WHEN Samsung Electronics announced on October 11th that it would discontinue its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, one crucial event in the history of the world’s second-biggest technology company by revenues (after Apple) sprang to mind. In 1995 Lee Kun-hee, then its boss, ordered 150,000 mobile phones burned and bulldozed in front of 2,000 weeping employees. Business partners who had received the devices as gifts from him had reported back that they did not work properly.

The South Korean auto-da-fé is said to have helped create a culture of permanent crisis at the firm, which drives employees to work incredibly hard. Now the question is how the ignominious end of the Galaxy Note 7 handset, which some hardware aficionados had called the best “phablet” (or large smartphone) ever made, will change Samsung, which is going through a leadership transition. In the midst of the crisis, the firm announced that Lee Jae-yong, the son of Mr Lee, would join the board of Samsung Electronics later this year, taking another step towards succeeding his father, who two years ago suffered a debilitating heart...Continue reading