(Every week, Rocksauce Studios CEO Q Manning will answer your questions about app design, app development and the mobile industry.)
What’s your initial opinion on the verdict between Apple and Samsung?
I’m not surprised. A lot of the evidence that Apple supplied made that option pretty clear to the jury. I’m surprised at the amount that they’ve been awarded, but I don’t that that it’s out of line. I know a lot of people are unhappy because they think it’s going to stifle innovation and I understand that concern, but as someone who creates things for a living, there comes a point where if someone is blatantly ripping you off and you have the documentation to prove it, you should be able to go them and say “Don’t take our stuff.” Apple did a really good job by showing all of their prior art and showing all the work it took them to get to the iPhone design. They clearly showed the many ways the phone could have been designed and that they made a final creative decision…which Samsung turn around and copied into a nearly indistinguishable product. That’s true. I remember seeing the Samsung phone in question for the first time and thinking it was an iPhone. Everyone does.
Do you think this verdict will ultimately do more harm or good to the industry?
I don’t think it’s going to do either one, which is the truth no one wants to talk about. These are two behemoth companies that are going to end up owing each other money. This isn’t going to end up hurting anyone else in the industry unless you’re another behemoth company. Samsung is not some kind of underdog. Apple may be bigger than them in the smartphone and tablet world, but they’re still huge…and they’re suing other people over patents, doing to other companies what Apple did to them. This isn’t David and Goliath. It doesn’t effect what we do in the app development industry. And it shouldn’t effect anyone else either. Look at what Microsoft is doing with Windows Metro: it looks nothing like the current iOS and Android OS! That’s proof that you can design an operating system that looks and feels completely different than Apple. If anything, this will encourage people to go out of their way to innovate rather than ape. That’s never a bad thing. Knowing that ripping off Apple will only result in Apple suing you is all the motivation you need to find unique approaches!
What advice do you have for Samsung at this point?
Keep doing what you’re doing. You have incredibly popular devices. Change up your design slightly. You manufacture a ridiculous number of products: you’ll fine. You’re not like Apple, who relies on one or two new devices at a time. Put out a Galaxy S4, make it look completely different and you’ll be fine. Modify your operating system. Apple’s is not perfect. Anyone with an iPhone knows how tiring it can be to scroll through endless lists of icons to try to find the right one
(Stay tuned tomorrow for a very special edition of Q & Answers, where our own Brian Capelli will respond to these same questions with a very different point of view.)