Samsung email targeted Steve Jobs' death as "our best opportunity to attack iPhone"

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 2014
Samsung executives discussed Steve Jobs' passing as "unfortunately" having an "unintended benefit for Apple," and at the same time, "our best opportunity to attack iPhone," in internal memos marked "highly confidential," presented in the Apple v. Samsung trial.

Steve Jobs


On October 4, 2011, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook announced the new iPhone 4S, which was scheduled to go on sale October 14. Apple began taking preorders a week earlier on October 10. The announcement also included new details on iOS 5 and revealed the new Siri.

That same day, executives from Samsung Telecommunications America engaged in a discussion about the new iOS 5 and iPhone 4S, referencing a feature checklist comparison by Fierce Wireless that contrasted Samsung's own Galaxy S II and Motorola's Droid Bionic, both running Android 2.3; the BlackBerry Bold running BlackBerry OS 7; and HTC Titan running Windows Phone 7.5.

Michael Pennington, then Samsung's vice president of sales operations and head of national sales for its STA, suggested that Samsung should "use Google to attack Apple" in a marking campaign as a way to "avoid attacking Apple due to their status as a large customer."

The next afternoon, Jobs passed away on October 5, 2011. Apple and his family announced his death shortly afterward.

"The point here is the there is an unintended benefit for Apple"

On October 7, the day preorders for iPhone 4S started, Pennington replied to the previous iPhone 4S discussion, noting that "Google's core strength, Search Engine, can be radially minimized by Apple's new iPhone 4S implementation of Siri," describing the situation as "Google's 'Burning Platform' issue," an allusion to Nokia's similarly titled internal memo from the beginning of 2011.

"Unfortunately," Pennington then wrote, "Steve Job's [sic] passing has led to a huge wave of press coverage of Apple's and iPhone's 'superiority,' all created by the, 'passionate, tireless, perfectionist...'"I know this is our best opportunity to attack iPhone" - Michael Pennington, Samsung

"The point here is the there is an unintended benefit for Apple, since the external messages by 3rd parties are all highlighting and/or supporting the consumer perception that Apple products are superior, since Jobs' was such a visionary and perfectionist. What consumer wouldn't feel great about purchasing a device developed by such a person."

"Sorry to continue to push this issue, but I have seen this far too long and I know this is our best opportunity to attack iPhone," Pennington wrote.

Samsung Steve Jobs death attack iPhone


Pennington's email was in response to a note from Samsung's chief marketing officer in the STA Todd Pendleton, who said, "Hey Michael, we are going to execute what you are recommending in our holiday GSII campaign and go head to head with iPhone 4S.

"We are working on a very aggressive strategy touting our advantages in hardware and software. In the process we will demystify the perceived Apple advantage (ecosystem/services) by showing how consumers can easily switch to Android and have more personalization/more choice by being part of the Samsung ecosystem. More to come soon... Best TP"

Apple announced the following Monday that iPhone 4S had racked up more than one million preorders over its first weekend.

The conglomerate strikes back

Samsung's response included a Facebook page that compared its Galaxy S II, styled to look identical with Apple's iPhone, as "new school" versus Apple's iPhone 4, an early 1990s cellular phone and two cans on a string.

Samsung Facebook


"To be fair," wrote Cody Lee, for the iDownload Blog, "the iPhone 4S supports AT&T's HSPA+ network, as does the carrier's version of the Samsung's Galaxy S II. All of the other features line up pretty evenly as well, from the dual core processors, to the 8MP cameras. So the 1980′s cell phone is a bit of a stretch."

The company also orchestrated "Global PR Reviews to increase Buzz," resulting in glowing reviews for the Galaxy S II from a series of high profile blogs (below), which the company touted in an internal marketing document.

After iPhone 4S launch, Samsung predicts an "iPhone 5 tsunami"

NPD reported the following February that Samsung's S II was the fourth best selling smartphone in the U.S., after Apple's iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.

The next summer, STA president Dale Sohn wrote an email to Samsung general managers stating, "As you know well, there will be a tsunami when iPhone 5 is coming."

Pennington replied, "we need to quickly understand the exact reasons why we win customers away from iPhone," adding, "we should also quickly understand where we failed to win customers away from iPhone in our initial GS3 launch."

The next year, Sohn was replaced as STA president by Samsung's Global Marketing Operations chief Gregory Lee last summer. Sohn is now an advisor to Samsung Mobile chief executive JK Shin.

Pennington is among the "at least five" high ranking Samsung executives that have left the company over the past two months, according to a recent report by CNET.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Todd Pendleton's email was in response to correspondence from Michael Pennington, who alluded that media coverage of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs' death was an "unintended benefit" for the company.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 146
    Reminds me of Microsoft in the Bill Gates era: fixated on beating their competitors rather than enhancing their customers experience with the company's products. It's an old, tired, reactive strategy that prioritized Microsoft's interests firmly ahead of their users'.
  • Reply 2 of 146
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Pennington is among the "at least five" high ranking Samsung executives that have left the company over the past two months, according to a recent <a href="http://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-key-executives-depart-from-us-business/">report</a> by CNET.

    Interesting.
  • Reply 3 of 146
    dnd0psdnd0ps Posts: 253member
    How Samsung.
  • Reply 4 of 146
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 717member

    Suddenly Newton,

     

    Exactly my thoughts. It's going to take a generation or so for higher education to catch up and update their curricula to the new and best way to do business. The world would be a far better place if all companies were like Apple. Make your products or services the best you can and the money will follow (assuming price and marketing and support are all given the same care).

     

    If Samsung really pushed the envelope with new innovations and/or build quality, they wouldn't have to copy Apple so blatantly. That's not to say that you can't win sometimes by cheating but it's usually not a good long term strategy.

     

    I'm not surprised that Samsung would think what's in that memo, but I am surprised that someone typed it out in an email. Couldn't they have had that meeting and expressed those thoughts privately? This stuff gets out and it makes them look terrible.

  • Reply 5 of 146
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member

    Oh Samsung, stay classy as always.

     

    /s

  • Reply 6 of 146
    tastowetastowe Posts: 108member
    Please just shut up your fat mouth Samsung. I don't like Samsung's employees attitude. You guys need to control your behavior. I am going not to buy any samsung products again because the samsung company are meanfull and cruel behavior.
  • Reply 7 of 146
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,671member
    I understand competitiveness, but this is just pathetic.
  • Reply 8 of 146
    These Pennshit people have no heart and should go to Korea, they don't belong in the land of opportunities and big hearts..
  • Reply 9 of 146
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,073member
    While I personally prefer the current form factor (albeit on a 5 gen Touch), it is clear ftom the above article that currently Sammy will be shitting bricks at the imminent release of a 5.5 iPhone with sapphire glass.
  • Reply 10 of 146
    supaflysupafly Posts: 15member

    I absolutely despise Samsung and all that they stand for. Lying, cheating and stealing will only get you so far, one day the chickens will come home to roost. I cannot wait for that day to come.

  • Reply 11 of 146
    It's interesting that Samsung was fiercely battling Apple back then... and seemed to be worried about the iPhone 4S and the upcoming iPhone 5.

    Samsung ended up as the #1 smartphone vendor by volume for 2011... and they've stayed in that position ever since. Apple was #2 at the time and have stayed in that position as well.

    I wonder if Samsung [I]still[/I] thinks Apple is such a threat? Or any company for that matter? Or has Samsung gotten comfortable being the world's largest smartphone vendor?

    Last quarter the top 5 smartphone vendors were:

    82m - Samsung
    51m - Apple
    16m - Huawei
    14m - Lenovo
    13m - LG

    There were 31 million units separating 1st and 2nd place... and 35 million units separating 2nd and 3rd place. Samsung seems to be untouchable by that metric.

    Thanks to this trial... we've seen the internal "confidential" emails from a worried Samsung written in 2011.

    Is Samsung writing these same sorts of emails today? Or do they think they're the top dog?
  • Reply 12 of 146
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post



    It's interesting that Samsung was fiercely battling Apple back then... and seemed to be worried about the iPhone 4S and the upcoming iPhone 5.



    Samsung ended up as the #1 smartphone vendor by volume for 2011... and they've stayed in that position ever since. Apple was #2 at the time and have stayed in that position as well.



    I wonder if Samsung still thinks Apple is such a threat? Or any company for that matter? Or has Samsung gotten comfortable being the world's largest smartphone vendor?



    Last quarter the top 5 smartphone vendors were:



    82m - Samsung

    51m - Apple

    16m - Huawei

    14m - Lenovo

    13m - LG



    There were 31 million units separating 1st and 2nd place... and 35 million units separating 2nd and 3rd place. Samsung seems to be untouchable by that metric.



    Thanks to this trial... we've seen the internal "confidential" emails from a worried Samsung written in 2011.



    Is Samsung writing these same sorts of emails today? Or do they think they're the top dog?

     

    IF they think they are on top, then they need to hire some new people.  Market share and profit are two entirely different things.  And Apple blows Samsung out of the water when it comes to profits from smartphones.

     

    They can be the McDonald's of the smartphone as long as they want.

  • Reply 13 of 146
    tastowetastowe Posts: 108member
    I feel like to roost the samsung galaxy phones on the grill.
  • Reply 14 of 146

    No, I think people here are trying to find anyway possible to take a jab at Samsung and are over blowing this.

     

    What did he state?  That Job's passing is getting people to look at Apple more during that time, which is unfortunate for Samsung. Yes, for Samsung from business viewpoint it could end up with less sales while people focus on Apple. 

    He also, states this is the best opportunity to attack iPhone.. but I don't believe he meant Job's death was the best time - that would be quite stupid actually, as people would turn away from Samsung if there was even a hint of such callousness. Samsung was in the middle of the legal battle with Apple at the time, but still extended their sympathy for the loss of Steve.  No, if you look at the email trail, he was quoting from 4th October on the strategy of showing how advanced Samsung/Google are compared to iPhone (before Jobs death) and merely restates this as the best opportunity to attack iPhone the next day - not because of Jobs death, but because he keeps on trying to drum into the execs that they have to act now. 

     

    He wasn't having a dig at the passing of Jobs. Merely continuing to do his job and try and find angles to promote Samsung.  That's what he is paid to do.

  • Reply 15 of 146
    Dan_DilgerDan_Dilger Posts: 1,583member
    It's interesting that Samsung was fiercely battling Apple back then... and seemed to be worried about the iPhone 4S and the upcoming iPhone 5.

    Samsung ended up as the #1 smartphone vendor by volume for 2011... and they've stayed in that position ever since. Apple was #2 at the time and have stayed in that position as well.

    I wonder if Samsung still thinks Apple is such a threat? Or any company for that matter? Or has Samsung gotten comfortable being the world's largest smartphone vendor?

    Last quarter the top 5 smartphone vendors were:

    82m - Samsung
    51m - Apple
    16m - Huawei
    14m - Lenovo
    13m - LG

    Is Samsung writing these same sorts of emails today? Or do they think they're the top dog?

    Apple has never made the most smartphones, either by total number or by platform. It has long made the most money though, and has had the most important and valuable mobile platform since it first opened the App Store.

    If you think Samsung is more confident today than in 2011-2012, you might have missed:

    A) their GS4 sold about as well as the GS3, disappointing investors
    B) its stock is doing worse than Apple's, and Apple is extremely low right now
    C) a series of executives are leaving STA (that was toward the end if the article)
    D) GS5 is selling poorly even in Korea.
    E) company is reporting to investors that its volume is mostly "carrier friendly good enough" phones that have very low profit margins
    F) Galaxy Tab has never sold well
    G) it will soon have no niche left at all as Apple moves into larger screen sizes and Chinese vendors dump cheap mass market phone on the market
    H) it has lost lots of business from one of its largest and best customers: Apple
    I) Galaxy Gear!
  • Reply 16 of 146
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AaronJ View Post

     

     

    IF they think they are on top, then they need to hire some new people.  Market share and profit are two entirely different things.  And Apple blows Samsung out of the water when it comes to profits from smartphones.

     

    They can be the McDonald's of the smartphone as long as they want.


     

    Comments like this I find amusing.  Clearly you are stating that Apple have a much larger profit margin for each phone - great for Apple, not so much for the consumer who will get more bang for their buck on Samsung who cram more stuff in there for the same price. Less profit for Samsung (like I care) but more for the customer (awesome!).

  • Reply 17 of 146
    aaronj wrote: »
    IF they think they are on top, then they need to hire some new people.  Market share and profit are two entirely different things.  And Apple blows Samsung out of the water when it comes to profits from smartphones.

    They can be the McDonald's of the smartphone as long as they want.

    Samsung is profitable. According to legend... they're the only Android manufacturer who is actually making money selling Android phones.

    But yes... Apple makes more smartphone profit than Samsung... while Samsung sells more smartphones than Apple. I wasn't talking about that.

    My question was... is Samsung threatened by anyone today like they were by Apple in 2011?

    Samsung is making money (the only profitable Android vendor) and they sell a lot of phones (#1 in the world). They're doing pretty good today.

    But in 2011 their emails kept saying "Here's how we can attack Apple..." and "Beating Apple is our #1 priority..."

    I was just wondering if Samsung is still writing "oh shit" emails today... like they were a few years ago.
  • Reply 18 of 146
    It's interesting that Samsung was fiercely battling Apple back then... and seemed to be worried about the iPhone 4S and the upcoming iPhone 5.

    Samsung ended up as the #1 smartphone vendor by volume for 2011... and they've stayed in that position ever since. Apple was #2 at the time and have stayed in that position as well.

    Samsung ships a lot of low-end shit phones. If those are rolled in with their smart phones, then that an be an impressive number. Also, note that many of the analysts are shilling for Saqmsung, so any numbers being reported are suspect at best. Finally, even Samsung was over-stating their shipped numbers - even going so far as to lie to their shareholders.
    I wonder if Samsung still thinks Apple is such a threat? Or any company for that matter? Or has Samsung gotten comfortable being the world's largest smartphone vendor?

    Last quarter the top 5 smartphone vendors were:

    82m - Samsung
    51m - Apple
    16m - Huawei
    14m - Lenovo
    13m - LG

    There were 31 million units separating 1st and 2nd place... and 35 million units separating 2nd and 3rd place. Samsung seems to be untouchable by that metric.

    Going back to what I wrote above. Samsung's actual numbers have been purposefully overstated due to several factors. Finally, since all reports of actual internet phone and tablet traffic; 80% to 85% being done from Apple iPhones and iPads seem to point to Apple clearly shipping the bulk of devices and making the bulk of profits.
    Thanks to this trial... we've seen the internal "confidential" emails from a worried Samsung written in 2011.

    Is Samsung writing these same sorts of emails today? Or do they think they're the top dog?

    Only Samsung knows what they are thinking, just as only Samsung knows what they are actually shipping. They are shaping up to be a den of thieves with not even honor among themselves. Witness the recent departure of several head rats.
  • Reply 19 of 146
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Bryan Tianao View Post

     

     

    Comments like this I find amusing.  Clearly you are stating that Apple have a much larger profit margin for each phone - great for Apple, not so much for the consumer who will get more bang for their buck on Samsung who cram more stuff in there for the same price. Less profit for Samsung (like I care) but more for the customer (awesome!).


     

    Umm, I've been an Apple smartphone consumer since the original in 2007, and an Apple consumer in general since about 2003 (not that long compared to many here, granted).

     

    I have NEVER felt that could get more bang for the buck by buying Samsung and "cramming more stuff" in there.  I have all the apps I want, all the functionality I want, and I have one thing that Samsung will NEVER have: resale value.

     

    When I upgraded from the 5 to the 5S, Gazelle gave me $34 more for my 5 than I paid for it.  OK, ATT charged me $36 to upgrade a year into my contract.  But guess what?

     

    I went from a 32GB 5 to a 64GB 5S for ... $2.  TWO EFFING DOLLARS it cost me to upgrade my phone to the new version AND double the storage.  And if it weren't for ATT, I would have actually MADE money!

     

    So don't you DARE come in here and pretend you understand the economics.  You don't.  You clearly don't.  When you do, come back.

  • Reply 20 of 146
    Apple has never made the most smartphones, either by total number or by platform. It has long made the most money though, and has had the most important and valuable mobile platform since it first opened the App Store.

    If you think Samsung is more confident today than in 2011-2012, you might have missed:

    A) their GS4 sold about as well as the GS3, disappointing investors
    B) its stock is doing worse than Apple's, and Apple is extremely low right now
    C) a series of executives are leaving STA (that was toward the end if the article)
    D) GS5 is selling poorly even in Korea.
    E) company is reporting to investors that its volume is mostly "carrier friendly good enough" phones that have very low profit margins
    F) Galaxy Tab has never sold well
    G) it will soon have no niche left at all as Apple moves into larger screen sizes and Chinese vendors dump cheap mass market phone on the market
    H) it has lost lots of business from one of its largest and best customers: Apple
    I) Galaxy Gear!

    Thanks! That's exactly the information I was looking for.
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