With the iPad, Apple has a significant lead in the market for tablet computing. But companies like Samsung aren't prepared to cede the market to Apple.

Samsung's would-be iPad killer is the Android-based Galaxy Tab, which debuted late last year. It hasn't dethroned the iPad, but Samsung is launching a 10.1" version of the Tab later this year that sports a faster processor and the Android Honeycomb OS.

The launch of this new Galaxy Tab, however, may not be off to the best start. Last week, Technologizer's Harry McCracken published a post questioning the legitimacy of video interviews (billed as "true-life stories") Samsung supposedly conducted with "busy, successful New Yorkers" given the opportunity to test drive the new Tab.

McCracken's photographic evidence suggests that three of those interviewed weren't exactly who they were claimed to be, and may have been paid actors.

If McCracken's suspicions are confirmed, you can be sure that Samsung will have a lot of egg on its face, perhaps scarring the company's competitive credibility amongst tech-savvy consumers in the tablet arena.

Why would Samsung, or any other company for that matter, risk such a thing? Unfortunately, despite the dangers, faking reviews, testimonials, etc. can still be appealing, even in a day and age when anyone can play the role of super sleuth using Google and Facebook.

When you feel the need to create the impression that customers love what you're offering, and fast, faking and astroturfing seem like a good idea. Building a legitimate track record of customer satisfaction may not be difficult if you have a good product or service, but it takes time.

Of course, even though trying to "fake it until you make it" is an approach just about anyone can try doesn't mean that it's easy to pull off successfully. If your product or service sucks, a bunch of fake reviews isn't likely to help for very long.

Case in point: last year, I criticized reputation startup Unvarnished (now Honestly.com). In response to my criticism, I caught a family member of the founder astroturfing, and pointed out that this didn't look like an isolated incident. Today, it looks like the market as a whole largely felt the same way about Unvarnished as I did. No amount of astroturfing could have convinced the market that this company was on the right path.

Which highlights the worst thing about faking and astroturfing: it encourages companies to drink their own kool-aid. The most valuable feedback companies can obtain is honest feedback. If the market tells you that your product or service needs improvement, the best response is usually one that involves using the feedback to improve. Ignoring what the market is saying is a recipe for failure.

The lesson here: effective marketing highlights and accentuates a product or service's best characteristics. It doesn't create them, nor should it be asked to. Ever.

Patricio Robles

Published 28 March, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (4)

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Web Design Showroom

Samsung are probably one of the only companies out there that can match Apple for manufacturing process. In fact, the new Apple dual core processor uses their fabrication process.

The problem Samsung face is Apple's sheer domination of the market place. How do they hope to start making inroads in to this? I believe they are more than capable of producing a product that exceeds Apple's offering technically and that will also look great. Just look at the Samsung Galaxy S mobile phone which is easily an iPhone beater - better camera, faster processor, more ram etc etc.

So it's really surprising that they feel the need to resort to some "dirty" advertising techniques to get their product noticed. It's this kind of thing that can actually turn potential buyers off and can quickly snowball in to a whole load of bad PR!

about 7 years ago

christopher gordon

christopher gordon, Marketing Communications Manager at Tetra Pak

I speak to many clients in the Italian Fashion sector who feel that 'faking it until we make it' is a legitimate technique to employ.

The e-commerce industry in Italy is young and the digital consumer is still in his formative years. The tactic soon back-fires and destroys brand credibility amongst target audiences and through word of mouth.

I find it hard to believe Samsung would go to the time and expense of sourcing actors and recording interviews when real consumers would queue around the block to try, review and promote Samsung products.

As per comment above bad PR and brands need to remember the old addage 'sh*t sticks'!

about 7 years ago

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Web Design Showroom

I absolutely agree with you Christopher. With the prominance of Social Media, why don't Samsung start employing these channels to start a landslide towards them.

They don't need to fake these things. As you say, there are plenty of happy customers (like me) who think that the monopoly of Apple absolutely must be challenged by companies who can match or exceed them on technical and manufacturing ability.

about 7 years ago

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Deane

Samsung 7" tablet, what a great device! Survived flying out of my car window onto the road at 60 kph and only needed gorilla glass replacement. Yes it was still working! I didn't realise it had gone until the bluetooth to the car went out of range! So many people ask if it is an I Pad, but it's so much more, could have sold dozens
in the USA , why don't people open their eyes?

about 6 years ago

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