In his official biography penned by Walter Isaacson, the late Steve Jobs claimed that he would spend every last penny at Apple if he had to in order to go “thermonuclear war” against Android. Jobs believed that Android was a stolen product, and this belief is part of the reason why Apple and Google have severed a number of ties with each other over the past few years.
Fingers are pointed directly at the departure of Google Maps and YouTube from iOS, but that’s just the beginning. While Apple CEO Tim Cook did claim that patents are a “pain in the ass” at the D10 conference earlier this year, he also noted that they are sometimes a necessary evil to protect the company from infringement.
Over the weekend, however, Apple announced that it has dismissed all existing lawsuits with HTC and reached a 10-year licensing agreement with the struggling Taiwanese handset maker. And as Ina Fried for AllThingsD notes, perhaps this resolution is a sign that Apple’s so-called “thermonuclear war” against Android is starting to fade.
Not often before has Apple caved in and let Android partners like HTC license its patents. Rather, it would aggressively defend its patent portfolio in courts across the world. We’ve literally seen Apple go to war against Samsung over the past two years, starting before the passing of Steve Jobs and highlighted by a $1 billion verdict last August.
Apple appears to have changed its ways. Like Microsoft, Apple is now happy to license its patents and promises to focus on innovation instead of litigation. Apple does have licensing agreements with Nokia and Microsoft, but to a lesser extent. Fried does note that HTC is paying Apple to at least some extent as part of this deal, but it does not appear that it will significantly hurt the company.
It is also suggested that Apple might be playing “buddy-buddy” with HTC to better position itself in its legal battles against larger rivals Google and Samsung. Hopefully that’s not the case, as we’ve seen more than enough lawsuits. In the meantime, all that is known is that HTC will be able to continue selling its Android and Windows Phone smartphones for the foreseeable future.