In perhaps its snarkiest attack on Apple yet, Samsung is mocking the iPhone 5 in a new campaign as a generation late and enticing mostly to blind devotees and the middle-aged.
The iPhone 5, which lands Friday, is never mentioned by name, but the familiar scene of people wearing white earbuds lined up outside what look like Apple stores in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco gets the point across pretty clearly.
"The Next Big Thing Is Already Here," says Samsung of its Galaxy S III smartphone in a promotional YouTube video launched just ahead of the iPhone 5 release Friday. Shorter spots may soon appear on TV.
So Last Year
The "blind devotion" smear has been used before to trash the iPhone's perceived shortcomings -- and the almost cultlike fan-boy devotion to the device -- but the latest spot gets specific about what the S III can do and the iPhone still can't. It also has some fun with the fact that Apple is a bit late to the party when it comes to 4G LTE speed and a 4-inch touchscreen.
As the supposed Apple fans look on with bewilderment, two S III users bump their devices to exchange playlists using near-field communication, a technology omitted from the new iPhone that is already common on many smartphones. (The playlist exchange requires Samsung's MusicHub subscription service.)
The wide-eyed lemmings in line are also depicted as technologically clueless, with one noting that the "connector is all digital. What does that even mean?" When another notes that the new phone will require a new adapter to plug into a dock, he is reassured that "they have the coolest adapters." (The $29.00 adapter that links the new Lightning port to a traditional 30-pin connection is a sore spot for many iPhone fans, even though it's supposed to ensure faster transfers.)
But the biggest dis against the iPhone comes when one Galaxy S III user in line declares that he's only holding a place -- for his middle-aged parents.
"The essential message here that Samsung is trying to get across is that what the iPhone 5 is offering isn't new," said Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT. "And that the S III has feature sets that won't be coming to the iPhone anytime soon."
The message appeals to Android users flirting with an iPhone, rather than to Apple's core audience, he added.
"They are not trying to convert the choir," King told us.
The rivalry between Apple and Samsung is as hot as it is personal now that Apple has won a patent infringement case, convincing a jury that some of Samsung's most successful devices are a rip-off of Apple designs. A California judge is deciding which of Samsung's tablets and smartphones will be banned here as a result, though Samsung is appealing the verdict.
Showing that turnabout is fair play, Samsung is now seeking to ban the iPhone 5 in the U.S., claiming it violates Samsung wireless patents, Reuters reported.
Clash of Titans
A range of Samsung devices, most powered by Google's Android operating system, on all major carriers have made the South Korean giant the top phone manufacturer in the world, according to second-quarter statistics, while the iPhone remains by far the single most popular device.
Samsung says it sold 20 million of its flagship Galaxy S III smartphones in the first 100 days after launching in Europe in May and the United States in June.
While that may seem impressive, analysts project, and Apple reportedly expects, to move 50 million iPhone 5s through sales channels by the end of the year. (That is, unless, those middle-aged fans and technical illiterates in line scare people over to the nearest Samsung dealer.)