Samsung Modifies Its Hardware, Software to Try to Appease Apple
October 20, 2011 6:00 PM
comment(s) - last by
Design changes will land in 2012 product lineup, Samsung hopes they will prevent future suits
This article contains mild analysis and editorial commentary. The opinions are those of the author.
In the grand scheme of things, Apple, Inc.'s (
) legal war [
] against the
world's largest phonemaker
, Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
), may prove more of a passing annoyance than a real threat. The legal harassment has appeared to slightly stifle Samsung's tablet and smart phone sales in the short term, after Apple scored preliminary injunction wins
. But in the long term Samsung is already making the adjustments it needs to make its products "lawsuit-proof".
I. Making Adjustments
Samsung's Won-Pyo Hong, executive VP of product strategy at the South Korean electronics giant, took the stage at
yesterday and the talk
to the legal dispute. When asked by Walt Mossberg whether his company was redesigning its hardware and software to avoid litigation, Mr. Hong responded, "The short answer is yes... Our legal department is taking all possible options. As the head of a product portfolio, we have multiple different designs — hardware and UX — so we can immediately provide other solutions."
It was widely known that Samsung tweaked the Android Gallery app, removing a "bounce-back" GUI animation, which Apple appparently patented. The modifications allowed the Samsung Galaxy S smartphone to
escape a sales ban
in the Netherlands.
However, Mr. Hong's statement offer the first hint that Samsung may be making a concerted effort in terms of hardware to further distance its product from Apple's.
II. The Technology IP -- Easy to Escape
Unlike Microsoft Corp. (
), whom Samsung was
forced to enter an expensive license agreement with
, Apple's asserted intellectual property, in our experienced analysis, largely falls under the category of obvious and superfluous. This is likely why Samsung appears to be content to simply remove it from its mobile devices. For example, the only technology IP being applied in many Apple's international cases against Samsung is the aforementioned bounceback animation, which you can see below:
Samsung/Google's "slavish" infringement [Gallery App]
Samsung/Google's "slavish" infringement [Browser App]
If that's the only thing preventing Apple from losing more sales to Samsung, Apple has far bigger issues to worry about.
While its fair to debate the merits of a company copyrighting what amounts to a obvious animation, which a skilled expert could implement within an hour, the good news is that Samsung should be able to modify its products sufficienty to escape Apple's legal wrath.
Of course Apple does have some seemingly heavier-hitting technology patents, like its patents
covering multi-touch gestures
and multi-touch display manufacturing processes, but it's seemed reluctant use them, likely out of fear of getting them invalidated in the face of the
large amount of prior art
III. Design Poses a Bigger Problem
The more onerous issue is that of the design.
Mr. Hong claimed in the interview that
the Galaxy Nexus
, which featured a curved face, was not given its unusual design to make it look less like the iPhone.
Apple has asserted sweeping rights to rectangular, minimalist (our terminology, Apple's lawyers use a more verbose description to this effect) tablet and smartphone designs. It believes that its rights are broad enough to claim Samsung's devices are in infringement of its design patents. Thus far only one court (Germany) has upheld those claims.
Below I give a
of the substantial differences between Apple and Samsung's products:
First we look at the Galaxy S, which Apple claims "slavishly" copied the iPhone. Specifically note that the folowing features are different:
Button count and placement
Side profile of phone (note the lip on Samsung's design)
Size of screen and general phone size.
Logo/name placement on body
Similar differences can be found between the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the iPad, an early version of which is covered in the final patent. We've detail these differences between the patent, the actual iPad, and the Galaxy Tab 10. below, which include:
Only Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a camera (compared to the original iPad).
The thickness in the design patent doesn't match the thickness of the iPad or Galaxy Tab (please measure this in an imaging software, in pixels, if you don't believe us).
Bezel sizes don't match between any of the three designs.
Connectors and buttons on the side are different.
Screen sizes and aspect ratios are different.
Only the iPad has a home button.
All tablets are clearly and unambiguously branded.
The back color doesn't match.
Yet despite all these differences Samsung's commentary indicates that it may be concerned that Apple may be able to actually win with its broad design claims, claims which are based on similarities in shape (thin rectangles) and color scheme. This conclusion is surprising, to me at least, but it is what it is.
It seems a somewhat dangerous precedent to cave to Apple's broad design ownership claims, as it may become a case of "if you give them an inch, they'll want a mile." But based on Mr. Hong's comments, Samsung indeed appears to be determined to make a bid to placate Apple on the design front, as well as the technology front.
Mr. Hong claims thas the changes in hardware and software will come with new Samsung tablets/smartphones and TouchWiz 5.0, which are set for 2012 launch(es).
We'd imagine that Samsung will have to work substantially to make its products look less iPad/iPhone-like than they already are. That said, such efforts may pay of merits in unusual, distinctive designs like the Galaxy Nexus.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: New lawyers
10/23/2011 8:16:18 AM
The software of a smartphone makes
free use of huge amounts of high level mathematics
developped over century in many countries.
Patents are not there to reward research and development. Most advances takes place in publicly financed universities and are quickly used free of charge by the industry.
Patents are a mere tool to prevent or abet free competition. Only big firms with smart legal teams can challenge breach claims by patent owners. And at the end the price is paid by the consumer/tax payer.
I believe patenting should be prohibited.
It's like free speech
. If I have an idea and tell it, I can't prevent it to be repeated and improved in a cycling process.
If Mathematics had to be developped by each individual/firm starting from scratch in order not to copy ideas from others past and present,
we'd probably still be at the calculus level for centuries.
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
Google, Samsung Get Official With the Galaxy Nexus
October 18, 2011, 9:40 PM
Apple Refuses to License Some Patents to Samsung, Samsung Fires Back
October 17, 2011, 12:28 PM
Judge Refuses Apple's Request for Preliminary Injunction Against Samsung
October 14, 2011, 11:38 AM
Apple Granted Injunction to Prevent Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Sales in Australia
October 13, 2011, 4:15 AM
Samsung is Only Profitable DRAM Maker, Eyes Smartphone Sales Lead
October 7, 2011, 12:24 PM
Google Testing Smart Thermostat in St. Louis
December 17, 2013, 11:43 AM
Microsoft Wins "Synchronized Calendar" Patent Case Against Motorola Mobility
December 17, 2013, 11:23 AM
President Barack Obama Meeting with Tech Leaders to Discuss HealthCare.gov, NSA
December 17, 2013, 10:59 AM
Quick Note: E-Waste to Increase by One-Third by 2017, U.S. Leads in E-Waste Output
December 16, 2013, 12:20 PM
Amazon Announces No Interest, Kindle Fire HDX Payment Plan
December 16, 2013, 10:35 AM
Google Removes "App Ops" Privacy Control Feature from Android 4.4.2
December 16, 2013, 9:29 AM
Most Popular Articles
Report: Windows 8.2 Revives Start Menu, Runs Metro Apps in Desktop Mode
December 10, 2013, 2:56 PM
Chinese Media Puts Positive Spin on Its Smog Problem, Touts 5 "Benefits"
December 11, 2013, 12:39 PM
China's Lunar Rover Enters Orbit, Prepares for Historic Sat. Landing
December 13, 2013, 5:00 PM
The History of Normandy: How Nokia Plotted a Low-End Android Line
December 11, 2013, 8:12 PM
Metro-Enabled Firefox Browser Expected to Land After Two Years of Work
December 12, 2013, 5:21 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
Global Cyber Espionage Concerns Reveal Growing Cyber Armies
Nov 29, 2013, 11:04 AM
Is The Period Becoming an Expression of Anger?
Nov 26, 2013, 2:02 PM
NSA and Congress -- You Will Never Kill the Constitution, It's an Idea
Nov 10, 2013, 2:00 PM
AT&T Explores $100B+ USD Deal to Acquire Vodafone's European Operations
Nov 4, 2013, 7:34 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2013 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information