Apple vs. Samsung: innovation vs. clones

Scott Bradner
6 September, 2012
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There has been a lot of speculation as to how a jury could have come up with such a one-sided verdict in as complicated and long a case as Apple versus Samsung. I doubt anyone directly involved in the case would have predicted an outcome that looked remotely like this. But, I will leave speculation on that to others; instead I’d like to look at whether the verdict is good for us, and I think it is.

In the days since the verdict Samsung has been claiming that Apple is trying to limit “customer choice.” This accusation is disingenuous at best. Samsung was offering a choice of vendor not a choice of product. Apple spent a number of years coming up with a way to imagine what a smartphone could be, then sprang it on the world with more hype than logic (with most of the hype coming from the press). Almost magically within a few months Samsung and other vendors started offering their own iPhone-like devices, most of which were indistinguishable in form and function from more than a few centimetres away.

There was a real difference between what comprised the pre-iPhone market and what Apple introduced. The iPhone, even though many of its parts had been seen before, put things together in a way that no one else had and changed what the average consumers thought of when they thought of a portable internet experience.

Samsung was part of the pre-iPhone ecosystem that suddenly looked clunky, clumsy and antiquated. Clearly, the company had to respond, but it apparently was not up to the task of thinking on its own to produce a Samsung imagining of the mobile internet. So Samsung basically decided to clone the iPhone.

Samsung was not alone. Encouraged by Google’s introduction of Android, many vendors were soon making iPhone clones. As an aside, the Wikipedia definition of android is “a robot or synthetic organism designed to look and act like a human.” Thus Google’s choice of name is appropriate – Google’s Android is a synthetic device designed to look and act like an iPhone.

I disagree with those who say that the verdict will mean less customer choice – at least less meaningful choice. Clearly, if upheld, the verdict will mean fewer iPhone clones and thus less pressure on Apple to keep the iPhone price down. It may take a while, but I think that the result will be a marketplace where customers have choices between products that have different concepts of the mobile internet. That will be good for the customer. It will also ensure that Apple cannot rest on past products – the company will have to continue to evolve its products in order to keep up. The only way that the doomsayers could be correct is if no one, other than Apple, is capable of thinking and innovating. I would rather not assume that Apple has hired every smart person in the business.

This case is far from over — both sides have many more patents and lawyers to throw at each other — but so far the result has been a plus for us.

Disclaimer: I know of no Harvard horse in this race and have not seen any university comment on the verdict, so the above is my own (positive) view.


13 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. John says:

    Will Apple also ask the judge to ban the Samsung digital picture frame from 2006 on the grounds it looks just like their ipad of 2010?

  2. Marcel Miquel says:

    It’s rediculous, the I phone is hardly innovation, it’s where all mobile phones were heading.. Apple was not the first to bring a camera or a music player to the phone, nor was it the first to bring the Internet. They did not invent the touchscreen either… The iPhone is hardly an innocent invention, the patents they are fighting over is curved edges, pinch to zoom and bounce back on the screen. Not much genius in all of that. What apple is doing is a disgrace, they are sore losers. The iPhone and galaxy are different in feel and software they are not copies. Boycott apple.

  3. N.A creative says:

    Apple just want money and limit the uses of technology, while samsung unlock full access and full potential of technology uses. Apple try to control corporate freedom, just like samsung when they create a better technology than apple, what are talking about innocent invention? Youre so called innocent invention limit the development of a better future technology. Go hell with your stupidity. A better technology decide by the people who use it. Not the one who first made it. If the only one who can create the technology, is the one who first made it im sure there no future for new better development. Please, steve job is not a god of technology, he just create an apple. So dont be a rotten apple, please let other create their own invention.

  4. Paul Alexx says:

    Quote “the verdict will mean fewer iPhone clones and thus less pressure on Apple to keep the iPhone price down”
    Does this even makes sense? How can having a monopoly on something will make the company lower the price of its products?

  5. NA Creative says:

    Please, innovation vs clone? Absurd, as if apple founded the first camera, touch screen, introduce software, create the first programming language. You called samsung clone you and create a better one for other people? Haha yeah that right , apple, like your programing language using alien programming language that never beem base on basic binary of the human world, of course you are also are clone, steve job is not a god of technology, he just create apple product. Let other do a better technology, dont limit other to use the full potential of technology.

  6. Alex says:


    Banning a photo frame????

    Do you even understand the whole case or are you only being biased.
    The case was not just about the external look of the product, but the entire package (look physically and on its GUI also the functionality of certain aspects of the OS)

    Fanbois don’t bother me unless they don’t put the effort in to actually understanding the whole story

  7. Alex says:


    Pinch to zoom was not one of the patents that apple own and was not disputed

    Phones may have been heading that direction but apple (who was never a phone manufacturer) decided to make it happen. The technologies where around for ages but the other companies didn’t think they could make it work

    Microsoft CEO Steve ballmer even scoffed at the idea of a phone that had no keyboard and said it would never sell. He was wrong and after that point all phones said hey they got it to work and people actually will buy them so cudos to apple.

  8. shaun will says:

    BOYCOTTTT APPLE,iphone is way behind in technology…what Apple is trying to in in court case is limiting the customer choice…so that we are left with no option but to buy Iphone,
    ..ame on you APPLE taking the case to the court ,you already proved that Samsung galaxy is a threat to APPLE.

  9. John says:

    If you really want to understand the issues to the extent you claim try reading and you will understand how an “Alice in Wonderland” jury went in to bat for the home team. Apple claimed to own rectangles with rounded corners (although the lost on that point). Samsung had digital devices like that earlier but have never claimed to own the style.

  10. Billy says:

    Thankyou ALex, for providing the first educated comment of the day. No, Apple didn’t invent most of these things, but like the article says, were the first to implement them successfully.

    @Paul Alexx, the article says Apple will have LESS pressure to keep the price down. LESS means not as much. Therefore your comment that “Does this even makes sense? How can having a monopoly on something will make the company lower the price of its products?” is completely invalid, and you really shouldn’t be commenting on things not making sense when your comment had hardly any Engrish at all…

    Just one of the many examples of comments in this article, and in all articles continually attacking Apple, when they completely revigorated the market. If it wasn’t for the iPhone, we’d still be using something very similar to a Motorola Razr2 V9… The only thing worse than an Apple fanboy is someone who doesn’t give credit where credit is due.

  11. Craig says:

    @Billy, Yes because the idea for a touchscreen device that can multi-task (which was only available on iphone after android was released mind you…) is something circa 2000 and could never have been popular if apple had not thought of placing a logo of a fruit on the back of it is ABSURD. I think you are getting confused here… no one is saying the iphone is not a popular product but as you have even stated yourself this can only lead to a more monopolistic market. Such that who knows in 30 years time we will still be stuck with a product that looks and functions like an old iphone (iphone5 any one?) but with a few new tweaks like a new colour (hrmmm kinda like the auto industry and we know how well they do…) compare this with that of the creative and fashion industries and see how innovative and productive they are and you start to get the idea. Sorry if this appears in Engrish I know how you fanboys struggle to read sense. Btw I own and appreciate both devices and think they both have enough faults that neither apple or samsung have the resources to be wasting on bollocks such as this court case.

  12. Craig says:

    Oh and im sure this was prior to the iphone also:

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