Internal Samsung Email Accidentally Admitted Into Trial, Just How Much Will It Hurt Samsung?

In a candid email exchange, Samsung’s Mobile Head of Communications JK Shin highlighted the difference between Apple and Samsung smartphones as the “difference between heaven and earth.” This memo was one that Samsung had sought to keep out of the trial and unfortunately was admitted as Samsung legal counsel mentioned the “crisis of design” in a question to Samsung strategist Justin Denison, thereby allowing the memo to be admitted as evidence.

“Influential figures outside the company come across the iPhone, and they point out that ‘Samsung is dozing off.’ All this time we’ve been paying all our attention to Nokia, and concentrated our efforts on things like Folder, Bar, Slide,” Shin wrote. “Yet when our UX is compared to the unexpected competitor Apple’s iPhone, the difference is truly that of Heaven and Earth. It’s a crisis of design.”

Needless to say, this memo should help boost Apple’s case as emails coming from a top Samsung exec gives Apple at least some evidence that Samsung was looking to make some drastic changes to their smartphone design.

“Do you know how difficult the Omnia is to use? When you compare the 2007 version of the iPhone with our current Omnia, can you honestly say the Omnia is better? If you compare the UX with the iPhone, it’s a difference between Heaven and Earth.”

“When everybody (both consumers and the industry) talk about UX, they weigh it against the iPhone,” Shin wrote. “The iPhone has become the standard. That’s how things are already.”

It seems like this memo provides Apple with another argument that Samsung saw a crisis and attempted to resolve it by copying the product that was blazing a new trail. Of course, it’s not a 100% slam dunk for Apple either given that it doesn’t show Samsung explicitly saying they should “copy” Apple’s design, but this is still going to provide plenty of fodder for Apple’s legal team. What do you think? Will this help Apple, hurt Samsung or neither?

All Things D

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  • smithgo

    this is ridiculous as you are. crapy blogger 

    • Thanks, glad I am worthy your attention!

      • smithgo

        no thank you! I was just trying to catch yours.still think your conclusions are vague 

        • Which is intentional, because I’m not a legal scholar/lawyer/legal expert on IP matters, which is why I pose the question here at the very end. Also, it’s “crappy” blogger. My conclusions are vague for the reasons I just mentioned, my job here is often to bring news to your attention, put a little bit of my own feeling into it, but ask that you make your own conclusions. I not only expect, I want you to disagree with me and tell me if you think I am wrong. Just do it with some respect. 

        • Fer428000

          Yhea man I don’t understand why would anyone complain about your blog ??? Your doing us a favor and letting us know bit by bit .. It’s entertaining yet someone else gets offensive and starts calling you Crappy Blogger ??? Why? This is not an argument it’s a question ? Maybe they got nothing to do or no opinion to give so they say something clueless like that :)

        • Asmidnightfalls

          As a rep for tmobile, I appreciate your outspoken words about the company I work for. Sometimes you tell us things ahead of what the company tells us, so keep up the good work and don’t feed the trolls

        • MrDenver_Pie

          Why do people on the internet seem to think it is OK to resort to insults to get their point across?  If you have a negative view of David’s post maybe you could have phrased it differently instead of resorting to insults.  And since you can’t even compose a complete sentence I don’t think you have the credentials to address what is or is not a crappy (let alone spell crappy) blog.  Good day sir!

        • Deadeye37

           I think a lot of those people have self-esteem and/or respect issues.

          I think they forgot the golden rule – treat others as you would like to be treated.  I wish the bad apples on the Internet could grasp that concept.  I wonder if they even grasp that concept in their life away from their gadgets…

        • Scarfacemario

          Smithgo please get out of here Thank you and sincerely someone whos been pleased by David’s site for almost 3 years straight and really appreciate and thank David for his time and effort for creating Tmonews and I’m sure Carly and T-Mobile. Themselves appreciate it. As a Tmo customer for 6 years thanks David

  • squiggleslash

    Seems to me to say nothing of the sort. It states the obvious, without actually suggesting Samsung is copying anything. Moreover, the memo concentrates on the user interface, not the “slab with rounded corners” aspect, which is what the trial is about.

    Bear in mind that Apple is fairly successfully running a slime campaign against Samsung at the moment, which is part of what triggered the controversy last week. They’ve been sharing stuff with AFD, knowing it’s a friendly outlet, and doing so in large part (according to Groklaw) because it means they can quote the media (quoting them!) bolstering their case.

    This is a misleading article from AFD that’s the result of heavy spinning by Apple. I doubt it’ll make any difference whatsoever in the trial.

    • That’s why I wrote that while at first glance it appears to offer Apple some fodder, especially given that Samsung had sought to keep it out of trial. IT’s also why I pose the question at the end asking for everyone’s opinion on it.

    • samagon

      UX is the “User Experience” that’s the whole enchilada from the sleek look of the hardware, to the user interface the customer has when using the device.

      problem is, Apple didn’t invent sleek, high end looking devices, or the common grid icon layout, or the touch screen, or that apps can interact with each other, they just put them all together in an evolution of the parts. They are saying Samsung stole from that.

  • whosaidwhat

    I don’t see how this hurts them at all. It only shows us that Samsung thought their UX was inferior to Apples and they needed to work on it.

    I can guarantee you that every company (competitor) in the world does the same thing about their competitors. After reading all the live blogs on this case, I’ve come to a conclusion that Samsung tried too hard at some point to match Apples Iphone. Even going as far as making elements of their Touchwiz UI similar to Apple’s. On the other hand, Apple is being so ridiculous about some of these claims that, if they win, the whole smartphone market is screwed BIG time. Patents shouldn’t be awarded for shapes and flat surfaces. Especially when prior art exists. 

    • samagon

      but there’s a line, it’s not just about the shape of the hardware, it’s the way the UI looks and responds to inputs from the user. why buy an apple if you get the same experience from another supplier (for cheaper)?

      regardless though, I think if you look at all the parts, they all existed previous, but the way that apple put them together is what they’re arguing about. on the other hand, it all just makes sense, they took the common layout of an icon grid which was standard for every phone at that point and put it on a touch screen, it’s an evolution that made sense, not anything else.

      • 21stNow

         I think that most customers have a similar experience when using a Sealy vs. a Serta mattress.  They are both rectangular and made of soft materials in an upper mattress, with lower units known as box springs.  You can even use the same bed frame and other furniture when using either of those mattresses.  Round beds exist, but they are not popular.  When was the last time you heard someone ask for a triangular mattress?

        The point is that once you have an established product, there is only so much differentiation that is reasonable and acceptable to consumers. 

        The Kin smartphones are examples.  How many people wanted those little phones?  The Motorola Backflip is another unusual-shaped device.  It caught people’s attention, but did not sell well.  Coming into current times, even phones with physical keyboards (a heavily desired feature recently) like the Cha Cha don’t sell as well as a similar all touchscreen phone.

  • Mattcat03

    This is not substantial. This just aknowledges that Iphone should be the standard which actually promotes Apple’s Iphone.  Nonetheless it’s called competition.  I give credit to Samsung for raising their standards.  

    • samagon

      it doesn’t even acknowledge it as a standard, it acknowledges that their UX design department sucks balls compared with Apple’s (at least at the time the email was written).

  • Dovaje

    I and I believe many others with me think this whole court case is childish and a waste of time. You can’t possible say that you as a company have patent on a round edged rectangle. Why then not also sue Motorola, HTC, Sony and every other current mobile phone company, because they also make use of the same form factor. If indeed you as a company are so incredibly different and innovative why not come up with heavenly God given new device that is light years ahead of anything that Samsung can come up with. Truth is, apple can’t compete anymore and they are being big babies about it. Do you see Sony suing Microsoft for also making a controller with 2 analog sticks, directional buttons, 4 action buttons and 4 trigger buttons.  Do you see Ford suing Hyundai for also creating cars with 4 wheels?  Do you see Panasonic suing other tv manufacturers because they also have big, black, flat rectangular tv screens? No, because that is the logical form factor for all these products. Apple, get behind your desks and start innovating instead of complaining that you can’t compete. 

    • Omar

      Woooow! Such great points. Bravo!

      • Well, I don’t disagree with you, but Apple isn’t complaining about not competing, Apple is destroying everyone with regards to profits (77% of the mobile market just in case anyone thinks I’m making a fanboy statement) so…your argument on that note isn’t really accurate. Everyone needs to innovate more, including Apple AND Samsung.

        • Jaime Laigo

           How do I report this fanboys statements, lol

        • whosaidwhat

           You are assuming that because they have all the money in the world, this isn’t about money. It’s always about money. In this case, greed!!

          Apple sues Motorola for using what they claim to be their inventions and they have no plan to license any of it. Motorola sues Apple back because they feel, these guys are using our patents (some licensed through FOSS and other not license at all) however, they have the nerves to sue us over generic patents and not willing to license…If that isn’t anti competitive I don’t know what is. The judge who dumped the case was smart enough to know that both sides are not losing a dime because of the claims. This ongoing case is just wasting our tax dollars to watch Apple try and flex it’s muscles. 

    • whosaidwhat

      I can’t add anything else to your post. Good Job.

    • BuddyLuv

      Sir; if you next to me, your drinks would be on me. Outstanding point. 

    • stafa3333

      The logical form factor… Jesus
      No other OEM company has had issues differentiating their rectangular shaped phones from the iPhone. Samsung apparently couldn’t do that. This is apparent with the one button, the look of touchwiz icons, chargers being the same, same packaging, and even going so far as to display Apple app store icons in their retail locations. Apple innovated when they set the original formula that everyone else is piggybacking off of currently. You can say its obvious, but you would be wrong. If it were so obvious, why was Apple the company to bring both the iPhone and iPad first to market? Stop being childish and admit that Samsung used a lot of different aspects of Apple’s product to make theirs. This isn’t only about the device being shaped like a rectangle.

      • 21stNow

         What company other than Apple can bring an iPhone or an iPad to the market?

        • stafa3333

          I did not mean those exact devices. What I mean was no one was able to create smartphone or tablet like the iPhone or iPad.

  • Iucidium

    I personally think its shocking that Apple has managed to get away with patenting things that should be standards. There are only so many ways you can make a touchscreen device. This is just America protecting money they (and China) need.

  • Lau_pan

    Samsung is a great competitor… the fact they saw a need to improve their product to compete in the world market place and went for it is a classic example of the way the system is supposed to work.

    Apple should be proud of setting a standard others wanted to emulate and expand upon. This is why we have the S lll and the Note. Sammy should be proud they saw the path to improve and took it.

    • Omar

      Well said!

    • BuddyLuv


  • Deadeye37

    Personally, I don’t see this memo hurting Samsung.  Its just Samsung’s “Oh Sh**” moment when they realized that nobody told them that the bar had been raised 2 notches higher while they were designing the Omnia and that it was Apple who raised the bar.

    The part that cracks me up is the part where the Samsung brass basically asks “have you tried what we just put out?  Its crap!”

    I think Samsung, along with other tech companies, would benefit from trying their own products and asking themselves “is this good?”  They have gotten a lot better in the last couple of years, though.

  • MarcusDW

    Samsung F#%ked up.

    I understand that the iPhone was superior back then and I applaud Samsung for recognizing that they needed to do something but emulating the device was a very bad decision.

    I attribute Samsung’s Galaxy S line success to their software and their hardware and NOT their iPhonish looks.  I think that they would still be the king of Android if they did not choose to follow the iPhone “standard”

    I hate the iPhone but I’ll never deny the fact that Samsung straight up copied the 3GS design and the stupid iPhone looking icons.

    I bet apple want’s more than a billion dollars to settle this.

    • 21stNow

       I think that Touchwiz circa 2010 looked too much like iOS, too.  The horizontal-scrolling app drawer was another obvious similarity.  Most other Android devices at that time were using vertical scrolling (I don’t like that Android switched this!).

      • MarcusDW

        No doubt man. That app drawer looks like iOS in its entirety.

  • PhantomWraith

    Considering they reamed apple’s product designer and he admitted that they copied the original iphone design from Sony and then ran him over the coals about concept art of different phones which showed that they indeed weren’t copies but infact had copied pretty much the F700 design from Samsung. Its pretty damning evidence when you had a phone out that looked like an iphone before anyone ever heard the word iphone.

  • HeLLkAt31

    The email does specify anything about copying the iphones design. It should not be evidence.

    • Dumbazz

      Look genius, 2 minutes of simple research will show you exactly why Samsung was prompted to share this with the court. 

  • D Velasquez

    this does not prove anything that Samsung in fact copied Apple, if anything it is clearly stating something like they have to do something about design, I don’t even know how this person from Samsung complaints about the Omnia when the Omnia version from Japan is good (used the phone a couple of times) Except the Omnia Vision thats a  high end device and runs android i think(dont remember).

  • BuddyLuv

    Really, Really, you calling that as an admitting to guilt. All I see is someone telling its folks to get into shape  cause everyone is gonna pick the Iphone over samsung due to the dumb down IOS. Apple used KISS> For those who don’t know. “Keep It Simple Stupid”. All I can say to apple is; don’t bit the hand that feeds ya. Your pissing off the folks that owns the Retina Display tech. Yes; Retina display belongs to samsung/Sharp, not apple. Apple only has Rights.

  • charlieboy808

    Neither. It would taking it out of context to assume that Samsung is copying Apple in design. All it really states is that their focus was wrong in looking at the competition. 

    • Greg Davis

       Exactly. It would appear David Beren is more a shock “journalist” than the real deal. The article and the title are purely to pull readers in so that maybe an extra ad or two get clicked in the process. The article seems pretty pro-Apple really.

      • First, I never claimto be a “journalist” just a dude who got lucky with finding a niche blog. Second, all titles are meant to pull you in, where’s the shock in that?

  • Psaux

    Something key that’s being missed here …. This email is about UX, not the enclosure.  As I understand it, much of the bru-haha is about the chassis design.  This would have been a driver in terms of Android usage and customization, but clearly is unrelated to the hardware.  Sounds like this might have been what drove TouchWiz development.

  • Guest

    Overall it doesn’t hurt Apple certainly, probably in realistic terms it doesn’t help much. The difficult sell to the jury is going to be trying to pass the doubt threshold for the difference between competition and patent violation.

    Apple does not have a patent that protects it’s products from any and all similar products on the market. The case is not as strong as it should be. This is going to be a tough sell for Apple I expect.


    The entire trial is bullsh*t & everyone should just boycott all CRapple products for the simple fact that they are against technical advances & more respectable prices for the technology in the mobile industry. Its showing that they know they are gouging their customers by selling them inferior products at a much higher price then their competition saying that Samsung low end models are exactly like your product that you call high end & sell for two or three times the price.

    Any tech savy person that supports apple obviously now supports killing the true possibllity of technical advances in mobile electronics & the creations that could advance other areas of technical advances. – KID ANDROID (Team.Android.Canada)

    • Dumbazz

      WOW trigger did Apple come over and rape your cat?

  • Dumbazz

    Some of you are DEEPLY MENTALLY ILL that you take the Apple and their products this personally. 

    • nokiabrock

      Amen… So true.

  • ogopogo

    If you have been following the trial closely, this isn’t going to affect the outcome at all. Samsung lawyers have been putting Apple expert witnesses through the wringer over the last day or so.

  • FILA

    proves how much all them anal-yst knows, Heaven isnt real! haha

    • Magmaspawn

      The analogy is. Beleive that or not.

  • fencepost

    Ok, so there’s an internal memo about how much better the UI is on the iPhone than on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional or Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional, working within the limitations of what they could do on those OSes?

  • Enoel69

    Not a slam dunk..This challenge could have motivated those working on their products to work even harder to address the issues expressed. It doesn’t mean working hard to find address a challenge and attain a solution means u copied someone else.

  • Greg Davis

    Uh, what part of the quoted text gives anyone the impression that Samsung sought to either copy Apple or to change their design to avoid an issue? All I read, multiple times, was how different Samsung was from Apple “If you compare the UX with the iPhone, it’s a difference between Heaven and Earth” That seems to me like an acknowledgement that iOS was at least better, at that point, than a few specific Samsung device OSes. 

  • Early on in their Galaxy lineup one has to admit Samsung was copying the hell out of the iPhone.  The Galaxy S 4G looks almost identical to the iPhone 3GS both in form factor and the icons on the screen.  Their newer phones still look somewhat iPhone inspired but with larger screens and not quite as copied with the software.

  • Irohsan

    wow this is a non story ….Samsung basically acknowledged they sucked and that is about it.

  • In 2007 when capacitive touch screen technology was new, it enabled new
    uses.  The iPhone allowed people to take their iTunes music with them, and
    it gave them Internet access and ability to do searches on the go all in one device.

    The iPhone’s biggest contributions were presentation (slick animations on the interface) and bringing a full screen web browser of competent quality, and promoting Google Maps on a big screen phone in the palm of your hand, unlike previous attempts on Blackberry and WinMo, etc.  The App Store followed, bringing the idea of an app ecosystem to the forefront, while people before had used apps on Blackberry, WinMo, and Palms.  All of these are refinements and improvements of existing ideas.  The touch screen smartphone harks back to Pocket PC Phone Edition in 2001/2002, which while mainly used with a stylus, could also be used with a fingertip.

    Design language evolves and changes.  Cars from the 2000s look more attractive than cars of the  80s.  Art and product design improves.  Companies and people in industries borrow from and are influenced by each other.  This creates industries.  Designers pay attention to other designers.  Patents have to be unobvious and certain design ideas are just good design sense, like rounded corners.  Apple is pretty vain to believe that they should be untouchable, or unapproachable, or that the touch screen phone industry should belong to them because they have been so successful at popularizing and commercializing so many different aspects.  As Apple has improved what has come before, Samsung with their 4.0 inch screen Galaxy S can’t be forbidden from improving on Apple’s 3.25 inch screen iPhone.  I believe Samsung set out to compete and improve their game rather than clone Apple.  Galaxy S sales in 2010 were also during the iPhone 4 antennagate fiasco, so another argument could be made that Samsung had the better product.