Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dear Samsung CEO, It's Time To Burn Some Phones!

Chairman Lee, The Leader!

In 1995, Chairman Lee of Samsung burned 2,000 inoperable phones in a bonfire on the pavement at the company’s plant in Gumi, South Korea. 

That was bold!

That was unconventional!

That was a leadership move!

It sent a distinct message: quality matters!

A Sea of Pain

Fast forward 21 years.  Samsung is facing the same issue -- quality control. 

In fact, Samsung is in a sea of pain.  

Note 7 is going through its second recall.  Media is blasting Samsung.  

Customers are unhappy.  Employees are working nights and weekends to address issues.  

The company’s losses will be in billions dollars -- between the written down inventory, exchanges, fines, stock price drop, and lawsuits.

The Worst Part

The biggest risk that Samsung faces is not the immediate financial loss.  It is the loss of its enthusiast base, the engine of its dominance in the mobile world.  

These are people who pre-order Note 7 without even seeing it first.

These are people who take a chance and stick with Note 7 the second time around.

These are people who influence hundreds and even thousands of other consumers.  

These are the building blocks of any consumer brand.

I Love(d) My Note 7!

I love my Note 7.  Well, mostly. 

It is the perfect phone for me – both for my work and personal life.  

I love the form factor, the design, the way the stylus works, the screen, the always-on clock, the fantastic battery life, the waterproof feature.

I was OK with some performance lag compared to Note 5.

I was even willing to live with an occasional overheating problem, as long as it was safe.

Not OK!

I am not OK with the way Samsung responded to my overheating complaints.  

Two phone calls in between recalls were met with complete dismissal from Samsung reps.

I am not OK with not being able to use my phone on flights.  

I am not OK about worrying that my Note 7 may hurt my kids if they occasionally use it.

And I am not OK with a $100 credit offer if I buy another Samsung device.  I find it offensive. Enthusiasts that can afford to pre-order a high-end device like Note 7 are not driven by a pitiful handout. They are driven by technology and brand loyalty.  

Dear Samsung CEO, Time To "Burn Phones" again!

Samsung has a unique window of opportunity to turn the negative momentum into a positive one!  But that requires leadership and a bold action.  Just like Chairman Lee did in 1995.

My advice: Give free Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge phones to people who are going through the second return. 

As a gift.  

As an apology for going through two returns.  

As an apology for separating them from the phone they loved.  

As an apology for the jokes they endure from people they influenced.  

As a thank you for being a brand champion! 

As a way to get the defective Note 7 handsets off people's hands and limit liability.

As a way to stop the negative press and ignite and wildfire of positive coverage.

As a pay forward gesture that will pay off 100x in the near future, when it's time to buy Galaxy S8, or Note 8, or a Smart Refrigerator, or a 75-inch Curved 4K TV.

Because nobody has done anything in that magnitude before.

Because your brand champions will never forget it. And when it comes for a brand choice, they will remember the values Samsung stands for.

Calling for Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon!