Samsung sells millions of smartphones each year. However, more than 4 million of these smartphones are returned to the company for service each year. These stats are for the US alone. These stats were revealed in a trial this week. Timothy Sheppard, vice president of operations and finance who oversaw service and logistics said that the return rate of Samsung smartphones was between 4 to 5 million back in 2010 to 2012. Another million were brought back with broken screens.
These numbers came forward in the District Court in California at the seven-year-long patent trial against Apple. The company does claim that the rate of the returning phones has been reduced now, but these trials offer us an insight into the details that are normally hidden.
The companies don’t mind releasing this information to the public if it helps them achieve a greater goal which in this case is to reduce the patent infringement damage payment to Apple from the $1 billion suggested by Apple to their preferred $28 million.
To get that huge price cut, Samsung does not mind taking a few hits from the public. The company is trying to establish that the phones can be disassembled into components and that could minimize the costs. They are trying to persuade the judge that the profits come from components rather than the full phone. They are trying to show that the repair business is a big one and that they had to build a factory in the US to handle it.
IDC reported that Samsung sold 74 million phones in 2017 and even if 4 million phones were returned that year, it is impossible to say what fraction of the 2017 phones actually had the problems as smartphones are often used for several years.