A look inside Apple’s kitchen table group
7/31/2012 9:23 PM EDT
“We’ve been ripped off”
The industrial design team works with separate product design and manufacturing teams. McElhinny asked Stringer to detail the manufacturing challenges and market risks Apple faced with the designs his team chose.
He listed problems with mating glass and metal elements, using thin metal bezels and drilling holes in the glass. For the iPad 2, “there was a huge effort in the factory getting the gaps or reveals to be as tight as they are” between the glass front and metal backing, said Stringer.
Stringer reflected much of the philosophy of high aesthetics and intuitive usability associated with Apple’s industrial designs, saying it aimed to create cultural icons. “We want to create the simplest, purest manifestation of what [the product] could be—something people could love,” he said.
The descriptions sometimes bordered on self-serving hubris and hyperbole.
“There were legions of phones available and none of them were very satisfying,” Stringer said. “Smartphones existed but they were more like tiny computers--we came up with something breathtaking and the challenges of producing that were enormous,” he said.
McElhinny asked Stringer to describe what his team did the day the original iPhone was launched.
“The entire design team--or those who could be--were at the Apple store in San Francisco,” he said. “We were excited, we had something new and there was an incredible buzz of people anticipating something,” he said.
“There was an enormous crowd outside, we wanted to feel that enthusiasm and see the first people to get [the iPhone]--it was mayhem, like a carnival,” he recalled. “We were very, very proud; we had worked very, very hard--an enormous amount of people had put out great sacrifices--and it was worth it, it was a beautiful day,” he said.
McElhinny asked Stringer to describe his feelings about products that look like the iPhone.
“We’ve been ripped off, it’s plain to see—by Samsung in particular--it’s offensive,” he said.
“It’s a big leap of imagination to come up with something entirely new,” he said. “It’s a process by which you have to try to forget everything you know--clearly very difficult, but if you pay attention to the competition you wind up following them--not what we wanted to do,” he said
Under cross-examination, however, Samsung lead attorney Charles Verhoeven showed an email from Stringer to a member of Apple’s product development team requesting an analysis of competing products.
“I need your latest summary of our enemies for an [industrial design] brainstorm on Friday,” the email said.
Verhoeven asked if by “enemies” he meant to include companies such as Samsung.
“In this instance, yes,” said Stringer. The industrial design team “very rarely” makes such requests of the Apple product design team that conducts teardowns of competing products, he added.
Verhoeven also showed a detailed Apple analysis of eight competing tablets including models from Samsung. “We were interested in their feature sets and dimensions,” said Stringer.
“Is there anything wrong with doing that?” asked Verhoeven.
“No,” said Stringer.
“Was that information used to design a new Apple product?” asked McElhinny on re-direct.
“Absolutely not,” said Stringer.
Separately, Verhoeven was able to show Stringer considered crucial several details of Apple’s patents that are not copied in the Samsung products Apple alleges infringe its patents.
Next, Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of marketing, took the stand briefly before the end of the session. When court reconvenes Schiller will give his version of the story behind the design of the iPhone.