04 March 2017
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The Battery Lottery - Part 2

I left us yesterday with a tantalizing yet unresolved asterisk, and a question: Why did I unlimber the new <alternate fact> HTML tag with regard to my cellphone acquisition exploits. And why was the title "The Battery Lottery"?

Simple! I'm playing the Battery Lottery even as I type this.

My odds are good or bad, depending on how you look at it. Behold the Note Brothers

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2, 4, and 7, on a bed of iPad Air

On the left, the venerable Note II. He fancies Roman numerals. Center, find the stolid Note 4, my mainstay. To his right, the bad boy in the family, the Note 7. Mr. Note 7 is endowed with many new and attractive features and has a lot to recommend him. He's even blue. Sadly, he's a little volatile, and, in today's jargon, he "needs help." He can explode at any moment.

OK, enough with the anthropomorphism. Depending on when you're reading this, and how avidly you follow gadgetry, you may remember that the Samsung Note 7 was found, shortly after initial shipment to end users such as myself, to have a serious flaw. The battery on random phones would explode, much to the owner's consternation. Other than that, it was a great phone! I started reading stories about this, realized that this consternation could be visited on me. and panicked. I immediately removed the phone from my back pocket and put it in a bucket of water. OK, I did no such thing. I know you're on to my <FICTION> tag, so I created a whole sentence's worth of suspense by omitting it. In fact, after reading the articles, I decided to play the Battery Lottery. I loved the phone, and felt that the odds of my particular battery exploding were close to nil. For the next week or so I would brandish the phone at every opportunity in an attempt to terrify the innumerate.

Although I didn't panic, it seems that Samsung and their partners did. Verizon, ATT, and the lot probably felt that losing even a tiny percentage of postpaid customers to flaming death was too many, and started working on a recall program. The idea was to replace the Samsung Note 7 cellphones having potentially exploding batteries with Samsung Note 7 cellphones containing batteries that would NOT explode. The executives who came up with this are very well paid, and their plan seemed rational to me. I called Verizon to request a replacement phone, and they were pleased to provide it. I happen to remember that I made my request on a Friday, and I was to receive the phone the following week.


The Friday I ordered my phone was the day before the weekend that Samsung announced that - sorry - the replacement phones had exploding batteries, too. Whoopsie. Would I please return all my Note 7 phones? We'll give you a refund. As you might infer from the photo above, my answer was "No." I still love my Note 7 and don't expect the battery to explode. If it does, and if I live, I promise I'll update this blogitem. I have thus far managed to escape loading the software "update" that is designed to render my phone useless. As I mentioned previously, the ability to make phone calls is probably the product's least important feature, so I'm going to hold out until I can get a replacement at least as good and, preferably, blue.

Two Months Later

Samsung finally released a report explaining the entire fiasco. It seems that the first lot of phones had batteries that exploded made by one manufacturer. The replacement phones, whose batteries exploded for an entirely different reason, were made by a different manufacturer. Unfortunately, the repercussions were severe. It cost Samsung five billion dollars, approximately, as well as good will, and their competitive position vis a vis Apple, whose batteries haven't been exploding. Yet.

Did I Mention Replaceable Batteries?

I'm sure I did. Apple's failure to provide this feature cost them my custom long ago, and Samsung's failure to do so has, so far, cost them $5 billion. All, so far as I can tell, in a successful but foolish effort to make their phones a tiny bit thinner. Do you believe the manufacturers will rethink the advantage of this supposed feature?

<FICTION> Of course they will. </FICTION>

What About That Unresolved Asterisk?

Here you go...

* There is a (potentially) really exciting development in compact cameras. I'll let the Light Company tell you about it. For me, this would be the killer hardware app for a cellphone. Whichever manufacturer makes it available first, even if it's Apple, will likely turn me into a customer.

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