Seriously, do you know anyone who in their right mind would mistaken a Samsung phone for an iPhone? Anyone? If your answer is a resounding ‘no’, congrats – you’re officially a geek, just like yours truly.

Now, Apple’s been arguing from the onset that the extent of alleged copying of its industrial design exhibited in Samsung’s work introduces a strong likelihood of customer confusion between the two brands.

While gadget lovers whose morning routine includes skimming through tech news cannot grasp how anyone could possibly mistaken a gadget with the Samsung logo for one with a bitten apple on it, to those outside the tech circles – you know, the general public, average consumers and Joes Schmucks of this world – the similarities are painfully obvious.

Specifically, one in two thought they saw an iPhone when presented with an image depicting a Samsung phone…

As reported by Ina Fried for the AllThingsD blog, as part of Friday’s hearings in the Apple v. Samsung case in San Jose, northern California, Apple witness Kent Van Liere took the stand to share some interesting findings of a survey he had conducted.

Long story short, too great a proportion of respondents appears to be mistaking Samsung devices for Apple’s, an indication that Apple’s assertion that Samsung ripped off its industrial design wholesale could have merit after all.

There were two studies: one featuring images of the Samsung Fascinate, the Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch and a control device, the BlackBerry Storm.

The other study dealt with tablets and relied on a video depicting a guy using either the Galaxy 10.1 with front branding removed, another one with the Samsung name intact and a control clip featuring a Nook Color device.

In the first case, more than half the respondents, or 52 percent, thought the Fascinate was the iPhone and 51 percent did the same in the case of the Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch. Just fourteen percent of respondents thought they were looking at Apple’s phone whereas they’d been shown an image of the BlackBerry Storm.

The other scenario had 43 percent mistaking a non-branded tablet for the iPad. Just shy of one in three, or thirty percent, figured the same when shown a clip of a branded tablet.

Samsung’s Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch and Apple’s iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S.

According to The Verge, Samsung attorney attacked Liere’s reports and methodology:

Price suggested that due to the stature of both Samsung and Apple in the smartphone industry, it would be natural for consumers to associate Apple with Samsung’s devices — and vice-versa. If a consumer looked at a Burger King and associated it with McDonald’s, Price said, that wouldn’t necessarily constitute any type of copying on Burger King’s part. “You don’t know that from common sense?” he asked.

Van Liere defended his study, saying that guarding against built-in market awareness is one reason why the study included the BlackBerry Storm control group in the first place. “So if that’s true, that would be netted out by the control.”

Man, what a mind job.

It’s OK to argue that these findings prove hardly a thing.

As for myself, I have yet to meet a person who would mistaken a Samsung device for something made by Apple. But I’m a hard core geek and mingle with my own kind and as such am not an accurate representative of the broader market.

Exhibit A: a Samsung charger on the left next to Apple’s charger.

One thing is certain, in my opinion: soccer moms and uninformed non-techies are likely to be easily confused. There are too many similarities, and it’s not just the physical appearance of Samsung’s tablets and phones.

Samsung’s trade dress – meaning product packaging, marketing, advertising, documentation, stores and even chargers – all seem to borrow intentionally, aggressively and heavily from Apple’s school of design.

Here’s Pixar’s famous Nemo fish on the lock screen at the January 2007 iPhone unveiling.

And here’s a fish on the Galaxy S II screen from Samsung’s commercial. Looks familiar?

And this is Samsung’s commercial in its entirety.

And it ain’t just smartpones and tablets, mind you.

I’m not saying Samsung is the copyist – that’s up for the court to decide – but I think at this point most people would agree that the South Korean company has a long history of mimicking other people’s designs, even if it produces some original designs itself.


  • Well I would say that 43 percent of people mistaken all tablets/mp3 players for an iPad or iPod. That’s just a word people grew up with using. Just like 43 percent (or more) mistaken bandage for Band-Aid, ignoring or forgetting the fact that they are using a brand name, instead of a general name for an object.

    • jimmyjyc

      Exactly. Did Motorola sue everyone for flip phones in the days of the RAZR? Sony Ericsson for candy bar phones? RIM for portrait QWERTY phones? I bet this 43 percent of people if they saw a flip phone would associate it with the RAZR, and a QWERTY phone a Blackberry.

      Also if they associate it with an Apple product, so what? They think that person was using an iPhone, they liked it so they’re going to go into the store and ask for an iPhone. They’re not going to go to the store for a Galaxy S2. They don’t even know what the fuck that is. In their minds the person was using an iPhone.

      • poofainter

        LOL RIM and Moto both sued Samsung for copying their phones.

      • jimmyjyc

        Which instance are you talking about? I remember RIM suing Samsung, but that was over the name of the phone (I think it was BlackJack) not the design. Could you provide links to the cases you are talking about?

        Besides, the scale on which Apple is doing this is MUCH larger than what the other companies used to do.

  • Dan

    Title should of said: Surprise, a lot of people are stupid… Even people who don’t follow tech blogs usually know about Apple

    • My grandfather wants an iPad and with his limited vision it would be very easy to get a different tablet. Have some perspective. Note everyone is a nerd, and not everyone is an idiot for not being to tell the difference.

      • Dan

        I half meant it as a joke, of course children/handicapped/older people are excluded :p But you have to admit that most people thinking about buying a tablet/smart phone are aware of Apple’s existence. I would hardly call myself a nerd as I still have a LOT to learn (a bit less since I started to follow this blog), and even I knew the difference when I bought my first Apple product last year.

      • The common questions I hear people asking about WP are, “what’s the deal with the tiled UI?” , “Where is the home screen?” , “Isn’t there a wallpaper” . . . and so on. Well, I’m just going to try and clear the air about a Windows Pho

  • It’s more the old people i think. My grandfather called his walkman an ipod for sooo long.

    • Dan

      haha I’ve had similar experiences with my mom and dad

  • Well, in my own opinion… I don’t see anything copied on the side of phone, i can never mistake any Apple prodcut to Samsung. Only a blind person can mistake that even a 4yrs kid can differenciate them. Anyway, the Charger might be copied. But come to think of it, what about all the PCs coy like Dell, Acer, HP and so on,… Are they not complaining & sueing each other for some crab design or something. Seriously, Apple got to chill.; its too much of them with all copy/patent stuff. I don’t support anyone who copy but Apple are biting too much. Soon, other company will team and fight ’em. Let them be more careful & focus on their upcomin products & what we(buyers) want not some patent/copy case thing. Little thing can bring down a big company! Focus on what your consumers want, not on some copy case. I’m really getting tired of Apple. Waiting for Microsft Surface!

    • max

      Well said!

  • Will Walker

    I know the difference between the two. But come on Samsung, the tablet and charger plug? Other than that, Apple will simply have to continue competing like everyone else. What’s going to happen when all the other companies decide to the same to them, or refuse to allow them to house their products (chips) in their hardware. Apple can’t make the iPhone all by themselves. Part of what makes the iPhone great is Samsung hardware, along with other manufacturers hardware. I guess Apple needs to start developing its own microprocessors etc. In the end we lose the ability to choose. Not everyone wants an iPhone, and everyone doesn’t want Android phone.

  • Will Walker

    One more thing. I think Samsung should pay for anything that was blatantly copied to the tee, but 2.5 billion is a bit much. The success of the galaxy phones aren’t entirely based on those patents. At lease the people I knew that them never made reference to an iPhone. But I understand Apple’s point. I have the galaxy s3 and its hardly anything like the iPhone.

  • @dongiuj

    The only way apple could have lost profits is if the phone actually had an apple logo and had iphone wrote on it but was actually a fake. I can’t see how it’s possible to purchase a samsung phone ( or any other phone for that matter ) and, at some point, not hear the name of the product/the company name that made the product. If a business sells anything leading the consumer into buying something that they believe they’re buying is a certain product then that business should be the ones to pay. What, we go into shops and point half way across the floor and say “I’ll buy that phone ove there” without ever once hearing the name of that phone when there’s usually other phones nearby? I honestly find hard to believe that samsung is to blame on apple’s losses because of a similar looking product. If anyone’s to blame then it’s the shops/staff.
    I’m not backing samsung nor apple. I don’t have an android phone, i have an iphone. So i’m not a “fandroid”.
    I’m living in Japan and the first tome i bought an airconditioner i had no idea what to look for. To me they all looked the same and all did same thing. BUT before i bought my very first aircondition I knew the company that

    • @dongiuj

      …made it.
      God i hate this disqus/iphone twitter app. Keep getting to a point where typing becomes impossible and editing too.

      • Dan

        yeah especially on an iPhone, I imagine it’s the same with other smart phones too

  • Надо быть дауном что бы спутать х_Х

  • koopapoopas

    Smug close minded geeks write a blog post once again.

    There’s been plenty of times, people have had to do a double take to see that a 3GS is actually a Samsung Galaxy. At a glance they look the same. Especially when you don’t take a second to see what the logo is.

    You don’t have that problem with the other brands.

  • thor_molecules

    So, a witness/”expert” paid by Apple conducts a study showing that *some* people may have problems telling the difference between Apple and Samsung products?

    Quick, someone show me to fainting couch.

    • thor_molecules

      I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing that any human being with two brain cells to rub together would have difficulty telling the difference Apple and Samsung products. It’s really easy when you think about it:

      One has an Apple logo on it, and the other says “Samsung.” They’re both branded so heavily (both the hardware and software) that you’d have to CONSCIOUSLY IGNORE all of that just to make this ridiculous argument.

  • 1. A real study must include showing both devices to the people and let them tell which one they think is an iphone, not just show an image.
    2. A real study must document which percent of the surveyed people have had an iPhone before and which percent a Samsung Galaxy.
    It’s very obvious that anyone who had an iphone before, can differentiate both devices just by looking to the devices size and the home button. If you ask to somebody who never had a smartphone before is obvious that the person will not distinguish between ANY smartphone.
    If you show me 2 bicycle pictures and ask me which is a BMX and which is a Mongoose? I’m for sure could not tell the difference, unless I owned one before.
    I think apple’s ego is out of proportion.