Samsung’s unprecedented decision to end production of its troubled Galaxy Note7 was the only way for the tech giant to start rebuilding its battered smartphone brand, experts say.
“They needed to do a giant write down and thrust the Samsung Note7 to the engineering hall of shame where it deserves to be,” Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants and CEO of tech holding company Patriarch Group, told FoxNews.com. “This was a catastrophe of design and public relations that ended in a financial debacle, but Samsung made the right call in the end and they saved their brand.”
Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research agrees that Samsung has done the right thing. “Although it's hard on the Samsung brand for all this to be in the news so much over the last few weeks, killing the phone off is better than letting it drag on even further,” he told FoxNews.com via email. “This should finally allow Samsung to begin to move on, for the headlines to die down, and for the company to begin to undo the damage to its brand.”
Samsung is struggling to regain consumer trust after a first round of recalls that prompted criticism both for the faulty devices and for the company's handling of the problem.
After the earlier recall, the company said it had identified a manufacturing defect in the batteries of its top-of-the-line smartphone.
It started shipping new Note7 phones that were supposed to be safer. But reports that even the replacements were catching fire led Samsung to announce it was stopping sales of the devices.
The Note7, which features iris scanning technology, had initially garnered rave reviews when it was launched in August, with reviewers lauding the phone’s speed, new software features and the estimated nine hours it would run between charges. Soon, however, users began reporting the phones were catching fire or exploding, in one case incinerating the SUV it had been left in.
Dawson said that Samsung’s immediate task is to complete the recall of all Note7 devices, not just the original recall batch. “That will take weeks to get done, so this story will linger for at least a while,” he told FoxNews.com. “But longer-term, Samsung will need to work hard to ensure that it has its story in place for when its next big phones – likely the Galaxy S8 – come out in the early Spring.”
Samsung, he added, needs to be able to assure customers that it has identified the source of the Note7 problems and that the S8 and other future phones won't suffer from the same problem.
“If this [problem] can occur in a top-of-the line product, it suggests that something may be fundamentally at fault with Samsung's engineering, manufacturing or sourcing processes,” noted Charles King, principal analyst of tech research firm Pund-It, in an email to FoxNews.com. “I believe it's imperative that the company determine the cause of the problem as transparently as possible. Given the scope of the issue, it may be wise for the company to employ a well-regarded third party to conduct that study and review.”
Authorities in the U.S. and South Korea are still investigating why even the replacement Note7 phones that Samsung equipped with a safer battery are catching fire. An official at the South Korean safety agency said the replacement phones may have a defect that is different from the problem with the original Note7s.
Despite Samsung’s headline-grabbing Note7 problems, Schiffer is confident that the company will bounce back. “My bet is that they will have an epic scale success with the next version – this will be the most carefully pre-inspected piece of technology ever.”
Samsung, however, faces stiff competition from rival Apple’s new iPhone 7 as it attempts to rebuild its smartphone brand. “This [Galaxy Note7] fiasco could permanently damage the Samsung brand in the smartphone market, a big opportunity for Apple to gain market share,” said Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White.
Apple launched its eagerly-anticipated iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in a blaze of publicity last month. Despite Apple’s controversial to ditch the iPhone headphone jack, initial reviews describe the iPhone 7 as a solid upgrade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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