Despite all the incredibly ‘over-the-top’ bad press, marked by condescension and some derision on the part of some of the tech reviewers of early units of Samsung Galaxy Fold that broke, Samsung is keeping up with its launch on April 26. Somewhere in the era of ‘instant gratification’, cynicism overrides everything else.
The Galaxy Fold is an experimental device, that Samsung has taken a massive bet on, with significant R&D investments to develop the folding displays. Instead of celebrating innovation, pundits are deriding it. New innovation is fraught with risks, and product maturity is attained after several iterative cycles. In the case of Galaxy Fold, it has attained some acceptable level of maturity in its first generation itself. Yet, rather appallingly, some pundits have termed the Galaxy Fold ‘a failure’ and the ‘worst possible start’ to foldable revolution.
As such, the scales for Samsung are very, very high. In fact, for Samsung, the Galaxy Fold remains its biggest test ever to win back consumer confidence and trust, after Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, and the millions of devices that Samsung had to recall. The failure of Note 7 propelled Samsung to completely redesign its battery system.
Innovator companies, such as Samsung, rarely rest, and failures push them to strive harder. While it may seem like a rather perilous move from Samsung to stick to its official launch date, this is bold thinking from Samsung. Priced at $1980, the Samsung Galaxy Fold is a pathbreaking innovation, that could redefine the smartphone industry. The Samsung Galaxy is not intended to be a volume driver in its first outing. And, it does have the potential to break the past many years of slow sales, and incremental product innovation cycles that the smartphone industry was stuck in. Justifiably, the pre-orders of the Samsung Fold have sold out online.
Coming back to what the journalists have termed as “Foldgate”. We do not know the extent of the problems yet, if any, and cannot passing a sweeping commentary, for or against. For instance, it is not known if the fault is with only some of the early units, or with many other soon-to-be available commercial devices.
Samsung, on its part, has promised to check each, and every single faulty review unit. It also issued a statement, stressing the importance of the ‘top protective layer’, designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches, and cautioning about damage, stemming from removal of the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display. Samsung has vowed to ‘ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.’
The early buyers of the Samsung Galaxy Fold would chiefly comprise of early technology adopters. These are buyers who like to be ahead of the curve, and who completely understand the inherent risks of new innovations.
As such, Samsung should
- definitely put the warning around ‘protective screen wrap’ in bold, bright colors, and in large fonts, inside the box.
- proactively reach out to those who have pre-ordered the Fold, and sensitize them on the issues, the protective cover, and how to handle the device.
Such a move by Samsung, in turn, would help potential buyers to rise, and go beyond the ‘noise’ and enjoy the device for themselves. The Fold remains an exciting possibility, and one with real potential for market success over the long-term.
Update: 22 April, 2019
Earlier today, Samsung ‘reportedly’ cancelled two of its pre-launch events in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
With the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Samsung has taken an audacious attempt at reimagining the smartphone. The odds are so high that Samsung needs to iron out all creases before the official launch. It is very prudent and mature on Samsung’s part to postpone the launch, and relook at all issues: hardware as well as customer advisory.
Later in the day, Samsung issued the following statement, in line with my thoughts earlier: