Technology Column

Samsung’s Note 7 marketing backfired

/ The Daily Orange

After a troubling three months on the market, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 has fully ceased production and has put an end to the international smartphone manufacturer’s biggest PR disaster yet.

It’ll be hard to know the tangible effects of this catastrophe quite yet, but there’s a lot of speculation around the industry that the iconic Note and Galaxy brand names could be permanently retired in the wake of the Note 7. From this trainwreck, Samsung can learn the danger in shaping your technology too directly in response to rivals.

The phone has been all over headlines since its release, because of reports of fires and explosions due to an overheating phone battery. Though the technical cause of the defect is still unclear, it’s been reported that rumors of a “dull iPhone” this year caused pressure within Samsung to quickly manufacture a phone to outdo it.

Samsung’s entire identity in the United States has revolved around not being Apple. Beginning with its Apple-shaming Galaxy S3 commercials, Samsung has shaped itself as the go-to device for any kind of smartphone consumer with the desire to stick it to Apple. Unlike Android as a whole, which prides itself on being an open platform with freedom that iOS doesn’t provide, Samsung’s mobile identity has always revolved around just being “better” than Apple.

Smartphones have matured a lot since the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 4S, and the differences between phones aren’t as apparent as the markedly larger screens that Samsung once touted over their Cupertino rivals. This time around, Samsung wanted to take advantage of Apple’s “down year” with a new phone on their Note line and it quickly became the highest-regarded line of phones that Samsung has to offer.

What might get drowned out in the coverage of the Note 7 recall is how great the phone really was, despite its Achilles’ heel. With its top-of-the-line camera and beautiful curved-edge design made, the Note looked like the future of phones. Besides the battery — which, to be fair, is a pretty huge flaw — the Note 7 was a fantastic phone with a lot going for it.

And it didn’t need to be rushed out. With a phone this special, a release date to compete with the new iPhone didn’t need to happen. Samsung was rightfully concerned about sales with its rushed launch of the Note 7. But with a little bit more time spent testing, the phone could have sold on its own right without the crippling battery issues to hold it back.

The Note 7 is an unfortunate victim of a poor marketing strategy. Samsung needs to consider that the platform of “we’re better than Apple” doesn’t make much sense in a smartphone market that’s more competitive than ever. The Note 7 would have been just fine without that strategy in mind, and Samsung will feel the consequences of that mistake for a very long time.

Brett Weiser-Schlesinger is junior newspaper and online journalism major. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at bweisers@syr.edu.

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