Samsung Electronics announced its independent investigation result on Monday over its fiery Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, but uncertainties remain about its wish to restore consumer trust following one of the largest debacles in tech history.
Samsung held a special press conference in its headquarters in Seoul, saying faulty batteries were the root cause of Note 7s catching fire or even exploding that led to personal injuries and property damages.
Any problem with the phone’s hardware and software as well as logistics and assembly processes wasn’t found in the third-party investigations by two U.S. quality-control companies and a German supply-chain research firm.
Koh Dong-jin, head of Samsung’s mobile business, apologized to consumers for its complete responsibility for the failure to verify and confirm problematic batteries before their release.
He said his company will place its top priority on product quality and safety, unveiling a set of measures to block similar mistakes, named an “8-point battery safety check.” It includes more safety testing and inspections.
The world’s largest smartphone maker by sales also formed an internal team to design, inspect and manage “core components” while recruiting more outside experts on parts development. It will apply multiple safety processes from the planning stage of products.
Whether the belated measures will leave quality issues behind Samsung remains to be seen as lost trust can only be restored with a new, innovative product unaffected by safety and quality problems.
The Samsung head’s mea culpa was relatively deep as he acknowledged part of responsibilities for battery failure, or Samsung’s order of putting more power in a smaller area to its battery suppliers.
The pressure, however, may have forced the suppliers to neglect safety verifications as shown in thinner separator and other manufacturing errors that led to internal short circuit.
Batteries of the ill-fated devices were supplied by Samsung SDI, Samsung’s affiliate, and Amperex Technology Ltd. (ATL), a Hong Kong-based company which makes products in China.
Samsung’s corporate culture, in which “innovation” is pursued not by creative ideas but by hardware upgrades like batteries of higher energy density, may have resulted in the negligence of safety issues.
The hurried upgrades and the subsequent discontinuation damaged Samsung’s brand image, ending up costing the South Korean tech behemoth almost 6 billion U.S. dollars.
Samsung weathered the financial loss thanks to brisk earnings in semiconductors and display panels. Preliminary figure for its fourth-quarter operating profit hit the highest in over three years. The revised earnings are due on Tuesday.
Declaring the end to the Note 7 crisis may happen when Samsung’s next flagship Galaxy S8 smartphones make a successful debut without any problem and with innovative features.
The launch of the new Galaxy S range is forecast to be delayed to sometime in April. Samsung may reveal a new Note series by the end of this year. Enditem