Apple helps HTC build its brand – on Apple’s dime

Over the years, Apple has done a masterful job of building its brand.  From the epic 1984 commercial that launched the Mac to the cute and effective “I’m a Mac” campaign, Apple just seems to be operating at a different level from everyone else in the tech industry.

Apple fans are everywhere, willing to pony up a significant premium for spendy Apple computers and gadgets. For the perceived design and innovation they overlook considerable product flaws like crummy battery life or Apple’s proprietary, controlling policies. The Apple brand and flashy UIs mean that much for many consumers.

Given the power and advantages afforded by this brand, why on earth is Apple throwing it away because it thinks HTC – and of greater concern, Google’s Android OS – might be stepping on some of the almost laughable patents it secured on gestures?  With Google’s backing, HTC has little to worry about.  But it stands to gain a lot of brand equity.  An obscure Taiwanese maker of smartphones, HTC must be doing something right if Apple is worried. The exposure alone has been worth a mint.

iphone paten

Apple was, somewhat bizarrely, able to get a patent for a swipe as shown from the patent app. Is there an app for that?

Meanwhile, suing little guys doesn’t do the Apple brand much good. Nobody wants to see the hip Mac dude running around slapping lawsuits on people. Doesn’t really fit with the friendly, funny persona. Evil is more like it. Steve Jobs with horns?  I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m pulling for HTC and Google in this one. It’s tough to feel sorry for billionaire bullies.

What I expect from Apple is a way to buy the iPhone on a better network. How about Verzion for starters? How about some different variants of the iPhone? How about cooking up ways to deliver unlimited 4G bandwidth for $10 a month? Apple should keep thinking about the needs of customers and finding ways to help the industry to put our needs first. Lawsuits?  This is not making me happy.

As ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz details in what possibly might be one of the best blog posts of all time, patent wars among tech titans have been going for a long time.  Most of the time, Company A steps on Company B’s IP, but it turns out that Company B is also stepping on Company A’s IP, so they leave each other alone. Nobody wins in a nuclear war.

In this case, Apple might have the upper hand from a patent volume perspective CNN reports. But winning the courtroom battle will be a wan victory if it leaves the Apple brand bludgeoned beyond repair.

Brian Edwards

Author: Brian Edwards

Brian Edwards is a talented business and technology communications expert with more than 25 years of experience in high-tech public relations and marketing.