'We just got Samsunged'

Since buying Galaxy Nexus last month, I haven't paid as much attention to Samsung's stunningly clever "The Next Big Thing is Already Here" advertising campaign that slaps around the iPhone hipster set. There's a new TV commercial that begins with a group of iPhone want-to-haves camped out, literally, by an Apple Store.

"Ah that looks like last year's phone" is the killer line, says a guy rising from his sleeping bag to look at an unboxing video of, presumably, iPhone 4S. Samsung snark already has soured perceptions of iPhone and boosted those of Samsung brands, according to YouGov BrandIndex. The attack ads, which never specifically mention iPhone, marks one of the most iconic marketing campaigns since Apple's "Get a Mac".

The evocative moment: When the Apple hipster rises from his sleeping bag, looks up at another guy holding Samsung Galaxy S II and grabs the bars of the street barrier. The subliminal message: Prison bars. He's imprisoned by his iPhone obsession, while the S2 owner is a free man.

It's helluva entertaining marketing campaign, and I wish most movies were edited as well or communicated so much story (in so little time) as do these TV spots.

Not that iPhone is hurting for sales. As measured in smartphone operating systems among new US purchasers, Android plummeted from 61.6 percent share in October to 46.9 percent in December, according to Nielsen. Meanwhile, iPhone rose from 25.1 percent share to 44.5 percent. Earlier in the week I asserted that broadened distribution, such as offering low-cost iPhone 4 and 3GS for free, as major factors driving iPhone's sales surge. According to Nielsen, these older handsets accounted 43 percent share among new purchasers.

Another reason I've resisted raising, because of the over-sensitivity of the Apple mob crowd: Steve Jobs' death, which brought lots of attention to Apple just as iPhone 4S launched. If there is an afterglow from the publicity, it will show up within just a few months as the sales surge resides.

For now, Samsung should keep the TV commercials coming. Whatever their sales value might or might not be, the ads are priceless cultural commentaries about stereotypical Apple hipsters.

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