People Innovation Excellence

What’s Behind Samsung’s Phone Fires?

There’s never a good time for a corporation to get a black eye, but now is a particularly bad time for Korea’s Samsung. The company’s recall of 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, and its shutdown of sales and production also call attention to its recent recalls of other, unrelated products.

“What was remarkable here was that this was the world’s leading company for batteries and for consumer electronics,” says Cosmin Laslau, an electrochemistry expert and technology analyst for Lux Research. “It doesn’t get much more high profile than this.”

Though only 35 fires have been reported so far, one’s enough to ruin your whole day. A single blazing battery grounded a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners some years back—one reason why in September, air safety regulators told people to shut off their Galaxy phones before packing them for a flight.

Right now, nobody in or out of Samsung really knows what’s going on. Investigations of the fires are still unpublished, but today Bloomberg News reports that Samsung has told Korea’s technology standards agency that the problem may involve a manufacturing error. According to that confidential note,…[Read more]


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