Samsung’s blowing it — The Verge’s owning it

OCTOBER 9TH, 2016 — POST 279

If there was any doubt the reported cases of Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s exploding, burning, smoking might end up tarnishing more than the Note brand, reports of four replacement devices too catching fire should be enough to quash it. When airlines are announcing that they won’t allow these phones onto flights over airport intercoms, it’s understandable that the typical person wouldn’t pick up on the nuance in what particular model is effected. They’re hearing “Samsung”, “phone”, and “fire” — the question is now about drawing the lines around Samsung’s non-mobile categories to guess which one will next fall to negative public opinion. And Samsung not only doesn’t seem to care enough, they’re actively fucking themselves.

In a text that was obtained by The Verge — sent to a now-ex Note 7 user by Samsung support but seemingly meant for one of the support staff’s colleagues — this callous disregard for the shit they’re sinking in is apparent. The text reads:

“Just now got this. I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it”

That’s the closest thing to an official word from Samsung we have on this recent spate of fires in devices that were meant to be replacements by those suspected to be affected by fire-causing battery issues. We’re used to seeing the fortunes of tech company — and often of the whole industry — turn on the strength of a keynote performance, and mostly for the better, not seeing such a sharp downturn with the fault of a single device. What we are now witnessing is arguably the entire mobile landscape shifting under our very feet. We’re rapidly moving into a mobile world in which Samsung just won’t matter. And being the mobile manufacturer who sells the most devices worldwide, that’s a big fucking deal.

But for every Great Fire of London, there needs a Samuel Pepys to document it. And without equivocation, Jordan Golson of The Verge is that documentarian. The potency of Golson’s reporting — the first scoop obtained after he made contact with the owner of the first combustible replacement device — has extended so far that this fourth incident was brought to The Verge’s attention by the user himself. And it seems like Golson and The Verge aren’t going to let a single burnt device go until these phones are out of circulation.

Golson has closed out each piece with basically a public service announcement, urging those who might still be in possession of a Note 7 to exchange them for different devices. And the reports that have funneled out of The Verge have even led AT&T to stop giving once-thought-to-be-fine Note 7s as replacements to those that are brought in for exchange. That the work of speaking directly to users of devices made by a company with the reach of Samsung should fall to an online publication speaks further to how poorly this is being handled.

Samsung has already lost their opportunity to get out in front of this. Their worldwide recall was weeks late and with no official word yet on these four cases, the media is carrying the narrative. As an observer of tech, my only hope now is the Pixel phones don’t spontaneously combust. Samsung has stepped out of the ring and the title fight between Apple and Google is just about to start.

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