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Samsung has a clever new message, but will it fly?

Commentary: A new ad from Samsung, featuring an ostrich with ambition, is beautifully done. Is Samsung trying to be Nike?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


No, not a headless chicken.

Samsung/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

On Wednesday, Samsung managed to release a new phone with no gremlins attached.

So let's talk ostriches.

Slipped into the Galaxy S8 launch entertainment was an extremely arresting Samsung ad.

An ostrich walks up to a table -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- and sticks its head into a Samsung Galaxy VR Gear headset, attached (presumably) to a Galaxy S8.

This gives the ostrich ideas. It starts dreaming of a life beyond its own. Yes, a life in which it wears one of these headsets all the time without, hopefully, having to obey Supreme Ruler Mark Zuckerberg.

Oddly, the Samsung VR makes this ostrich run around like a headless chicken. Until, one day, the impossible happens.

No, the ostrich doesn't suddenly stop feeling nauseous because of the VR. Instead, oh, watch the ad. It's beautifully done, but the ending isn't so hard to imagine.

I'm fascinated by the message Samsung is imparting here. "We make what can't be made," the company says. This is unquestionably true. No one could ever make a phone that exploded not once, but twice, even after a supposed all-clear.

Still, the ad follows this with: "So you can do what can't be done." Samsung, it seems, wants you to think of it as you think of Nike -- a brand that is first in helping you just do it, even if you're an ostrich who just wants to flap those big ole' wings and fly.

Nike played the enabling rebel well for a long time. Samsung, too, has proved its prowess at getting a lot of those extremely hip and self-conscious YouTube viewers to virally turn its way.

It also tried to outcool Apple at the Oscars by initiating its "do what you can't" idea.

But is Virtual Reality something that's going to liberate people, or merely capture them?

It's instructive how many times Apple CEO Tim Cook has recently lauded augmented reality. He's said it could rival the impact of the iPhone. He's explained that AR allows people to feel present, rather than locked away.

Should we expect, then, that Samsung will continue to suggest that the captivity of virtual reality is the cool person's freedom? Samsung didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

I can imagine that when iPhone 8 (or whatever it might be called) emerges, there will be augmented reality components, designed to suggest that Apple is the brand of the truly free.

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