Apple Vs. Samsung: 1984 Seems So Long Ago [OPINION]

In 1984, Apple Computer, Inc. aired what would become one of the most celebrated television spots of all time: a 30-second, 900,000-dollar, Orwellian masterpiece titled, naturally, “1984.”

Take a look:

At the time of its airing, the commercial was as much a commentary on the imposing nature of early commodity computers as it was an indictment against IBM, which at that time was thought to be monopolizing the entire personal and business computing industry. According to Apple, IBM was the bad guy.

Fast forward 27 years – Apple is looking a little bit like a bad guy themselves.

Just recently, Apple filed suit in a German court against tech giant Samsung, claiming that the latter company’s Galaxy Tab “infringes on 10 of [Apple’s] patents” and that the device closely mirrors the “look and feel” of its iPad and iPhone. As a result, “the court has granted Apple a temporary injunction against Samsung’s selling and marketing of the tablet in Europe, meaning all units must be removed from the shelves.” If Apple wins the suit, Samsung will be prevented from selling their tablet in Europe indefinitely.

When I first read about this, I thought, “Hmm… okay, maybe Samsung’s just a copycat. Maybe Apple’s the victim here.” Then I saw the following:

Click here.

Yeah, that’s Apple’s iPad next to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. Not exactly the mirror image I was expecting. Are the tablets similar? Sure. Are they similar enough to warrant legal action on Apple’s part? Probably not.

Admittedly, I’m not familiar with the hardware specs of either device, but I’m going to have to argue that from a purely aesthetic standpoint, each seems pretty distinct.

I’m all for the kind of innovation that Apple has brought to the table for the past several years (decades even), but I’m a bit uncomfortable with their apparent quest to take over the mobile device market. In preventing Samsung from distributing their tablet in Europe, Apple would become precisely the kind of company they promised NOT to be in 1984. I may not be fluent in matters pertaining to intellectual copyright, and I’m aware of how seriously a company like Apple (which recently ranked as the most publicly traded company in the world) must take this kind of alleged infringement, but I’ll be damned if the tablets in question aren’t fairly dissimilar to begin with.

Honestly, I’m wondering whether Apple’s sudden beef with Samsung has something to do with the fact that the latter’s Galaxy Tab is the iPad’s only viable competitor in the tablet market.

What would Apple gain from this particular lawsuit if they were to win? One less competitor in Europe?

“1984 won’t be like ‘1984,’” you say. What about 2011? What about after that?

Last I checked, competition breeds innovation. Remove the competition and, well, I guess we’ll see.

So, what are your thoughts on Apple, blog readers? Are they becoming the monopoly they promised NOT to be? Are they simply exercising their rights as a business? Let us know how you feel.

Image sources: here and here

Joseph Giorgi

Joseph is the head of the Media Team at Quality Logo Products. He's a video specialist, blogger, perfectionist, and all-around likeable guy. When he's not busy focusing on the nitty-gritty details of his written and visual work, he's normally listening to bad 80s music and scouring the internet for useless information on useless subjects. You can also connect with Joe on Google+.


  1. Juliette

    Well said, Joseph! Apple seems to have gone a little “lawsuit-happy” lately. At this point they’re almost reminding me of Righthaven.

    I think I started really wondering about their methods when they brought a lawsuit against Amazon about the “App Store” name. Since then I’ve been watching their actions in court and, as an Apple fan, I find that I’m somewhat disappointed in them. I honestly think that they’re becoming the company they claimed they wouldn’t become. Protecting your patents and property is one thing, but for some reason this feels like overkill just to drive away competitors.

    • Jill Tooley

      Agreed, Juliette! I’m a big Apple fan as well, but their recent actions are a bit over the top. I’m also disappointed! 🙁

  2. JPorretto

    Aw Snap! You really took apple to task here! Bravo! I’m on record as NOT being much of a fan of apple, so this was an excellent read =D

    Here’s another example of lack of competition: Madden. It has an exclusive license with the NFL to be the only NFL video game, and ever since they got that the quality went in the toilet and innovation practically stopped altogether. As a huge fan of the NFL, I’ve seen first hand what the lack of competition creates… and Idunlikeit!

  3. amy

    After looking at the picture of the two product side-by-side, really Apple?! Like you, I’m not exactly sure what’s inside the two tablets. But how many ways are there to create a tablet? It’s not exactly like there’s a million different ways to customize it at this point. Does it only work when it’s horizontal? I know the iPads can work both ways, maybe that’s how it’s different?

    Apple’s legal actions is something to certainly watch in the future. Thanks for such an informative post Joe 🙂

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    Oh, Apple. Would you relax? You’re dominating the handheld electronic market, so why not let Samsung be? As a hopeful future tablet owner, I would love for the Apple competitors to really outdo Apple with their features. It would make a better tablet experience for the users and perhaps get Apple to drop the price of their iPad.

  5. Jen

    I have to say, I think the two tablets side by side look the exact same, other than a couple buttons. Samsung didn’t change the shape, the shiny black color or rounded edges.

    Amy has a good point “It’s not exactly like there’s a million different ways to customize it at this point”, but I think they could have done something different to make it stand out. Even if it was just the color or the sheen of the tablet. If I saw someone using the Samsung Tablet, without examining it closely, I would have thought it was an iPad. It looks like a copy to me.

    Samsung should be able to change the physical appearance of their tablet to look less like the iPad, instead of just not selling it at all. Apple needs the competition, and consumers should get a choice, but I completely understand Apple’s reasons for wanting to protect their brand’s image.

    • Jen

      BTW, Nicely written Joe!

    • Amanda

      I agree Jen. I think these two look very similar. I can understand Apple getting upset–but I agree they need the competition. Not sure how they could make it look different though. I think the rounded edges are a must, and black is pretty standard.

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