Don’t ever dismiss the power of a comeback.
It’s a force as strong as a tornado (or a hurricane, depending on where you live).
Entire movie franchises focus on comeback stories–the down-and-out boxer who picks himself up off the mat, the awkward high-schooler who makes everyone pay.
In the startup world, look no further than a scrappy little startup called Apple that made their own rebound once. On the ropes and losing favor with consumers, some argue that it was one Super Bowl commercial in 1984 (fun trivia fact–it ran once at the end of 1983 as well to qualify for an award) that caused a major resurgence.
Now, there’s a new company on the ropes.
Samsung had perhaps the worst moment in the history of gadgets last fall. News started spreading about a smartphone that couldslowly swell, turn red, and then burst into flames. When you board a plane these days, there’s usually an announcement about not bringing the Note 7 on board. I witnessed what can happen when you do. A passenger slowly raised her hand (thankfully before the doors were shuttered) and said she had one. They escorted her out of the plane. That’s never good in terms of branding.
For most companies, a comeback is like the fuel you need to propel a brand forward. According to reports, Samsung has tested 100,000 pre-release versions of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ to make sure they don’t overheat. They have an eight-point safety check, and there’s a new design that looks like it provides enough space for a new battery but then curves in at the edges. (We’ll see if the battery stays cool next month.)
As I mentioned yesterday, the phone lets you connect to a desktop monitor, keyboard and mouse and use desktop apps like Microsoft Office and Adobe Lightroom, check your email, and browse the web. It’s like a Chromebook Pixel that fits in your pocket. A new assistant named Bixby lets you change just about any setting on the phone. Meanwhile, on the Google Pixel smartphone, you can ask the bot to change a few settings and turn on the flashlight, but not every setting. Apple Siri is probably cowering in a corner somewhere–that bot is starting to look seriously outdated.
And then there’s this fact: Despite all of the problems last fall, Samsung is on a roll financially. If you are an Apple employee, investor, or happen to have any interest in the company whatsoever, don’t go visit the Google Finance page for Samsung and look at their stock summary for the past few years. I strongly advise against it if you want to stay happy the rest of the day. Take your hand and put it at an angle pointing up at the sky. Since 2014, Samsung has rocked the charts. They are massive.
Now think about how this Korean monolith might be interested in recapturing public sentiment. Think about how Apple has seen a serious decline in iPad sales. (According to one Adobe Analytics report, there’s been a 19% drop in tablet use since 2014.) Think about how long the iPhone has reigned supreme–and whether that reign will run its course.
I’m not partial to the Samsung smartphones–I’ll use whatever gadget makes the most sense for a given situation. I’m platform agnostic. But you have to wonder if this new Galaxy S8 model might be the one that makes Apple nervous, and might be the one that dethrones the king.
Comeback stories are always interesting. You have something to prove. You want to show the world that a prior pitfall is not going to define you anymore. You want to rise above the ashes of a previous failure (sorry, that’s a little too apt in this case).
I have some personal experience with comebacks. I spent 10 years working in the corporate world, and after 9/11 found myself unemployed and trying to find a new career. That was 16 years ago this fall. I’ve spent that time making a rebound. It can propel you in ways that other motivations never could, pushing you forward for decades to come.
Apple might want to pay attention to this one.