When Apple in early August won a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 across most of the European Union (later reduced to just Germany) the common theme in the technology press was that it did not matter how the final ruling went. By then Samsung would have lost the 2011 holiday sales and maybe even the 2012 holiday sales as well. The ruling was also seen as a template of how Apple could use other courts around the world to block Samsung, and several other cases are in process.
However on November 16th Samsung surprized everyone by announcing a redesigned Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N which is already available for ordering online from major German e-commerce sites. The new version carries a product number of P7501 instead of P7500. There is no mention what the N stands for in the new name, but considering it was a German court ruling it might be Nein!
Whatever else you can say about the case, when business schools want to talk about the virtue of agility in an organization this will likely be the new prime example.
Here is the new N (top) and the original (bottom) versions of the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
As you can see the upper tablet has an edge bezel that extends slightly around the front and that there are two openings in it for the speakers. During the German trial Samsung introduced an older tablet as an example of prior art of the iPad design. Apple argued that the older tablet was not prior art because it had a visible front bezel and speaker location.
Apple could try to get a ruling that the N model also represents copying the iPad, but it would have to overcome their own prior statements about what distinguishes their design from prior tablets.
It will also be interesting to see if this cools Apple’s other worldwide legal efforts to stop the Galaxy Tab 10.1 knowing that Samsung has the N designed, engineered, built, and ready to go with a one digit change in the product ordering system.
It is sort of ironic that Samsung is sidestepping a ruling that it copied a design by intentionally copying features of a different design!
Clearly the lawyers told the designers what changes had to be made and then the designers, engineers, production planners, etc. pulled off a remarkable time-to-market feat. Kudos to them. They saved Samsung’s German Christmas so that Gute kleine Kinder kann ein N unter dem Weihnachtsbaum finden.