I’VE BEEN WORKING in technology journalism for seven years (ages, alright), focusing mainly on all things mobile.
But covering smartphones has got pretty bloody boring over the past year or so. Yes, I know I have an awesome-cool job, but the smartphone market has become a two-horse race, not just between Android and iOS, but between Samsung and Apple.
For example, analysts at Kantar revealed in August that iOS accounted for more than 37 per cent of smartphone sales in the UK, while Android continued its dominance with a 57 per cent share fuelled by sales of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Other manufacturers, such as HTC, Huawei and Sony, didn’t even get a name check.
But this Samsung-led Android dominance could be about to come crashing down. The Galaxy Note 7 recall has severely damaged the firm, but it was revealed this week that so-called 'safe' Note 7 replacements, those marked with a black box and a green battery indicator, are also exploding.
That’s right. Samsung hasn’t yet admitted that the device that caused a Southwest Airlines flight to be evacuated was a new one unaffected by the recall, but all signs point to the firm having failed to identify the real problem causing handsets to catch fire, explode and burn six-year-old children.
This is a huge deal, and even though I cover the saga day in day out it’s hard to comprehend how damaging it could be to Samsung as a brand.
The story has been covered by national newspapers and TV news, and has prompted people to ask me: ‘What’s going on with those exploding Samsungs, then?’
The latter is perhaps Samsung’s biggest worry. Non-techy people like me and you don’t know what the Galaxy Note 7 problem is, but we do know that Samsung makes phones that catch fire. How many people do you know who would buy a smartphone from a company known for making exploding devices?
Sure, we all know one Samsung diehard who will say: 'It explodes. Lol. So what? I’m fine,' while some will argue that the firm is in the same position as Apple, which has alienated some customers with the removal of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7.
However, Apple hasn't done anything wrong. It's just pissed off a few people who apparently charge their phones and listen to music at the same time. (Seriously, who does that?)
What I'm trying to say is that the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco won't just affect sales of the handset. The problem will be fixed and will probably never happen again. But Samsung will undoubtedly suffer in the long term, and it could cause sales of future devices, such as the Galaxy S8, to falter.
This is, of course, terrible for Samsung but great news for other Android brands and for me because I might not have to spend days covering the insufferable dick-waving contest between Apple and Samsung.
Some people will no doubt defect to Apple, like the guy whose Galaxy Note 7 burned through the carpet of an aircraft this week, but many will also look to other Android brands that they wouldn't have considered before.
Say I'm right, and sales of phones from the likes of HTC, Huawei and Sony go through the roof. This is money in the pockets of these currently struggling firms, money that could be put into building more innovative devices and give the smartphone market the kick up the arse it's needed for the past year or so.
So it looks like Samsung might be the exception to the rule that all publicity is good publicity. µ
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