Samsung’s obsession with taking advantage of the “dull” iPhone 7 is being blamed for the Galaxy Note 7’s exploding battery debacle. It’s thought the South Korean company rushed its latest flagship to capitalize on a potentially disappointing iPhone refresh.
When managers at Samsung started hearing that the iPhone 7 wouldn’t deliver “eye-popping innovations,” they saw it as an opportunity to “leap ahead,” according to a report from Bloomberg. They were confident they could turn disappointed iPhone fans to the Note 7.
“They pushed suppliers to meet tighter deadlines, despite loads of new features, another person with direct knowledge said. The Note 7 would have a high-resolution screen that wraps around the edges, iris-recognition security and a more powerful, faster-charging battery.”
“Apple’s taunts that Samsung was a copycat would be silenced for good.”
As the Note 7’s launch date approached, Samsung workers and suppliers “stretched their hours and made do with less sleep.” Suppliers were reportedly “under more pressure than usual this time around and were pushed harder than by other customers.”
“One supplier said it was particularly challenging to work with Samsung employees this time, as they repeatedly changed their minds about specs and work flow,” Bloomberg adds. Some workers were even sleeping in their offices to avoid losing time when commuting into work.
The only problem is, rushing suppliers backfired. Shortly after the Note 7 made its big debut — greeted by glowing reviews from the tech press — early adopters discovered a major flaw. Some units began overheating and exploding while they were on charge.
As we know, Samsung was forced to recall all 2.5 million units sold just weeks after the Note 7 went on sale, and the company is now in the process of replacing each one. It has fixed the problem, but some analysts say the recall will cost around $1 billion.
Despite offering all Note 7 owners a brand new phone, Samsung is being criticized for how it has handled the recall. Fans are upset that it asked for all handsets to be returned, even though it didn’t have concrete plans to replace them at the time.
David Yoffie, a management professor at Harvard Business School, believes the recall “is creating an enormous problem for the company — for its reputation and ability to support its customers when there’s a problem.”
Samsung won’t confirm that it rushed the Note 7’s launch in an effort to bring the device to market before Apple announced the iPhone 7 series.
Instead, it insists that the timing of any new product launch “is determined by the Mobile business division based on the proper completion of the development process and the readiness of the product for the market,” it told Bloomberg.
Samsung employees have described the debacle as “humiliating” in online discussion groups. But this isn’t the first time Samsung has reportedly rushed a product to get it to market before the latest iPhone.
Samsung used to announce the latest handset in the Galaxy Note series during IFA, a conference that takes place in September this year. However, it moved the Galaxy Note 5 launch a month earlier in an effort to beat iPhone 6s to market, according to reports.
Ironically, Samsung’s own battery division — Samsung SDI Co. — is being blamed for the faulty batteries in the Note 7 lineup. Founded in 1970, the division makes batteries for lots of other manufacturers, too — including Apple.
The Note 7 recall has now been made official by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which prevents any unsafe units from being sold by retailers. It also means that new units will be approved before they go on sale.