14 Comments

Summary:

Apple executive Scott Forstall was asked to read an email in court Friday sent to him, CEO Tim Cook and others by fellow Apple executive Eddy Cue in January 2011 in which Cue said he believed there was a market for a 7-inch iPad.

galaxy-tab-7-1

The courtroom drama surrounding the Apple-Samsung trial going on right now has resulted in a lot of legal theatrics and offered an interesting view into Apple’s product development of the original iPhone and iPad. Not much that has been said on the witness stand by Apple employees called to testify has been particularly revealing about Apple’s future plans. Until this afternoon. Apple’s SVP of iOS Software, Scott Forstall, just gave testimony that seemed to back up the recent reports that Apple is prepping a smaller iPad for sale.

Eddy Cue, Apple SVP of internet software and services

On the stand Forstall was asked to read an email sent to him, as well as CEO Tim Cook and others, by fellow Apple executive Eddy Cue in January 2011. AllThingsD, reporting from inside the San Jose, Calif. courtroom, recorded Forstall’s reading of the email:

“I believe there will be a 7-inch market and we should do one,” Cue wrote in the e-mail, which forwarded an article written by a reporter that switched from the iPad to a 7-inch Samsung tablet. “I tend to agree with man of the comments below,” Cue wrote.

Turns out that “article” in question was this one, by our own Kevin Tofel.

CNBC reporter John Fortt, who was also present for the testimony, reports on Twitter that Steve Jobs (who was famously anti-7-inch tablets) “seemed receptive” to the idea.

This is obviously going to add to the speculation — backed up reports from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal and others — that Apple is set to introduce a smaller iPad perhaps as early as next month.

This post was updated Aug. 4, 4:37 a.m. with detail about the article in question.

  1. Society: Purchases many different brands of laptops that all have the same design pattern.
    Manufacturers: We understand the basic laptop design just works and is a standard.
    Apple: We are going to take the portable computer one step further. Here is a Tablet designed computer.
    Consumers: Will there be a smaller offering?
    Apple: Nobody will be interested in a small tablet design so we are offering a 10 inch.
    Samsung: We will offer a tablet design as well.
    Apple: We will sue anyone that copies our tablet design.
    Samsung: Apple shouldn’t be able to copy a standard ergonomical design.
    Amazon: We are going to make our Kindle better.
    Consumers: We really like this Kindle Fire and ergonomic size.
    Samsung: We will release a 7 inch Galaxy.
    Consumers: The Kindle Fire and Galaxy 7 are really cool and we love the size of both of these.
    Apple: We need to make a 7 inch tablet. There is a market for it.
    Apple: We are going to make a 7 inch tablet.
    Apple: Samsung is copying our original design.

    Apple can sue competition for copying their design yet proceed to copy the competiton’s popular size form factor. It’s hypocritical as it seems reminiscent of when Apple’s first laptop looked different and was on the verge of fail. So they changed the design to match the standard. Now they sue others for doing the exact same thing they did.

    While I may understand some software infringement issues, Apple’s hypocritical ways in standard form design, is what aggravates me. They took advantage of a broken patent system and abuse the litigational process to quell competiton.

    Pathetic.

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    1. I don’t believe anyone is allowed to patent something as general as a 7″ tablet size, but the patent system does allow a patent for a detailed and unique design of a product. The issues before the court are whether Samsung copied Apple’s design closely enough for it to be a patent violation, and possibly whether Apple’s design was created first.

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      1. Rich,

        I understand what you’re saying, but here’s my bone of contention:

        For years, we have been enjoying the employed standard design of laptops. A design I argue cannot be distinquished from a distance. As you get closer, these laptops are more distinguished by branded emblems and very slight moderations of hinged clamshell components and port locations.

        In short, there is only so much you can change on a standard design.

        Tablets eliminate even more ways to implement distinguishable features. Moveable parts are gone, keyboards are gone etc. I don’t see how much the patents should allow for such an “obvious” common design. It just works. New technology also eliminates the need for most ports and they aren’t included with a tablet design. Placement of these ports now cannot be used to accentuate the differences. Apple may have introduced the first mass marketed tablet, but they are using the system to not only keep Samsung from being similar, they are in essense trying to keep anyone creating a tablet that directly competes. HP Touchpad closely resembled as others. Marketshare didn’t constitute a threat to Apple, so they escape litigation.

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    2. Nokuchikushi Tekukuno Friday, August 3, 2012

      When you’re having a conversation with yourself, it doesn’t help to pretend to be Samsung or Apple. It’s still a crazy conversation with yourself.

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      1. Nokuchikushi,

        I was not pretending to be any of the above other than consumer. A consumer which is potentially poised to be hurt by all this litigation and control by Apple.

        Please review my response to Rich. Hopefully it will make a better understanding of where I’m coming from.

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    3. Apple has taken an unusual patent and trademark protection angle. Most manufacturers of physical products do not do this. A perfume manufacturer whose products appeal is half functional and half visual might. After all, perfume comes in bottles packaged in boxes, both generic packaging items, but the “look and feel” of each perfume is unique. Apple is testing in court whether its utility patents and trade dress are valid for small electronic devices. Don’t know what German law is like, but remember, Dieter Ram and Braun products are the model for Apples business plan

      As Rich notes this is mostly about “design” patents not “utility” patents. Nerd space seems unable to wrap its head around the former compared to the latter.

      Apple also uses a lesser area in trademark law called “trade dress”. For a reference see

      http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/tradedress.html

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      1. Yacko,

        You bring up the interesting point of look and feel. However, Design patents for a tablet design over a bottle design is somewhat of a tough sell here as opposed to the perfume example. The bottle or recepticle which houses the product, can achieve far more multiple designs while retaining comfortability due to the nature of design. However, in the end, it is the inner product(Scent) that is the deciding factor for interest. Now, A tablet is far less obtainable for multiple standard “usable” designs from a bottle( at least in conformity for comfortable handheld use). So in order to conform to useable practicality, the tablet becomes a limited embodiment which houses the product. It is up to the product(ios) to work harder to differentiate over the competition. Apple has accentuated their product from others, however, they shouldn’t be able to tell competiton to forego fair standard use of any bottle they put their product in.

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    4. essentialparadox Saturday, August 4, 2012

      John B., I would agree that’s a pathetic sequence of circumstances and horrid for any company to get away with filing a lawsuit under such obvious motives. However, do you realize that Apple have not sued Samsung for their 7″ tablet? They’re suing over the Galaxy phones and 10.1″ Tablets. Their 7″ tablets are not part of Apple’s lawsuit. So how could the sequence of circumstances you presented make any sense?

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      1. Essentialpardox,

        I guess I should clarify.

        Apple is about to launch a 7 inch design tablet into the market of other 7 inch designed tablets. So, while they are currently suing Samsung or anyone for “copying” an “obvious” design, they ironically enter into another market filled with same type of designs. It’s hypocritical.

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  2. I think it’s a rare occurrence to find someone who doesn’t agree that Apple’s iPhone offers a superb amount of functionality for what is essentially a phone. When you put the stock features and software together with the fact that there are over six hundred thousand additional apps in the official iOS App Store, it makes up for an extremely functional and powerful mobile experience. Part of the iOS experience is the ability to play some great games on the device, but that experience might be about to get better with the BladePad Kickstarter project. …

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  3. Good to have a reporter in court Friday, August 3, 2012

    You missed that they were discussing a gigaom piece & even linked to it in the email

    http://gigaom.com/mobile/why-i-just-dumped-the-ipad-hint-size-matters/

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  4. Ever since I picked up the Nexus 7 I knew that Apple needed a 7 inch tablet, but I believe it will be taking the place of the iPod touch not the iPad.
    Not to say that iPod is absolutely obsolete but with the iPhone isn’t a lot of need the I pod’s anymore except for music. In the games market, this is were 7 inch tablet will really excel not to mention I use the Nexus 7 for reading.
    I like the form of a 7 inch tablet because it fits right in your jeans back pocket. The biggest problem with the Nexus 7 is that it’s not made by Apple, so the software is lackluster. I own iPad three or the new iPad. For home the iPad 3 has no competitors. On the road the next seven is just right.
    This is why Apple will be making a mistake if it does not compete against google. Whether Apple can do it at the cost of $200 I don’t think is a huge factor, but anything over 250 might be a problem.

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  5. A 7 inch iPod Touch sounds about right, but if won’t cost 200 dollars but will cost 250-300 dollars with better screen more gigs, cell capacity, and of course tie with the Apple ecosystem. Apple doesn’t have go as low in price as Google and Samsung.

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  6. André Felipe Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    If Apple can sue Samsung, Ford could sue every single car manufacturer in the world.

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