Samsung has impressed many with its products over the years. Their innovation in processors, memory and screen technology is the envy of many in the tech world. The latest Galaxy Note 7 battery issue however is an example of a minor tech issue turned into a full-blown crisis.
Sadly, a phone which was hailed as virtually perfect went from top of the world to bottom in a matter of weeks.
Today’s battery technology is dangerous – it just is. Expose these things to air and they can explode. Examples include hoverboards, Teslas and in the past decades, various laptops.
Interestingly in most cases above there was limited damage. Battery issues in laptops are fairly frequent. Tesla had one or two problems but was able to show these were unique situations, where the battery was punctured.
In the past year or so we did see an entire product category wiped out to some degree because of poor battery casing design and/or manufacturing defects – hoverboards.
So Samsung shouldn’t have been surprised that they had what we might call a catastrophe with the Note 7. The problems they are facing are NOT unprecedented. They should have seen the hoverboard situation and realized the same thing could happen to them.
How bad is the challenge for the company? Well, when you take a flight, your airline warns you to leave your device at home.
The problem is outlined very well in an article by Rob Enderle who explains the financial types took over the company and basically destroyed it from within.
In an age where cell phones are basically attached to us 24×7 – leaving it at home is the same thing as not buying one and Samsung of course is trying to get all of these devices back as soon as they can. Their goal of sending new and improved units and reducing the charge amount to reduce the likelihood of fire just didn’t work out.
Now, every time people travel they will be reminded to leave their Samsung at home. The damage to the entire brand will be severe for years to come.
It’s a very bad time to be Samsung and the situation reminds us how one product can cast a shadow over an organization and hurt its global brand. More importantly, Rob thinks the management problems at Samsung are happening at other companies as well. If he’s right, we’ll see more stories like this in the near future.