In the never ending battle between the Android and the iPhone, I have always chosen the former. I found the Google integration very convenient for both work and school, and liked that its bigger screen size meant that I could enjoy my frequent Netflix binges without straining my eyes. Despite the social trends associated with Apple and the countless group chats I missed out on, year after year, I continued to purchase Android devices and further entrench myself in the “Team Android” camp.
So one can imagine the queasiness I experienced when it was discovered that hundreds of Galaxy Note 7’s were found to have caught on fire in the United States alone. As expected, widespread panic ensued. With consumers quickly losing faith, what began as a voluntary offer for free returns and exchanges quickly led to the discontinuation of all Galaxy Note 7 phones in the common market. As if enough damage had not already been done, the FAA announced that in light of recent developments, the Galaxy Note 7 would be banned from all U.S. commercial flights.
As it turns out, when someone has to decide between having a potentially explosive device in your pocket and a non-Samsung device, consumers are deciding to choose the latter. In its third quarter report, Samsung’s net profit fell 16.8 percent following the catastrophic release of the Note 7, its lowest in six years. Some estimates already put the total cost of suspending production of the Note 7 at around $3 billion.
Regardless of my personal feelings and allegiance to the Android brand, the consequences of the disastrous roll out of the Galaxy Note 7 will likely have a long term effect on the brand. Although the financial consequences are obvious, what is lesser known is how this impacts Android’s image and the perception that consumers have about their products. As the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission notes, “The lithium-ion battery in the Galaxy Note7 smartphones can overheat and catch fire, posing a serious burn hazard to consumers.” How such a blunt and direct statement like this plays out in front of parents looking to buy phones for their children or consumers looking for long-term use out of their device remains to be seen.
The Galaxy phone line-up and Samsung more broadly speaking has already become the butt of many jokes. With some going so far as to artificially recreate significant burns on their face while hoisting their defective Galaxy phone as a Halloween costume. However, how they attempt to recover from this mishap and what steps they decide to take remains to be seen. How they do so will play an important role in how current Android users (like myself) will decide which phones to buy in the future.