According to a Bloomberg report, Samsung will be delaying the release of the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia under an agreement with Apple, until the patent lawsuit between the two companies is resolved.
This is an interesting move by Samsung, and almost seems to suggest that the lawsuit isn't going well for Samsung. However, if federal judges in multiple countries come to the same conclusion that Samsung "slavishly" imitated the design and technology used for the iPad and iPhone, it could shed a bright light on a bigger problem.
The problem is that East Asia is having difficulty innovating.
To some, imitation out of East Asia isn't new, including Apple imitation. There are numerous stores in East Asia today selling cheap knockoffs of expensive brands, selling illegal copies of movies, music and software, and even copying entire stores, as was the case with the fake Apple and Ikea store in China that was in the news recently.
All of the merchants selling the knockoffs have one goal in mind, which is to make money. However, in order to be competitive on a global scale, imitation isn't enough. A national economy has to rely on innovation.
Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist from the London School of Economics, published a paper in 2006 analyzing Asia's creativity problem. In his paper, he notes that while "East Asians have slightly higher mean IQ's than Europeans; East Asians have not been able to make creative use of their intelligence."
Kanazawa provides a number of reasons to why creativity is not easily expressed in East Asia, ranging from political circumstances, difficulty learning new languages, an education system focused rote memorization learning rather than self-expressive creativity, and conformist cultures.
Concerning probably the biggest inhibitor to innovation, Kanazawa points out that conformists stifle scientific innovation the most. Kanazawa writes "Scientific revolutions happen by challenging the established paradigms. No conformists have ever brought about a scientific revolution."
This was reaffirmed in a recent editorial piece in Science magazine by Yigong Shi and Yi Rao, deans of Life Sciences at Tsinghua and Peking Universities. "It is an open secret that doing good research is not as important as schmoozing with powerful bureaucrats and their favorite experts... China's current research culture... wastes resources, corrupts the spirit, and stymies innovation."
While South Korea, home of Samsung, may not be experiencing a creative void the same size as China, there are still cultural traits that exist which inhibit creativity to an extent.
The Korea Times reported on a doctoral dissertation written by Samuel Kim in 2008 on Korea's creative problem. According to his dissertation, 44% of Korean nationals attending top American universities dropped out half way through. The study tracked 1,400 student between 1985 and 2007. The reason for the high dropout rate is that the rote learning that they grew up with doesn't prepare them for the creative, active and self-motivated work required in American universities.
In the end, if Samsung loses the intellectual property fight, they will have a long up-hill battle changing their corporate culture to innovate. It seems the problem lies at the very foundation of how the people who run Samsung were raised, making a creative solution to a big problem possibly out of reach in the near term.