Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - INDULGE -

Con­spir­acy the­o­rists are an in­ter­est­ing bunch of peo­ple. Fu­elled by a very vivid imag­i­na­tion and a great level of mis­trust in the hu­man species, they can find un­der­hand plot­ting and plan­ning in the most mun­dane of hap­pen­ings. And the ab­so­lute mas­ters of this strange ob­ses­sion are tech con­spir­acy the­o­rists. I was sub­jected to one such group very re­cently.


At the IFA, in Berlin – a cer­tain group of jour­nal­ists were com­pletely con­vinced that the all-new Sam­sung Note 7 phone and its all-new spec­tac­u­lar un­wanted fea­ture of burst­ing into flames was not as in­no­cent as it was be­ing made out to be. They were ab­so­lutely sure the tim­ing of the flaw as well as the enor­mity of the prob­lem was brought about by a con­glom­er­ate of ri­val com­pa­nies. Also, the bat­tery And it went ex­actly to pllan. The Note 7 was an­nounced, the whole world loved it, mil­l­lions of de­vices sold within days, all the re­views were su­per pos­i­tive,p the ‘phone of the year’ ti­tle was ce­mented, and then alla hell broke loose. News of phones ex­plod­ing started to em­merge from all over. Some claimed the phone burst into flammes in a per­son’s pocket, there were cases of cars that caught fire as the per­son was charg­ing the phone within, air­lines al­tered their take-off script to “put your phone in air­plane mode and if you have a Note 7, please power it off com­pletely”. And then, hun­dreds of pho­tos of ex­ploded phones went vi­ral! Mis­sion ‘Take Sam­sung Down’ was com­plete.


The story seemed plau­si­ble to most peo­ple, ex­cept for a few small prob­lems. Ex­actly how do you go about brib­ing ‘some­one’ at the bat­tery fac­tory? Who is that one per­son who can make this hap­pen? What about checks and bal­ances and peo­ple in-charge of qual­ity other than the ‘bribed in­di­vid­ual’? Who was this con­glom­er­ate of ri­val com­pa­nies that plot­ted such a bril­liant sab­o­tage plot? Who headed this and where did they all meet? Who funded it? How much money was needed to pull off some­thing so de­li­ciously wicked? And which mafia group of ri­val com­pa­nies would be so ter­ri­ble that they would be okay with bat­ter­ies ex­plod­ing and en­dan­ger­ing the lives of peo­ple? Some­how my per­ti­nent ques­tions were brushed aside and I was po­litely but firmly thrown out of the room!


So, what is the real story here? How does a com­pany as big and as cred­i­ble as Sam­sung make a mis­take like this? Most of the an­swers are spec­u­la­tion at best but here are my thoughts on this.

The con­stant churn of tech­nol­ogy, the fact that al­most ev­ery phone now must be re­leased at a par­tic­u­lar time of the year, the ab­so­lutely essen­tial killer fea­ture that fu­els mil­lions of sales, the fact that you can’t have a new flag­ship with­out a dozen dis­rup­tors and the race to make it all hap­pen by a par­tic­u­lar time and date, is lead­ing to both tech­nol­ogy com­pro­mises and prob­lems. The Note 7 is one of them.

Sam­sung has done things right in the af­ter­math. The fact that it ac­cepted the prob­lem, has apol­o­gised for it, and has taken on a global re­call in a pro­fes­sional man­ner and it is re­leas­ing a new Note 7 in record time, should all help in mak­ing con­sumers feel that this is a brand that re­sponds cor­rectly to a cri­sis. Heck, they could even win some brownie points for be­ing a com­pany that cares and takes re­spon­si­bil­ity, and come out of all this muck smelling good!

Mean­while, a few clas­sic rules for all phones still ap­ply. Don’t talk on the phone while you charge it, avoid cheap phone charg­ers for your home or car, don’t leave your phone out in the sun, avoid us­ing it when it feels hot and don’t keep the phone in the front pocket of your jeans or trousers. Break these rules and your phone just may live up to its rep­u­ta­tion and have a real ‘killer’ fea­ture!

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