5 Apple secrets revealed in its battle against Samsung
A court case is forcing Apple to divulge its closest secrets, including the origin story of the iPhone -- and abortive plans to build an Apple car.
Apple (AAPL) is "one of the world's most secretive companies," says Ian Sherr at The Wall Street Journal, and it's "finding there's a price tag in pushing its grievances against rival Samsung (SSNLF) in federal court: Disclosure." In its quest to prove that Samsung has stolen its designs for the iPhone and iPad, Apple's top officials have been forced to testify about their company's creative process and marketing campaigns, details of which have long been held close to the vest.
From an abandoned plan to build an Apple car to the Fight Club-like levels of security that surrounded the development of the iPhone, here are 5 secrets Apple revealed in its legal dispute with Samsung:
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1. Even the iPhone's creators didn't know what they were working on ... at first
When former CEO Steve Jobs tapped Scott Forstall, the head designer of Apple's iOS operating system, to build the iPhone in 2004, he gave Forstall some "pretty wild restrictions," says Eric Limer at Gizmodo. Forstall testified that he was not allowed to hire anyone outside the company to work on the iPhone, which was dubbed Project Purple. He had to find "superstars" within Apple, and even they had no idea what the project was before they accepted his offer to work on it. "We're starting another project," Forstall said he would tell potential recruits. "It's so secret I cannot tell you what the project is. You are going to give up nights and weekends for a couple years."
2. The first rule of iPhone is "You do not talk about iPhone."
Initially, Forstall and his team occupied a floor in one of Apple's buildings in Cupertino, Calif. When the team expanded to some 1,000 people, all reporting to Forstall, he took over an entire building and locked it down with badge readers and security cameras. "In some cases, even workers on the team would have to show their badges five or six times" to get into work, says Ina Fried at AllThingsD. Forstall hung a sign outside the main entrance that read "Fight Club," a reference to the Brad Pitt movie about an underground club of brawlers known for its catchphrase, "The first rule of Fight Club is, 'You do not talk about Fight Club.'"
3. The iPhone went through a lot of 3-D prototypes
Apple has submitted documents showing various iPhone prototypes, some of which featured "bulbous backsides and angled edges," says Sherr. When lawyers for Samsung asked how Apple determined the iPhone's final design, Apple designer Christopher Stringer said, "It was the most beautiful of our designs ... When we realized what we got, we knew." (Samsung's lawyers are trying to show that Apple took inspiration for its iPhone design from phones made by Samsung and other manufacturers, negating Apple's claim that Samsung had copied the iPhone. "I never directed anyone to go and copy anything from Samsung," Forstall testified. "We wanted to build something great ... so there was no reason to look at something they'd done.")
4. Apple considered a 7-inch iPad
An internal email between Apple executives show that in early 2011 the company was considering creating a 7-inch tablet, smaller than its current 9.7-inch iPad, citing the success of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7. "I believe there will be a 7-inch market and we should do one," executive Eddy Cue wrote to Jobs. Prior to the iPhone, Apple had also considered building a car, since the "success of the iPod persuaded Apple that it could be more than a computer company," says Stephen Lawson at PCWorld.
5. Apple uses focus groups, despite Steve Jobs' denials
Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing chief, says the company sought to cultivate a "lust factor" for the iPhone when it debuted in 2007. Apple's marketing campaign was built on the theory of "product as hero," in which the product's looks and functionality were the dominant themes. So far, Apple has spent $647 million on marketing for the iPhone, and $457 million for the iPad, which came out in 2010. Schiller also revealed that Apple relies on focus groups to create its products, which had been denied by Jobs, who wanted to create the impression that iPhones and iPads were designed in a kind of aesthetic vacuum.
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My wife has had 2 samsung phones and their batteries are crap.They have a nice screen but their batterys dont last at all.My iphone last way longer than hers even when her phones were bran new.I'm on my second iphone only because my first got stolen.Samsungs not even smart enough to test how long these big screen phones last on their batterys,They just want to sell you a pretty screen.
How does revealing any of these hurt Apple?
Apple considered a 7-inch iPad? So what
Apple uses focus groups? Duh.
They wanted to build a car?
The headline said, "A court case is forcing Apple to divulge its closest secrets..." How are these their closest secrets? This is just garbage.
No surprise Apple is so secretive about everything. The company nearly went out of business because Microsoft copied their GUI with the once-and-future unbelievable POS operating system known as Windows. Everyone copies their stuff.
Then again, this is just like what happened with Microsoft. Apple tried to shut out the market and cooked its own goose in the process because their products and licensing rights for software were too expensive. I just don't think this same approach is going to work for them much longer, especially with what these lawsuits have got to be costing them.
I think they need to drop the suits and start opening up their very closed approach to intellectual property. If they go under again, Jobs (RIP, amazing man) is not going to be there to save them next time. I hate to say it, but they need to take an approach that is more like Microsoft's, just hold off on the lousy quality and operating systems (including mobiles) that are complex enough to waste a ton of proccessing power and fail casual users for seemingly no reason, but by virute of complexity, are amazingly easy to hack (or so I'm told buy a guy who knows about that stuff.)
We could also use an Apple substitute for the XBOX series, a system so well-designed that it is synonomous with the term "red ring of death", had overheating issues when first released, had them again when the 360 came out, and the final product includes a dvd drive system that is so cheap and crappy that they are actually inferior to off-brand drives you can buy for between $15 and $25. How a multibillion-dollar company manages that, I will never know, but I'm definitely not forgetting it.
Talk about the most arrogant company in the world.
Apple: "We are the only company with enough vision to see that people like tiny computers that are phones too."
"And we are the only company, minus every other tech company, to acknowledge that people want something that is easy to use."
I am in awe of their visionary ideas. s/
Apple iPhone in the 21st century is the right size to fit in a pocket. A phone should be small and easy to use and carry. If I need a larger screen I use my computer.
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