Saturday, August 11, 2012

Samsung, the copier

Years ago, I bought a Samsung phone, the SPH-A900 otherwise known as Blade.  That name may make you think that it had something to do with the Motorola RAZR.  It was in many aspects, a copy.

The phone was rather broken, software-wise.  It didn't work well as a phone, but became my first 3G data modem, where the power-hungry display didn't kill the extended life battery I bought at extra cost.  Where I couldn't get 3 hours in typical phone/internet use, I would get around 6 hours of modem use.

I'd always hoped that Samsung would come to their senses and provide good software updates, but what they provided made the phone worse and the people at the Sprint store, weren't able to take the phone back to an earlier level of firmware, though they charged me for it.

At that time, multiple people I knew were angry about their !@#$ Samsung phones, each one a bit more vehement, it seemed.

I'd see the phones at the store, wondering why they looked like other phones in the store made by other companies.  If Samsung was a big player, why did they copy?

I thought back to Mazda's 1974 RX-3, which looked like AMC's Hornet hatchback or the 1975 Toyota Corolla SR 5 hatchback that looked like a 1970 Ford Mustang.  Pontiac made a habit of driving excitement by copying BMW.

I look at Apple's Macintosh and Digital Research's GEM from the mid-1980s.  They both used elements that had been presented in the Xerox Alto machine.  Of course, Apple hired Bill Atkinson and Susan Kare to do some of this work.  Many people from Xerox' Palo Alto Research Center went elsewhere to market their ideas when Xerox would not.

In art, taking inspiration from the greats is a given.  You learn from those who did something wonderful, and you create something of your own that is also quite wonderful, hopefully.  If you copy it, they call you a forger.

I'm unclear as to how Samsung has copied HandSpring/Palm, Nokia, and Motorola designs and no one noticed all this time.  Had those four companies filed design patents, would Samsung be in the business now?

I'm not saying that you should patent a rectangle, a simple button, or other unremarkable details; however, there is a point where the imitation is no longer flattering.

What saved HandSpring/Palm, Nokia, and Motorola in the old days was the Samsung was so terribly bad at software.  They couldn't care less about the software because they would have new phones to sell in the next 6 months.  Now that Android is their main base software, they care even less, but Google help a lot to keep customers able to use their phones.

It was sadly amusing this week when Susan Kare admitted to the court that she had inadvertently picked up a Samsung product, thinking that it was an iPhone.  The Samsung attorneys wanted her to describe in detail the differences, but the point was made.  Most people would never notice the differences.

I look at what HTC, LG, Nokia, Motorola and others are doing and their designs are unique.  Why can't Samsung do their own designs?  Mind you, I don't agree with Apple filing lawsuits but Samsung should do their own work, not copy others.

No comments:

Post a Comment