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February 1, 2013

Samsung Launches Attack Ad Against BlackBerry

South Korean firm going after business users

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung, the world’s No. 1 Smartphone maker, is no longer content to slam its biggest rival (Apple), it is now taking a few swings at BlackBerry too in an apparent bid to win the corporate set away from the Canadian company.

The South Korean firm has been increasing efforts to attract more business users and is hoping to capitalize on the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement prevalent in many corporations.

The commercial below is part of its efforts to paint the BlackBerry as so yesterday.

The timing of the commercial is no coincidence — BlackBerry launched its new line of Smartphones Jan. 30. And the Z10, which features touchscreen technology and a sleek new look, has been getting some pretty good reviews, although critics have noted it needs more apps.

blackberry Z10

BlackBerry’s new Z10

“Slick, fast and good looking,” according to CBC’s Peter Nowak.

The New York Times’ David Pogue describes some of BlackBerry 10’s ideas as “truly ingenious. A subtle light blinks above the screen to indicate that something — a text, an e-mail message, voice mail Facebook post — is waiting for you. Without even pressing a physical button, you swipe up the screen; the Lock screen lifts like a drape as you slide your thumb, revealing what’s underneath. It’s fast and cool.”

WSJ’s Walt Mossberg writes, “The Z10 and BB10 represent a radical reinvention of the BlackBerry. The hardware is decent and the user interface is logical and generally easy to use. I believe it has a chance of getting RIM back into the game, if the company can attract a lot more apps.”

Writes Engadget’s Tim Stevens:  “As a replacement for older versions of BlackBerry OS, BB 10 is a huge step out of the dark ages of mobile OS design. It’s something that finally feels intended for a modern, full-touch device, yet still offers the core productivity focus we think BBID-holders will like. Does it have mainstream appeal? Yes, it does, but we’re not sure a great stock keyboard and some trick gestures are enough to unseat the current kings of mobile devices.”

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III

Stevens has hit the nail on the head. The Z10 is cool and will likely garner BlackBerry some new business, but Samsung clearly does not need to worry that its fan base will be rushing out to replace their Galaxy devices with the Z10.

After all, Samsung shipped 215.8 million Smartphones in 2012 for a 30.3 percent share of the market whereas BlackBerry shipped only 32.5 million units for a 4.6 percent share.

Why then the commercial poking fun at BlackBerry? Even if Samsung wants to woo corporate users away from the BlackBerry brand, surely it could come up with a classier campaign.

Samsung’s efforts are akin to that of a schoolyard bully picking on a much smaller child. Unfortunately, attack ads are not a new weapon in the South Korean firm’s arsenal. Apple has been the victim of such ads too but, at least in this case the firm is picking on an equal.

The fact that an established and supposedly professional company would resort to such schoolroom antics is distasteful and disappointing.

Perhaps this quote from Samsung Mobile vice-president and general manager of enterprise sales Tim Wagner sums up the company’s mindset.

“If I’m going to work for a big company, I don’t want to use a legacy device that I have to hide at a cocktail party,” Wagner told CNET, referring to BlackBerry. “I want to choose what I want, and I want my device to be the coolest thing out there. Right now we have the coolest thing out there.”

Promoting the idea that one must carry a certain kind of Smartphone to be cool is childish in the extreme. Anyone who judges someone else based on the kind of Smartphone he or she uses needs to grow up.

Samsung needs to focus its advertising on explaining why its products are great and forget about bashing its competitors.

If the company really wants to win over the corporate set, its needs to start producing ads that will appeal to them — not high school-aged children.