In multiple courtrooms around the world, Apple and Samsung have been pummeling each other with lawsuits. At issue, mainly, are the designs of their phones and tablets.
Take a look at the iPhone and any Samsung smartphone, and you can sort of see the problem. There’s a thin bezel, a button at the bottom and a big expanse of touchscreen. Thing is, a lot of phones look like that now. Any Android phone looks pretty much the same, just with a varying number of buttons instead of one. The exact curves and lines will differ somewhat, but the overall shape of a touchscreen device meant to go in your hand and pocket is not going to change much.
Apple alleges that Samsung copied its design. Supposedly, Samsung went further than all other Android phone manufacturers and consciously aped miniscule details of the iPhone, particularly the icons it uses. Samsung, on the other hand, says nuh-uh, and even if it did copy, Apple copied lots of other manufacturers first.
So far, Samsung has been barred from selling a couple of its tablet models in the United States and the European Union. Don’t worry, if you already own one, no one’s coming after you to take it away or arrest you for copyright infringement; it’s only sales by the company that are banned, not possession.
Samsung and Apple have an interdependent relationship already. Samsung manufactures memory and integrated circuits that go into the iPhone and iPad, so Apple can’t really afford to sue it out of existence. Samsung doesn’t want to get on Apple’s bad side for the same reason, but it’s also one of only three companies actually making money selling smartphone handsets. The other two are HTC and, well, Apple. Everyone else in the business (Motorola, Pantech, ZTE, etc.) is losing money.
It could be said that Apple is simply going after its biggest competitor in the smartphone segment. It could also be said that Samsung is only so successful because it’s copied Apple’s design. That’s what judges will have to determine. In the meantime, there are some things you might want to stop doing so you don’t get swept up in the lawsuits.
Touching things. None of this litigation would have happened if Samsung had stayed with button-based phones running Windows. It’s hard to confuse an iPhone with something that looks like a BlackBerry someone stepped on; in fact, it’s hard to believe Samsung was never sued into oblivion by BlackBerry maker RIM, because early Samsung smartphones had a very similar keyboard and trackball layout. If you’ve been using the tips of your fingers for anything other than tapping icons on an iPhone screen, you might want to keep that on the down-low.
Having rounded edges. Some tech journalists have theorized that Motorola has escaped litigation because its phone designs have been more angular than Samsung’s and Apple’s. That’s bad news for those of us without chiseled, bony physiques. Even my broad, manly shoulders kind of slope into my arms rather than taking a sharp corner. That’s an Apple trademark.
Being pretty. Fortunately I don’t have to worry here, but I fret for my wife. She’s awfully nice to look at, just like the iPhone and its smooth user interface. Granted, she came into the world a couple decades before the first iPhone, but that doesn’t mean the idea wasn’t in Steve Jobs’ head.
Read more of my ugly, sharp, hands-off thoughts by following @CitizenjaQ on Twitter.