There is no doubt that Samsung has considerable work to do if it is to convince consumers to stick with the Galaxy brand. The disaster that was the Galaxy Note 7 has cast something of a shadow over the whole corporation, and has already had a significantly detrimental impact on Samsung earnings.
Although there are undoubtedly many loyal fans of the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S series remaining, will it be possible for Samsung to immediately return to its former position in the marketplace? And will customers truly trust the corporation to deliver an outstanding, and more importantly, reliable Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8?
One interesting indication of the image of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 in the public mind is a recent survey conducted by the British company uSwitch. The firm that operates as a price comparison service in the UK has found that customers have a wildly different perception of the two brands following the infamously exploding Galaxy Note 7.
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uSwitch discovered that the Galaxy S8 is actually faring pretty well in terms of anticipation when compared to some of the other biggest names in the smartphone market place. 20 per cent of the 1,200 users who voted in a poll on the most anticipated smartphone of 2017 indeed named the Galaxy S8. Not quite as many as the iPhone 8, but certainly a competitive figure.
However, the performance of the Galaxy Note 8 in this poll must be considered somewhat worrying for Samsung. Only 7 per cent of those who responded to the poll cited the Galaxy Note 8 as an exciting prospect in 2017. This is despite the fact that the Galaxy Note range had built up an excellent critical and customer reputation prior to the release of the Galaxy Note 7. Indeed, although the Galaxy S range remained the flagship of Samsung, many had asserted that the Galaxy Note was now the standout device manufactured by the company.
Well, times change quickly! The negative publicity garnered by the Galaxy Note 7 has obviously significantly damaged the brand, and it was debatable whether Samsung would indeed ever release another device in this series. As it turns out, the Korean corporation has decided to stick with the Galaxy Note name, but there must be doubts that the next cab off the Galaxy Note rank will sell as well as previous releases in the series.
Samsung sales down
Already there is evidence that the damage caused by the exploding Galaxy Note 7 has caused significant fissures in Samsung’s overall performance. Recent reports indicate that the smartphone sales of Apple outpaced Samsung in the fourth quarter of 2016. According to data released by Gartner, Apple unit sales outnumbered Samsung by 256,000. With Apple having replaced Samsung as the biggest global seller of smartphones, speculation is rife that the consumer electronics giant will widen the gap in 2017.
It must also be said that the legal proceedings surrounding Jay Y. Lee, the billionaire vice chairman of Samsung Group, can only serve to cast a further cloud over the company. The nature of the charges against Lee, namely bribery, will hardly be viewed as a positive anywhere in the world, but it is arguable that they will be taken particularly seriously in Lee’s native Korea.
Apple is meanwhile making serious inroads into some of Samsung’s most treasured territories, with the market-leader having increased its focus on India. This nation of over one-billion people is expected to become the second largest smartphone market in the world in due course, and Apple experienced a spectacular year in the Asian subcontinental nation in 2016.
In fiscal 2016, Apple sales in India grew by approximately 50 per cent, with the Californian company confident of growing further still in the future. Meanwhile, the smartphone marketplace is becoming increasingly balkanized, with smaller players popping up to particularly challenge the affordable end of the market.
Galaxy Note 8 & Galaxy S8Battery plans
So the vultures circling Samsung are numerous at present, yet the company has taken steps to restore the faith of customers. The consumer electronics behemoth has already gone public with a new eight-point procedure that will attempt to ensure that there is never a repeat of the Galaxy Note 7 disaster.
Meanwhile, the company has also been seeking a new battery manufacturer, in an attempt to ensure that the cells utilized in the Galaxy Note 8 are more stable than its predecessor. And reports have emerged recently that suggests Samsung may enlist Sony to manufacture batteries for the Galaxy S8, with The Wall Street Journal indeed reporting on this possibility.
Both Sony and Samsung have declined to comment on the matter as of yet, but with LG also being linked as a possible manufacturer of batteries for the Galaxy Note 8, it is clear that Samsung is, understandably, taking the matter extremely seriously.
Positives for Samsung
But will these efforts be enough to attract consumers back to the Galaxy brands this year? Well, the first thing to note is that the figures for the Galaxy S8 in the uSwitch survey are actually rather encouraging. It would be reasonable to describe the ongoing competition between iOS and Android as somewhat tribal, and those who have opted for Samsung and Android devices have usually done so for a personal reason. This is unlikely to dissipate overnight just because Samsung experienced one notable failure.
And despite the Galaxy Note 7 disaster, Samsung’s sales figures have remained relatively healthy. Admittedly, the company has been overtaken by Apple, but this has been by a rather paltry figure, and Samsung must be hopeful of at least treading water and approximately maintaining its market share in 2017.
Samsung also has plenty of time to plan for the Galaxy Note 8, and to some degree the Galaxy Note 7 failing will be water under the bridge by the time of its successor’s release. If Samsung can produce an outstanding phablet later this year, then many customers may forgive them for the exploding Note 7 and instead focus on the excellent Galaxy Note releases that the company has produced previously.