updated 02:35 pm EDT, Sat September 24, 2011
Verizon amicus brief opposes Apple ban on Samsung
Verizon on Friday filed an amicus brief asking a Northern District of California court to deny Apple's request for a preliminary ban on Samsung devices at the upcoming October 13 hearing. It contends that the ban, which for Verizon would block the Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE, would "hinder" the development and rollout of its LTE-based 4G network. The carrier used an unusually political tone, Florian Muller noted, and claimed the ban could hurt job growth as well as "undercut key public policy goals" for both widespread broadband and a modernized emergency response network.
The Verizon request is only limited to the one software patent Apple has argued Samsung is infringing and has "no position" on whether or not the court believes a ban is needed on design traits. Choosing the path may be an attempt to balance between wanting to keep Android devices on sale in the long term, where the software patent would have more impact, and the individual device disputes where claims could go away.
Most likely, Verizon is interested in maintaining its short term commercial interests above all else. While the iPhone is now the most popular Verizon phone, the network still has its reputation as the most popular choice for Android. So far, the only 4G phones and tablets on the network are using Android, and the absence of those devices would discourage use of its expensive LTE network until Apple's possible LTE iPads and iPhones in 2012.
Its move could be risky given that it could risk antagonizing Apple, which not only wants to slow down Android in any way possible but sees Samsung as deliberately imitating iPad and iPhone design. Apple is unlikely to drop Verizon as an iPhone provider, however. The smartphone has already managed to slow down Android on Verizon and shift marketing attention away.
Any action isn't surprising but may also underscore Verizon's frequently intimate connection to Google. As part of its attempt to get an iPhone alternative, Verizon got early access to Android 2.0 and the original Motorola Droid. Google has also been widely accused of compromising its ethics when it reached a pact with Verizon on net neutrality that saw Google abandon some of its principles to protect its most lucrative source of Android sales in the US.