Man, Samsung, you are not having a good time this week. First, there was all that business with the Galaxy S 4 appearing to be configured to deliver artificially boosted benchmarks, at the expense of regular old app performance. The manufacturer tried to explain itself out of that mess, but what we heard was less than fully convincing. Now a new kerfuffle has found its way to the company’s doorstep, but at least this time it seems that Samsung itself might be wholly innocent.
The problem started when a developer revealed that a PR firm, apparently acting at Samsung’s behest, offered him $500 to use his influence and drop a handful of casual posts in the Stack Overflow forums about the Samsung Smart App Challenge – nothing that would look like he was formally promoting the SSAC, but just mentioning it a few times in a seemingly offhand manner.
Instead, the developer publicized the offer on his blog, resulting in an immediate backlash against Samsung and these sorts of practices, intended to make it appear that there’s a swelling of grass-roots interest in the Samsung Smart App Challenge, where none otherwise exists.
Once this all came to light, Samsung was quick to distance itself from the PR firm. Luckily for Samsung this time, it has some plausible deniability, as this firm was one Samsung hadn’t dealt with directly, but was merely contracted by another firm Samsung was using.
In the end, this sounds more like a rogue employee or two taking some steps of questionable ethics of their own volition rather than some big, evil astroturfing campaign, but the timing is still not great for Samsung. Chin up; there’s always next week.