Apple vs. Samsung: A Case Study on the Biggest Tech Rivalry

Apple vs. Samsung: A Case Study on the Biggest Tech Rivalry

Humans are amazing animals, I mean we are smart and can do almost anything. Be it flying, cooking, innovating, and even revolutionizing the whole world with unbelievable technology. Think about this, the first computer was built in 1822, by a smart human called Charles Babbage. It used to have vacuum tubes and large compartments for storage. We have grown from that time at a rapid scale and efficiency, we have seen multifold growth in technology.

So much so, that the computer that once occupied a whole room by itself, now sits in your hand. Moreover, it just sits on our palms for a long time now as our screen times jump.

The smartphone industry has grown and has become one of the biggest industries in the world. Right now, there is a smartphone user base in the billions. This growth has led to the establishment of smartphone giants. Behemoth organizations like Apple and Samsung.

We all have that friend who is an ardent fan of apple, and we all have got a friend too who is always in love with Samsung. This takes us back to the smartphone war that has continued since time immemorial. The android vs apple war. This disparity in demographics is a good indicator of the product market. The user market is much skewed in different directions.

This article is the dissection of the silent raging war between Apple and Samsung. Read on to discover stories and not many known facts about the tech hulks.

Apple Product Line
The Rivalry Inception of Samsung and Apple
How Samsung and Apple Turned From Friends to Foe
The Billion Dollar Samsung Apple Lawsuit
The Court Rule and Afterwards


It's not a necessity to introduce Apple. The reason is that it is already a brand, a valuable brand which has managed to make a place in the hearts of people all around the world. That also explains why the company has no ‘about us’ section on its website.

Apple is the brainchild of Steve Jobs. It is an American multinational company specializing in consumer products in the tech line. The company is the biggest technology company with its magnanimous revenues and the most valuable company in the world. That too started from a garage and managed to become the most recognizable company in the world. It has been revolutionizing personal tech for decades.

Apple Product Line

Apple 1 was the first computer handmade by Steve Wozniak (Apple co-founder) under the name Apple in 1976. It was a computer encased in a wooden block. Then followed by Apple 2 which was more successful than the predecessor. After the success, they faced good losses in the fall of Apple 3. It faced overheating issues.

After seeing such failure they started to work on innovating something new. To come out of this deep pit, Something that will hopefully revolutionize personal computing.

They began to work on the Macintosh. It was their first computer that supported GUI or Graphic user interface, which allows the user to communicate with the computer in graphical mode. Launched the Macintosh in 1980 and this began the winning strike for apple.

Steve Jobs with John Sculley
Steve Jobs with John Sculley

It was in 1983 when Steve Jobs famously asked Pepsi CEO John Sculley to be Apple’s next CEO or if he wanted to “sell sugared water for the rest of his life or change the world? ” The relationship went bad later.

To remove him, Steve initiated a move that backfired and ended up removing himself from the board. The company saw good growth under the leadership of Sculley until he was removed because of some failed products.

Later Apple bought ‘Next’ which was founded by Steve Jobs bringing him back as an advisor. He immediately trimmed most of the product density in Apple and made the company as slim as possible and launched new sleek products.

Steve Jobs with the First iPhone
Steve Jobs with the First iPhone

He worked secretly on the first iPhone and launched it in 2007. It was an instant hit. Since then, iPhones have been the most popular phones in the world. A major part of Apple's revenue comes from them.

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The Samsung that we know today, wasn’t this when it started. It has gone through enormous shifts. Surprisingly, the company was not even in the technology business at its inception in 1938. It was a small company dealing in fried fish and noodles. In the 60s it entered the smartphone segment and today is the largest manufacturer of smartphones, televisions, and memory chips in the world.

In 1938, Lee Byung-Chul dropped out of college and founded a small business he named Samsung Trading Co. The initial corporate logo had three stars and was based on a graphical representation of the Korean Hanja word Samsung. It operated with the same Japanese culture as every corporate body, the employees did as they were told.

Soon with a good culture and with government assistance it entered domains like sugar refining, media, textiles, and insurance and became a success. So at this time, it was in good economic condition.

After the succession of third heir Kun-hee, the company saw an opportunity in technology and he invested heavily in semiconductor technologies and transformed Samsung from a manufacturer into a global technology powerhouse.

After Kun’s death, his easy-going son succeeded to the throne and began investing more in smartphones and more in tech. Later the company saw the most profits from smartphone sales. The most famous Samsung phones are Galaxy, after the first launch in 2009. During the third quarter of 2011, Samsung surged past Apple to the number one spot among phone manufacturers, based on shipments.

Samsung, as it saw handsome revenues in the smartphones segment, mocked Apple in many ways. You can still see those commercials on YouTube. So did Apple. They released commercials that defame other pioneer brands openly. This makes the rivalry public and leads to polarisation in the market. Let us discuss it in further detail.

The Rivalry Inception of Samsung and Apple

As the smartphone market and the hype around this continues to grow, smartphone leaders fight for greater dominance in this segment of the product. Behemoth organizations Samsung and Apple are the pioneers in this segment and one of the most famous rivals in the world. They not only fight for a greater market share but the main rivalry is a little off topic, it is a long legal battle into dark plagiarism.

Samsung not only competes with Apple in the notebook, tablets, and smartphones market, It also supplies Apple with crucial items for iPhones like OLED display and flash drive memory chip for storage. The Samsung we know today has not been constant as we consider its long history.

In the 80s the company was primarily focused on the semiconductor business. Apple was one of Samsung's largest buyers, ordering billions of dollars of parts for electronic devices. Its CEO at that time did meet several times with Steve jobs for advice or negotiations. The two companies had friendly relations with each other. Until something happened.

In 2007 the first iPhone was unveiled to the world. Two years later, in 2009 Samsung came up with a touchscreen device for their market running on Google's android system. Apple CEO Steve Jobs called Samsung a Copycat. ‘POOF’. Apple filed a lawsuit against Samsung. The rivalry began.

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How Samsung and Apple Turned From Friends to Foe

According to Walter Issacson, Steve’s biographer, He wanted to start a thermonuclear war against Android in this case of plagiarism and copying apple’s authenticity. From that event, Samsung dared from being a supplier of technological equipment to a competitor in market share. It went from being an ally to a fierce enemy.

Apple was extremely infuriated with this and dragged the matter into court, showcasing that the company is super sensitive about this issue. It filed a lawsuit against Samsung in serious violations of patents and trademarks of Apple’s property rights.

However, the court case wasn’t the first guard of Apple against Samsung. Both the companies Apple and Samsung had a long history of cooperation, so Apple first thought of talking the matter out rather than taking the case to court.

Apple proposed a licensing deal for Samsung for the patents and trademarks. The document stated that Samsung will pay 30$ on selling every smartphone and 40$ on every tablet.

Samsung ofcourse declined the offer, stating that the company hasn't done anything wrong and is not involved in copying Apple or violating any of the trademarks mentioned in the lawsuit. Not only this, Samsung reversed the licensing agreement onto Apple stating that they are the ones who are copying. This began the row of court cases by these tech hulks against each other.

The lawsuit filed by Apple was specific about the number of patents and the type of patents Samsung violated, let us discuss a little about the violations Apple mentioned.

The Billion Dollar Samsung Apple Lawsuit

The first lawsuit demanded 2.5 billion dollars in damages from Samsung. So we can assume it wasn’t a normal lawsuit. Apple was very serious about their smartphone launch and now with this case too. Samsung however seemed like it was ignoring Apple’s claims of plagiarism and trying to put the burden on Apple themselves.

Trade Dress

It is a visual form of patent, that deals with the visual and overall look of a product. Sometimes companies copy some famous brand’s product look and hope to generate sales. As people tend no not to look about details of a product, rather they just pick up based on the appearance of something. It instills confusion in consumers. Samsung Galaxy phone was the first touchscreen phone in the Samsung product line and it looked mostly the same as the newly launched iPhone.

Trademark Infringement

Apple Samsung Design Similarity
Apple Samsung Design Similarity

While Samsung could argue on the physical appearance being similar with iPhone but another thing the lawsuit included was trademark infringement. The icons on the iPhone were strikingly similar to those in Samsung’s phone. This turns the eyebrows up for Samsung. As there can be thousands of ways of designing icons and GUI effects, Samsung chose in most cases icons similar to that of the iPhone.

Other than these the lawsuit also concluded the methods of copying of the home screen, the design of the front button, and the outlook of the app's menu. All these were some specific irks for Samsung.

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The Court Rule and Afterwards

The case began in 2011 and went on to go worldwide. By July 2012, the two companies were still tangled in more than 50 lawsuits around the globe, with billions of dollars in damages claimed between them.

Hearing both sides, the law court ruled in the favour of Apple. The basis was their legitimate concerns about their product being copied in the open market. Samsung paid $1 billion in compensation to the iPhone designer.

“I am talking to you on a phone right now that Apple just copied,” said Brian Wallace, Samsung’s former vice president for strategic marketing. “It’s a giant phone that Steve Jobs made fun of. Who was right? Samsung was right.”

After this and all the cases in between this first court case, Samsung didn’t stay shut. It widely talked against Apple and filed lawsuits claiming infringements of their company policies and patents. These behemoths fought each other like wild animals. Suffering millions on each side, Tore each other apart in claims.


Apple claimed that Samsung had copied the iPhone, leading to a long-running series of lawsuits that were only finally resolved in 2018, with Apple being awarded US$539 million. Issues between the two companies continue. They are now perhaps best described as ‘frenemies’.

While tech hulks like these two fight for global dominance and the crown of the most innovative technology pioneer, it is sure that smartphones are a hot topic. It seems like everyone wants the latest phone to set a trend. From the latest Samsung foldable phone to the iPhones sold as a jewel. This market kind of seems like a fashion innovation.

Apple and Samsung will most probably rule until someone innovates in between. Whatever it will be, humans are fascinated and the future is exciting.


Who won the Samsung Apple lawsuit?

Apple won the patent dispute against Samsung and was awarded $1.049 billion in damages for 6 of the 7 patents brought to bear.

Why did Apple sue Samsung?

Apple initially sued Samsung on grounds of patent infringement.

Who launched first smartphone Apple or Samsung?

Apple iPhone was launched in 2007 and two years later, in 2009, Samsung released their first Galaxy phone on the same date.

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