It’s not often that one encounters judicial rulings of this sort. British judges are not authorities on fashion, style or design, but this particular judge may well have finally entered into the official record what every design expert has been saying about the “coolness” and the “elegance” of Apple design.
“[Samsung products] do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design,” said Judge Birss.
“They are not as cool,” he said. “The overall impression produced is different.”
Ironically, this ruling nullified Apple’s attempt to block sale of the Samsung Galaxy S3 in the United Kingdom. It is the ultimate hollow victory for Samsung: the judgment denies Apple’s contention that Samsung is copying Apple by declaring Samsung’s design inferior to Apple’s. It is undoubtedly the compliment Apple never sought.
This is exactly what every single patron of the Galaxy S3 booth at The Grove shopping mall in LA was implicitly saying yesterday. The pitchmen repeatedly had to compare Galaxy features with the iPhone’s: “The voice activated feature called [some forgettable name] is just like Siri”, “You can post to Facebook, just like you can on the iPhone.”, “The Galaxy S3’s screen goes all the way to the edges. It has much narrower borders relative to the iPhone.”, “blah, blah, blah, just like the iPhone”.
One man’s physical juxtaposition of his iPhone with the Galaxy S III made the “elegance” and the logic behind the Apple design even more salient. Who cares to put a thinner, small flat screen TV to their ear? A phone is still, after all, a phone! A retina display of exactly the right size is what an elegant device needs.
Let’s put a rest, then, to all the ridiculous rumors that Apple will be diluting its brand with a giant-screened iPhone 5 or a small-screened iPad “mini”. The existing models have exactly the right size for the purpose that each serves. There is no money to be made by Apple in designing a tablet with the same form factor as the Kindle. The iPad is designed to replace the computer for most people. The Kindle is designed to direct people to amazon.com. Apple has nothing to gain from this latter proposal. It is already directing enough traffic to iTunes and the App Store. The designs are already exactly right. The iPhone 5 will have a marginally larger screen at best, and no iPad “mini” will ever be made.
The codification of Apple’s coolness will lend truth to only one Apple rumor: that the stock will hit $1000 per share soon. This rumor is further bolstered by Apple’s successful bid to impose an injunction against the sale of Google’s Galaxy Nexus, and Google’s desperate revision of the Android operating system to nullify the root cause of the injunction. Apple is being copied because it has achieved and patented—most unfortunately—the right design. The competition wouldn’t be copying it slavishly if it were the wrong design, or even the imperfect design.
For the record, I am an Apple stockholder eager for this outcome.