While the fallout from Samsung’s decision to suddenly stop production and sales of the Galaxy Note 7 continues, a new report from the New York Times suggests that Samsung still have no idea why the phone keeps bursting into flames – despite putting hundreds of employees to solve the potentially brand-destroying issue.
After reports of the original Note 7s started spontaneously exploding, Samsung’s engineers were unable to replicate the problem. Because of a tight deadline (and trying to stem the negative publicity), the company said it was caused by faulty batteries from one of its suppliers – reportedly from a subsidiary, Samsung SDI.
Replacement phones using batteries made from a different manufacturer (ATL), however, backfired spectacularly.
According to its sources, Samsung still has not figured what is causing the issue and still have not been able to replicate the issue. Park Chul-wan, the former director of the Centre of Advanced Batteries at the Korea Electronics Technology Institute and who spoke to some Samsung employees, said that the issue might be too complex and they were too quick to blame the batteries.
“It was too quick to blame the batteries; I think there was nothing wrong with them or that they were not the main problem,” Chul-wan told the New York Times. “The problem seems to be far more complex. The Note 7 had more features and was more complex than any other phone manufactured. In a race to surpass iPhone, Samsung seems to have packed it with so much innovation it became uncontrollable.”
The company’s fear of litigation and “militaristic” company culture is reportedly making it harder to pinpoint the cause. According to the NYT, Samsung has told its testers to not communicate results via email, making it harder to for them to share theories or results.
Despite being able to find the cause, Samsung is paying a hefty price for the Galaxy Note 7 debacle. Samsung has cut its projected profit for this quarter by US$2.3 billion, and has had US$21 billion wiped from its market value.