Do Exploding Samsungs Signal Market Failure?

Most people are happy to accept the inconvenience, send their device back, await repairs, and decide whether to continue their consumership with Samsung or seek alternatives.

If you haven’t already heard, Samsung has issued a full product recall on their flagship device, the Galaxy Note 7. The recall comes after reports of the smartphone “exploding” due to battery malfunctions. Of course I don’t mean that Galaxy phones are going to become impromptu IEDs for the Taliban, but an impetuous combustion might ensue, so I recommend you honor the request for recall.

Why not wait until products are absolutely tested, flawless, impeccable, and stable before shipping?

In all the coverage, you can detect a bit of schadenfreude. So, you thought your fancy cell phone, delivered by the market and the capitalist elite, was all fancy and wonderful, huh? You thought that your digital overlords were caring for you, eh? Well, guess what? IT IS EXPLODING! Take that you, millennial, selfish, indulgent tech consumer. It’s exactly what you deserve.

Well, allow me to love my cellphone and be not-so-upset about the exploding part. No producer actually wants this to happen. You think that some Samsung suit is sitting back with a plot: “Let’s ship a bunch of these gizmos, the fools will buy them, we’ll take the money, and by the time we cash the check, the phones will blow up, and we’ll have skipped town by then!”

Nor is this some kind of “market failure” at work here. The world is an imperfect place. But the beauty of the market is that it is constantly at work trying to improve its product – in service of both you and money.

Why not wait until products are absolutely tested, flawless, impeccable, and stable before shipping? Because we as consumers don’t want it that way. We want the newest, best, most wonderful thing, and are happy to absorb some risk in our purchases. We want to live in beta-test mode. We’ve done it all our lives. For that matter, life itself is beta-test mode. We aren’t waiting for the final release version.

Give us the edgy, the imperfect, the experimental, the in-process beta, and even the exploding product.Most people are happy to accept the inconvenience, send their device back, await repairs, and decide whether to continue their consumership with Samsung or seek alternatives.

Not everyone is okay with the natural voluntary course of spontaneous market corrections. Market authoritarians and regulators have and will use situations such as this to call for more stringent preventive measures by the government to ensure consumer safety. In reality, these measures would only postpone innovation, raise costs, and limit competition. Essentially, it would negatively affect all aspects that consumers love most about this market.

Give us the edgy, the imperfect, the experimental, the in-process beta, and even the exploding product. Give us anything but what the government gives us: old, tired, boring, broken down, and irreparable. The only perfect technology in this world is one too dated to be useful. Like government itself.

Further Reading

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