After the damaging recall of its fire-prone Note 7 smartphone, you could be forgiven for thinking Samsung Electronics Co Ltd would make a song and dance about battery safety in its new flagship phones, due to be launched in the United States on Wednesday.
While many market analysts expected Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to make a song and dance about battery safety in its new flagship phones after the damaging recall of its fire-prone Note 7 smartphone, the South Korean technology giant so far makes little mention of safety its marketing effort in the run-up to the launch, to win back consumer confidence.
“If you talk about safety, it presupposes a rationale for why, unconsciously, and they know this; and they also know the media will pick up that narrative,” said Los Angeles-based Eric Schiffer, a brand strategy expert and chairman of Reputation Management Consultants.
“Highlighting the safety issue at this point will cause the other narrative to be recycled, so they have elected to suppress and hope.”
Samsung declined to comment ahead of the launch.
After concluding in January that faulty batteries from two suppliers caused some Note 7s to catch fire, Samsung announced a comprehensive safety plan to be sure.
And including x-raying the batteries, it now has an eight-point safety check protocol. Ad the company says that steps like more room to properly house the battery have been reflected in the S8’s development.
Reuters reported quoting one person familiar with the matter that the S8 launch was pushed back to ensure it is safe to use even though executives have said there will be no repeat of the Note 7 debacle.
“The additional measures Samsung has taken should certainly improve battery safety and durability,” said Lewis Larsen, president of Chicago-based battery technology consultancy Lattice Energy LLC. “These are most definitely not just cosmetic steps ‘for show.'”
While affiliate Samsung SDI Co Ltd has invested 150 billion won ($135 million) on improving battery safety, the company has also this month put a long-time mobile executive in charge of a new product quality improvement office.
Analysts say that or a company that prides itself on product quality, the incidents when replacement batteries from Amperex Technology Ltd also proved faulty due to different problems caused an embarrassment for the company, after it had recalled the Note 7 last September to replace faulty Samsung SDI batteries. And in October, the Note 7 was eventually pulled from the market.
Equipped with new batteries that have gone through new safety measures, it plans to sell refurbished versions of the Note 7 smartphones, the company said earlier this week.
And as the new quality measures can’t guarantee there will be no future problems, downplaying the battery safety issue may also be a sensible marketing option. Any failure rate would likely be very low at first.
It confirmed just 140 faulty batteries in more than 3 million Note 7s it sold – fewer than five in every 100,000, Samsung said last year.
“How confident are they that they can actually find a faulty cell with these additional checks,” said Venkat Viswanathan, assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon and a battery technology expert. “It’s sort of finding a needle in a haystack.”
(Adapted from Reuters)