Possibly the biggest debacle in smartphone history is now over — after five reports of replacement Galaxy Note 7 units catching fire worldwide, Samsung has announced that they will halt production of the phone altogether. The move will cost Samsung billions of dollars in lost sales, and the damage to their reputation — and specifically to that of the Note line — could be irreparable.
Earlier today, reports began to surface that production of the Note 7 has been halted, with Samsung releasing a statement saying, “Taking our customer’s safety as our highest priority, we have decided to halt sales and production of the Galaxy Note 7.” It’s the end to a story that began in early September, shortly after the phone’s release, when reports of Note 7 units catching on fire began to circulate. That led to a worldwide recall, citing defective batteries. Samsung quickly began to produce and sell replacement units, while pushing out a software update to at-risk units limiting battery charging. Matters worsened as last week, The Verge reported that a replacement Note 7 had caught fire on an airplane before take-off. Additional reports of replacement units catching fire soon followed, leading to a recall of the replacement units and, finally, today’s announcement that production of the phone will cease altogether.
Galaxy Note 7 owners are encouraged to turn off their phones immediately and return them to where they were purchased for a refund or, if it was purchased from a carrier, a different phone. For Samsung’s part, some analysts estimate the company could lose as much as $17 billion from lost sales now and in the future, because of the hit to the company’s reputation (the company is also facing lawsuits from users who were injured by defective phones). With specific warnings about the Note 7 now commonplace before flights, the Note name (if not the Galaxy name in general) could be permanently tarnished. It’s possible that the Note line could be discontinued entirely, with the S Pen folded into the Galaxy S line, possibly in a Pro or Plus model.