Report: Samsung's overzealous efforts to beat Apple lead to battery woes

Sleepless nights, fickle decision making, and other intangibles may have sown the seeds for an unprecedented consumer crisis.

Samsung had an epic plan to one-up the iPhone. Produce a technologically superior Galaxy Note7 with a powerful battery, a screen that draped over the edges, an iris scanner, and still make room for a headphone jack and stylus.

Then, it all went up in flames.

A Bloomberg report details a number of missteps that inevitably led to the colossal mess that Samsung now faces with its recall due to exploding phones. The company has recalled all models of the Galaxy Note7 and faced criticism for being inconsistent about how it’s rolled out the recall program.

According to the report, Samsung smelled blood in the water with rumors that Apple’s iPhone 7 would be more of an incremental upgrade. The company went into overdrive by ramping up features: a 3,500 mAh battery (last year’s model had a 3,000mAh battery), retina scanner, and a high-resolution screen. The launch was moved up 10 days from the previous year’s Galaxy Note 5: the phone was unveiled on Aug. 3 of this year and Aug. 13 of 2015.

The particulars of developing sound battery technology may have been what suffered the most, according to the report. Samsung employees were willing to sleep in the office, demand very tight deadlines from suppliers, and scrambled to make changes.

Now that the disaster has unfolded, the company is trying to deliver a timely recall to avoid long-term damage. The article indicates that executives studied recalls from Toyota and other companies that moved swiftly during similar incidents. That’s imperative to prevent those who want a big phone from moving to another Android handset, an upcoming Pixel phone, or even jumping ship to the iPhone 7.

Why this matters: Samsung has outlined how to tell if your Note7 is safe now that the recall is underway. Galaxy Note owners tend to be a loyal lot as they like the big screen and tools provided by the S Pen. This recall is the strongest test yet of that loyalty, especially with a number of compelling alternatives.

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Derek Walter

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