Written by: Jeff Kagan
Every year at its Unpacked event, Samsung introduces the newest models of their Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Last week, just before MWC19, at Unpacked 2019, Samsung showed us some really cool new technology. While I believe most users will love it all, I also believe the vast majority will not buy it. Let me explain why.While we have not seen much in the way of really cool smartphone new innovation in several years, I think the Samsung Galaxy Fold was great stuff. In recent years, the best we got was better cameras and screens. This year Samsung did a great job introducing some very interesting features with their folding screens.
While I think everyone will agree the new features captured their imagination, I also think only one or two slices of the consumer pie will actually be interested in buying and owning it. Most users will be very happy sticking with the traditional technology and not see the reason to upgrade to the Fold.First, the price. $1,850 for a smartphone? Are you kidding me? I thought last year’s new high of around $1,200 was crazy. This year is over the top and then some.What this high price means is fewer users being able to afford to take this leap. The rule is, when prices are lower, everyone can buy. But when prices are higher, it cuts down the market size. That’s what will happen here.That’s one of the problems we have seen with both Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy over this last year. Rising prices and less innovation are two of the reasons smartphone sales are slowing compared to previous years.
Second, the folding screen. The new phones will act like a smartphone and a tablet. That’s the good news. Folding out the screen enlarges the useable area and lets you use it as either a phone or a tablet. This two-in-one feature may make the high price tag seem more reasonable to some.The bad news is this new design is thicker and heavier than most people want to carry in their pocket. So, while I love the innovation, the usability has been reduced.Related: US Technology Sector is Setting Up for A Momentum Breakout MoveHopefully over time, price will come down and so will weight.However, if you always carry both a smartphone and a tablet with you, this one device may be preferable. Just know, you’ll have to pay a small fortune and you’ll always have to schlep that brick with you wherever you go.There are other good and bad things as well, but you get the idea. While this is cool new technology that will tickle the taste-buds of all Samsung Galaxy users, I don’t see many being interested in buying it at this time.Perhaps they will as the technology evolves and becomes thinner, lighter and less expensive, but we are not there yet. Initially, I expect the early adopters to jump in as the first wave. These are people who put being first, above everything else.
So, I think the users who will be interested initially are one or two slices of the pie. Early adopters and those who want or need a larger screen. While this will satisfy them, currently I see this device having a limited market and not mass-market appeal.The Samsung Fold will be successful, just not a huge seller for the mass market. Then again, this is good for the marketplace. In the early years of this current smartphone revolution, all users were forced to use the same device. Today, we see many different size devices with many different features.Today, it’s better for the user because they can pick and choose among a few different devices with different features. Some want a large screen. Others want a smaller device. Still others are great at games. The good news is users can find what’s best for them.
So, Samsung did a great job introducing this folding screen smartphone. They always try to innovate and wow their user base. I expect to see competitors like Huawei and Xiaomi jumping into this same space before long.As we move ahead into 5G, AI, IoT, the cloud and more, I expect Samsung, Apple, Google and in fact every other smartphone maker to up their game. My prediction is that the next few years should start to get exciting again in the smartphone market. So, stay tuned.