The original iPhone launched 15 years ago, on June 29th, 2007, revolutionizing the industry. Other companies in the business had two choices: copy the iPhone, or stick with what they were doing. Google immediately saw the genius behind the iPhone and overhauled Android so that it was more like the iPhone instead of a BlackBerry clone. But it was Samsung that really made the most of the iPhone in the years that followed, copying everything about that original iPhone.
The topic resurfaced 15 years later during a documentary released ahead of the iPhone’s 15th anniversary. It’s in this context that an Apple executive commented on the way Samsung copied the iPhone in the early years.
15 years of iPhone
The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern made the iPhone anniversary documentary. The video features various current and former Apple executives talking about what it was like to make the first iPhone. They also explained all the innovations that followed. From the original iPhone to the iPhone 13, the clip shows the iconic designs and the features that helped Apple transform the industry.
The clip looks at what the iPhone (and smartphones in general) mean for the younger generations, who were born into a world that relies on smartphones for everything. From keeping in contact with loved ones to work and entertainment, these devices do it all. And with that comes the problem of spending too much time on these screens.
Apple’s marketing chief Greg Joswiak talked to Stern about the history of the iPhone. And that involved the impact the handset had on Apple’s competition. It’s in this context that Samsung came up, with the executive explaining how Apple felt about Samsung copying the iPhone.
Did Samsung copy the iPhone?
“They were annoying,” Joswiak said of Samsung. “And they were annoying because, as you know, they ripped off our technology. They took the innovations that we had created and created a poor copy of it, and just put a bigger screen around it. So, yeah, we were none too pleased.”
Apple sued Samsung around the world starting in 2011, and it won one of the biggest cases, getting $1 billion initially. The final amount was just over half that following Samsung’s appeal. But by then, Samsung was already the big winner in the mobile industry. Its decision to ruthlessly copy the iPhone was the smartest decision Samsung ever made.
The Korean giant never acknowledged any wrongdoing, and the two companies eventually settled in 2018. By then, Samsung was no longer copying the iPhone design and experience as blatantly. The Galaxy S phones had a different design and a different user interface.
Ironically enough, most current smartphones look similar nowadays. And many Android designs still copy the iPhone.
There’s no question that Apple took inspiration from Samsung too, at least when it comes to bringing bigger screens to the iPhone. But, to this day, Samsung continues to copy Apple’s iPhone innovations.
Samsung also regularly mocks the iPhone maker in ads it then has to suppress when it eventually copies the very features it mocked.
The Apple vs. Samsung camp continues to be divided even now, 15 years after the launch of the first iPhone. Each side accuses the other of copying mobile innovations. But nobody can ever forget Samsung’s 132-page internal document that shows Samsung’s plan to copy the iPhone pixel by pixel.
That Apple vs. Samsung rivalry is only a tiny part of The Journal’s iPhone documentary, which is certainly worth watching in full. You’ll find it at this link.
More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.
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