Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Korea Times got Samsung's unofficial position on the Microsoft agreement right

The day after Microsoft and Samsung announced an Android-related patent license agreement, the Korea Times published this article on Samsung's strategic motives behind the deal. It goes without saying that the Korea Times has first-rate contacts with Samsung as well as with local experts who are well aware of Samsung's thinking. They also have many international contacts, but I sent them (proactively) my commentary on this deal. What happened is that a passage from my blog post appeared in the Korea Times article, with only minor changes, but was attributed to "a Samsung official" whose name was not disclosed. This is the passage:

"If Samsung truly believed that Google’s takeover of Motorola Mobility was going to be helpful to the entire Android eco-system at large, it would have waited until that deal was closed before concluding the license agreement with Microsoft," said a Samsung official.

"Samsung knows it can’t rely on Google. We’ve decided to address Android IP issues on our own."

What happened is that the quote got picked up by other English-language media, such as IDG's IT World. Yesterday some people noticed that the quote looked familiar. In particular, John Gruber, a rockstar blogger known for the DaringFireball blog, looked into this. When John contacted me, I told him that I had emailed my commentary to the Korea Times and that I believe this was all just due to the language barrier. I send blog posts or other statements to journalists all the time. If journalists tell me they don't want to receive those emails, they are immediately unsubscribed. That happened in three or four cases. In far more cases, reporters asked me to include them in a distribution list.

Anyway, I didn't see any bad intention on the Korea Times' part, and after I told John the story, he, too, believed there was no foul play. And I don't think that conspiracy theories spread by others are helpful. I never pretended to be a Samsung official.

Today (Saturday) I heard from Kim Yoo-chul, the author of the Korea Times article, directly. I didn't have any suspicions before, but now that I have heard from him, I am absolutely convinced that he is sincere and reliable.

Everything he told me was just personal information and not an official statement by the Korea Times. What happened is simply this: he received my email but on the same day he also spoke with several Samsung officials, who told him -- on condition of anonymity -- pretty much the same thing I had said (Samsung had to take its destiny into its own hands because there was no indication that Google was going to solve the problem).

When he looked at his notes and wrote his article, he didn't specify the sources clearly enough prior to translation. There was no bad intention on his end, and his article was factually correct, even if there were minor differences between what he heard from inside Samsung and what I had written. He didn't steal anything; he didn't make anything up. There was only some confusion during the editorial process due to confusingly similar quotes from different sources, but the bottom line is that Samsung officials confirmed to him confidentially that they had to act rather than hope for help from Google.

Obviously, Samsung wouldn't attack Google in public. But the deal that Samsung did speaks for itself, and it's not surprising at all that insiders talked to the Korea Times about it.

This should take care of the subject.

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