Android Roundup: Samsung takes its medicine in astroturfing, defective phone flap

Samsung made a lot of headlines this week, though probably not for the reasons it would like.

The South Korean company got roundly chewed out by Chinese state media over an apparent manufacturing oversight that saw defective memory make it into Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 2 smartphones sold in that country. What's more, the China Central Television report said, Samsung failed to live up to warranty promises and provided bad customer service. Good thing China's not a big market or anything.

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Responding quickly, Samsung said in a statement that it would honor warranties for an additional year, reimburse customers who had to pay for repairs, and offer free service for others. A report from Bloomberg says that Apple, Starbucks, Volkswagen and Danone are also foreign-based companies that have been raked over the coals by Chinese state media of late.

The same report also notes that Samsung has been dramatically outperforming Chinese smartphone OEMs in sales of late, which I'm sure had absolutely nothing to do with the public shaming. Who ever heard of the Chinese government trying to skew the playing field toward domestic businesses, at the expense of foreigners?

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Samsung had a rough PR day in the other China this week, as well, agreeing to pay a $340,000 fine to the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission having been caught paying for positive reviews and negative stories about competitors. That case originally came to light in April, and Samsung has since gotten in trouble again, this time for trying to pay developers to promote an app development competition in August.

I'm no PR expert, but it seems to me that Samsung is pretty bad at this whole publicity thing. Maybe they could try doing another bizarre, sexist Broadway show.

[embed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6GRFKWGn1k]

Or just focus more on stuff they do pretty darn well, like making Android phones. You know. Either way.

[H/T: The Verge]

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Speaking of (possible) astroturfing, BlackBerry Messenger for Android which finally launched this week sure did get popular fast, eh? I mean, it launched Wednesday and it's already got about 170,000 reviews. Funny how a whole lot of them look a whole lot alike, though, as tech writer Matt Baxter-Reynolds pointed out on Twitter.

Blogger Terence Eden noticed that one such review may offer an ultra-subtle hint as to what went on:

Whoops. That's got to be just a little embarrassing. On the other hand, given the company's current public perception, what does BlackBerry really have to lose?

[H/T: Ars Technica]

*A hush-hush Google event took place last night in New York that OMG THIS COULD BE KIT KAT RIGHT GUYS?

It apparently transpired that Geek.com posted a story about the event stipulating specifically that no new hardware or software would be released and then quickly took it right back down again. This tells us nothing, really, but you can imagine the wave of speculation that crested on places like Reddit.

As with pretty much every other "here comes Android 4.4" rumor-nad thus far, this one blew itself out fairly quickly: The event turned out to be a showcase for new Google Play stuff of relatively little consequence. While it certainly seems like Kit Kat and the Nexus 5 will be along at SOME point in the near future, anybody purporting to have figured out the precise date and time will have been lucky, rather than good, if they're proved right

*Google bought a French startup called FlexyCore on Tuesday for north of $23 million, according to a report in L'Expansionhttp://lexpansion.lexpress.fr/high-tech/google-a-rachete-la-start-up-francaise-flexycore_408510.html. FlexyCore is the company behind Android performance optimizer DroidBooster, and TechCrunch said that the deal "looks in part like an acqui-hire," so here's hoping there are exciting new performance boosts in the offing.

(H/T: TechCrunch)

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.

Tags NetworkingAndroid phonewirelessanti-malwareSamsung AndroidBloombergVolkswagenstarbuckssamsungAppleconsumer electronicssecuritysmartphones

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