Samsung has had a good year so far. The Galaxy S7 series did well, so did the more affordable devices that it introduced in India. However, that was till the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery issues cropped up in markets where it had started already shipping. The numbers — about 35 or so instances of batteries exploding while being charged — were not all that significant considering that Samsung was estimated to ship over 14 million Note 7 devices this year — analysts have since corrected this figure to 10 million units. These 4 million units will cost Samsung about $5 billion, or 5 per cent of annual net profit, according to the Financial Times.
Still, the Korean tech giant was not taking any chances, after all this was their flagship phone, the one that skipped a version to catch up with its rival. Experts believe the long-term damage of Samsung’s image has been contained by the way the company reacted and decided to replace all phones it had shipped so far. However, it will be hard to stop at least some people from doubting how such an issue skipped the rigorous testing tech companies are known to do. This is where Samsung will have to work really hard with coming devices and send out the right message.
Personally, I think the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the best Android smartphone in the market at the moment — if I can use the phrase for the few weeks in which the new batch of devices hit stores. It has a stunning camera, the best stylus in the world and processing capabilities you have come to take for granted when the smartphone has Galaxy Note written on it.
However, with the battery fiasco, it also has a big problem on its hands. While we are sure Samsung will, at a huge cost, push it into all markets once the battery issue solved, it will be hard to convince all potential buyers this phone has its past behind it. You can’t blame consumers for that, that is just the way they are. I will not be surprised if Samsung comes up with an upgraded, or at least tweaked, version of the same phone with a slightly different identity before the holiday season to help it move on.
And it could not have come at a worse time. The Note 7 could have had a couple of weeks of unchallenged market success with the Apple iPhone 7 Plus yet to be announced, and shipping dates at least a week more away. The word of mouth that happens in this initial phase goes a long way in establishing the success of any device. The Note 7 has clearly lost that entire advantage.
This also presents itself as an opportunity for rival Apple. If the iPhone 7 Plus is as good and powerful as the leaks are suggesting it to be, Apple might be able to convert some potential Note 7 buyers to look towards their next offering. This might be especially true in markets like India, where Samsung has the Note 7 with the troublesome Exynos processor version.
Still, the Note 7 has something which the iPhone doesn’t and that is the stylus. This will help keep its core buyers interested, especially those looking to upgrade from an earlier version of the Note. Those guys swear by the Note and its stylus and they will continue to do so, exploding battery or not.