Why The Latest Galaxy Tab Won’t Be Sold In Australia

by Branko Miletic

Want to buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1? Well, then hop on the next flight to Auckland or Singapore as by the time the Apple/Samsung IP infringement case is over, Samsung’s latest offering in the slate market will have been superseded by the next model.

Apple has taken legal action in a number of places (like Australia and the EU for example) to prevent Samsung (who also happens to be Apple's biggest supplier) from selling its latest tablet because it claims, Samsung has “infringed a range of Apple patents” – 10 according to Apple.

The biggest loser will be the Australian consumer as thanks to our glacial legal system, we will probably never see this product on local store shelves, even though it is currently being sold in many other countries where legal jurisdictions are far more used to multinationals using the courts to try and out-maneuver one another. This is one reason why Apple's injunction has been overturned in a range of countries – including the US, the Netherlands and by our cousins across the ditch in New Zealand.

And whether Apple wins or loses the case is not the point; even a delay of say six months for Samsung could very well mean the Galaxy Tab 10.1 gets consigned to the trash bin of consumer history. With the tablet market down by 28 per cent in the first half of this year, this is a game of market chess, pure and simple,

Over the past 12 months, some 100 different tablet brands have been released globally. Some of those brands are no longer with us as this market segment is so congested and competitive, a mere blip on the monthly sales figures and the product in question is canned.

HP dumping its TouchPad is a prime example – they trashed it four days after it was launched, while there’s LG's infamous Android Optimus tablet that was (via a dodgy looking cardboard cut out) “released” at CES 2011, then taking two months to get to market in 'real' form and now is rarely seen.

This is Darwinian selection in the consumer electronics industry at its purest, however for Samsung to avoid incurring the continued wrath of Apple this also means possibly re-engineering some of its most popular designs. This won’t be easy after you have poured squillions of dollars into its development.

Some of the blame lies with Samsung here too. The Korean giant has been pushing its luck with Apple, with its design familiarity even extending to the packaging of Samsung gear which has increasingly taken on a more Apple-esque look and feel. With Apple sitting on a huge mountain of cash, it’s no surprise it is willing to spend some of it on its legal team.

Regardless, the main winners here will be the lawyers – Apple will get some branding boost, along with stalling its competition for a while and Samsung will get the sympathy and contrarian votes. 

Even if Samsung can successfully argue that an iPad-like device was actually first designed by Stanley Kubrick for his 1968 classic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, it will lose a lot of 'selling time' meaning that local consumers will end up with whatever crumbs are left on the table after the multinationals and their lawyers grow tired of slashing each other with depositions, subpoenas and lawsuits.

Not surprisingly, when asked, niether Samsung nor Apple wished to make a comment for this article, which in itself speaks volumes about the stakes involved.