back to article Jony Ive: Flattered by rivals' designs? Nah, its 'theft'

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as the saying goes, but Apple’s design guru and very precious genius Sir Jony Ive doesn’t see it that way - he reckons its more like robbery. The knighted creator of all things i-related was asked by an audience member at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Fran, if …

  1. returnmyjedi

    Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

    And similar sentiments. He must reeling in how shamelessly Nokia ripped off the colourful design of the iPhone 5C, Google for nicking the flat design of iOS 7 and the LG Prada for so cheekily travelling back in time and pilfering the original iPhone's touch screen. A pox on them!

    1. Tim Roberts 1

      Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

      well said!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

      He has a point.

      Yet anyone in business will tell you that to succeed you have to be two steps ahead of the opposition and competition. If you start playing catch up you inevitably lose.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

        If you start playing catch up you inevitably lose.

        Oh here we go with the anti-Microsoft posts.

        Leave the underdog alone.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          "Flat" design

          is simply going back to the basics. Everything was flat, until the CPU/GPU power existed to give a UI a faux 3D look, and eventually that become all the rage just because. But just because you can do it doesn't mean you should do it. Ive thinks you should not, so when he got his hands on the UI he changed that. With his minimalist philosophy it is easy to see why he'd think that way.

          Maybe flat design will become all the rage as everyone goes retro and then someone will go back to a 3D design as "new" again. Sort of like fashion trends like skirt lengths going up and down over the years. Stuff like the depth of a UI is a personal preference, not something for which there is one obvious "right" answer.

          1. Daniel B.

            Re: "Flat" design

            Stuff like the depth of a UI is a personal preference, not something for which there is one obvious "right" answer.

            Which is why you should give users the choice of one or the other. I'm miffed that Yosemite is going to foist the "retro" flat Dock on us, and AFAIK there's no way to choose the 3D look.

          2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: "Flat" design

            @Doug S

            $deity I hope skeumorphism stays a dead fashion. What an 80s-class trainwreck that was. "Creativity" my chrome-plated ASCII!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Flat" design

              >$deity I hope skeumorphism stays a dead fashion.

              Well, it is often used as a 'stepping stone'* to introduce people to software, e.g program 'windows' are like papers on a desk.

              I can see us having skeumorphic icons for Play, Mail, Paintbrush etc for some time yet.

              *Even our language is skeumorphc, since we borrow words used for real objects to describe more abstract concepts.

          3. Philip Lewis

            Re: "Flat" design

            "Maybe flat design will become all the rage "

            ... too late :(

            1. Philip Lewis

              Re: "Flat" design

              Wow, down voted for terse, 2 word observation and an emoticon.

              In the name of Apple inspired minimalism, I am gunning for down votes for a one word post sans smiley - stay tuned.

          4. Zolko

            Re: "Flat" design

            "Everything was flat, until the CPU/GPU power existed to give a UI a faux 3D look"

            no, it all begun with MacOS System 8, when the window borders and UI buttons took that 3D shape. Before that, with System 7, it was all flat. And there where no GPUs then, hey, some CPUs didn't even have the math coprocessor. You're confusing with 3D CAD, but on UIs it's only pixmaps, no GPUs needed. I even remember having installed a System 7 "extension" giving my System 7 a System 8-ish look.

            it was 1995 (or 1997 ?)

            Or go back to windows 3.1, where there was a distinctive 3D effect on buttons when pressed.

            This "flatness" thing was (re)invented by Microsoft and the Metro interface. It's just the new rage, until the next trend comes (diagonals ? you heard it first here)

            What GPUs allow is transparency, alpha-blending, translucent menus.

    3. SuccessCase

      Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

      People see what they want to in this debate. I think there is some important principles that are rarely applied when talking about copying. It's easy and IMO deliberately disingenuous to refer to any single factors and label it as copying.

      The very fact of a single factor implies no creative design effort is required. So for example, screen size is a single factor. Colour is a single factor. "Flat" is a single factor. These things are simply the building blocks of design and being "the same" on any single factor says nothing at all. Nor should it. If to re-use a material, colour or size constitutes copying and is bad, then everyone is a rip-off artist. Clearly that's nonsense.

      But once multiple factors are the same we can start to take notice. Having said that, multiple factors being the same are not always a bad thing. Sometimes they are the same because we are dealing with a parody or a tribute, both of which have their clear role and their own special kind of creative merit.

      But, multiple factors may also be the same in ways that are entirely conventional and required no creative input to get there. At this point in time, having a screen, a processor and RAM are an example of this. So multiple factors alone are not sufficient to declare copying.

      A good creative product design sees multiple design factors combined to make a coherent entity where each of those factors is integral to and contributes to the improvement of practical feature, or create an aesthetic harmony, or most usually both. They may be combined with conventional factors as well (such as the aforementioned processor RAM and screen). That doesn't matter. It's the combination of new additive factors that are significant.

      So no, Samdroids, single factor concepts like screen size are not a creative design. Nor is the concept of a "flat" user interface which has been around for a lot longer than smartphones.

      THIS is an example of a multi-factor design similarity that amounts to a simple rip off where the rip-off merchant has done precious little thinking for themselves :

      Rip-off second icon in the row

      There are many many examples of multi-factor copying by Samsung when it comes to Apple iPhone and iOS it's hard to know where to begin. Here's just a few examples

      Samsung multi-factor copying is rife

      Now I know many techies don't have much in the way of creative capacity. So they tend to see a design and think, "yes, that's the solution and the obvious way to do it". But for each of the examples given in the link above, to understand the degree to which Samsung engage in multi-factor copying, just consider the Nokia equivalent. In each case it will be it's own distinct design, where a Nokia designer has spent time and honoured the customer relationship with effort and the statement to the effect I'm going to do this the Nokia way because I believe in my skill and the creative industrial production of this company.

      When people say copying is the sincerest form of flattery they say it because they have little control over it and it's a positive spin to put on something that you have no real control over in life. When you have no control over such things, it's important to remain positive and look after what you can control more than what you can't. We don't say it because slavish copying is OK, or nor does it mean doing so other than for reasons of parody or tribute to the original creative, is OK either. It's little more OK than plagiarism. It's tacky, cheap and is like saying to your users, "we couldn't be bothered to present this to you on our own terms according to own design beliefs and values because frankly, we prefer theirs."

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        @SuccessCase Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

        "Now I know many techies don't have much in the way of creative capacity."

        Do you have any hard figures and reliable studies to back that up, or are you just being 'creative'?

        1. Chris Miller

          @frank ly

          Probably a barista.

        2. SuccessCase

          Re: @SuccessCase Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          "Do you have any hard figures and reliable studies to back that up, or are you just being 'creative'?"

          No I have no studies to back that up. I have eyes. I lived during the period when techies could customise Windows 3.1 with their own colours and fonts. 'Nuff said.

          1. Rufus McDufus

            Re: @SuccessCase Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

            Has it occurred to you that 'techies' may not be the ones designing the phone styling and look & feel of the OS?

            1. SuccessCase

              Re: @SuccessCase Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

              "Has it occurred to you that 'techies' may not be the ones designing the phone styling and look & feel of the OS?"

              Yes

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @SuccessCase Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

              >Has it occurred to you that 'techies' may not be the ones designing the phone styling and look & feel of the OS?

              Yes - if you want a giggle I'd recommend you visit the exhibition of students work that many design schools put on to showcase their graduates.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @SuccessCase Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

            >"Do you have any hard figures and reliable studies to back that up,

            > or are you just being 'creative'?"

            >... I lived during the period when techies could customise Windows 3.1

            > with their own colours and fonts. 'Nuff said.

            A better example would of been the period when techies thought they were graphic designers and built their own websites... This is also one of the reasons why voice systems are in the main so appalling, techies ie. programmers, think they know better than radio script writers how to build a dialogue-based UI...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @SuccessCase Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          Nah, he's right, it doesn't take any creativity to design a large scale enterprise networking system or a significant piece of multiuser software, it's just a matter of rolling out the specification, which has been designed by someone else.

          /s

        4. JEDIDIAH
          Mushroom

          Re: @SuccessCase Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          > "Now I know many techies don't have much in the way of creative capacity."

          I would rather that form followed function and that "design" was kept out of it. I would prefer that the practical considerations come first and the visual nonsense is only applied later once the important details are dealt with.

          "Designers" are so full of themselves claiming ownership on simple things that require no real creativity at all.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @SuccessCase Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

            "I would rather that form followed function and that "design" was kept out of it."

            So, Soviet era apartment blocks must be the height of design for you.

            You need help.

      2. returnmyjedi

        Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

        Most of the features that Samsung ' copied' in the blood linked to seem to be vast improvements on the Apple designs (the on-screen keyboard especially, which after eight iterations of iOS is still diabolical).

        This self belief in Apple's unwavering originality and innovation doesn't seem to be isolated to the hallowed wakes of Cupertino either. Just this afternoon the bloke in front of me at the rugby (go Saints!) was dissing the man in the seat next to him for owning a HTC One M8 which was a apparently a shameless facsimile of his iPhone 6. Yet another example of the lengths that Apple's competitors will go to in bending the space time continuum just to nick fruity ideas.

        1. SuccessCase

          Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          "Most of the features that Samsung ' copied' in the blood linked to seem to be vast improvements on the Apple designs"

          Next post: my impossible to prove but nevertheless sincerely felt belief that for many techies, design taste is like the colour "red" to people with Deuteranopia.

        2. Apdsmith

          Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          It also ignores one of the things that Apple actually does do quite well - I don't rate them as all that innovative, personally (This is the company that sued MS for stealing the stuff _they_ stole from PARC, remember) - but it'd be foolish to deny Apple's talents as system integrators. Getting all of the stuff that other people invented to work together well is an important skillset of it's own, but because of the insistence on maintaining the "Apple invented the helicopter" thing they've got going on they completely ignore this (I think) fundamental aspect of their business.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

            ".. the stuff _they_ stole from PARC, remember"

            I am going to make it my goal in life to point out this lie every time some moron on this forum posts it. Apple did not steal anything from Xerox.

            1. JEDIDIAH
              Devil

              Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

              It doesn't matter if they "stole" it or "bought" it. The result is the same. They cribbed it from someone else. They did not invent it. They merely took someone else's stuff and reused it.

              Apple like Microsoft are both great at watching the innovators flounder. Then they swoop down like vultures when everyone else has done the hard work trying to push the technology forward. They steal or buy stuff and then run the real risk takers out of business.

          2. Handy Plough

            Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

            If you mean stole as in "paid for", then yes, you are correct.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

              Stole or paid for ... either way, where is the innovation ?

      3. SuccessCase

        Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

        BTW, I don't agree with all the examples given in the second link. Namely, the MacBook Air "copy," USB Connector "copy" and camera connection copy and possibly the iPad "copy". It seems to me in those cases the conventional arrangement argument I've given above applies sufficiently that the similarity with Apple applies only as a single factor or at least is not particularly onerous and they can't clearly be called rip-offs.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          "BTW, I don't agree with all the examples given in the second link."

          I think there are rather more exceptions than you allow.

          Taking the first one, iPhone 3G, once you get past the shape about the only striking resemblance in detail is that they both have an icon of a phone handset on a green background on the bottom left. The shape? They're both rectangles with a similar size & shape with rounded edges. Why? I don't suppose Fanbois & Samdroids have different proportions or sizes of hands & face and people have been rounding off edges at least since the neolithic when they started applying retouch to the edges of flint blades.

          Next, the iPad2: different aspect ratios, totally different screen layouts - where's the dock on the Sammy?, bits & pieces in the bezel.

          And so on.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          So you don't agree with the Macbook Air or USB connector 'copy' - so you do with the rest...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Holmes

        Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

        @SuccessCase - You lost me at "there IS some important principleS" and "any SINGLE factorS and label IT as copying".

        Your butchery of grammar rules related to the use of plurals is hurting my tiny creative brain. And I don't own a Sammy (besides a cheap Chromebook my daughter stole from me) or any Sammy stock, so beat them up all you like. I'm sure they are just stealing rounded corners and bouncy icons all over the place - real important stuff. But please get your verbs and nouns to match up.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          "Your butchery of grammar rules"

          It's not butchery, he's just being creative.

      5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. SuccessCase

          Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          @Trevor_Pott Seems strange you are self identifying with the subset of techies with no creative capacity and then getting all bent out of shape Trevor.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...getting all bent out of shape

            That post was actually written by Siri on TP's new iPhone.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge
              Pint

              Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...getting all bent out of shape

              I have a Mac Mini Retina, not an iPhone! Get it right, man! I'm sticking with my Note 2 until something compelling shows up to to convince me it's worth the hassle to switch.

              Egads, kids these days, never reading...

          2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

            @SuccessCase I absolutely do take offense to a broad generalization whose very clear aim was to paint techies as "generally non creative" and to indicate that those with creative skills were rare. That's a bunch of bullshit and you know it.

            The number of techies lacking creative capacity is miniscule. In my experience the non-creative techies could be easily outweighed by the number of arrogant twunts that inhabit the average forum. I seem to be able to find techies with creative capacity all around the world. Pretty much wherever I look, as a matter of fact. A very minor amount of training and they're able to do exercise that creative talent professionally.

            Quite the opposite is something I find true. People who trained to be "creative" first seem really bloody hard to train to be techies. Not impossible - I've trained a few myself over the years - but a lot harder than helping a techie unleash their creative capability.

            What saddens me is when the only creative capacity that some individuals have is rabid fanboyism tied to misplaced brand tribalism. Those people are just wastes of carbon.

            1. Philip Lewis

              Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

              "@SuccessCase I absolutely do take offense to a broad generalization whose very clear aim was to paint techies as "generally non creative" and to indicate that those with creative skills were rare. That's a bunch of bullshit and you know it."

              It is not bullshit where I work now (or pretty much anywhere in the past). After several years of abominable design, the PHB finally hired a graphic designer with some creative sense, and someone else with a slight clue about usability (factors missing from the tech nerds) - the next version of the product shows the result.

              I realise that this is anecdotal, but like @SucceCase, I have been around the trapds for a very long time. My opinion on this matter, like his, is informed by a very long experience in the industry.

            2. SuccessCase

              Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

              @Trevor_Pott

              Surely you value logic Trev. Last time I checked "many" wasn't a part of the nomenclature of set theory and doesn't have a formal definition meaning "most," or "more than 50%". If a population is large enough even 1% can be many. "Techies" represent a pretty damned large population.

              "What saddens me is when the only creative capacity that some individuals have is rabid fanboyism tied to misplaced brand tribalism. Those people are just wastes of carbon."

              What saddens me is when educated technologists, who should, if they are good at their work, have minds with a logical bent, repeatedly engage others with one or more of the logical fallacies. So for example, ad-hominem attacks by calling someone "a waste of carbon," instead of attempting proper debate, or the straw-man argument misrepresenting what they have said as a broad generalisation, when even moderately careful reading would lead to the conclusion it is no such thing. It seems the problem is that some people simply can't read and comprehend with with an open mind when they disagree with the point another has legitimately made and argued.

              As for my supposed fanboyism, I'm not the one taking tribal offence, frothing at the mouth or throwing insults around. I'm perfectly happy to argue my corner firmly but cogently. I know my views aren't always popular with The Register readers (then again oftentimes they are - I get more upvotes than down votes) and especially you Trevor. Anyone with an iota of appreciation of the history of science, philosophy or logic should know popularity and consensus are no arbiters to the truth. The best way to the truth is through respectful debate. The history of your posts rather illustrates to me that perhaps that point is lost on you.

      6. Philip Lewis

        Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

        Success case, an upvote for cogent intelligent commentary, dutifully downvoted by the commentards here who demonstrate yet again their paucity of objectivism and sense of reality.

        Your post should be post of the month.

        Sorry I can only give 1 upvote

        1. SuccessCase

          Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

          Thank-you Philip.

      7. Indolent Wretch

        Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

        >> Samsung multi-factor copying is rife

        And the problem with all such "studies", all such fan compiled accusation lists is they ALL start with the blind assumption that the Apple design is the first ever design of it's type. They never look for prior art. They never look for the things Ive's used as inspiration (never to admit) before he then accuses others of copying.

        This is important as:

        Apple invented it, Apple made it successful, Samsung copied Apple

        Sounds an awful lot worse than:

        Apple copied it, Apple had success with it, Samsung copied it to.

      8. Alan Johnson

        Response to: Now I know many techies don't have much in the way of creative capacity

        I take it you are not a 'techie'. I have worked in product design almost my entire life and I need to deploy creative and tehcnical skills. In my experience the only people who think engineers and scientists are not creative are those who are ignorant and/or incapable of technical work and lack the imagination to see why creativity is important in technical fields.

        In other words those who are both ignorant and stupid.

        In the wider debate about Apple the reason they get such a hostile reception is that they managed to claim as their own design elements they themselves copied and which were well established before they entered the market. This reduces innovation and the ability to be creative.

    4. ~mico
      Pint

      Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

      kudos for mentioning LG, I was actually considering it to become my first smartphone, but got Samsung blackjack instead. But of course, first touchscreen smartphones were by Microsoft/Compaq and Palm/Sony.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

      Huh? According to Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, the entire "Apple Look" was basically ripped off from Bang & Olufsen. Which is obvious to anyone who is a Jobs contemporary.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Those in glass houses, Sir Jony...

        The B&O design language (or more correctly that of the individual involved) is straight lines. If B&O designed any Apple device, it would look massively different.

        B&O has other design elements to be sure, but the predominant visual one is straight lines - Jacob Jensen design house.

        There are a few curves in recent years, this is seen as a radical departure from their otherwise consistent design language.

  2. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    And Samsung

    And Samsung got the IPhone design, time travelled back before the IPhone came out and released a phone. Those bastards!

    (As I recall, Samsung showed photos of one of their phones with design elements Apple claimed were copied from IPhone... but the Samsung had already been out for 6 months! Samsung's lawyers made a procedural error and Apple got this declared inadmissable.)

    Another good reason not to buy Apple products. I won't support a company that tries to go sue anybody that ends up with a vaguely similar looking product. The hardware or software (if proprietary) was copied outright? That's not theft (unless they stole a prototype) and Ive sounds like an idiot abusing the term theft for things that are not theft; but this is nevertheless a serious legal problem. Ending up with a product that vaguely looks like another product? Suck it up guys.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: And Samsung

      Given the number of products Samsung releases, it is a cinch they'd have something that matches almost anything. I'd be not at all shocked if Samsung has released something like that goofy square Blackberry phone at some point.

      There's a difference between having one product that you sell a few thousand of and then forget, and making it the basis of your whole product line.

      1. Howverydare

        Re: And Samsung

        "Given the number of products Samsung releases, it is a cinch they'd have something that matches almost anything. I'd be not at all shocked if Samsung has released something like that goofy square Blackberry phone at some point."

        With some artistic licence in terms of how similar they look, they did.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/06/26/review_samsung_p300/

        Thanks El Reg for the article.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: And Samsung

      I only remember that there were a few sites on the Internet showing a website from a 2006 tradeshow where Samsung had "copied" lots of things that were part of the iPhone when that was released in 2007. Except that someone had doctored the numbers on these sites, and the images were really from 2007; pictures from Samsung phones of the real 2006 trade show looked nothing like an iPhone.

  3. bex

    Apple invented nothing

    There is nothing in IOS that had not been done before in some form or other, I suspect Ive and his ilk are big Star Trek fans

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Apple invented nothing

      So a fake prop from a sci fi show consists of prior art in your world? I guess if I figured out warp drive that used a power source involving lithium, you'd claim I don't deserve a patent for it, because Gene Roddenbury got there 50 years ago?

      1. Grikath Silver badge

        Re: Apple invented nothing @DougS

        Wellll.... Making the film prop into reality has been a neat feat of engineering and technical design. As for the actual look of the thing... Well yes, I think you could credit Roddenbury ( or whoever came up with it in the prop department) for that.

        But it sure as hell wasn't Apple that came out with the first flip-phone.. I think it was Nokia or Ericsson who came up with that one.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Apple invented nothing @DougS

          Since Apple NEVER made a flip phone, it is a pretty safe bet they didn't have the first one!

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: Apple invented nothing

        "So a fake prop from a sci fi show consists of prior art in your world?

        They count every bit as much as all those bullshit patents of things that have allready been invented, but still legally belong to the new owners because they haven't been documented within the US borked patent system before.

        You know, like the "wheel", and "curved corners".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apple invented nothing

          Th curved corners are what the US calls a "design patent" and we, more logically, call a "registered design". The rules include that a registered design must "be new". You cannot include anything inventive in a registered design.

          So a fake prop from a sci fi show is definitely prior art for a design, as it does not need to be functional and it has been widely published.

          I believe it took the Australian patent office to allow the patenting of the wheel. Of course at the time it actually was novel in Australia (snark). But it can't be patented anywhere else. Just because no explicit patent exists for a wheel in the US or the EU doesn't matter, because other patents contain wheels as part of mechanisms.

      3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Apple invented nothing

        A "fake prop from a sci fi show" is admissible prior art. It is sufficient to prove the lack of originality in a patent application. So the law says. End of story.

        1. Handy Plough

          Re: Apple invented nothing

          Can you name the parliamentary act and statute that applies. Where is the precedent in case law?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Apple invented nothing

            The 1949 Act

            Section 1B applies as regards novelty

            Section 1C applies in that technical functions cannot be registered as part of a design.

            It's pretty clear, and has been around since 1949, but an awful lot of people seem not to know about it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple invented nothing

      Hey look if Apple invented a holodeck or food replicator you would cry STAR TREK - it's one think you imagine it - quite another to do it.

      1. Indolent Wretch

        Re: Apple invented nothing

        We aren't talking about Holo-frikking-decks we're talking about the shape of a tablet or the flat design of a UI.

        And lets make this clear, a real holodeck would involve 10,000 extremely technical and brilliant new patents on a myriad of subjects. But if the company that managed all that brought it to market and made it look exactly like the inside of the ST:TNG one when it was off and then tried to claim the design for their own and said nobody else could copy it?

        Then the sci-fi show WOULD be legitimate prior art and hopefully they'd be told to shove it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    So how come

    the new iPhones look exactly like Samsung and LG phones we've seen for years?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So how come

      But better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Holmes

        Re: So how come

        Better because it bends?

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So how come

      I think it looks very much like a thinner, wider, longer iPhone 2G

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So how come

        And from your point of view it would but then again if it suited you - you would claim a Maclaren F1 looks like a Ford Model T - if you squint so much your eyes are closed?

    3. Handy Plough

      Re: So how come

      It look like the first iPhone more than anything else. So there's your answer. Apple are coping their selves. Get your tiny fandroid mind around that!

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Function, Form, Design

    No matter what any designer wants to think about his/her designs, function to a large degree has to dictate form.

    A watch has to fit on a wrist, not be too heavy but big enough in this cast to read a screen so the upper and lower limits are not going to be very different from on manufacturer to another, then we get down to the arty part round corners or square etc. Very square corners may not be very appealing to look at and may catch on clothing so it's probably going to be rounded.

    Any designer is sooner or later going to come to similar conclusions for similar items so really they are limited to colour , texture and material which are still dictated to some degree by function.

    A lot of good engineers design as well or better than many 'Designers ' simply because they understand what dictates an elegant functioning piece of equipment, successful as he is Ive is no Conran.

    If he doesn't like that he can sue me.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Function, Form, Design

      >function to a large degree has to dictate form.

      > Very square corners may not be very appealing to look at and may catch on clothing so it's probably going to be rounded.

      Basically, a cigarette case lays the template for items designed to be carried in a pocket.

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: Function, Form, Design

      Yes this is what I am thinking some of these thigs that are copied seem to be a case of ergonomics and function dictating there appearance. It seems to me its a bit like Mercedes sueing Ford because they have used round wheels as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Function, Form, Design

        You should learn the history of the automobile - it was one giant patent race and there was plenty of litigation over things you would today claim "obvious" - mainly because almost everything is obvious if you have seen it before.

        FFS, the air brake is so fucking obvious it should never have been patentable!

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Function, Form, Design

          This is why I said some things, air brake I would argue is a sensible thing to patent.

  6. Mage Silver badge
    Gimp

    Hypocrite!

    This is the guy that copies Dieter Rams who did so much iconic 50s & 60s Braun. Who is flattered by the imitation.

    The whole point is simplicity of style, thus any product which has Dieter Rams principles applied will look similar.

    1. Alan Welk

      Re: Hypocrite!

      I think they ignored rules 7,8 and 9

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hypocrite!

        >I think they ignored rules 7,8 and 9

        @ Alan Welk

        How are Apple any worse than any other mobile phone vendor on these points?

        7. Is long-lasting

        Phones tend to be replaced by newer models before they fail. Batteries can be replaced for less than £30. The user can buy a case to suit their environment should they choose, from an Otterbox to a wallet case. The OS is updated for several years after the phone's sale.

        8. Is thorough down to the last detail

        I don't see any glaringly arbitrary design choices in Apple stuff. They make decisions that might not suit you, or me, but they have made concious decisions during the design process.

        9. Is environmentally friendly

        No new mobile phone is environmentally friendly, if it is being compared to just using your existing phone.

        My next phone will be a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact.

    2. Van

      Re: Hypocrite!

      I would've loved to have seen what Jonny Ive came up with if he only 'applied' Dieter's principles without seeing any of his work. Or if he hadn't applied them at all after designing that tacky imac.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Hypocrite!

        >I would've loved to have seen what Jonny Ive came up with if he only 'applied' Dieter's principles without seeing any of his work.

        Ive was first known for the Bondi Blue iMac. It doesn't superficially resemble any of Rams' work, though it follows Rams' principles.

        The iMac was a product of its time. 3D solid-modelling CAD and Simulation software matured so that more 'organic' forms, such as the iMac's case, could be modelled and manufactured. Without these CAD tools, the iMac's development time woud have been much longer.

        Ive's first product to resemble a Ram's object was the iPod. The constraints were the two major internal components - the HDD and required battery. The back of it resembles a cigarette case, and the front is largely defined by the user interface, i.e the screen and wheel.

        Anyway, Rams wasn't the only 'form engineer' of the 1950s... check out this Zeiss Jena Werra MK1 camera:

        http://leavemehere.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/werra/

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Hypocrite!

      If Ive was designing electric shavers and other products that Rams did, then you'd have a point. It is one thing to be inspired by the design of something in a completely different category from decades ago, it is not the same as being "inspired" by the design of something in the same product category that came out a year or two earlier.

      1. Indolent Wretch

        Re: Hypocrite!

        Yes it is

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hypocrite!

      This gets to the point of trying to claim a modern car is just an evolution of horse and cart. It is one think taking design ideas and another just blatantly copying them.

    5. Handy Plough

      Re: Hypocrite!

      Dieter Rams in turn copied Le Corbusier and Mies Van Der Rohe to name but two. He was clearly and heavily influence by the ideals of the Baauhaus and the architectural 'Moderne' movement which has been misrepresented as 'minimalism' since. Besides, Rams himself identifies Ive and Apple as one of the only businesses in the world currently that 'get' design. But hey, keep those gums a flappin'.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I also watched this popular TV programme in the 1970's

    Jony Ive a dick on my head

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/02/07/apple_ipad_tomorrow_people/

    1. Mephistro Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I also watched this popular TV programme in the 1970's

      Upvoted, but Kubrick and Clarke were there before.

      Anecdotically, they also described a device with all the functionalities of a smartphone in "The lost worlds of 2001". From memory, a small device that was a (wireless) phone, a camera with flash and video, and a computer with messaging at the same time, and that was used by 'people' in an alien crowd to record the arrival of their first human visitors.

      I've commented on this 'smartphone' several times at several forums. This is because I still find difficult to believe the extreme precision with which they forecasted a technology that was ~35 years in their future. Kudos to them.

      1. Richard 26

        Re: I also watched this popular TV programme in the 1970's

        "I've commented on this 'smartphone' several times at several forums. This is because I still find difficult to believe the extreme precision with which they forecasted a technology that was ~35 years in their future."

        I'm always impressed by Bradbury, who in 1953 managed to predict that the main use of mobile phones would be to annoy people on public transport.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I also watched this popular TV programme in the 1970's

          When was it that Alan Kay came up with the Dynabook?

        2. JEDIDIAH

          Re: I also watched this popular TV programme in the 1970's

          The idea of minaturization in general was pretty common in the 50s. Pretty much anyone that read sci-fi in the 60s, 70s, or 80s could see stuff like the iDevices coming and probably imagined a number of their own that looked like "shameless Apple copies".

          I thought up some "shameless Apple copies" of my own in the 80s. (Inspired by Asimov)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compliment

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a Braun inspired mini-itx case for my Hackintosh build?

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Compliment

      How about the case from a MacMini?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Compliment

      Lian-Li PC-V358

      Lian Li PC-Q30A

      Lian-Li PC-Q08

      Lian-Li PC-Q36WG

      IN WIN 901

    3. John Bailey

      Re: Compliment

      "Does anyone have a recommendation for a Braun inspired mini-itx case for my Hackintosh build?"

      An old Mac case perhaps?

  9. heyrick Silver badge

    Copying or improving?

    I wonder which came first - the god-awful plain white-is-good layout of YouTube, or iOS7's white-is-good plainness?

    Isn't the function partially dictated by the available technology? For example, while feature phones from way back could run Java applets, a true smartphone needed sufficient processing and memory available to make it functional, plus a touch based interface so we aren't saddled with trying to do stuff using a phone keypad (remember "T9" predictive text?). Plus, of course, displays with resolutions akin to early laptops (and better) because 128x128 is about suitable for WAP and not much else.

    Please, for the love of God, Apple, copy Android and make your keyboard display lower case when not in caps. Or, as this might be too shocking for iFans, make it an option.

    Actually, iOS is really crying out for a skinnable interface (OMFG - user options! nooo!). Bright light hurts my eyes so I prefer to work in a low-light environment. I would like the keyboard to be black/grey like it is when you go to search, but most of the time everything is WHITE. Thankfully there is, at least, a workaround, you can set a treble-press of the home button to invert the display.

    Thing is, very few things are complete innovations. Most things are improvements on what has come before. Now Ives might see Samsung as ripping off iThingies, but maybe they see it as improving upon them? What is Apple going to do to raise the bar? And the bar needs to be raised, as resting on laurels has killed companies in the past. You're the market leader only until somebody builds a better mousetrap, then it is up to you to one-up that. That's how it works.

    1. Philip Lewis

      Re: Copying or improving?

      "Please, for the love of God, Apple, copy Android and make your keyboard display lower case when not in caps. Or, as this might be too shocking for iFans, make it an option."

      My Nokia N9 has this. It is one of the last pieces of skeuomorphism left in iOS and I am actually surprised that it did not disappear in iOS7.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Copying or improving?

      Its almost always the available technology, those with early access tend to get the patents nowadays by having lawyers on staff to help document and disguise the bleedin obvious to 'anyone skilled in the art'. Recently encountered a sketch I made in 1984 showing what looks spookily like an iPad (flat icons, but slab had rounded corners) except with a touch sensitive trackpad below the screen and the question "how to use the screen itself to track?" - I was working R&D for a manufacturer at the time - an era before people bothered much about patenting and quite rightly thought of this kind of thing as obvious, only the mechanics of the finger detector a subject for patents.

      If anyone in device design can be described as a thief, its the person who takes obvious applications of a technology and uses a broken patent system to steal from us the human right to invent.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Copying or improving?

        "If anyone in device design can be described as a thief, its the person who takes obvious applications of a technology and uses a broken patent system to steal from us the human right to invent."

        ^^ This! Have a million upvotes, AC!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't even be original for names of a tablet computer.

    Apple isn't even original in the tablet space, it's not even the first iPad. Or the first iPad that's a tablet. LG got there first.

    http://archive.linuxgizmos.com/lg-demonstrates-wireless-linux-web-pad-at-cebit/

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Can't even be original for names of a tablet computer.

      Wow! Good find!

  11. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I wonder what he thought when the iMac G3 came out and suddenly every single goddamned cheapass computer peripheral was packaged in semitransparent pastel frosted plastic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "packaged in semitransparent pastel frosted plastic"

      "Maybe we should have asked Dow for exclusive rights on that formulation"?

  12. Captain DaFt

    To quote Saint Jobs himself:

    "Good artists copy; great artists steal. "

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and was it Jobs who invented the phrase -

      "Get over yourself already Jonny"?

    2. Bleu

      Re: To quote Saint Jobs himself:

      Double irony, saint Steve also plagiarised that line.

    3. Steve Todd
      FAIL

      Re: To quote Saint Jobs himself:

      Understand that Jobs himself was quoting, and what was meant. See http://www.creativethinkinghub.com/creative-thinking-and-stealing-like-an-artist/

      If Samsung had taken Apple's ideas and spun them into something uniquely different then I don't think that Ive would have been annoyed. It's that spinning that takes time and effort (tablet machines had existed for years before the iPad, but it was significantly different too them). Samsung went the Good Artist route.

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    A quote I heard years ago

    "Originality is undetected plagiarism."

    - William Ralph Inge

    The late great 20th century was a true Renaissance of invention and creativity. There are so many good to great ideas that were too far ahead of their time and are just now being resurrected.

    As quite a few posters have already stated, you can only do so much when the function (and I might add "available technology and science") dictates the form. Many a sci fi joke has been made about people from the past who land in the future and mistake a kettle for a DVD player. Or vice versa.

  14. Mitoo Bobsworth

    Yes it was ...

    ... Jobs himself who pilfered that line. Are we paying attention, Sir Jony 'Ive forgotten about that?'

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    More theft!

    "firms like Pebble et will say they’ve stolen a march on Apple"

  16. Anonymoist Cowyard
    FAIL

    ironic

    Since ios7 and ios8 stole pretty much all of their features from android.. Pleb.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So why does the Apple Watch look like crap then?

    Just asking.

  18. MrRtd

    This guy is an iDouche.

  19. Jes.e

    Good artists copy..

    .. great artists steal.

    I read this article earlier but just remembered this video clip from Steve:

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU

    Back to you Mr. Ives..

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look, what do you expect him to say?

    Most designers I have met would rather you rogered their significant other in full public view than copy their thought-babies (even if they - ahem - 'took a little inspiration' from elsewhere themselves).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup its theft.

    With their rectangle with rounded corners patent and their slide-to-lock patent, Apple feels that it has all bases covered. If you have a pop up toaster not made by Apple you are a thief!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In part I agree with him, it's hard when you spend time to try to do something creative and others see it and simply copy it, however this is the real world where it's not always fair and unless it's an exact, direct copy, you have to take it with a pinch of salt and ensure people know ( or are made to believe! ) you got there first. He should stop believing his own mythos and start knuckling down again. He might have wowed Steve but he needs to realise the world is a nasty place sometimes, send in the lawyers if you're that convinced you've been ripped-off, else shut up and spend more time designing and less time whinging.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so Apple was the creator ..........

    .... of the Nexus 4 and the Galaxy Note.So guilty of copying you choose, Ive attacks as a diversion.

    Apple copys as much as it bends, crashes and drops calls.

    In other words, far more than any other company

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: so Apple was the creator ..........

      I cannot remember the last dropped call, that did not take place in a train or car tunnel.

      I think the problem is not the iPhone, but the shitty networks that US (and Australia) have to put up with.

  24. markuzick

    The man's a fool:

    by admitting his anger and fear of being copied, he has inadvertently endorsed his competition's offerings - to all but brand conscious snobs - as means for people on a limited budget to attain the same value for less of their scarce funds. His only rational response would have been to show supreme confidence in his own alleged creativity and innovation by dismissing the competition as beneath concern or threat. That he would shoot off his mouth, verbally shooting himself in the foot, only betrays his own lack of confidence in the real value of his brand, in his own worth and in his company's future.

  25. kmac499

    Someone had to design the Case

    I'd love to know exactly what Ive's and the design crew actually designed. Was it the philosophical arguments about the radius of the corners being 0.55" or 0.53" and the shade of blue being Pantone number whatever or...

    Did they give the engineers a set of sketches saying we want the software to look like this and work this way. If I was an Apple core software writer I'd make damn sure my software was flexible enough to soak up the last design input the guys in Red-Rimmed glasses came up with, with minimal changes to get it out of the door.

    Design is important, but my appreciation is for the people who take the charcoal sketch of a car a garment or a piece of hardware\software and translate that into an engineering drawing or CAD file that actually drives the manufacturing process..

    I remember once a documentary about the Lotus Elise and it's Desginers moaning the engineers had stuck a small spoiler on the boot breaking the rasion d'etre of their design. And why had the engineers committed such a crime. The "pure design" was aerodynamically unstable at speed.. Mind you it looked great standing still, as all sportscars do ??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Someone had to design the Case

      "I remember once a documentary about the Lotus Elise and it's Desginers moaning the engineers had stuck a small spoiler on the boot breaking the rasion d'etre of their design. And why had the engineers committed such a crime. The "pure design" was aerodynamically unstable at speed.. Mind you it looked great standing still, as all sportscars do ??"

      Audi TT - no spoiler, unstable. Artistic design wins, aerodynamics loses, cars crash.

      In the end, the "correct" engineering decisions need to be made. But these are just examples of many.

      That other German company had spiffy looking silver race cars that kept getting airborne as well, a failure of engineering/aerodynamics - I don't think a lot of artistic input goes into race cars, but maybe that was the cause after all?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Someone had to design the Case

      Yes, but isn't car design a combination of what the designer thinks, what the presses can actually form, what is necessary to prevent moisture traps, and what is dictated by safety?

      Car designers can't afford to be too precious if they want to stay employed.

  26. Hawknic
    Headmaster

    Apple invented nothing?

    I'm pretty sure that nothing failed to exist before Cupertino thought of it.

  27. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    There's a point why users interfaces converge

    Hey! They control their cars with a steering wheel just like ours! I insist they invent some different sort of control device so their users have to learn a different usage paradigm!

  28. Frederick Tennant

    Its not the designers who are lazy its their line managers.

    Having been in both hardware and the software industry I have seen some very creative stuff being designed every day, and every year a new bunch of great designers leave university to enter the world only to have their designs turned down as to "Radical" or "Over Engineered" only to see that very same line manager following fashion (Fruit) or worse they are waiting for "That Fruit Company" latest design to arrive. It can be very frustrating to find your designs being used by the "Right Company" years after you showed the concept to your own line manager who turned it down.

    Shout and scream all you want about who made what and when, its all politics when it comes down to great design finding its way into the public eye. Check out the university showcases and you will see what Im talking about.

  29. Interceptor

    I'll be sure to let the folks at Xerox know, Jony.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It takes one to know one.

    just wanted to point the incredible resemblance between apple design and Braun products of the past.

    http://www.metrohippie.com/wp-content/uploads/by4ep25029_14-design-apple-braun.jpg

  31. Peter 48

    irony is rife

    It is a bit ironic coming from the man who's entire design language was a carbon copy of what Braun did many years ago and continues to nick design ideas from everyone around him such as the Apple watch scroll wheel stolen from Braun's watch or the back of the iphone 6/+ a flattened carbon copy of the HTC M8 back, right down to the exact position of the antenna lines.

  32. menotu

    Shiny and Gold is all Apple needs for their new iCrap stuff.. users are lining up already.. bleating is driving me crazy /s

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look how the tables have turned.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So he was talking about Xiaomi Mi 4 right? Why did he think it was a copy? Because it was a phone that came in white and black colors and had a chamfered metal rim. It didn’t matter that that’s where the similarities ended with the other phone having different buttons, actual capacitive keys instead of that tired home button, different bottom speaker design, used USB not Lightning, had the headphone jack at the top, didn’t have a lock switch and even had a 100% unrelatable back with a different camera placed in a place no iPhone ever places their camera.

    It was "theft" then. So what would Jony Ive have to say now with the release of the iPhone X? Since bezel less is the trend this year it does make sense for Apple to follow along but the thing is the phone that started everybody down on this trend just happens to have come from the same company he called “thieves.” The Xiaomi Mi MIX released in 2016 over a year before Apple made the iPhone X available for purchase. And of course if we follow along with Ive's guidelines on what counts as a copycat it would have been enough for the phone to just be bezel less alone right? After all according to Ive a copycat just has to make the phone bear one of the original’s main traits like a metal rim or a bezel less one. So just like the company was a copycat of Apple for having a phone with a chamfered metal rim the same can be said about Apple’s iPhone X being nothing more than theft of the bezel less phone that started the trend over a year ago.

    But the sad truth is that there’s more. Not only was the bezel less design stolen directly from Xiaomi but the actual design from start to finish came straight from the company. The “notch” that caused a stir in the American smartphone community was considered when a sequel was going to be made for the original company’s bezel less phone. Due to poor fan feedback the design was scrapped for an updated version of the original design.

    A working model was never made but one of the company’s display suppliers worked up a prototype

    https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-cfeceb0d9d8d207e792bbad06982f3b5.webp

    Look familiar? Well minus the huge 3mm rim that Apple came up with. This rim is similar to the original phone’s which was under 2mm.

    And even better is Jony Ive admitting that the iPhone X took 5 years to create. Exactly how long it really took Xiaomi and its designer Philippe Starck to design the Mi MIX. Looks like Apple still have a lot of faith in their marketing power if they could blatantly state they stole something that took 5 years for a smaller less profitable company to design. Shame on you Mr. Ive. I hope more people realize just how disgusting of a liar you are.

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