Did Apple copy Sony with the iPhone design?
In recent court hearings Samsung has been making claims that Apple had in fact stolen the iPhone design from Sony. This was so much so that the early renders (which had previously been kept a secret) show the SONY logo on Apple’s designs.
Samsung’s main point in the court-case is over Apple’s use of their 3G technologies without licensing. However, one of the other integral points is to show that Apple are trying to protect an idea which was never really theirs. Did Apple copy Sony to create the first iPhone? Where did the inspiration for the design actually come from?
In the recent trial brief Samsung has stated their own version of the story of the creation of the iPhone:
Right after this article was circulated internally, Apple industrial designer Shin Nishibori was directed to prepare a “Sony-like” design for an Apple phone and then had CAD drawings and a three-dimensional model prepared. Confirming the origin of the design, these internal Apple CAD drawings prepared at Mr. Nishibori‘s direction even had the “Sony” name prominently emblazoned on the phone design, as the below images from Apple‘s internal documents show:
Soon afterward, on March 8, 2006, Apple designer Richard Howarth reported that, in contrast to another internal design that was then under consideration, Mr. Nishibori‘s “Sony-style” design enabled “a much smaller-looking product with a much nicer shape to have next to your ear and in your pocket” and had greater “size and shape/comfort benefits.” As Mr. Nishibori has confirmed in deposition testimony, this “Sony-style” design he prepared changed the course of the project that yielded the final iPhone design.
Apple are yet to comment on this but it is quite an interesting take – especially with the SONY logos bundled on all the early designs. Check out the full gallery of every early render below:
What still boggles me is that Samsung plays such a big part in the production of the displays and chips in Apple products. The famed Retina display and the A-series of processor chips are largely made by Samsung. How can Apple and Samsung be spending so much on litigation, be so at each others’ throats yet have such a business relationship?
While it would seem preposterous one must ask – is there something fishy going on here? Is this more than Apple and Samsung trying to win against each other?
I tend to agree with Judge Bennett, that the constant litigation is just “ridiculous.”