back to article Hey, you know what Samsung is also burning after the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco? $2.3bn

The extraordinary cost of the Galaxy Note 7 recall and withdrawal has been revealed in the latest financial figures from Samsung. On Wednesday, the company revealed its preliminary third-quarter earnings and slashed estimated operating profit from 7.8 trillion Korean won to 5.2 trillion won. The difference is US$2.3bn, almost …

  1. Eddy Ito

    Huh, maybe this will bring about a new era in smartphones. Ones with easily replaceable batteries. Perhaps even replaceable by the consumer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe

      If they plan on implementing batteries that spontaneously combust in the future, that is. However, it may (MAY) be better to just source batteries that do not explode unprovoked.

      It's funny how almost every fan of removable batteries says that it would be cheaper for the company to replace dangerously faulty batteries. It's true, but it is also the same as saying "we want companies to pay less when they scr*w us up by paying even less attention to our safety". Interesting.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Maybe

        but it is also the same as saying "we want companies to pay less when they scr*w us up by paying even less attention to our safety".

        Interesting logic you've got there AC. It doesn't get much cheaper than glue and a sealed shell. I'm fairly certain that a battery plug connector and a removable access plate are far more costly as that was the main driver to unitized and glued together units. Sure, they'll talk up the water resistance that comes along with it but that's a very minor freebee of a talking point they get.

        Oh I almost forgot. It's so quaint that you actually think any of them are paying any attention whatsoever to our safety, a bit naive perhaps, but very quaint. Well, I suppose you could count rounded corners as a safety feature.

      2. Jason 24

        Re: Maybe

        If it's to much hassle to remove the battery now, then odds on that it's to much hassle in the future too, meaning the phones life is only as long as the battery, so they can't be re-used at all. 2.5 million phones is a lot of landfill.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 2.5 million phones is a lot of landfill

          I'm sure there are many, many people around the world (not only terrorists!) wanting hard to find out where that landfill site is! :)

          but hey, my bet is it's gonna be a (Samsung) Giga-crusher to "do the right thing" before the landfill is filled with them exploding phones.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 2.5 million phones is a lot of landfill

            Pretty sure they'd disassemble them to allow recycling the useful stuff. The display can probably be re-used, everything else can have the heavy metals extracted before the powered remains are dumped in a landfill.

          2. YumDogfood

            Re: 2.5 million phones is a lot of landfill

            Giga-crusher.

            We worship his shadow.

      3. N13L5

        Re: Maybe

        You should remember, that all businesses involved with phones have the ultimate goal that nothing is user-replaceable on the phones, including the SIM card.

        Crapple wants to virtualise SIM cards, so we have to come begging to the Telco to switch our electronic SIM every time we're travelling in foreign countries - for a fee, of course.

        So, its a fee to use it, its a fee to change which company gets the honor to stick it to you and, of course, its a massive fee to change the battery - so large, you'd usually want to just get a new one.

        But the final goal is to make it so that the phones control us, not the other way round. Television may have been the greatest tool to control human minds to come along so far, but the potential of phones is even greater.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It seems very unlikely the battery was at fault

      What are the odds of having two batteries made by different companies that BOTH blow up...?

      I have read several articles in the last 24 hours quoting experts in the field who say they think the problem is in the phone's fast charging circuitry.

    3. Planty Bronze badge
      Stop

      Quite clearly this was the hidden agenda in this "news".

      "The South Korean giant decided to glue the handheld's battery in place in this model, rather than make it easily replaceable. When it turned out the battery had a serious design flaw, it was impractical to unglue and replace the power packs again and again – simply, the whole line had to be recalled and destroyed"

      Never seen anything to suggest it was officially the battery itself at fault. It's could have just as easily been the charging circuit, or the impact protection.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. replaceable batteries

      You're not an authorised and certified battery-replacement engineer, I'm afraid I can't let you do that....

    5. N13L5

      Samsung just moved Sony's smartphone division out of the red...

      Its not like Samsung buyers are going to switch to Apple.

      Sony on the other hand may be a relief - not least because their Android overlay is rather unobtrusive and most Sony apps can be removed by the user.

      Too bad their current design is also incompatible with user-replaceable batteries.

  2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Terminator

    Donate the whole lot of 'em to ISIS

  3. Dwarf Silver badge

    Couriers

    Given that most couriers aren't the most careful with devices, I wonder why the special box isn't the one closest to the phone, rather than furthest from it. That way the courier damages is most likely on the ordinary boxes.

    Also puzzled by the need for the anti-static packaging. I can't see that they would want to re-sell the phones once returned, this implies that they may be protecting the phone from static. I wonder if this is related to the battery failure condition ?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Couriers

      I like the way it's put inside two boxes which act as fuel inside the ceramic bag.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Couriers

        "I like the way it's put inside two boxes which act as fuel inside the ceramic bag."

        That's the careful thinking and attention to detail that has lead to this situation in the first place.

        Copying others and cranking out hastily conceived products can only take you so far.

  4. bri

    Has been the root cause already identified?

    El Reg casually informs us in this fine article that the problem lies with batteries, but IIRC this hasn't been established as a cause yet. There may be problems with charging cicuitry outside the battery pack, for instance. So, where is the source for the claim?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Has been the root cause already identified?

      They go up in smoke without being on charge. Pretty likely to be the battery.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Has been the root cause already identified?

        This could still be the charging circuit

  5. Triggerfish

    The South Korean giant decided to glue the handheld's battery in place in this model, rather than make it easily replaceable. When it turned out.....

    ...Planned obsolescence...

    ....had a serious design flaw, it was impractical to unglue and replace the power packs again and again – simply, the whole line had to be recalled and destroyed.

    1. Ashley_Pomeroy

      I'm reminded of the scene in Robocop where ED-209 goes haywire. "I had a guaranteed military sale! Renovation program, spare parts for twenty-five years - who cares if it worked or not?" In this case, lots of people cared.

      Frighteningly enough Samsung also makes a robot sentry gun:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_SGR-A1

      "It is also equipped with communication equipment (a microphone and speakers), "so that passwords can be exchanged with human troops." If the person gives the wrong password, the robot can "sound an alarm or fire at the target using rubber bullets or a swivel-mounted K-3 machine gun.""

      Hopefully it is mains-powered.

  6. Nate Amsden

    Somwhere deep inside samsung

    is a lone engineer, or perhaps a team of engineers saying "I/WE FUCKING TOLD YOU SO!!"

    Much smaller scale obviously but reminds me of another company I worked at years ago, 3-4 years after I left someone told me a story that went something like this

    1) company deploys new version of code across QA environments (many of them)

    2) code causes non stop problems and crashes for a month

    3) company has a "go, no-go" decision for production

    4) EVERYONE on the tech team said something like are you fucking crazy this is shit, NO GO

    5) management decided to go anyway because of contractual obligations

    6) Company ends up taking 12 to 14 hours of hard downtime in production(for their customers including the biggest mobile carriers the world) in order to roll back the bad code.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Somwhere deep inside samsung

      ... a lone engineer, or perhaps a team of engineers have just been fired, regardless of what they said out aloud, muttered, or subvocalised, because, well, SOMEBODY must pay for this, right, and it ain't somebody near the real decision-makers.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Somwhere deep inside samsung

      Challenger

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Dysfunctional corporate culture

    It's not as if Samsung is a stranger to battery problems. When it happened to the S4 (bulging batteries) they had a global replacement programme. They went ahead and made the batteries non-replacible on the Note 7 in spite of this, then had problems in Korea in August after the local launch yet they still went ahead with the global launch.

    How do you turn such management pig-headedness around?

    1. Kaltern

      Re: Dysfunctional corporate culture

      Make the Note 7i, with special anti-explosion batteries. Sell it for £25 more than the original Note 7, and hire Oscar (http://www.oscartherobot.co.uk) for PR.

      Problem solved!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What are they going to do about people who want to keep them?

    They are going to have an ongoing problem for months with reports of Note 7s catching fire, because based on news stories a lot of people in the US are planning to keep their Note 7 because "it never gets hot, so I don't think mine has the problem".

    Assuming it isn't the battery that's faulty, but rather a fast charging circuitry problem, the damage to cells in the battery would be cumulative, so this will keep happening to other "properly working" Note 7s.

    I wonder what Samsung's liability is if after a recall is issued, a phone blowing up causes injury or death? What is the liability to the phone's owner if it caused injury or death to others (i.e. if some moron brings one on a plane)

    I think Samsung ought to push a software update to them that causes them to stop functioning at the end of the month, and lets the owner know this, to enforce the recall. Otherwise this PR disaster will go on for months, and selfish Note 7 owners who don't think about the possible risk to others in crowded areas will continue using them.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: What are they going to do about people who want to keep them?

      I think Samsung ought to push a software update to them that causes them to stop functioning at the end of the month, and lets the owner know this, to enforce the recall. Otherwise this PR disaster will go on for months, and selfish Note 7 owners who don't think about the possible risk to others in crowded areas will continue using them.

      They might well do that. As I recall they did declare they were going to push update to the original batch restricting battery charge to 60 % or something. So don't see why they couldn't do someting similar to all of them now.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: What are they going to do about people who want to keep them?

      That could work, if the telcos allow it. I've heard too many reports from folks who have never had a OS patch, upgrade, etc. They all are one certain Telco where I am.

    3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: What are they going to do about people who want to keep them?

      Agreed.

      Because "it always happen to other people"

      Give one or two cases of fire on planes and all the airline carriers will come down hard on mobile devices, no matter what it may be.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: What are they going to do about people who want to keep them?

      Every operator can use their IMEI blacklist (usually used for stolen phones) to stop the service to Note 7s. Samsung already has the list, it just needs to get it to the operators.

      Of course you'll get someone who keeps it inside their house to use as a posh tablet on WiFi.

    5. paulf
      Alert

      Re: What are they going to do about people who want to keep them?

      @ DougS "I think Samsung ought to push a software update to them that causes them to stop functioning at the end of the month"

      I agree with you there should be some action to forcibly stop people using handsets that are subject to a recall but this leads to a bit of a quandary. The type of Note 7 owners that want to keep their devices because they've not exploded are the same kinds that would reject the update if they have the option to do so. The alternative is Samsung putting out a forced update that the user cannot override/reject which raises questions about how long this ability has been baked into the handset and how much we trust them not to remote brick other devices in the future just because they want to. I understand Microsoft have been experimenting with the whole forced update thing recently and didn't get exclusively happy responses.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What are they going to do about people who want to keep them?

        I'll bet every product capable of updates has a way for the vendor to push forced updates...

        But I guess if Samsung doesn't want to go that route they can get the operators to do an IMEI blackout. If someone really wants to keep it around the house to use WiFi only, at least it is only their own house they'll be burning down.

  9. Bob Rocket

    $2.3bn someones not being paid

    and $2.3bn not being taxed, and $2.3bn not being spent and $2.3bn not being taxed and round and round again till it comes out of my income tax, what, did you think your Government could not just print it, somebody's got to pay and that somebody will be you.

  10. kmac499

    Note 8 name already taken

    Well my Samsung Note 8.0 is working a treat. (No I'm not trolling it's a 3 year old tablet.)

  11. Thunderbird 2

    Strokes my nice reliable Note, with removable battery.

    Saying "there, there, dont listen to the nasty man"

    I just wonder how many people, with other Sammy Galaxy models are going to be stopped at Airports etc.and have to prove they are not Note 7's.

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