It's 2014 and Samsung is still bringing tab specs to an iPad experience fight

Samsung has aired yet-another anti-Apple attack ad, this one involving a guy walking around the streets of New York City showing passersby both the iPad Air and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S. Rather than point out the glaring problems with the ad, like Samsung using a white Tab but a black iPad for a "test" in which one of the criteria is "brightness", or having the "host" leading the passersby, pre-emptively telling them which tablet is "better", I'm going to try to help Samsung out here and focus on the core of their problem — they're copying it wrong.

It's 2014 and Samsung just fielded an ad saying the plastic, faux-leather backed Tab they released last month is lighter and thinner than the all-aluminum backed iPad Air Apple released almost a year ago. Which might be even the least bit excusable if, back in 2011, Apple hadn't fielded the first iPad 2 ad, "We Believe", saying technology alone wasn't enough, that being faster, thinner, and lighter were all good things, but that it was only when technology got out of the way that everything became more delightful, more magical.

In other words, the moment Apple released the best spec'ed tablet the world had ever seen, they told the world specs didn't matter, experience did. That's the part that needs to be copied and exceeded, not the thinness and lightness.

A tablet is really just a large window into the universe of the internet and apps. A nice window is a nice window but what matters to us as human beings is the view. It's what we can perceive, what we can learn, what we can aspire to, and what we can accomplish. It's the internet and the apps.

Samsung is failing to see that, and so is putting technology right back in the way. They're failing to say what they believe, and so are once again bringing specs to an experience fight. And it's no longer anywhere nearly enough.

Rather than repeat how I think Samsung should spend less time showing off Apple's products and more time showing off their own, or drone on about the importance of media literacy and not being sexist and stupefying, let me just say this — If Samsung wants to win me over in 2014 they won't do it by showing me what Apple already transcended back in 2011. They'll have to do it by showing me what I can aspire to and achieve with them.

Apple followed up "We Believe" with a series of ads that showed people, young and old, using the iPad and the many new, amazing apps only made possible by the iPad. 3 years later and Apple has continued that to this very day with their "Your Verse" series which show artists and musicians, writers and entrepreneurs, divers and mountaineers — people from all walks of life and in all parts of the world — accomplishing things with the iPad they simply could not accomplish without it.

3 years later and where are the apps only made possible by the Galaxy Tab? Where are the apps better than Adobe Voice or 123D Creatures, than Microsoft Office or Storehouse, than Infinity Blade or Capo Touch. Where are the apps made by Samsung that leave the likes of iMovie and GarageBand in the dust?

If Samsung wants to win me over, they won't do it with poorly staged, sketchy passerby ads. They'll have to do it by making a batter, more coherent, more enabling tablet.

They'll have to copy and advertise that.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

64-bit Google Chrome on OS X now available for beta testers with profile switching

Next up →

AT&T handing out $100 on new line activations

Reader comments

It's 2014 and Samsung is still bringing tab specs to an iPad experience fight


Once again, rather than donating views to what's really not a very good commercial, I'm embedding the far better Apple once (from 2011!) instead. If you're really curious about the Samsung one I'm critiquing, there's a link to the video in the first paragraph.

I guess you don't consider "experience" to be a matter of opinion.

Personally, I strongly prefer the iPad over all others so I'm just not understanding how a commercial for a competing product that I don't want could hurt someone on such a personal level. (People see bad commercials all the time but they don't go googling for "rebuttals" commercials. Its just so sad to have so much of ones personality tied to the products they buy.)

It hurts me on no level at all. Humans learn through discussion. I write to understand my own thoughts and discuss to evolve those thoughts based on interactions with others.

As a consumer, I want better commercials from Samsung. I want them to not only copy what Apple makes, but the goals Apple sets. I want them to beat those.

Doesn't that benefit all of us?

Please don’t sound like you’re trying to gloss over it. The thing you were driving at was the ‘experience’. One of my friends, (despite my insistence), is moving to the S5. He says it is, and I quote - “the dogs”.
For him the Android experience is worth more than the walled garden. Why? Well there is no experience if the object you have doesn’t meed your requirements.
Not specifically aimed at you, but I was really beginning to dislike Apple, then I realised it wasn’t the hardware I didn’t like it was the blind fanboyism you get when you visit an Apple centric forum. I mean these guys are in so much denial it’s ridiculous. The one about NFC right now is hilarious as before it was useless and a dead end and now Apple will do it right and it’s brilliant.

No Rene that's exactly what I want them not to do do. I want Samsung to still be as stupid, dumb and clueless like a five year old.. Allow Samsung to be who they are "the dumb and the clueless"

It's interesting you raise this experience question. Isn't it all connected? Features are a major contributor to experience? Does experience also extend to price/value and interfaces on the hardware? I've been a long time Apple user (from the Apple IIc to NeXT to Intel Macbooks) and I'd say the mobile iOS experience is diminishing due in part to relying on old artificial restrictions Apple has that it refuses to evolve with time.

Now that tablets and smart phones have been out for a few years, my personal requirements for storage are much higher today than it ever was (even with cloud storage). Back in the day when SSD storage was expensive paying the $100 Apple price tiers was acceptable. But today, they still cling onto that old outdated artificial revenue model. Going from 16gb to 64gb costs $200, that's ridiculous, a slap in the face.
I bought a 64gb memory card for my smartphone for $40 retail.

Have you ever used the camera connection kit for the iPad? It only goes one way, from the SD card to the iPad, not the other way. More artificial cheap tactics and one that really gets me boiling. I use my ipad as a secondary video camera when I do shoots, and if I don't bring my laptop along, then tough luck, I have to wait until I go home and upload it to the computer and then send a few GBs of data across the net.

Yes, iOS has some great apps but the gap is closing and fast. I'd say for most users the cross platform apps fulfill their needs and they probably wouldn't notice a difference. I find it interesting that you bring up MS Office, wasn't that just released and hasn't had time to contribute to the iPad "experience"?

At this point, if I needed to replace the iPad I would think long and hard and give all the other tablets out there consideration because the FEATURES of those other tablets provide an experience the iPad lacks.

To continue with these problems, the advert for the Surface Pro 3 against the MacBook Air: The air can run Windows along with MacOS. In other words: it's just about even.

Samsung knows that they can't compite with the "experience" apple offers, i mean its not about specs, who cares about specs when its just faster, cleaner, and works like a swiss clock, but thats the thing, apple has that, samsung has their version of android, which sucks, and the only thing they have to show off are specs... And well with aggressive advertisement they can make the public believe that specs are more important than experience... In the end, i believe they know, deep inside, their product its inferior when it comes to experience...

Yet they are a core part of so many peoples lives. It's quite a sad sign.

Sent from the iMore App

Are they? I don't care what atoms and bits are in other people's pockets. I do care about how they help me do more and better.

Keystone cop competitors don't help me get better products from anyone.

You try to sell what you have. I don't blame Samsung for trying to sell based on specs, I just don't believe it is effective outside of a small percentage of people, who almost certainly are not Apple customers to begin with.

I agree completely. But what we are not remembering to mention is that Samsung, or Microsoft are not trying to win us over. By us I mean Apple fans. These ads are meant for the uninformed general public. All of us who are fans of technology in general are never going to by a product based on a commercial.

Samsung's ads comparing itself against Apple remind me of the old "Coke vs Pepsi" ads. Pepsi's focus was on comparing taste against Coke. Coca-Cola advertising focused on wholesomeness and nostalgia for childhood. Coca-Cola advertising is often characterized as "family-friendly", and often relies on "cute" characters (e.g., the Coca-Cola polar bear mascot and Santa Claus around Christmas).

As of 2011, Pepsi had better "specs", but is in third place behind Coke and Diet Coke.

They must bring the Pepsi Challenge back so they can sell more and then be popular enough to be stocked in more stores. I'm sick of looking for Pepsi and only finding cruddy old Coke.

Not that Samsung ads are any good, but nearly every year you complain that some Brand X compares their model with an Apple model "almost a year old." Since Apple sticks to annual releases, they are comparing it to the most recent publicly available model - what else could you expect them to do? That part is not a fair criticism.

Sent from the iMore App

The scheduling part is smart, and that serves Samsung well. I point it out because it makes sense as a consumer to consider the timing.

The language that a comparison with a months old model is not "the least bit excusable" does not quite seem to be a reminder to the consumer.

Sent from the iMore App

Rene Ritchie has posted yet-another anti-Samsung attack article.
This one may actually get him on the cover of YAWN Magazine.

I won't contribute to this snoozefest. That would just encourage you to write yet-another anti-Samsung attack article. We get it. You don't like Samsung.

Dude... I didn't even read the article. I've already read plenty of articles from him, on why Apple's marketing is better than Samsung's. Guess what? I don't care. It's about as boring as it gets.

OK... Rene, talking about "the experience" says...
"That's the part that needs to be copied and exceeded, not the thinness and lightness."

So he's saying thinness and lightness don't matter? Is that why Apple made an iPad Air? Because they wanted to make a device that didn't matter? Why didn't they just make an iPad Anchor, the thickest and heaviest tablet on the market?

He also says he won't point out the "glaring problems" with the ad... then he points them out. Trying to show that Samsung is deceiving people when using a black iPad vs a white Samsung tablet when showing screen brightness.

Wait a gosh darn minute!! Are you telling me that advertising is deceptive?!? You just blew my mind, Mr. Obvious!

Let's talk about deceptive. Remember when Apple released a software update, and suddenly your iPhone display didn't say 3G anymore? Now it said 4G! Hey look, you have a 4G phone now, and you didn't have to get any new hardware or anything! That's possible, right?? Or what about the retina display? Remember when that was such a great feature on the iPhone? Apple told us all how great it was, and it was the best display ever! Then they released the iPad Mini without out, and said on a screen that small, it didn't make any difference. Ummmm... what??

I don't think you are wrong in any of your arguments Rene. I feel the same way about Samsung. I just question why it is yours to make. Apple does a great job of defending itself. Apple is the biggest technology company in the world, they are no longer fighting for their lives against Microsoft, they do not need the defence you provide.

I loved Apple's Mac vs PC campaign, and loved Samsung's "iFans" standing in line campaigns as well. These are companies trying to sell themselves. I don't think that every swipe at Apple needs to be defended.

Currently Apple is at an all time high in the stock market. 6 Months ago when they were not doing so well, I tired of the articles painting analysts as technology know-nothings. I guess they have smartened up now.

None of these commercials will make me stop using my Mac or my iPad. But these articles are baits for flame wars. Apple does not need a protector, please stick to what imore does best. Reporting the new products from apple and on the apps on its stores. Detail how to best use my apple devices to get the most out of them.

That is all

I have no interest in Samsung nor any Android product. Android devices look cheaply made and the the OS feels vaguely similar yet strangely funky to me. Lacks the Zen.

Funny when you read it from the best Smartphone in the World! And with the best design! Yes I am of course writing from an HTC One M8!! :-)

I guess Rene has forgotten the 'Im a Mac-I'm a PC' commercials. There's a whole lot of butt-hurt in this editorial piece. This takes 'taking it personally' to a whole different level.

This isn't interesting nor is it informative. It's just a really bad piece of writing from you, Rene. These articles are getting tired and I don't think they are any where near close to the quality of the rest of iMore's articles. This would be much better as a forum discussion than article. I just find your fixation on pointing out how Samsung is bad and Apple is better is grating.

He really hates Samsung, and anytime there is an anti Samsung article, I don't even have to look at the writer because I know it's always Rene. Not sure why he is on such a high horse when it comes to bashing Samsung. I agree specs don't matter, but to many that is what sells. They go in store and see something is higher resolution or has faster processor and it's all OMG gotta have. Apple wins in experience hands down, but don't get all bent out of shape with every Samsung ad that shows. Imore is better than that

Sent from the iMore App

I agree but disagree with your comment. Specs do matter and they hold significant sway over user experience. If I have insufficient memory storage, poor resolution with regard to display, and a poor camera, I'm going to have a relatively poor experience with a device regardless of how "great" the OS is because my use of it is going to be limited in regard to what I wish to do. Personally, I find iOS and the iPhone/iPad specs to be insufficient for my wants and needs. However, that is me.

I stopped watching Samsung ads the day they insulted me as an Apple consumer. I understand that this is business and competition is nothing new in advertising. However there are very few if any ads that make fun of the consumers of a competing brand rather than the competing object instead. I also find it interesting that people will say things like "we see bad ads all the time why be offended" or "It's just an ad who cares". In my opinion, everyone is entitled to one, this is the same sort of attitude that allows politicians to do back room deals and steal money without any sort of repercussion. The attitude is well this is nothing new politicians are always dirty and life goes on. Instead of being angry at what has happened and trying to make a change. An ad is not life changing but it still doesn't mean if it's offending or stupid we should just chalk it up as another bad ad and move on.

",..they told the world specs didn't matter, experience did. That's the part that needs to be copied and exceeded, not the thinness and lightness." - couldn't agree more on this! Samsung failed(again) miserably in their cheap ads!!!!!

Sent from the iMore App

Something I have noticed pretty much every negative Samsung article is written by you. I don't even need to see the author when I see a negative samsung article there seems to be some personal vendetta from you. You can deny it but just check how many negative Samsung articles are on this apple site and see how many are all written by the same person. Everyone does ads different, what do you want them to do? praise the Ipad lol obviously they going to highlight there best bits whether it's specs or not it doesn't matter. I sometimes think you still see apple as a small company from the 90s that is still struggling and needs defending everytime someone takes a jab. Apple are the top mobile tech company, when your the top everyone is going to be targeting you. Apple did the same when they were small against Microsoft and now they are the big popular earners so its now reversed with people comparing themselves to apple. All these competitors take jabs at each other, apple loves to take jabs at everyone during the conferences and this is no different.

Posted via the Android iMore App!

Rene's an embarrassment to Apple fans. Unfortunately, not only is he not aware of this, but he thinks he's somehow nobly defending and protecting Apple fans and products.