Mobile Digest: Samsung hemorrhages billions as it terminates Galaxy Note 7
The Galaxy Note 7 debacle has finally come to an end. Will Samsung rebound? Andrew Tolve reports.
In the news
Samsung terminated all production on the Galaxy Note 7, marking an ignominious end to a six-week debacle. Reports surfaced in the past two weeks that replacement Galaxy Note 7s were continuing to smoke and catch fire due to faulty lithium-ion batteries, even after a massive global recall that had purported to fix the problem. One customer on a Southwest flight powered down his replacement phone and slipped it into his pocket, only to hear it pop and then watch as it spewed smoke into the cabin. The plane was forced to evacuate.
Armed with dozens of stories like this from markets around the world, the embattled South Korean smartphone maker saw little other choice than to shutter its new flagship phone. The real question is where the company — and the mobile industry at large — goes from here. The last several years have seen companies rushing to get new phones to market with as many new features as possible, in an attempt to eek out the tiniest wedges of competitive differentiation. The Galaxy Note 7 was a two-generation jump from the Galaxy Note 5 to keep pace with the iPhone 7; clearly Samsung pushed its technology too far and too fast with too little regard for public safety in the process.
Let’s hope the scars of the Galaxy Note 7 give other companies pause before they follow suit.
In the money
Samsung estimated that the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco will cost the company $5.7 billion in lost profit between the third quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. That’s a considerably more benign forecast than what analysts and traders are saying. Reuters reported that some analysts expected the Galaxy Note 7 mishap to cost Samsung $17 billion when all is said in done. On the day the company announced it was terminating the phone, its stocks plunged 8%, obliterating nearly $20 billion in value.
Verizon is likely to receive a heavy discount on its purchase price of Yahoo! after the company reported one of the largest cyber breaches in history in late September. The deal was originally set for $4.83 billion, but inside sources are claiming that Verizon may receive a $1 billion discount — or walk away from the negotiating table altogether. Yahoo! claims it knew nothing about the attack until July … little consolation to the 500 million customers whose passwords, security answers, birthdays and email addresses have been compromised since the summer of 2013.
In other news
Facebook made Workplace, formerly known as Facebook at Work, available to any company or organization on the planet. The social network allows employees to connect much the way they do on Facebook (via profiles, News Feeds, etc), albeit in a controlled environment where only business colleagues participate. Users can chat across the world in real time, host virtual brainstorms in a Group, or follow along with a CEO’s presentation on Facebook Live.
Dropbox added a number of features to its mobile apps in an attempt to make them more appealing to enterprise clients. The upgrade includes PDF signing, so users can plop a signature, initials and text boxes into a PDF straight from their mobile devices. The update also includes iMessage integration, so workers can chat while they share documents, and a side-by-side, picture-in-picture feature that allows users to watch a video in Dropbox while they take notes in a word processor or do other work simultaneously.
Amazon launched Amazon Music Unlimited, an on-demand music streaming service of the Spotify and Apple Music variety. Amazon says that what sets its service apart is price: If you’re an Amazon Prime member, Unlimited costs $7.99 a month, and if you’re an Amazon Echo owner, it costs just $3.99 a month. That compares to the starting price point of $9.99 per month for most other music streaming services.
Twitter wants to polish up its Periscope live streaming feature to better compete with Facebook Live. So the company created Periscope Producer, which allows professionals to post live images to Periscope using drones, professional cameras, VR headsets, news trucks, you name it. They can also now create custom URLs where they can stream their content.
Live in a senior assisted care facility? Lyft will soon be at your door. The company just locked up a deal with one of the largest senior assisted care operators in America, Brookdale Senior Living, so that even the least tech savvy among us can experience the liberation of ridesharing. Seniors will be able to book rides via their in-house concierges and bill the price of rides straight to their rooms.
Finally, the flood of virtual reality apps continued last week, as Google launched an experimental app called Sprayscape. The app turns the phone’s camera into a makeshift bottle of spray paint; wherever you point it creates another splash of imagery, rendered on a 360-degree sphere. Check out the app in action here.
Digital comic startup Madefire, meanwhile, showed how immersive reading can become in the world of virtual reality. Think sound effects, music at moments of drama or peak action and occasional animations to bring the material into three dimensions. Madefire’s new VR Comics for Oculus does all this for digital comics. Let’s see how long it takes Amazon to do something similar for the Kindle.
The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.
Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media.