Samsung apparently put on a bizarre, community-theatre extravaganza for its Galaxy S4 introduction last night, and in doing so seems to have staked its claim as the electronics company that is everything Apple isn’t. Cult of Android‘s John Brownlee:
. . . tonight, what Samsung showed off was gimmick after gimmick. Features no one will use except in very specific circumstances… so specific, that Samsung actually felt the need to put on small miniature plays illustrating the use of each one . . .
What followed a pageantry of pedestrianism, in which the finest of New York’s under-employed off-Broadway up-and-comers came out and earnestly squirted out lines written for them by marketers and PR drones, all centered around a pervasive theme: “That seems like it could be useful.”
And that’s the opposite of Apple. At an Apple keynote, particularly in the good ol’ days of The Steve (peace be upon him), Steve or some other Apple guy would plop themselves down on a chair, and show you how a human being would make use of their stuff.
I’ve noted before how different companies approach these big product unveilings. In my example, Google (with Glass) and Microsoft (with Surface) only showed their products in the most extreme and bizarre conditions or characterizations, being used by skydivers or giving them the qualities of some over-testosteroned monster. And these are two devices that seem actually rather practical! Apple, on the other hand, introducing the MacBook Air, showed how the damn thing fit in a space as small as an envelope. That’s real.
But all three of the aforementioned companies did their unveilings without being complete backward assholes about it. Rene Ritchie at iMore:
. . . the show itself was cheesy and sexist to the point of misogyny in places. There were, indeed, few stereos left untyped by the end. Samsung is still awkward in approaching modern, mainstream marketing, and it’s something they desperately need to work on.
Maybe this video’s jaw-dropping racial insensitivity was no fluke.
So yeah, the S4 looks like a nice enough phone, but my stomach is turned. I’ve become very Android-curious thanks to my Nexus 7, but I think I’ll be looking almost anywhere other than Samsung when I next consider an Android device.
Update: Molly Wood at CNET seems to have claimed the crown as the best critic of this shitshow:
I started my journalism career as a sports writer. I’ve been in the tech industry for 14 years. I’m pretty good and used to being one of a few women in the room, and it generally suits me just fine because there’s never a line for the restroom and I can take it. But once in a while, once in a very rare while, something comes along that I just absolutely can’t ignore. And this show was one of those things.
Because yes, it is frequently kind of sucky to be a woman in tech. I do a great job of telling myself not to read the YouTube comments and of ignoring or blocking the caveman trolls that make it hard to even want to do this job sometimes, and yes, of pretending that I don’t know I make less than men who do less than I do. But don’t mistake any of those coping skills for some kind of obliviousness to the fact that the number of booth babes hasn’t declined all that much since my first MacWorld and we just keep having these same conversations and troll attacks over and over and over.
So you know what, Samsung? You’re not helping. Shut up and make me a phone.