Apple looked to Sony for iPhone design inspiration, court documents show

An Apple designer was asked to dream up cell phone designs inspired by Sony

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Mock-ups of iPhone prototypes are shown in this March 2006 image, submitted by Samsung to a California court on July 25, 2012.

IDG News Service/Martyn Williams

Apple looked in part to Sony for inspiration in designing its first iPhone, even having an internal designer produce "Sony-like" mock-ups of cell phones that carried the name of the Japanese electronics company, according to internal Apple documents submitted to a California court on Wednesday.

The documents were filed to the U.S. District Court in San Jose by lawyers for Samsung as part of an ongoing lawsuit with Apple over patent infringement. After months of in-court discussion and fighting, the two sides are scheduled to begin arguing their case in front of a jury on Monday.

A big part of the case revolves around allegations that some of Samsung's cell phones and tablet computers are too closely styled after Apple's products. With the recently filed documents, Samsung appears to be preparing to argue that Apple looked to other companies in designing its first cell phone and that such a practise is common in the consumer electronics marketplace.

An internal Apple CAD mock of a Sony-style cell phone shown in this March 2006 image, submitted by Samsung to a California court on July 25, 2012.

IDG News Service/Martyn Williams

The merits of this argument will be up to a jury to decide, but the documents do offer a fascinating look at some of Apple's design thinking almost a year before the iPhone was first revealed.

Apple founder Steve Jobs' admiration for Sony isn't a secret and the court filing appears to show that as part of the design process for the first iPhone, Apple asked one of its designers to answer the question: "What would Sony do?"

Samsung's court submission includes images produced by an Apple computer-aided design (CAD) system of a mock handset that borrows from Sony design elements of the time. They include a jog wheel, a combined control wheel and switch, that was used on Sony's Clie personal digital assistants.

A second submission includes a March 2006 email from Richard Howarth, a senior member of Apple's industrial design team, to Jonathan Ive, Apple's head of industrial design, concerning prototypes for the iPhone.

The email discusses mock-ups of a cell phone being prepared by Apple designer Shin Nishibori that Howarth refers to as "the sony-style chappy."

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Answers - Powered by ITworld

ITworld Answers helps you solve problems and share expertise. Ask a question or take a crack at answering the new questions below.

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question