November 23, 2021 12:46
Samsung so far dominates the nascent global market for foldable smartphones because few rival products are available.
The Korean electronics giant boosted its lineup this year with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 models and is now hoping to produce a phone that folds twice.
Rivals have either scrapped or delayed their foldable phones due to a lack of technology and problems with the screens. Google postponed the release of the Pixel Fold by a year, while China's TCL canceled plans to roll out the foldable Project Chicago at the end of this year. Samsung's main rival Apple is not expected to roll out a foldable smartphone until 2024.
Samsung is therefore expected to account for almost 90 percent of the market this year, according to Counterpoint Research.
Because rival products were being canceled left and right, Samsung has more than doubled its sales target for next year. One IT industry insider said, "The overall smartphone market remains stagnant, but the market for foldable phones will triple with annual output totaling 30 million handsets in 2023. Foldable phones are resolving Samsung's key concerns, which were profitability and brand value."
According to Dutch IT news provider Let's Go Digital, Samsung early this month patented the technology of folding smartphones up and down. Unlike the Z Fold 3, which folds sideways to form a rectangle, the new device becomes a square when folded. Samsung is also rushing to commercialize a phone that can be folded twice.
In March this year, Samsung patented a screen that can be folded twice vertically, which makes for an even bigger screen when fully extended, and a month later it patented a rollable phone.
Foldable phones require 1.5 to two times more parts than ordinary smartphones, and few of the parts, including flexible displays and high-capacity batteries, are compatible. Affiliate Samsung Display has a monopoly on ultra-thin glass and secured a manufacturing base over the last three years for a stable supply chain.
TIME magazine, which chose the Z Flip 3 as one of the top 100 inventions of this year, said, "For the past few years, manufacturers have been trying to merge the functionality of smartphones with the portability of a '00s-era flip phone -- with results that were middling at best. But with the Galaxy Z Flip3, Samsung finally seems to have nailed it."
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