Apple vs. Google: An Environmental Attack

Apple filed a lawsuit against HTC, the maker of Google's Nexus One Android Phone. This in an interesting example of what Sun Tzu calls a "fire attack," but which we describe more generically in the Warrior's Rule Book as an attack based on an environmental vulnerability (9.0 Understanding Vulnerability).

An environmental attack is a loophole in the general rule about avoiding conflict in competition that is the logical basis of most of Sun Tzu's system (3.1.3 Conflict Cost). When we use environmental vulnerabilities, we don't attack our opponents directly and incur the costs of a direct attack. Instead, we use forces in the environment to attack them indirectly.

In this case, the environmental attack is not the lawsuit itself. To the degree that is is important, the lawsuit is a direct attack, at least on HTC, since the suit will pit Apple against HTC in court. But the legal case is largely a pretext.

The real attack here will come from the International Trade Commission. By filing a complaint with the Trade Commission, Apple is sparking that battle but will not be fighting it alone. The target is not HTC, who sells many different kinds of phones, but Google, who offers only the Nexus One, made by HTC. If that phone cannot be imported, it is a setback for Google in establishing a competing generic operating system for the smartphone to compete with Apple's proprietary standard, iPhone. We wrote about the similarities of that battle with the battle between Apple and Microsoft for the desktop here.

Warrior's Rules: 

Competitive Arenas: