The year could not be any worse for Samsung. It started out very well with the announcement of the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge, both of which got a very warm welcome in the market.
Expectation on the Galaxy Note heightened as 3rd quarter approached. If the S7 and S7 Edge were that good, one can only imagine what Samsung was planning for the next Galaxy Note.
The the big reveal – Samsung skipped a number an went straight to the Note7. Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, Note7 – makes sense. And yes, the Note7 was very close to everything we wanted it to be. Beautiful design with curved glass display, powerful hardware, dust and water resistant, excellent camera, and a more improved stylus.
So it’s no surprise that many people really liked it, including myself. The demand was so high there were shipment delays in some countries, like the Philippines. Local pre-orders were in the thousands, even surpassing the numbers of previous flagship Galaxy devices.
Then, a few explosive incidents happened within weeks of the Note7 release. They initially seemed random and isolated but as days passed by, more and more reports of devices going up in smokes. Airlines started banning the use or charging of the Note7 in flights. More advisories against the use of Note7 followed.
Alas, after several dozen confirmed incidents, Samsung admitted that a few units had defective batteries. The Korea firm did the most prudent thing and issued a recall. They asked everyone to return their units in exchange for a similarly priced device like the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge with cash refunds; or wait a couple weeks for a fresh new, worry-free Note7.
A couple of weeks back, I also wrote in this column that the whole incident was a lesson to us all and praised Samsung for the swift and decisive action.
The fact that majority of the people who returned their Note7 were willing to wait for a fresh replacement was testament to how much they love the device and trust Samsung. Despite the setback, Samsung was still somehow winning customers.
Then, the most unexpected thing happened – barely a week after the release of the new batch of Galaxy Note7 worldwide, a series of reports pointing to the same exact problem as before – overheating, burning or exploding phones.
That was it – within days, another recall. Samsung halted productions of the Note7. Everyone is requested to return all their new phones for the 2nd and last time. No more Note7.
This was like a nightmare inside a nightmare. I can vividly remember my one-on-one interview with local Samsung reps about this issue a couple weeks back and I jokingly mentioned that it would be tragic if the 2nd batch of Note7 continued to have the same problem.
If you still have a little bit of trust on Samsung, you’d agree to swap your Note7 with a Galaxy S7 Edge. If not, you can get a full refund and look for a new phone elsewhere.
How could this have happened? The first one was excusable. The second one is blatantly negligent or just extremely unfortunate, whichever way you fancy.
It is estimated that Samsung could loose as much as $17 billion because of this tragedy. They still have a lot of spare cash in the bank.
Samsung will survive this but the fate of the Galaxy Note is highly questionable. This whole fiasco has ruined the Note series and it might just be the butt of jokes in the future if ever they decide to revive it. The issue could even affect the perception of the upcoming Galaxy S8 next year.
Between now and then, Samsung must earn back its customers trust. That should be their first priority.