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.
Not a Gimmick
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.
The 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 smartphone.
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.
What 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 the box.
Talk 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.