In addition to Steve Jobs’ “thermonuclear war” against Android, the Apple co-founder’s infamous wrath is known to have spurred the company into legal action against Samsung and into a battle that climaxed last summer with a California jury ordering the South Korean firm to chalk up $1.05 billion (£670 million) in patent infringement damages.
But new details about the relationship between the two tech giants have been revealed in a Reuters report that tracks their journey from close partners to fiercest of competitors.
The two firms became close in 2005, following an agreement under which Samsung would supply Apple with flash memory. However, after embarking on a relationship that saw them share glimpses into each others’ inner workings, the goodwill began to disintegrate with the release of Samsung’s Galaxy S in 2010.
According to Reuters, Jobs and current Apple CEO Tim Cook told Samsung executives they complained about similarities between the smartphone’s design and that of the iPhone, and were concerned that Samsung had taken advantage of the insight into Apple’s operations it gained through their business arrangement. The pair reportedly grew impatient when Samsung ignored their concerns and released the Galaxy Tab the following year - a device that Apple claims resembles the iPad too closely.
The first patent infringement lawsuit was filed in April 2011, marking the first phase of Jobs’ so-called war against Samsung, and the rest is, of course, patent history. But not everyone on the Apple team supported the pursuit of legal action. Cook reportedly opposed the patent suits, Reuters reported, citing “people with knowledge of the matter.”
Cook was concerned about suing Samsung because of the two companies’ critical relationship; in 2011, Apple was Samsung’s largest customer, having bought $8 billion (£5 billion) worth of components from the company.
In the months leading up to the trial’s kick-off, Apple reportedly made efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement, but the rivals were unable to reach an agreement. Since then, the legal battle has fanned out across the globe, with contradictory decisions being handed down in a handful different territories.
But with Samsung on track to sell half a billion handsets this year and with the two companies’ patent war appearing to have flatlined, the narrative of their relationship may begin shifting in the coming months. Apple was rumoured to have attempted to switch suppliers, but, given the volume and breadth of its component requirements, has been unable to do so. Unless it manages to end its dependence on Samsung, it may find itself in an increasingly precarious situation.