The next twist in the Apple vs Samsung battle

US ITC rules that Apple infringed on Samsung patent rights.

 

The Samsung vs. Apple battle took another twist yesterday when the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Apple had infringed on Samsung patent rights.

This could mean a ban on the sale of certain Apple products in the US. Fortunately for Apple this ban would only relate to older models, most notably the iPhone 4 and the Ipad 2.

"We believe the ITC's final determination has confirmed Apple's history of free-riding on Samsung's technological innovations", a Samsung statement said.

Apple has already announced that they will appeal the ITC ruling. The ITC’s ban is also subject to review by the US President. The president can overturn it on public policy grounds, though this is considered unlikely. Apple can continue selling the devices during this review period which lasts up to 60 days.

The worldwide smart phone market is believed to be worth over $290bn. Although Apple dominated the market in 2012, Samsung outsold Apple by 2 to 1 in the first 3 months of 2013.  This shows that a shift may be occurring.

Samsung of course uses the Google Android system which is becoming more popular all the time. According to research firm Gartner, Android accounted for 66 per cent of global smart phone users in 2012, compared to 4 per cent in 2009, whilst Apple’s iOS operating system accounted for 19 per cent of the market in 2012, compared to 14 per cent in 2009.

Apple’s iOS system is of course only available from Apple products whereas Android is used by multiple brands including Samsung, Sony and HTC. Android can also be uploaded onto other devices including: laptops, netbooks, smartbooks, smart TVs, smart watches and cameras.

Notably, major tablet providers such as Google Nexus and Amazon also use Android. According to research form IDC, Apple accounted for 40 per cent of worldwide tablet sales in the first quarter of 2013, compared to 58 per cent in the first quarter of 2012. Android, on the other hand, had increased its market share from 39 per cent to 57 per cent over this same period.

Photograph: Getty Images

Andrew Amoils is a writer for WealthInsight

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Scotland's huge deficit is an obstacle to independence

The country's borrowing level (9.5 per cent) is now double that of the UK. 

Ever since Brexit, and indeed before it, the possibility of a second Scottish independence referendum has loomed. But today's public spending figures are one reason why the SNP will proceed with caution. They show that Scotland's deficit has risen to £14.8bn (9.5 per cent of GDP) even when a geographic share of North Sea revenue is included. That is more than double the UK's borrowing level, which last year fell from 5 per cent of GDP to 4 per cent. 

The "oil bonus" that nationalists once boasted of has become almost non-existent. North Sea revenue last year fell from £1.8bn to a mere £60m. Total public sector revenue was £400 per person lower than for the UK, while expenditure was £1,200 higher.  

Nicola Sturgeon pre-empted the figures by warning of the cost to the Scottish economy of Brexit (which her government estimated at between £1.7bn and £11.2.bn a year by 2030). But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose considerable austerity. 

Nor would EU membership provide a panacea. Scotland would likely be forced to wait years to join owing to the scepticism of Spain and others facing their own secessionist movements. At present, two-thirds of the country's exports go to the UK, compared to just 15 per cent to other EU states.

The SNP will only demand a second referendum when it is convinced it can win. At present, that is far from certain. Though support for independence rose following the Brexit vote, a recent YouGov survey last month gave the No side a four-point lead (45-40). Until the nationalists enjoy sustained poll leads (as they have never done before), the SNP will avoid rejoining battle. Today's figures are a considerable obstacle to doing so. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.