Brown’s Bytes – Samsung Brings Tablets Into The Fold!

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22nd February 2019

There really was only one thing I could talk about this week… it has to be the smartphone announcements Samsung have made!

Or was it a tablet announcement!?

Regular readers will know that I have previously ruminated on where the next innovation is going to come from in the mobile device space… bendy screens seemed an obvious potential way to do something different from the 2001 monolith-shaped slab of glass design that is now omnipresent in the smartphone market.

So, Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy Fold is genuinely interesting. This is a major handset provider now having a go at producing a new form factor for handsets.

This is big news!

First things first, it’s not really a looker (at least in my eyes). Although pretty polished overall, it still has a whiff of engineering prototype to it. Watching the launch, you could see how hard the designers and engineers have worked to finally bring a device to market that has a bendy screen, but they’re working with a number of constraints that limit what’s possible:

  1. The screen might be bendy, but the electronics and batteries behind them are not.
  2. The inner screen doesn’t look to be folded completely flat, so they’ve had to massively engineer the hinge to cover this.
  3. Big screens need big batteries to power them… note the Galaxy Fold has two.

Having said all this, there’s a lot to admire in what Samsung has done here. I do have to say that I think there is no way Apple would launch a device that looked like this, but credit to Samsung for trying something different.

So, who is it for?

Looking at all the various news stories and blogs about the launch it would seem that the majority of people think this device is for early adopters only. They also point out that the price is a massive barrier to anyone wanting to upgrade – which it is. There is no way I would consider a $2000 phone… but then I said that about the £1000 iPhone X when it came out!!

The consumer market isn’t likely to go mad for this device, but in Enterprise I think Samsung might be on to something. As an Enterprise device, it is genuinely interesting, and I can think of any number of business use cases that it would potentially be a great device for.

As an example, imagine a lawyer who is on the move and they are flicking through emails on the run in “phone mode”. Something urgent pops in that needs a quick review and comment… now imagine unfolding the screen to have MS Word running in tablet mode showing all the formatting correctly with sufficient screen real estate to do the job properly.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Samsung made a point of mentioning that they’ve been working with Microsoft to ensure the Office suite makes the most of the Galaxy Fold’s key feature. This device is built for Enterprise use cases and Microsoft tends to underpin quite a lot of them!

And if it genuinely solves business needs then the price isn’t perhaps as relevant.

I’m really intrigued to see how this goes – it’s been a while since a major manufacturer has been this brave with a design.

Oh, and the Galaxy S10!

Says a lot really that in all the news stories, the poor S10 was the afterthought at the end. Which is unfair in a way as it’s ironically the device that Samsung will need to perform in the market much more.

And it looks like a good Android phone. It iterates features in the way everyone has been doing for ages now and the result is an interesting handset that I’m sure will work well.

My biggest concern is the price of it. Samsung appears to be trying to follow Apple’s pricing structure into the stratosphere for their flagship devices (although not as extreme as Apple to be fair). I’ve mentioned before that it’s questionable at present how that’s going for Apple and I think it’s even riskier for Samsung given the hot competition in the Android space on price.

Once again, the best bet for price-minded buyers (like in the Enterprise) might be last year’s flagship – right now as a consumer you can get a S9 brand new for under £500 if you shop around. It makes the S10 @ £799 very hard to justify in many ways.

It’s going to be interesting to see how something iterative like the S10 and something new like the Fold now do in the market.

Of course, if you like what you see and want to buy any of the Samsung range for your company then please get in touch!

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