Samsung has received a lot of press for differentiating its users from those who line up at their local Apple Store. And litigation aside, it seems to have paid off — Samsung is now the world’s number one smartphone manufacturer.
Any difference between Samsung and Apple users is very much beside the point to this post. In a perfect world no one would ever be swayed by marketing ballyhoo and would choose the platform and device that best fits their needs.
Instead, what I seek to prove today is that Samsung as a company doesn’t seem to be thinking all that “different” from it’s arch-nemesis in Cupertino. Here, as evidence, are some notable news items for you consideration.
Exhibit A: Putting out Fires
In 2009 a UK family narrowly escaped serious injury when their daughter’s iPod touch exploded. After the device started hissing and emitting vapour the father immediately threw it outside, where a few seconds later it blasted apart, rising 10 feet in the air and spewing melted metal and plastic in all directions.
Though this was obviously not a common problem, the father was nonetheless sent a gag order along with his refund form. He chose to go public instead.
Cut to early December of this year, where a YouTube user uploads a video of his Galaxy S4 catching fire while charging. A request to Samsung for a replacement is answered conditionally; the faulty device will only be exchanged if said video is taken down. Bad idea, Samsung.
Even worse, this doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident.
Exhibit B: Quality Control
We all remember antennagate, right? In 2010 when the iPhone 4 made its début some early adopters found that calls were dropped when their fondleslab was held in their left hand. The issue was quickly identified as poor replacement of the cellular antennas. Apple’s official response? “You’re holding it wrong.”
That summer Apple reconsidered, offering users a free bumper case or a $15 cheque.
I’m guessing that the Note 3 on its own doesn’t ship in as large numbers as the iPhone, nor does this particular gaffe interfere with any of the Note’s radios. But it would really suck to buy a $700 flagship phablet only to have a misaligned home button staring you in the face.
I’ve got a Note 3 on my desk right now, and the home button is every bit as loose as the one described on Android Police.
Exhibit C: Harassing Bloggers
I’m sure Apple was none too happy about Gizmodo blogger Jason Chen scoring a prototype iPhone 4. Did they go too far in pressuring local police to raid his home and seize his computers? I’d say so.
Gizmodo got the story and escaped further legal action from Apple, but were banned from future events.
Last September Clinton Jeff, founder and senior writer at UnleashThePhones.com, was flown with another blogger to a trade show in Berlin by Samsung. There, the other shoe dropped — instead of covering the event for their respective blogs the pair would have to don Samsung T-shirts and demo the company’s products as glorified booth babes.
The bloggers refused and were threatened with being stranded in Germany. Good guy Nokia came to the rescue, paid off their hotel bill and got them home. And Samsung got a much-deserved ass-whipping in the worldwide press.
And so, members of the jury, do we find Samsung guilty here, or innocent? Are the issues above inevitable for any big phone manufacturer, or is Samsung starting to falter?