The global lawsuit war between Samsung and Apple is getting boring but at the same time, Apple-haters and short-minded people seem to be acting as if Apple was just one big bully. While I think that some of Apple’s lawsuits are plain ridiculous and that Apple is using the wrong tools to win the mobile revolution, I do think that in some cases Apple has good reasons to be unhappy about what its competition is doing.
Let’s cut right to the chase and get to the root of what I think is the problem of haters and people who seem to have forgotten how the landscape looked like. First there was the PC world and there was this tiny company that made shiny white fruit-logo computers that almost nobody cared about. Apple was in fact ‘nothing‘.
If anybody talked about tablets, what you thought off looked like this. Right?
This was referred to as tablets, tablet pc’s, tablet computers, etc. They used to run plain old Windows with some kind of touch support. I haven’t ever used them but I’m pretty sure they weren’t all that practical… Or mobile.
Then in 2010, along came the iPad.
The buzzword Apple used to describe this device was ‘magical‘. And it somehow was. Because never before has there been a tablet that made it into so many people’s homes and companies. Especially in so little time. Apple redefined the word ‘mobile‘. Apple bet on smaller tablets with a more lightweight OS, that looks nothing like previous tablet OS’s. They decided to drop the hardware keyboard completely, together with ethernet, USB slots and everything else that was not 100% vital for the product to work. The iPad was a huge success and in a matter of 80 days they had sold 3 millions iPads.
And then all of a sudden tablets from other manufacturers looked like this.
Yea, all looking a lot like the iPad. Thin, small devices, no hardware keyboard, almost all of them sporting some kind of lightweight mobile OS, completely optimized for touch. Personally I don’t mind: Why should I? Apple made a good move; created a product that people actually like to use. Other companies are now building similar products and I have more choice than ever. Great innovation shouldn’t be in the hands of one company. Good stuff gets copied. And that’s great for the consumer.
Earlier today I saw this post by John Gruber about Samsung now selling SD card reader connectors for their tablets. As it turns out they look exactly like the Apple ones, only they’re black. I tweeted about this, wondering why Samsung might be doing this? Minutes later I got a response, saying the same thing that many others have been saying about the whole style-copying thing: How could they possibly make it look differently?
So all of a sudden Apple is just using the most simple design style in the world that is so obvious and yet everybody else fails to use it unless Apple leads the way… I’m sorry but I don’t buy it. Sure, Apple is using a simple, sleek design on its current products that couldn’t be any more basic but their designs are quite unique when first released. And only weeks/months later, the competition comes up with products that look just like Apple’s because how else could they design it?
Again: I’m not judging Samsung (and every other company for that matter) for doing it: It’s the right way to go. If you can’t beat them, join them. But nobody can deny that (in this case) Samsung is just blatantly copying Apple. And if your excuse is “How else could they possibly design it?“, go back to the beginning of this post and ask yourself: “How could Apple possibly make a tablet that looks different than the pre-Apple established tablet spectrum?”