Ex­plod­ing’ Galaxy Note 7s are re­sult of Sam­sung, Ap­ple smart­phone race

De­mand for smarter and smarter de­vices means mis­takes are per­haps in­evitable

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If you’re a Sam­sung Note 7 owner, it may be your de­vice that has gone up in smoke. For Sam­sung, it’s their brand (with fire dam­age to their share price). Py­ro­ma­niac smart­phones are very, very bad for the South Korean tech­nol­ogy gi­ant. Less so in terms of com­pet­ing with Ap­ple, which was un­likely to sur­ren­der its No 1 spot, but more so in terms of its im­me­di­ate rivals like Google, which has just launched a new range of phones. Sam­sung now ap­pears to have lost faith in the Note 7 brand, and it has the Galaxy S8 due for re­lease early next year. Those two facts, the com­pe­ti­tion from Google and from Sam­sung’s own brand, may ex­plain how Sam­sung ended up here. The smart­phone mar­ket has its own sort of ‘ther­mal run­away’, driven by con­sumers. Ev­ery year, we ex­pect a new model, and most com­pa­nies of­fer us two. Sam­sung even has two sep­a­rate smart­phone lines. That’s be­fore you get into tablets and smart­watches. And we ex­pect those phones to do a lot more - to be faster, to charge quicker, to last longer. Cou­ple that to be­wil­der­ing com­plex sup­ply and man­u­fac­tur­ing chains and it’s per­haps in­evitable that mis­takes will be made. The self-im­mo­lat­ing Sam­sungs are the most vivid ex­am­ple. But you can see the rush and care­less­ness across the sec­tor.

Ap­ple’s iOS 10

It ini­tially bricked peo­ple’s phones and for me, at least, seems to suf­fer from odd freezes and other bugs. They’ve been rush­ing out soft­ware patches to keep up. Ap­ple has had re­lease prob­lems be­fore. Re­mem­ber when Steve Jobs told buy­ers com­plain­ing of bad re­cep­tion that they were just hold­ing their phone wrong?

But now that there’s very lit­tle to sep­a­rate smart­phones in terms of de­sign and func­tion­al­ity, the pace and com­pe­ti­tion is even more in­tense. If we want well-made phones that work, or at least don’t ex­plode, maybe we all need to cool off and not ask for a new one ev­ery year.


Sam­sung Note 7 cri­sis deep­ens, Ap­ple stock sky rock­ets.

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