Are We Going To Have A War Between Nokia And HTC?

| About: Nokia Corporation (NOK)

Design matters. Just ask Samsung (OTC:SSNLF). The Korean electronics giant found that fact out the hard way. Per the San Jose jury, Samsung copied the iPhone's look and feel. Specifically, Samsung's phones infringed on Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) design patents covering the front face and back of the iPhone as well as the look of its iOS icons.

The decision confirmed the obvious observation: Samsung's smartphones sure look like the iPhone. I'm sure I'll get the you-can't-patent-rectangles crowd screaming, but please put the Samsung S2 next to the iPhone and tell me Samsung didn't steal the design!

If you thought Samsung engaged in theft, you might want to check out HTC's (OTC:HTCXF) new 8S and 8X. The 8S and 8X appear to be pretty similar to Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 820 and 920. Nokia is apparently considering suing HTC for stealing its phone design. Look here for the scoop on the alleged copying.

Indeed, side by side views of HTC and Nokia's new smartphones look very similar. The photo below is from phonesreview. The site gives a nice write-up of the handsets' specifications.

(Click to enlarge)

Enormous Implications For Nokia

A pre-ordered 8S can be gotten as low as 400 pounds and 225 pounds. We don't yet know the Lumia 820 pricing but you can pre-order a Lumia 920 for 460 pounds. HTC appears to be pricing its handsets below those of Nokia.

Nokia is struggling to grab a share of the smartphone market. It courageously discarded its Symbian platform for a Windows-based model in order to rejuvenate its market position. HTC will compete against Nokia with an almost identical-looking smartphone at lower prices.

Remember Nokia prides itself on innovation. The company invests over $6 billion a year on R&D. To put that in perspective, that's what Apple spent on R&D during the last 3 years. I think Nokia will vigorously defend the fruits of its R&D in the courtroom. With HTC's 8X and 8X launch, Nokia's hopes of gaining a place in the smartphone arena got a whole lot dimmer.

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