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Can Samsung be cooler than Apple?

That’s what the Korea Times wants to know:

Samsung Electronics is the global leader in mobile phones, televisions and computer memory chips.

However, what the Korean company really wants is to be admired, and by successfully injecting creative input into its smart products in recent years, it finally seems to be earning its stripes as an innovator.

The main source of inspiration in the technology industry in recent years has been Apple, the maker of the revolutionary iPhones and iPads and Samsung’s bitter industry rival.

Look, I know I come off as a Samsung fanboy sometimes, but I’m perfectly willing to concede that Apple is the gold standard of cool. I direct you once again to Milo Yiannopoulos:

Not to be rude, but when was the last time you saw a smouldering hottie merrily chatting away into an Android phone? That’s right, you never have. Because giving in to Android is just another way of advertising that you care more about PHP than people.

Hot people do not use Android. If they’re time-rich, cash-poor hipster cuties, they’ll be sporting that ubiquitous symbol of cool, the iPhone. It’s those apps, man. I don’t understand how some people make it past an artisanal card shop without Instagramming it for the boys back at the agency.
[...]
But they’re also utterly aesthetically insensitive, apparently not realising that every Android device ever made is hideously, hideously, hideously fugly. I mean, seriously: what is wrong with these handset manufacturers? It’s like their design brief was: “create a carbuncle”.

That’s what Samsung is up against. Personally, I like how the newer Samsung models look. At any rate, I don’t think they look like carbuncles. And if you’re tech-oriented and like kick-ass displays (like me), you’re going to like Samsung. But even I have to admit they’re nowhere near the user experience my iMac or iPad are. Is this because TouchWiz still leaves a lot to be desired? I don’t know.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1125856382 Charles Montgomery

    Heh, perhaps so OT it should be shanked.. but don’t try to get TOO cool – SLATE Magazine calls AAK a fan-death “truther.” http://www.slate.com/articles/life/foreigners/2013/01/fan_death_korean_moms_think_that_your_electric_fan_will_kill_you.2.html

  • Scott N

    Milo Yiannopoulos is girlie-man, ya?

  • Dan Levitan

    That’s why I’ll stick with LG, TYVM.

  • Cloudfive

     

    I actually grew up as a child in Seoul, South Korea

    Holy crap! Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy fame, grew up in South Korea and now writes articles for Slate? Cool.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com/ Sperwer

    TouchWiz? Is that like CheeseWiz?  Does TouchWiz cause CheeseWiz?  Never mind.

  • Cm

    Once you put on that plastic cover case to protect it against drops and scratches, nobody cares what the phone looks like.  They all look like crap.  Second thought, my Note 2 has the wallet flip case cover which makes it look far nicer than the iPhone with plastic case around it.  When I was visiting the States last month, I saw all the Best Buy employees helping people at the mobile phone section, all had their own Android phones, mostly the Galaxy 3 or the Note.  None of them had the iPhone.  I notice that more women, who are non-tech savvy, prefer the iPhone since they’re simpler to use, due to the fact iPhone’s don’t give you many options to change.  The next phone that I’m looking forward to tinker around is the new Blackberry 10 phone.  I want to see what that can do, since I hear some good words about that new launch. I’ve always been a big fan of their solid phones which you can drop the thousand times and still never break.  Unfortunately they got behind in the tech game, but they’re now trying to catch up.

  • Lemorange

    Korean industries tend not to contribute to innovation but consume, sometimes in interesting ways. nevertheless no contribution whatsoever towards creating something new.
    Samsung might have improved some technologies but they have never created something absolutely new.

    The entire education system and the work philosophy in Korea center on memorising and following the user manuals for the tools and methods created by western counterparts.

    A good example is to count how many people from Korea, the so called IT heaven, participate in Linux kernel, Apache, PHP, and MYSQL projects…None

  • Jang

    Samsung wants me to “admire” them and Korea Inc. wants me to eat and love Korean food, what’s next?

  • Cm

     Correction, Samsung hasn’t said anything.  It was a trash Korea Times article.

  • Cloudfive

     Jang, if you are outside Korea, Korea Inc. would want you to stop obsessing about a country you have no love for. If you are still here, they would want you to be at peace with your environment. Opening your mind and heart to others often entails learning to love yourself first. Look in the mirror and repeat this daily affirmation to yourself: I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!.

  • Jang

    Based on Samsung’s past I’ll wait until I hear about or you show me a KT correction or a lawsuit against KT, otherwise I gotta believe Samsung did say it.  Why should I believe that Samsung doesn’t want to be “admired” and do they really have to say it?  I read the forced love fest almost daily and who are you to make a correction anyway?

  • SomeguyinKorea

     That joke is so 1991.

  • SomeguyinKorea

     Gee, what’s with the corny references to early ’90s SNL today?

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    If by “girlie man,” you mean “gay,” the answer is yes.

    Like Andrew Sullivan, he’s a gay Brit Catholic conservative.

  • pipokun

    what samsung is doing in 2013 is great! but they’ve yet made that cultural impact of what sony has done (apple later). there’s nothing more iconic than having the regular kid on the corner talking about having that new walkman…or ipod…playstation…and now iphone. or if you want to talk subcultures, kids using Sony cams to film skating, snowboarding, etc etc.

    who’s braggin that they have that new “galaxy”!? not us….not yet at least.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Well, it was a good half decade for SNL.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Maybe Samsung can use that in their next ad campaign. “iPhones are for chicks!”

  • Cm

     Who doesn’t want to be admired? And lawsuit for what? Because they greased their ego? Is there a law against that, which could be used in the court of law? You’re not making any sense.

  • Cm

     So where’s Sony now? 

  • pipokun

    obviously in the shit hole. doesn’t defer the fact of history. this was a comment more about the cultural “cool” of a brand. 

  • bumfromkorea

    And that guy is a senator now.  :D

  • Cm

     What matters most is now, past is past. Sony can’t continue to sit on laurels from the 1980′s.  No matter how you dice it, frankly I don’t see anybody who’s a non-American company, successfully challenging the Apple monopoly, except one.

  • pipokun

    no one said anything about sony being successful in 2013. i think i’ve stated that already? this article is about the “coolness” of a brand. sony was cool at one point. samsung is yet to be that in popular culture. that doesn’t mean they don’t make good product. 

  • dlbarch

    Korea has a lot of admirable qualities. Cool, however, it is not. Sorry, but it just isn’t. Ditto for Samsux.

    This
    whole thread, and the KT piece behind it, smacks of self-conscious desperation…like
    that plucky kid in grade school who’s first in his class but really,
    really, really wants to hang with the cool kids.

    Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.

    And forget Apple. Samsux — and the whole Android line, for that matter — isn’t even as cool as Sony used to be.

    But
    here’s the kicker: so what? Nokia wasn’t cool. Neither was Motorola or
    Blackberry. Neither is Panasonic, or Hyundai, or Toyota, or, well, you
    get the point.

    Most companies, like most people, aren’t cool. The
    same goes for entire countries. But that doesn’t prevent them from
    becoming really, really rich.

    If you drive a Toyota Corolla, shop at Walmart, and go to Disneyland for vacation, then Android is perfect for you.

    DLB

  • pipokun

    i agree. 

  • keyinjpop

    Agree with your whole comment and actually chuckled at some points.

  • wangkon936

    … and guys with small hands.

  • wangkon936

    DLB,

    Rewind to 1996, 17 years ago.  Back then Apple was pretty much a dead brand.  A niche brand more for design nerds where serious computer users used IBM PCs and compatibles.  It was not “cool” back then.  It was “quaint.”  Back then the poor company had a stock price that was $6 bucks a share.  I remember some of my college classmates wondering if they should buy a bunch with their tuition money.

    Any ways, it was on the road to extinction before Steve Jobs saved it.  No one could have predicted that 1996 Apple would become the Apple we have in 2013 (although 2012 or even 2011 version of Apple is better).

    What you’re saying IMHO lacks vision, foresight and open mindedness.  Time is the great equalizer.  Anything can happen in 5, 10, 15 years.  Just ask Apple.

  • pipokun

    absolutely. samsung needs to put out a life changing product that will affect culture in order to achieve this. you can’t really compare them to apple as apple has done the unthinkable with the ipod, as sony did with the walkman and TV/Video world. 

    samsung is king in producing what already exists, no question. but a risk taking innovator? not quite yet. 

  • tinyflowers

    In the tech world the shelf life of what’s cool is measured in weeks and months. It doesn’t help that Apple has been playing catch up for the last couple of years. Their Next Big Thing is likely to be their last big thing for a while. History repeats.

  • Cm

    iPod? That was a direct copy of any number of the MP 3 players, and Apple claim they invented it.

  • dlbarch

    Well, both Apple and Samsux were around in 1996. Only one became cool.

    But, yes, anything is possible, so thank you for sharing your unique vision and foresight! We are all richer for that!

    DLB

  • pipokun

    they did it in a way no one else has. 

  • cactusmcharris

     Cm, the Blackberry 10 is being touted as ‘better than the IPhone’ but without the myriad number of app opportunities.

  • wangkon936

    Well, in 1996 Apple and Samsung were different companies.  Samsung was probably more concerned with selling Apple memory, hard drives and monitors back then.  It was also more focused on being the next Sony at that time.  Since then, Samsung has beat Sony and more.  They now have a different goal, which is to be more of a “lifestyle” company, a.k.a. “cooler.”  Let’s all see how that pans out in the coming years.

  • tinyflowers

    Yes. In a way that made everyone believe they invented it. Quite the innovation.

  • pawikirogii 석아

    korea ain’t got cool? i think quite a few asians would disagree but you keep those ethnocentric glasses on, k? samsung ain’t cool? that we even ask the question…

  • pipokun

    if you’re referring to kpop and all that junk, that’s far from “cool”…

  • dlbarch

    For the record, I dig Pawi’s intensity and think he’s quite cool.

    DLB

  • wangkon936

    That depends on what country you are from, or what skin color you are, if you prefer.

  • dlbarch

    The anti-Apple website Gizmodo concedes the obvious:

    http://gizmodo.com/5977625/android-is-popular-because-its-cheap-not-because-its-good

    Yup!

    DLB

  • tinyflowers

    Gizmodo is anti-Apple? Come on now.That article is just pointing out the obvious and putting an Apple PR spin on it. Of course android is cheaper – it’s FREE. What we’re experiencing is the commoditization of smartphones. It’s a natural and irreversible long term trend. Same thing happened with PCs and Apple is way behind the curve. Again. History repeats.To add insult to injury, Samsung may end up beating Apple on the high end as well with premium products like the note. Apple’s last hope is the courtroom.

  • Cm

    That’s just one man’s opinion.  He’s got it wrong though.  Android phones aren’t cheap across the lineup.  It has cheap phones, as well as high end phones.  Androids target and cover the entire price points, from low to high price. On the other hand,  the iPhone has just one fixed price for one phone. 

  • Cm

     The Apple iPhone 5 is rated the worst smart phone that the money can buy, by Consumer Reports.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/consumer-reports-iphone-5-2013-1

  • wangkon936
  • wangkon936

    IMHO, the post written by Bobby McGill and titled “And the hits keep coming” was a bit premature.

    http://www.rjkoehler.com/2012/09/06/and-the-hits-just-keep-coming/

  • madar

     I never understood why people use those fugly plastic cases for their smart phones.  With built in redundancy, and the release of the next best things, by the time they start looking bad they will have no real resale value and you will be replacing them anyway.  All the plastic cases do is make you phone look silly while you are carrying them.

  • madar

     I know people in the news industry here, and companies like Samsung drop fat white envelopes to get stories like this printed, (free advertisement), and negative stories smothered.  So Samsung probably requested this article, or has an on going “relationship” with the reporter who wrote it.  I’ve been on the floor of the (English) Korea Times newsroom and been straight out told which reporters had their incomes supplemented by which groups, (including political parties), on a regular basis.  Koreans in the know tell me that the prosecutors’ office and the 5th estate are the only two organs of a functional democracy that still perform in much the way they had in the era of the dictatorships.  And, at least the prosecutors’ office is getting a bit of a shakeup these days.  (Of course everything I have just written, (ah-hum, ah-hum), is a fictional/fun/story/lie, hat tip to the Korean libel laws.)

  • iPhart

     Same did Samsung with Galaxy Note. Wake up iboy .
    Even MS with Windows8 did same.
    But there is not Apple logo on. LOL

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Did Apple create something new? What? The Phone? The cellular phone?

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    iPhone, the White Boy (and Girl) Smart Phone? Seriously?

  • dlbarch

    Hey, don’t kill the messenger. Marketing demographics are what they are.

    DLB

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Ultimately, “cool” is merely a reflection of profitability. When Sony was riding high, it was “cool,” now, it is basically a non-player. When Apple was dominating the market, it was “cool,” and its stock price reflected that. Apple’s falling sales and quickly declining stock price are showing us something that the Apple fanboys refuse to accept: Apple just is not that cool anymore. When was the last time Apple came up with something revolutionary? These days all Apple puts out are minute iterations on its product line. Apple has lost its mojo, and people are not buying its products anymore: and that means it has lost much of its “cool.” Keep going to court, Apple, that will really make you cool again.

  • Django

    This is a very sad and emotional story so get the tissues out…’Son of wealthy heir gets “special” admission to international school’ because he fits into the category of “less privileged kids” - http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/570752.html

    It’s so touching that I now believe Samsux is “cool” and deserves to be “admired” by people from all over the world.

  • stoned

    Speak for yourself moron. A good number of my Korean friends actively contribute to open source projects. 

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    No company is cool. If you think Apple is cool, youre an idiot

  • wangkon936

    Moderator here.  Let’s refrain from calling anyone “moron.”

    Thank you for your cooperation.

  • ex_commander

    “Not to be rude, but when was the last time you saw a smouldering hottie merrily chatting away into an Android phone? That’s right, you never have.”

    I see plenty of hotties in Seoul using Android phones.  Milo the knucklehead needs to get out more. 

  • ex_commander

    “Korea has a lot of admirable qualities. Cool, however, it is not. Sorry, but it just isn’t. ”

    Who defines cool?  Certainly middle age white men can state their opinion on this topic, but chances are it’s probably not going to be the same as that of a teenager or a twenty-something young adult.  Kpop and Kculture has a huge following with the younger crowd all over the world, and I would guarantee you that many of them think that Korea is cool.  So you’re going to have to rethink that one.

  • R. elgin

    Exactly.

  • R. elgin

    There is nothing “innovative” in throwing money at projects. This is little more than a mercantilistic way of thinking (Samsung).  The figures comparing money spent on marketing by both Apple and Samsung demonstrate this; Apple spends far less on marketing than Samsung, while Samsung spends more than CocaCola on marketing – because Apple has concept behind its products and Samsung has little except . . . $$$.  Throwing money at business and legal problems is how Samsung deals with them.  This is basically the criticism that the Verge recently leveled at Samsung and its current head. 

    Show me some applications that I would want to run on a Samsung device . . .  I posted a decent comment about this (www.rjkoehler.com/2012/12/03/the-verge-rips-on-samsung-and-lee-kun-hee/) back in December but this has vanished along with all the other comments.

  • Scott N

    it was just a wild guess

  • dlbarch

    Gentleman’s bet, then. I say no company that makes refrigerators and washing machines has ever become “cool.”

    Ever.

    DLB

  • dlbarch

    Sorry, Sejong, but no real “commander” I know, ex- or otherwise, would ever cowardly hide behind such a ludicrously ridiculous moniker. Man up!

    Interestingly, no one on this thread has mentioned the one, single Korean brand that does actually have some potential “cool” street cred. If any Korean company can break into the ranks of cool, then it’s Kia.

    Despite having an unfortunate “killed-in-action” acronym, the brand still has a great logo, a clever “hip” advertising campaign (if one likes rodents), and a strong following among younger, first time car buyers. The company also advertises in all the right fora, especially on ESPN and Sports Center, and sponsors a long list of popular sporting events.

    Some of its models are a bit tired, but Hyundai is clearly doing with Kia what Toyota did with Scion. Kia’s cars are perfectly aimed at the right demographic. All it needs now is a partnership with Red Bull to seal the deal.

    DLB

  • cm

    You have a strange definition for what is ‘cool’ (which I think is all subjective anyway).

    KIA???

    You are kidding right?

  • pipokun

    KIA. um, i see where this was going with the hip campaigns and all. but, no.

  • wangkon936

    Okay, but let’s put something at stake here. How about, say $100?

    Just for the record, Sanshinseon and I are very close to winning a bet with Sperwer:

    http://www.rjkoehler.com/2011/07/07/pyeongchang-will-host-2018-winter-olympics%E2%80%8E/#comment-253509858

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2012/06/113_112175.html

    Some ground rules. What does define cool? Is there some somewhat objective metric on the matter? Brand equity has rankings such as the list from InterBrand and Forbes. Where does Samsung need to be in the “coolness” factor? Top 10? Top 5?

  • ChuckRamone

    What makes Apple cool? Design. Hype. Great marketing. And formerly Steve Jobs. Apple’s as “cool” as any product made by a huge multi-billion dollar company can be. Can Samsung gain these things, and be cool in the product sense? Yes, if they hire the right designers and put out hip ads that will generate hype among “cool” younger consumers. And bonus if they can get some kind of charismatic spokesperson or representative like Jobs, which is unlikely.

  • ChuckRamone

    Thanks for summing all the stereotypes about East Asian automatons in a brief, easy to read comment.

  • dlbarch

    Not at all. I was at College of San Mateo last night on a youth outreach pro bono project and actually brought this subject up. This was actually the view of a lot of the 150 or so kids in the room. (The Red Bull idea was mine, though.)

    In fact, the Kia Soul was second only to the lower end Lexus (I forget the model). Third was Toyota’s Scion line.

    DLB

  • wangkon936

    All it took was a bunch of hamsters rapping to Black Sheep to make the Soul cool.

  • dlbarch

    Sorry…all my money’s in AAPL.

    But you already knew that!

    DLB

  • wangkon936

    When did you get in? At $700, then you are a sucker. At $350 you are a genius, but I would put a limit order if the stock ever dips down to $450.

  • dlbarch

    Ha. I got in at 138 in spring 2009. Have bought and held ever since. I stopped buying at 450 until last week, when I jumped in at 498.

    AAPL’s 18 month projections still hover in the 700-1200 range, so I think you’re completely wrong on valuation, but whatever. By SV standards, AAPL is now undervalued. It’s P/E alone is simply ridiculous!

    If anyone cares, I also own a hefty dose of PKX…I’m pretty diversified.

    DLB

  • wangkon936

    You should have sold at $700. It won’t be $700 again for years, if ever. The projection is at $700-1,200? Says which analyst? You know, a cat can pick stocks better than a bunch of analysts getting paid six figures to be wrong most of the time.

    http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/01/15/cat-beats-professional-wealth-managers-at-picking-stocks/

  • dlbarch

    Everyone who says that invariably goes on to make their own predictions and recommendations!

    Every. Single. Time!

    DLB

  • tinyflowers

    AAPL down more than 10% in after hours trading after today’s earnings report. Ouch.

  • dlbarch

    C’est la vie!

    DLB

  • Cloudfive

    How about refrigerators and ovens? I bet you’ve heard of Sub-Zero and Wolf. http://yoursquarefeet.com/appliances.html

    If you live in the Bay Area, perhaps you have a vintage oven – O’Keefe and Merritt?

  • ChuckRamone

    Also, I just read that Samsung’s new “smart” fridge is running on a Linux platform. You’re, like, totally wrong, dude.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com/ Sperwer

    LOL. You believe that political misrepresentation? Want to double down? Accoring to the Land Ministry the onle new high speed line to be built will be between Wonju and Gangneung, with a stop near Pyeongchang, to which it will take nearly 40 minutes to reach from WONJU. Factor in the times from Incheon to Seoul, seoul to Wonju and the transfers at Seoul and Wonju and do the math

  • http://www.bcarr.com/ Brendon Carr

    Consumer Reports’ review notwithstanding, I upgraded from the iPhone 3GS to iPhone 5 and am blown away by the screen quality and the solidity of this phone. It’s got an astonishingly-great “hand feel” redolent of quality.

  • wangkon936

    Dude, it’s a blood bath out there. AAPL down to $440. You still in long term hold pattern?

  • wangkon936

    We shall see sir. We shall see.

  • dlbarch

    Yup…I was a buyer first thing this morning. Heck, even you picked AAPL as a “buy” at $450.

    Anyway, Wall St. has overreacted on the downside (surprise, surprise) just as it over-hyped AAPL on the upside four months ago. I’m good.

    Besides, I also own a huge chunk of NFLX, so….

    DLB

  • wangkon936

    Nah, I rated it a sale at $450. Limit means an automated sale at a specified price.

    I don’t think the hemorrhaging will end until about $380-400. Then it will go back up. I don’t see it $700 any time soon. They don’t have enough growth engines.

    If you want to take advantage of the mobile industry, but you don’t want exposure to what specific platform, I would look into Qualcomm. I own a lot of Qualcomm stock.

  • cm

    Is that like saying good bye to your hard earned money that just disappeared?

  • I buy all brands,

    Then all of you iphones owner cover it with plastic…. Lol that not silly right?
    My battery ran out, I just pull my cheap plastic cover and replace with a spare one, can your shinny back be open when pull away that plastic Co er.. silly brands supporters without thinking on all the inconveniences.!