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Samsung reveals its pre-iPhone concepts: 10 touchscreen devices (osnews.com)
194 points by koide on July 31, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 91 comments

Pretty damning:

> One of these phones (the bottom-right one) became the Samsung F700 - a product Apple once included as an infringing product, but later withdrew once it learned Samsung created it and brought it to market before the iPhone

The more this thing goes on, the more it feels like Apple is filing all the possible lawsuits they can more in order to slow down their competitors than because they have valid claims.

I miss the days when they did not need to do this because their products were simply better than the competition.

Apple spent years suing MS in the 1980s and 1990s because of claims that MS used ideas from Apple, rather than Xerox, in creating a windowed shell for an OS.

So the days when Apple thought they didn't need to do this were the days of the Apple II.

The Xerox GUI (as implemented in the Star) had no concept of drag and drop or pull down menus. It didn't expose much of a file system (as Lisa and Mac do).

Apple added all that and Windows 1, after the Lisa was launched, opted to also have them. So, yes. Both Apple and Microsoft borrowed a lot from Xerox, but Microsoft really copied a lot from what Apple did.

Xerox had the first "fixed drop-down menu". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_graphical_user_i...

Apple's Jef Raskin did come up with drag-and-drop though so that's pretty much the one original thing they did.

> so that's pretty much the one original thing they did.

The Star didn't have overlapping windows either I believe (Atkinson believed it did, so he implemented it). I think the clipboard was invented for Lisa as well.

Curious that you decided to leave out the 2000's decade. In a coma or something ?

> In a coma or something ?

Was that necessary?

Read his comments, he's basically a pro-Apple, anti-Google troll.

The saddest part is that it looks like Apple is successfully killing HTC. At least Samsung has been able to fight back.

Especially since all the nitpicking about what Samsung did or didn't do and what is or isn't ok in that is completely irrelevant for HTC.

HTC has had their own design language for quite some time. If you can't immediately tell the difference between an HTC phone (or tablet) and an iPhone (or iPad) when they're put next to each other (and I've seen plenty), you either have rocks in your head or you're lying.

Apple suing HTC is the easiest way to see that they're not going after "copyists" (whatever they are), they're going after competitors wherever they can, by hook or by crook.

Actually, looking at comparative sales figures, it looks like Samsung is killing HTC by gobbling up its customers. The Apple lawsuits have a minuscule impact in comparison.

What days were those? Apple has been filing these sorts of lawsuits for ages and ages.

This been discussed a million times already:

"the phone was first introduced at the 3GSM World Congress that was held in February 2007. Sales to the European market started November 2007" [1]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_SGH-F700

Edit: typo

Samsung filed a patent for the phone's design in Dec 2006. Must have been working on it at least some time before that. iPhone was introduced on Jan 9, 2007.

I thought samsung manufactured large portions of the first iphone. I am sure apple spent more than a few months testing, designing, and working with manufacturing partners to build parts to spec, etc.

I make no assumption on whether they did or didn't, but couldn't samsung have cribbed some notes during that timeframe?

From the recent comments of Samsung design chief the Samsung subsidiary making parts for Apple is different and independent from the one that makes smartphones. Samsung smartphones division competes for parts same way Apple does -- they don't always use Samsung made parts in fact.

Other problem is that Samsung only makes some parts of the iphone -, there is no reason to think they had finished product design before the iphone was announced.

Ah. Great info thanks.

My argument is mostly about this bit "Samsung ... brought it to market before the iPhone".

Also, I saw Korean patent reference in the article I've linked to. There is no proof of that patent. Korea patent search [1] probably broken. Doesn't return any phone patents or design patents applied for in December 2006


It's interesting that Samsung's before and after poster has all the screens turned off, allowing black on black designs to look edge to edge, and dismissing the look of the backlit UI, suggesting similarities far greater than they were at the time.

The argument isn't about the devices on that poster. It's about Samsung's a posteriori "design" and marketing process. Their product guy's "can't design patent a black rectangle" comments are a bit disingenuous:


Also worth noting their tablet PR screenshots, like their boxes, have stopped using the iPad's portrait icon array and started featuring landscape TouchWiz widgets instead.

They were fully aware of what they were doing:

Boxes before: http://www.thegalaxytab.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/galax...

Boxes after: http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/9172/width...

So what?

When I go to a clothing store, all the jeans and dress shirts and folded the same way and look nearly identical, same goes for the milk and eggs at the grocery store.

In spite of all this I always manage to come home with the brand I set out to buy in the first place.

> In spite of all this I always manage to come home with the brand I set out to buy in the first place.

Jeans are somewhat less complex. There are fewer ways to differentiate, so those differentiators become more signficant. And the makers try to differentiate across as many of them as they can.

Meanwhile, Samsung's own market feedback shows customers were coming home with the wrong box:


EDIT (ADDED): If you think this is "customer stupidity", you haven't been paying much attention to normals' interactions with technology, or to Samsung's deliberate packaging and presentation.

See the "What did you do with my Facebook?" incident:


Recapped here, "These are your users, read and be horrified":


The suggestion that someone who isn't extraordinarily stupid could actually end up purchasing a non-iPad tablet because they couldn't tell the difference is also disingenuous.

In both images, the boxes clearly state in large lettering "Samsung Galaxy Tab."

Maybe some people are illiterate. ;-) Though more likely, they probably noticed the difference but the packaging and the images looked so much like the iPad that they thought it'd be the same. Only to realise when they opened it, that it wasn't the same.

Sorry, I still think it's customer stupidity. If you can't read "Samsung Galaxy Tab" printed on the box before shelling out a few hundred dollars, then I consider you stupid. Maybe we have different standards for what constitutes intelligence then.

A single, unqualified anecdote out of a few million Galaxy Tab and millions of iPads sold, how damming. The ideas that this is a significant, widespread problem yet hinges on a single, solitary scrap of "evidence" are almost completely incompatible.

Also, like I related above, I'm a normal with regard to clothes and food, not a fashionista or a chef yet I have no problem distinguishing between any number of all but identical products.

Stop grasping.

> A single, unqualified anecdote out of a few million Galaxy Tab

That was not a single anecdote, that was a rollup of return reasons. Quoting Samsung's own document:

"The most common pattern is that a customer returns the product which was purchased because the customer thought it was an Apple iPad 2."

Also, places like BestBuy often display things out of the box, and parents often buy the things their kids showed them.


"Mom, buy me this," showing Mom an iPad.

Mom gets to the store, and sees these on display:


Mom buys the one on the right. If you really think that confusion is so far fetched, you are not the typical Best Buy customer.

As this article[1] says, "There’s little doubt those of us familiar with techie gadgets aren’t going to mistake a Galaxy Tab for an iPad, it’s of little surprise plenty of customers have been fooled, and although Samsung claims to have shipped many millions of units of the slate, it’s currently unknown just how many of those were sold."

1. http://www.redmondpie.com/best-buy-galaxy-tab-buyers-thought...

Hold on there. Do we have the full context for the Best Buy quote?

Just because it was the most common reason for a return doesn't tell us how significant it was. What was the overall return rate? Of the devices returned, what fraction cited confusion with an iPad? Depending on the range of possible return reasons that might be large or small.

Beyond that, there's the question of how many customers are telling the truth why they're returning something. Plenty of people don't, for all sorts of reasons. Especially if they'd had any exposure to Apple's lawsuits, I'd expect the easiest way to return a Galaxy Tab would be to say "I thought it was an iPad", even if you had known the difference and just decided to spend the money on something else or whatever. Sadly, we can't figure that out from Best Buy's data, but is a possibility worth noting.

>Just because it was the most common reason for a return doesn't tell us how significant it was. What was the overall return rate?

Big. It was a huge fiasco at the time.


For a "huge fiasco" there's a distinct lack of coverage (that didn't occur in the last week as a direct result of the discovery in this case) to be found via Google.

That's like when I go shopping for toy guns, and accidentally buy a real bazooka. Whoops!

You end up with a much more powerful product? ;)

But it's single shot only and differs in handling qualities.

Yeah, but more importantly, I would imagine that jeans and dress shirts are not under any sort of patent protection, at least not anymore.

It extends to all clothing, and I think it should extend to the outer appearance of devices like phones as well. Johanna Blakley [1] made the astute point that in the fashion world, because it's legal to copy each other, the way the industry adapted was to make garments harder to mass-produce through intricate design and by using high grade materials.

Apple has already done this with the iPhone 4/4s - namely the antenna array composed of segments of high tensile stainless steel that can only be machined with very expensive, very limited availability hardware.

Apple already understands how to beat the copycats, they simply want to spite Samsung/Google.

Another point is that copying is good for Apple. Johanna Blakley again makes an excellent point: "One of the magical side effects of having a culture of copying is the establishment of trends." Apple needs the copycats in order to drive smartphone adoption, with Apple remaining the top tier innovator akin to high-end fashion labels.

[1] http://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashio...

So if someone's making knock-off Levi's jeans you're cool with that?

Where's the Samsung phone that says "iPhone" on it? Wranglers aren't knock off Levi's by anyone's imagination.

Hong Kong is famous for having products that look almost exactly the same but have names like "Levvis" or "Levy's" so that they can claim, no, they're not knock-offs and pretend to be surprised anyone could be confused.

Samsung was dangerously close to the line.

Yep, because "Samsung" and "Apple" is dangerously close to "Levy's" and "Levi's".

You say you only buy Levi's? All other jeans are knockoffs?

It's also interesting that images on the poster are front on so that feature details such as sliding keyboards and flip keypads are usefully omitted. With names like Slider and Flipper it almost gives the game away.

It's not just the boxes either. See the cabling and power adaptor.


I can excuse most of those, but the big exception is the USB plug. A proprietary USB cable is an anti-feature from the consumer's point-of-view. Copying that is like copying Apple's typos.

Samsung clearly wants to interoperate with iPhone/Pod/Pad enabled docking devices by using the same usb/docking port. Accusing them for using it is like accusing laptop manufacturers for using mini-displayport.

The plug is actually not the same as the Apple plug. That plug is Apple proprietary so Samsung would have to pay Apple some serious cash if they used it. They just developed their own lookalike cable.

Then there is no point in it. What the hell Samsung?

It's almost as if when the iPhone launched the designs started to heavily converge on whatever Apple was doing, though prior to that there are some surprising similarities.

This whole trial has been enormously educational. Stuff like this rarely sees the light of day.

> It's almost as if when the iPhone launched the designs started to heavily converge on whatever Apple was doing

Absolutely. And now they're diverging again. But it took courts to force that shift.

Its a poster designed for PR purposes, of course it is designed to convey certain facts and hide others. A couple of other things I noticed:

- the 'before' shows more in the iphone-like category and less in the other category of phones than the 'after'. Also the iphone-like cateogy has heaps of phones compared to other categories. This plays with your sense of weighting and importance because automatically you assume that you can compare numbers of phones on this chart, which you can't (mostly because iphone-like pre-iphone devices are all prototypes, whilst others are just a fraction of produced phones.)

- many of the 'before' phones in the iphone-like category are '2006', probably after Samsung would have known what apple is producing.

The most striking thing is that before the iPad 2 was released Samsung was planing to release the tab 10.1. When the new design was revealed of the iPad 2, they did a redesign of the tab 10.1. The old version was already produced and sold as the 10.1v. The new 10.1 design is strikingly similar to the iPad2.

that being said apart from the package printing the rest of the package design is not apples design or idea, I think the benefon Q had a similar set up, (first thing you see it the phone).

10.1v http://www.techspot.com/images/products/tablets/org/96609971... 10.1 http://cdn.androidcommunity.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/g...

disclosure: I own a 10.1v

"The 'invention' of the GUI was a very long process, which, in my view, started with Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad (1st generation GUI), and ended with the work done at Xerox (3rd generation GUI)."

The article loses credibility when it suggests that the invention of the GUI stops at Xerox, when Apple invented (among many other things) drag and drop, overlapping windows, a practical mouse (that could track diagonally, didn't break down, and did more with one button than xerox did with three).

But what would I know?

"The Macintosh was the first computer worth criticizing." Alan Kay

I'm totally on board with apple not owning rounded rectangles, but Samsung's copying of Apple has extended to literally using Apple's UI graphics in store displays.

> I'm totally on board with apple not owning rounded rectangles..

This isn't a question about Apple owning rounded rectangles - unless they happen to be phones and tablets. This rounded rectangle thing has gotten a little out of hand. It's easy to see why Samsung has framed it in this manner; because, of course, Apple couldn't 'own a rectangle with rounded corners', how absurd! Does that mean Apple owns tv remote controls, or keyboards or all the other rectangles with rounded corners on them?!

But that's a false argument and analogy. Apple is not going after keyboards, tv remotes, etc. They are going after Samsung's copied phones and tablets. It's that simple and to dream up analogies is to try to derail the real issue.

However, if some still feel that Samsung is an inventive company that would never outright steal any ideas, all you have to do is look at some of these examples:

App store icons:


Black iphone cables:


Black iphone square charger:


These are just a few things but it's pretty clear that Samsung has no problem just copying outright. I don't think they're going to win this trial and I don't think Apple is going to own all black rectangles.

Innovation in moving rounded corners from tv remotes to phones == 0.


At all.

So why is it protected by a patent?

Xerox actually wasn't limited to non-overlapping windows, the Xerox Alto which was demoed to Apple had them, it was only the Xerox Star that was sold outside the company that couldn't manage those.

Iirc when Andy Herzfeld demoed overlapping Windows with automagic clipping Xerox engineers were flabbergasted. Perhaps Xerox had overlapping windows but clipping was left to applications.

In an event, speaking as someone who actually used Xerox's systems years after the Mac shipped, it was hugely inferior in all important respects to the original Mac UI -- any superficial similarities notwithstanding. Again, see Alan Kay's comment.

For those of us in San Francisco, it's easy to connect Apple's store design to the early Sony Style store at the Metreon. The Apple Store is not a direct copy (at all) but it's easy to see how it was inspired.

> Samsung's copying of Apple has extended to literally using Apple's UI graphics in store displays

This is new to me, cite? Obviously doing that would amount to cut and dry copyright violation, and Apple would be well within its rights to demand the in-store displays be removed.

But this isn't a spit about clip art. They're claiming ownership of an increasingly nebulous idea of a "tablet" (it seems it's no longer just about the narrow design patent, or about the size, or aspect ratio, or curved corners). That's a different thing, and not at all related to what you're talking about.


Last I checked the App Store and Safari were not available on Android. In fairness its a store within a store so the Samsung might not have been directly responsible.

didn't break down

I hardly think that reliability is an invention.

Wow, I think it's time to open up another bag of popcorn this movie just got even more interesting. Although I am not an Apple fanboy by any means, I was starting to believe for a moment that Samsung were going to lose this and then bam, they release images of concept phones including one with a very iOS like interface before the iPhone was even released.

I think this situation goes to show that Apple aren't as revolutionary as they lead on or people think. Steve was a great sales man, but certainly not a visionary. Nothing about the iPhone appears to be revolutionary any more, considering Samsung amongst others were working on the same idea, it's evolutionary not revolutionary.

It will be interesting to see where this leads, could Apple lose some of their iPhone patents because of all of this? This of course doesn't change the fact Samsung copied Apple's charger design and accessory packaging, but ripped off the iPhone? Nah.

LG KE850 also had an phone that predated the iphone with a similar design


Can somebody enlighten me about something. Samsung manufactures a lot (a lot) of Apple's hardware (not just the iPhone). So the way I see it they are both dependent on each other quite a lot. OK so my question is: why are they doing this "dick measuring contest"?!

Because Jobs has a fragile ego, like a little child, and wanted to get back at Google. And its all in motion now.

The rest of them are just dragged into this war. But they will fight. They will do bussiness. They are profit chasers off course.

Apple on the other hand, their legal strategy is not rational. They picked a fight they couldnt win, they shouldnt win, and even if they would, we would change the rules on them; because in the end we all want some choices when buying products.

Does anyone truly expect Apple to launch a full scale legal war against of all its competitors, and not get burned in the proccess?

I honestly dont care. From Samsung to Google, to Microsoft. There are no saints. But these days im rooting for Apple downfall. Just because i get so tired of all the Apple apologists.

I know they are victims, but at a certain point the whole Stockholm syndrome gets kind of old.

IANAL, but doesn't prior-art have to be published to count?

This is not to prove prior art, contrary to what the headline implies

The purpose of this is to establish that Samsung did not wilfully infringe even if Apple's patents are valid (they will argue they were just in good faith continuing to evolve designs they already had that were similar), but that Apple's patents are invalid because they are dictated by function - it is logical for touch screen phones to get a large screen and reduce number of buttons, for example - and because the design elements were obvious (arguing that the existence of a wide range of similar designs, even if not published, shows that no knowledge of the iPhone was necessary for someone with ordinary knowledge of the arts to come up with something similar).

Samsung has previously argued prior art previously in the form of prototype / design studies for tablets by Knight-Ridder.

Samsung can also point to the LG Prada which was publicly announced three weeks before the iPhone and on sale months before the iPhone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LG_Prada

Firstly, it isn't about prior art so not sure why you are bringing up an LG device. Secondly, nobody is going to mistake an iPhone for an LG Prada. Nobody. But a lot of people are going to mistake an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy S.

>But a lot of people are going to mistake an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy S.

As I've said before (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4244317).

Apple can't demonstrate 10, let alone any meaningful number of people who accidentally bought a Galaxy when they meant to pick up an iPad/iPhone.

It doesn't happen.

Unlike with the trademarks Apple does not need to demonstrate brand confusion. With Design Patents they need to demonstrate is that a Galaxy S is "substantially similar to the design" of an iPhone. "The copy does not have to be exact for the patent to be infringed. It only has to be substantially similar."

I do not think that is significant reason to allow their product. If I make, say, a Louis Vuitton clone, but added some part that shouted 'FAKE; NOT THE REAL THING' that every buyer could remove, there still would be a case to make for forbidding the non-clone.

Apple has evidence from Samsung that plenty of people accidentally purchased (and then returned) the Galaxy Tab thinking it was the iPad. So no reason the same wouldn't happen for the Galaxy S.

So yes. It does happen.

I had not heard that. Do you have a link sourcing that?

Without some numbers behind those statements they are pretty meaningless. People buy the wrong product all the time and take it back. This is especially true of those people that don't understand what it is they are buying in the first place.

Samsung is trotting out it's 2006 work to show they didn't willfully infringe if Apples patents are valid. I bring up the Prada but because it shows that Apples design patent is of questionable validity to begin with.

From the article:

"One of these phones (the bottom-right one) became the Samsung F700 - a product Apple once included as an infringing product, but later withdrew once it learned Samsung created it and brought it to market before the iPhone"

Secret prototypes would not be prior art, though.

IANAL either, but my understanding is that Apple's complaint is that Samsung stole their entire design on purpose, while Samsung's position is "we were already working on it, we didn't willfully copy your design" (and not "we invented it first, your patents are invalid").

We very recently moved in the US from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system. In the former, if you can provide evidence of the genesis of the invention before the filing of the opponent's patent, then that may invalidate their patent.

Samsung might be well within their rights if they say "See, we invented it first, but didn't think it was patent worthy." I don't know the particulars on the "patent worthy" consideration.

> We very recently moved in the US from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system. In the former, if you can provide evidence of the genesis of the invention before the filing of the opponent's patent, then that may invalidate their patent.

No, you would need to prove that your documented development of the invention predates the other party's documented development of the invention. Filing date does not matter in that case.

I think you only have to prove the prior existence. It does not provide patent like protection but relieves you from the patent restrictions.

I thought the entire purpose of the Patent system was that if you _don't_ publish it, and someone else does, then that other party gets the patent protection, even if you invent it. It encourages people publish their inventions/designs/processes/etc... instead of keeping them hidden in the back office.

Does anyone know if these 10 touchscreen concept devices use resistive touch screens that require a stylus?

Everyone seems to be getting confused about patents vs. design patents here. Can anyone explain whether design patents are at play here(the rounded corner one for the iPad from 2004) and how prior art affects design patents? Also, what if the prior art was in secret prototypes?

Sure... but the Newton came before that with the interface design and much of the device design itself. In such case, Samsung and many others stole their ideas from the Newton and Apple wins anyway.

Newton patents must've expired by now. Also, if it's indeed the case that they look like the Newton, then Newton is the prior art and the patent on it has expired. This would also invalidate Apple's "new" design patents.

The Samsung F700 sure looks like an iPhone, at a distance, until you try to type on the thing and realise it has a pull-out hardware keyboard. How did that work out for successive designs?

It makes you wonder if Apple really was copying off Samsung, as this article suggests, then why was no single Samsung model was as least as successful as the iPhone in the same time frame?

This is a huge strawman... No where is it claimed by anyone that Apple copied Samsung. The only thing that's obvious from this picture, and it is obvious, is that rectangles with rounded borders and a look a feel that's dominated by a huge screen with no ornaments is an obvious idea that Apple should not have monopoly over.

> No where is it claimed by anyone that Apple copied Samsung

Except in the PDF linked in the first sentence of the first paragraph.

> if Apple really was copying off Samsung, as this article suggests

That is not AT ALL what the article says. It doesn't even hint at it. Hell, it even almost says the exact contrary at the end when drawing a parallel with GUIs.

Lack of an over arching incredible vision? Lack of a genius of marketing at the helm? Those two are off the top of my head. It really just seems that Jobs led a better team to better execute stuff other people were already working on, but he saw how it could all be great. Not a bad quality by far, but not worthy of making them the only company allowed to work on touchscreen phones for sure.

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