Trial with Samsung reveals Apple's 7-inch iPad vision, 'Purple Project'

An Apple executive recommended the smaller iPad, according to a 2011 email

By , IDG News Service |  Networking

Apple considered developing a car or a camera after seeing the iPod's success, and in early 2011 one of its top executives recommended making a 7-inch iPad, Friday's testimony and documents revealed in the company's patent suit against Samsung.

Those were two highlights of a long day of verbal jousting between lawyers for the two companies, each of which accuses the other of violating its patents. Apple called two of its best-known executives, marketing chief Phil Schiller and software guru Scott Forstall, to the stand on Friday. It also questioned Justin Denison, the chief strategist for Samsung's U.S. arm, Samsung Telecommunications America.

Both companies defended themselves against accusations that they copied designs and software features from rivals' products, and both emphasized how much they invest in distinguishing their brands and products. Apple has spent about US$1.1 billion on advertising for the iPhone and iPad since the launch of its first iPhone in 2007, and Samsung said it spends about $1 billion per year marketing its brand.

7-inch iPad?

Part of Samsung's strategy to defuse Apple's charges of copying is to argue that it's no crime to be inspired by a competitor's product and that Apple does the same. To that end, Samsung lawyer Kevin Johnson questioned Forstall about a Jan. 24, 2011 email from Eddy Cue, head of Apple's iTunes business, in which he advocated building a smaller iPad. In the email, Cue cited an article by a writer who criticized the iPad for its size and praised the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab.

"I believe there will be a 7" market and we should do one. I expressed this to (CEO) Steve (Jobs) several times since Thanksgiving and he seemed very receptive the last time," Cue wrote in the email to Forstall, Schiller and Tim Cook, then Apple's chief operating officer.

But attempts by Johnson to draw out details regarding the upcoming iPhone 5 were dashed when he questioned Schiller. Johnson, making the point that Apple changes the design of the iPhone nearly every year, asked Schiller whether the design would change once again with the iPhone 5. Apple's legal team objected to the question. Judge Lucy Koh let Johnson ask, but Schiller said he preferred not to comment on possible future products.

An Apple car?

The testimony by Schiller and Forstall provided other glimpses into Apple's internal workings. Schiller, who is senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said the success of the iPod persuaded Apple that it could be more than a computer company. A flood of proposals came up for new types of Apple products, including a car and a camera. (Apple had previously sold an early digital camera, the QuickTake, in the 1990s.)

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