Is Samsung (SSNLF.PK) already plotting its next Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) imitation? According to Korea’s ETNews, Samsung has decided to “apply metal cases to the premium smartphone model to be released early next year.” The report even notes that, “The late Steve Jobs, Apple founder, insisted on metal to emphasize the futuristic feeling of the iPhone and iPad series.”
Although Apple has been using metal casings for its devices for many years, Jack Purcher at Patently Apple thinks Samsung’s sudden penchant for metal casings may actually be related to recently leaked images of Apple’s upcoming gold/champagne-colored iPhone 5S. The ETNews report does not specifically mention a gold-colored Samsung smartphone, but it does use an image of a gold-colored Galaxy metal case cover to illustrate what future devices may look like.
It’s no secret that some of Samsung’s products have borrowed Apple’s design elements. In 2012, a jury even awarded the Cupertino-based company $1.05 billion in damages after deciding that 26 of the Korea-based company’s products infringed on Apple’s patents.
At a recent hearing related to that case, Apple lawyer William Lee stated via Bloomberg that, “Apple spent five years and $5 billion to develop a product and it was a revolutionary product. Samsung said, ‘We can copy it easily.’ They spent three months to bring a product to market.”
The image of the gold-colored smartphone case in the ETNews article may simply be a coincidence. However, given Samsung’s history of finding inspiration from Apple designs, it’s understandable that some commentators would view this as the latest evidence of Samsung’s mimicking of Apple’s designs.
Even if Samsung does decide to create a metallic gold-colored smartphone, the move would only further cement Apple’s position as an industry trendsetter. ETNews notes that Samsung’s shift to metal casings is an attempt to “reinforce the premium brand image.” Unfortunately for Samsung, it’s hard to establish a first-rate reputation if its design ideas always come in second-place.
As the premium smartphone maker, Apple has consistently been able to secure the lion’s share of the smartphone market profits. According to recent data from Canaccord Genuity research analyst T. Michael Walkley via Apple Insider, Apple took 53 percent of the total smartphone profits in the second quarter of 2013.
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