Samsung's anti-iPhone X ads show why it keeps losing to Apple
This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
July 26, 2018 – Samsung publishes three new ads designed not to promote its own products, but to tarnish the image of a competing product. A classic case of a company in a losing position, frustrated by unsatisfactory results, and desperate to "make something happen".
The three new ads join the others in Samsung's "Ingenius" series, which has almost nothing to do with the Galaxy S9, and everything to do with just how bad Apple's latest iPhones are. Right off the bat, you know Samsung isn't going to build a very strong case.
Storage: I don't care its 2018, give me my SD card slot!
One of the new ads, called "Storage", shows a female customer struggling to find the "microSD slot" on a new iPhone. Apparently, she also doesn't wish to keep any of her content in the cloud, or to stream her video and audio; she happens to need more than 64, 128 or 256 GB of native storage to keep stuff right there ON THE PHONE. Most computers nowadays ship with around 256 GB SSD storage, and an increasing number of those no longer have SD card slots. But we need this much storage on a phone?
As many other features, SD cards are on the way out and are now almost exclusively relegated to professional or prosumer equipment like the cameras that we're using here at work. They are of questionable reliability, have slower speeds than native storage and can be easy to steal (vulnerable data). All compromises that you wouldn't want in a truly premium smartphone, let alone one that costs $1000.
Notch: People with 'notch' haircuts. Really, Samsung?
This consumer here is expressing his frustration at the iPhone X's display notch, which covers a small area in the top edge. While the notch is absolutely not a perfect design and is bound to be improved with future iPhone generations, it did allow Apple to have consistent, super-thin bezels surrounding the screen. In the meantime, the Galaxy S9 still has slightly thicker top and bottom bezels. Both solutions are different types of compromises, and while Apple used the iPhone X's notch to house the superb Face ID module, Samsung is using the top bezel of the S9 to house its deeply flawed iris scanner that is basically good for nothing. Maybe we should talk about that, Samsung? Instead of making fun of the others.
Finally, the ad gets extra cheesy by showing, for whatever reason, a sad family of people with terrible "notch-style" haircuts. Seriously, who's this spot targeted at? 12-year-olds? An incredibly immature move by Samsung, and one that doesn't befit a huge technology company that's confident in its own products.
Multiwindow multitasking: I don't know what it is, but my sister has it, so I want it!
Ah, yes, multitasking on the phone! Here we have a customer who wants to find how multiwindow (the one where you have two apps opened side by side) multitasking works on the iPhone X, because her sister has been doing that on her Galaxy S9. So maybe she should have gone to a Samsung store to buy a Galaxy S9, like her sister did? That's a big problem with the tech industry these days: too much noise and too little meaning. Too much "want want want" without any idea "why".
If this young woman had actually used side-by-side multitasking on a phone, maybe she would have known what a crappy experience it is. Then there's a quick exchange between her and the 'ingenius' rep who compliments her on her beautiful nails, which involves a number of false statements. She responds with "Thanks you! They change colors, they multitask too" ..... "which your phone doesn't". First, this is wrong, because the iPhone multitasks quite successfully and efficiently, as it carries out a number of processes and services at the same time (for example, downloading a movie and streaming music, all happening while you're typing in a Word document or playing a game). Then, her nails don't do "side-by-side" type multitasking, they change colors one after another, which is the equivalent of switching apps one after another, which is not what she's going for in this ad. That's some weak, technically incorrect writing that's playing off emotions and not facts.
Then there are other potentially misleading statements in Samsung's 'Ingenius' ads, such as the one about download speeds, where a lady, who's apparently such a nerd that she's been going through the theoretical download speeds of the modems inside these phones, points out to the sales person that the iPhone X doesn't have the "fastest download speeds", unlike the S9. Had this archetype done a bit of actual research, instead of just starting at raw numbers and specs all day, they would have known that all these phones well surpass the actual bandwidth that consumers get in real life, so it's absolutely pointless to demand having the "fastest download speeds". The sad thing is this could mislead a normal customer into thinking that there's really something wrong with the iPhone's "download speeds", which isn't true. Again, a cheap move by Samsung there.
The difference between Samsung and Apple
All of these ads are really not designed to highlight the advantages of Samsung's own products, but to make fun of the few and exaggerated issues in the iPhone X. Why is that? Samsung could have easily shown all these in a positive scenario, where a customer walks into a Samsung store and ends up impressed with how you can easily expand the storage on the Galaxy S9, or how it has a normal, no-notch display, or how you can do side-by-side multitasking, which could make at least a little bit of sense on the big Galaxy S9+. "Oh wow, that's awesome, this wasn't even possible on my old phone! That's such a cool feature!", the customer could have said, marveling at all the great possibilities of a Galaxy phone.
Instead, Samsung decided to focus on the negative marketing and go after its rival. What's happening is Samsung is trying to play a finite game here – its objective is to win the battle of this smartphone generation, which comes at the expense of its own brand strength and integrity. Such unprovoked aggressive behavior is never typical of the winning side; it's most often exhibited by the losing team, which, realizing that the final seconds of the match are ticking away, starts playing in a rough and desperate, pissed off way. After the confident Galaxy S8 launch, surely the missed expectations for this year's Galaxy S9 have put some pressure on the consumer products team. But again, Samsung is not playing the game it should be playing, and its behavior is atypical for a gigantic tech company that's supposedly a market leader and innovator.
What does the Samsung brand stand for?
Meanwhile, Apple is playing the infinite game – it's not obsessing over a single battle; it's playing to keep winning the war. Sometimes, it's a little ahead; other times, it's a little behind, but on average, it tends to consistently outperform its competitors in the long term, bringing in the big profits and leaving the rest of its competition to feast on the leftovers. It's always focusing on what makes the iPhone product great, trying to make it better with each generation, and never compromising the integrity of its brand with cheesy, aggressive spots, or by cutting corners. As a result, all of us (even those who dislike Apple products) know what the Apple brand stands for. What does the Samsung brand stand for?