Apple's success forced 'crisis of design' on Samsung

By Graeme Burton
07 Aug 2012 View Comments
Samsung v Apple court sign

Samsung is the world's most successful mobile phone maker because the launch of the Apple iPhone caused a 'crisis of design' at the company, leading to design improvements - while Nokia ignored the competitive threat until it was too late.

That is the implication of one of the documents to be uncovered in the Apple-Samsung trial late yesterday.

Further reading

In a memo to staff, Samsung's head of mobile communications, JK Shin, wrote how the Apple iPhone user interface had completely changed the market, catching Samsung on the hop.

"Influential figures outside the company come across the iPhone, and they point out that ‘Samsung is dozing off'," wrote Shin in his memo.

"All this time we've been paying all our attention to Nokia, and concentrated our efforts on things like 'folder', 'bar', 'slide'. Yet when our UX is compared to the unexpected competitor Apple's iPhone, the difference is truly that of Heaven and Earth. It's a crisis of design."

Instead of focusing on Nokia as Samsung's key competitor, Shin forced the company to focus all its efforts on Apple.

Samsung had sought to keep the document out of the case, while Apple's lawyers had argued for its inclusion, claiming that it lent weight to their claim that Samsung had copied Apple.

"When everybody (both consumers and the industry) talk about UX, they weigh it against the iPhone. The iPhone has become the standard. That's how things are already."

However, the email might have many interpretations. It was, for example, sent in February 2010 and therefore implies that Samsung did not even regard Apple as a credible threat when the iPhone was first released in 2007. 

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