In the second quarter of 2016, Samsung, a South Korean electronic giant, maintained a 22.6 percent share of the global smartphone shipments with Apple Inc. gains trailing behind at 11.7 percent. Although dominant, with Apple’s iPhone 7 hot on its heels, it is no surprise that Samsung wanted to release their new Galaxy Note 7 as soon as possible. In addition to the embarrassing recall for all Note 7s bought before Sept. 15, some Samsung customers in South Korea are reporting that the replacement phone’s battery drains too quickly and is overheating. And now, after increasing pressure and multiple accounts of replacement phones catching fire, Samsung has permanently halted production of the Note 7.
A spokesperson for Samsung claimed that the South Korean overheating replacements are “isolated cases” and that the problems were “completely unrelated to batteries.” Given recent evidence that the Note 7 can have a catastrophic battery failure, far worse than poor performance, Samsung’s priorities seem out of line. However, on Oct. 5, a replacement Note 7 began to emit smoke on a U.S. aircraft. Thankfully, no injuries were reported on the Southwest Airlines flight and passengers and crew were evacuated from the plane. Samsung commented, “Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note 7.” Since then, multiple reports of burning replacement devices have forced Samsung to discontinue the model.
With U.S. mobile networks pricing the Galaxy Note 7 at a whopping $850 or more, Samsung should be addressing these issues quickly, not only for the sake of value, but more importantly, to show their concern for customers and customer safety. A report by Informate Mobile Intelligence revealed that the average American spends a third of their waking hours on their cell phones. This prolonged consumption raises the stakes of Samsung usage and makes it the responsibility of the company to create sustainable, safe products.
To add salt to the wound, China Central Television (CCTV) accuses Samsung of acting with “double standards.” To begin with, Samsung did not include China in the global recall because they claim those Note 7s have a different battery maker. However, cases of the phones exploding in China emerged and Samsung began to recall the phones there as well. The real kicker is this: CCTV believes Samsung discriminated against its Chinese users. They received only a 200-word statement from Samsung, while users in the U.S. were issued a video apology. CCTV believes this to be an act of “arrogance.”
The Note 7 was released in August and was met with great reception. Before the recall, figures from BayStreet Research placed the Note 7 sales up 25 percent over the previous year’s Note 5. A little less than a month later, Samsung halted sale of the Note 7 and began its recall process after a large number of customers reported issues, some claiming they had been injured by the exploding phone. Essentially, according to Bloomberg, the space for the battery cell was limited and this put too much pressure on the cell. This led to excess heat and as a result, caused some phones to melt.
Now, BayStreet Research has U.S. phone sales down by 6 percent for the third quarter. As an act of caution, many airlines and public transits, have placed some form of a ban on the Note 7 in fear of its exploding tendencies. This includes use, charging, or even having the phone switched on while on board any of their transport vehicles. Stockton University in New Jersey banned the use of the phone on campus in early September, becoming the first college to do so.
Samsung Electronics America President, Tim Baxter, said in an apology video that “Our highest priority is our customers.” While this is all well and good in an apology video, how much of that statement is actually true? Evidence suggests that in the pursuit of sleeker, more expensive phones that will turn a higher profit, Samsung phone developers have forgotten this “priority.” The competition is stiff and that is understandable, but to have a replacement phone continue to display problems and choose to ignore those problems, and to turn your back on an entire country simply because sales are behind local companies, seems selfish and thoughtless.
These are exciting times and the future of the pursuit of technological innovation seems to be at its height and yet, it seems major companies, like Samsung, are more focused on their bottom line than the idea of discovery or their customers. Had they not been in such a rush to churn out their replacement phones, which are still displaying issues, Samsung may have been able to do this recall right, while paying respect to their loyal customers. Only now have they agreed to stop production of the phones, but what does this mean for users who have invested so much time and money in this debacle?
Zoya Ali is a contributor for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at email@example.com.