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Samsung, You're Making It REALLY Hard for Us to Defend You Here

Steven Blum
12

I caused just a bit of controversy yesterday by suggesting that Samsung stole Apple's phone icons. Commenters were furious. "How dare an Android site say that an Android manufacturer may have lifted some design elements from Apple! Apple is the real thief! iCult! AAAAAAHHH! THE APPLE IS ROTTING ON ITS TREE!" 

Okay, Internet person. First of all, thank you for completely ignoring all the times when I've (rightfully) called Apple out on their BS. I am not trying to be a jerk here, and I'm not trying to give Apple a free pass. But let's give credit where credit is due.

Today, it must be noted, some documents were leaked at the Samsung-Apple trial which clearly show that Samsung copied more than just the iPhone's icons. They actually went through, feature by feature, and evaluated how Samsung's phone stacks up against the iPhone. In every single arena, Samsung's advice was simple: make it more like the iPhone.

The slides make Samsung look totally desparate, in totally embarassing way. They're like crib notes from a nerdy kid at school who wants to be as well-liked as the popular jocks. They're just BAD.

Take, for example, this slide below. In it, Samsung complains that the look of their GT-i9000 homescreen isn't as nice as the iPhone. You can see the team go through, element by element, and compare the two to eachother.

  • The team notes the iPhone "uses light for a three dimensionality," with fluid curves to give a soft and comfortable feel.
  • The GT-i9000 comes up short, with menu icons lacking in 3D effect and icon edge curviture that isn't fluid enough.

The recommendation by Samsung? Curve edges, insert lighting effects and — this is the really damning sentence – "remove a feeling that iphone's menu icons are copied by differentiating design." UH-OH!

That last sentence is the worst because it shows that Samsung knew what they were doing would be seen as copying, so they just wanted to tweak their design enough so that they wouldn't be accused of doing so. Like a fake Louie Vuitton bag, Sammy's phones were supposed to look just like the real deal. 

Oh, and there are 132 pages of this. One hundred and thirty two. 

THIS IS BAD.

Granted, many of these aren't patented design elements, they're simply elements Apple put a lot of work into. And Samsung's "directions for improvement," don't say, explicitly, "copy this element from Apple." Most of the time, Samsung is saying, "make this app more fun! Like Apple's!" But still, you can understand an Apple executive getting their hands on a Galaxy S and muttering to himself, "Those bastards." And justifiably so.

Now, I know what you're going to say...

"But, every company does competitive analysis!"

Yes, but this isn't the competitive analysis team being quoted here. It's the chief engineering team.

"But manufacturers are always inspired by each other!"

Yes, but this crosses the line from inspiration to outright copying.

"But Apple has taken design cues from Sony and Samsung!"

Yes, but their inspired prototypes never made it to market and look incredibly different from the iPhone that was eventually released.

"But Apple is trying to copyright black rectangles!"

Yes, some of Apple's patent claims are ridiculous; these are not.

One final note before the inevitable commenter s**t storm: I love Android. I do not think the Android OS infringes on Apple's copyrights. Meanwhile, Apple has clearly stolen many, many features from Android. But Touchwiz sucks. It is clearly un-original, and now this unorigniality has been exposed in court. If you're REALLY too much of an Android-lover to see this, you're either blind (but then I guess you wouldn't be reading this), or you're so dogmatically opposed to looking honestly at Samsung that you have no critical thinking skills whatsoever and are just as narrow-minded as those in the "iCult" you profess to despise.

Aaaaaaand scene!

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Comments

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  • Eric McBride Aug 8, 2012 Link

    WOW. Just...WOW. I love Samsung phones/tablets, but this is a bit hard to swallow.

    Mind=blown.

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  • Geoffrey S. Aug 8, 2012 Link

    There is nothing new under the sun.

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  • Eric McBride Aug 8, 2012 Link

    What do you mean?

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  • User picture
    Nick N. Aug 8, 2012 Link

    Steven, I think you're overreacting.

    I see it like this: I think Samsung studied the market leader (at the time) and said to themselves, "OK, Apple has succeeded because they've implemented X in their product. For our product, let's implement something that's as good as X, yet different from X." In a highly competitive market, I see nothing wrong with that approach.

    I think the fact that Samsung was conscious of NOT wanting to make a straight up replica of the iPhone, and were at pains to avoid that, is a GOOD thing not a bad thing.

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  • Steven Blum Aug 8, 2012 Link

    Yes, Nick, I think all companies do market research. But the fact is that Samsung integrated many of these Apple elements into their Touchwiz UI. They weren't just looking, they were copying a bit as well. Take the slide on Apple's weather app, for example (slide 13). Samsung saw that Apple allows users to add on more locations to their weather app, so they copied them. If you look at later instances of Touchwiz, you'll see this is true. While many OEMs, including HTC, integrated multiple locations into their weather apps, this is specifically about Samsung and Apple.

    There are other instances where they DIDN'T copy Apple, but these slides prove that they WANTED to, which will allow Apple's lawyers to more easily prove their larger case, which is that Samsung stole elements of Apple's "trade dress" to such a degree that it confused potential buyers.

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  • mo non ur business Aug 8, 2012 Link

    "stole" ? um as I recall, S.J once said "good artists copy, GREAT artists steal!" .

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  • Raed Saad Aug 8, 2012 Link

    When will this end.
    Apple is fighting against all big companies as if it's the only company that has ingenuity.

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  • Mohamad Vajid Aug 8, 2012 Link

    Apple would sue mother nature if it could for a fruit name. Imagine paying a $ to Apple everytime you took a bite? lol

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  • CJ Brown Aug 9, 2012 Link

    Samsung may be as innovative as Apple ... but this is some damning evidence you can not ignore (& Samsung bad better be prepared to implement "damage control" asap) ....

    Its one thing to look @ what your competitor offers as a benchmark to improve upon ... its another thing to take notes in details (& instead of coming up with your own solutions? basically do the same thing as your competitor) ...

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  • Lurker Aug 10, 2012 Link

    But Apple complains that Samsung had already copied Apple when they released the Gi9000. If anything, this document proves that Samsung didn't copy them for the Galaxy S.

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  • CJ Brown Aug 10, 2012 Link

    Well, if you watched the news today, Google had to pay a HUGE fine (22.5 million) for violating user privacy on its Apple's Safari browser (it's the biggest FTC fine ever issued by the Federal Trade Commission for a violation) ...

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/google-ordered-pay-ftc-225-million-violating-privacy/story?id=16968371#.UCVX851mRrM

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  • James Tadle Aug 14, 2012 Link

    i think it's inspiration rather than imitation , GO SAMSUNG !

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