In the last decade, the smartphone industry has been dominated by the sleek, glass-faced, flat devices we’ve come to know and rely on. However, a new generation of foldable phones with bendable screens is beginning to disrupt the market, promising a fresh wave of innovation. Among the major players, Apple, which holds a significant 55% of the U.S. smartphone market, remains conspicuously quiet on the foldable phone front, despite years of rumors and a patent for a "foldable electronic device."
As global smartphone sales experience an 11% decline, according to Canalys, and Apple’s iPhone revenue falls for three consecutive quarters, the tech giant’s silence on the foldable front is increasingly noteworthy. Meanwhile, competitors are making strides with innovative designs – Chinese company Honor is set to launch the thinnest folding phone yet in early 2024, and tech titans like Samsung, Google, and Microsoft are already offering folding devices in the U.S. market. With the foldable phone market expected to double to $54 billion in the next five years, according to Mordor Intelligence, all eyes are on Apple to see if, or when, they’ll join the fold.
The Foldable Future: Apple’s Potential Entry Into The Foldable Phone Market
After ten years of flat, glass-faced smartphones dominating the electronic market, a new era of foldable phones with bendable screens is rising. However, one major player, Apple, remains on the sidelines. Despite rumors and speculations about Apple’s entry into the foldable phone market, the tech giant has yet to reveal any tangible progress. This might be a missed opportunity as the folding feature is considered one of the most innovative aspects of smartphone technology today.
Apple’s Silent Strategy
Apple, boasting a 55% smartphone market share in the U.S., has been subtly hinting at its interest in foldable technology. Its supplier initiated the development of bendable glass several years ago, and Apple received a patent for a "foldable electronic device" earlier this year. However, the company remains silent about its plans. The latest iPhone launch on September 12 did not reveal any drastic design changes, disappointing those who were hoping for a foldable surprise.
The Rise of Foldable Phones
While Apple seems to be lagging, its competitors are making significant advancements in the foldable phone market. Chinese company Honor, previously a part of Huawei, recently confirmed the launch of the thinnest folding phone in the global market by Q1 2024. Other tech giants, such as Samsung, Google, and Microsoft, have already introduced foldable phones in the U.S., with Samsung’s folding Galaxy available since 2019.
The Market for Foldable Phones
Despite holding a firm grip on the smartphone market, Apple’s delay in entering the foldable phone market could cost them. The demand for foldable phones is growing, with the market expected to double to $54 billion in the next five years. Currently, Samsung holds the highest global market share at 20%, followed by Apple at 17%. If Apple doesn’t step up, it could lose more ground to Samsung.
The Wait for Apple’s Entry
According to Ross Young from Display Supply Chain Consultants, Apple does not seem to be in a hurry to enter the foldable smartphone market. The rumored iPhone Flip, Apple’s foldable phone, is expected to launch in 2025 or later. Meanwhile, discussions about a "foldable notebook" are also underway, hinting at potential innovation in its MacBook or iPad product line.
As a tech journalist, I believe that Apple’s cautious approach could be strategic. However, with the foldable phone market growing rapidly, the tech giant might need to accelerate its plans to stay competitive. It will be interesting to see how the company will capitalize on this technology and whether it will redefine the foldable phone market, much like it did with smartphones a decade ago.