The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is one of the best phones I have laid my hands on this year. However, it is one unlucky phone. The phone’s battery ensured that it was pulled out of store shelves soon after as reports of the phone catching fire starting coming in from all parts of the world. Now, it seems the replacement phones to have these temperamental batteries as well.
It is really strange that Samsung let this through, not once but twice. When a smartphone is being made in the millions it is only natural that some of them have a fault. I even know cases where a certain batch of a device has been plagued by issues. But it is unprecedented for an entire device to be trashed and that too in this manner.
The initial response from Samsung was swift, and according to most observers, good enough to cut the losses of the Korean giant. However, the fiasco was anything but a short one. Reports of phones catching fire kept pouring in as people kept using the phone despite the recall. I think the phone was too good to let go of for most people. However, things got really worse when the replacement phones too started reporting issues.
With the drama having gone on for well over a month now, I think it will be tough to revive the prospects of this phone. I agree with those who say Samsung should just end the note. Even a new SKU for the phone, maybe a Note 7 Neo, would work, but not the original. Samsung should just not persist.
This is also a good opportunity to take a relook at its two-pronged flagship strategy. Both the S and Note series have had some good phones in the recent years, but they are getting predictable and incremental. This could be an opportunity to think out of the box and go one up on Apple.
Also, Samsung needs to come clean on what really went wrong. If they trusted over 10 million people to buy the new phone, then they also have a right to know and take an informed decision about the future.
Meanwhile, it seems Google is clearly sensing an opportunity to slip into the top-end Android space being void the Note 7 fiasco has created. Nothing else really explains the pricing of its new Pixel smartphones, especially in markets like India. And frankly there is a space here, with HTC and Sony also slowly withdrawing from the top draw.