Today Samsung announced their new “Samsung Galaxy Fold” device – and while it won’t be available until at least April 26. This foldable hybrid phone/tablet device is not the first foldable phone – but it will likely be the first one to have mass market availability and will be the first that businesses consider deploying.
But what is the business opportunity for the Samsung Galaxy Fold? It is not a slim, sexy phone, and it is not a large screen tablet like an iPad or Galaxy Tab S4 (although the screen is actually bigger than the smaller screen Tab A 7” tablet). It will be an expensive device (US$1,980) – but depending on the configuration will likely be cheaper than a high-end phone plus a high-end tablet. It doesn’t come with a stylus, but has the ability to help users multi-task (supporting up to three apps at the same time) and also supports DeX – Samsung’s under-rated ability to turn the phone into a PC-like experience. It also supports Samsung Knox, so the security capabilities that Samsung is becoming well known for will be supported by the Galaxy Fold.
Initially, it looks like a device that could replace the “phone and tablet” combination, but the reality is that many of the types of role that have both devices (engineers, repair people etc) typically require ruggedized devices – even a white goods repair person is working in wet and dirty environments and would at least have some type of case on their device. The unique nature of the Galaxy Fold likely prohibits a ruggedized case – and possibly any case at all (as the fingerprint sensor is on the side of the device).
A “Shareable” Device
One factor that strikes me about the Fold is the fact that large screens not only make content easier to consume – but also easier to share. Travelling salespeople – who typically do meetings in cafes or offsite meeting rooms often pull out their tablet or laptop to demonstrate a product or show a presentation or video. Laptops are not great for this – as the interface is designed for one user – not multiple, and many don’t have 4G connections.
You often see software salespeople pull out their tablet to demonstrate their SaaS platform – so this is one of the use cases for the Galaxy Fold – it is a pocketable tablet that has 4G (or 5G) connectivity. Any situation where a white collar executive is sharing information is a potential opportunity for the Galaxy Fold. Only time will tell whether such executives are willing to accept the compromises (thicker device, smaller front screen).
The Ultra-Portable Laptop
The Fold could be the device that shows the real benefit of Samsung DeX – the extra memory and processing power might convince some businesses or end-user computing teams to dump the laptop for some of their employees – and give them a device that can be a phone, tablet and PC. Carrying your laptop between work and home in your pocket might be an attractive option for some users.
An Executive Status Symbol
The Fold will make its way into the senior management ranks too. The device will draw attention and interest – so those who seek such attention will be drawn to it. But if you look around the senior executive community you see those who don’t mind having a larger device in their pocket normally do so because they have covered the phone in a massive “Otter Box” case – they are looking to protect their asset – again the lack of protection may be an inhibitor for this buyer. And the other execs who like a slim, sexy device may be put off by the size. It is hard to know exactly where the Galaxy Fold will land.
Whatever happens, it is great to see the rate of innovation in the smartphone market start to accelerate again after 3-4 years of stagnation. From an engineering and design perspective, the Fold looks incredible. What role it takes in the end-user computing strategy of businesses across the globe isn’t yet clear – but the idea of a device that helps your business users better share content could certainly be an opportunity.
If you’d like to discuss your End User Computing strategy feel free to reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org – or if you have any thoughts of other use cases for the Samsung Galaxy Fold please post them in the comments below – let’s keep the conversation going!