SAN JOSE – A Samsung executive said the company had a “crisis of design” because the difference in user interfaces on the iPhone and Samsung handsets were like “Heaven and Earth.” The executive spoke in an email that Apple was able to admit as evidence over objections from Samsung in their patent infringement cases here.
“We’ve been paying all our attention to Nokia…[but] when our [user experience] is compared to the unexpected competitor Apple’s iPhone the difference is truly that of heaven and earth...it is a crisis of design,” said Hye-Sun Kim in an internal Samsung email. Kim's title and role at Samsung at the time the email was sent was not immediately available
“I hear things like this: Let’s make something like the iPhone…The iPhone has become the standard,” Kim said in the email. “Do you know how difficult the [Samsung] Omnia [handset] is to use?” he asked
Apple suggested the email represents an example of a senior Samsung executive encouraging patent infringement. Samsung countered the email is an example of hyperbole used in the company’s internal communications to encourage aggressive competition to emulate successful products.
Under cross-examination, Samsung attorneys noted Kim said later in the same email, “I have confidence in our products’ [hardware], in their exterior design and quality, but when it comes to the ease of use of the [user experience] I lack such confidence,” Kim wrote.
Kim also suggested Samsung use larger, more advanced displays as one way to compete with the iPhone.
“Our most important asset is our screen,” Kim wrote. “It is important that we make the screen size bigger and in the future we will absorb even the function of ebooks,” Kim added.
In testimony, Justin Denison, chief strategy officer for Samsung Telecommunications America, said the email was in its style typical of internal Samsung communications.
“I would say Samsung is unique from other companies I’ve worked for in that Samsung remains very humble and self-critical and creates a sense of urgency to drive hard work so it never rests on its laurels and becomes complacent,” said Denison who has worked 16 years in mobile including stints at Nokia, Texas Instruments and Motorola. “We celebrate wins very briefly and move on to the next challenge,” he said.
Samsung attorneys asked Denison how he felt about Apple executives claims Samsung had ripped Apple off.
“I find it very offensive,” Denison said. “We are very proud of the products we produce and all the hard work it takes to bring those products to market,” he added.
Denison said Samsung was first in the U.S. market to launch a handset using voice recognition, super active-matrix OLED displays and cloud-based video services. Samsung attorneys noted the Omnia was a Windows Mobile handset.