Did Samsung verdict hurt Apple's reputation?

In "Things that make you go hmmm?", an analysis of Apple's Facebook page suggests that even its own fans were critical of the company after the court case. Or were they?

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

With everyone's nerve-endings needing massage by Valium in anticipation of Wednesday's new iPhone announcement , this is hardly the time for sobering thoughts.

Still, if you can't be sobering in the morning, when can you?

I have therefore dug deep into the annals of the anodyne to unearth a piece of, um, research that suggests Apple is becoming ugly -- even to its own fanpersons.

This research, performed by a company called Media Measurement, attempted to place a gentle, caring finger upon the pulses of enthusiasts, after Apple had defeated Samsung in the recent patent trial .

As Forbes tells it, these intrepid researchers decided to go where feelings are immediate, opinions are loud, and sharing openly is the only thing that matters. Yes, they went to Twitter and Facebook.

It seems that Apple and Samsung both received an equal number of negative mentions. However, as the humans began to pore over the data, they detected a serious level of spittle -- on Apple's Facebook page.

The logic seems to have been that if you go to Apple's own Facebook page, then you will see what it's own core citizens -- average age over 35 , of course -- truly felt about the trial and the company's image after it.

What the researchers found was a vast array of negativity, berating Apple for its use of the law to protect itself against innovations that were, perhaps, not as innovative as they seemed.

Forbes quotes Media Measurement as saying:

Prior to the verdict, posts on Apple's Facebook page covered a range of topics, including technical queries, questions about the release of products, complaints about price and product performance, and general messages of support and praise. In the week following the Apple/Samsung verdict, 40% of the posts specifically referred to the trial.

After the trial, Media Measurement says that very few Apple fanpersons went to Facebook to defend the company.

With research such as this, truth seems a relatively nebulous concept. It may well be that certain people were so incensed by Apple's bullying -- um, I mean, defense of its intellectual property rights -- that they took to Facebook to vent their displeasure.

People are, though, devious.

There is a sparkling tendency on Facebook's brand and political pages for opponents to sign up as supposed fans simply in order to post negativity.

It is hard to know whether this research took such nuances into account.

What does seem evident, though, is that Apple is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain any level of underdoggy cool.

The company is huge. Its reach is enormous. Its ecosystem is, for some, stifling -- while for others merely simple and reassuring.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Yet some will surely have sympathy with Mark Cuban, who tweeted shortly after the trial: "Note to Apple. I have a TV with rounded edges and one that is rectangular, and Ive [sic] seen round and square TVs in the past. Your move."

Moreover, he retweeted a post from a follower called Martin, that read: "Apple has turned into the exact product they were against in 1984 Super Bowl ad."

This week's new iPhone reveal might offer a little more negativity, if the phone is as rumored -- merely a slightly larger iPhone that looks remarkably similar to iPhone 4.

Very few companies manage to become huge and stay lovable. Nike sometimes manages it with great aplomb. Few others do.

The Apple-Samsung trial surely helped some people view Apple in a negative light. But it's not as if Samsung is some cute underdog puppy, looking up at you with eyes that plead for a cookie.

Apple stands or falls on its ability to both excite and simplify. Many will buy the new iPhone, perhaps even with a little resentment, because they are already emotionally locked in to iOS and everything that sails in it.

On Wednesday, the love might flow or the indifference might grow. The juggernaut, however, will roll on.

 

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