Look, I’m no industry analyst, and sometimes I wonder where they come up with some of the weird predictions they do, but this one is kind of interesting. According to analysts at HSBC, Samsung is going to launch a smartphone this year with a foldable screen, sometime in the second half of the year.
We know there’s a grain of truth to this, in that Samsung has been researching and developing folding screen technology for years; rumours are that the device is being examined under the name of Project Valley, though Samsung haven’t publicly commented on this. A folding screen would be a boon for users; imagine a smartphone-sized device that could fold out in two, becoming almost a mini tablet to consume media and use apps without significantly increasing the overall size of the device.
While such a device is rumoured, it’s not going to be in the flagship Galaxy S7 slated for release in the next month or two; no, this will be some other device, as Samsung has done in years passed, to test the waters and see whether its technology may be appealing to consumers. In any event, here’s what the boffins at HSBC had to say about this speculation:
We think Samsung will likely introduce foldable OLED smartphones as early as 2H16 (second half of 2016), versus market expectations of 2017, as the company tries harder to regain market share. In our view, foldable OLED smartphones could transform Samsung’s smartphone business, with the potential to become a ‘killer’ feature in the premium smartphone space given that (1) a foldable OLED model would provide it with a high degree of product differentiation; (2) it gives users the best of both world’s – namely, a larger screen size in a smaller form factor; and (3) it could enable the company to capture market share in both the smartphone and tablet markets with a single product. The coming roll-out of foldable OLED smartphones also bodes well for growth across the entire OLED panel supply chain: from the panel makers to equipment makers to materials suppliers.
While we acknowledge HSBC’s prediction, it is just that; they’re not claiming to have an inside word on this, it’s just a well based guess at most. Strategically, the move makes some sense — Samsung could claw back a bit of market share here, at the risk of cutting some of its tablet share, but let’s face it, Android tablets could use with a bit of invigoration.