Lawyers say the strangest things.
During last week's court show between Apple and Samsung, the latter's legal representatives offered so many thoughtful quotes.
They admitted that their clients had copied certain Apple patents. They suggested that Apple's lawyers were invoking racially-charged feelings. Then they uttered one phrase that might resound for quite some time.
In his closing argument, Samsung lawyer Bill Price offered this: "Apple has tried to mischaracterize these patents so they are the iPhone. These patents are very narrow...Apple doesn't own beautiful and sexy."
It was a statement in which some might see a curious admission. Was Price conceding that a significant motivation for Samsung's apparently illegal borrowing involved making its products a little prettier than the company's own abilities allowed?
Is there a sense that Apple's aesthetic sense is what is most coveted by its rivals?
Some of a hard-core engineering disposition sneer that Apple succeeds through "marketing." This, for them, comprises a group of dark and vacuous arts that entice consumers, despite the inherent superficiality of the actual product.
How sad, they think, that people flock to this prettiness, as opposed to supposedly superior engineering and a multitude of features.
Apple understands that its sense of taste is what moves consumers and keeps them in its fold. It has a feel for what real people feel.
Indeed, the original lawsuit filed by Apple against Samsung focused on the look and feel of its products.After the jury decided that Samsung owes Apple another $290 million, it's hard not to hear the echo of Price's words.
Given Price's framing, it seems the jury decided that Apple does rather own beautiful and sexy.
More Technically Incorrect
During the original trial, I performed the experiment of trying to mistake Samsung's products for Apple's and failed gloriously. Samsung's wares looked, frankly, cheaper, not as attractive, although -- in the Galaxy's case -- bigger and, in some ways, more practical.
There's still something both beautiful and essentially indefinable that many people see in Apple products that they don't see in those of others.
The launch of iOS 7 doesn't suggest that Apple's taste supremacy is all that it used to be.
But there are still too many subconsciouses that believe Apple represents style, while everything else is some form of pretender.
This is surely the greatest opportunity for the new MicroNokia. Both companies have plowed their own, sometimes lonely, road toward making products that enjoy a completely different aesthetic from Apple's.
With time and a little more luck and taste, it's in the aesthetic area that MicroNokia might make the swiftest progress.
One of the biggest obstacles is the imaginations of the companies involved. One brilliant phone designer told me recently that the biggest problem he faced was to persuade senior executives to accept revolutionary forms, ones that don't look like existing products.
There is enormous room to innovate in the area of beautiful and sexy. What's extraordinary is that Apple has appeared to own it for so long.