About a year ago Samsung made news headlines when one of its smartphone batteries randomly caught fire in a man’s pocket. Now the electronics giant is confirming one of its data center facilities in South Korea went up in flames on Sunday.
The small disaster has led to consumer service outages, but will it harm the company’s reputation in the smartphone industry?
First, the facts: Samsung SDS, an information and communication technology (ICT) service provider, operates the data centers where the fire broke out at about 12:20 p.m., according to the Korea Herald. The fire reportedly started on the fourth floor of a data center located in Gwacheon, Geyeonggi Province, before spreading to floors above.
The Herald reports the fire charred an outer wall of the building and offices inside. Although there were no casualties, news reports indicate a subcontract worker was injured when one of the data center's walls collapsed.
Smart TV Services Outage
In a blog post, Samsung explained that the fire started in the uninterruptable power supply for the extension generator outside. After the fire, Samsung shut down its ICT centers and servers to minimize damage.
Samsung identified several services affected by the fire, including Samsung Card, which bills itself as Korea’s biggest credit card company, some Internet phone services, and some hosting services. The company apologized for the incident. In its official statement Samsung SDS officials said, “We will fully cooperate with the authorities to figure out the exact cause of the fire and the level of damage.”
The company said the fire did not affect smart TV services abroad, according to TheInsideKorea.com, but several U.S. news reports insist the fire interrupted services to Samsung devices, including Smart TV with SmartHub, smartphones and Blu-ray players. If the service required Internet connectivity, such as Samsung’s mobile apps store, access was not available Sunday morning but has since been restored, according to consumers posting on Twitter.
The Lesson Learned
We caught up with Rob Enderle, a principal analyst at the Enderle Group, to get his take on how this might impact Samsung’s reputation for reliability.
Will the outage cause some to doubt the quality of the electronic giant’s online services? Enderle told us it is doubtful because the fire and resulting downtime were minor, impacting some Smart TV buyers but not running across all services.
Still, there is a lesson in the fire.
“It will likely showcase that Samsung needs a better plan for disasters and should result in more robust services in the future. So it could actually turn out to be beneficial long-term as Samsung should be better able to handle local problems as a result in the future,” Enderle said. “To have lasting impact an outage has to be broadly painful for an extended -- several-day period -- and this hasn't yet reached that level.”