A Smartphone Sales Story

I sold my sister’s T-Mobile HTC One M9 today. Nan lives in Vermont, where Verizon delivers consistently better coverage and where the market for a used smartphone is much smaller than here in San Diego. The buyer had previously owned the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which she really enjoyed. While waiting until late November or early December for her matte black iPhone 7 Plus order, the woman has a Samsung Galaxy J7 loaner and hates it. She is familiar with the M9 because her mom owns one.

This lady is the fifth person I’ve met in just a few days who had bought Note 7. They’re everywhere—and a sorry lot of disappointment, too. Every one switched to an iPhone. What? Has no one read reviews claiming Google’s Pixel handsets are the Android iPhones everyone waited for? 

Deep disappointment doesn’t anywhere describe the emotions evoked by my unscientific sample of five. Galaxy Note 7 was Samsung’s flagship for a reason. The measure of buyers’ device depression is the height of short-lived satisfaction. “Love it, lose it” is a bad feeling—and the stick by which to assess the length of Samsung’s brand damage.

Only last week, the South Korean manufacturer permanently discontinued Note 7, which launched on sale August 2nd. That’s about 70 days in the market, without factoring sales disruption during the first recall. So the wounds are fresh for many buyers.

“Relief” is another response. Three other people I know who chose Galaxy S7 all express relief they didn’t buy the Note. One of them only chose the smaller smartphone because the Samsung flagship was sold out that day and he needed to replace another device right away.  He’s a gadget geek who admits to device envy when passing up Note 7 and now real relief for his luck. Yeah, and some people with tickets missed sailing on Titanic, too.

I wonder, for the “love it, lose it” crowd, how much the five stages of grieving—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—apply. The woman I met today was angry about her J7 loaner compared to ever-so briefly finger-carassessing Galaxy Note 7 and eyeing its remarkable beauty. Are all carriers doing like T-Mobile? Advice: Don’t hand out temp gadgets to device grievers that is much less than their beloved Note.

The M9 buyer says she uses a smartphone for business—so her frustration is much greater than loving and losing. At least the HTC is a known quantity, and she uttered delight upon starting up with the SIM card. 🙂

I captured the photo using iPhone 7 Plus. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/40 sec, 3.99mm. The original was color, and I applied B&W filter after cropping.

Editor’s Note: A version of this story appears on BetaNews.