Copying Apple or as Samsung Calls it, Benchmarking Your Peers

on August 9, 2012

The Apple vs Samsung trial is a week old and the evidence Apple presented is quite compelling. Nothing has been more captivating than a 132-page internal Samsung document that recommends copying the iPhone.

The document lauded the importance of Apple functions like double-tap on a Web page to zoom in/out and recommended the functionality needed to be supplemented. Apple even showed how Samsung purposely copied the icons used on the iPhone screen to represent things like making a phone call, contacts, settings and photos.

Samsung on Wednesday issued a statement defending itself and downplaying the importance of the document.

“Samsung benchmarks many peer companies,” she said. “In fact, these are typical competitive analyses routinely undertaken by many companies in many industries – including Apple. Samsung stands by its culture of continuous improvement and innovation. We are very proud of the product innovations driven by our more than 50,000 designers and engineers around the world who have made Samsung’s products the products of choice.”

Here’s the problem. Samsung didn’t take Apple’s features and make them better. In fact, looking at the evidence, Samsung did everything it could to make its devices and icons look exactly like the iPhone’s.

No matter how you look at it or which side of this trial you’re on, that’s wrong, plain and simple.

Samsung contends that Apple doesn’t own the right to putting a receiver on an icon to indicate that it’s used for making a phone call. Samsung fans also argue that Apple can’t patent a rectangle. These arguments don’t get to the heart of the matter, which is the blatant copying of everything Apple is doing.

Samsung didn’t take an Apple idea, improve on it and release it in its Galaxy products. Instead, they took Apple’s ideas, copied them down to the color of the icons and released them as their own.

It’s not about rectangles, but rather stealing a unique way of interacting with a device and its software. There can be no doubt that Apple perfected a new way for consumers to interact with a device when it released the iPhone. Until it was released, people used a stylus or directional arrows on a built-in keyboard.

I wrote earlier this week that Apple’s motives for suing Samsung had nothing to do with the $2.5 billion in damages Apple is seeking from the court for past products from Samsung, but rather to protect future products.

Samsung has made it clear that it will shamelessly copy everything Apple does, so Apple needs to stop that now. Apple can’t risk having Samsung copy its future innovations. By suing them now, Samsung will have to rethink its strategy and innovate on its own.

There is nothing wrong with a competitive analysis, they are done all the time in every industry. However, it’s not right to take that analysis and steal from your competition.