Samsung's latest video ad for the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 shows that it is thinner and has a larger display than the iPad Air. It also has visual multi-tasking. The suggestion is that it is a better product. But that's not the real issue at all, and what Samsung has done just proves why it always plays second fiddle to Apple.
There are lots of factors that go into a purchase decision by a customer. For example, with a modern tablet, to first order, people size up the size, weight and price. These are specifications that must be uncovered by research or, if possible, a visit to a retail store.
On the other hand, customers generally have a pre-existing notion of the brand they're considering. Brand awareness and the perception of the brand is a significant factor in a purchase decision and may even override technical specifications.
Apple pays a lot of attention to its brand. Apple is noted for the quality of its products, its respect for customer privacy, and its innovative products. By innovation, I mean the well known focus on an elegant marriage of hardware and software that pleases the customer and allows the customer to integrate well with the machine. Accordingly, Apple has been once again ranked at the world's most valuable brand — and by a significant margin.
Compare that to the perception that Samsung is always playing second fiddle to Apple and must, therefore, copy Apple. Most everyone knows that Apple has dragged Samsung into court for copying its products and has won huge awards. The suspicion is that companies that hastily copy don't think deeply about human factors and man-machine integration. (Even if they try.)
Customers know that Apple has done the hard work of figuring out how people work with computers, smartphones and tablets, and so they implicitly trust that they'll be satisfied with Apple's products. If only Samsung made us feel that way.
With all that in mind, I watched Samsung's latest video ad for the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. As is the company's custom, it cashed in on the public's awareness of Apple's use of a pencil in its iPad Air commercial. Right away, my respect for Samsung's self-confidence and independence of vision went down the drain. Here's the Samsung ad.
What I noticed about the commercial is that very little is done to enhance Samsung's brand. The rather geeky commercial uses the old-fashioned technique of point-comparisons. (You know them well. "The Yugo has more headroom than a BMW.") To wit:
- The display is larger. The customer thinks: "Ah, more battery drain. Will I pay for screen resolution I can't see and can't use?"
- It's thinner than the iPad. The customer thinks: "Ah, less room for the battery." (The actual specs are: Galaxy: 8220 mAh, iPad Air: 8827 mAh, but system efficiency is key.)
- It has visual multi-tasking. The customer thinks: "Ah, screen clutter only a geek could love."
And the actual thickness is 7.3 mm for the Galaxy, 7.5 mm for the iPad Air. And so, even if one digs into the specs a little bit, the question has to be, how do these minuscule improvements overcome the respect one has for the Apple brand? I don't think they do.
The other major element of the Samsung ad is the demonstration of visual multi-tasking. The Galaxy Tab Pro is shown doing two things at once while the iPad Air can only do one thing at a time. One has to wonder, has Samsung made the case that a split screen helps one be more productive? The implicit slam is against Apple, a company known for its attention to detail when it comes to human factors and man-machine integration. Once again, we see the danger of mentioning the competition.
Just what we want while watching a movie. (Image credit: Samsung)
As a result, the multi-tasking looks like gadget technology. Combine that with the revelation that the Galaxy Tab Pro is all of 0.2 mm (0.008 inch) thinner, and one is left to wonder, just what is Samsung achieving with this kind of ad?
Why isn't there more celebration of the customer's real needs as opposed to a one-upmanship mentality? Perhaps a lot of people like this kind of ad because it provides a sense of superiority to hang one's insecure hat on, the thinnest of values, but I think it falls flat for many as well. Which is why, I surmise, Apple and the iPad Air need hardly feel threatened.