For some time, we have speculated that there would soon be a foldable display for a handheld. Initially, it was expected in 2014, then 2015, then 2016. Aside from the technical challenges swept up in such a new concept, the selling argument has always been – you can have the same size phone with almost double the display size, and keep the thin form factor.. Well here we go again… Samsung Electronics is reportedly developing two types of foldable smartphones, none of which adds functionality except the size of the display:
· a dual-screen smartphone
· a foldable smartphone
As the fictitious dialog infers, they are unsure of what the consumer wants and need to determine how the market would accept these new products. They expect to produce small amounts of dual-screen smartphones in 2017 and examine the market response. The dual-screen device has a 5’’ display in its folded form, does not bend but has a hinge in the middle, with a display on each side and the inside edges are not curved. The unfolded device is expected to be 8” in diagonal. There was no timing for the foldable display. Samsung is clearly having difficulty with their perception of the market’s reaction to new technology. The dual screen device is a “clunker”. The industry has trained the buyers to expect slimmer devices, but this one seems to be 2X the thickness of the current smartphones. With the development capabilities of Samsung Display, SEC should be able to aggressively demonstrate new form factors without warning their competitors.
Confirmation of these reports is expected when Samsung makes its announcement during Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona next year.
Figure 1 Folded Panel from Lenovo
Samsung Electronics’ competitors are also working rapidly on development of foldable smartphones. China’s LENOVO and OPPO and Japan’s JDI introduced a prototype of a foldable Smartphone and a dual-screen Smartphone respectively. AUO reportedly supplied panels to LENOVO for its foldable Smartphones. Samsung goal is to introduce innovative product with a high level of perfection to markets faster than its competitors.” Recent data from Fiksu.com confirm that Samsung has broad leadership in Android phones, as its models dominate the list of the top Android phones with 16 models comprising 43% of all active Android phones.
Figure 2 Top Android Installed Base by Model and Manufacturer
With an installed base of over 2.2 billion Android phones as of July 2016, those 16 Samsung branded smartphones comprise over 900 million devices almost 2X Apple’s installed base. They are not the only Samsung devices in use, just the top 16. Apple has an installed base of 518m, 60% of Samsung. So why can’t we see more innovation from Samsung?
Figure 3 Smartphone Installed Base by OS
The company is promising its suppliers higher ASP’s if they provide camera and component modules that look ‘sleek’ and do not stick out of the smartphone face.
Typically front-facing cameras use a fixed lens system, which can lead to blurry selfies, especially those of squirming babies or pets, but by using automatic focus encoders, the cameras will do the focusing automatically, and will maintain a thin device. Samsung Electro-Mechanical has been the source of its cameras modules for the Galaxy S series. This improvement in smartphone camera technology will have a profound effect on the quality of selfies posted on Instagram, where the number one most common selfie is the close up or the popular duck-face shot, followed by pictures of people’s feet in a specific location (usually the beach), pictures of food, pictures of newly manicured fingernails, airplane wings (indicating you are on vacation), and cute pets.