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Network World - Embarrassed Samsung officials were forced to apologize to rival HTC for a sneaky PR campaign that involved paying off Taiwanese students to write negative reviews of the latter company's products. In related news, I'm looking for a Korean and Mandarin translation of the word "astroturf."
Samsung is, as everyone already knows, the top hardware maker in the Android market, and is beginning to breathe down Apple's neck as it pursues the top spot overall in the mobile device sector. The South Korean giant now accounts for 20% of global smartphone subscribers, according to the most recent comScore figures available -- more than double the numbers of Taiwan-based rival HTC.
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ITWire reports that Samsung has admitted its use of clandestine payments to supposedly unbiased user reviewers and apologized for the recent "unfortunate incident."
The question that sprang to my mind, when this story broke, was "oh, for heaven's sake -- why, Samsung, why?" If you're running away with the Android market -- to the point where pundits are openly questioning whether you might not actually be more powerful than the company that makes the software -- why run the risk of a major PR misfire just to kick your rival when they're already pretty much down?
Admittedly, this is overstating Samsung's domination and HTC's supination a bit -- the latter company's One looks really impressive, despite embarrassing delays in getting it to market, and could well lead to a renewed challenge for its bigger rival.
Nevertheless, by any reasonable measure, Samsung has HTC on the ropes, which makes such a clumsy smear campaign all the more mystifying. The news doesn't seem to have caused much of a stir in the Western tech community, though -- at least, not yet.
I mean, the only thing weirder than that would be if HTC did something similar to Samsung, right? Well, strap on your weird helmets, because there was a suggestion that that's exactly what happened -- the indefatigable SamMobile reported that Samsung would be trading its standard plastic construction for more high-end materials in the upcoming Galaxy Note 3, based on the rave reviews given to the HTC One's slick aluminum finish. The site credited its usual anonymous "insider" sources for the scoop.
However, at least one tech blogger has said that this is hooey -- hooey, no less, drawn from the creative minds of HTC's PR department.
Rumour mill. Note 3 will be different by materials and design from current models due to success of HTC one. Really god work for HTC pr team— Eldar Murtazin (@eldarmurtazin) April 15, 2013
I'm not quite sure what this means, to be honest -- while the Australian International Business Times interpreted Eldar Murtazin's tweet as saying that HTC had somehow cooked up the rumor in-house, he may simply be saying that it's a great PR filip for the Taiwanese company.