Phil Schiller

Samsung's event marketing makes Apple's hype look tame

March 14, 2013: 8:12 AM ET

Pulling out all the stops for the Galaxy S4 in Radio City Music Hall and Times Square

Samsung's Times Square flash mob. Click for video.

Samsung's Times Square flash mob. Click for video.

FORTUNE -- Steve Jobs, the past master of high-tech event marketing, was famous for treating the launch of Apple's (AAPL) new products as if they were Broadway openings, although lately Apple has been moving its events to smaller and smaller venues.

Samsung, famous for flattering Apple by imitation, has taken the Broadway metaphor quite literally. For today's launch of the Galaxy S4 -- its high-end answer to Apple's iPhone line -- Samsung has commanded the oversized stage of Radio City Music Hall for the main event and will host the spill-over crowd in New York City's Times Square.

Its almost as if the two companies -- engaged in a global battle for command of the $400 billion mobile device industry -- are moving in opposite directions. Apple in its marketing and advertising has become quieter and more modest, hoping its products and services will speak for themselves. Samsung, meanwhile, is going bigger and brasher, hiring the big halls and the dancers and mocking Apple -- and itself -- in TV ads loaded with attitude.

On the eve of the Galaxy S4 launch, scheduled to begin Thursday at 7 p.m. EDT, Samsung sent its dancers into Times Square for an impromptu flash-mob-style preview.

Apple, which is usually content to ignore its competitors' efforts, sent Phil Schiller, its senior VP for marketing, to the Wall Street Journal and Reuters for a bit of uncharacteristic counter programming. Schiller didn't address Samsung's Android-based Galaxy line directly, but he did point out that most Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 8.03.16 AMAndroid phones are cheap knock-offs given as free replacements for feature phones, and that Apple's research showed that last quarter four times as many iPhone users switched from an Android phone than to an Android phone.

I wasn't on the press list to receive an invitation for the Galaxy S4 event, but when I asked politely, Samsung's marketing people were kind enough to give me one. If the gods of Wi-Fi permit, I'll be live blogging tonight from inside Radio City Music Hall.

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