Innovation is great, but when it comes to hardware as far as smart phones and PDA's are concerned the basic premise is all pretty much just the same in the purest sense of a functioning electronics device. Take the evolution of the human body for example, despite all our slights that make each human being individual the basic physical form of a human is exactly the same for the main part.  This is how I view different technology hardware segments as far as specific types of mobile computing and mobile communications devices are concerned. There will be a point where the hardware design traits will start to converge purely because all the different manufacturers will start to mirror all the best and functionally useful elements for a particular device type.  Even the basic premise of using GUI icons, its not something that was a brand new concept and unique to mobile devices. Just as I'm certain the idea to use GUI icons for computing devices wasn't something that was exclusively limited to GUI driven computing devices before they came along. The only thing the differentiates them for manufacturers are patents, that’s how they're able to make money and how companies like Microsoft and Sony have been able to become so big. There were even devices that Sony were producing long before Apple and Samsung that used many of the same basic premise with less sophisticated technology. 

So beyond hardware as far as portable smart communications devices are concerned, you've also got software. I reckon there's also a point where at the furthest most reaches there will also be a lot of natural convergence despite the slights if particular devices types are allowed to truly evolve regardless of manufacturer. 
 
In essence its purely been a case of refinement, and with each and every single slight of refinement amidst the barrage there comes a new patent attached to it. Some of these refinements often serve the exact same functional purposes but might be implemented ever so slightly differently. In this modern day and age where nearly everyone puts their ideas in some digital form, it’s a case of who can afford to patent ideas. Because even if you as an unknown were to come up with the idea first you can be certain someone else with more money and power will have seen it already and will pretty much patent any usable idea that could be borne from it long before that unknown could, especially where big money electronics are concerned.  

People are right to complain, as competition should in theory encourage innovation and push companies to constantly improve their products. But sometimes there does come a point where you can't really go any further within the scope of a particular device type. Also keep in mind that even within the consumer electronics industry there are many speed bumps put in place which aren't necessarily a result of patents and are specifically done to extend the longevity of certain technologies that are already on the consumer market. 

I'm certain there are many things kicking about the Microsoft ideas and prototype lab that just aren't released which would pretty much eliminate much of the competition, just as some of their ideas had been cancelled to then be dismantled for other "innovative" projects which might not seem connected due to different manufacturers putting them out in modified spin offs and forms. 


So what now?

So Samsung pays out damages to the tune of $1.05 billion (with Apple having originally filed for $2.45 billion), but does this mean that Samsung has to cease production of certain devices? Whatever the case many more Apple and Samsung devices sold since the whole fiasco started I should expect?