Samsung Says the iPhone is for Old Folks. Really?

In Samsung’s latest anti-iPhone video commercial, a suggestion is made that the iPhone appeals to older people and, by implication, the Galaxy S3 appeals to hipper, younger people. Research data shows that not to be true.

One technique in advertising is to take a kernel of truth, magnify and embellish, and drive a point home. However, a different, more insidious technique is to set the stage and lead the viewer to, by defective reasoning or incomplete knowledge, draw the wrong (but desired) conclusion. This appears to be what Samsung is doing in its latest video ad that shows a young person holding a place in the Apple iPhone 5 sales line for a codger and his wife.

When I first saw that ad, I wrote about some of the criticisms Samsung makes of the iPhone 5. In “Samsung’s Anti-iPhone 5 Video Ad is Snarky, Juvenile,” I wrote: “Samsung smugly suggests that the iPhone appeals to codgers. However, from what we know of Apple customers, even Samsung’s own ads, the demographics don’t support that.”

Industry Research

At the time, I didn’t have the research data to support a stronger assertion that Samsung’s ad was inviting us, through humor and implication, to draw the desired conclusion. Thankfully, Dan Rowinski over at ReadWriteWeb alertly found some relevant comScore data and did some good analysis with it. Here are the two comScore tables, obtained by The Mac Observer.

Looking at those tables, we see that the total ownership of iPhones, ages 13-34 is 52.8 percent while it’s 47.7 percent for Android. (Specific data for Samsung phones may vary). In the 55 to 65+ range, ownership of iPhones is 13.7 percent and 14.3 for Android. These numbers are fairly similar, and may or may not be within the uncertainty, but what they definitely do not show is that the iPhone is favored by older people compared to Android phones.

Analyst Research

Recently, Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray polled 7,700 teenagers and published the following findings, obtained by The Mac Observer.

  • 62 percent of teenagers polled planned to buy an iPhone.
  • 22 percent planend to buy a Samsung phone.

Again, we have some pretty convincing, corroborative evidence that the iPhone is more popular amongst teenagers than the Samsung phones. In this survey, nearly three times more popular. Here's the full quote from Mr. Munster's report.

Tablet data

I also found some data from ComScore on the breakdown, by customer age, of tablet ownership.

Source: comScore

This table shows, in the iPad and Android Tablet columns, that between the ages of 18 and 44, the iPad is more popular in that age range. ComScore explains that. “iPad owners skewed male (52.9 percent), slightly younger (44.5 percent under the age of 35) and wealthier (46.3 percent residing in households with income of $100k or greater) compared to an average tablet user during the three-month average period ending June 2012.” The table suggests that very young and very older customers, with limited funds, steer to less expensive Android tablets, a natural thing to do.

Note that the table says nothing about the absolute sales and the relative market share. The iPad still has about 68 percent of the tablet market.

So unlike smartphones, which have a very competitive and fairly standardized subsidized price, tablet prices vary greatly. When tablets are cheaper, very young and older people tend to go for the non-Apple product. That puts a further dent in Samsung’s marketing slant for older people and validates Apple’s focus on premium products. Finally, the data suggests that the rumored Apple “iPad mini,” selling at perhaps $249, may close the competitive door on both ends of that age spectrum and better appeal to the very young and old. That’s another consequence, intended or unintended, of Apple entering the 7-inch-class tablet market.


We all know that one has to dig around and find data in cases like this and also assess the methods and sources. While not all encompassing, these two smartphone data sets and the tablet research indicate that Samsung was simply being humorous and playful, enticing viewers to draw a wrong conclusion in the presence of preconceived notions and the absence of any good industry data. That’s how it goes in the advertising world.

What I also find interesting is that Apple executives pay close attention to those numbers and make decisions based on their own measured sales data. On the other hand, notions and anecdotal data are easy and popular, and so some writers are flabbergasted when Apple’s performance in the market is substantially different than what they expected. That’s how it goes in the publishing world.