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Monday, 12 December 2016 10:42

Two months on, Samsung still mum on Note7 fiasco Featured

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Judging from Samsung Electronics' silence as to what was behind its Galaxy Note7 devices' spontaneous combustion, one can only conclude that the company is keeping mum because it did not want to affect sales of its other phones during the festive season.

Else, a big company like Samsung, with sufficient engineering staff, should have been easily able to find out by now why the Note7 burst into flames on countless occasions after it was introduced in August.

The Christmas shopping period sees the highest level of sales of electronic devices in many countries, be they nations that mark the festival or not.

And thus, had Samsung come out and told the world exactly why the Note7 failed, then sales of its other products may well have taken a bigger hit than if it had kept silent.

The exploding devices forced the announcement of a halt to Note7 production on 11 October. Two months have gone by since then, and the South Korean giant is maintaining a studied silence.

Samsung's silence became all the more noticeable last week, when a small manufacturing technology start-up, Instrumental, did a teardown of a Note7 and concluded that the battery was packed too tightly inside the body of the device and that this was the cause of the problem.

Instrumental has just nine staff. Even the most conservative estimate would put Samsung's engineering staff at five times that number.

And yet, two Instrumental staff were able to provide a possible reason as to why Note7 devices resembled defective firecrackers during their short time on the market.

The two Instrumental staff who did the teardown are well qualified to make a judgement: the chief executive, Anna Shedletsky, was the Apple Watch System Product Design lead and manager from October 2012 to February 2015, before which she worked as an iPod Product Design engineer from July 2009 to October 2012. Sam Weiss, the other Instrumental staffer to assist her, was a product design engineer for Apple Watch from July 2012 to June 2015.

But Samsung, for all its bluster about putting customers first, has come up with nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

The company did not even issue a riposte to the claim by Instrumental that it (Samsung) had shipped a dangerous product. Shedletsky's exact quote was: "In this case, Samsung took a deliberate step towards danger, and their existing test infrastructure and design validation process failed them. They shipped a dangerous product."

Thus, it remains to be asked: should people be buying other products made by this company with any degree of confidence until it comes out and provides a full and complete explanation of what went wrong with the Note7?

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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