In an update to its Galaxy Note7 recall, Samsung announced that more than 500,000 new replacement devices would be available for exchange at U.S. retail outlets on Wednesday.
The company also announced the rollout of a software update that will display a green battery icon on the screens of new Note7 devices to distinguish them from those subject to recall.
“Working hand in hand with the CPSC, we are delivering as promised and moving quickly to educate consumers about the recall and make new Note7s available,” said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission late last week issued a recall of 1 million Galaxy Note7 phones. Samsung previously had initiated a global recall effort, following reports that more than 90 phones had overheated — some exploding and some erupting into flames — due to a lithium-ion battery flaw.
Haste Makes Waste
Samsung’s brand image took a new round of hits earlier this week. Reports that it rushed the Galaxy Note7 into production were compounded by concerns that the battery fire risk had expanded into the Chinese market.
Samsung rushed the Galaxy Note7 into production in order to get a jump on the relatively tame iPhone 7 that was scheduled to come to market, and its haste may have allowed a flawed battery design to creep into the flagship Galaxy Note7 production cycle, a Bloomberg report suggested.
Top Samsung executives, including D.J. Koh, who runs the Samsung mobile business, signed off on a plan to accelerate production of the Galaxy Note7 in an effort to outmaneuver Apple, according to the report.
At the time, there was a widespread perception that the iPhone Apple planned to launch in September would not excite the market. The Galaxy Note7, introduced in August, sported a number of major new features, including iris-recognition security, a wraparound screen, and — most important in this scenario — a new battery that would charge rapidly.
Samsung reportedly pushed suppliers to speed up the production cycle, which may have led to the design problems that caused some batteries to overheat and combust.
Although it’s possible to review the company’s actions in the run-up to the launch, its motivations may not be as clear as the Bloomberg piece suggests.
“Did Samsung rush the Galaxy Note7?” asked Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.
“Clearly they did, because the device is having issues,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “Did they do it to beat the iPhone 7? Probably not exclusively. They were trying to capture the high ground on all upscale smartphone devices — not just Apple’s.”