Samsung and Apple have been locked in a competition to take over the smartphone market for about a decade now, but this rivalry has fueled more than just hardware and software advancements. It also sparked numerous patent-related lawsuits filed by Apple as well as aggressive marketing campaigns led by Samsung.
The company’s seemingly-successful but shortsighted marketing campaigns are today’s main topic of conversation because they might reveal one of Samsung’s biggest problems, namely lack of long-term vision. Or perhaps even worse: lack of respect towards its customer base.
A few years have passed since Samsung’s marketing team decided to openly mock Apple’s decisions to remove the standard 3.5mm headphone jack from its iPhones, only for the same company to follow in Apple’s footsteps and remove the audio port from its own flagships beginning with the Galaxy Note 10 series.
The merits of the 3.5mm port are irrelevant in this conversation, but what’s relevant is Samsung’s attitude towards its biggest rival and its own customers. Change is an inevitability but the way you embrace it – or don’t – is what makes the difference. Samsung openly mocked change, or rather some of the industry-wide changes that Apple contributed towards (for better of worse), but in practice, many of Samsung’s actions told a completely opposite story.
For example, earlier in October Samsung mocked Apple’s decision to remove the charger from the iPhone 12 retail box and highlighted on social media that its flagships do come with a charger. However, in what would be a hypocritical move, Samsung could also stop offering a charger along with its upcoming Galaxy S21 flagship phones next year, at least in some markets.
This has yet to be confirmed but the rumors have a bit of weight to them. After all, Samsung also took a page from Apple’s book when it decided to remove the standard AKG-branded wired earbuds from the Galaxy Note 20’s retail box. Granted, this was done only in the USA and customers had the option of asking for the earbuds separately at no extra cost, but of course, they’d have to know that the earbuds were missing in the first place. Needless to say, Samsung failed to communicate this change clearly.
Is Samsung hypocritical or does it lack future vision?
Samsung’s marketing campaigns that were designed to take a jab at Apple may have worked in the short term. They have certainly grabbed the attention of many smartphone users, so you could say that they’ve reached their goal of increasing product awareness.
However, all of the company’s funny skits become dishonest marketing blurb as soon as Samsung decides on a whim to go against its own philosophy. And what’s worse is that these ads are now coming back to haunt Samsung to the point where the company even started removing them from YouTube and other social media platforms.
The big question now is whether Samsung was aware all along of the changes that the smartphone market will be going through over the next couple of years. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. Maybe Samsung lacked future vision when it mocked Apple for removing the 3.5mm headphone jack two years before it did the same. Or perhaps Samsung knew it will remove the 3.5mm port from its own flagships eventually but decided to take advantage of the situation for the purpose of marketing while disregarding the future. Long-term be damned when quarterly numbers fall below expectations, right?
One thing’s certain: If the Galaxy S21 series will lack a charger only a few months after Samsung mocked Apple’s decision to remove it, there will be no excuse and the only conclusion we will be able to draw is that Samsung is making a fool of itself while disrespecting its customer base. Samsung risks changing the public’s reaction from here’s another entertaining Samsung ad to here’s Samsung making a fool of itself again and wanting its customers to play along. Or perhaps Samsung’s marketing team is well aware of this hypocrisy and it’s betting precisely on the public’s short attention span.
As tech journalists who might already have plenty of Samsung chargers lying around, the lack of a charger inside the Galaxy S21 retail box wouldn’t be an issue for us from a practical point of view. But it doesn’t change the fact that Samsung would come across as dishonest thanks to its social media messages, and we suspect that it wouldn’t sit well with first-time Galaxy S21 flagship buyers either.
At the end of the day, Samsung has to either commit to its own vision and retain the rights to mock Apple whenever the Cupertino giant does things differently, or it has to admit that smartphones / smartphone brands are essentially moving in a similar direction and put an end to its dishonest and arguably insulting marketing pushes. Most Samsung customers don’t want to become a vector for propaganda and blind fandom. All they want is what they’ve always wanted: powerful, feature-full devices with great software and customer support. Hopefully the Galaxy S21 will deliver.