts to roll out its own smartphone by acquiring Motorola.
The latest deal allows both companies to emerge from the competitive structure and step up cooperation.
Industry insiders view the deal as an attack on rival Apple. Samsung has been locked in legal battles against Apple since 2011. They may appear to involve just Samsung and Apple but are actually a bout between the Apple and Android OS camps because the patents Apple claims Samsung copied are also used in smartphones manufactured by other makers using Android.
For Apple, it made sense to take on Samsung as the largest Android user. International media expect Samsung and Google to gain the upper hand in the legal battle through their latest deal.
From a long-term perspective, Samsung and Google plan to use patent-sharing to prepare for the post-smartphone era. Both companies view wearable computers and next-generation technologies as future breadwinners.
Samsung needs software technology and Google hardware technology to tap into new markets. The deal offers the two companies a safety net against future shocks.
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