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When a small fire in Singapore is big news for Samsung
A small fire started in a store in Singapore this early morning. The sprinkler system detected the smoke and kicked in, extinguishing the fire within minutes. No one was injured and damage to the store was limited.
Pretty boring, huh? Perhaps something you would read about in the “Other News” section of your local newspaper? Normally yes, but the store in question wasn’t just any mall kiosk, it was a Samsung Experience Store. And tomorrow is the launch of the Galaxy S8, the biggest launch for Samsung since the Note 7 recall.
Unsurprisingly, Samsung is taking the fire incident in Singapore seriously. The company put out this terse statement:
“We were alerted to a fire at the Samsung Experience Store at AMK Hub in the early hours of Tuesday morning before store opening hours. The fire was extinguished by water sprinklers in the store and no one was injured during the incident. We are currently assessing the property damage and working closely with the authorities to determine the cause of the fire.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Fire fighters said the incident “involved contents measuring 1m by 2m in the shop’s storeroom.”
There’s no allegation – let alone evidence – that the fire started from a smartphone or other device sold in the Samsung store.
But there’s the big problem for Samsung: evidence or no evidence, people will still associate the incident with Samsung’s phones. And just about any article mentioning “Samsung” and “fire” in the same paragraph is damaging for the Korean company’s image.
The incident was already picked up by Cnet and some other websites, and you can bet that, in the build-up to the Galaxy S8 launch tomorrow, the report will make the rounds.
Samsung needs the launch of the Galaxy S8 to be flawless. People need to stop talking about random fires in Singapore; the botched Note 7; the arrest over corruption charges of Samsung’s leader; the indefinite delay of its planned restructuring; or the success of competitors like the LG G6. And the financial stakes are massive – for the first time in years, the share of high-end smartphones in Samsung’s sales dropped below 30 percent last quarter.
The good news is the Galaxy S8 shapes up to be a real gem. The bad news is, well, everything you’ve read above. The pressure at Samsung HQ must be unbearable.