Foldable smartphones, the subject of fierce competition between champions
There are a lot of people in this niche. Although sales of foldable smartphones still…
There are a lot of people in this niche. Although sales of foldable smartphones still represent only an anecdotal drop in the total telephone market, the pioneer Samsung is no longer alone in this niche. After the arrival of Chinese brands like Huawei, Xiaomi or Oppo, the American Google has also just presented its model of its kind, the Pixel Fold.
Awaited for more than a year, the device presented by the company headed by Sundar Pichaï during its recent annual Google I/O conference competes on many points with its rivals. Rather thin, even in the folded position, it unfolds to become a small tablet on which it is possible to display two applications side by side. The addition is salty: it will cost 1,899 dollars to American consumers to obtain it. To date, Google does not market it in France, unlike the new Pixel 7 smartphones and the Pixel Tablet also unveiled on Wednesday May 10.
The foldable, the improvement of a restless smartphone market
But even limited to a handful of countries, Google’s interest in foldable smartphones is the symbol of a market now on everyone’s radar. Admittedly, out of 1.2 billion smartphones sold in 2022 according to figures from Counterpoint Research, only 14.9 million devices (1.1% of the total) unfolded to split the surface of their screen. But in a context of high global inflation that is pushing consumers to buy fewer smartphones, brands are clinging to the good dynamics of the foldable segment and their high prices.
This is the expected growth of the market (in volume) for foldable smartphones according to the firm IDC.
“With new manufacturers and new models in the race this year, we expect the foldable phone market to be the only bright spot in 2023 with growth of 50.5%, while the total smartphone market will contract by 1 .1%,” wrote analyst at market research firm IDC, Anthony Scarsella, at the end of March. The trend is the same according to Counterpoint projections: its experts expect 22.7 million foldable smartphones sold in 2023, an increase of 52%.
Apple keeps the suspense going
Above all, devices with extended screens are beginning to constitute a significant share of the high-end market, that is to say the most profitable products for brands. “The numbers are tiny on the scale of the total market, but if you look at the ultra-premium segment ($1,000 and above), we see that the foldable is starting to take hold,” said analyst Tarun Pathak in a note from Counterpoint. The expert expects that one in five ultra-premium smartphones sold will be a foldable in 2023. Something to delight Samsung, which dominates this market with its Galaxy Flip and Galaxy Fold.
Including Motorola, the biggest manufacturers now all have a foldable smartphone model in their catalog, even if some have limited distribution to a few thousand copies or to a few countries. Well, all but one.
Apple has so far never publicly mentioned the slightest interest in this type of design, even if the rumors are numerous and relayed by reputable sources. The Apple brand would still have filed a patent for a foldable smartphone capable of folding up to protect the screen during a fall. It remains to be seen whether the Cupertino company will be able to distinguish itself in an increasingly crowded market.