Apple tries to lock down market research data in Samsung trial, only gives us more details

Steve Jobs proudly boasted that Apple doesn’t do any market research, but court documents in the company’s ongoing trial against Samsung say otherwise.

Now Apple VP of product marketing Greg Joswiak is working hard to keep the company’s research activities secret, reports Network World’s Yoni Heisler. But in the process, Joswiak is giving us even more detail about just how Apple learns from its users.

In a declaration submitted to the court on Monday, Joswiak wrote, “The surveys reveal, country-by-country, what is driving our customers to buy Apple’s iPhone products versus other products such as the Android products that Samsung sells, what features they most use, our customers’ demographics, and their level of satisfaction with different aspects of iPhone.”

Samsung is planning to use these surveys (which also include iPad usage data) as trial exhibits in court. Joswiak, not surprisingly, is fighting to keep this information from leaving the courtroom and reaching the public.

While these research revelations seem to counter Steve Jobs’ claims about Apple’s avoidance of market research, it’s important to note that Apple is only conducting these surveys to learn more about how consumers use its products. Apple isn’t conducting focus groups to ask consumers about new features or what they want to see in future devices — which is what really seemed to annoy Jobs. Instead, this research helps Apple better coordinate marketing to its target demographic.

One question in Apple’s research asks customers in different countries about what led them to buy an iPhone over an Android phone, the Wall Street Journal reports. 54 percent of consumers in the U.S. and China cited “Trust Apple Brand” as their primary reason, while 67 percent of Chinese customers surveyed said they liked the design.

Intriguingly, Joswiak also claims that only a handful of executives see these research reports. That means typical designers and engineers aren’t influenced by the survey findings. “No iPhone-related surveys or iPad-related surveys are allowed to be distributed to anyone outside this group without my personal express¬†permission, which I regularly refuse,” Joswiak wrote. “When I do approve further distribution, it is almost always on a survey-question-by-survey-question basis, and even then distribution is limited to individuals ¬†who have a demonstrated need to know.”

Photo: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat