updated 03:15 am EDT, Wed September 19, 2012
No smartphone really well-suited for desert islands
Samsung's ongoing attempts to dampen the hoopla for Apple's iPhone 5 continue to falter, with a Facebook query posted by Samsung Mobile USA backfiring and turning into a 13,000-plus comment thread voting for the iPhone 5. The page, which does not require "likes" to access, had attracted over 45,000 "likes," 13,000-plus comments and over 1,500 "shares" on Tuesday as word spread about the lopsided responses to the question "if you could only take one electronic device on to a deserted island, what would it be?"
While some people answered with craftier answers such as "an electric boat" or "a raft with GPS on board," the vast majority (indeed, nearly unanimous) answer to the question was some variation on "the iPhone 5" for the commenters. Samsung has not attempted to remove the answers as of this writing (early Wednesday), but is not expected to leave the comments intact -- particularly given that the question was accompanied by a large photo of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S III, clearly suggesting that responses should be to vote for it.
One respondent (of the hundreds MacNN reviewed) pointed out correctly that both smartphones would be all but useless on an actual deserted island, as there would be neither cell reception nor a way to recharge the battery. The "one thing to take to a desert island" meme is a very old concept that has been used for decades as a way of gauging a person's priorities, and is most well-known as the basis of the BBC radio show Desert Island Discs, which began in the 1942 and asks participants to name ten pieces of music they would take with them (a "self-powered iPod" and other survival essentials are assumed to be provided in the "rules" of the program).
Following a billion-dollar judgement (which may be tripled due to the finding of willful infringement) against the Korean handset maker in a US jury trial brought by Apple (and the loss of its own counter-claims), Samsung has turned to promoting its Galaxy S III smartphone by trying to attack the iPhone 5. Thus far, the strategy has primarily been realized through the use of a Sunday newspaper ad buy that offers a cherry-picked list of comparative features that finds the new iPhone 5 lacking in some areas.
While the Galaxy S III does offer some genuinely distinct and in some cases advantageous features (such as an NFC radio and longer standby and talk time) over the iPhone, the ad (as has been pointed out by critics) is deceptive in some areas and confusing in others, mentioning "features" that aren't advantageous or that the public at large would not understand easily, such as Smart Stay. The ad has been widely parodied and is generally seen as ineffective.