Tech in 2016: Samsung's ship went up high, but crashed fatally

Samsung had a very memorable year or shall I say explosive? The Korean tech giant started off quite well, and it seemed to be all prepared and loaded. However the second half was probably a nightmare for the company.

The year is coming to an end. We saw some great highs in the tech industry and well, some embarrassing lows. Speaking of which, Samsung had a very memorable year or shall I say explosive? The Korean tech giant started off quite well, and it seemed to be all prepared and loaded. However the second half was probably a nightmare for the company.

Samsung lead smartphone sales in India

In the second quarter of 2016, Samsung had already made a stronghold in the Indian market. According to market research firm IDC, Samsung was the top vendor with market share of 25.1 percent. This meant a 10.9 percent sequential growth over previous quarter and 15 percent growth from the same period last year. The reason for its success was not only the flagship products, but also the updated versions of J2, J5 and J7 that were released on that period. The not only put Samsung ahead of local competitor Micromax, but it beat Chinese device makers as well as its biggest rival, Apple.

Tech in 2016: Samsungs ship went up high, but crashed fatally

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge were well received

Samsung announced the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge in March 2016 and in my opinion they were and are still the best smartphones in the market today. Praised for their beautiful design language, great performance and a worthy camera, they had a huge impact on the company's business.

Getting a beating from Apple and Chinese rivals like Huawei and Xiaomi, Samsung's mobile division didn't do all that well in 2015. Thanks to the new flagship though, Samsung's second-quarter operating profit for 2016 rose 17.4 percent from a year earlier. It was also the highest earnings in more than two years as the Galaxy S7 smartphone sales propelled mobile earnings. According to a report, the company shipped 13.3 million Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge devices and 11.8 million Galaxy S7 devices in the first half of 2016. The numbers clearly made the Galaxy S7 Edge the most popular smartphone of its time.

Before the company could celebrate, it still had a big task ahead of itself. As Apple was preparing to launch the new iPhone 7, Samsung had to start rushing for its flagship phablet, the Galaxy Note 7. The Note series has been one of the most popular offerings from Samsung and this year it had to make it big. In fact it did make it big. The Galaxy Note 7 was announced in August, exactly a month before Apple announced its new flagships.

The new Note 7 was quite something. In fact, I had a chance to use the smartphone for a short bit when it was announced in India. It shared a number of elements from the Galaxy S7, including the fully waterproof glass and metal build, a curved Super AMOLED display, a good camera and also the addition of an iris-scanner. The package was worth the money.

The Galaxy Note 7 fiasco

Soon after its announcement, the phablet had started selling in a few markets. It wasn't even a month and about 30 different reports of certain units catching fire started to trickle in. The number of such report started increasing and due to this issue, the first stock for India was delayed. Samsung even issued a statement confirming the battery malfunction issue. Samsung immediately started sending out replacement units to Note 7 consumers. Sadly, the second and even third replacement units were still catching fire. It was a complete disaster. The smartphone was banned from flights and announcements were made advising Galaxy Note 7 users to not use the handset while travelling.

Image: Hui Renjie

Image: Hui Renjie

After numerous replacements, the company had no choice but to announce a global recall of the smartphone. One of the biggest in consumer electronics history. It sent out boxes to consumers asking them to return the handset as it was a serious threat. It even announced and rolled out software updates to restrict battery charging, alas the Galaxy Note 7 had to be killed. As for Indian consumers who pre-ordered the device, they were offered a cashback and an option to buy the Galaxy S7 Edge along with the Gear VR headset.

From what I last heard, Samsung managed to recall about 90 percent of Galaxy Note 7 units. As for the remaining, the company is going to release a compulsory software update that will brick the smartphone making it useless. Instead of capitalising, Samsung served an advantage to Apple on a shiny platter. A report suggested that Samsung incurred a loss of $3 billion.

Even the washing machines exploded

Samsung's woes didn't end there. During the whole Note 7 fiasco, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning that certain models of Samsung top-loading washing machines have safety issues. Apparently they were blowing up as well. Samsung issued a statement on the matter saying, “In rare cases, affected units may experience abnormal vibrations that could pose a risk of personal injury or property damage when washing bedding, bulky or water-resistant items.” According to a report, at least 21 Samsung washing machines had blown up.

If you make a graph for Samsung in 2016 it will be pretty straightforward. A big rise and an equally big fall.

The coming year will be crucial for Samsung, as it has lost a lot of credibility. Consumers are now refraining from buying Samsung products because they want to 'blow up' their money. We are anticipating the new Galaxy S8 in early 2017 and hopefully Samsung has done its homework and made sure the batteries are solid.

Find our entire collection of stories, in-depth analysis, live updates, videos & more on Chandrayaan 2 Moon Mission on our dedicated #Chandrayaan2TheMoon domain.