Apple's great iPhone rip-off -

It looks like Apple's obsession with killing Android before it gets enough market share to push the iPhone into an also-ran is going to cost it in court.

Apple is suing its partner Samsung, claiming that the Galaxy range copied the look and feel of the iPhone. It is always sad when partners fall out, but in this case Apple's reality distortion field has crippled its lawyers.

The problem is that the iPhone appears to have ripped off Samsung F700 - a picture of which is circulating on the world wide wibble. We guess from the watermark it appeared at Hexus.

The Tame Apple Press has rushed to point out that the Samsung machine was not released until a month after Apple had shown off the iPhone to the great unwashed.

But we doubt even Samsung could write an interface for a phone, and install it in a few weeks. The phone was announced at CeBIT in 2006.

It does not help Samsung's case though. AppleInsider points out that until the iPhone announcement, the entirety of Samsung's mobile phone lineup looked like Nokia handsets.

But there are greater problems for Apple than proving its case. Apple's case against Samsung is more targeted at damaging Android and Samsung is likely to make a lot of dosh if the operating system is viable.

It seems that the court case is based on the assumption that Samsung will not want to risk losing Apple's business by fighting the claim. However, that is typical Jobs' Mob arrogance - and it might backfire badly as Samsung could decide being a lacky is financially less viable in the long term.

Samsung has been developing a dual core chip which will take the iPad, and perhaps the iPhone into the realms of real mobile computing. While it is unlikely to pull the project, it might not give it to Apple.

With the threat of Apple's writs, Samsung is just as likely to throw its toys out of the pram and give it to those companies seeking to make rivals to the iPad.

Losing Samsung as a partner would give Apple a major headache. Samsung provided the technology brains for Apple to make its various iPhone chips including the A5. Walking away from that partnership would mean Apple needs to find another chipmaker, while all the chips that made it famous ending up with the rivals.

It is starting to look like suing Samsung was incredibly short sighted and Apple's attempts to kill Android through the law courts, rather than through competition, could result in it killing its iPhone golden goose.