Samsung Mobile chief ‘designer’ denies that Samsung’s instinct is to slavishly copy Apple

“When Samsung Electronics rushed its first smartphone to market in a panicky response to the smash-hit debut of the Apple iPhone, some customers burned the product on the streets or hammered it to bits in public displays of disaffection,” Miyoung Kim reports for Reuters.

“Complaints ranged from dropped calls and a clunky touchscreen to frequent auto rebooting and a dearth of applications,” Kim reports. “Samsung Mobile President JK Shin admitted it was a tough time. The company had seen a 1 trillion won ($885 million) profit in its telecom sector in the first quarter of 2010 halved in the following quarter after Apple Inc’s latest iPhone took the market by storm. ‘We were facing a really serious crisis,’ Shin said later.”

“Yet on the 9th floor of Samsung Electronics headquarters in Seoul housing the mobile division’s design center, Lee Minhyouk said he was not feeling the heat. Samsung Mobile’s vice president for design and his team were already working on its next smartphone, the Galaxy,” Kim reports. “Samsung sold 44 million Galaxy units since its launch in June 2010 on its way to displacing Apple last year as the world’s top-selling smartphone maker.”

MacDailyNews Take: Lie #1: Samsung did not displace Apple last year as the world’s top-selling smartphone maker.

See: Gartner: Apple took top smartphone vendor crown in Q411 and for all 2011 – February 15, 2012

Why lie, Reuters?

“Samsung’s checkered entry into the smartphone market is emblematic of the South Korean conglomerate’s strengths and weaknesses,” Kim reports. “Its strategy has always been to be the “fast executioner”, the first in the market with a copycat product when a new opportunity is presented. But it is not known as a great innovator or a company like Apple that can literally create a new market with an iconic product.”

“Samsung and Apple are locked in an escalating global patent battle, as they jostle for top position in the booming smartphone and tablet markets,” Kim reports. “Apple fired the first salvo in April last year, arguing Samsung had ‘slavishly’ copied its iPad and iPhone. Since then both have taken legal action against each other in several countries claiming patent infringements.”

Kim reports that Lee Minhyouk, Samsung Mobile’s vice president for design, “takes personal affront at the copycat charge. ‘I’ve made thousands of sketches and hundreds of prototype products (for the Galaxy). Does that mean I was putting on a mock show for so long, pretending to be designing?'”

MacDailyNews Take: Lie #2: Yes, that’e exactly what it means.

Apple’s products came first, then Samsung’s:

Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Tab Trade Dress Infringement

This is not a recent development, either. We’ve been covering this for years now. For example:
Samsung’s ‘Instinct’ is obviously to make Apple iPhone knockoffs – April 1, 2008

Kim reports that Lee continued, “‘As a designer, there’s an issue of dignity. (The Galaxy) is original from the beginning, and I’m the one who made it. It’s a totally different product with a different design language and different technology infused.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Lie #3. As is blatantly obvious, Mr. Originality.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If Samsung is so original, why do courts make them change their designs from mimicking Apple 99% to only mimicking Apple 95% in order to be able to sell their products?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “krquet” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Samsung relaunches modified Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany – November 16, 2011
J.D. Power: Apple ranks highest in smartphone customer satisfaction for 7th consecutive time – March 16, 2012
Samsung suffers second and even more important FRAND defeat to Apple in the Netherlands – March 14, 2012
Aftershocks from Android market share dive rumble through mobile market – January 31, 2012
ABI: Apple iPhone tops smartphone market as Android suffers its first decline in share – January 27, 2012
These charts will make the Fandroids want to puke – January 26, 2012
Apple’s iOS passes Google’s Android to take U.S. smartphone market share crown – January 25, 2012
Analyst: Verizon’s record iPhone sales signal waning demand for Google Android phones – January 24, 2012


    1. Instinct is driven by choice…a choice about which way to move without thinking about it. Hence, it requires specific action rather than thought, which is where the control comes in. Lack of action = hesitation – ergo, no use of instinct. And yes, it is innate…you either have good instincts or you don’t.

      Steve Jobs had amazing instincts, and he used them through conscious choice.

  1. Im not an expert – but bloody hell just look at the pictures – my 2 year old could do just a as a good copy but the difference is my 2 year old can actually use my iphone

  2. Looking at these pictures reminds me of the question…

    Why, after all these years we still can’t have a widget like the weather on our home screen?

    It can’t be that hard to do.

    1. You look at the weather so frequently that clicking one button is too time-consuming?

      Then someone will want stock prices, and another will want a twitter feed, and before you know it there’s this whole extra visual ‘layer’ to iOS.

  3. If the picture did not put the Apple in portrait mode (which I almost never use) and put it in landscape mode, you would have to look even closer to tell which was which. Come on MDN, take a better picture. Who uses their iPad mostly in portrait mode?

  4. Lee Minhyouk, ‘I’ve made thousands of sketches and hundreds of prototype products (for the Galaxy). Does that mean I was putting on a mock show for so long, pretending to be designing?’”
    Umm, Yes. Just because you have an iPhone in front of you and you sketch it over and over, it still doesn’t mean you came up with the design.

  5. It’s just that Apple has found truly meaningful ways to design laptops, tablets, smartphones, you name it, and it would take real geniuses to improve on them. Copying is therefore inevitable…

    1. You know, I had never seen this before you pointed it out, because I never really bothered to pay attention to the wannabe iPads and iPhones. But wow. I’m sure this is also their own “design”. Has to be a coincidence.

  6. They tried every thing to make it not look like Apple’s products from copying BlackBerry to changing the radii of the corners to making it slimmer to moving the ear hole a little up or down and finally to the production design.

  7. Ummm, “Lie” #1:

    It says “on its way to displacing” not “displaced”.

    There are enough lies in Samsung’s defense without creating a new one.

    Android handsets generally outsell iPhones, that’s stale news. They are more for the bottom of the market and primed for the developing world. Apple claims the high profit upper end. That’s been the case for years. In numbers of units, Samsung could easily outsell Apple this year. Yawn.

    1. Wrong. Read it again.

      It says, “Samsung sold 44 million Galaxy units since its launch in June 2010 on its way to displacing Apple last year as the world’s top-selling smartphone maker.”

      MDN is correct, as usual.

      1. Guess it depends how you read it.

        But there is evidence that Samsung did indeed displace Apple in 2011.

        Whether it lasted or not, I don’t know/care. I bet they are neck and neck.


        Despite losing its top spot to Samsung, Apple experienced double-digit growth year over year, shipping 17.1 million units. Perhaps the iPhone 4S will prove to be the catalyst the Cupertino company needs to unseat Samsung for the number one spot once more.

  8. “Pay no attention to the slavishly copied iPhone behind the curtain.”. Samstung reminds me of Martin Shorts businessman character who when busted for some corrupted practice plays innocent and is always disingenuously asking “Is it me?”. Yes it IS you!

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