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Samsung kicks off CES event with Note 7 mea culpa

The company says it will share findings from its investigation into the exploding smartphone "soon."

Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America, kicks off the company's CES press conference with comments about the Note 7.
James Martin/CNET

Samsung sure didn't take long to address the elephant in the room at CES -- its exploding Galaxy Note 7.

The company kicked off its press conference, which typically highlights its shiny new TVs and home appliances, with an acknowledgement that the company has work to do to regain customer trust.

"As you know, this year was a challenging year for Samsung," said Tim Baxter, president and chief operating officer of Samsung Electronics America. "Some of you were directly impacted, and many of you certainly saw the media coverage."

He said the company continues its "intensive efforts" to figure out what happened. Samsung will share the report about the Note 7 "soon," he said.

"Despite our setbacks, we have not, nor will we, stop innovating," Baxter said. "In fact we've made significant strides in the US" in terms of market share for TVs, refrigerators, washing machines and other devices.

Samsung didn't make Baxter or any other Samsung executives available for comment to CNET after the company's press conference.

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The Galaxy Note 7, one of Samsung's most high-profile phones, blew up in its face last fall, suffering multiple recalls and bans by airlines before flickering out with a final "death update" that essentially bricks the remaining units in the wild. The US carriers will finish rolling out the update this week.

For Samsung to regain customer trust, it first has to figure out what happened and communicate that openly to consumers. It originally tied the Note 7's overheating to a battery flaw, but the second recall showed it was something more. Samsung has said it's working with a third-party investigator to figure out what caused the phones' thermal problems.

Samsung's CES press conference Wednesday in Las Vegas was its first big event since the Note 7 debacle. The presentation was more muted than previous years. There were no big name stars -- like director Michael Bay who imploded two years ago and walked off stage in the middle of his presentation. And there were no big surprises or gadgets that wow'd the audience (especially compared to rival LG, which showed off a wallpaper-thin TV and robots).

For Samsung, CES was more about refinements to its current products than any major new innovations.