Apple has lodged a rather broadly worded lawsuit against Samsung for copying the “look and feel” of its iPhone and iPad products. Now it is fair to say that a whole raft of smartphones have superficial similarities with the iPhone, but that is always likely to be the case when they are 90+% a capacitive touchscreen. A grid based screen of icons is also a relatively basic way of showing showing the apps available – similar to a desktop on a PC. Yes the iPhone did revolutionise the smartphone market and bring it a consumer focus, but relatively smart mobile operating systems, such as Windows Mobile 5 with email and GPS, did exist before the launch of the iPhone. The iPhone was a big step forward but it was not designed in a vacuum.
Apple did create the tablet space with the iPad, which they still massively dominate, but for all that is lauded about the iconic device – functionally and superficially it is basically an iPhone on a larger scale. Again, all tablets will have roughly similar designs as they too are dominated by a single large capacitive touchscreen which accounts for 90+& of the front real estate on the device. Similarities in this space is a given, and none of Samsung’s products are so similar you would be confused into believing it was made by Apple.
The lawsuit, then, is an interesting move from Apple as Samsung is one of their biggest suppliers of components for Apple iPhone, iPads, Macbooks and everything else. Apple spent a total of $5.7 billion last year on parts from Samsung including flash storage and RAM processing chips to displays amongst numerous others. That is a big contract for both companies, with Apple apparently Samsung’s biggest client after Sony.
To make the whole thing even messier, Samsung has been quoted as saying it has “no choice but [to] respond strongly” with one company official expressing the belief that Apple may also be infringing some of their wireless patents. Messy in a word, and likely unproductive for both corporations.
Technologizer has done a great infographic showing all the current legal wrangling between mobile companies including this one here.