Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, President of dBrn Associates, Inc. is a consultant and industry analyst specializing in wireless, mobile unified communications,...
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Michael Finneran | February 25, 2013 |


Samsung on the Red Carpet

Samsung on the Red Carpet Can a big Oscar-night ad buy translate into enterprise device adoption?

Can a big Oscar-night ad buy translate into enterprise device adoption?

Well the Academy Awards were on last night with Argo taking Best Picture (though no "Best Director" for Ben Affleck), Daniel Day-Lewis getting Best Actor for Lincoln (they shouldn't even have had to vote on that one), and Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress in the delightfully off-beat Silver Linings Playbook (still charming and gorgeous even after a tumble climbing the stairs to the stage). However, what really caught my eye was Samsung showing up as a major sponsor with a total of four and a half minutes of ads pushing Samsung SAFE.

SAFE, which originally stood for "Samsung Approved for Enterprise" but has now been shortened to "Samsung for Enterprise", is Samsung's program to provide devices that are enterprise ready and support such key features as on-device encryption and support from a number of mobile device management (MDM) vendors. We'll be hearing more about Samsung's enterprise push at Enterprise Connect next month. However, I'm wondering if this Academy Awards gambit was money well spent.

The storyline deals with a small company trying to create a videogame called "Unicorn Apocalypse", and the kick-off is a team meeting where the boss announces that employees will now be allowed to use any mobile device they want--"BYOD" in prime time? One vignette shows a stodgy dude waving a BlackBerry saying "This is business", but my favorite is this developer type picking up his new Galaxy from the IT gal and asking "Are you sure these are secure enough?"--when was the last time you heard that from a user?

There's also a scene where a woman is asked if she is going to consolidate her phones, but replies, "No, I have a system. This one is for work, and this one is for home" over a shot of a BlackBerry and an iPhone sitting side by side. They do have some of the funny stuff that Samsung has been putting into its anti-iPhone ads like one guy saying "He wants it to look like a real unicorn", and another dolt chiming in "The way they look in real life." From that we learn that "real life unicorns have rainbow blood."

It's nice to see Samsung putting some real money into advertising (including a cameo from their spokesman LeBron James), but is this going to score points? The Academy Awards is a major TV event, and the LA Times estimated ads were going for $1.7 million for a 30-second spot; that would put Samsung's bill at $8.5 million. Ads from JC Penney, AT&T, Coke, Sprint, Procter & Gamble, Hyundai, Nokia, Amazon.com, Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's and Best Buy were on display, but is this where you're going to find people who know (or care) what "AES 256-bit encryption plus support for VPN and MDM" really means?

Samsung is far and away the biggest provider of Android smartphones, but they still have some work to do in closing the enterprise gap with Apple. ComScore puts Android's share of the US market at 53% to Apple's 36% for the three months ending December 2012, but in the enterprise we see the exact opposite. A recent survey we ran for Information Week found that for company-provided smartphones accessing corporate email systems, Apple beat out Android 38% to 21%; for personally owned devices, Apple led 50% to 27%--that's almost 2-to-1 in favor of Apple.

Amazingly, Apple has done that while essentially thumbing its nose at enterprise buyers. With a whole gaggle of former BlackBerry execs at the helm, Samsung's enterprise sales group is clearly trying to get a bigger piece of the enterprise market, particularly with BlackBerry on the ropes. We applaud the enterprise focus--but "unicorns"?

"A long time ago when the earth was green, there were more kinds of animals than you've ever seen...."

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