We carefully curate books that will take you for a spin once you read them. Such books don’t explain medicine or health as we know it per se: they devour part of your understanding as they shine a light unto the globe and the way you ought to visualise it. Once again, our book of the week is… Geoffrey Cain’s Samsung Rising: The Inside Story Of A South Korean Giant That Set Out To Beat Apple And Conquer Tech.
We’ve extracted an excerpt in chapter one and if it fascinates you; buy the entire book from a few links below.
THE GALAXY NOTE 7 had been a source of trouble for two months in South Korea, the United States, and around the world. But everyone had assumed the problem had been resolved. Since late August, Samsung had documented ninety-two instances of its new, much-heralded Galaxy Note
7 device overheating in the hands and homes and cars of its customers. A number of them caught fire thanks to what Samsung claimed were faulty batteries.
After three weeks of stumbling and stammering around the faulty device, Samsung had begun to recall the Galaxy Note 7s in the United States. As the company had advised, Brian Green had exchanged his new Note 7 at the AT&T store two weeks before his flight.
Green had studied the replacement phone and its packaging carefully. All indications on Samsung’s packaging were that the device was safe to use. The box was marked with a black square, indicating a replacement device rather than an original Note 7. When he punched the new phone’s IMEI—a unique fifteen-digit number on every device—into Samsung’s
recall eligibility website, he got this recorded response: “Great News! Your device is NOT in the list of affected devices.”
After the evacuation, Brian called Samsung’s customer service line. “I did everything I was supposed to,” he explained to the Samsung rep. “This was a recalled phone.” The rep patched his message into a ticketing system. Green wondered when he’d hear back from Samsung. The company was slow to treat the incident as a public safety issue. Instead, when journalists followed up on the incident, the company sounded sceptical that the phone was at fault.
“Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note 7,” company representatives wrote to journalists repeatedly.
Investigators from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the federal agency whose job it is to test faulty and dangerous products, saw things differently. They initiated decisive and unusually strong legal measures. Citing “exigent circumstances,” CPSC investigators obtained a
court subpoena and seized Green’s phone from the Louisville Fire Department the day after the fire. The team drove it to a laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland, where they got to work on an urgent succession of tests. The gravity of the situation was becoming clearer. It’s one thing for a company to issue a recall. It’s another for that same company to reissue replacement products—labelled safe—that continue to pose a severe danger to the public.
While Samsung remained unmoved by the public inquiry, thirteen years- old Abby Zuis was picking up her siblings two days later at North Trail Elementary School in Farmington, Minnesota. Playing with her replacement Galaxy Note 7, she suddenly felt a strange burning sensation
on her hand, “like pins and needles,” she recalled, “except a lot more intense.”
Her immediate reflex was to throw the phone on the floor—thankfully with no more than a burn mark on her thumb. The school principal raced forward and kicked the smouldering device out of the building.
“I’m glad it was in my hand and not my pocket,” Zuis told the media later. “We thought we were safe with the new phone,” her father said.
MICHAEL KLERING AND HIS wife woke up at 4:00 A.M. in his Kentucky home to a hissing noise. “The whole room just covered in smoke smells awful,” Klering told a local radio station. “I look over and my phone is on fire.” Later that day, Klering started vomiting black fluid; he checked in to
the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with acute bronchitis. Doctors determined that he suffered from smoke inhalation.
A Samsung representative contacted Klering and asked him to return the Note 7. Klering refused. Then he received a text message sent accidentally to him by a Samsung employee.
“I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter,” the text read, “or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it.”
Klering was aghast. What the heck was going on?
Get yourself a copy of Samsung Rising from Walmart or any online book store of your choice.
You can as well, listen to Samsung Rising as an audiobook from the Audible App.