Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller took a California courtroom on a trip back to 2007 on Tuesday afternoon, recalling how Apple “bet the company” on development of the iPhone
“We wondered what could come after the iPod,” Schiller said. “We wanted to try and invent that future rather than let it happen to us.”
His testimony kicked off Apple’s case, in which it is demanding more than $2 billion in lost sales and royalties from Samsung for “massive infringement” of five of its patents.
Schiller, wearing a dark suit and yellow tie with blue stripes, spoke for just under two hours, appearing to grab the attention of the eight-person jury as he took them on a journey inside Apple from late 2004, when iPhone development was just beginning, through to the launch of the iPad.
“Apple really only had two products at the time: the Mac and iPod,” he said, reminding jurors of a time before Apple was the phone and tablet powerhouse it is today. “We hadn’t made a phone. We didn’t know about radios and antennas and all the things that make up a phone.”
Apple’s trip back in time by seven years wasn’t just to entertain the jury with some interesting anecdotes. It was to remind them of the leap forward that phones took when the iPhone came out. In that era, most phones on sale had limited Internet functions and were used in very different ways from today’s handsets.
That’s important to Apple’s argument that its products drove innovation and that Samsung rode on its coattails and copied features, such as the slide-to-unlock motion that is one of the five patents in question.
To drive home that fact, the jury saw the first iPhone TV commercial, from 2007, which began with a user swiping to unlock the phone and reveal the home screen.
“When this ad ran, people hadn’t had the opportunity to use an iPhone for themselves and they hadn’t used anything like it, so how do you show in a simple 30-second ad what it’s like?” he said. “We started with something people would do every day, slide to unlock.”
“You get an instant idea of how multitouch works, that it’s so simple to use and you don’t need a manual to work it,” Schiller said.
Schiller faced questioning from Samsung attorney Bill Price, and as was the case during a previous trial, he wasn’t quite as smooth under that questioning.
“I’m not sure what you mean,” he said in answer to several questions. When Price asked him about the ability of the original iPhone to take a selfie “like Ellen DeGeneres did during the Oscars,” Schiller said he wasn’t familiar with the stunt that went on to be the most retweeted tweet to date, and said he wasn’t sure about the specific patent claims at the center of the case.
But then again, Schiller’s job isn’t to make Samsung’s defense an easy task.
The trial paused on Tuesday evening while Samsung was still questioning Schiller. Samsung is set to resume its questioning on Friday morning, the next scheduled day of the trial.
Updated on April 2 to provide a video report from IDG News Service.
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Martyn Williams produces technology news and product reviews in text and video for PC World, Macworld, and TechHive from his home outside Washington D.C.. He previously worked for IDG News Service as a correspondent in San Francisco and Tokyo and has reported on technology news from across Asia and Europe.