Samsung is completely halting production of the troubled Galaxy Note 7 smartphone following a rash of fires and explosions in the replacement models it issued.
A spokeswoman for Samsung confirmed the decision to The Washington Post by phone, saying it was being done for the safety of consumers worldwide.
Earlier Monday it had urged consumers to power down and stop using the phones entirely while it investigates the problems that have plagued the phones since their release in August and the replacement phones that were issued after a first round of fires.
The decision marks one of the most disastrous rollouts of a new tech product in years. The model was supposed to be Samsung’s effort to eclipse Apple’s iPhone, which recently released the iPhone 7. At least eight to 10 fires have been reported in the replacement models made by the South Korean electronics giant.
The latest was among the scariest.
Dee Decasa of Honolulu was actually visiting the Samsung website on her new replacement Galaxy Note 7 on Sunday and taking a screen shot, reports the Honolulu Star Advertiser, when her model blew up in her hand.
“Then boom, there was like a pop. I had it in my hand and then smoke started spewing out, this green yucky thing,” she told the paper.
She said she screamed to summon her husband, who held out an aluminum pan into which she deposited her phone, which, she told the paper, was still sizzling when a police officer arrived responding to their 911 call.
Apparently Samsung decided enough was enough.
On Monday, Samsung called a halt to the Galaxy Note 7.
First it urged consumers to power down and stop using the device, or more accurately, the devices, since it was referring to both the original smartphone and the replacement version, both plagued by reports of fires and explosions emanating from their batteries.
The a company statement said it “will ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges” of the phone — something carriers had already done after the latest incidents of melting down devices — while it works to “resolve the situation.”
Finally, a few hours later, the company confirmed reports in the South Korean press that it was halting production entirely, and probably permanently.
It was already clear that carriers want little or nothing more to do with what was once touted as the Samsung model that would finally take down Apple’s iPhone.
It’s “by far the biggest concern I’ve seen in cellphones during my tenure,” Lowell McAdam, Verizon chief executive, told a conference in California on Monday. “I certainly, in however many years it’s been now, have not seen a recall like this. … I think [Samsung’s] a little surprised the fix didn’t fix things. So it’s a major black eye for them.
“As I said to [Apple CEO] Tim Cook the other day, they’ve got pretty good karma because they launched the iPhone 7 when they did.”
“We’ll give you a device of your choice versus another Note 7 — it’s just not safe at this point,” he also said Monday.
The other potential beneficiary, as The Post’s Hayley Tsukayama reported, is Google, which has just launched its own smartphones using its Android operating system, the same operating system that powers the Galaxy Note 7 and other Samsung devices.
The Korean newspaper, Hankyoreh, first reported that Samsung would “likely stop selling” the smartphones “permanently.”
There have been at least eight reports of fires in the models Samsung issued to replace the first batch of Galaxy Note 7s, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
Samsung is by no means going out of the phone business. Indeed, reported the Los Angeles Times, the Note model makes up just 10 percent of Samsung’s phone shipments. It markets some 80 other models globally, which remain popular.
Plus, people become wedded to their cellphone brands.
“It’s a big psychological shift,” Tuong Nguyen of the consulting firm Gartner told the Times. “If your automatic car breaks down, you’re not going to suddenly shift to a stick shift.”