The courtroom squabbling between Apple and Samsung might appear unseemly and tedious. But for tech fans there is the odd upside to the wrangle.
That's because every so often in this long, drawn–out battle, we get an amazing insight into the strategies that inform the tech giants' approach to the smartphone market.
This has been especially evident over the weekend in newly revealed documents, which show off some of Apple’s plans for 2014.
In what is surely the clearest acknowledgment yet that it is working on a larger iPhone, the Cupertino company freely admitted in a document, produced in April 2013 that “consumers want what we don’t have.”
That, quite simply, is a larger, cheaper phone.
The papers show Apple discussing how to fight back against manufacturers producing ‘improved hardware and ecosystems’ and 4–inch plus phones that cost less than $300, causing iPhone sales to slow in the process.
While they don’t explicitly state Apple’s plans, it’s pretty clear that in 2014, it knows it can no longer rely on a small scale iPhone.
The thing is, punters and commentators have been saying this for years.
iPhone sales may remain strong, but Android’s ever–growing market share, over 80% globally, cannot be good for the executive team at Cupertino.
When it pushed the size of the iPhone up to 4–inches in 2012, many shrugged and asked why it wasn’t more.
One analyst report this February claimed that phablet sales would hit 240 million in 2014 and go on to outstrip tablets by 2017.
Apple simply cannot hold out any longer.
In fact, it should probably have got in on the act when it launched the iPhone 5 in 2012, instead of hanging on to the outdated belief that it could dictate what consumers wanted.
As it is, Cupertino is said to be readying 4.7–inch and 5.5–inch iPhones for release.
These will of course sate demand among the Apple faithful, but the fact is that Samsung has run away with things in the past couple of years.
No amount of lawsuits and patent trials can change the fact that Samsung is now synonymous with larger handsets, be it the super–sized Galaxy Note 3 or the new Galaxy S5.
This is a strange position for Apple to be in. For years, rivals looked to it and made ‘me too’ products.
It’s why it’s suing Samsung for billions. But now the tables have turned.
In its own way, Apple will try and style this out and make it sound like it created the phablet category.
Past hubris, especially when launching FaceTime as if Skype was non-existent, shows how this will play out.
Make no mistake, an Apple phablet will sell.
But Apple’s newly revealed admission shows it is seriously concerned about clawing back market share as Android manufacturers flood the market with larger handsets.
The task is massive and may be beyond even Apple.