By Cho Mu-hyun
Samsung Electronics lost its recent court battle against Apple in San Jose and was ordered to pay a staggering $1.05 billion but ironically, recent polls show that the Korean firm has overtaken its U.S. rival in brand image.
According to a recent poll by market research agency YouGov that compared public perception of the two companies, the Suwon-based electronics giant’s “buzz score” has actually surpassed that of its American competitor two weeks after the verdict.
YouGov asked 5,000 people in the United States, dividing them into two groups of those aged between 18 to 34 and adults who considered themselves “early technology adopters”: “If you heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or by word of mouth was it positive or negative?” A score of 100 indicates a completely positive view and zero completely negative.
As of Sept. 6, Samsung scored 46 over Apple’s 24, in the group for those between 18 and 34. For early technology adopters, the two were near equal, with the Galaxy series maker on 34 and its American counterpart 33.
After the verdict in Apple’s favor on Aug. 24, Samsung’s score of 26 on that day quickly deteriorated to 12 by Aug. 31 but skyrocketed back to the current number for the 18 to 34 group. The iPhone maker shifted up and down between the 20s and 30s in the same period, eventually steadying to its current figure.
For early adopters, the Suwon-based company’s score plummeted from 34 to 4 from the verdict date to the end of August but quickly recovered to 34 again on Sept. 6. The Cupertino-based firm rose from 33 to 50 in the same time in August, but dropped to 34 as of the same day this month.
“Samsung was well prepared to promote operating systems competing against iOS, which eventually became Google’s Android,” said Lee Seong-ju, head of Mobile Monday’s Seoul chapter, over the phone. “There was enough anti-Apple sentiment in the market due to its monopoly, and Samsung had the strong backing of carriers which wanted more leverage against Apple in smartphones by having more competitors.”
According to Brand Finance’s recent valuation of 500 world brands released last month, Samsung was ranked 6th on the list, a huge jump from its 18th place last year. Apple, now the most valuable company in history, held the top position. It was ranked 8th last year.
“My personal preference has always been Android but I didn’t have a bad image of iOS. I’ve always admired Apple, especially the late Steve Jobs after reading the autobiography (by Walter Isaacson),” said an office worker here who wished to be identified only as Park. “But the court battle just took away all the positive impressions that I had of Apple. I mean, the hypocrisy that was revealed was just staggering. I guess they are a business after all.”
Park added Apple’s “innovator” image was no longer valid. He said he will not be checking out the iPhone 5, despite the expiration date for his current contract being near, for which he chose a Galaxy Nexus.
Another office worker, Lee, who works for a large domestic conglomerate, said that he hoped the two global technology giants would learn to care more for consumers. “I hope both firms back down on this ridiculous power game. I think the market needs a third party, maybe Microsoft, to instigate a healthy environment for fair competition.”
An industry official based in Seoul for a Korean manufacturer said over the phone: “The funny thing is that neither Apple nor Samsung would have predicted the current consumer’s feelings over them. Apple inadvertently has shown the world that it considered Samsung its equal and almost feared it. What Samsung executives called the worst-case scenario for them turned out to be blessing in disguise.”