Posted : 2013-08-20 19:03
Updated : 2013-08-20 19:03

Expert regrets Obama siding with Apple

By Kim Yoo-chul

Kevin Lane Keller
U.S. President Barack Obama should not have intervened in the ongoing patent disputes between Samsung Electronics and Apple, leaving it to the courts a leading marketing expert says.

Obama vetoed the ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban the sale of some Apple products on the U.S. market. Now, his government is under pressure to do the same with a ban on some Samsung products.

"I hope the legal disputes are dealt with by the courts and that the governments stay out," said Kevin Lane Keller of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in the United States. Obama has 60 days to decide whether to let the Samsung ban take effect. The ITC ruled in favor of an import ban on Samsung products in a separate case.

During a recent email interview, Keller said, "From a legal point of view, there doesn't seem to be likely a clear winner, which actually helps Samsung,"

"Apple's legal fights with Samsung could easily be seen as sour grapes or self-serving in nature.It certainly does not reinforce their cool or customer caring image. Although some Apple loyalists might disagree, they run the risk of being seen as the bad guy depending on how some of the decisions come out or are interpreted."

Keller stressed the ongoing patent fight and actions the ITC and Obama "might take could potentially be important" from a marketing and branding standpoint. "Although that is not the case here, there are some important differences."

The world's biggest consumer electronics maker stressed that it already applied modified technologies to avoid infringing on Apple's design patents.

"All of Apple's product innovation helped to fuel that image as backed by some very clever advertising, notably the Mac versus PC ads. But in many ways Samsung has been able to accomplish much of that same product innovation. Samsung's focus and investment on design and research and development has paid off and is likely to continue to do so in the future," he responded.

According to the professor, Samsung Electronics has so far been effective in boosting its corporate awareness and advised that the company doesn't have worry too much about "controversial outcomes" in court.

"Samsung is better positioned to up its stakes in the heated race for smartphones and tablets as none of the companies declare clear victory," he said.

Data from IDC, a market research firm, showed Samsung has remained in the lead with a new record of smartphones shipped in a single quarter and year, taking 29 percent of the overall mobile market during the second quarter of this year. Samsung had 76 percent year-on-year growth, compared to Apple, which had only 29 percent growth.

"In general, consumers don't get that involved or take care that much about behind the scenes corporate legal maneuvers unless it affects them in a very direct way," Keller said.

The professor is an international leader in the study of brands, branding and strategic brand management with his main research focused on improving marketing strategies through an understanding of consumer behavior.

"All of this marketplace activity reinforces that Samsung is every bit the equal of Apple. My marketing advice to Samsung would be to continue to develop and launch these amazing new products and continue to refine their image as a leading edge pioneer," he stressed.

"If the opportunity comes up to poke a little fun at Apple, that is fine, but the real focus is on letting consumers know the many ways that Samsung products improve their lives and that is and always will be the company's most important priority."

Keller continued; "I believe Samsung will be known as one of the most creative and innovative companies around."

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