Samsung vs Apple – who’s the victim?

There’s a lot of stuff in the blogosphere and tech media about the current patent wars between Apple and Samsung. The merits of each side’s case are debated fiercely and people are defending their allegiances with an almost religious zeal. In truth, it shows neither company in a great light as they push the boundaries of patent law and the English language.

In my opinion, Samsung did copy the Apple iPhone and iPad. (NB since I wrote this, a US court has also taken this view). They produced products that are barely distinguishable to the novice eye, an impression that persists when the screen lights up and shows a similar-looking interface. So why did they do that, rather than come up with their own unique designs?

Obviously, it’s faster and cheaper to copy someone else. In this case, they also benefited from the ‘halo’ effect of the Apple brand by inferring their products had the same quality and style. But who were they trying to fool? Not the innovators and early adopters, who know all the technical specs and software features and reckoned the Apple products to be superior, albeit more expensive.

Let’s remember, these are consumer products. They are aimed at the mass market, the less-knowledgeable buyer. Now, you can see that for a first-time smartphone (or tablet) buyer, looking at the two products in a phone shop, they might assume they are practically the same thing. Except one is much cheaper than the other, and is also a ‘good’ brand. Which one do you think they will go with?

Only Apple provide more than just a product, they provide an ecosystem containing iTunes and the App store, their shops and more – a complete customer experience. Samsung are barely on the map in this regard.

So, were Samsung trying to rip off Apple? Or the consumer?