Sales of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 were expected to catch fire. Instead, the phones themselves did.
The Korean smartphone giant Friday announced that it was halting sales of the new device, and issued an unprecedented recall of the devices worldwide, after reports of phone battery explosions began to surface. It's a major stumble for the company, as early buzz around the Galaxy Note 7 sparked hopes that it would help revitalize Samsung's flagging mobile business.
"In response to recently reported cases of the new Galaxy Note 7, we conducted a thorough investigation and found a battery cell issue," the company said in a statement. "To date (as of September 1) there have been 35 cases that have been reported globally and we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market."
The recall — the first-ever for a top-selling smartphone like the Galaxy — comes two weeks after the Galaxy Note 7 went on sale, and less than a week before Apple is expected to introduce the new iPhone 7. Earlier this week, prior to issuing the recall, Samsung was forced to delay shipments of the phone to cell phone carriers as it investigated the issue with its suppliers.
It's a sharp reversal of fortune for Samsung, which in late August had the happier problem of struggling to meet the unexpectedly high demand for the phone. Based on surprisingly strong reviews from the tech press, the company set lofty expectations for how the Note 7 would perform.
In the last month, Samsung's share price was moving steadily upward until the combusting battery issue came to light. It has since slipped more than 5 percent from its $1,519.70 (1,687,000 South Korean Won) peak on August 23.
Samsung added in today's statement that it will start to "voluntarily replace [customers'] current device with a new one over the coming weeks."