Apparently Samsung execs lamented "an unintended benefit" of Jobs's passing, pointing to unabashed tributes to the ingenuity, beauty and workmanship of iPhone. However, they also saw the event as their "best opportunity to attack iPhone," at least according to Samsung's VP of Sales at the time.
I'm a big fan of Jonny Evans' work over at Computerworld, but he's making too much of an apparent contradiction in the ways Samsung executives reacted after Jobs passed away:
While Jobs lived, Samsung policy was not to engage in directly critical advertising, but this restriction was lifted at around the same time as he died. Such a change in policy must have been taken at the highest levels of the company.
This begs the question, did (Samsung CEO) Cho Gee-sung agree to this policy change even as he remembered Jobs', "innovative spirit and remarkable accomplishments"? ...
I find it difficult to believe senior management were unaware of the decision, particularly in light of the long-standing relationships between Jobs and Samsung's biggest leaders. If they were aware, then was it ethical for them to mourn Jobs so publicly given they saw Apple's loss as such an opportunity?
Seems to me this type of thing would actually be right up Steve Jobs's alley.
To inject a timely hockey analogy (I'll be watching Round One Wednesday night even without the Leafs!), Jobs had to be a believer of leaving it all on the ice. That's why he could be friendly -- or at least business casual -- with executives from Samsung and even Google (GOOG) in one respect and bash them over the head in another.
Hockey players live and die by the code. They do some pretty violent things -- some might say barbaric -- to each other on the ice, but even the fiercest warriors have been known to pat one another on the back after a fight or a vicious crosscheck in front of the net. Where hockey players "leave it on the ice," leaders such as Jobs leave it within the venues where "business" takes place. These days that's inside company corridors, but also in the public as well as the courtroom via marketing and patent lawsuits.
So Jobs died. Why can't that be a time for reflection and humility at Samsung at the same as it's seen as an opportunity? If it's OK to question Apple's ability to do justice to Jobs's legacy almost immediately after his death, why isn't it equally as alright for Samsung to raise the question with everybody, particularly people deciding who to go with for their first or upgraded smartphone?
Plus, we can't even be sure of the timeline these thoughts at Samsung took place on.
Either way, I reckon if Jobs were alive today, he'd like to see that type of no-holds-barred pluck from Tim Cook's Apple a bit more than we have the last couple of years. After all, this is a guy who reportedly berated a girl scout for coming to his door to try and sell a box of cookies.
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.