When the first rumours revealed that Apple didn’t plan to make any major design changes with the iPhone 7, Samsung saw an opportunity to leap ahead of the iPhone maker. Samsung had already capitalized on the smart move of bringing the Note 6 launch ahead of the iPhone 6s, and they wanted to follow a similar scenario once again. But that rush, which triggered tighter deadlines, caused Samsung to lose at least $2 billion and recall 2.5 million faulty Note 7 devices due to battery issues.
Following up on an earlier Reuters piece, Bloomberg has its own version of Samsung Note 7’s battery fiasco. According to people “familiar with the matter”, some of the top managers approved a launch date ten days earlier than last year. This didn’t stop the company sending out test units to carriers, who received the same amount of time as usual to test the handset. But since they focused on other stuff, the battery problem wasn’t uncovered.
As the launch date approached, employees at Samsung and suppliers stretched their work hours and made do with less sleep. Though it’s not unusual to have a scramble, suppliers were under more pressure than usual this time around and were pushed harder than by other customers, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. One supplier said it was particularly challenging to work with Samsung employees this time, as they repeatedly changed their minds about specs and work flow. Some Samsung workers began sleeping in the office to avoid time lost in commuting, the supplier said. Samsung declined to comment on whether deadlines were moved, reiterating that products are only introduced after proper testing.
The battery issue surfaced after the handset arrived in the hands of users and reports of exploding handsets began. According to Bloomberg, there wasn’t a consensus at the start among execs as to whether Samsung should do a full recall or take less drastic steps. They ultimately went for the full recall.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 7 launched, and Samsung received wide (and negative) media coverage for its faulty Note 7 units. After the first weekend of availability, Apple’s iPhone 7 seems to be off to a good start. That’s not something Samsung can say, despite launching their device a month earlier.