Don't believe the hype: Samsung and Schmidt are trolling us

Eric Schmidt
Eric Schmidt: not just doing it for the lulz

Samsung's advert for its Galaxy Gear has attracted criticism for its resemblance to the "hello" ad for Apple's iPhone. Eric Schmidt caused guffaws this week when he told an audience of tech watchers that Android was much more secure than the iPhone.

On the face of it the stories don't have anything in common bar an Apple connection, but they're two cheeks of the same backside: both Schmidt and Samsung are trolling.

The Samsung and Apple ads aren't quite as similar as some Apple bloggers suggest; the idea of using old clips to show a new thing is hardly revolutionary - but they're similar enough that Samsung's ad agency must have realised that people would have picked up on it and written about it.

Which is probably the whole point.

It's the same with Eric Schmidt, a man who's far too smart to just open his mouth and let any old nonsense fall out. When he says something controversial, he isn't just doing it for the lulz - although I'm sure that's part of it.

Schmidt knows exactly how his 'Android is more secure' remarks will be received, and how much free publicity he'll get as a result.

There's no business like troll business

Both Samsung and Schmidt are well aware that in many cases, there's no such thing as bad publicity. The blogs mocking Samsung's advert are also circulating Samsung's advert, spreading the word about the Galaxy Gear to people who wouldn't have seen the spot on TV.

Whether by accident or design, and my money's on design, Samsung has turned stacks of pro-Apple blogs into unwitting vehicles for its PR campaign. If only the device it was advertising was so clever.

Similarly Schmidt's comments have generated hundreds of headlines - headlines that wouldn't have happened if he'd merely said that Android was good.

In many cases the headlines will be all that people read, which helps Android's public perception, but Schmidt will no doubt be hoping that they will also encourage Android avoiders, especially corporate ones, to investigate Android security anew.

Google has been putting a lot of effort into tightening Android's security, and taking a pop at the iPhone is an effective way to get the word out.

It's a well-worn media model: whenever you want a bit of publicity, simply come up with something that'll enrage the haters and ensure lots of column inches. As Oscar Wilde put it, there is only one thing that's worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

  • Read more of Gary Marshall's musings here.
Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.