There was a time when it seemed like Apple could do no wrong. That’s not the case anymore. Apple’s aggressive attempts to reduce competition in the smartphone and tablet markets with patent lawsuits might protect its profits in the short-term, but what are all of those lawsuits doing to the Apple brand? Instead of being viewed as an innovator, many consumers are starting to view Apple as a bully.

According to comScore, May 2012 U.S. mobile market share continues to show Google significantly in the lead with 50.1% market share. Apple is a distant second with 30.2% market share. Samsung smartphones are by far the most popular Google Android device, but this week, Apple received a preliminary injunction which will force Samsung to stop selling its Galaxy Nexus phone until a full patent lawsuit can be heard. This happened shortly after Apple received a preliminary injunction to stop selling Galaxy Tab 10.1 device.

Apple is also feeling the crunch from competitors in the tablet market, where Android is quickly closing the market share gap. According to Statista, Apple controlled 72% of market share in 2011, but that percentage was down to 52% by March 2012. In 2011, Android had a tablet market share of just 23%. Fast forward to March 2012, and Android tablet market share has grown to 47%. It’s not surprising that Apple is desperate to take out the competition. Check out the chart below for all the market share details.

tablet market share march 2012

If you can’t beat the competition, sue them. That seems to be Apple’s strategy. Has the company forgotten that its loved by consumers who are deeply loyal to it not because it can win patent lawsuits but because it’s already moved on to the next innovative product while competitors are still trying to keep up with Apple’s last product?

Branding is all about consumer perception, and whether or not Apple wins its many patent lawsuits, the perception of the Apple brand will still be tainted by its attempts to knock out competitors with its financial strength rather than its innovative strength. Of course, if Apple loses the lawsuit that granted it an injunction against Samsung, it will be ordered to pay more than $95 million for damages sustained by Samsung.

Unfortunately, anytime competition is hindered, the biggest losers are consumers.

What do you think?