Why the Foldable Smartphone Isn’t a Gimmick
The big news at this year’s Mobile World
Congress (MWC) was undoubtedly the foldable smartphone and it’s got people
pretty excited. Of course, the industry has been talking about foldable devices
for some time now and, as such, it would be easy to dismiss this innovation as
something of a gimmick which will help the OEMs lift device sales out of the
current sales slump.
Let us set the record straight. We believe
the foldable device is the most significant innovation in smartphone design
since… well, the smartphone.
With advances in storage, speed, screen
resolution (which let’s face it can only go so far before the improvements are
no longer visible to the human eye), and cameras (how good do your selfies need
to be?), the only thing that is preventing the smartphone from replacing
devices like laptops and tablets is their size.
Sure, we’ve had the “phablet” – but just
how big can a mobile device get before it can no longer be considered mobile.
I’m not buying it if it doesn’t fit in my inside jacket pocket.
So when a device is roughly the same size
as the smartphone you had in your pocket a couple of years ago and then folds
out to deliver an incredible amount of screen real estate – that’s going to
make a lot of difference.
Suddenly, using your phone to do everyday
office tasks (Word, Excel, etc.) no longer seems so painful, maps will be
easier to use with no more swiping and pinching to find your way home, and
entertainment will always be better on a big screen.
So Samsung with the Galaxy Fold and Huawei
with the Mate X might really be onto something with their foldable devices and
if the reviews are anything to go by, the critics are as excited by these
devices as the punters are. The good news is, with release dates for both
devices imminent, we won’t have to wait too long to get our hands on them.
Cost of Innovation
There is, of course, a significant price to
pay for such significant innovation.
The Galaxy Fold is priced at $1,980 while
the Mate X is set to retail at a staggering $2,299. Wow, it seems like only
yesterday when we were asking if people would be willing to pay $1,000 for a
Of course, we know how these things work.
Early adopters and fanboys will make the first move and the rest of us will
wait until the price comes down a little. The networks may help reduce prices
with subscription plans but there is little doubt that foldable devices will be
a considered purchase and a bit of a status symbol for some time yet.
The real test will be in 12 to
24-months-time if the technology has filtered down to the sub $1,000 price
point. If and when this happens, I think the industry as a whole will have
something to really get excited about.
Does This Mean for App Developers?
App developers should be getting excited
about what they can do with the larger screen size of a foldable device. Should
they start thinking about optimizing apps for the larger real estate? I really
think they should. As we’ve already discussed, greater screen size creates the
opportunity to create more usable and useful apps. The more usable and useful
an app is – the more chance it will deliver more significant returns over the
lifetime of the device it is hosted on (and at $2k+ – these devices aren’t
going to replaced quickly).
App developers should also consider the
opportunities an increase in device sales presents them for positioning their
app in front of the right person at the right time. You can almost guarantee
that any preloaded app that has been optimized for such an innovative device
will be activated and engaged with almost as soon as the device has come out of
to Us about Innovation
If you’ve dismissed the idea of a foldable
device as a gimmick, think again. Things have just got exciting in the world of
smartphones and the opportunity to innovate has only just begun.
Talk to Digital Turbine today about
preloading your next app on the next generation of innovative smartphones.