The new Samsung Galaxy Note 7, is being touted as the “last line of defence,” when the iPhone 7 is released later this year. Reviews have been excellent, and suspiciously forgiving, perhaps partly due to the fact that almost all of the rumours leaked by major sites about the Note 7, were proved to be correct.
The battle between Apple and Samsung is now one of two opposing communication ideologies. Apple is famous for its secrecy, and journalists with any form of inside information are few and far between. The business treats the media with relative disdain, and has the attitude of releasing information when it feels like it, rather than when it’s newsworthy. While tech businesses are notorious for using strategic leaks as prerelease attention grabbers, Apple relies on it’s reputation, and emotional connection with users to build hype.
Samsung however, is filled with more holes than a Swiss cheese. Rumours and leaks are prevalent, and the issue journalists have is finding which rumours are true, in the sea of information. Samsung encourages bloggers and websites to write about it by feeding the media beast with potential upgrades, features and changes prior to release. Samsung releases are far from secret or exclusive affairs, and everything is done to engage as many people as possible and share all available information quickly and easily, meaning Samsung is easier to write about, more often.
Neither of these approaches are wrong. In fact, they have both worked very effectively for both Apple and Samsung over the years, but the release of the iPhone 7 will be telling, not only for what Apple will bring to the table to counteract the downswing in iPhone sales, but also how the media reacts to the new phone, regardless of how good it is or isn’t. The possible (likely) reason that the technology sites have been so generous with the note 7, is that Samsung has a good relationship with journalists and tech bloggers – it passes them good stories, and not only when there is a release – and journalists are unlikely to bite the hand that feeds them, at least too aggressively. A quick Google search of “Note 7 Reviews,” shows generous headings from reputable sites. The interesting part about this, is that the Galaxy Note 7, is essentially a Galaxy S7, but with a stylus and slightly larger screen. There are some cool little additions, such as iris scanning and a GIF maker – but there’s nothing particularly innovative and certainly no huge groundbreaking changes. In fact, if you put the S7 and Note 7 side-by-side, you see the same thing, but slightly bigger.
This isn’t meant to present the media in a negative light, but it goes without saying that Apple’s policy of media blackouts and secrecy has alienated journalists and forced them into an untenable position – be nice to Samsung, or risk getting less stuff to write about. The nature of the 24/7 media cycle, means that editors are pressing writers to come up with stories more regularly, and many times, it’s easier to go a little less heavy on someone who helps you out. Apple, is betting that their devices will continue to sell themselves – but recent trends show that potentially isn’t the case, and while the iPhone 7 release will be an event waited for in anticipation by millions, and which will undoubtedly be followed by a rush of sales, the true success or failure of the device won’t be known for many months after, and in that Apple’s strategy of not courting the media will be tested.