Samsung's Humility Outshines Note7 Nightmare
Maybe the biggest hit Samsung and subsequently the Android market saw last year was the curious case of exploding phones. While the definition of exploding might be a bit sensationalized - it was more of a sudden flame - both the Note7 hype and Samsung's reputation were caught in the blaze.
Initially, Samsung didn't know what to do about the situation. Lack of communication with both customers and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission left the general public confused and possibly a bit paranoid. There was also the weary message across airlines that having the phone on any aircraft was illegal joining the ranks of exploding hoverboards.
The announcement also stunted any competition Samsung had against Apple's iPhone 7 and the unveiled Google Pixel.
However, roughly four months later, we have all the answers. Samsung performed a series of stress tests to find why the Note7 and their replacements were shorting out. Dj Koh, Samsung's mobile chief, gave a 50-minute presentation on the findings.
"First of all, I deeply apologize to all of our customers, carriers, retail, and distribution partners," Koh told the room before the presentation started. "We believe that, as a first step to regain your trust, it is important to provide you with a thorough understanding of the cause behind the Galaxy Note 7 incidents and to implement a comprehensive plan to take preventative measures."
A short 2-minute youtube video also breaks down what happened and what Samsung is doing to avoid this nightmare again.
Despite the first fumble of information and a lengthy recall process, this is the best move for Samsung. It is damage control at its finest, and I think the execution says a lot about the character of Samsung. There is no skirting around the issue or shifting blame. They stepped up and explained how they messed up.
Samsung admitted they were wrong and what the next move is. It is a lesson in humility that we should all be taking from Samsung's playbook.
The layman version is Samsung's battery were at fault, not the phone. The batteries were designed correctly but manufactured in a way that led to short circuits. The first replacements found the same fate, for different reasons with similar results.
More importantly, Samsung hired three independent consulting firms to run their own tests and made their findings public information. Here are the reports from Exponent Consulting (EC), Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the Germany-based TÜV Rheinland. Note that TUV reported on the nature of the experiments from an engineering standpoint while EC and UL are reporting similar findings to Samsung's from a manufacturing standpoint.
Samsung has also launched their rigorous 8-point battery test, which will be a more meticulous way of stress testing batteries.
I'm proud of Samsung for their honesty. While they seemed to be a bit silent at first - despite their reworked Q3 financial forecast speaking volumes about what was to come - this is absolutely the right move. Building consumer trust can be difficult, especially in this modern era of immortalizing information on the internet. However, the thoughtful and humble response and foundation for safer phones moving forward are all that Samsung can do to reclaim the otherwise nervous consumer's good graces.
At the end of the day, this could have been anyone. That doesn't discount what happened, but the current state of phone batteries are both mystifying and a bit dangerous. Why so many companies are hellbent on dying on "non-removable battery hill" is beyond me but a lot of headaches could have been solved if phones had this access.
Minus the entire debacle, the Note7 was on pace to take a sizeable part of the cell phone market away from Apple. Samsung has confirmed the Note8 is still in the oven for their next big release and I have a good feeling that it will sell admirably. That is hoping that they will include a headphone jack.