Nokia was presented with an opportunity to do some guerrilla marketing tactics. Samsung’s policy on returned smartphones requires visual documentation as part of the process of replacement. Customers have been reporting problems with Samsung’s Galaxy S4, mostly with the Android 4.3 update, citing malware, which is hard to prove visually. However, with enough complaints, they were forced to look into that problem.
Well, problems with the S4 took a sinister turn when a customer posted a YouTube video documenting damage to his smartphone from having caught fire while charging. The device was in his possession for a couple of months and the damage done was extensive, nearly affecting the lithium ion battery. These batteries are standard fare for laptops, smartphones and tablets but present a particular nasty hazard.
Lithium ion batteries contain circuitry to prevent overcharging. Should this circuitry become damaged or start out faulty from the manufacturer, it has a chance to produce “thermal runaway”, a chemical process that builds up to a point where the battery catches fire. The heat produced is intense and can even cause the battery to explode, spewing hot fragments across the room, much like a miniature fragmentation grenade.
So, armed with the video and the warranty, the customer sought to have the S4 replaced. Instead of a straightforward replacement process, he received a letter with stipulations on the replacement, including pulling the video from YouTube and agreeing to nondisclosure of the incident. This seems to point a finger at the possibility that this hadn’t been the first time such an incident occurred.
Indeed, at least two reports had surfaced; one in which a man’s home burned down, also damaging his car as a result of his Galaxy catching fire. A second report has a man’s Galaxy spontaneously combusting inside his jacket pocket, burning his chest, fingers and lips when it exploded while he was in the process of trying to remove the phone from his person.
The YouTube video and Samsung’s response to the customer turned into the perfect opportunity for Nokia to practice a bit of guerrilla marketing tactics. Nokia USA offered to replace the Galaxy with their own Lumia, with a tweet that said: “@ghostlyrich we want to help you out. Let me send you a Nokia Lumia so you can experience how customer service should ‘really’ work.” With Nokia close to releasing its Android based smartphone in 2014, perhaps this product promotion was right on time.
Nokia has been manufacturing Windows Phone for Microsoft but have been working on producing an Android phone in the low to mid-range price zone because of Microsoft’s lukewarm approach to lowering its prices. Perhaps that’s why they sold their handset business to Microsoft, with the deal set to be finalized in 2014.
The Android based phones, codename: Normandy, so far still set for release, seems a really odd move because of Microsoft’s acquisition. Chances are it won’t survive the process. Microsoft has been known to shoot itself in the foot from time to time. For example, how it handles its HALO franchise, most of it exclusive to XBOX, ignoring PC gamers running Microsoft’s own operating system. Imagine the lost revenues resulting from that marketing decision.
So where next will Nokia have the chance to demonstrate some guerrilla marketing tactics such as the one with the YouTube customer? Hard to tell since they are bowing out of the handset business.
Editorial by Lee Birdine