The idea that Samsung danced on the grave of Apple's founder makes for a compelling story. But it's very likely not the case, at least according to our reading of the latest emails.
The emails (here courtesy of The Wall Street Journal) include messages from Michael Pennington, then VP-sales operations and head of national sales for Samsung U.S., to company executives as the iPhone 4s was released.
An email titled "Use Google to attack Apple?" on Oct. 4, a day before Mr. Jobs died, suggested that Samsung should push Google to start a campaign against Apple by touting the superiority of its Android operating system, which Samsung uses. "Google should be asked to carry their own weight in this battle," Mr. Pennington wrote.
The newest iPhone was "potentially disappointing" Apple's loyal customers, Mr. Pennington added.
Dale Sohn, then Samsung U.S. CEO, responded, "We need to take advantage of this chance." There's no mention of Mr. Jobs' health in that exchange, at least as far as the emails posted online indicate.
Mr. Pennington apparently resumed the conversation on Oct. 7, beginning with a discussion of the latest iPhone and the threat that Apple's Siri posed to Google's search dominance. "My point is, Google must be as motivated as we should be at this point," he wrote.
Then he noted for a paragraph that Mr. Jobs' death had generated the "unintended benefit for Apple" of massive positive press. In the final paragraph, he wrote: "Sorry to continue to push this issue, but I have seen this far too long and I know this our best opportunity to attack iPhone."
"This," media outlets said this week, referred to the passing of Mr. Jobs. But an alternate -- and more likely reading -- is that Mr. Pennington was still talking about the chance to pull Google into the fight as an ally.
AppleInsider and other tech blogs reported this morning that Todd Pendleton, CMO of Samsung U.S., replied affirmatively to Mr. Pennington's note, putting him among those spying a marketing opportunity from Mr. Jobs's death.
But, according to the court documents, Mr. Pendleton's "reply" -- "Hey Michael, we are going to execute what you are recommending in our holiday GSII campaign and go head to head with iPhone 4S" -- was written two hours before the Pennington email mentioning Mr. Jobs' death. The CMO seemed to be responding to the idea of taking on the "potentially disappointing" iPhone and using Google in the effort, not talking about the death of Apple's founder.
Representatives from Samsung did not immediately return requests for comment.