Apple vs Samsung verdict means trouble for Android: Analysts

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Shares of Apple Inc climbed to an all-time high on Monday morning, after the iPhone maker won a bitter patent war against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd that may change the dynamics of the booming mobile computing market.

Analysts said the win strengthened Apple's position ahead of the iPhone 5 launch and could cement its dominance in the market as companies using Google Inc's Android operating system - two-thirds of the global market - may be forced to consider design changes.

Apple was awarded $1.05 billion in damages on Friday after a U.S. jury found the Korean company had copied critical features of the iPhone and iPad. The verdict could lead to an outright ban on sales of key Samsung products.

"While a ban would likely increase Apple's leading smartphone share in the U.S. market, we believe this verdict could lead to Samsung also delaying near-term product launches as it attempts to design around Apple's patents," Canaccord Genuity analysts said in a note.

Google shares were down 1.3 percent at $669.57, while Samsung's stock slumped 7.5 percent, wiping off more than $12 billion from the South Korean company's market valuation.

Shares of Apple were up 2 percent at $676.71 on the Nasdaq late on Monday morning, after hitting an all-time high of $680.87 earlier in the session.

The verdict comes as competition in the mobile device industry intensifies, with Google jumping into hardware for the first time with its Nexus 7 tablet, and Microsoft Corp's new touchscreen-friendly Windows 8 coming in October, led by its "Surface" tablet.

The jolt to Android could also mean good news in the near term for Research in Motion Ltd's upcoming BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system and for Nokia's phones.

Shares of the BlackBerry maker were up 3.1 percent at C$7.09 on the Toronto exchange, while Microsoft's stock was up 0.8 percent at $30.81 on the Nasdaq.

"The verdict does not come as a surprise," wrote William Blair & Co analysts. "From Apple's perspective, Samsung's market size position and its leadership in the handset world was something the company could no longer overlook, and viewing this as another 'imitation is a form of flattery' was not possible."

"Companies such as Samsung, who we categorize as fast followers, have been viewed by the industry for their ability to quickly adopt the latest handset trends ... rather than their ability to introduce fundamental innovation."

Samsung, which sold around 50 million phones between April and June - almost twice the number of iPhones - will have to pay less than half the compensation Apple sought. The damages are just 1.5 percent of annual revenue from Samsung's telecoms business.

While the victory does not cover new Samsung products including the Galaxy SIII, Apple will push its case on these products in the near-term, Evercore Partners analyst Mark McKechnie said.

He added that an all-out sales ban on Samsung products like the Galaxy S and SII, Nexus 4G and Galaxy Tab is unlikely.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

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