Good news for a change from Samsung? Yes, it’s possible.
For months, Samsung Electronics has been synonymous with bad tidings. Prior to Wednesday’s introduction of the Galaxy S8 smartphone in New York, it had been one steady drumbeat. Combustible Galaxy Note 7 devices.
Samsung’s flagship smartphone could go a long way toward making people forget about imploding phones.
On Friday, Samsung Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun apologized for the smartphone maker. “I apologize once again for the mistake with the Note 7 last year,” he said. “It was a failure that arose from trying new technology.”
On Wednesday, Samsung is betting a franchise product changes the corporate narrative. Analysts say the S8 should give Samsung a jump on rival Apple, which is expected to unveil a major refresh to the iPhone in September. Samsung skipped a phone launch at Mobile World Congress earlier this month, where it typically makes a splash, letting rival LG Electronics steal some of the limelight with its water-resistant G6 Android phone.
Wednesday marked Samsung’s first major smartphone announcement since the ill-fated Note 7 in August.
“It’s obviously been a tough few months for Samsung,” says Jan Dawson, head of Jackdaw Research. “Samsung could really use some big news that generates excitement and positive coverage. The S8 launch is the best near-term opportunity.”
The phone is already generating buzz with a new voice-driven digital assistant named Bixby, modeled on artificial intelligence and pre-installed with apps. Indeed, Samsung’s stock reached a record high in March thanks to strong semiconductor sales and the possibility of a major corporate restructuring.
Samsung also has the advantage of being an enormous company (revenue $179 billion in 2016) not wholly dependent on the sales of handheld devices. It boasts a constellation of consumer-technology divisions (high-definition TVs, semiconductors, Internet of Things devices, appliances) in addition to smartphones, which account for a third to half of Samsung’s consumer-electronics business.