Samsung may have only one flagship next year, and that's OK

It is no surprise that the disaster that was the Galaxy Note 7 would have ripples throughout Samsung's business, particularly its mobile division. Projects are being put on hold in an effort to reduce expenses, which have been diverted to the recall of the phablet. Now Korean media are reporting that Samsung gird its loins even further, releasing only one premium smartphone per year, implying the demise of the Galaxy Note line. And, depending on how the Galaxy S8 and its successors turn out, that might actually be fine.

The Galaxy Note was, admittedly, the odd duck of the smartphone world. It was a giant among its peers, a point which Apple would constantly poke fun at. At least until it launched the iPhone 6 Plus, vindicating phablets forever. While Samsung does have a Galaxy S line which is its nominal flagship, especially with the "S" moniker, the Galaxy Note series has always given it some financial breathing room in the second half of the year, when sales of the earlier flagship start slowing down.

Samsung has traditionally differentiated the Galaxy Note through three features: large displays, bleeding edge hardware, and an S Pen. Starting with the Galaxy Note 5 last year, however, only the S Pen really remained to be its defining feature, as the Galaxy S6 and later climbed up the size and specs ladder. Going by that trend, there might be little reason to keep the Galaxy Note line anyway.

Well, there is at least one, that S Pen. But the stylus has always been a debatable feature. With the introduction of the Apple Pencil, the stylus bounced back into fashion. It might not make sense to keep the feature in a separate line, especially in the light of recent events.

The fiasco of the Galaxy Note 7 batteries were largely blamed on Samsung's haste, which seems to be the reasoning behind this reported new direction. But while Samsung indeed put out the Galaxy Note 7 earlier than usual, it also put out the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge similarly without repercussion. So on the one hand, you still have the usual 6 or so months in between devices, just as Samsung has done for nearly three years now. On the other hand, you can't really blame the company if it wants to take things slowly next year.

For consumers, that might be perfectly fine, especially if Samsung miraculously integrates the S Pen into the Galaxy S line. It leaves less room for confusion and largely follows the same pattern as the likes of Apple, Google, HTC, and others. It would also give Samsung the chance to rebuild its terribly damaged image.

Of course, Samsung will definitely take a financial hit, as it will no longer have a second flagship to fall back on when sales trickle to a halt. Its suppliers will also be greatly affected. For now, Samsung has not notified them of any such plan, so nothing's set in stone yet.