Samsung suffering severe case of Apple-itis

In the Chuck Jones cartoon classic, "Hare Tonic," Elmer Fudd is convinced by a certain long-eared leporid that he has contracted a case of the dreaded rabbititis, complete with swirling red-and-yellow spots before his eyes.

I'm getting the sense Samsung is suffering from a similar sickness I'm calling Apple-itis. Lately, every marketing move Samsung makes includes some overt or covert reference to products from — or customers of — the Cupertino giant.

While perhaps initially clever, Samsung's growing obsession with Apple is becoming wearying. Worse, it's ruining my post-season baseball enjoyment.

Other than the Yankees (as a loyal New Yorker, I can't help it so please don't hate me), I don't know who I'm rooting for to make it to or win the World Series. But all the games in both league championship series have been exciting and entertaining.

But between every single inning (or so it seems), we are subjected to Samsung's "Déjà Vu" Galaxy S III commercial — the faded, soft-pallet spot portraying clueless hipsters loitering in an iPhone line conversing with one who converted to a GS3.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

A couple of things.

I understand comparing yourself to your biggest competitor. Perfectly legitimate to negatively portray your opponent à la the Apple "Mac v. PC" ads, especially during these mud-slinging election days.

But what's Samsung's big competitive selling point vs. the iPhone 5 in the "Déjà Vu" ads? The GS3's much bigger screen? Nope, at least not in the short version I keep seeing between innings.

More powerful processor? Uh uh.

More apps? I think not.

No — bumping phones to trade playlists.

This is the big GS3 selling point?

Maybe I'm old, but why would I ever want to do this least-interesting NFC-feature? Even the people in the iPhone line are puzzled as to exactly what the whole bumping phones thing is.

And you need two to play this bumping game. According to the latest ITU report "Measuring the Information Society," there are six billion mobile subscribers worldwide. According to Samsung, as of last June it has sold around 10 million GS3's. If my math is right, that means you'll be able to bump-and-swap playlists with one out of every 60,000,000 mobile phone owners you bump into — assuming the one you bump into has a desirable playlist to swap.

In the meantime, not only are iPhone 5s expected to outsell GS3s by the end of the year, but iPhone 5's Web traffic has already passed GS3's in less than three weeks.

So much for effective over-saturated advertising.

Who You Calling Lame?

Let's assume for the moment that Samsung has a legitimate GS3 v. iPhone 5 case to make. Who, then, are the natural constituents for possible GS3 purchase? Non-smartphone owners, certainly, and refuges from BlackBerry. But clearly in this ad, Samsung is trying to appeal to iPhone owners.

Except in "Déjà Vu," Samsung insults the very users it's trying to convince to switch. According to the ad, Apple owners are cultish and clueless — just the kind of customers likely to be convinced to switch by an ad cartoonishly portraying them as such.

Samsung's overriding message to Apple owners seems to be: You are a drooling lemming and no longer cool. Buy a GS3 and be cool again! (Oh, and your parents are stupid and uncool, too.)

No, I think I need more convincing. Maybe if you punch me and spit on me while calling me names, that will work.

Airing It Out

Earlier this week, Samsung introduced an impressive array of Windows 8 devices — desktop PCs, ultrabooks, laptops, "laptab" laptop/tablet convertibles and Windows Phone 8 phones.

During the product intro event, a Samsung exec emphasized its new W8 laptops would "clear the air" and had the company "walking on air."

Air. As in MacBook Air, Apple's iconic laptop which ignited the whole ultrabook trend.

Really? Samsung is more worried about Apple than its real competitors, other Windows 8 laptop makers? Tell you what — why not let Microsoft worry about the pending Windows 8 vs. Mac OS X/iOS 6 battle, and you worry about Acer, Dell, HP, Sony, et al, okay?

But Samsung's Apple-itis gets even pettier and sillier.

Missing Company

At its W8 intro event, Samsung justifiably boasted about its rising position on Interbrand's 2012 ranking of global brand value. Samsung's brand value zoomed 40 percent this year, raising the company up from number 17 to number 9.

Except the 2012 Interbrand graphic Samsung projected was mysteriously missing the company that rose 129 percent from last year to this and jumped from number 17 to number 2: Apple.

Instead, the Samsung 2012 Interbrand graphic had Coca-Cola at number 1 (again) and moved number 3 IBM up to number 2, the 2011 rankings.


Apparently Apple exists only obliquely like an old girlfriend in the Samsung universe.

As noted, it's perfectly legitimate to compare yourself to the competition in marketing and advertising. But Samsung's repeated Apple references are beginning to come off as obsessive, clouding the Korean company's innovative excellence and keeping Samsung from building an identity outside of sticking out its corporate tongue and nyah-nyah-nyahing at Apple.

Samsung makes excellent products and has a right to be proud of what it's been able to achieve in the last few years. And it has a convincing case for zSG3 over what I consider to be the bungled iPhone 5.

So at some point, Samsung has to do what Elmer Fudd couldn't — cure itself of its acute and provincially paranoiac case of the imaginary Apple-itis.

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