Samsung’s Latest Tablet Ad Demonstrates Why it Remains Second to Apple

| Editorial

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.

Second Place

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.


Lee Dronick

Such a device can get too thin. It could flex too easily and short out the battery or crack the screen, not feel comfortable in the hand. Of course the comfort aspect will vary from individual to individual. Also its screen size isn’t substantially larger than the iPad’s. Then there is the operating system and ease of synching mail, notes, calendar, and such to counterparts on your Macintosh.


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.”

While I think these points are valid, I’m not sure the average customer is that savvy. I suspect that enough will say “Oh, bigger and thinner, must be better. Multitasking, I’m not sure what it is but the Samsung has it and the Apple doesn’t, so if I need it it will be there.” To keep Samsung’s sales going strong. More battery drain and smaller cells mean a shorter life between charges, but how many of them will compare. I suspect most will just assume that recharging daily is normal. That the iPhone etc. have multitasking (music will play while you are reading, mail will fetch while you are watching a video, etc.) is a subtle difference most won’t pick up on.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the acumen of the average consumer.


” is left to wonder, just what is Samsung achieving with this kind of ad? ... I think it falls flat for many as well. Which is why, I surmise, Apple and the iPad Air need hardly feel threatened.”

I think that assessment is probably spot on. But I also thought your question might point out a different targeted customer base (than the public at large, whom Apple targets) for this Samsung imitation iPad Air:
all those tens of millions of deeply-invested Android users who would envy those who are free to acquire an iPad Air without feeling angst about the burden of having to learn to do (& do without) everything again in different OS ecology, & also about needing to spend the time & money finding & acquiring a second/duplicate set of apps for everything they currently depend upon on their Android devices. 
With this Samsung imitation iPad Air, the add suggests, they can feel they have gotten everything (& more!) they wanted in the iPad Air they’ve coveted, without abandoning their Mother Ship.


This hip-to-the-point-of-being-snarky commercial is a home run…at least for Samsung’s target demographic of young tech-savvy males.  For all other demographics, commercials like these are proven turn-offs. 

By showing that Apple’s tablet is hidden behind the pencil first they just made a great selling point for the iPad Air.  The commercial goes on to gloat that the Samsung is thinner, but the difference is imperceptible.  The commercial claims the screen is bigger, and it certainly appears bigger side-by-side, but the difference is fairly trivial. 

The most important point though is that American audiences, known for being thrifty and a love for feature shopping, have shown through their recent buying habits that this doesn’t apply to computers so much any more.  I attribute this to the fact that after almost 2 decades of using Windows boxes and the perpetual frustration they created while never getting appreciably better, buyers are looking safety over features.  And this plays right into the hand of Apple, the natural alternative to Windows for laptops and desktops and the runaway innovator and gold-standard for cell phones and tablets, and the fact that their brand has never been seen brighter is a testament to everything that Apple stands for and everything their opposition does not.


Substance: This…commercial is a home run…at least for Samsung’s target demographic of young tech-savvy males.

To me, savvy would include knowing about battery life, available software, synching, ease of use, security and privacy.  If one doesn’t consider these things, or know about them, one looks foolish, rather than savvy.


Typical JM spins.  Only the drones can come up with reasons why superior features - i.e. thickness and screen size and battery life and price are NEGATIVE things. Samsung beats Apple in all of that. Heck Apple had to scramble to come up with a mini Tab and they didn’t even include a GPS chip as the Nexus has !!!  Keep talking about ephemeral bullcrap like “brand” all you want, that seems something only a Drone would appreciate.  And what about all the Apple lawsuit losses for copyright infringement - including touch screen tech!!!? (as every drone hits wikipedia to see)

Paul Goodwin

Virtually every Samsung commercial I’ve ever seen is so bad. Their products always come off as second rate, begging for a reason for someone to buy them. And most of the time there will be one or more points in their commercials that make them look stupid. The only game they have is specsmanship, and they always manage to ruin that message with some of the dumbest and uncool visions. The people who see those commercials and think they portray something superior are the Kings of Dupe. If you take even 10 seconds to think about what they are portraying, it’s evident that that company has no clue what a good ad looks like.

John Dingler, artist

Shame that Samsung has made it only a little thinner,which makes it a big fail. It should be as thin as a stick of chewing gum and Samsung should have make its tablet rise up from behind it which would not have copied the Apple commercial because Apple used a pencil.

But, you know, Samsung can’t make its tablets thin enough for my taste; I would love for it to be as thin so as to disappear.

Macadamia Nut

AND it’s nice to have competition.  Samsung alone seems willing to challenge Apple, and I am glad they are in the market place.  I don’t want one, but I did check it out, and Apple knows that, in a calm but productive way.  The dogs will bark, but the caravan moves on.


Whatever Samsung come out with will be killed by their phablets.

John Dingler, artist

To Nut,
No, it’s not nice to have Samsung’s kind of “competition,” you know, the kind that copies brazenly and then laughs when it makes money off of it while the creator, Apple, has to wait for remedies, meager as they the laws allows, from the court as the case winds slowly through the multiple-courts system.



My perception is this.

The Samsung advert, as Substance suggests, scores by giving something to the partisans. As a negative comparison ad, as numerous market and psychology studies have shown, this has appeal only for those who either a) are Samsung partisans or b) are anti-Apple partisans or c) best yet, are a combination of a and b. This is fodder for the faithful and red meat for the converted. Such negative ads not only do not generally appeal to the undecided and the public at large (there are always exceptions, particularly amongst the malleable and those who are adverse to criticism and public ridicule), they have been shown to be ineffectual in changing minds and garnering support and marketshare. Worse, they tend to be a turn off for the average viewer. Samsung will, however, have pleased their base.

Contrast that to Apple’s approach, which has had its own share of criticism from the punditry, which underscores themes of personal empowerment, fulfilment and contribution of personal uniqueness to human advancement, without so much as a whiff of a suggestion of a hint of Apple’s competition (yes, I am aware of the ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC’ ads of yore, however even here, Apple did not target a specific brand competitor but a platform, a product and its philosophy). Such ads convey the message that, latent within every individual is the capacity to change the world for the better whilst undergoing personal enrichment and fulfilment. It’s a message of a healthy symbiosis between personal development and the betterment of the world. This is not simply a positive message, but one with a powerful appeal to people of goodwill, who think of themselves as good people, which is the majority of people. It’s an uplifting, positive message suffused with promise of a better tomorrow for society and the individual. Such a message has a broad appeal to the mass of viewers and cuts across partisan lines.

There is one more thing to note in this contrast. Implicit in the negative ad (Samsung’s or anyone’s) is the acknowledgement not simply of the competition, but that the viewer likely sees the competition as better than the ad sponsor. By attacking a specific attribute of the competitor, or their product, the ad sponsor attempts to whittle away at that specific attribute of advantage by saying either, ‘See, it’s not so great’ or ‘If you like that, then I have something that’s even better’. The problem here is three-fold:

1) It assumes that the sponsor knows why the competition or their product is appealing to the viewer, which in this case are product specs (thinness, screen space); or that the viewer has no brand loyalty and will switch on the basis of those superior features or specs, rather than remain loyal to the whole package or brand;

2) It adds to the mindshare of the competitor and their product by reminding the viewer of the competition and that even the sponsor thinks that the competition or their product is important and appealing (think of its as saying, ‘Sure, we also know they’re great, but give us a chance, will you?’)

3) It does not inform the viewer why the sponsor is important in their own right, and/or why their brand should be accorded greater value. Simply diminishing someone else’s brand is no guarantee that one enhances the status and value of one’s own.

All one can surmise from this is that Samsung, and their marketing team, don’t read the primary literature, market research in the public domain, or have a healthy sense of self-possession and confidence. The ad conveys far more than they really want to, or should, reveal about their mindset.


The essential difference is that Samsung’s ads look at the device while Apple’s focus on what you, the user, can do with it.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account