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Patent wars - real world impact

I've never really paid much attention to patent battles between handset vendors, considering them little more than a bargaining chip for device manufacturers.

However, Rob Powell of TelecomsRamblings makes a very interesting point about Apple's recent win over Samsung in the US (for those who haven't seen it, a US court last week ordered Samsung to pay $1.05 billion to Apple for patent violation).

He questions whether the decision could lead to Apple increasing its power over operators when it comes to negotiating purchase prices for its iPhone and iPad - particularly if Samsung and other Android handset makers are forced to remove products from store shelves.

If that happens "then surely Apple will feel less pricing pressure and they’ll be able to raise prices and make more money selling fewer devices to customers who then have fewer dollars to spend on data plans for carriers trying to make back subsidies with higher prices," Powell argues.

It's an interesting angle, and one that should concern us all. If accurate, it means less choice in the handset market, lower subsidies from operators (who will almost be forced to pass the additional cost of buying i-devices from Apple onto the consumer), and less incentive for developers to work with anyone other than the big fruit.

Definitely food for thought eh?