Samsung Finally Pulls the Plug on Note7 but After a Great Cost to Many

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2016-10-11 Print this article Print
Samsung note7

Yes, Samsung has been hurt, but everyone involved in the Note7 debacle seems to be left holding the bag along with the company.

For Samsung, the next steps are critical. First, the company's engineers need to figure out what it was about the phones that caused the violent reactions that resulted in fires or explosions. The problem could be in Samsung's supply chain, meaning that somewhere in the battery manufacturing process there was a flaw that didn't get caught. This was probably the company's initial thinking, which is why Chinese phones weren't recalled initially, since they use a different battery supplier.

The problem, however, may not be related to the company that made the battery, but instead may be due to the design of the phone's internal power management circuitry or to the charging system. It could even be due to the specifications Samsung created for the Lithium-ion batteries that power the phone. Perhaps the energy density required for the Note7 was simply too great for the batteries that could be made at the price Samsung demanded.

The risk that Samsung runs is that the problems that first showed up in the Note7 could start to appear in other Samsung phones as the company tries to bring the Galaxy S8 or one of its variants to market next year. This is a situation where Samsung needs to examine the real causes of the fires and not just settle for quick fixes such as software that limits charging.

It would be easy to point the finger at Samsung and call the company a loser and other phone companies winners, but that's not really the case. In an effort to bring a phone to market with such a wealth of features, there was a miscalculation. That it happened to Samsung has more to do with the fact that it makes more phones than anyone else, increasing their exposure. The same thing could have happened to any other phone company, and to some extent has since there are occasional stories of phones combusting on their own.

The reality is that by skirting to the edge of engineering, Samsung went a little past it. The next step is to either move the edge farther out with more engineering, or to at least find out where the edge is and stay within it. But progress comes with moving that edge, and with luck, that's what Samsung's engineering will accomplish.


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