Report: Samsung Rushed Galaxy Note 7 To Beat Predictable iPhone 7 To Market

Image courtesy of Samsung

The Galaxy Note 7 has been plagued by reports of fires and explosions almost since the day it launched. After a few tumultuous weeks and a “product exchange,” the phone finally received an official safety recall on Sept. 15. But Samsung’s been making smartphones for a while now. The previous iterations of the Galaxy Note, and the company’s other popular series, the Galaxy S, generally do not explode. So how did they blow it so badly on this one?

Basically, by going too fast, Bloomberg reports.

Android and iOS may be the operating systems that go head-to-head, but when you get to the competitive high-end flagship phone market in the U.S., the names are Apple and Samsung. And the market is tight.

Everyone knew, or at least “knew,” for months that Apple would announce a new phone in September. But the rumor mill began to swirl that the iPhone 7 was, well, predictable. Aside from killing off the familiar headphone jack and replacing it with something that will cost you money, there were no big changes or surprises in store. The company known for bursting open assumptions and creating a new market a decade ago has settled mostly into iterative change.

And iterative change, while important for every industry, field, and device on the planet, is not sexy. To consumers, it often looks, well, boring. So Samsung decided to spring into action and take advantage.

The ever-popular “people familiar with the matter” tell Bloomberg that Samsung pushed it, trying to get a spiffy flagship phone on the market before Apple could drop a potential dud. They pushed suppliers to meet tighter deadlines despite also adding new features. Among those features? A more powerful, faster-charging battery.

And as we now know, those batteries are the heart of the Note 7’s unintentional flammability. A manufacturing error in the battery causes excessive heat to be able to build inside the device, Samsung has previously said. Too much heat inside a battery, and you get fire.

Employees and suppliers were under more pressure than usual to get the new and improved battery designed, manufactured, and out the door, Bloomberg reports. That resulted in a prolonged period of crunch, chaos instead of clear communication, and overworked, overtired workers.

Samsung has not stated publicly whether or not it rushed the Note 7 production to beat the market. “Timing of any new mobile product launch is determined by the Mobile business division based on the proper completion of the development process and the readiness of the product for the market,” the company told Bloomberg in a statement.

Still, it seems unlikely that the mobile giant is unaware of the competition from Cupertino. And this isn’t the first year the two have gone head-to-head, Bloomberg notes: the Galaxy Note 5 launched in August 2015, just barely beating the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Apple managed to grab a chunk of the big-phone market, with its Pluses, and Samsung swapped out the top executive of its mobile division that December.

Whether or not the iPhone 7 was the main driver in pumping out the Note 7, though, having to recall an entire new product line for something as drastic as “may burst into flame while you’re using it,” just days before Apple’s similarly-numbered product line hit stores, is a terrible look.

Meanwhile, the phone also appears susceptible to “external heat,” in some degree: a Galaxy Note 7 that caught fire in China didn’t do it from the inside-out like the others, Reuters reports, but instead was “damaged by external heating.” All of which adds up to yet another good reason to stop using your phone and get it swapped out for a new one pronto if you’ve got a Note 7 nearby.

Rush to Take Advantage of a Dull iPhone Started Samsung’s Battery Crisis [Bloomberg]