Samsung Said to Have Hurried Out Galaxy Note 7 to Combat ‘Dull’ iPhone
Samsung thought it had an opening to beat Apple to the punch this year. But now it’s hoping its brand isn’t permanently damaged, according to a new report.
As Samsung heard rumors that Apple was planning a “dull” update to the iPhone 7, the company pushed its suppliers to more quickly deliver the Galaxy Note 7 in an effort to capture customers who wouldn’t have as much interest in a barely updated iPhone 7, Bloomberg is reporting, citing several sources from within the Korean company. According to the report, Samsung was “confident” that its Galaxy Note 7 would impress consumers and pushed suppliers to their limits with new features. Before long, however, it was clear the move was a mistake, and Samsung’s attempts at getting the Galaxy Note 7 out the door ahead of the iPhone 7 might have caused more problems.
Just days before Apple (AAPL) unveiled the iPhone 7, reports started surfacing worldwide, claiming that the Galaxy Note 7 devices were burning up. Soon after, Samsung and governments around the world started investigations into the matter. It was ultimately determined that the Galaxy Note 7 was unsafe, and Samsung issued a recall. Airlines and regulators then banned the Galaxy Note 7 from flights over fears that the smartphone would explode. Adults and children around the world have reportedly been burned by the handset.
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For its part, Samsung has apologized profusely for the Galaxy Note 7’s flaws and is trying to recall every flawed device. The company has pinned the problem on a manufacturing malfunction that caused the smartphone’s built-in battery to overheat and potentially explode. Samsung has said that it has corrected the problem, and all new Galaxy Note 7 units it will ship will be safe.
However, the Bloomberg report suggests Samsung didn’t necessarily take the proper time with the Galaxy Note 7. The smartphone—which features an iris scanner, an improved processor, and a new design, among other features—was a major upgrade compared to its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 5. (Samsung skipped the Galaxy Note 6 branding.)
For manufacturers, such upgrades can be fraught with suspense. When smartphones come with all-new features and components, it can often take considerable time to test and ensure the components are working properly. According to Bloomberg, Samsung was pushing its suppliers and manufacturers to quickly assemble Note 7 devices to fit its tighter-than-usual deadlines.
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According to Bloomberg, which cited several sources who claim to have knowledge of the Samsung’s efforts, the company’s top executives saw an early version of the Note 7 and immediately thought that Samsung could capitalize on what was expected to be a boring iPhone 7 update. The executives then pushed up the Note 7’s launch date 10 days sooner than in 2015 to Aug. 3 to give it enough room to appeal to consumers before the iPhone was announced. To make that deadline, manufacturing workers were required to work longer hours and get “less sleep,” Bloomberg’s sources say. Samsung also reportedly changed its minds about certain features, which further complicated the manufacturing process.
Now, those efforts seem to have meant little. The Galaxy Note 7 has become an international concern, Samsung is trying to address its troubles by offering replacements or refunds, and a $25 gift card in the U.S., and there is undoubtedly some who question whether Samsung can be trusted.
All the while, Apple’s iPhone 7 is flying off store shelves.
Samsung did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment.