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.

By TheWeek.com Aug 7, 2012 11:23AM

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:

Post continues below.


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. 

More from The Week:

Aug 7, 2012 3:32PM
Yes, Jobs was a genius in the way he developed Apple. I saw him several times at Apple meetings.  I also saw the "dark side" of Apple Corporate, when I owned an Apple Dealership from 1984 - 1990. Of course that was when IIe's were the rage, and the "newest innovation", the Macintosh Mouse and object oriented screens were introduced .... and then Bill Gates got a great idea ... "Windows". Of course, iPhones, iPads, and such were just science fiction back then. I just wish that all the jobs making Apple products today were putting Americans to work. By building it all in China, we're basically doing all the innovating here, and simply giving the technology to the Chinese so they can build the products, with what amounts to slave labor, in their factories.
Excuse me .... I own the patent for the rectangle.   See design patent D457,540    Pay up Apple
Aug 7, 2012 3:22PM
if the idea behind technology was useful tech for everyone instead of making as much money as possible, then we would already have self-driving cars, like the cars that google is producing.  they would be outfitted with something like siri for navigation.  personally, i'd be happy if people insisted on better and cheaper tech that utilizes the ideas of more than one group of people.  in this case, competition hasn't spurred on development, and it hasn't given us the best possible goods.  all it has given us is companies attempting to copy each other's designs in order to get a piece of the market.  i kind of wish that we would all just boycott the stupid sh*t that these companies sell us until they give us what they're capable of making.
Aug 7, 2012 3:17PM

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.

Aug 7, 2012 3:05PM
Does Apple remind anyone else of an extremist communist governement?
Aug 7, 2012 3:02PM
6. steve jobs was a freaking oddball.    oh wait thats no secret
not sure if these are such a big deal kind of secrets.   all of these things occur in other companies as well, including the government.   in government its called "a need to know".   and while the president should have full access to every single governmental office in existence, there are offices he doesn't even know about - but some congressional members do.

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.

Aug 7, 2012 2:38PM

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/

Aug 7, 2012 2:31PM
Like other backward third world countries Africa is kept in misery because  it is imprisoned by the past.  Like radical Islam Africa refuse to modernize.  They don't learn from the past but instead refuse to stop living in it.  Good day!
Aug 7, 2012 2:26PM
Forget Apple, it is only a staus symbol among the rich.  I have used their products and really don't care for them.  Especially the I Phone.  Apple is not the only brains in the world,
Aug 7, 2012 2:25PM
I  like Apple because I read once before that Steve Job and his partner decided when they first started out, to build a master piece and not just build for money, but to offer the market a product that would endure to the end of time.  Apple is a great product and I like it for being unique.   Other companies should stop there crying and pull their heads together and come up with a plan and offer quality over quantity and then they would not have to sue to get other people ideas.  It's wrong that the justice system gives in to this kind of robbery.

Aug 7, 2012 2:19PM
Whether or not you support Apple, it is still an American company. Samsung is not.
Aug 7, 2012 2:18PM
I will never buy a worm phone or a worm pad.
Aug 7, 2012 2:15PM
Every major phone company used minerals dug up in the Congo "blood minerals", Nokia has been repeatedly asked to stop using these minerals which has caused the brutal rape, torture, and genocide of millions of men women and children! Every phone we buy has blood on it!
Aug 7, 2012 2:07PM

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.

Aug 7, 2012 2:04PM
Who gives a crap about chineze workrs.?  Apple is great!! Be one with the future my friend!
Aug 7, 2012 2:00PM
i hate apple products..not user friendly at all and that stupid itunes takes over your frakkin computer..  have an ipod but i don't use it cause it's such a pain in the rear end.  you can't organize the songs the way you want, everytime I try to put a cd on my computer stupid itunes takes over even though I alwasy click NO i don't want that as my default setting... all our employees have iphones now and i hate it when they come to me to figure something out cause it takes forever if at all.  thank goodness for blogs..apple u suck!!!!!!!!!!
Aug 7, 2012 1:56PM
If you like the idea of knowingly supporting Chinese sweat shops where people are treated like animals, go ahead and buy Apple products.
Aug 7, 2012 1:54PM
when you're great and you know it, clap your hands!!!!
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