Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Newly unredacted court documents seem to point to no Samsung desire to explicitly copy the iPhone

Despite the $1.05 billion lawsuit win that Apple achieved back in late August, it's possible that Samsung never intended to copy the iPhone. The information comes from tech law blog Groklaw, which examined newly unredacted documents.

In short, Groklaw said:

"The idea that Samsung intentionally copied Apple's designs is one that Apple's lawyers pushed extremely hard during the case. They have produced internal documents in which Samsung staff talk about a 'design crisis' ... talking of the difference being 'heaven and hell.'

"But does that turn out to be so in all particulars? That was based on what was said at trial, but when I read the unredacted exhibit [PDF] it was based on, I read it as showing the opposite, as I'll show you."

In the internal memo that Apple used in the case, instead of saying that his designers should directly copy the iPhone, Samsung Mobile's head J.K. Shin lamented that company’s UX had fallen far behind Apple’s, stating that the difference "is truly that of Heaven and Earth" and that the Korean giant was suffering from a "crisis of design."

While Apple revealed that Shin told his designers to “make something like the iPhone,” the Cupertino, Calif.-based company left out some important text from the quote. Shin actually said,

“I hear things like this: Let’s make something like the iPhone. When everybody (both consumers and the industry) talk about UX, they weigh it against the iPhone. The iPhone has become the standard. That’s how things are already. [...]

"Designers rightly must make their own designs with conviction and confidence; do not strive to do designs to please me (the president); instead make designs with faces that are creative and diverse.

"I have confidence in our products’ H/W, in their exterior design, and in their quality. But when it comes to the ease of use of our UX, I lack such confidence. Influential figures outside the company come across the iPhone, and they point out that 'Samsung is dozing off.'"

He also added that:

“Our biggest asset is our screen. It is very important that we make screen size bigger, and in the future mobile phones will absorb even the function of e-books.”

He was right, there. No one can deny the size advantage - or disadvantage, for some - of devices like the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S III.

Nowhere in the document did Shin say the iPhone should be directly copied. That said, no one with an objective eye could deny the physical similarities between the Samsung Galaxy S and the iPhone 3G / 3GS.

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