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Irony dies as Apple exec calls Samsung ‘annoying’ for copying the iPhone


Last updated: June 28th, 2022 at 21:01 UTC+02:00

Samsung and Apple fought an almost decade-long legal battle as the Cupertino-based company alleged that the Korean giant had copied the iPhone. Various patent infringement claims were also made which Samsung responded to in kind with patent infringement lawsuits against Apple of its own. The main lawsuit made its way through the entire US justice system and ultimately ended in a settlement between the two companies.

Neither Samsung nor Apple disclosed the terms of this settlement. However, it seems that executives at Apple still strongly believe that their technology was copied and “ripped off” by Samsung. These feelings were shared by Apple’s marketing chief Greg Joswiak in a new documentary that was released today.

The Wall Street Journal has created this documentary to look back on 15 years of the iPhone. Some of you may be aware that the original iPhone was released on June 29, 2007. A lot has changed since then and Apple doesn’t even come close to some of the things that Samsung’s doing in the smartphone market.

This documentary features interviews with the likes of Tony Fadell, regarded as the co-creator of the iPhone, and Apple’s marketing boss Greg Joswiak. A segment highlights how the larger display trend was pushed by Android manufacturers, particularly Samsung, before Apple came around to it for the iPhone. Joswiak was asked how much at that time was Apple influenced by what Samsung and the other Android OEMs were doing.

“They [Samsung] were annoying,” he said, adding that “And they were annoying because, as you know, they ripped off our technology. They took the innovations that we had created and created a poor copy of it, and just put a bigger screen around it. So, yeah, we were none too pleased.”

Some of the earliest Galaxy S and Galaxy Note models were branded as iPhone rip offs and the media was unreasonably quick to give Samsung the reputation of a copycat. Raking Samsung over the coals for seemingly copying the iPhone’s design back then was far-fetched. Its phones had a home button on the front and a screen above it, just like almost every other phone on the market then, but the most stinging rebukes were reserved for Samsung.

Samsung led many significant transformations in the smartphone industry. It was among the first to start pushing larger displays. When the Galaxy S4 came in early 2013, it had a 5-inch display while the iPhone 5 at that time was still holding on to a 4-inch display. Seeing how popular the larger displays had become, and despite Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ blatant dislike for larger phones, the very next year Apple came out with a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

It was also Samsung that popularized smartphones without a physical home button. The Galaxy S8 series was launched in early 2017 without a home button. This allowed the device to offer an ever larger display without a big increase in size. The iPhone X, Apple’s first smartphone without the home button, came after that.

5G was the next major frontier and Samsung led the way when it launched the Galaxy S10 5G in February 2019, one of the world’s first flagship 5G phones. It wouldn’t be until almost a year and a half later that Apple would launch its first 5G-enabled iPhone 12 series.

Samsung’s first tablet with an AMOLED display came out in 2011. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 was a brilliant proof of concept. Since the 2014 Galaxy Tab S lineup, all Samsung flagship tablets have featured an OLED display. There are also several non-flagship models that have these displays. Meanwhile, Apple still hasn’t made a single OLED iPad.

Apple has made a conscious effort to prioritize revenues from software services over hardware. Apple has lost its soul as a design-centric company and that’s one of the reasons why its ex-design boss and one of Steve Jobs’ closest confidants, Jony Ive, chose to leave in 2019 as he felt he no longer had a place at Apple.

Apple is an entirely different company now compared to what it was back when it was fighting Samsung in court. As things stand, Apple is basically a software company that makes hardware on the side. The fact of the matter is that Apple has given up on innovating while Samsung is once again on a mission to revolutionize the smartphone industry as we know it.

In just three years, Samsung has taken foldable smartphones from an outlandish idea to a well-rounded product that millions of people across the globe now use. After everything that it has achieved with the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones, the company has once again flipped the script and given the smartphone market a new ideal to chase. As Samsung charts the path to a revolutionary future for the smartphone market, Apple is nowhere to be found. When you’re making close to $80 billion in revenue selling subscriptions, clearly none of this matters.

I guess Apple doesn’t see the irony in all this, but then again, its attitude has always been one of complete monopoly. The narrative it builds is that everything Apple is good and everything else is just not innovative, cool, revolutionary, secure, private, and high quality enough. On the other hand, not only has Samsung continued to give Apple a tough time in the premium segment, it competes with every other Android manufacturer. Despite the relentless competition, Samsung remains the world’s leading smartphone vendor overall and the top Android OEM in the world.

Furthermore, with what the company has achieved with its foldables and how it plans to transform the smartphone landscape in the years to come, it has proven its innovation credentials beyond doubt. So as I saw Joswiak’s comments on a phone made by Samsung that literally folds in half and inconspicuously slips into my pocket, something the iPhone can’t do, I couldn’t help but be a little proud of what Samsung has achieved.

I also can’t help but be a bit sad to see Apple still trying to make Samsung out to be the boogeyman. Actions speak louder than words and Cupertino just doesn’t have the cache to back that arrogance up anymore.

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