Robert Stephens | October 26, 2016
This week, we explore brands. Some good, some bad, and some ugly. But in all cases, the product is the sum of public perceptions. Reputation is everything. It can kill a shiny new smartphone, make a legend of a loner, and even sustain or destroy journalism. Read on …
Not what we wanted when we asked for a burner phone
The Galaxy Note 7 may be one of the costliest consumer tech failures ever. Over a period of two months, the product went from being heralded as Samsung’s most advanced smartphone to being removed from the market.
How did this happen? Let’s take a look at the timeline.
In an effort to get to get the jump on its arch-rival Apple, the South Korean company apparently rushed the device into production. Within days of its launch on August 19, reports began to circulate about the phones overheating and bursting into flames.
By early September, Samsung executives decided that they had to do something quickly, and so they announced a recall. The strategy seemed sound as most customers opted for a Note 7 replacement, indicating they still had faith in the product.
But then the unthinkable. Some of the replacement units were also flawed, with consumers complaining about exploding batteries and fires even in these updated handsets. Claims that the company was fixing the problem seemed no longer credible. On Oct. 11, Samsung finally pulled the plug and permanently halted sales and production.
Here’s a quick overview of the debacle:
Source: CNN Money
Already, the company is predicting that the recall will cost $5 billion. In addition, its stock has crashed, wiping $20 billion off Samsung’s valuation.
But an even bigger worry for the phone giant is the extent of the damage to the Samsung brand. The flammable phones and the botched recall have scorched its reputation. Will Samsung be able to restore consumer trust and confidence in its products before the launch of its next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, expected in February?
Bob Dylan, the 2016 Nobel Laureate in Literature, hasn’t said a word about winning the award.
And for Per Wastberg, a member of the Swedish Academy that presents the award, Dylan’s failure to express even a modicum of gratitude is “rude and arrogant”.
That’s Bob. Even been to his concerts? He regularly turns his back on his audiences, hardly acknowledges them, and couldn’t care less for the ticket-paying fans who still come to his performances.
But that’s Bob. In spite of his famously aloof, utterly anti-social persona, he is still a towering figure who will be remembered for chronicling a (now aging) generation and penning its anthems.
Dylan is 75, and if he wants to snub the Nobel Prize, we’re down with it. After all, it’s perfect. One of the snobbiest of songwriters thumbing his nose at one of the snootiest honours in the world.
As the bard wrote, there are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
Postmedia, appropriately named
Hemorrhaging red ink, Postmedia is desperately trying to stanch the losses by cutting even further into its employee count.
The newspaper chain is aiming to shed 20% of its salary costs through voluntary buyouts. Staff have until November 8 to apply for the buyouts. If the target isn’t met, then layoffs are likely.
Earlier this year, Postmedia slashed 90 jobs and merged newsrooms in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa in an effort to lower its expenses by $80 million. This latest announcement is incremental to that effort.
For this fiscal year ended Aug. 31, Postmedia lost $352 million, compared to a loss of $263 million a year earlier. The worsening financial picture is due to steep declines in print advertising and subscriptions.
How deep can the media company cut before it cripples itself? “You don’t know when you’re cutting through the bone until you’ve done it,” CEO Paul Godfrey said in an interview.
Now there’s a statement that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Even journalists have to eat
This 159-year-old magazine will be giving its online readers a choice. Visitors to the site who use an ad blocker will see a message offering two options – either whitelist The Atlantic, or purchase an ad-free subscription.
Seems reasonable to us. Good journalism is NOT free. Those who want access to the magazine without having to pay for it should be willing to accept ads. Those who want the editorial content without the ads should be happy to fork out a few bucks.
“The same technological evolution that helped us reach new audiences has also made it possible for people to restrict our revenue with the use of ad blockers,” explains the magazine’s head of business development. “For our publication to continue to grow and be sustainable, we need to create an environment where readers can accept and feel good about ads alongside our work—or else support it in alternative ways.”
We hope this approach is supported by The Atlantic’s readers, and that it proves to be a viable solution for publishers who are struggling to keep their magazines and newspapers afloat in a world where consumers have come to expect news and analysis to be available on demand and at no cost.