In re-run of Apple debacle, Samsung apologises in China after state media criticism

Michael Kan
25 October, 2013
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Months after Apple apologised to consumers in China, Korean rival Samsung is doing the same after the country’s state media criticised the vendor for failing to fix glitches in several of its phone models.“We welcome the scrutiny from the media,” Samsung posted to its China websiteon Wednesday. “Due to problems with management that brought inconvenience to our customers, the company expresses its sincerest of apologies.”Earlier this week, the country’s state-controlled China Central Television aired a 30-minute segment that put a spotlight on flaws found in Samsung phones. The affected models include handsets which are part of Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and Note 2 product line.

According to CCTV’s report, a software glitch in the phones can permanently damage a memory chip within the device’s motherboard. This can cause the phone to frequently crash, from 20 to 30 times a day, according to one Galaxy S3 owner interviewed in the segment.

Samsung, however, refused to properly acknowledge the problem, CCTV claimed in its report. Instead, the company said the glitch could be fixed with a software update, rather than replacing the phone’s hardware.

In response, Samsung issued an apology on Wednesday, and said it would offer free repairs or replace phones with persistent problems. In addition, all affected phone models will receive another year of warranty protection, regardless of whether they showed any glitches.

The flaws in the phones could be unique to the Chinese market. Samsung said the problems stem from certain local third party apps installed on the handsets. These unspecified apps cause the phone’s application processor and memory to overrun when ‘waking up’, and will continue to contact servers even when in ‘sleep’ mode.

“This issue can be prevented through a simple firmware over-the-air (FOTA) software update,” the company said in an email.

Samsung is just the latest tech company to be scrutinised by China’s state press. In March, Apple faced similar criticism over its warranty policies, which CCTV alleged treated US customers more favourably than those in China.

Apple later apologised in April, and made changes to its policies.

Other foreign companies have also been targets. This past week, Starbucks has been defending itself after CCTV criticised the company for pricing its coffee products higher in China than in the US.

China’s state press will regularly scrutinise companies, both foreign and domestic, as a way to regulate them, according to analysts. Apple and Samsung are two of the largest smartphone vendors in the country.

by Michael Kan, IDG News Service

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