The Apple-Samsung trial has provided us with an absolute treasure trove of information regarding Apple's iPhone and iPad prototypes. From an 8-sided iPhone prototype to an iPhone that resembles an iPod Mini of yore, poring through many of Apple's prototypes that never made it to market has been rather fascinating.
On Wednesday, Apple's first witness took the stand - veteran designer Christopher Stringer. Stringer discussed many of the early iPhone and iPad designs and noted to the jury that Apple's industrial design group is comprised of 16 'maniacal' individuals who share one singular purpose - to "imagine products that don't exist and guide them to life."
Naturally, Stringer said that Apple had been "ripped off" and that it's "a huge leap in imagination to come up with something new. That's what we did."
Now, again, the slew of iPhone prototypes that have hit the web over the past few days have provided a rare and exciting glimpse into the design process at one of the world's most successful and secretive companies. But with so many iPhone prototypes floating around now, it's hard to say which designs Apple gave serious consideration to and which ones it didn't.
That said, I went back and looked through some of the older court filings from the case and stumbled upon portions of Douglas Satzger's deposition. Satzger worked at Apple from 1996 through 2008 as an "Industrial Design Creative Lead" and helped work on the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G, and the iPhone 3GS. He is currently the VP of Industrial Design at Intel.
In any event, I found a few tidbits of information from Satzger's deposition that are worth sharing.
First, Satzger at one point is questioned by Samsung's attorney about the design of the original iPhone and acknowledges that there was a strong interest from within Apple's industrial design team to develop a phone with shaped glass.
And so why didn't Apple follow through on developing an iPhone with shaped glass? In a word, cost.
The technology in shaping the glass, the cost relative to shaping the glass at the time, and some of the design features of this specific shape were not liked.