Samsung first introduced the Galaxy Note back in 2011 during IFA in Berlin. It took a risk introducing a smartphone with what felt like a massive 5.3-inch display. Today, that screen size is pretty common. Samsung invented the mainstream “phablet smartphone,” and the Galaxy Note family went on to be a huge success for the brand.
Then the Galaxy Note 7 launched.
It was, at first, unanimously praised by reviewers for its next-generation specs including an iris scanner, a gorgeous glass and aluminum design, water-resistance capabilities, amazing S Pen functions and more. It was truly the phone to beat this year and, as I argued earlier, a device even Apple couldn’t top in 2016.
Then units started to catch fire in people’s homes and cars. Samsung issued a recall, replaced many of the faulty devices in circulation, and press forward. Then one such “safe” Galaxy Note 7 caught fire on a Southwest Airlines plane. Before the week was up, five other incidents had been reported. Samsung has since killed off the Galaxy Note 7.
That begs the question: should Samsung kill the Galaxy Note brand forever? Should it instead adopt something new, like Edge Pro?
I don’t think so.
The Note Brand
Samsung’s Galaxy Note brand had a good run for five years, establishing itself in people’s minds as the one brand from Samsung that has all of the latest technology. The smartphone that ships with a pen. The branding was so good, in fact, that other companies adopted it, too. Xiaomi, for example, sells its own line of “Note” smartphones in China.
Another name might help wash away the sour taste the Galaxy Note 7 left in our mouths this year, but I think Samsung can get away using the moniker for the Galaxy Note 8. The phone will no doubt launch a year from now, long after the dust has settled. Dedicated Samsung fans are either sticking with the brand or not – they’re buying Galaxy S7 Edges, waiting for the Galaxy S8 or, inevitably, just holding out for the Note 8.
Galaxy S8 Pro?
A switch in name could be confusing for consumers. If Samsung adopted “Galaxy S8 Pro,” for example, consumers might not quite understand that’s the model that ships with an S Pen. Samsung would have to start from scratch. Plus, the “Note” brand perfectly sums up what you were getting in the box, a device that also doubles as a notepad, and consumers are already used to that.
I also think consumers understand that products fail. Cars are recalled, for example, and yet we still shop for new model-year vehicles from brands that have been unsafe in the past. If we know an automaker has made safety a top priority, it regains our trust.
Samsung needs to work to gain our trust, but I don’t think that will come at the cost of a simple name change. The Galaxy S8 needs to launch without issue, for example, and Samsung needs to show us that it’s testing its products more diligently, staying on top of supply chain partners and working with third-parties to make sure the phones don’t pose a risk. It may have done some of this in the past, so I agree with a recent article in The Wall Street Journal that calls for new regulations on smartphone batteries, too.
Give me a Note 8
I want Samsung to bounce back from this. The Galaxy Note 7 might have been an epic failure, but it was a failure that seems to be the result of Samsung trying to meet the many demands of consumers. I think it was reckless, but I also don’t think Samsung did this on purpose. It tried to innovate and, perhaps, moved too quickly. There’s no need to kill the brand.
I’d buy a Note 8, would you?