Apple has so far been successful in its legal action against Samsung’s supposed copying of its patents on the iPhone. This reminds me of the same strategy Apple took in the 80s and 90s to fight off Microsoft’s encroachment on its graphical user interface territory.

Let’s be clear. This is a purely defensive move on Apple’s part that can only buy time. While this is going on, there are other companies encroaching on Apple’s currently solid position in mobile computing and communications. The victory, if it can indeed be called that, is only temporary. Call it the Apple defence. This doesn’t dispense Apple from continuing to innovate the way it has over the last decade.

I discuss such defensive manoeuvres and their temporary advantages (and longer term risks) at length in my forthcoming book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles, due out in September under the Global Professional Publishing imprint. As I say in the book,

“Defence can only succeed as a temporary competitive posture. It can be used to protect an advance once it’s achieved but in the long run a company must be on the offensive.”

Moreover,

“Innovation is the key way that businesses redefine needs and markets by outflanking or encircling the competition.”

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

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