Samsung is betting big on foldable smartphones. In fact, the Galaxy Fold was supposed to represent both the company's ability to deliver on innovative technology, but also a future of mobile devices that bridge the gap between a smartphone that fits in your pocket, as well as a tablet that is more suited to consuming content like HD video.
Of course, so far, Samsung's entry into foldable screen devices has been mostly a disappointment, and arguably a significant failure. Early review models demonstrated design flaws including a visible crease in the middle of the screen, as well as a gap that allows dust and other debris to creep into the inside of the device.
You may also remember that Samsung pressured the device repair site iFixit, to remove its teardown video that highlighted these flaws, which only served to draw more attention to the fact that the company was nowhere ready to ship a device it had already promised to consumers.
Both Samsung and the major mobile carriers had to cancel thousands of pre-orders due to the fact that the company clearly had to head back to the drawing board.
With that as the background, Samsung Electronics CEO DJ Koh recently admitted that the missteps were his fault because he was in a rush to get the foldable smartphone out the door.
"It was embarrassing. I pushed it through before it was ready," Koh told the Independent. "I do admit I missed something on the foldable phone, but we are in the process of recovery."
Look, Samsung isn't the first company to miss big on an even bigger bet. In fact, there are plenty of examples of tech companies releasing products that aren't quite ready for public consumption. But Samsung's response is unique as much for its willingness to admit it was wrong, as it is for what it did next.
According to Koh, the company has paid close attention to those negative reviews and used them to figure out how to fix a product that it still believes represents the future of mobile devices.
It's not the mistake, but what happens next that matters.
You could argue that a company the size of Samsung, the largest producer of smartphones in the world, should probably have noticed the glaring issues that reviewers picked up on in a few minutes. That's true.
At the same time, the fact that problems facing the Galaxy Fold were discovered before the device started shipping meant that Samsung was in a much better place to deal with it. Compare that to the debacle it faced when customers' Galaxy Note 7 smartphones started to explode or catch fire.
As an entrepreneur, it's easy to be excited about the thing you're making. It's easy to be tempted to rush through the important steps required to make sure your product is actually ready for the world. You could be forgiven for giving in to that temptation considering even multinational corporations sometimes make the same mistakes.
Do these three things.
But take note, because Samsung's CEO's response is a classic lesson in how to make things right when everything goes wrong. In fact, these three things are exactly how you turn a failure into a real win.
He apologized, he listened, and he committed to taking the time to fix the problems.
It's entirely possible that the company won't be able to overcome the challenges of foldable screen devices. That's just reality. It's also possible that overcoming those challenges simply isn't worth it. That's not really the point.
The win isn't getting the technology right--the win is restoring the trust in your brand. That was the real problem that Samsung was facing, and it was a far greater existential threat than a crease in a phone screen or some dust.
I'm still not convinced a foldable smartphone is ever going to be a thing, but I'm willing to bet that if we ever see one from Samsung, it will have figured out how to do it right.