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The Samsung Galaxy S III: The First Smartphone Designed Entirely By Lawyers (androidpolice.com)
330 points by barredo on May 4, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 124 comments

I'd have to disagree about it being an ugly design. What was ugly was the hack of putting squares around every icon, when those icons were designed to live on their own, not in a square. That's what was ugly. I'm happy to see the squares gone and the design conform to the standard Android design guidelines. The dock of icons going away is also good. If I'm looking in the applications list it's because I'm looking for something that wasn't on the home screens, so why show me part of the home screen? Makes no sense.

I'm neutral on the lack of four-way symmetry and I'd have to agree that the avoidance of black is sad, though light-colored phones look great too (as Apple itself shows).

Indeed, and actually, I like it (and I'm not one prone to like Android handset design). Especially in that shot with the three generations side by side. The first two mimic an iPhone 3G and an iPhone 4, and it shows, while the SIII really stands on its own (that's coming from someone who downright LOVES the iPhone 4 design). I wish they would have let go the metal on the side and went for a bit straighter lines on the long sides to make it feel more balanced, but really, it's fine.

I agree. I'm and iPhone user and I don't think the S3 looks bad at all. It actually looks kind of nice. More importantly it's distinct. It doesn't look like a fake iPhone.

Now I've never touched one.aybe in hand all that tapering feels weird. But it seems like a large improvement over the "pretend I'm an iPhone" look of the previous models.

Agreed. Heck a lot of the design decisions are just regular Android (no square outline, dock disappears when drawer opens, etc)

Insisting on four way symmetry is like insisting the status bar and a tab bar are the same height.

I would actually kind of like a nice charcoal grey for my phone.

The community design is an "and", not an "or". The Galaxy Tab model which had issues with this in Germany, if you look at it, has all, not just one, of those characteristics. The "Apple thinks it owns the rectangle" meme is nice, but untrue.

Nilay Patel, in the Verge article linked by Android Community:

Now, some of these are a little ridiculous when taken individually — is Apple going to sue every digital photo frame maker that puts equal size black borders around the screen as well? — but in the end, the main question for the court will be whether or not Samsung has used all of these elements in a way that's likely to confuse consumers about what they're buying.

(Edit: is this wrong? If not, why downvote?)

Protecting customers from misrepresentation – unknowingly being sold something that does not match the logo stamped on it: fine; protecting a megacorp from its competitors selling something with similar design, but a different brand name: customers lose.

That's a reasonable opinion, but it's not how that type of intellectual property works. Again, Nilay Patel (a lawyer, fwiw) at The Verge:

Trade dress is the wonky red-headed step-cousin of the family that fills the gaps between the three; you might think of it as a trademark on design elements that trigger consumer recognition. [...] Apple's claim is that the iPhone's box and design scream "Apple" to consumers just as strongly as the word "iPhone."

This kind of legal weapon is just emerging, and it's a product of circumstance — patent offices have rubberstamped hundreds of Apple's bevelled rectangles, and Apple recently found a court that would act on it and delay sales. It's a bit early to say lawyers have it all figured out, and that we should shut up and listen to them.

Consequences matter, the intent and spirit of the law matter — lobbying, laws, case law, patents and injunctions are decided by humans — which is why it's important to counteract the claim you quote, that this is about protecting customers from being confused about what they're buying.

Again, Nilay Patel at The Verge (maybe read the article? http://theverge.com/2011/04/19/apple-sues-samsung-analysis/):

Trade dress law is well-established, and Apple itself has a history of successfully pursuing trade dress claims in the Northern District of California. In 2000 the company sued both eMachines and a company called Future Power for knocking off the iMac's trade dress, winning injunctions in both cases and eventually getting extremely restrictive settlements that effectively removed the infringing products from the marketplace.

The eOne: http://lowendmac.com/imac/eone.shtml

Article about the case: http://zdnetasia.com/apple-stops-sales-of-imac-knockoffs-130...

The 2011 case featured in the Verge bundles trade dress claims, that have been enforced in the past with a less simple and much more distinctive look, with design patents, which I'm not aware Apple has been able to enforce before. The other one we discussed is for a European “community design”, something which was created (sorry, “harmonised”) in 2002, and those extremely simple shapes were registered by Apple in 2010: http://www.scribd.com/doc/61944044/Community-Design-00018160...

Here is what makes community designs a step up from other roadblocks against competitors: http://www.osnews.com/story/25056/The_Community_Design_and_y...

If by 'new' you mean 1946 then sure: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanham_Act

That's trademarks, which so far have been more faithful to their stated goal of preventing consumer confusion, rather than creating new kinds of private property. For example, I don't need Apple's permission to use the trademarked word Apple, as long as I'm referring to the firm, or as long as I'm not using it in the context of electronics or music.

You'd be right, but it wasn't "similar" design. They weren't sued because it was a black rectangle.

This is closer to flipping the Pepsi logo upside-down and selling cola, then bitching about how unfair the patent and trademark system is.

The iPhone's design is mostly functional, it's not artwork like a logo. You can't copy a logo for clear reasons.

A closer analog would be selling, say, a cola in a 12 oz. blue, red and white can with white lettering: http://goo.gl/q5k8n

Well, it sort of is like artwork since they registered the design patent. At a glance, the RC Cola can doesn't look like Pepsi. Some of the Samsung phones do however look like iPhones, and infringe on all of the conditions mentioned in the patent.

This case mirrors the eMachines case where they were selling something that looked pretty similar to an iMac.

but in the end, the main question for the court will be whether or not Samsung has used all of these elements in a way that's likely to confuse consumers about what they're buying.

How can consumers be confused about what they're buying? Even if their software appears similar, one device has a large Apple logo on the back and is sold almost entirely through a different retail chain.

For what it's worth, the "different retail chain" isn't as different as you might think. Apple only sells 15% of all iPhones in the US directly. Most of them are bought through cell providers and Best Buy.


You'd be surprised what consumers can mistake a product for. In many people's eyes, iPhone == smartphone. It'd be a relatively simple mistake to make if you are a elderly non-techie.

Then they should read what's written on the box because its pretty damn clear. I mean going by that kind of thinking, one can mistake vodka and water. In fact its probably a LOT easier to mistake vodka and water than an iPhone 4 and a Galaxy S2.

Vodka, water, same color. iPhone, Galaxy S.. not even the same color. Just a vaguely similar shape. Heh.

That's the whole point! The S and the SII weren't 'vaguely similar' to the iPhone, they were almost identical.

That's very much incorrect. The SII doesn't remotely look than an iPhone 4, except both are squared... different COLOR, different SIZE, different BUTTONS...

Both are offered in black and white. Although the SII was bigger the aesthetic is practically identical. You can say that you disagree, but to suggest my statement is very much incorrect is off the mark.

So, if they ended up buying an android phone, does that really count as a mistake? After all, they didnt really want an iPhone, they wanted a smartphone, and that is what they got.

Because when you are a retail store you are only looking at the front of a device not the back. In some stores they actually have the tablets fixed to the table.

Also outside of the US (and pretty sure in the US as well) the same retail chains will sell all types of tablets including iPads.

You're correct, but the article makes exactly the same point as you. There's no reason to correct it.

>in the end, the main question for the court will be whether or not Samsung has used all of these elements in a way that's likely to confuse consumers about what they're buying.

I don't believe design patents hinge on whether the consumer would be confused; that's for trademarks. Design patents are for protecting the aesthetic idea, just like regular patents are for protecting a technological idea.

The article talks about both trade dress and design patents. That said a court's decision about design patents can involve whether a consumer would be confused. There's a short article that talks about the legal rules for design patent infringement at http://www.designpatentschool.com/assets/Oake_SEPT11%20V2.pd....

Very interesting. What's the legal theory behind this? Shouldn't trademark infringement protect against consumer confusion?

because the JooJoo was announced BEFORE THE iPad http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JooJoo

That combination of features is not unique.

Many of the features listed apply, but certainly not all of them. Again, it is an "and" relationship: Apple claims ownership on all of those features combined. Here's a JooJoo's home screen: http://www9.pcmag.com/media/images/224043-joojoo-home-screen...

The JooJoo does not include three of these items: the "square icons" on the home screen, the dock of, again, "square icons", and the "metallic surround framing the perimeter of the top surface". Thus, this doesn't apply (at all) to the JooJoo.

On the other hand, the original Galaxy S phone did seem to apply to each one on the list: http://cdn3.sbnation.com/imported_assets/844649/2011-04-19ap... — metallic border, check; rounded square icons, check; dock of round squares, check; rounded rectangle shape, check; equal sides of black borders, check; dominated by screen, check.

Anyone who truly believes Samsung wasn't just ripping off Apple's product (hardware/software) need only look at the Phone App's icon here http://cdn3.sbnation.com/imported_assets/844649/2011-04-19ap... (Link from the parent).

The average human being is a complete imbecile. When they see any rectangular device that can make sounds and records sounds, they truly believe it is an iPhone. They're all like "whoa is that the new Iphone?". Really, regular people are complete idiots.

Unlike you, who is prone to hysterical generalisations. Perhaps you ought to step outside and meet some other human beings rather than just looking at them on computer screens.

Calling people imbecile is not much correct when it comes to behavior towards branded objects, remember your early teenage times. In this case people mostly care for a brand, and I believe, the logo is what matters the most, not resemblance. Mobile devices are closer to the realm of fashion mainly because when you are outside, when you hold it, and when you put it on a table you want people to see the logo. Au contraire, desktops are usually at home or workplace or even hidden beneath your table, and they are less of a fashion object.

A good example for mobile devices would be the jeans, bags, sun glasses etc. Where resemblance to fashionable brand matters however the logo or tag matters the most.

All that said, I am fine with my Rasberry PI and Linux.

Calling them imbecile is a bit drastic but I've also seen ordinary people call any kind of smartphone an iPhone because they have no clue about this stuff. Same for MP3 players, which they call iPods. May be like calling any kind of vacuum cleaner a hoover.

Interesting theory but I'm not convinced the nuances of the Samsung/Apple case support it. I'm also not sold that Apple has had enough success with the legal actions against Samsung to spur such a major hardware design change especially when Samsung is simultaneously announcing a Siri clone that uses a highly derivative UI. You would have to believe Samsung is a total mess to accept they forgot to tell the software guys about the change in strategy. Just don't buy it.

I think the changes have a lot more to do with Samsung making a shift towards acting like the big player they are. Samsung is the Android market at this point. It's less about Apple and more about HTC, Sony, Google/Motorola, etc. I think you can see this in the significant software changes they introduced and the larger display. They are making a play to basically own the Android market. It is an effort to design a device that stands out instead of blending in. I think Samsung wants people to understand at a glance this device is not just another generic handset. It's Samsung Android -- not Google Android. So physically it has to have at least a slightly unconventional look as well. That being said I think they failed terribly by adopting this sort of tacky early 00s ascetic. It's the uncanny valley of retro design. We're not far enough removed from early 00s to want a device that reminds us of that era yet. Weird textured plastic, overuse of the blue/purple tint, etc. Once glance at it and somehow I'm reminded of the first popular wave of sub-1MP camera phones in the United States.

The other issue is the size of the device. The Galaxy S was still within the realm of the mainstream. Not too small, not too big. They are walking away from a big portion of the market by skipping both the small and medium sized market. They now have big and they have huge with the Note. Larger devices are a nice option but the mainstream option has to be a bit more reasonable. For a significant number of people this device is just going to be physically uncomfortable to use I suspect.

With legal actions, Apple managed to delay the sale of some of Samsung's devices in Europe for months, immediately after release. Given the rapid releases we see these days, that means a lot of money lost.

For the size, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy family. You have a lot of products for any size and taste. Yes, not all of them are full-featured, but you have to take into account battery size.

That's a dangerous tack to be taking. Samsung is big enough to patent a lot of things and do precisely the same thing to Apple.

Honestly. The hardware is fine. The problem with android is still the software and only the software.

I'll take my handset in pink polka dots if it can finally scroll smoothly everywhere and not constantly annoy me with bugs in almost every single basic feature.

Instead they keep on shoving out bigger screens, faster CPU's every year - and the only UX issue ever being addressed is the camera finally snapping pics in reasonable time.

Performance / UI fluidity issues - that hasn't been true since long time now, especially so since ICS. Only hardcore apple enthusiasts and the ignorant keep repeating that (and Windows viruses) ;)

Samsung made $10 billion over the last two quarters selling devices with outdated 2.x Android software. And last time I checked my carriers, none of their myriad of Samsung devices came with ICS.

Clearly ICS and smooth scrolling is not important to the carriers or their typical customers. Consequently, ICS is not important to Samsung.

It's not ignorant to say that Andriod scrolls poorly. It's just that scrolling performance isn't a priority when you're already pulling in $5 billion a quarter.

> And last time I checked my carriers, none of their myriad of Samsung devices came with ICS

I don't know which carriers you checked, but the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (which runs stock ICS) has been on the market for several months now. In the US, it's available from Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.

No it's not. In the US it's available from Verizon and Sprint as the LTE version (not completely compatible with the HSPA version) and there is no device available from AT&T or T-Mobile. You can buy an unlocked device directly from Google, but there is no subsidized version available for AT&T or T-Mobile customers.

I bought my HSPA version unlocked in the Netherlands.

I don't think you can consider the Galaxy Nexus a Samsung phone. Yes, it's built by Samsung, but they're more a contractor for Google in this case.

The Galaxy S II and its differing variants in the US all still run Android 2.3, with only promises that they might eventually get an update.

Also available directly from Google.

Android scrolling wasn't bad enough for normal, non-picky users to notice. It's only techies who are used to iOS scrolling who complain about it.

Anecdote: You don't need to be a techy to notice the scrolling smoothness. This is the reason my mother now owns a 4S instead of a Droid 2.

> Android scrolling wasn't bad enough for normal, non-picky users to notice.

To _notice_? Maybe not, but perhaps the price difference vs the iPhone was more important than the smooth scrolling?

Doesn't the iPhone 3GS sell for free and iPhone 4 for $99?

that hasn't been true since long time now, especially so since ICS

That's plain out wrong. I'm on a Galaxy Nexus with ICS.

Scrolling and responsiveness are still major issues.

In 2012 I expect my phone to respond instantly and scroll smoothly, in all but the most extra-ordinary situations. iOS demonstrates how it's done.

On Android ICS my touches still incur a random lag that prevents me from tapping "by muscle memory" like on an iOS device. And I did spend multiple days removing all bloat, running the absolute minimum of background apps (JuiceDefender and a tool for the LED).

Likewise most apps can't even scroll a text list smoothly for whatever reason (lack of hardware acceleration perhaps, but as a user I shouldn't even have to think about this).

If you know any Android device that will survive a head-to-head comparison with an iOS device then I'd be curious to hear about it. I've bought the last two supposed high-end androids (Galaxy S, now Galaxy Nexus) and while there has been a noticeable improvement (largely due to the ridiculous CPUs that we get now) the overall situation is still a joke.

I seriously don't know what you are complaining about. Bought my GNex straight from Google and it is hardware accelerated, is stock Android, had no bloat ware at all, all apps scroll butter smooth and there is no random lag or jerkiness. And I am not alone in liking GNex over the iPhone.

I have a Verizon GNex (got it 9am on launch day) and I don't see lag either.

Try e.g. the calendar (swipe left/right). Or pretty much any 3rd party home-screen. Or pretty much any 3rd party dialer. Or, frankly, pretty much any 3rd party anything.

3rd party software needs to recompile with updated flags to make use of hardware acceleration.

Only 5% of all android devices out there have ICS (http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-ve...). Even if you are correct that ICS has no fluidity issues at all, that means 95% of android devices out there have these issues.

My Galaxy Nexus runs stock ICS and has fluidity issues, FWIW, and I'm not an Apple enthusiast. In particular, I've noticed problems switching in and out of the camera app, problems with the contact picture pop up, and with the music player.

You are fooling yourself if you think the iPhone is always smooth all the time, every device experiences hiccups at times. Android used to be worse at this but has come a long way with 4.0.

You are fooling yourself if you think the iPhone is always smooth all the time, every device experiences hiccups at times.

When I read such claims I can't help but wonder, have you even used an iOS device recently?

It's a night/day difference for the constant touch-lag alone. On iOS the screen "sticks" to your finger, on android it runs noticeably behind and even the simplest screens choke.

I can't remember having ever experienced an unexplained "hiccup" on iOS. An app may take a second to open/close/switch. When something loads then there might even be a brief pause. But these are very rare and expected.

That's a fundamental difference to android where random, unpredictable chokes are the norm.

Here is a video of my 2 year old Nexus S running ICS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCy_urYqDEM

I am going to assume that your aren't trolling and just aren't familiar with what you are talking about. I was using a 3rd gen iPad just a couple of days ago where the keyboard choked for a good second when I opened the browser and tried to type right away.

iOS has advantages when it comes to speed for sure. One of the big things is the user can't screw it up like they can on Android, I've seen many Android phones that are the equivalent of Internet Explorer with 15 toolbars. Android has true multitasking and unfortunately that means that you have to be aware of the apps that you install aren't crappilly coded and running in the background eating CPU and RAM.

I think

Talk about cognitive dissonance. I see close to a 500ms lag on your homescreen swipes.

Here's a screenshot I took of your video at second 7:


Note where your finger is in that shot. It has already lost contact with the screen after the swiping motion. Meanwhile the screen hasn't even begun transitioning.

This may not bother you. But let's not pretend the latency doesn't exist when it fills enough frames in a low-quality youtube video to take a blur-free screenshot.

Edit: The issue is also documented here; http://gigaom.com/mobile/video-android-touch-lag-and-a-possi...

There where a few mis-swipes because of the way i was filming/holding the phone, not only that but I have a lot of widgets, which add to the latency of home switching, which you can tell the difference when I'm switching in the app drawer. Also that isn't a low quality youtube video, it was filmed at 1080p. Finally Gigaom is an Apple news site/blog not exactly the place one would go to get unbiased news/reports.

There where a few mis-swipes because of the way i was filming/holding the phone

The screenshot is not from a mis-swipe. Your phone did react - it just took long enough for me to press pause (on a video that was playing realtime!) and take a screenshot.

you can tell the difference when I'm switching in the app drawer

Well, at least we're making progress and you're acknowledging the problem now.

Finally Gigaom is an Apple news site/blog not exactly the place one would go to get unbiased news/reports.

Grasping straws now?

The issue is widely documented (the GigaOM article contains sources). And the video is pretty self-evident anyway, unless you want to allege them of faking it.

At this point I think you are either very biased or <forget it I will spare you the T word>. Here is what The Verge had to say about HTC One X with ICS -

        "I can't lodge a single complaint about the One X's performance, though — this phone screams, and it has the benchmark scores to back it up. I used the phone as my primary device for a full week and can't recall a single incidence of lag or stutter anywhere in the user interface. That's saying something, because Android phones that initially appear to be fast have a tendency to "bog down" over time and during certain operations like app updates and account syncs, but not the One X — it was smooth sailing at all times."
I am sure you can find something laggy if you keep looking for it - you can buy the most lacking Android device and then complain about it all you want - but newer flagship Android devices have pretty much eliminated the lag issues with OS and Hardware assistance (Tegra3 has direct touch for e.g. and even Gruber found ICS much nicer!).

Which are still low numbers.

My nexus one with animations disabled is sluggish. Mainly dragging maps is embarrassing.

on the other hand, the 3gs of the time is also laggy. And it's not even on ios4

My wife's Nexus One doesn't seem to lag with default animation settings - running CM7. Both 3GS and N1 are arguably old devices in mobile times!

And the 3GS also lags a little from time to time anyway (probably less than a nexus one, but still)

Cm7 here too. Open maps and start dragging it.

It's not the hardware power. It's bad coding. even gmaps fails at standard nonblocking coding for fluid interface.

Have you used an Android phone with 4.0 (hardware acceleration)? At least on my tablet with 3.1 (which also has opt-in hardware acceleration), the UI moves very smoothly.

Seriously - try a Nokia windows phone if you want something that just works.

>The hardware is fine

Pentile screen

Someone hasn't used a recent Android phone or certainly not one with Gingerbread or ICS. I have never, ever, ever, ever experience scroll lag or a lockup on my Android phone with hundreds of apps installed running relatively unstable CM9 nightlies.

When I started reading the article, I was expecting to scroll down and see photos of some kind of rhombus-shaped, barbed, Frankenstein monstrosity. I was sorely disappointed. It seems like the author is defining non-ugliness as "looks like an iPhone." There's nothing so offensive about this phone's appearance that deserves the animosity expressed in the article.

I don't believe the author truly considers the design ugly. The animosity in the article really appears to be pointed towards Apple. The ugly design comments seem to me like a bulwark against those who might claim the author is an Apple hater for criticizing Apple's exclusive rights to symmetrical black rectangles.

Maybe it was designed by lawyers, but looking at the pictures, I actually like the shape and general look of the hardware. The software doesn't look as nice, especially the app menu with garish blue background, but the beauty of Android is that I can make it look however I like.

So it may have been designed by lawyers, but it isn't the worse off for it.

I completely agree. In fact, I like it much more than the previous versions that were trying way too hard to look like an iPhone. If I want to buy an iPhone, I will choose to buy one. Whether Samsung was trying to confuse customers or not (I wasn't there, so I can't say), I think they will be better off forging their own style (even if they are being forced to).

Deliberate or not, their previous designs were basically carbon copies of the iPhone (My Galaxy Ace currently has an iPhone case on it...). The small changes made here at least make the phone different, and personally I think it looks better for it.

I kind of agree. While I wouldn't purchase this particular phone, seeing how they were forced into certain non-Apple design decisions is refreshing.

It's one of the ugliest phone's I've ever seen. Terrible engineering. Sure, the guts are great, but aesthetically it looks awful. Also can't believe that Apple has a patent on a damn square. Unbelievable.

Apple doesn't have a patent on the square. Or the rectangle. Did you not read the article? Infringing phones were phones with all of those listed characteristics; not just one or a few of those characteristics. The "Apple owns the rectangle" myth is just that: a myth perpetuated by those who fail to understand IP litigation.

It's pretty clear they'd sue again if it was rectangular tho. Because the other characteristics are similar anyway and can't really be made in an extremely different way.

I'm pretty much certain Samsung is aware that most people prefer the SGS2 (intl') form factor over the roundish one.

That being said for a rounded one I would have wished they made it nicer. The HTC one is nicer for example.

I have to agree. The larger issue I have is with the cheap, awful plastic Samsung keeps using for it's phones. I just got an HTC One S and I have to say, the build quality is fantastic. It seems like HTC are turning a new leaf with their "One" devices.

Being able to patent something like "the top shouldn't be equal to the bottom, and only we can do that" is ridiculous. The patent system is a mess.

That's why you can't patent something just like that.

If you aren't going to actually learn and understand design patents then of course you are going to think it is ridiculous.

You seem to be rather short and dismissive of individuals' comments on patents, design patents and their context in this and the Oracle v Google case. For those of us that don't understand, an explanation would go a lot further than snark.

Think of how you would feel in a thread if someone started ranting about PowerPC and Apple machines even though they use Intel CPU's now. That's where the snark comes from when people start ranting about patents in a story that has nothing to do with patents.

tl;dr version: Apple didn't patent rectangles. They're claiming the combination of the various features of the iPhone (rectangular shape, even black border, rounded corners, rounded rectangle icons, etc) as trade dress. Trade dress protection isn't a patent, it's part of trademark. It's based on the idea that you can recognize say a product by its look not just the logo on the box. I personally think trade dress protection tends to be too broad, but it's a whole different set of issues from patents.

wow, kudos to Samsung design team -- they had really think this one through to comply with all the rules AND come up with a good looking product.

Whats really is interesting here is that I read somewhere that each single iPhone is made of up to 60% Samsung components, solutions, patents, etc. How come then APPL is so bold with all those lawsuits? I know its a lot of money, but at some point Samsung could simply say "no more" and stop selling its technology to Apple, making it at least hard for them to keep up with the world demand.

It's because business isn't a kindergarden playground.

You don't just say "no more" to your biggest customer who is prepaying billions of dollars which you can then use to invest in new technologies. The same technologies which you can use across your product lines not just smartphones.

I know all this but with Samsung having such a strong position on the market, isnt it a time to "kill" the competition? And Apple being so cocky they just help Samsung to make up their mind. I mean, yeah its not a kindergarten they dont have to provide Apple with their components. I would think Apple may want to be "nicer" to them not to get cut off from parts to build their products. Last thing they need right now, is money. They need to keep products flowing into the market.

Apple isn't getting 50-70% profit margins on its iphones without market power.

> at some point Samsung could simply say "no more"

I don't think it really works like that. Apple doesn't show up at the Samsung Shop every day and ask to buy the next day's components for their factory. They have long term contracts, a year or more in advance, often including huge co-investments in the factory toolings which will be involved in manufacturing them. Of course I don't know the details but I doubt Apple or the courts would look too kindly on Samsung suddenly declining to fulfil their multi-billion-dollar, multi-year supply contracts because they wanted to help their own competing products.

Samsung is very much wearing "golden handcuffs" in this situation.

Hang on, Samsung have "shops"? But Apple has shops too. Have Apple not got the rights to "shop"?

Why is it even possible to patent design which gives zero functionality in the first place...

It's more of a trademark, isn't it? Like how you wouldn't want your company's logo plastered over a competitor's product, you don't want your competitor to copy its design and sell it right beside yours. It's a lesser evil, but by how much? It feels like they're just trying to confuse consumers.

I think the Apple vs Samsung case is silly (Both companies are releasing high quality products, it's not like the consumer is buying a junk knockoff) but there's validity in trademarking design.

I wonder what type of innovation would we see if only lawyers who were deathly scared of patent suits designed phones? After all, I think this isn't terrible, and I like it as a fresh take after seeing all the iPhone look-alikes.

Of course, my cynical side says that we'd either get no phones at all or they'd be oddly shaped polygons that hurt you whenever you try to use it. But still, maybe having attorneys in the room would encourage more creativity...

tbh, I actually like the new design better than the old one.

Given this side-by-side


I would choose the design on the right in a heartbeat. The only problem I have with the right-side phone is the busy/light wallpaper makes the icons and text a bit hard to read, but give that phone a black wallpaper like the one on the left has (and this is an easy user-tunable parameter) and problem solved.

That's the Galaxy S, not Galaxy S2.


I still find their design way too iterative. Galaxy S, Nexus S, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Nexus, and now Galaxy S3 - they aren't that different from one another, and they should be. I was disappointed the Nexus S was a rehash of the Galaxy S in hardware, and again I was disappointed the Galaxy Nexus seemed like an iteration of Galaxy S2. I really hope Google doesn't let Samsung design their Nexus phone next time.

> Galaxy Nexus seemed like an iteration of Galaxy S2

Really? To me the Galaxy Nexus has one of the most distinctive designs on the market - it's pure black, unmarked front with subtle curves on every surface are quite unusual.

The only problem I have with the right-side phone is the busy/light wallpaper makes the icons and text a bit hard to read, but give that phone a black wallpaper like the one on the left has (and this is an easy user-tunable parameter) and problem solved.

For some reason every picture of a Galaxy S (I | II | III) phone always shows the app drawer open. That is a surface that most users seldom interact with.

All I think about when I look at that phone is that it is yet another bland slab phone running Android. That form factor is really holding back handset design in my opinion, and I had high hopes that Samsung was going to do something really innovative with this device when they released that teaser video about how they were going to stand out from the crowd, but sadly not with this.

Whatever about the input from the legal department into the design, to me all this phone does in confirm that Samsung is very conservative when it comes to design (and before anyone jumps on my back about specs, I'm strictly talking about form here, not function).

> Samsung is very conservative when it comes to design 

You might not have heard of the galaxy note then, or tell me your own definition of conservative.

What, you mean their re-invention of the PDA?

And yet, the white glass face still manages to evoke the iPhone 4, which is exactly what the carriers are looking for. It should be another blockbuster quarter for Samsung.

The carriers love Samsung, but they'll eventually turn. It always happens, it's just a matter of when. There are only so many $5 billion quarters that a manufacturer can earn before the manufacturer gets too cocky and the carriers pull the plug.

But it's fun to watch.

Keep an eye on the devices on display at your local carrier stores and take note of which manufacturers are featured more prominently. When the Samsung devices start to disappear, you'll know exactly what's happening.

This screenshot seems to disagree, at least on the software front: http://twitpic.com/9gurwj

This has to be one of the dumbest things I've read in a while. So because the phone has some differences to an Apple trademark (which may or may not hold up in court) it is safe to assume that Samsung's designers intentionally designed around the iPhone because the iPhone's design is just so badass?

Now certainly there had to be consideration of existing patents and trademarks. I can assure the author that Apple's designers and lawyers make the exact same considerations in their designs.

I like the iPhone design. It's okay. I like this phone's design better, and I'm going to be buying one when it goes on the market in June. I was about to buy another iPhone, but decided to hold off for this one because I like the design better. I'm not saying the iPhone is poorly designed. It's just not the optimal design for me. I like a larger screen and a slimmer profile. I prefer blue to black. You see, there are many, many worthy smartphone designs out there.

Patent law is nice when it ensures that innovators are compensated for their work, but Apple has clearly been compensated. Perhaps it could benefit from an addendum -- not enforceable when you're already making a ton of money off your innovation.

Why would anyone do the work to innovate if they can't make a ton of money with patent protection? Who's to say what a "ton" of money is? How much did it the initial work cost?

Worrying about compensation isn't a good metric for patent validity.

  >Why would anyone do the work to innovate..
This is a very weak defense of the patent system. Innovation happened before patents existed, and would continue to exist without them.

Patents have been around for centuries and they exist to provide incentive for people to advance society. Sure innovation might continue without them, but likely at a much slower rate.

I'm not a fan of the current state of the patent system, but patents do have their place.

False. Innovation would speed up by magnitudes because we'd finally be able to do incremental development off each other's discoveries. It would foster a society where exchange of information would be a given, instead of suing each other over what amounts to a piece of paper.

Oh, and if you'd take a look at the history of patents, then you'd realize that since their inception, they have done all but progressed innovation. One of the most famous examples would be the steam engine, which - "thanks" to Watt's patent on it - remained basically unimproved for three decades, despite the existence of obvious solutions (which also were patented, by other people). After the patent expired, innovation on the steam engine surged, and its efficiency improved by factors of 10 over the following years.

You're thinking too short term. The question isn't whether or not Watt's patent hindered steam engines for three decades, but whether or not the steam engine would have been developed at all in those three decades. The benefit for society is delayed so that inventors can be compensated. The only mechanism that is available to gov't to compensate an inventor is to grant a temporary monopoly. That was the market can decide on the value of the invention.

Here's another example. Imagine a miracle drug was discovered to cure disease X. $100M went into the development for this drug. Now imagine that it took 10 years of development but would have taken 30 years for public sponsored research to develop otherwise. Now, the public gets a new drug 20 years earlier than they otherwise would have. The pharma company gets 10 years to recoup its $100M investment, but at the end of the patent term, there is now a low cost generic version available.

So with public funding, the new drug appears at t+30 years. With private/patent incentive based funding the public gets access at t+10 years and generic/cheap access at t+20 years. I think that strikes a fair balance.

Where the patent system starts to break down is when the monopoly length is grossly over the amount of time it would take an independent person to also develop the invention (software for example moves too quickly for this to be effective).

>software for example moves too quickly for this to be effective.

It's not just software. Progress as a whole is moving way too fast to justify ANY temporal monopolies over inventions. The curve of technological advancement is probably roughly exponential. The more we discover, the faster we can discover more things. We're sacrificing the advancement of the entirety of mankind for the profit of a few corporations.

>The only mechanism that is available to gov't to compensate an inventor is to grant a temporary monopoly.

Utterly wrong. A lot of research (including the worst example, the pharma industry) is funded directly or indirectly by the government, full or in part. Quite a lot of research is done by universities in cooperation with the industry. It's nonsense to imply that patents are the only viable solutions. They aren't, and they are probably the worst solution anybody could come up with. They are a crutch and an impediment to mankind as a whole.

On your miracle drug: highly contrived example. Most pharma research is, at least in good part, funded by the public through the government. In addition, a very large part of the cost of a drug is marketing. Yes, that's right - the pharma industry spends billions on ads.

In addition, this model is fundamentally flawed. It's a lot more profitable to develop treatments (for symptoms etc) than it is to develop cures. I'd wager that without this nonsensical system, we could already have a solution to AIDS and severely reduced the lethality of cancer.

Also, I do not care how many billions went into the development of a drug. A human life is infinitely worth more than that. I get sick when I see corporations whining about their "intellectual property getting stolen" when developing countries decide to produce generic clones to save human lives, like recently the case in India.

Again, I simply reject the notion that there needs to (and in fact, that there can) be any sort of artificial monopolies or other forms of ownership over inventions and technologies. By getting rid of this paradoxical and, frankly, unethical system, we would gain a monumental speed-up in technological progress. I postulate we could be colonizing the solar system by now if we'd never allowed this system to emerge.

As a final note, it's funny how you accuse me of thinking in the short term - that couldn't be any more wrong. If anything, I fight for the prolonged future of humanity, decades and centuries from now. The patent system is utterly unsustainable in light of this.

People will eventually look back at this system and ask themselves how we could ever allow ownership over abstract concepts. They will shake their heads at the notion of intellectual property while freely accessing, using and improving upon the shared heritage of all mankind. I hope this day isn't far away - it can't come fast enough.

It's not a patent?

The article hints at a trend which isn't really happening: Apple's patents are hindering innovation in the Android space.

My terrible experience with Android stems from the lack of coordination between software and hardware.

It looks good to me. If it were designed by lawyers, unless they were designers, I think it would look like crap. The corners are still rounded and I think the other changes aren't that bad.

Considering the fact that the GSI and GSII were allegedly unoriginal, to what extent did Samsung actually sell its soul, if it didn't bother cultivating it to begin with?

This article has more tracking cookies embedded than any other site I've ever seen - by a factor of 2, at least. Consider yourself warned.

warned of ads. got it.

Even Apple's lawyers design great phones!

(I'm an android owner but couldn't resist)

Really interesting viewpoint.

Hey, this is a very entertaining story! I'd love to blog about this too, but what would really help is a photoshop of a "samsung" phone fitting the article's description while actually being ugly, so I don't look like an idiot when I do.

At a minimum it shouldn't look better than the previous samsung models next to it.

Thanks for any help!

And all the fandroid hostility is precisely because this ugly device doesn't look like an iPhone. Smartphones were mostly ugly before Apple came into the market, now Apple have set the aesthetic standard and all the wannabes can do is copy it. Now the fandroids wet their panties bacause the plagiarists are sued for plagiarism.

EDIT erroneous reference to microphone icon removed

You mean the microphone icon that's been Voice Search for a year before Apple's Siri came out?


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