Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why Samsung doesn't deserve your money

I just happened to run into this, and it's shocking: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2013/12/samsung-apparently-tried-to-cover-up-an-incident-of-galaxy-s4-catching-fire/  It's infuriating that Samsung thinks they can put conditions on a warranty for a defective product, and use legal bullying to get someone to remove a video that states a fact about that defective product!

If this were even an isolated incident, maybe I wouldn't be quite so incensed. But apparently the defective battery has been an issue with several models of Samsung phone. Instead of fixing the problem, they just throw money and legal contracts out there to sweep the issue under the rug. One man's phone caught on fire while he was playing a video game, resulting in his Hong Kong apartment burning down! He claims that he was using Samsung-approved products; it's obviously tough to tell now. (Source: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2013/07/samsung-galaxy-s4-catches-on-fire-burns-down-apartment-in-hong-kong/)

This company was engaged in a protracted war with Apple over numerous patent violations. I'm no fan of Apple, but Samsung's behavior was in flagrant violation of patent law. Essentially, Samsung was a supplier for Apple's first iPhone, so they were intimately familiar with the iPhone. Samsung's original Galaxy S smartphone ripped off many of Apple's patents that their engineers had spent time and money designing and getting the way they wanted it. Then, Samsung just took Apple's work and put in in their own phone, which they didn't even bother to design differently! (I'd say there's probably some truth to Samsung's assertion that some of the patents shouldn't have been awarded to Apple in the first place, because advanced tech is never made from scratch [and really? Apple owns the bounce-back when you scroll past the end of a page?]--but that still doesn't excuse all of Samsung's patent violations, in this and in other cases.)

Samsung took this same approach to cathode-ray tubes (TV parts) in the late 1980's/early 1990s, and price-fixed LCDs (for TVs) and DRAM (for computers) around the turn of the millennium. And the president of Samsung was found guilty of dodging taxes, for which he was given a prison sentence and a nearly $100 million fine--only to be pardoned a year and a half later! (This may have been due to the bribery of Korean officials, like politicians. This was documented by a former head of Samsung's legal division but was oddly declared 'unsubstantiated' by...government officials).

My source for alleging all this corruption and misconduct? Aside from the YouTube videos and associated documents posted by YouTube user ghostlyrich (see link above), a lengthy Vanity Fair article describes Samsung's history of misconduct here: http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2014/06/apple-samsung-smartphone-patent-war. As the comment section makes clear, Apple themselves have engaged in practices of dubious morality. Welcome to Big Business, my friends.

(Sidenote: one commenter claims that this article was paid for by Apple's law firm. Regardless, if there are factual errors, you can count on Samsung to sue for libel over that article. Without sources, though, it's tough to check. Although the one-sided view is evident, something tells me that this article is nonetheless telling the truth).

A couple years ago, I cheered when I saw the ad for the Samsung Galaxy S3 that made fun of Apple loyalists standing in line to wait for an iPhone. I was rooting for Samsung to provide cool alternatives to the iPhones that Apple fans get so snobby about. Knowing now about their history of blatant dishonesty, I cannot in good conscience recommend any Samsung products, even if they're a great deal!

If you elect to join me in boycotting Samsung products but you don't want Apple products either, I can recommend a new phone for you: the new HTC One (review here: http://www.techradar.com/us/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/htc-one-m8-1235307/review. UPDATE: Another one I discovered today is expected to be available in June 2014: the relatively cheap but high-end OnePlus One, review here: http://www.techradar.com/us/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/oneplus-one-1244307/review). It's 'cool' to get something that's nice, but different from what everyone else has, anyway :)