What it is: Samsung announced a foldable phone that acts as both a smartphone and a tablet.
Samsung announced the Galaxy Fold, a $1,980 smartphone that folds open to provide a 7.3-inch screen that’s comparable to a mini-tablet. While Samsung isn’t the first company to announce a foldable phone, they’re the first major company to do so.
The future of smartphones are foldable phones. As smartphones keep getting bigger, the larger screen makes them difficult to carry easily. Carrying a tablet with a smartphone isn’t practical for most people, so it’s easier just to lug around a large screen smartphone instead.
While the Samsung Galaxy Fold looks impressive, its price is far too high for most people, which will limit its adoption. Having the most advanced technology in the world is useless if people can’t afford to buy them.
If any computer company wanted to sell the fastest computer in the world, it’s easy to build a supercomputer. It’s far more difficult to get more than a handful of people to buy them to make it profitable enough to manufacture.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold is simply a marketing gimmick to lay claim to one of the first foldable smartphones on the market. That’s no different than being one of the first makers of MP3 players or one of the first makers of Blu-ray disc players. It’s nice to be first to offer advanced technology, but what ultimately matters is whether people will use it or not.
Apple is likely developing a foldable phone as well, but they won’t release it until the price comes down. Just as large screen smartphones were once considered luxuries, but are now considered normal, so will foldable smartphones change form luxuries to ordinary items within a few years.
Until that time, the Galaxy Fold will remain an interesting product that was too far ahead of its time to achieve mass adoption. Of course the goal of the Galaxy Fold isn’t to sell many units but to lay claim as one of the first foldable smartphones.
That’s a nice claim to have, but ultimately it’s a meaningless one. Anyone remember the first smartphone that came with a touch screen? (It wasn’t the iPhone.) If nobody remembers the first smartphone with a touch screen, a few years from now, will anyone remember the Galaxy Fold?
Maybe, maybe not. In either case, nobody will buy the Galaxy Fold until the price comes down and the technology becomes cheaper to manufacture. Sometimes being first isn’t an advantage after all.