Robert Peckham takes a look at Apple's historic rivalries

Would this anti-Samsung movement have gone ahead if Steve Jobs was still around?

MacTechnology’s Robert Peckham discusses Apple in battle, again.


So Apple has won a major round of its battle with Samsung, in the USA at least. The UK was slightly more level-headed about this particular spat, as were many of our EU partners, and the legal challenges are far from over around the rest of the world.

I’m not going to add my opinion about this fight, but I’m surprised that the press are treating this as though it is the first time that Apple has taken issue with the opposition, which those of us who have been Apple watchers for many years will certainly remember it isn’t.

For almost ten years from the mid-1980s, Apple had a very major partnership with Sony for many products. In 1992, every Mac model had a Sony floppy disc and CD drive installed; Apple’s professional monitors were all based on Sony’s Trinitron CRT technology; Apple’s professional scanners and its pioneering QuickTake digital camera range were all produced by Sony. More noteably, the very first true Apple portable – the PowerBook 100 – was the first complete Apple computer to be totally manufactured by a third- party company – yes, Sony again.

But in 1994, Apple and Sony fell out. Sony launched its first Vaio portable computers, and Apple claimed much of their design and operational functionality was based on Apple’s ideas. Sony also lauched its own brand of high-end professional computer monitors, and Apple claimed these copied many Apple features also. By 1996, Sony drives had disappeared from Apple computers to be replaced by Panasonic, Ricoh and Philips, and the Sony partnership was over.

However, this bust-up never went to court. Why? Because in 1994, Sony was simply too big for the then- struggling Apple to take on, and it had so much financial clout that Apple would have simply lost at the first hurdle. 1994 was also the year that Apple finally lost its high- profile battle with Microsoft over the similarities in their respective operating systems.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1995, he quickly went to great lengths to repair Apple’s relationship with both Microsoft and Sony, and put all the legal wrangles behind them, because he knew that competition was good for business. So you can’t help but wonder if this anti-Samsung movement would have gone ahead if Steve was still with us…

Robert Peckham is a 20-year veteran of the Apple reseller channel in the UK, and has managed many major Apple resellers. He founded the Mac Technology Association and was a director of the Technology Channels Association until their merger with CompTIA. He now runs MacTechnology, a consultancy for the Apple reseller channel which includes the Mac Tech Team support service.

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