In a recent interview with news outlet Reuters, Samsung Mobile's vice president of design, Lee Minhyouk, shed some light on the Korean manufacturer's recent rise to the top of the smartphone heap. Tracing the ascent back to the (dark) days of the Omnia, Lee detailed the origins of the company's first major splash in the swimming pool, the OG Galaxy, which he says grew out of the lessons learned from the failed Omnia. 

More interesting than the history of the Galaxy line, however, is Lee's defense against accusations that it blatantly ripped off Apple's design model. Having sold over 44 million Galaxys since its launch, Lee says that the product is steeped in Samsung's "technology, color, and design language."

I've made thousands of sketches and hundreds of prototype products (for the Galaxy). Does that mean I was putting on a mock show for so long, pretending to be designing?

While Lee admits that he isn't at the level of expertise as the big-wigs over in Cupertino, he is confident that Samsung will eventually create a product to "define our time," and he hopes that he's at the helm when it happens.

It's not just effort that makes it possible for a new product to be a massive hit. It also has to be timely, and technology should be ready to make a certain design a reality.

Reuter's full interview, which is definitely worth the read, can be found at the source link.

Source: Reuters


Reader comments

Samsung Mobile's VP of Design responds to accusations of copying Apple


I make accusations that Apple copied Windows Mobile and Palm. In fact, I make the accusation that Apple stole ideas from both these companies and branding them as their own. Only Apple fanboys and girls and people whom did not use the first mobile devices think different.

"Does that mean I was putting on a mock show for so long, pretending to be designing?"

No we're sure you had hundreds of designs on the table, but it's undeniable the end product was to some extent influenced by the iPhone design. Is that bad? No.

I applaud Samsung for doing whatever it took in getting a product and building a name for it (Galaxy). Something other manufacturers haven't really been successful in doing with Android.

While I agree that a bunch of their stuff is influenced by the iPhone, it's hard to believe that for the original Galaxy S, that they *didnt* just copy an iphone and reshape the center button. The likeness to the iPhone was just way too suspicious to say it was simply influenced.

That being said, Samsung is making steps in the right direction with their design, and lots of their stuff has its own original design features.

OK soon the fanboys (and girls) from iMore will show up in force to argue this one. Save the trouble & stay in Steves garden please.

I'm sorry, but Lee's comments come across as insincere in the face of some pretty damning evidence.

When the RAZR came out, Samsung mysteriously had similar-looking thin flip phones later.

When the BlackBerry was hitting its peak, we got the Samsung BlackJack (the company wasn't even trying to *hide* that it was copying RIM).

Every international Galaxy-branded phone from the S onwards has a deliberately iPhone-like center home button that no other Android brand has. Conveniently, when those phones get US versions, that home button goes away. Why do you think that is?

The Galaxy S/S II/Ace/etc. are solid phones, and in some cases very good ones. But there is zero question that Samsung has a long and ongoing mission of copying whoever's successful before them in the market, whether it's the hardware design or the software.

The thing about Inventions, is that there will always be someone out there that will borrow from the idea and make it better than the last, that is called Innovation. Samsung, and any other Phone manufacturer, is an innovator, i know that apple has "borrowed" a lot of designs, and any other button layout and all, from older products that we might of haven't seen the sun shine on them.
I mean, Heck lets sue apple for making a rectangular phone, just like any other damn thing that's rectangular out there. BAM! now they will be screwed.

amsung is without a doubt copying Apple. Google is without a doubt copying Apple. Anything having to do with Android is copying Apple. And the reason for them doing this, is because they know that if they dont steal Apples designs, no one will buy their products.

Wow! Are you dense! Or is that the inner i(diot)Fanboi in you?!

1. Android is based on Linux. Who knows what i(diot)OS is based on?
2. Object-oriented touchscreen phones existed in the mid-90s. I know. I owned one of the earliest.
3. Apple has never made anything creative. Just copy, repackage and re-brand.
4. Apple may be idiot-proofed, but Android always had the love of the tech-savvy crowd.
5. Apple had it made, but they have been slacking since the first i(diot)Phone

1.It's based Darwin the same that runs OS X, which is fork of FreeBSD same as Apple's fork of KHTML called Webkit that powers Google products.... oops
2.And Apple been bandwagon too:
Really how many times i will post this here? :p
3. Sure about that?
5. Who's been slaking on Multi-touch? ;p

Really guys, i'm user of both (got iPod Touch 1G and Galaxy S2) and i don't feel much difference other then Android is more open, both are functional OSes which do there job right, both benefits from co-existance.... and both got there fanboys ;]

What are you smoking? Apple has copied from Android, not the other way around. Their latest copies are notifications and voice dictation.

Wrong. The iPhone is a copy of the LG Prada. The Prada was in a design competition 4 months before the iPhone was ever mentioned by Apple.

Woo-Young Kwak, head of LG Mobile Handset R&D Center, said at a press conference, “We consider that Apple copied the Prada phone after the design was unveiled when it was presented in the iF Design Award and won the prize in September 2006.”

Anyone who says otherwise is clearly ignorant of the facts.

You are the epitome of why people hate fanbois and the pedestal you put your overprices devices on. Your ignorance, your uneducated comments, are everything we dislike about apple and their business model. Try doing some research before unleashing your verbal diarrhea upon the world.

I'm kind of confused, what part of the Galaxy Note is designed like the IPhone. Is it the replaceable battery, is it the SDHC slot, is it the SPen, is it the large screen size, or is it the thin design?

Just because Apple may have taken it from Palm does not mean Samsung didn't take it from Apple, or from Palm. So what was your point there?

My point is simply this, most of the technologies that Apple has implemented comes from older devices, just like newer devices have taking from Apple, it's called natural progression of technology and when something works well for the consumer, then of course others will duplicate to serve their consumers. I just think it is stupid for one company to think it has cornered the market on new technology and design, when they have clearly not.

Really? We’re talking about the placement of a button? I wonder how long it will be before Apple sues some manufacturer for putting the earpiece on the top of the phone? Have we got to the point where the difference between innovations vs practical functionality is that blurred?

They can't do that.... there has been hundreds of millions of precedents where mobile phones have earpieces at the centered top front of the phone.

I've said it before and I will say it again but Samsung has/is copying apple. I am a long time Android fan (OG Droid, Droid X, Charge and now Nexus) but this single button right in the center is just a blatant rip off and I don't care and it shouldn't matter that Palm did it first. I love my Galaxy Nexus and don't have any plans on switching to iOS (tried it and did not like it for several reasons) but come on samsung, it's getting ridic. That's why I love my nexus, no single iphone-esk home button or anything similar.

All phones copy in some part something that was done before. You could argue that Apple copied having icons in menu's from Motorola and a host of other companies in the era of 'dumb phones'. All the law suits about button placement etc is just ridiculous IMO and a waste of time and money, Maybe that's Apple's new strategy?

That's fine, but it *does* matter if Palm (and others) did it first. It could very well be that Samsung is copying Palm (and others), not Apple, and Apple is just trying to get a monopoly on the market. The whole argument of "You're copying me!" is gone when there's a logical someone else before you that they could be copying and who it could be argued that you're copying as well.

Why don't we ever hear these discussions surrounding televisions, cars, ovens, can openers, etc..This is all just plain dumb.

and here's to hoping Ford sues GM for making cars with four wheels. That'll show the world that they really know how to make good products!

Funny thing is, the iOS interface and single button candybar style was stolen from Samsung by Apple... the only major difference was Apple removed the pointer position crosshairs Samsung had on their device. The iPhone is based 100% on a Samsung design. Fact.

If you're going to troll you should at least try and be clever, because nothing in your comment remotely resembles fact.

Apple definitely stole from Palm. When the iPhone came out, my Treo still did many things the iPhone could not. Add to the fact that Palm (now HP) has the patent for adding telephoney capabilities to a handheld computer and you know why Apple never came after Palm, even when the initial Pre would sync with iTunes.

Once Apple implements wireless charging into the iPhone, it will try to monopolize it, and sue every company that manufactures third party wireless charging gizmos and every company that also puts this technology into their phone products. Every company other than Palm/HP. Wonder why?

Putting a home button on the bottom center is COMMON SENSE, not copying. Where the hell was Samsung supposed to put it? On the back of the phone??? C'mon ppl, don't be so "smart" that you're actually stupid.

The problem is that there are very few logical ways to do what a mobile phone does. MOST of these patents/design cues are so stupidly obvious that there's no way to avoid "stealing" if you are in the marketplace.