Is Samsung’s New Galaxy Tab Fibbing About Its Figure? And About Those Galaxy Tab Fans…

The latest Tab is thinner than the iPad. Or thicker. But at least we know it's beloved by New York actors.

By  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am

At CTIA Wireless earlier this week, Samsung announced a new 10.1″ Galaxy Tab tablet–one with specs that made it thinner and lighter than the iPad 2, with the same starting price of $499. After the press event, I scurried over to the Samsung booth in hopes of getting some hands-on time with the new Tab.

When I got there, I found that the 10.1″ Tabs out on tables were the older, relatively portly version announced last month at Mobile World Congress. The new 10.1-incher (and its 8.9″ sibling) were inside glass cases, and they weren’t powered on. I also discovered that my friend Fritz Nelson of InformationWeek had beat me to the booth–and he told me that he was trying to get Samsung to give him a Tab he could hold and judge.

Looks like he succeeded–he’s published a CTIA tablet roundup that includes a couple of comparison shots of the iPad 2 and a prototype of the new 10.1″ Galaxy Tab–ones which he says show that the Tab–supposedly 8.6mm to the iPad 2′s 8.8mm–is very slightly thicker than the iPad 2. I guess we’ll figure out what the deal is when the Tab shows up in stores, which it’s supposed to do in June.

Me, I was confused about a different aspect of Samsung’s event, which you can watch here:

Much of it was devoted to video clips from the “Samsung Galaxy Tab Interview Project,” which the opening titles said took place on March 3rd in New York, and which was shown to involve inviting busy, successful New Yorkers to try the Galaxy Tab of their choice and share their opinions. The New Yorkers in question were identified as “freelance travel writer” Joan Hess, “independent film director” Karl Shefelman, and “CEO, leading New York real estate firm” Joseph Kolinksi.

As I watched the interviews, I noticed that Shefelman spoke and behaved more or less like a normal person, but Hess and Kolinksi came off as performers dressed for their parts and parroting Samsung talking points. I couldn’t tell whether we were supposed to take the clips as a documentary or a mockumentary. So I Googled around and couldn’t find any references to a travel-writing Joan Hess (one with, as she said, a following on Twitter) or a real-estate CEO Joseph Kolinski.

I did notice, however, that freelance travel writer Joan Hess bears a striking resemblance to New York actress Joan Hess:

And that real estate CEO Joseph Kolinski could be New York actor Joseph Kolinksi‘s twin brother:

Filmmaker Karl Shefelman, on the other hand, looks a lot like…filmmaker Karl Shefelman. Who works for a New York production company. One that’s done work for Samsung.

A thin, light Honeycomb tablet starting at $499 still sounds like a good idea to me. I just feel like it’s not clear whether Samsung has one that’s actually thinner than the iPad 2 yet, or whether it came up with the specs before it had a prototype to match them–and also decided to build its own happy Galaxy Tab users rather than find them in the wild.

[FURTHER THOUGHTS: Did Samsung mean for us to understand that these were imaginary users or not? The more I think about it, the more befuddled I get. The Raw Feed's Mike Elgan points out that the company's PR director earnestly described the "project" during the event in a way that made it sound real. And commenter Karl notes that Samsung referred to the users' tales as "true-life stories." But the bits with Hess and Kolinski are so profoundly artificial that they could have involved Madge the Manicurist and the Maytag Repairman. Actually, Kolinski seems to be channeling a certain real-life "leading New York real-estate CEO."]

[ODD SIDELIGHT: Technologizer commenter Phil Earnhardt noticed another funny curiosity about the video that somehow escaped my attention, but really shouldn't have.]

 
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73 Comments For This Post

  1. David Says:

    They did have the advantage of being able to pull open and iPad 2, but that seems like an agressive time line to go from design, prototype, verification, manufacturing all by June.

    Like you said, we'll find out soon enough.

  2. David Spark Says:

    That's pathetic that they had to hire people to be fans. They couldn't find five people on the entire planet to fly into CTIA to honestly talk about how much they love The Tab? I actually met one at SXSW. They should have gotten him. He would have been more believable.

    Why companies still keep making these stupid mistakes that are so easy to catch (just a few Google searches)? When they're caught, the negative PR is so damaging, and it lives on in Google on what not to do.

    Nice catch Harry.

  3. Paul Says:

    Heck, they wouldn't need to find them! I am betting they could get people to volunteer for this.

  4. @TexasVC Says:

    Pretty terrible that @samsung is faking fans of the Galaxy Tab.

  5. Harry McCracken Says:

    To be fair to Samsung, I'm still not sure whether we were supposed to take these people as real or imaginary. I mean, I don't think that Palmolive meant us to think that Madge the Manicurist was an actual human being…

  6. Dr. X Says:

    D'oh! Kudos to you Harry for outing Samsung. It's one thing to create an obvious fictitious character such as "Madge", "the Maytag repairman" or the Progressive Insurance lady. But it's quite something else to more than infer that paid actors are real and to have them endorse a prototype product from a script handed to them. THAT is dishonest and disingenuous.

  7. Jubei Says:

    The prototype is just slapped together just to barely beat what Samsung thinks is the killer formula to beat Apple. Wait that wasn't even a prototype, it was a hastily slapped together pieces of parts to pretend its a prototype.

  8. @bbl_nk Says:

    I am sure there are fans abound but if you are going to do a shoot like that make it over the top cheesy or disclaim it at the end somehow. I am sure they could have used the actors AND got a humorous advantage in promotion.

  9. melgross Says:

    I don't mind hiring actors and pretending that they're "real" people, as it's done all the time. But when they state that they are something, using their names, when they're not, it's different. This is out and out fraud.

    I suppose they couldn't fine people who were successful and well known who use their tablet, so they had to make them up.

  10. Craig Hunter Says:

    Samsung did mention that the new tabs were non functioning prototypes, so I took that as another in a long line of "announced" tablet concepts to come along and compare themselves to the iPad. And of course the timing in this case was pretty conspicuous. There is no doubt in my mind they saw the iPad 2 and slapped together a couple thin enclosures without doing actual system engineering or designing the internals. Surely they can do it eventually, but the whole thing reeks of vaporware right now. They must be delusional if they think people buy it. And that's how Apple is different. Apple announces actual hardware that's in production and soon to ship. Competitors announce concepts. When's the last time Apple showed a non functioning prototype in public? Mid 90s to my recollection.

  11. Nigel Says:

    Man, those videos are horrible, and transparent.

    "First of all, it's fast…like my life."

    Yeah, anyone who doesn't see some PR monkey writing those lines needs to wake up.

  12. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Apple absolutely owns tablets.

    How bad does your hand have to be that you lie? This is not even the first time for Samsung.

    What's not said here is even at 8.6 millimeters, these are still just crappy Android tablets with malware and complicated interfaces and baby Java apps, only 3000 of which could get into Amazons Crapstore, which is a copycat clone of App Store with a phishing-friendly name. It's like layer upon layer of loser.

    A much better effort is required from these manuafacturers. Start by making something consumers actually want.

  13. Karl Says:

    Dr. X, Samsung didn't just infer. At 11:33 they call them "true life stories of Galaxy Tab users."

    And, as Nigel says, who the hell talks like that?!?

  14. SockRolid Says:

    The statement “I’m not a Galaxy Tab user, but I play one on TV” comes to mind here.

    Reminds me of Microsoft’s phony Mojave Experiment campaign. Did people really get excited about Vista? Sure, if you payed them enough.

  15. SockRolid Says:

    @ Craig re: “When’s the last time Apple showed a non functioning prototype in public?”

    Amen. Apple engineering gets many prototypes working, they pick the best ones, refine the designs further, Steve pounds on them and finds their weaknesses, and the whole process starts all over again. The world only sees the end result of all this, after many generations of prototypes have been rejected.

    It’s like the old saying in auto racing. The leader only has to go as fast as necessary to ensure the win. Everyone else has to go as fast as they can. Thus, the Samsungs, Motorolas, and RIMs of the world can’t afford the time or money needed to iterate through generation after generation of prototypes. They need to pick one design, stick with it, right or wrong, and rush it out to market. The result is “quite small” or “quite smooth” sales, depending on how you spin the translation.

  16. anon Says:

    the thing I thought most cheesy was that they added the ages to the "fans" but put 30-something for the woman. I get the whole "you never ask a lady her age" aspect, but why even put the ages in? What information does it add, if you don't even provide it for everybody?

  17. Phleabo Says:

    > . But it's quite something else to more than infer that paid actors are real and to have them endorse a prototype product from a script handed to them.

    Sorry, pet peeve – imply, not infer. One implies when one leads others to believe something without explicitly stating it; on infers something when one deduces a conclusion based on evidence.

  18. ElmoFUD Says:

    I'm quite sure sales will go smoothly for this latest modern marvel of innovation.

  19. @wa3l Says:

    This guy is so wanna-be-Steve-Jobs! … if you wanna make a tablet better than the iPad 2 then sure, go ahead, nobody is gonna stop you and I promise that I buy it … just do it right instead of repeating "thinest" 3 times with no hard real evidence … man that was so cheesy!

    Nice catch on the actors by the way, Harry!

  20. David Says:

    I do…TO THE EXTREME!!

  21. Rick K Says:

    Holy shepherd moons of Saturn, Batman! NYC actors with day jobs? No……

    I'm not fan of astroturfing and think the Tab pulls up short but did you conspiracists actually read the bios? That Joan Hess woman evidently does do some sort of travel writing/production. Says so right in the link. The real estate "CEO," who knows.

    I knew a couple people with the acting bug in college. After school, a few of them went to NYC and worked different jobs whilst trying to make it as an actress. The ones who were able to support themselves by singing and acting? Not a one. More then ten years later, a couple of them are still plugging away trying to get the paid acting gig to work for them. Meanwhile, they're still working different jobs and gigs to make ends meet and get this, doing anything possible to get in front of a camera to give themselves "exposure." Who do you think half those people on those blind date shows are? Wannabe actors.

    Samsung less than 100% honest? Yeah, they might be bending the truth a little.

    Samsung: "What else do you do other than act?"
    Response: "I travel write/have a real estate/apartment finding business."

  22. Relwal Says:

    I am just shocked to learn that actors are used in the product promotion business. Shocking. Just shocking.

  23. @scottaw Says:

    holy distorted sound, batman. who made this production?

  24. @iJcal08 Says:

    That guy might be the worst public speaker ever…. This keynote was just awful. Reminded me of the group speechs in freshman oral comm

  25. Millahtime Says:

    These are the acts of a company desperate for attention. I'm sorry Samsung, but Apple got the spotlight by making killer products that have moved the industry far forward. They didn't get the spotlight by being a desperate whore. They got where they are entirely from killer products that got everybody talking and dying to get their hands on it.

    Jobs said it himself, "I'm a products guy. I believe that if you make a great product, people will always respond to it." Seems like his competitors either aren't trying or just don't understand that philosophy.

  26. r00tabega Says:

    Must be a cultural thing.

    I know in europe, for example, it's OK for an employer to ask about marital status and whether a woman has kids during an interview.

  27. Henry Says:

    @r00tabega no it’s not legal to ask these questions in Europe. Far from it. It could not be more illegal in ALL EU countries. We have this thing called equality-a real issue in the USA where laws are passed to make people less than equal.

  28. Andre Richards Says:

    Amazing. If it were Apple that had hired actors to pull of a sham documentary like this, Android fanboys would be flooding in here denouncing the company and Steve Jobs from one end of the Internet to the other. But it's Samsung and Android so… crickets.

  29. sh0ck Says:

    um… ALL people shown as "real" people in comercials… are actors… hell you know shows where they go into restuaraunts and stuff they pay extras to be in there at that time. You almost NEVER see real people on any advertising or tv. Most "reality show" contestants are even actors.

    I honestly cant understand why people think anything on tv is real, and if its a comercial for a product… c'mon.. wake up.

  30. sh0ck Says:

    Also… way to just trust a new story. Both of these people ARE WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE. They just also happen to be actors. A quick google search proves that. Joan Hess is a famous author idiots.

    Once again poluting the internet with your own agenda trumps the truth.

  31. jefftv Says:

    @henry sorry, but it really is legal in EU. Marital status is a required field on forms by most employers that I’ve dealt with. (Not to mention that a copy of your passport is made, which often coveys marital status indirectly and in some cases also the presence of kids.) A gap of a few years in someones career always results in questions, with kids as the resulting answer. The absence of such a gap is also meaningful. (Unless maybe in places like Sweden where you get an absurd amount of leave while keeping employment).

    Anyway, more on topic: it’s lame for Samsung to do this, though not that surprising. It seems much of their management has an Asian background, where these kind of “shows” are accepted and more importantly: known to always be fake. Personally, I don’t think there’s much wrong with it. Whether a real fan or a fake one, either way it’s obviously not reflecting the “average” user.

  32. sh0ck Says:

    This just in: Harry McCracken founder and author of Technologizer blog is also an actor. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1293692/

    (see i can do it too.)

  33. Jim H Says:

    Samsung needs to hire a better agency. And maybe a better US CEO. Their tech is great. Their narrative stinks.

  34. Adam Says:

    Not the same Joan Hess. Please fact check your replies.

  35. GadgetGav Says:

    Of course they use actors in the ads, but they should have been more clear that these were ‘re-enactments’ or whatever term the drug company ads use for their fake doctor / patient sketches.
    More than that, it seems to me like Samsung missed a big opportunity here. If you’re going to astroturf a freelance travel writer with friends in 72 countries who has followers on Twitter and Facebook, wouldn’t you actually follow through and create accounts on those two services..? They could have had a somewhat viral marketing campaign from her accounts. To not make accounts makes it obvious that she’s an invented character, so if you’re not going to do it properly, why have her mention her followers at all..?

    Of course, even if they had made the complete astroturf backstory, does anyone believe this kind of marketing anyway? Not only after Microsoft’s botched attempts like Mojave and the laptop price shoppers, but as I mentioned, all the fact doctor and patient testimonies that the drug companies pump out.
    It would be a bit like 1984, but I think ads should just consist of a suited company spokesperson reading from the press release..! Damn you Don Draper and your clever advertising tricks!

  36. The Cappy Says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa now. You've gone too far. Mr McCracken. Madge the Manicurist was real. Okay? Madge was real. (About the rest of it though: good investigation)

  37. thetimchannel Says:

    Fake enthusiasts for a fake (vaporware) product. How hard was that gonna be to expose in short order?
    Enjoy.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Wow, how much more cheesy could it be? I only watched the into and it screams "actors" every second. Seriously, biting your thumb?

  39. rundog67 Says:

    I have a Android Tablet and I am somewhat pleased with it. Although it doesn't work unless I plug it in or it just dies X.X.

    *~Check out my site at authorlauren.wordpress.com and comment plz :)~*

  40. J P West Says:

    Holy Distorto Batman! How distorted does the audio have to be before anyone notices?

  41. hoomie Says:

    Their new slogan should read…
    Apple: R&D purveyors to the world

  42. Dan Katz Says:

    The location they're walking into is 435 Hudson in New York, between Morton & Leroy. Home of Radical Media and other production companies.

  43. Phil Earnhardt Says:

    I am intrigued by the interview response @9:20: "I would mostly use it connecting with people all around the globe when I'm on the move and communicate with my followers on Twitter and FB." Is that a Samsungian slip? Isn't "Joan Hess" already already doing these things with her Tab?

    Shelfman is the only one I can find on twitter: @redroadfilms.

    There's something rather surreal watching the executives hand the product mockups to each other. It continually pulls your focus to the dead screen … slowly accumulating fingerprints. Omar declines a mockup handoff near the end.

    Part of the fun is the copy used for the dummy magazine articles. The "Joseph Korinski" article uses the copy from Time's November 9 review of the Galaxy. That review notes, "The chances of Samsung's new Galaxy Tab spelling doom for Steve Jobs' brainchild are zero, in part because the experience it delivers is nowhere near as polished and complete." Joe then gets named to "Joseph Kolinski" three seconds later in the live interview. Hilarious! Are these guys making fun of themselves, or did they slap this together a bit too quickly?

    Those mockumentary interviews are crying for a parody.

  44. drewbird911 Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WazA77xcf0A

    Reminds me of the MS OPhone… I couldn't watch it too painful…

  45. ryanpmack Says:

    At the Engadget Show last night, Joanna Stern said the thin Samsung Galaxy Tabs felt like wooden mockups, not even real prototypes.

    The 0.2mm difference between these mockups and the iPad 2 is about the thickness of two human hairs, totally imperceptible, and total marketing spin by Samsung.

  46. johnson Says:

    It's called scenario based advertising. Use an actor to portray the summation of users experience. In order to help the audience understand the story it has to be set up as real. Also, it is a common fact that I just made that up.

  47. CndnRschr Says:

    This is simply an advert (with reasonable production values). It should be marked as such. The Samsung CTIA event screams of Apple "event" cues and while it's perhaps nice to take tips from Apple, this wreaks of fake, fake, fake. They should have hired Dan Lyons and done a real parody.

    The 10.1 inch Galaxy Tab shown only a month ago and the only one available for hands-on at CTIA will never be released. What a farce! Instead the purportedly thinner version encased in glass (taking a page from RIMs PlayBook) will be out sometime soon.

    Apple wins simply by letting the competition trip each other up. It's bizarre.

  48. nofunleague Says:

    Isn't it enough just to know that they all use the iPad, iPad 2 for comparison. What they are saying is we would like to be like the best there is. Apple

  49. CndnRschr Says:

    That's the point Harry. There are lots of Tab owners out there. Why then did they use actors and pass them off as real users with scripted answers? The veneer of superficiality is all too obvious. The implicit suggestion is that we have the make things up. Apple and Motorola use actors but they don't pass them off as real users talking about their personal experiences. Samsung makes some excellent products but their advertizing and PR sucks.

  50. CndnRschr Says:

    Why? It's easier or them to throw together a second rate alternative and call it "open". The tablet market is not like phones – it's is all about useability on first use. The market is people who do not want a steep learning curve. Google knows that which is why Honeycomb is very much a work in progress. Apple knows that which is why it has dedicated enormous resources to pre-paying for components. That is confidence. It's the OEMs that seem to be ignorant. I doubt we will see a real iPad competitor until the HP TouchPad is released (with it's own uphill battle establishing an ecosystem).

  51. CndnRschr Says:

    My life is LIMITLESS!!

  52. CndnRschr Says:

    Sammys new catch phrase: "Samsung: small, smooth, smothered"

    Our ambition is to be second best.

  53. CndnRschr Says:

    And have friends in 72 countries…. Bending the truth a little? This makes Inception look rigid.

  54. CndnRschr Says:

    Jeff is using the Galaxy Tab 10.1. This product is not available and the chunky version in his hands will never be released according to Samsung. Reality check?

  55. CndnRschr Says:

    Dang, with that level of praise, why didn't Samsung approach you? :-)

  56. Luis Says:

    It's called "advertising". Welcome to the real world.

  57. Someone Says:

    "All Phones suffer from the same problem!" (really? I can touch and short out other phone's internal antennas?)

    "Flash is not open, we won't include it!" (really? Why can I go to osflash.org and download open source players? Even if that argument holds, why are they including H264 since it require royalties? Seems the exact opposite of open to me)

    "Our phones can play 10 hours of video!" (Only if your battery can round up from about 9.5 hours)

    How bad does your hand have to be that you lie? This is not even the first time for APL.

    What's your point?

  58. Someone Says:

    Or they are, and everyone ignores their other products because it's fashionable to own APL products.

    Take WebOS for example. Efficient multitasking years ago, a better notification system, etc. Take WP7, a nice integrated user experience, with a hybrid reviewed app-store / home-brew section for no monopoly. Both failed (relatively speaking, capturing <10% combined) in the marketplace despite being reasonably good to excellent products.

    Compare to Android, where the user experience is secondary (at least at first), sacrificed to openness and freedom. Even as an avid Android fan, I would not have recommended anyone buy a <2.1 phone simply because it didn't have Froyo's JIT compiler for smoothness (it would pause on occasion without it). It was far, far from a perfect phone OS, but people bought it.

    IMHO, people buy what other people are buying. The fashionable buy APL products, a large amount of tech people and people who don't want to enter into a monopoly situation buy Android (and then evangelize about it). This leaves very few people to buy other products.

    So I don't agree with your statement at all.

  59. Someone Says:

    Whoops, I mean to put the hyrid application / homebrew store next to WebOS, not WP7.

  60. Emma Says:

    Yes, and all those iPhoto demos are real people who really take those photos, talk about jumping the shark!

  61. Sue Radd Says:

    This video is truly horrible. I'd love to get my hands on a transcript so I could go on in excruciating detail about how lousy the writing is. Especially when "30-something" fake Joan Hess exclaims, It's sexy…like me!" Nice touch, Samsung. The *only* redeeming factor in the presentation itself is that Kim Titus kind of looks like Tom Poston and I totally miss his work. Can't WAIT for the parody videos!

  62. @HughesNetworkin Says:

    It is a bit hard to find fans for a device that does not exist yet.

  63. Dan Katz Says:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?client=safari&oe=

  64. Sienna Sacha Says:

    Of course all of this AFTER the doops on CNBC gushed about how it was better (thinner, more reslution pics. .. .) than the iPad2. .
    just another example of CNBC junior reporting. . .. or blatant anti-Apple bias. .

    sort of funny

  65. Jax Says:

    Another case of Apple/iPad wannabes falling all over themselves to get a piece of the Apple pie. Uber fail samsung.

  66. l3v5y Says:

    Oh wow! Adverts are using actors now! The **** were you expecting?

  67. jake Says:

    There are 2 versions of Galaxy Tab 10.1,from pocket-lint,one is within V and one is without,the thickness of 10.1v is the original 10.9mm.
    Is that really gtab 10.1,not v version???I'am confusing now.

  68. Res08hao Says:

    It would be fitting to discover that the actors in real life own iPads.

  69. jbelkin Says:

    when I worked on infomercials, most of he part time actors and actresses had other jobs (including being moms/dads,college student, etc …) so that was listed versus – part time actor! But if it's for a weed whacker or a blender – plausible enough – you can't really dress someone up in a white lab coat and claim it'll cure all that ails them and it does seem the crossed the line …

  70. IcyFog Says:

    "When I got there, I found that the 10.1″ Tabs out on tables were the older, relatively portly version announced last month at Mobile World Congress. The new 10.1-incher (and its 8.9″ sibling) were inside glass cases, and they weren’t powered on."

    I stopped reading after the quote above. That's all anybody really needs to know how far behind Apple's competition is.
    But like somebody posted – had Apple produced something like this mockumenatary sham ala Microsoft, we'd be inundated with protests and outrage from Android fanbois to mainstream news media. When other companies do it, only the astute and savvy journalists and bloggers, like Harry McCracken, seem to notice.

  71. gadget__junkie Says:

    @TexasVC … i currently own and use a galaxyTab 10.1v and a galaxySII and in NO WAY do i feel i have been fooled by samsung.. in fact, even if they are hiding or tricking me, my devices are so far AHEAD of my nexusS and iphone4 i couldnt care..LOl
    android FTW

  72. ebpp Says:

    wouldn't be the first time

  73. Muay Thai Says:

    Hope it works out fine, would hate to see another failure. Muay Thai Combinations | Muay Thai Kick | Martial Arts for Children