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Phil Schiller takes the stand in Apple/Samsung damages trial; calls the iPhone a 'bet the company' type of product


Apple executive Phil Schiller took the stand on Thursday as the Apple/Samsung re-trial on damages entered its third day. As a quick refresher, this sole purpose of this particular trial is to determine just how much in damages Samsung owes to Apple for infringing upon Apple's design and utility patents.

Schiller took the stand late on Thursday, giving Apple's marketing chief just enough time to introduce himself and touch on just how important and risky the iPhone was when Apple began working on it. Echoing a sentiment that was prevalent during Apple and Samsung's original trial in the summer of 2012, Schiller intimated that the iPhone was a huge undertaking that would have had an adverse effect on the company had it floundered.

CNET was there covering the latest proceedings and relayed some choice quotes from the stand.

"There were huge risks [with the first iPhone]," Schiller said. "We had a saying inside the company that it was a 'bet the company' product. We were starting to do well again in iPod. Then here we're going to invest all these resources, financial as well as people in creating this product."

Also of note is that Schiller said that "almost everyone" at Apple now works on the iPhone in some capacity or another. Given how Apple has increasingly melded iOS and OS X, this certainly seems plausible in a broad sense.

When Schiller returned to the stand on Friday, he explained rather bluntly that Samsung's initiative to copy Apple's iPhone designs made it much more difficult for Apple's marketing team to do their job to the extent that differentiating Apple products from the competition became more of a challenge.

Schiller added that with Samsung copying the iPhone, both in terms of software and aesthetic design, it's been "harder for us to get new customers and bring them into our ecosystem."

Indeed, this was a point Apple tried to emphasize during its first trial, namely that the iOS ecosystem is "stickier" than other smartphone platforms. Consequently, a lost sale when a customer opts for a Samsung device over an iPhone is compounded as Apple is not just losing one sale, but potentially a number of other sales to what may have otherwise been a longtime iOS user.

"At the end of the day," Schiller explained, "there's a cumulative effect of doing all of this that's incredibly damaging."

Schiller also added that Samsung's smartphones put Apple's design prowess into question for the first time.

The trial is scheduled to run through early next week.

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