Foldable Smartphones Gain 1 Percent of Global Market Share • The Register

Cross “optimize website and/or app for foldable smartphones” off your to-do list: Analyst firm IDC says they won’t be mainstream devices by 2026.

“The biggest question today is will foldables become mainstream any time soon? Unfortunately, the answer is no,” said Nabila Popal, director of research at IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

Popal’s comments came after IDC forecast that 13.5 million foldable smartphones will ship in 2022 — 1.1 percent of the total 1.352 billion smartphones expected to ship that year.

This meager market share has lasted for three years: Samsung launched its first foldable Galaxy Fold in 2019.

IDC forecasts compound annual growth of 38.7 percent for all foldable devices between 2021 and 2026, but even that impressive figure will only represent a 2.8 percent market share over the last year.

The news isn’t all bad, as foldable devices will far outpace the overall market growth of 1 percent of the average annual growth in the regular smartphone market.

Popal thinks foldable devices could do better when they drop to around $400 — the sweet spot for mainstream affordability. But he doesn’t want it to happen.

“I strongly believe this is not a good move – especially at the expense of quality and user experience,” he said.

The analyst would prefer that foldable devices remain a niche and premium flagship.

“Providers should focus on improving user experience and increasing category trust and generating long-term growth,” he said. “I believe that foldable devices are the future of premium Android devices, even though they are expected to account for less than 3 percent of global volume by the end of our forecast period.”

With premium phones being the niche where smartphone makers can often make the biggest margins, Popal’s advice offers them a way to lock in their profits by maintaining Samsung’s current positioning of folding devices as an expensive status symbol.

That’s why companies like Microsoft, Oppo, Xiaomi, and Huawei all offer foldable phones.

Apple, which dominates the premium phone market, hasn’t shown any interest in foldable devices but is already surprisingly profitable with its usual rounded rectangles. ® Foldable Smartphones Gain 1 Percent of Global Market Share • The Register

Rick Schindler

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