Samsung produces a number of products from kitchen appliances to PCs but it was the company’s mobile division that made the most headlines in 2012.
The Korea-based company dominated the mobile phone space, introducing several new Galaxy devices throughout the year. But it couldn’t shake one its biggest rivals, Apple, which proved to be a worthy opponent in the courtroom and in stores.
Still, despite all the hysteria surrounding the launch of the iPhone 5 and iPad mini, it was Samsung and its Android-heavy lineup of devices like the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II that were the really mobile winners in 2012. Those two smartphones were only introduced in the second half of the year and they have already sold at least 30 million and 5 million worldwide, respectively.
Samsung didn’t fare as well in court, however. Though it nabbed a few patent victories here and there in its battle with Cupertino, it suffered a huge setback in August when a California jury handed down a $1.05 billion judgment; Samsung is appealing.
The Galaxy Train Steamrolls the Competition
The year opened with some hands-on time with the huge, 5-inch Galaxy Note “phablet” at CES. Samsung unveiled the massive smartphone/tablet at IFA several months before, and PCMag was a tad skeptical that it could succeed. But by March, Samsung announced that the Galaxy Note had been snapped up by 5 million consumers.
In late April, Samsung unveiled its new Exynos Quad 4 chip, which it said would power the next-generation of Galaxy devices. That included the much-anticipated Galaxy S III , which Samsung showed off during a London press event in May. It hit Europe later that month and the U.S. in June. It has been released for all major U.S. carriers and sold at least 30 million units worldwide.
One hit smartphone was not enough, however, and Samsung followed up with the Galaxy Note II, which was even bigger than its predecessor at 5.3 inches. Despite its almost comically large size, shoppers were intrigued by the gadget and its built-in stylus, snapping up more than 5 million by the end of November.
Samsung also released the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, which included a split-screen mode, and the Android-based Galaxy Camera. The company will also try its hand at the Windows Phone platform with the Ativ S smartphone.
We’re already hearing rumblings about a Galaxy S IV, which could make an appearance at February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, so stay tuned.
Patent Showdown at the Cupertino Corral
But despite all of Samsung’s successes with its Galaxy lineup this year, the company spent a good chunk of its time (and money) battling Apple over patents.
The two companies have been battling since April 2011, when Apple sued Samsung for “slavishly” copying the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad with its Galaxy lineup of devices. For the first half of 2012, there were a number of headlines about wins and losses in German and Dutch courts, but things really got rolling when Apple and Samsung faced off against a jury in a California courtroom this summer.
Following several weeks of sometimes intense and sometimes boring testimony, the jury gave Apple an early Christmas present in the form of a $1.05 billion judgment. The jury did, however, find that Samsung did not infringe on Apple’s iPad design patent, so the judge lifted a ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S.
That’s not the end of it, of course. Samsung is appealing and the two companies have another, very similar case in the same court that will go to trial in 2014. Just last week, meanwhile, Judge Lucy Koh denied Samsung’s request for a new trial over juror misconduct and shot down Apple’s injunction demands.
Samsung did score a small victory in the U.K., when a court there required Apple to state publicly on its website and in newspaper ads that Samsung did not copy the iPad with its Galaxy tablets. An initial post on the Apple website did not satisfy the court, and Apple was forced to update its “noncompliant” message.
While it might seem like Apple is the bad guy here since it started things, Samsung hasn’t gotten off with some scrutiny of its own. Last week, the European Commission accused Samsung of patent abuse by not offering Apple fair and reasonable licensing terms for its 3G patents. The patents are considered “essential” for the operation of today’s most popular gadgets and Samsung, therefore, has an obligation to license them at a fair price, but Apple claims Samsung is asking for too much. Samsung, naturally, disagrees. Samsung now has a chance to respond to the EU’s charges and the commission will then decide what, if any, action to take.
Battling for the Smartphone Crown
Many of the Samsung-related headlines this year, meanwhile, touched on Samsung’s domination of the mobile phone market. The success of the Galaxy lineup even helped Samsung best Nokia, which had been the biggest phone maker for the last 14 years.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2413529,00.asp