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Apple May Give Up "Thermonuclear War" With Android

Businessweek has a very long but interesting article about the patent wars between Apple and various manufacturers producing Android products. But towards the end, the paper proposes that Apple may be giving up on its "thermonuclear war" against Android, a war which the late Steve Jobs openly declared just before his death in October 2011.

While speaking with his authorized biographer, Walter Isaacson, Jobs said that the litigation with component supplier Samsung was meant to communicate an unmistakable message to Google. "You f–king ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off. Grand theft," he reportedly said, adding that he would "spend my last dying breath" and "every [Apple] penny to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this."

Five months later, current Apple CEO Tim Cook sees things a little differently. People close to the anti-Android crusade claim that top-level executives at both Apple and Samsung have communicated a desire to negotiate settlement options. They say Cook doesn't have the same vengeful passion to lay waste to all Apple foes. Yet litigation is a necessary evil, not a "vehicle of cosmic revenge."

What may happen is that lawyers from both parties will be crammed into "a hallway of conference rooms" to bang out a series of comprehensive cross-licensing pacts. However these companies have shelled out more than $400 million to their lawyers over the last few years, so presently it's not clear what they will be getting for that money. Still, this process eventually resolved a similar litigation in the desktop computer field, Businessweek said.

The feud between Apple and Google will never be over. While the two duke it out for consumer dollars on the smartphone and tablet front, they're also serving up competing networks loaded with multimedia like apps, movies, TV shows, books, music and more. Google seemingly has the upper hand thanks to the sheer amount of Android phones on the market, with sometimes sidekick Amazon by its side providing its own Android-based menu. Yet developers seem to prefer Apple's platform over Android due to a lack of hardware fragmentation. It's understandable but unfortunate for non-Apple consumers.

Bloomberg's article actually starts on a comical note, opening with a scene that took place back in June 2011 during one of many Apple Vs. Samsung hearings. U.S. District Court judge Lucy Koh seemingly poked fun at the situation, noting that when they were last in court, both sides admitted that they had a business relationship of $8 million or $8 billion... she couldn't remember.

"I think it was in excess of $7 billion," said Apple attorney Harold McElhinny. That's how much the iPad maker dishes out to Samsung -- the company it's presently suing -- for components. Their relationship is essentially symbiotic: Apple depends on Samsung to supply components for its insanely lucrative iPad and iPhone operations, whereas Apple is Samsung's biggest customer. Without each other, they could possibly grind to a halt.

This is probably why Judge Koh seemingly thinks the whole dispute between the two is utterly ridiculous. "Seven billion," she mused. "Can we all just get along here? Can I send you out to ADR (alternative dispute resolution)? I will send you with boxes of chocolates. I mean, whatever."

Nine months later, the two are still fighting. But perhaps there's finally an end to all the patent bickering in the near future as insiders suggest. Hey, if Sam and Dean Winchester can prevent Armageddon, then Apple and Samsung can surly prevent Steve Jobs' thermonuclear war against Android. Maybe they just need a trench coat-wearing angel to help them resolve their dispute.