The Galaxy Note 7, launched with much fanfare a couple of months ago and initially regarded as a dream smartphone by many around the world, turned out to be a terrible nightmare for Samsung as reports regarding its explosive batteries filled online forums and social media within days of the device going on sale. The company issued a prompt recall for the phablet citing a manufacturing flaw in the batteries that allowed the anode and the cathode to come in contact, often with explosive consequences. However, even as Galaxy Note 7 units selling in most regions around the world were affected by the issue, China was one of the very few countries that was said to be largely unaffected by the problem.
That’s because the batteries in the Chinese units were being supplied by a Hong Kong-headquartered company called Amperex Technology Limited (ATL), which is owned by Japanese tech firm, TDK Corp. That being the case, Samsung only recalled about 1,858 Galaxy Note 7 devices that were imported into the country for ‘testing purposes’, leaving the vast majority of the sold phablets untouched. That earned the company a stern rebuke from the country’s state-run TV station, CCTV, which branded the South Korean company’s attitude as ‘arrogant’ for allegedly failing to act on the concerns of its customers in the country. That sort of public criticism, along with high level of competition from local and foreign companies, has now reportedly started to hurt demand for other Samsung smartphones in the country, if a new report is anything to go by.
According to six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, Galaxy Note 7 sales are expected to fall by around 38% globally to about 8 million units this year from previous estimates of around 13 million. Even more worryingly for Samsung, overall sales of all Samsung smartphones in the country has declined by between 30 and 80% since the controversy broke back in August. For a company already reeling from stifling competition, a trust deficit following the much-publicized quality control issues was the absolute last thing it needed. With competition only set to increase with the release of Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones yesterday, it will be interesting to see if Samsung can make a comeback and retain its crown as the world largest smartphone manufacturer ahead of Apple.