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PR agency caught bribing developers to promote Samsung’s Smart App Challenge in forum posts

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Android developer Delyan Kratunov has taken to his blog to expose what he believes to be underhanded tactics by Samsung to help promote their upcoming developer competition online. According to Kratunov, he was contacted by PR firm Fllu representing Samsung who offered him a cool $500 for his Android expertise, only he wouldn’t actually be developing anything. Fllu’s proposition to Kratunov was him jumping onto the Stacks Overflow community website for developers, and asking a series of 4 casual questions — provided by Fllu — over the course of 30 days, to help spread the word about Samsung Smart App Challenge. Best part of the email is as follows:

“All we need you to do is talk about the SSAC (Samsung Smart App Challenge) and get the word out. How? We were thinking about 4 questions on Stackoverflow over the span of a month….. as well as replies to posts made by other members. Don’t worry about finding the questions to reply to because we will send you links. The questions should be casual and organic. Like ‘Anyone know anything about SSAC?’ or…’Need some feedback on the app I am about to enter for the Samsung Smart App Challenge.’”

After this information went public, Kratunov received another email, something to the tune of, “Oops, this is in violation of Stack Overflow’s policies. Never mind.” (Not a direct quote). While spammy tactics like this are not uncommon in tech, it’s just somewhat surprising to see this from Samsung (even if they weren’t directly involved in this entire email exchange). These sorta things happen, we get it.

Samsung was quick to deny any knowledge of wrongdoing, and cancelling plans after becoming aware of the situation. Turns out Fllu was working for another agency who works for Samsung, so its entirely possible Samsung was telling us the truth. Samsung had this to say on the matter:

“We remain committed to engaging in transparent and honest communications with consumers.”

As smartphone vendors to continue to grow, OEM’s like Samsung are looking towards the future of application development and apps that are exclusive to their line of devices to give them that extra edge. We’ve seen some of this with Samsung and Chillingo’s 100% Indie campaign where Samsung was promising developers who published apps to the Samsung Apps store 100% app revenue for the first 6 months. Curious to hear your guys’ thoughts on this.

[The Verge 1, 2]




  • alex

    so? – paid promotion is hardly anything scandalous and turning your reputation into a platform for advertising is exactly what every news site does.

    where he missed the boat in exposing this communist plot is failing to ask what the questions would be and if he didn’t like them give input as to appropriate ones.

    He should have been honored anyone cared what he thought instead of flying off the handle with this little self righteous brat parade.

    • mcl630

      Paying people to post fake comments is just plain sleazy. But yes, all advertising has some degree of sleaze to it, and this isn’t something to work yourself into a tizzy over.

    • feztheforeigner

      Just ask Microsoft with their Xbox One…

  • Lee

    “While spammy tactics like this are not uncommon in tech, it’s just somewhat surprising to see this from Samsung (even if they weren’t directly involved in this entire email exchange).”

    This doesn’t mean that Samsung had anything to do with this even though you ARE accusing them. This was a subcontractor of a subcontractor, so you didn’t “see this from Samsung”.

    • alex

      samsung makes flagship phones with fake cabon fiber vinyl backings on them – they have as much honor as the fast and furious movies

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Weird how you don’t hold Samsung responsible for agencies representing them. Samsung’s reputation is on the line, and I would think this is something Samsung should have very much been on top of.

      • bmg314

        But their reputation isn’t on the line. They are now big enough where this type of thing will be a puff of smoke in a week or two. Guarantee you that when the Note 3 stuff really gets going, no one is going to remember anything about… um… wait… is the display 5.7″ or 5.99″?

        0.o

        • James=Mr.Pink=Frank009=Troll

          Chris will do anything to make Samsung look bad and HTC look good ;)

    • Scott Tompkins

      Even if you did… who cares… a company paying for endorsements? the horror!

    • mgamerz

      Man, if only people could blame the government like that!
      /s

  • MG83

    Thought for sure Kevin Krause would have been the whistle blower for this one.

  • Marsg

    500 bucks to ask four questions >.> shiz i would have taken their money then exposed them,
    I bet you anything Apple is bribing HuffingtonPost, their entire tech blog is flooded with stupid Apple articles that have no point like “Features the iPhone will never have” not to mention the very few Android articles are tagged under iPhone 5 and completely bash every single Android device like “non innovative” on their new Moto X article lol

    • lolwut

      But the Moto X isn’t innovative

      • Farley, Guyseh Chery

        The 8x chip is innovative. It uses a processing technique others haven’t tried. If is just not using cutting edge technology. Big diference!

        • mgamerz

          Wasn’t the whole reason the iPhone 4 didn’t have Siri si cause the 4S had the language processing chip in it? I wouldn’t exactly call it new. I don’t know about the contextual processor, we don’t really know what it does.

      • Marsg

        I wouldn’t say that, The whole voice thing and the customization process is pretty innovative to me, at least a lot more than a slightly taller device. Now they did fudge up in alot of areas like the hardware could have been better, the availability of the customization’s could be available to alot more people than just At&t customers, and the price could have matched the hardware. hopefully some of those features especially voice will make its way to the Nexus 5.

  • Rampage1

    Samsung gets busted again lol.

    • mcl630

      A sub-contractor of Samsung’s ad agency got busted, not Samsung itself.

      • endinyal

        That Samsung Kool-Aid of yours must be extra tangy today?

  • Andzzzz

    who cares.. companies all over do this to promote their products. The bottom line is it’s up to developers to create stuff and not for people to piss and moan that the company creating the competition is going above and beyond to promote THEIR COMPETITION.

    • vyduxawanuxe

      мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kAgk

      I wouldn’t say that, The whole
      voice thing and the customization process is pretty innovative to me, at
      least a lot more than a slightly taller device. Now they did fudge up
      in alot of areas like the hardware could have been better, the
      availability of the customization’s could be available to alot more
      people than just At&t customers, and the price could have matched
      the hardware. hopefully some of those features especially voice will
      make its way to the Nexus 5.

  • real0325

    I would’ve gotten Samsung gear galore and a gs4 , $500 and would’ve stayed quiet. Perks like that dont come often . Ijs

  • simpleas

    lol, i feel so bad for sammy going through this bull crap. ah, the price you pay for being on top. youll need to troll harder to bring sammy down. bring it.

    • endinyal

      Of course, having Samsung’s convicted Chairman pulling the strings certainly helps.

  • Jack

    Gawd. This place is filled with Samsung fanboys.

    • Scott Tompkins

      What’re the odds of that? Finding the majority of a population on an ANDROID FAN SITE supporting the manufacturer of the most widely distributed Android phones… It seems some authors here would just assume start an HTC fan site instead now that Apple is no longer anywhere near being a smartphone contender.

      • Jack

        Well, Samsung isn’t all clean. And some won’t believe it.