Chances are you’ve seen the news that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been surprising users with its new feature - spontaneous combustion.
Yes, social media has been rife with near-terrifying images and videos of Samsung’s premiere phone catching fire and exploding, to which the tech giant responded by replacing all affected handsets.
Now that those second handsets are undergoing the same problems, igniting further outrage (pun intended), Samsung has hammered the final nail into the coffin of its smartphone by issuing a worldwide recall and stopping production.
It’s an unfortunate sight to see - the Note 7 was a genuinely impressive device, with what I believed to be a far cleaner and sexier design than Apple’s current crop of smartphones. But, as it should be, flames are an absolute deal breaker, and Samsung has had to hang its hat and leave the phone alone.
So what happens next? Well, we know the immediate - the South Korean-based company pivots all promotion towards its watches, tablets, TVs and other consumer gadgets with the hope of burying this misstep as deeply as humanly possible.
But what about the long term? Where do Samsung’s Mobile efforts go from here? Well, I can only see two options for them.
1. They leave the smartphone game altogether
Now, don’t shoot the messenger on this, but let’s face the facts - Samsung’s name has been dragged through so much dirt, it would take a miracle for them to bounce back.
But it wasn’t the faulty hardware that tanked them entirely…
Through their own volition of awkward PR silence in the early stages, leading to a Government-led investigation and ever-growing social conversation (remember companies, if you try to hide something, Twitter users will talk only about that thing), their reputation was ruined.
And that sucks. Samsung’s competition is what kept the market on their toes - but the lack of support right from the beginning and a failed rejuvenation has lost them confidence.
Plus, Android just isn’t the obviously open platform it used to be. I mean sure, it’s technically an open platform, but Google’s decision to operate vertically leaves third party manufacturers high and dry.
Put simply, Samsung will always be remembered for this. And to bounce back in a fiercely competitive Android atmosphere where even the metaphorical coach of the team has turned his/her back on the key players is no big ask.
Shut down Samsung Mobile and focus on the industries where you are killing it - TVs, home appliances, smart home devices. In the grand scheme of Samsung’s successes, this should only be a parking ticket.
2. Humbled, they carry on slowly
This is the potentially more intriguing solution.
Say they don’t want to stop making phones. Say they already tasted a big piece of that sweet smartphone share pie, but want to come back for seconds. How do they pull that off?
Well, they start small, and as far away from developed nations as possible. I’m talking affordable smartphones for developing countries.
Imagine the boldness of that move - in the midst of every single technology company riding the wave of “helping the planet” PR goodness that leaves a sweet taste in the mouths of your audience.
Connecting the planet and focussing on these territories will not bring in the money you used to get, but it sure as hell will start building the brand again - alongside giving some long-awaited relief to those countries.
It will take a while, and when you finally feel confident to pick up the baton and compete in the more lucrative markets again, I can guarantee you will start again from square one - zero market share.
But with your quieter chip-side of the business already supplying processors to the likes of Apple, you already have a BIG part in that market without people knowing about it. Just ride that out, and get a smaller more targeted phone division to focus on bringing the world together through extremely affordable smartphones.
Nobody has been able to properly do it, but with the design chops you have quite clearly demonstrated with the beautiful-yet-deadly Galaxy Note 7 and the software knowhow to bring a useful (yet slightly obtuse with the water sounds) operating system, this could be a brave new beginning for you.
Whatever you choose, I know that Samsung will live on. But I ask one thing - be clear and humble. Attack ads always seem to bring karma-esque effects.