Companies might play dirty, but does that really have a negative effect on them?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Ah yes, playing dirty. Arguably one of the most aggravating things that humans tend do is to bend the rules in our favor, which means that businesses, run by people, are not exempt to such conniving activity as well from time to time. The mobile industry is certainly no stranger to such behavior, and as competitive of an industry that mobile is, it would almost be strange if we didn't see it happen. But when it does happen, it becomes pretty big news. It gives people something to talk about. It gives us our "bad guy".
The term "Apple vs. Samsung" is also no stranger to our industry these past few years. As Samsung began to edge in on Apple, the already intense competition between two of the largest mobile manufacturers only intensified more once Apple decided to play the role of "the bad guy" (in my opinion) and practically troll Samsung for all its worth. In fact, to this very day it still happens. The bitter rivalry broke out not only between the two companies, but also between the loyal consumerists that support each brand. I feel sorry for the poor sap who knows not what he or she gets himself into once they enter an Apple versus Samsung argument. I probably just started one now by obviously stating how much I didn't agree with Apple during the whole Apple vs. Samsung shebang. But fear not, loyal Apple fans. Today is not your day, for today we're going to focus a little less on the past and a little more on the present, as right now we are faced with some questionable behavior from our friends at...
But it has nothing to do with Apple. I'm sure many of you have already heard about this little incident, as it was initially put into question months ago during the release of the Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One. Born rival handsets running on the same mobile operating system, the current king of mobile, Samsung, seemingly had little reason to be afraid of the release of the HTC One shortly following the release of the Galaxy S4. But as word started spreading about the high quality build and function of the device, it seemed that Samsung, or at least their marketing team, became somewhat worried. How do we know this? Because allegedly, Samsung paid people to write negative reviews on "competing products" and got caught.
Samsung has been caught astroturfing twice this year already, which would make it seem like this is a very intentional thing. Each time they get caught, they get a slap on the wrist. They pay what seems like a large amount of money as punishment for the misdeeds, but when it all comes down to it, they're probably gaining more than they're losing.
In this case, Samsung is fined $340,000 for false claims made on Taiwanese forums, where manufacturer HTC is based out of. At first glance I think, "Wow, that sure is a lot of money." But to Samsung? It's nothing. I'm fairly certain they made more money off of those false claims than they lost, especially considering they just posted yet another quarter of record-making profits. Clearly they're not losing much sleep out of the whole ordeal. They'll take a small PR hit, sure, but make no mistake about it - Samsung is still raking in the cash.
I used to get riled up about this kind of thing. Like, "Oh my god, that's so wrong. How a company be so dishonest about things?" While I will say that I think it's absolutely wrong to defame others in order to try and better your product, because it certainly shows lack of faith in your product if you don't think you can sell people based on what's good about it, it's still going to work on a lot of people. But I now realize that most companies are going to play dirty in one way or another, it just depends on how good you are at it. I don't think there is one mobile manufacturer out there that 100% plays by the rules. Even if Samsung and Apple take the biggest hits because of how popular they are, you still see it happen with other comapanies as well. Just look at the comical reports of BlackBerry and the strange bot reviews that popped up following the Android and iOS release of BlackBerry Messenger. It's always happening, but whether a company gets away with it or not is entirely dependant on how good they are at covering it up.
If they're bad at covering it up, I'm sure a few people will leave. Honestly, even when a company is being a jerk to another company for no good reason other than their own insecurities, I don't go getting rid of whatever products I have made by that company in retaliation to them being jerks. If I like the product, I'm probably going to keep using it, unless they just do something really, really bad. I wish I could tell you that I would immediately ditch all products made by them and vow never to buy a single one of their products again, but the more likely scenario is that I'm going to keep using whatever product I have until I grow bored with it, and by the time it's time to change it up I'll have forgotten about the incident entirely.
Samsung and Apple are two of the most prevalant companies who are constantly getting slammed for being jerks to other companies, and yet they're both still in the lead by quite a bit over the competition. I honestly couldn't tell you whether these stunts are hurting them rather than helping them or not, but if money talks then it seems to me like the message is clear.
Readers, how do you feel about companies who go through situations like this? Do you lose respect for a company, or is it something you don't particularly care about? Have any companies specifically lost your money for good due to business practices you didn't agree with? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!