Samsung Says the iPhone is for Old Folks. Really?

| Analysis

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.

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I know Samsung doesn’t give a hoot (apparently), but this “old folk” (I have an independent memory of the ‘60’s) owns an iPhone, but also has enough disposable income to be in the market for other electronics, like TV’s, DVD players, and the like.  And after this line of advertising, I will never consider another Samsung product.  Period.  That’s the problem with us “old folks”...we have pretty good long-term memories (even if I can’t find my keys right now), and we hold a grudge!  grin


‘Old Folk’ huh?
I’m nearer to 50 than 40 and I own an iPhone 5.
I think Samstink is just jealous that Apple got my money…

And as mactoid says “we hold a grudge”


Codger on Mactoid; My days are spent hunting down my things the wife misplaces. She suffers denialitus.
Many people choose an Android due to a lack of funds, so Cheepsy gets a customer. I just asked a bud why he had an Android and he said it was because of carrier charges here in Canada that were higher for the iPhone. We have three major carriers and they work in cahoots and sting us some painful coin. Me suspects the Three Dragon Queens* line the pockets of the embarrassment that is our government.
* no offence meant to true Dragon Queens or Codger Mactoid.

john m getz

they need to change their name to Sameolesong.  All they do is whine and whine.  Pay the money and shut the hell up.


No, no , no, john m getz. Sameolesong should keep it up. There antics bring to mind that nasty old word “common” which about sums up, Slandersung. What a fun time can be had with that name while Apple is to be found in many good books.

Paul Goodwin

Those commercials are just annoying. They’re just annoying enough to make me not want to buy ANYTHING from Samsung.

Paul Goodwin

They’re especially annoying to me since I’m 64. I’ve been buying Apple products since I was 40

James Hitch

Really? Well my folks have an iPhone. Me I got a real phone, a Palm, oops HP Pre 2. I’m still convinced Apple had words with HP and said “hey, we got got a good thing going here, keep out of it”


You have it wrong, mhikl. People do not choose Android because they are cheaper. The Galaxy SIII costs just as much as the Iphone5. In fact, there are plenty of high end android phones that will set you back $200+. Also remember that the 3GS and 4 are free now and the the 4S can be had for $100.

The real reason we choose Android is the freedom we have. We can choose a phone with a 4 in screen or one with almost 5. We have the option of removable batteries, built in keyboard, etc. Did I mention our maps and navigation work quite well?

It’s funny how the rest of you cannot take a joke. Life is short, no need to be mad at every little thing in this world.


James, I sometimes wonder the same. If I did a lot of texting I would really want something with a physical keyboard. I had a thought. With the new iPhone 5’s extra real estate, why couldn’t Apple make a thumb attachable-keyboard that would slip into the new doc, hang down a little but also slip over one row of apps (the new row of app icons would disappear once the thumb KB was in place so the home row wouldn’t be affected. Sold separately, of course.
But maybe Apple is leaving some space to the others that do what they do well.
And I joined the gaggle of Samsung no-buyers a while ago. I could have purchased a better LCD at the price I was willing to pay had I gone Samsung. No way Samozay. I have a Samsung laser printer, pre-enlightenment, that is absolutely wonderful. I just wish I knew who Samsung copied so I could let them know how much I appreciate their innovation.


Wrong again mhikl. Have you actually looked at the Samsung Galaxy line (S11, S111, Nexus)? How about the Note?They look nothing like the Iphone 5. Unless of course, rectangular with round edges is considered copying.

Samsung has bigger screens, NFC, stylus and so many other innovative features that the Iphone lacks.  The Android software also looks nothing like IOS and is so much more customizable. IOS looks the same as it did when it came out years ago. You did get a pull down notification that we have had for years. I also personally do not care for a clutter of apps and folders on my home pages. Widgets are also nice. You’ll get those one day.


flora, you got me. Android rules. Samsung is best. Down with Apple.
Who wants updates. Just toss and buy and you’ve got a modern OS. Who needs service. A year to wait for a carrier to let you up grade ain’t such a long time. And to heck with my little boy hands, I want one of those monster displays, even though they show no more real estate than the smaller Android versions or iPhones, for that matter. And plastic, oooh, as good as the smell of napalm in the morning. And I do suffer itch ears and that stylus would sure come in handy.
I’m nothing if not flexible, eh?
I’m just having fun, bud. The beauty of the whole thing is that we have choice and that is good. I have heard good things and read positive reviews on Apple interest sites about the Nexus and Galaxy and of others as well. I just like/prefer how Apple does things; the integration through all my devices, the build, the feel, weight and balance of the iPhone 5, for example, the updates and support through the Apple Store. Those who are more tech savvy than I, not a hard chore to find, may well be better served by Android or the coming Microsoft OS. Thankfully, we have such choices.

Lee Dronick

“Those commercials are just annoying. They’re just annoying enough to make me not want to buy ANYTHING from Samsung.”

As annoying as someone trying to come off as hip when they are not and have a long way to go to get there. smile

Anyway, in a few weeks I will be 62 years old and I am an iPhone user.

Dookie Howser

Great idea ShamSung. Offend and ridicule the people you’re begging to use your 3rd rate phones. Can’t wait for the day StinkSung goes Motorola.


This kind of advertising is anti-codgerite!
I am a codger, loud and proud, and I vote with my wallet….
.....when I can find it.

John Martellaro

A rude comment, pointed at one of the readers, was deleted here. If there is further discussion going forward, let’s keep it polite.


You forget that IOS is also fragmented. Do you think that the 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S will get all the functionality of IOS6? Think again. Even tough Apple tells you that they all get it, each model only gets certain features. Apple is really good at making you think you have the latest and greatest.

Don’t forget that apple also takes a year to release their updates,  You think that with such a long time in between they would be able to get it right. Maps was a failure and the camera software is now worse. Make sure you hold the phone at a different angle.

The integration of all my android devices is flawless. When my devices have an update, they go directly to the device. There is no need to use any store.

Funny story. A co-worker has a iphone4 and wanted to update to IOS6. She does not have wi-fi at home and did not want to go to a nearby Starbucks and sit there for an hour. I let her tether of my Nexus and she was up and running in no time, Why have a “mobile” phone if you have to be dependent on a land line.


I also wanted to reply to the previous post that was deleted. I am by no means a troll. Why did I comment? The story showed up on my news feed and I went ahead and read it. I read the comments and felt the need to give my view / perspective on the subject. I am not wasting my time here. When there is a comment I get notified and I reply if I see fit.

I would think a friendly discourse between people would stay civil.  I did not offend anyone or call them names. That, to me, is a troll. Some of your readers need to grow up, I have give you my two cents (I do not really care if it matters to anyone here).

John Martellaro

fmora: Friendly observations from all kinds of phone users are welcome here.  Thanks for coming by.


If not old in age, they are old in personality. (verified source)


IPhones are so underpowered, I rather be able to choose the right phone for me, not just the right color. We had quad core processors, 4G LTE, way more RAM, and way bigger displays back when the iPhone was still 3.5 inches. Haha it’s funny really that they are now just getting 4G LTE lmao it was funny that they successfully tricked their idiot consumers that the iPhone 4S had 4G. HSPA+ is nothing but faster 3G.


Many thanks for passing along these data, John.

There is nothing so rude as an ugly fact to destroy a firmly held and comforting belief. Apple products, including the iPhone, sell very well indeed amongst young and old, alike. The appeal is universal and, looking at the data above, age-independent, as would be expected of anything of high quality workmanship and conception. That the iPhone not only offers a complete solution for digital management, but continues to enjoy the nod of ecosystem advantage over Android from the majority of tech reviewers and the market, underscores the importance of data over dogma - even when in jest.

Marketing teams are well-served by an even rudimentary understanding of psychology (and good teams consult the discipline for guidance). It has long been established that people think themselves basically good, virtuous (however defined, but often nothing more than having traits and qualities that most contemporaries would fine acceptable) and of sound judgement, even when evidence is not on their side. To attack that concept, or portray people who make a choice different from yours as either lacking in judgement or objects of ridicule is not simply a risky proposition, it’s poor marketing and a bad choice.

Time and again, it’s been shown that ridiculing someone’s choice or worse, the people who make those choices, only hardens their position against the ridiculer. At this point, someone often brings up the ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC) adverts, but those were about hardware and software, represented by actors. The consumer was never lampooned or ridiculed. It will be interested to see, over time, how well these negative adverts on iPhone consumers work for Samsung but my guess is not so well as they might like, and less well in the West than in the East. Were Samsung to try to charm these same consumers, acknowledge their tech savvy good tastes, but argue that these would all be better served by Samsung products, that would clearly have more appeal.

As for sales in the longterm, it still comes down to user experience and the consensus of the social network, not the adverts.


It’s sad to see how many people only see “old folks” in that commercial. That commercial has nothing to do with age. Watch it again. Carefully. It has nothing to do with age. Period.

Serban Streza

John, you don’t seem to be a “spring chicken”  smile though you own an iPhone (I guess). Is this because you want to pass as a teenager? Ha-ha. I hope you are not so influenced by advertising and see the humor (read irony) of and old(ish) guy advertising for something that he implies is for young people.
It would be nice if you, Apple fans (I’m not calling you names, as I believe it would be degrading for me, first ....  you know who I’m talking about, Sameolesong, ShamSung and others at that level), ...coming back ... if you, Apple fans would accept the areas where Android (including Samsung) is better. And there are many more than you know simply because you refuse to investigate. It is your right. Nobody can force you.
The reality is that Samsung’s add is brilliant and does not put any percentage against any claim. It doesn’t even state that the iPhone is for old people but allows the consumer to draw the conclusion. And some get offended confirming that there is fire where there is smoke. As a matter of fact, the iPhone users in the ad are generally young, with the exception of the two parents of the guy who moved on. Really guys, you should get over yourselves!
Best regards from the open (source) side of the world.

Stan Kossen

It appears to me that the Republican National Committee must be doing the current advertising for Samsung.

Smart idea, since many people are duped by falsehoods.

Pity, Samsung has good enough products without lying in their advertising. I lose respect for them when they do. But then again, I’m weird. Who’s honest these days? Ethics went out of fashion with Nixon. (Yeah, shoot me down. I’m ready!)


I did see this ad and thought it to be another of Samsung’s put downs of iPhone customers. Those who have posted that the ad does no such thing are understandably outside the target of the ad’s mockery. Did the ad hurt or insult me? No. As an older person, I am comfortable in my skin even with the wrinkling. No one who has seen the series of Samsung “iPhone line” mocking ads could really miss the customer mocking thrust of these ads. The ad’s message is plain: It is idiotic to wait in line to buy something that is not as good as Samsung’s phones where you don’t have to wait in line.

The ad actually reinforces my choice to buy an iPhone. There are no lines or happenings when a new Android Phone is released. Which makes these ads look like the jealous rankings they are when viewed from the perspective of an iPhone fan. And I have never waited in line to buy my iPhone. Yes, I have looked at and tried Samsung smartphones.


+1 I bought 2 Samsung’s and no more after this last one…the Galaxy SIII.  Not only are their ads offensive, but I can’t even use the piece of crap in bright daylight. My iphone 5: no problems.  So goodbye Samsung, I used to like you when you had decent products.  But now I don’t even like your Monitors or Televisions as they are becoming cheaper by the day.  I will go with other brands when choosing monitors, TV’s and Android phone.  Just recently switched to HTC One X for Android phone and love it. Bye Samsung.  Oh and by the way I am 51.  So screw your commercials and I will always remember how you insulted my intelligence and age and to never trust you again.


I have to agree somewhat with Skipaq and some others.  The ‘old folks’ barely registered in the commercial storyline.  If anyone was made to look foolish, it was the young hipsters in the queue, by virtue of what they were saying.


Not sure if any of you have seen the ad, but theone I saw wasnt exactly aimed at “old people” but more focus in on the fact that it was the tech un-savvy parent s who wanted the iPhone.  The couple in the ad looked to be in their 40s or 50s I’d say, not exactly old codgers.  It was pretty funny when they mom said “this is the line for apps right?”

Considering how many nasty ads apple has launched at competitors, you’d think we could all have more of a sense of humor about it.


@ Barth ~ Top of the page here is the commercial we’re talking about.


It’s advertising for crying out loud. Apple’s very good advertising too. The “I’m a PC; I’m a Mac” ones very effective but smug, obnoxious and often misleading. And look how fantastic the new maps app was going to be a few months ago. The Kool-Aid machine was working over-time on that one. You really have to be a fanboy/girl of these devices to get all bent out of shape about the honesty of the manufacturers’ ads.


I thought the ad was clever enough - a bit of Apple get a taste of its own lemmings. Let’s be honest, we all know the the goal of any android phone is to be as good as iPhone and hopefully eek out a few specs that surpass the iPhone.

The writer of this article is way off point regarding what is being said by the son holding a space in line for his parents. Nearly everybody in that line waiting for their iPhone 5 was young. It was not trying to say that iPhone users were younger—but instead that iPhone itself has become outdated.

The truth is that iPhone 4s was a bit of let down and the whole Google Maps fiasco has somewhat tarnished this new release. With Jobs gone from Apple again, it does seem that the iPhone might indeed be headed down the path the Mac took in the 90s.


“With Jobs gone from Apple again, it does seem that the iPhone might indeed be headed down the path the Mac took in the 90s.

Really?  Bit of a let down?  Maps isn’t up to snuff, and Apple is headed for near-collapse?
And yet, customers can’t get enough Apple gear.  Every quarter is setting new profit records.  You need to dust off your crystal ball, buddy.


mhikl said

I just asked a bud why he had an Android and he said it was because of carrier charges here in Canada that were higher for the iPhone. We have three major carriers and they work in cahoots and sting us some painful coin.

Ain’t that the truth. It’s the primary reason I have an LG ‘dumbphone” rather than a smartphone, iOS or Android. It’s just too bloody expensive. Actually I read a report a year or so ago that said not only was cell phone use lower in Canada than the US but that Canada was alone in having a significant number of people going from cellular back to landlines and the #1 reason was cost. My wife has talked about dropping at least one of our cell phones to save money. I suggested both. Too bad to. I’ve wanted an iPhone since the 3GS.


The statistics that you have shown apply to Android phones in general, and not Samsung phones alone compared to iPhones. Therefore, your entire article doesn’t prove or disprove Samsung’s claims. In the end its all about marketing to make consumers think a certain product is better. Apple ads do this all the time by trying to give the impression that they invented everything related to smartphones.


I’m another who dislikes Samsung’s antics, which leads me to think the company’s products and executives cannot be trusted—on quality, warranty, etc. So I’m trying to keep my home Samsung-free.

John Martellaro

Allan: Alert readers have noted that I acknowledged that fact in the body of the article, in contrast to Mr. Rowinski who did not.  However, because Samsung is such a significant subset of the Android world, the similarities will be greater than the differences.


Actually, their commercials are funny, and not 100% true about older folks, but I’m in IT and increasingly see “older” clients getting iPhones while the “younger” ones tend not to stay with any one platform as long (except for the die-hard Apple fans).  The iPhone simple interface and lack of change there tend to attact those less able to cope with changes.  You’ll find younger folks (especially in Europe) actually going more for Blackberry.


Stan K, most people are honest. It is the times that are challenged. You have your blind from both (all) sides and then you have the middle who are quite capable of good reasoning, most of which you will find on many well organised sites. It is just that some cannot understand why others would not think like them. Where it to be so, what a boring world it would be. Thankfully we have Apple and Android and soon Microsoft (and a few others) to keep the soup interesting. Choice rules.


DaveM, not everyone wants their lives to circle round tech. Apple stuff works, the job gets done and then begins life. I ran a school lab, spent about ten years on my own stuff tweaking and going that extra mile to get the better inch and it was fun. With age comes a lucid understanding that there is more to this world than material alone. I’ve been to Android centred sites and they are nothing like Apple sites. They’re pretty helpful it seems. There the Android frustrated get help with their problems, and there sure seem to be a lot in need of assistance. My Apple stuff just works. If I have a snafu, I drop into the Apple Store when the spirit moves me.

If all were swans, plain would rule. I can’t afford many fine things in life, but an Apple product for a few shekels more gives me a sense of the artist’s mind.


wow. horrible article.
the justifications and rationalizations based on the data provided are not statistically significant.
...worked at Apple? No wonder.
Bitter much?

I am a independent 3rd party developer who creates applications for mulitplatform. iOS, MacOS, Wintel, Linux, BSD, and RIM.

Serban Streza

Guys, let’s clarify something: the author of the article is a professional; that means he gets paid for the article; by who? Well - guess! Was it hard? ... OK, now let’s clarify something else: being a professional is not equivalent with being a good professional, and here is why:
The author goes on about some alleged suggestion in the ad that the Apple users are old and from there onward he starts demonstrating the opposite. The premise he started from is wrong therefor the whole article is ridiculous: Samsung already shows ALL the users in the line being young. If you see and old one, let me know and I’ll watch the add again. The only old people in the ad are the parents of the guy with the Galaxy S3. They are late and not there for the phone (really) but for the apps - this is probably Samsung’s way to say, it is not worth waiting in line for the hardware, but the apps are great - and I subscribe to this.
What the add portrays is that the young guy (GS3) is the successor of the old guys (iPhone), which is a suggestion about the hardware capabilities and evolution, not the user base as the author of the article was rambling about.
It is funny how the Apple fans picked it up and started running with it without thinking a bit further - similar to the reaction the the Apple add. People. stop for a second, let it sink and react afterwards. Nobody is criticizing you for using the iPhone, don’t be so defensive! At the end of the day, if you are happy with your phone, this is all that matters, the rest is advertising.
Last thought: remember that advertising is a big business. Apple, the same as Samsung are pushing on the other ones territory, one way used by both is to pay some so called professionals to write incriminating articles. Don’t get caught in this net. Enjoy your phone without hating everything else! You’ll feel much better.


Well said Serban Streza…. Its u who choose an iphone or a samsung or sony ...Choice differs from person to person everyone cannot like the same thing ......everyone commenting here says samsung is great or apple is great plz be happy with wat u have ........ each have their own advantages and disadvantages….there is nothing perfect in this world ..... Dont waste ur time fighting for ur mobiles pride… its useless… u are not goin to get paid for that ... but the writer of this article is goin to get paid for keeping u fighting .... smile
Apple or Sammy jus be happpy!!!!!!!!!


Let’s face it: iPhone users are now a dime-a-dozen. Every sweater vest-wearing middle-aged Republican I know proudly carries one, as do many teenage mall rats. The days of them signifying anything relating to status or hipness is long gone. They’re now nothing more than another over-priced product trying desperately to maintain/regain their once-cool factor.

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