Today in court, Apple continued with their “leaked memo” onslaught, showing another round of leaked internal Samsung memos and once again, Samsung is forced to play defense.
Yesterday night we had an interesting discussion on exactly what were Samsung’s intentions regarding the software design of the Galaxy S — specifically, when dealing with TouchWiz icons. While I was skeptical, some were more than willing to give Samsung the benefit of the doubt, saying it was nothing more than a coincidence and a normal evolution of design. I may not have agreed, but I could jive with that.
If yesterday’s email from JK Shin urging employees to enhance the user experience of their devices so that they could reap iPhone-like success, wasn’t the smoking gun Apple hoped it would be, maybe the latest memo is more what they were looking for. Let’s pretend for a second that Apple didn’t influence Samsung’s custom TouchWiz UI. I mean, it’s not like Samsung execs held up an iPhone side by side with the Galaxy S, and asked designers to come up with iOS-esque icons… right? Not so fast. According to this leaked 132-page internal document from Samsung back in 2010, they may have done exactly that.
You can see from the above snippet straight from Samsung’s product engineering team that Samsung wanted to do away with stock Android’s irregular, flat, non-glossy icons. Instead Samsung was looking for something a little more like iOS — that is to say, square icons, with rounded edges, and a glossy “3D” look. In fact, the entire report goes into painstaking detail, comparing iOS’ UI with TouchWiz. You can see for yourself that whenever changes were made, they were almost always in favor of duplicating the iOS experience. It turns out Samsung may not have been trying to come up with a completely original UI at all. It can even be said that TouchWiz was a direct result of iOS, like some kind of Apple bastard child.
Let me be clear. I’m team Android all the way. I don’t think Apple should have been granted half the patents and copyrights on things like “rectangular phones” and icon designs. It’s ridiculous and quite frankly, I find it stupid. At the same time, I think it’s pretty obvious to see what Samsung’s intention was when releasing the Galaxy S. This was Samsung’s answer to the iPhone 3GS and while it may not have 100% copied Apple’s IP’s, I think it’s safe to say that the Galaxy S was most certainly inspired by the iPhone, and today’s leaked documents prove that. But does this make Samsung’s actions illegal by making something similar to the iPhone? Not a chance.
Remember, if Apple hopes to hit Samsung with that $2.5 billion dollar fine, they need to convince the court that Samsung “slavishly copied” the iPhone and that consumers were so dimwitted, they couldn’t tell an Apple device from a Samsung one. To further their position, Apple went to call on more “expert” testimonies who, after being handsomely compensated for their time, testified that Samsung’s device’s weren’t just coincidentally similar to Apple’s, but that they infringed on their specific design elements and utility patents.
Samsung’s position is that this was a natural evolution of smartphones with big, capacitive displays, and that the industry would have moved towards an iOS type UI with or without Apple and their mobile OS. In some way, I agree. The stock Android user experience was already leap frogging iOS in terms of functionality, and that Google did a great job of making sure nobody would mistake the two for each other. Personally, I think in the end, it will be Android that saves Samsung, thanks to the notification shade and widgets. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what Samsung is able to pull out of their hat.