The Failed Galaxy Fold Cost AT&T Around $77 Million

You can’t put a price tag on innovation many say, but unfortunately, AT&T can put a price tag on the Galaxy Fold failure: specifically, Ma Bell could lose $77 million behind the debacle.

That’s the word from Market Realist, who says that AT&T’s Galaxy Fold pre-orders were canceled after it was discovered that “June 13th” was a mere placeholder date for the return of Samsung’s foldable smartphone.

To appease disgruntled pre-order customers, AT&T decided to give them a $100 gift card that would arrive in 2-3 billing cycles. This $100 gift card could make its way to potentially 1% of AT&T’s 77 million postpaid customers, meaning that one of America’s fiercest carriers could spend $77 million to make customers happy.

The Galaxy Fold pre-orders were canceled at AT&T as well as Best Buy, so AT&T is not alone in order cancellations.

The Galaxy Fold was announced on February 20th at Mobile World Congress with the price tag of $1,980 and was scheduled for an April 26th release before tech reviewers started complaining of malfunctioning units. Some units were flickering on and off, then dying altogether. Some tech reviewers were peeling off a protective layer (polyamide film) they believed was nothing more than a screen protector.

Other problems came about because the hinge trapped dust, dirt, and other particles, causing the non-waterproof and non-dustproof units to suffer as a result.

Some tech reviewers said their units started going bad in just 48 hours, moving Samsung to investigate the matter. Right before the April 26th release date, Samsung recalled the initial Galaxy Fold units to look into the problems. The Korean juggernaut published a public announcement on April 23rd at YouTube: “In order to fully evaluate the feedback received so far, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold and will announce the date in the coming weeks.”

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The Galaxy Fold is one of Samsung’s most creative smartphones yet, with a patent history that dates back to 2011 when it filed the first patents for foldable screens. Samsung has been patenting its book-folding screens and the Fold’s flexible hinge since then, with a lot of money spent on R&D to perfect it.

This first Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone features a 4.6-inch phone screen that unfolds into a 7.3-inch tablet for gaming, typing notes, and productivity. Samsung’s Galaxy Note series pushed the boundaries in screen size, moving other Android OEMs and even Apple to increase its smartphone screen sizes.

The Galaxy Note series has been called the “phablet” (combo of “phone” + “tablet”), but the Galaxy Fold will bear that name when the debacle dust from the initial flawed batch of foldables settles. The reason the Galaxy Fold will bear the “phablet” name is because it is both a phone and a tablet, not “either/or.”

Samsung Electronics CEO D.J. Koh said recently that he rushed the Galaxy Fold into production before it was ready. While Samsung has received some criticism for the matter (with some comparing this debacle to that of the exploding Galaxy Note 7 from two years ago), Samsung also has some rivals trying to copy and paste its work, such as Huawei.

Huawei Technologies Co., the Shenzhen-based corporation in hot political water in the US right now, is the company trying to get its foldable Mate X to market to rival Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Huawei has filed few foldable phone patents compared to Samsung, yet is attempting to create a device on par with Samsung due to Samsung’s own research in the matter.

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Earlier, it was said that due to Samsung’s design flaws with the Galaxy Fold, Huawei wouldn’t release its own Mate X. Huawei’s upcoming MateBook has been a casualty in the US-China Trade War and the Huawei Ban, with the company deciding not to build it this year. And yet, the new word on the street is that the Mate X is entering into production and could see a Fall 2019 release.

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei has said that Huawei has had no trouble with reliance upon Chinese manufacturers in light of the earlier ban that forbade American tech companies Qualcomm, Intel, Micron, and others from doing business with the Chinese corporation.

Samsung says that its Galaxy Fold problems have been fixed and that it sees a second Fold release upon the horizon, though D.J. Koh says that it’ll all come about “in due course.”

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