Apple's early competitive research revealed in court documents

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A lot of the court documents that are getting submitted into evidence in the Apple vs. Samsung trial contain new revelations about both companies, but some are just plain interesting. Tonight we have two more that might not interest everybody, but for me they're incredibly engaging.

The first is a competitive research presentation put together after 2007's Mobile World Congress show. MWC has been in Barcelona a long time and it's always been the biggest smartphone convention of them all. The thing about these conventions is that Apple never goes to them, but everybody at the show is always talking about them. 2007 was no exception to that rule, in fact it might be the perfect example of it: everybody was talking about the iPhone and Apple. Even Apple saw it:

"Although Apple was not present showcasing the iPhone, we were quietly setting the tone and were mentioned in each media, operator and handset vendor discussion."

Right? Totally right. Apple made slides up for all the big phones that were showcased there, from the contentious F700 to my all-time-favorite Motorola Q9h. Windows Mobile 6.0 was announced that year and, well, it was one of those things that seemed like a big deal at the time but in retrospect turned out to be a dud. The HTC Advantage 7500? Also namechecked, and Apple rightly recognized that the WM-based Meizu MiniOne was important to track: "Meizu is Chinese electronics maker and first company to closely copy the look and feel of Apple’s iPhone."

Also, check out the cheesy "Confidential" stencil on these slides. Really pretty funny in the context of Apple's aesthetic. Anyway, the report is mostly descriptive, so it's hard to get a real feel for exactly how the company felt about all these products and obviously it's no surprise to know it was tracking them all. Still, to see Apple's own internal reporting mirror the reporting I was actually doing myself — down to specs and trends — is really compelling as a smartphone journalist.

The other document that dropped was a much more straightforward 2011 report listing a ton of phones and specs -- all the "flagship phones" then on the market. Since it's just descriptive, for the most part, it's again hard to glean what Apple thought of all this competition. The Defy's ruggedness and The HTC Surround's speaker both got special breakouts — and given what both phones actually did in the market (practically nothing), it's pretty funny to see that Apple gave them any special attention. Many other phones have important specs called out in blue text, presumably areas that Apple wanted to watch.

The last few slides are comparisons of battery sizes and screen sizes ...if nothing else it shows that the company was paying just as much attention to "speeds and feeds" specs as the rest of us. That's not to say that they are being disingenuous by not talking about that aspect of the industry as much as the other guys, of course.

Anyway, I didn't know if everybody would be really into this these docs because you can't really glean anything deeply insightful about Apple or the mobile industry that wasn't already known to most. I found them fun, maybe you will too.

Apple's 2007 MWC report (PDF)

Apple's 2011 Flagship phone presentation