Last Friday, before I boarded a red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York, the airline representative at the gate made an announcement that any passengers traveling with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 must turn that device off before boarding, and were forbidden from turning it on during the flight. I tweeted about it at the time.
About to board a flight and they made an announcement specifically about the Galaxy Note 7: "Do not power it on if you have one."
This of course was a response to the Note 7’s notorious exploding battery incidents. In fact, the devices have not been banned by the FAA, just cited in an advisory. Still, the situation is extremely grim for Samsung, as plenty of airline passengers are hearing the same warnings.
Two announcements (pre-flight and right after takeoff) about FAA regulations against using the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 at all during flight.
These exploding batteries make for a terrible turn of events for Samsung—not to mention a horrible safety risk for their customers. But Samsung’s response does not seem to be up to the task of managing the crisis. Forbes writes in this article that the scandal is proving to be very damaging:
…the approach taken by the South Korean company is taking a significant amount of time, looks haphazard when viewed from the outside, and the story is being defined by external agencies–such as the FAA and international airlines banning the Note 7 from being turned on while on board.
Potentially embarrassing and even dangerous technological flaws are a fact of life for every hardware company—they may be extremely rare, but they are an ever present risk. What sets the best companies apart from others is their ability to respond in a way that preserves their brand and wins back the trust of customers. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine a worse situation for Samsung than having what amounts to a public service announcement before every flight advising customers not to use your product.