It’s a Samsung smartphone. No, it’s the iPhone 4. No wait, maybe it’s a Samsung iPhone. As it turns out, you had it right the first time when it comes to the new Samsung Galaxy S2, although your eyes (and courts around the world) will tell you it looks too much like an Apple product to be bearing the Samsung logo.
Even as Samsung was manufacturing components for Apple’s iPad, it was simultaneously designing its own Android-based tablet which, from more than a foot away with the screen turned off, was all but undistinguishable from Apple’s iPad design. The lawsuits began swiftly, but have taken this long to play out.
The verdict: so far, courts are ruling that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 must be yanked from shelves while Samsung either redesigns the product with an original design or exits the tablet market entirely. But now here comes the Galaxy S2, and all you need to do is glance at Samsung’s splash screen for the product in order to figure out what the courts will end up doing with the S2.
But Samsung (along with other Android-based manufacturers like HTC) appears to be playing the game of selling as many blatant copycat units as it can before the legal process brings hell to pay, taking advantage of consumer confusion over nearly identical-looking products in the mean time.
“Hey look, Samsung makes the iPad too, look at this model! And it’s a bit cheaper as well!” Not until consumers get the product home and find that it’s instead running a mobile variant of the geek hobbyist platform Linux known as Android, with no access to Apple’s consumer-leaning iTunes or overwhelmingly popular App Store, do they realize that they’ve been bait and switched.
But even as Apple is finally succeeding in getting the stolen Galaxy Tab products removed from the market (after millions of consumers mistakenly thought they were buying an iPad), the company is now preparing to do the same with its new Galaxy S2 phone.
Short of the “Samsung” logo at the top and the rounded rectangular “home” button near the bottom as opposed to Apple’s circular home button, the S2 is essentially indistinguishable from the iPhone 4 in photographs. And what’s shocking is that Samsung appears to be trying to flaunt it…
If Samsung were simply looking to quietly float the Galaxy S2 out there in the hopes of selling millions of units to confused would-be iPhone 4 buyers before the legal system gets it yanked from shelves, it could be playing down the differences. Instead the photography on Samsung’s site appears to be trying to make the S2 look as much like the iPhone 4 as possible.
Rather than turning the S2 sideways a bit so that its slightly different sides could be accentuated, making it clear that the S2 is its own product, Samsung instead has the product positioned so that it looks exactly like the iPhone 4 in pictures.
This kind of flaunting behavior won’t go over well with the courts. But Samsung is apparently gambling that that won’t happen until 2012 or 2013, by which time it’ll have stolen millions of sales using a stolen design, cheating millions of duped consumers out of the product they thought they were buying in the process.
Hey, it worked with the Galaxy Tab. It’s no wonder, then, that reports reveal some Android-based products to have as high as thirty to forty percent return rates, as customers quickly figure out the “Samsung iPhone” or “Samsung iPad” they just bought wasn’t what they were led to believe. Other data shows that more than half of all current Android users plan to buy something else next time around, with the vast majority of the defectors specifically identifying Apple’s next iPhone, due out this fall, as their next phone.
If time spent on a “fake iPhone” or “fake iPad” is driving that many disgusted Samsung customers to become former Samsung customers, with them deciding that this time they’ll make sure they buy the real thing instead, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing for Apple after all. But that hasn’t stopped Apple from attempting to drop the hammer on these thieves in courts around the world. Samsung’s stolen tablet line is in danger of vanishing from existence. Now it’s a waiting game to see how swiftly its stolen phone product known as the Galaxy S2 suffers the same fate…
In the mean time, Android OS developer Google has purchased Motorola, the only major Android hardware vendor which hasn’t (yet) been sued by Apple for hardware design theft, in order to ensure that at least one brand of Android-based phones and tablets remains on the market.
After a couple years of stealing hardware designs and waiting for the law to catch up with it, Samsung (and HTC with it) is now seeing its biggest ally moving on with in-house hardware designs. Without that ally, it begs the question of just how much longer Samsung will want to play the cat-and-mouse game of stealing Apple hardware designs and loading them up with the Android OS instead.
The extent of the punitive damages finally levied on Samsung by courts and governments around the world may ultimately be the deciding factor as the vendor must choose whether it’s a scam worth continuing to execute.