updated 11:43 pm EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
New details on competition emerge; lies told in court, says Apple
The second full day of the second Apple-Samsung patent trial is over, with Phil Schiller starting the day by continuing to submit to cross-examination by Samsung attorney Bill Price. Also on the stand on Friday was early iPhone engineer Greg Christie, and Apple-hired patent expert witness Dr. Andrew Cockburn. In the course of proceedings, some additional details about how buyers perceive the iPhone and its creation were revealed, and Judge Lucy Koh ruled against Apple on two objections.
Price started the day's questioning of Schiller by talking about an Apple survey that showed that "ease of use" was the most important factor to buyers in the US, with 94 percent ranking the quality as a very important factor. Battery life (91 percent), fast cellular performance (89 percent) and appearance (82 percent) were also among the most highly-rated qualities. Price repeatedly made the point that iOS and iPhones contain "hundreds of features" that contribute to the overall experience, laying the groundwork to argue that the five patents Apple is arguing for in the trial aren't in and of themselves very important.
Schiller was described by court observers as "a dream witness" for Apple as he refused to "give an inch" to Samsung attorneys, running out their clock by requiring careful parsing of each question and asking for clarification of any unclear terms before answering (usually very tersely). One light moment came when discussing Apple's release of its Maps program in iOS 6, which initially met with strong criticism for not being up to Apple's standards for something not labeled a beta, and having numerous technical issues (which have since been fixed).
Price, in arguing that the feature's poor initial performance didn't stop the iPhone 5 from being a runaway success, told Schiller "there's no such thing as bad publicity," to which Schiller replied "I wouldn't say that," to some chuckles in the gallery. Samsung is aggressively trying to show that no one feature or patent drives sales of smartphones, undermining Apple's valuation of the patents -- but also risking that jurors will get the impression that Samsung is owning up to having copied them in the first place, thus wanting the lowest price for its willful infringement.
According to a February 2011 Apple marketing study, "trust in the Apple brand" was the number one reason people chose an iPhone, a fact Samsung's attorneys used to reiterate that features and patented concepts don't sell iPhones as much as branding does. Schiller, who was seen in email correspondence presented in court being very worried about Apple's image after media reports and Samsung ads started casting doubt on Apple's unassailability of iPhone popularity, noted that he felt a prominent Wall Street Journal article headlined "Has Apple Lost its Cool?" presented a "slanted view of the facts that I didn't agree with." However, he commented to Apple's ad agency that "we need to do a lot of work to turn this around," after the article, and later considered replacing the company's long-time ad agency in a memo to CEO Tim Cook.
As it turned out, Apple didn't change ad firms -- but did create its first new branding campaign since 1997 two years later, 2013's "Designed by Apple in California." Samsung's Price attempted to make a connection to the slogan and the idea that Apple was reminding the audience that Samsung is based in Korea, but Schiller laughed off the idea.
Price also pointed to Apple's own iPhone buyer research that indicated that customers wanted longer battery life, even better maps and bigger screens, and tied these to a memo from then-CEO Steve Jobs that asked engineers to "catch up to Android where we are behind," part of the "Holy War against Google" email that had been previously presented in court. Schiller, who refers to Jobs as "Mr. Jobs" in court, characterized the email as more of an outline for discussion and notes for presenters, as opposed to a company edict.
Schiller was briefly re-questioned by Apple's lawyers following a break. Judge Koh refused to allow Apple to introduce new documents to help Schiller rebut assertions made by Samsung's attorneys -- the second time in a row the judge has forbidden Apple from defending itself against what it sees as distortions (and in one case, an outright lie told by lead counsel John Quinn) by Samsung's representatives.
The rulings could open up potentially rich grounds for an appeal if Apple should lose the case, as Quinn clearly fibbed in telling the jury (eight times) in his opening statement that Apple doesn't "practice" and never used most of its patents on trial in this case in the iPhone. In fact, Apple uses or used all of the patents in question -- but during the winnowing of claims from each patent Judge Koh demanded in pre-trial hearings, Apple agreed to avoid mentioning any claims from those patents not specifically part of the case.
Schiller, under re-direct, said that it was "really important" to the company to attract first-time buyers, since their experience will influence both what other devices they buy as well as the buyers' friends and family. Samsung's enormous marketing budget -- $12 billion in 2012, far outspending all other companies combined -- was noted as well. Schiller was finally excused, but may be called to return later.
Samsung slide praising "slide to unlock" feature
Apple then presented Greg Christie, Apple's vice president in charge of the Human Interface team and the inventor of the "slide to unlock" feature. He told the story of how he came to be one of the first engineers on the original iPhone team at the invite of former SVP Scott Forstall, describing how Jobs had pushed the team to create the fundamental concepts of the operating system. "It was exhausting and it was exciting," said Christie, who added that the team "wanted the iPhone to be far easier to use than any other phone, and be able to do more than any other phone."
One of the first people to see the iPhone prototype was board member Bill Campbell of Intuit, who told Jobs that the iPhone "would be bigger than the Mac." Christie added that the decision to include a full web browser was taken early on, rather than rely on existing "dumbing down" web standards for mobile that were prevalent at the time. Christie, who has about 100 patents related to the iPhone with his name on them, spent time detailing the "slide to unlock" patent, though on cross-examination he admitted that he didn't know what impact that feature had on Apple's iPhone sales. Samsung declined to cross-examine Christie beyond that.
Finally for the day, Dr. Andrew Cockburn (a professor at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand) was called to discuss the importance of Apple's patents. Cockburn, who told the court he was paid $490 per hour to testify and do research for Apple, was described as an expert in human-computer interaction. Unsurprisingly, he found that the two patents he was asked to research ("slide to unlock" and "autocorrect") were being infringed by Samsung. Asked how many of the accused Samsung handsets copied the patent, he simply said "all of them."
A key factor in Apple's defense of the "slide to unlock" patent is that it solved an existing problem among cellphone users, colloquially known as "butt dialling" but referred to in court as "pocket dialling," or accidentally placing a call. Attorney Harold McElhinny showed jurors a document from Samsung noting that the Galaxy's existing unlock method (at the time) was inferior (relying on a hardware button that could be pressed accidentally), with Christie noting that Samsung's contention that iPhone users found it "fun" to swipe the unlock was copied from his own research at the time. Samsung shortly thereafter created a touchscreen unlock that involved users moving a puzzle piece across the screen.
The number of reporters in the courtroom using the same Wi-Fi network caused a minor incident during the proceedings, as Judge Koh found following the lunch break that she couldn't access her live transcript (as she was also using the Wi-Fi network) and said that if issues persisted she would ban mobile devices from being used in the courtroom (as she did in the first Apple-Samsung trial). Reporters quickly shut off unnecessary electronics, and the problem was swiftly resolved -- reporters don't like to take notes by hand anymore.