For the past week, tech titans Apple and Samsung have been engaged in a high-stakes patent battle in a Silicon Valley courthouse. Apple claims Samsung sold products that violate its patented smartphone and tablet —and owes $2 billion for the transgression. Samsung is claiming Apple violated two of its patents and owes $6 million.
Apple and Samsung’s tussles in the highly competitive smartphone/tablet market have led to some bad blood. In a biography of Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Jobs, who died in 2011, is quoted saying, “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this.” In the two companies' last patent fight, Apple was awarded nearly $1 billion, though Samsung is appealing the verdict.
But just a week into the case, emails and memos released as evidence in the lawsuit deep the antagonism between Apple and Samsung really is. They also shed light on how each company reacted to the challenge posed by the other.
Here are some of the biggest surprises from emails released last week:
- Steve Jobs believed he was in a “Holy War” with Google.
Google is a proxy in the Apple-Samsung feud, as Google created much of the technology that powers Samsung’s smartphones and tablets. If Apple wins, Google could have to make big changes in many of its features.
But Apple and Google have been at loggerheads for years. In an email revealed last week that Apple’s former chief executive circulated to top company employees in October 2010, Jobs outlined his plan for a meeting at an annual retreat. One of Jobs' planned discussion points included Apple’s “Holy War with Google" and "all the ways we (Apple) will compete with them (Google)."
- Apple’s marketing team thought Samsung was running circles around its ad campaign
Samsung stepped up its ad game in 2012 and 2013 with commercials targeted at Apple that made the iPhone’s technology appear antiquated and unattractive. After Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of global marketing, saw Samsung’s 2013 pre-Super Bowl commercials, he was dismayed enough to write an email to Apple’s outside ad producer, TBWA\Media Arts Lab, comparing Samsung to “an athlete who can’t miss because they are in the zone,” “while we struggle to nail a compelling brief on iPhone.”
“I can’t help but think ‘these guys are feeling it,’” Schiller wrote of Samsung.
- Apple almost fired its top ad agency.
Apple’s disgruntlement with Samsung’s ad campaign pushed Apple to reconsider its relationship with its outside ad producer Media Lab. Apple “may need to start a search for a new agency,” Schiller wrote to Apple chief executive Tim Cook in early 2013. He added, “we are not getting what we need from them and haven’t been for a while.”
The email is all the more surprising considering Media Arts Lab had long been Apple's go-to ad campaigner, and had created the famous "1984" Super Bowl ad that introduced the Macintosh personal computer.
- Steve Jobs was probably planning a “magic wand” for television
As part of Apple’s planned move into TV, Jobs was mulling options for the attack. “Apps, browser, magic wand?” he said in a 2010 email as part of potential strategies to bring Apple into television.
- Samsung is obsessed with one-upping Apple
In a Samsung business forecast for 2012, the company made it clear that its top prerogative was its tussle with Apple. “Beating Apple is #1 Priority (everything must be in context of beating Apple).” The forecast anticipated the release of the iPhone 5 and said the “threat from Apple is extremely real and urgent.”