With the rivalry between technology companies sometimes pushing far into the ‘fierce’ territory, a trade show such as the recent IFA 2014 in Berlin (Germany) can be a key battle ground for competing with other market leaders and checking out their products in the flesh with little stigma or repercussions… unless physical damage occurs.
South Korean company Samsung have come out with accusations that native rivals LG have done this to them whilst in Germany, but not even on the demonstration models at the show, rather an act of ‘vandalising’ store models of a product elsewhere… and not even the connected mobile or TV devices the pair are more famous for.
Instead it is washing machines that are the centre of attention in this dispute (though as the picture demonstrates, South Korea has slightly higher standards of washing machine development than most of the world), as Samsung accuse a number of LG employees, in a delegation which included a ‘senior executive’, as intentionally damaging some of Samsung’s goods at a German appliance store prior to the IFA trade show.
LG has quickly moved to accept responsibility for the broken machines, with claims that it was not a deliberate but an accidental damage from when the delegation examined the in-store models on ‘market research’ purposes, stealth-insultingly explaining that ‘weak hinges’ were the cause of the items being broken.
They also announced their intention to cover the cost of four washing machines at the store in question but only admitted to causing damage on two, though Samsung have regardless of the response called German and South Korean police forces into the matter.
An official Samsung statement noted: “It is very unfortunate that Samsung had to request that a high-ranking executive be investigated by the nation’s legal authorities, but this was inevitable, as we concluded that we had to get to the bottom of this incident.”
LG responded to the issue with a statement of their own that singled out head of home appliances Jo Seong-jin as their leader in the guilty party, but continued to deny any deliberate damage to the machines, noting: “If our company had an intention to destroy products of a certain company to tarnish the image of the product, it would be common sense to not have our executives directly carry out such acts. We hope that this is not an attempt to damage our reputation.”
The question in this case is not on the end outcome, but whether or not LG deliberately caused damage in this unusual situation, and also whether hitting rivals through their products could become a way to dangerously live out technology feuds and increase mistrust when the industry turns up in the same place. Watch this space in the future, everyone knows that Apple will have their eyes on any rounded rectangular refrigerators that Samsung are selling…