Samsung walked away from court in the US last Friday a billion US dollars lighter, after a jury decided that its products were too similar to those designed by rival Apple. But did the Korean company also earn a favourable tick of approval from John Q Citizen in the process?
They say all news is good news, and though US$1 billion is a huge sting, even for a company as large as Samsung, could it be that it can write off the legal expenses as money paid to Apple as the company's Midas touch? Did Samsung effectively just buy a billion dollars' worth of cleverly crafted Apple advertising?
This is a question being asked on Neowin, after co-founder Steven Parker spotted a post on Google+ by Enrique Gutierrez, who is part of the JibJab e-merchandise team. You can find Gutierrez's full post here, but in short, he believes that the verdict has likened Samsung to Apple in the minds of everyday tech consumers, rather than branding them as cheating miscreants, and his proof was the conversations he overheard in a Starbucks store on the day of the verdict.
Guy: "Wait, so what they're saying is Samsung is the same as Apple?"
Friend: "I know, right? Makes me think twice about how much I paid for my Mac Book."
Not 10 minutes later, a husband and wife, same newspaper:
Husband: "... Samsung's iPad is the same as Apple's iPad, and I paid how much for the Apple one? Honey, I told you they were a rip-off."
After looking up the Samsung tablet on his iPhone.
Wife: "Oh wow," looking at the screen, "... that's a lot cheaper. Think we can return it?"
This is an angle I hadn't even considered. Being so intimately familiar with the products, the difference is always foremost in my mind when I think about Apple and Samsung products. I have both an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet on my desk as I write this, and I can't imagine reaching for the wrong one; picking up the iPad and looking for the stylus, for example.
But then, I can't speak for my mum. We have a lot in common, but a love of mobile computers is not one of them. That said, she has been talking about getting an iPad for reading, web browsing and listening to podcasts. I wonder how many people like her will now consider buying the underdog brand; choosing a tablet made by the downtrodden Samsung, who obviously makes products which are identical in the eyes of the US legal system. Especially if you can buy one for a fraction of the cost.
If you have overheard any comments about the Samsung v. Apple case that have been made by people who may not follow the subtleties of the case as closely and you and I, let me know in the comments below.