Samsung's CEO DJ Koh is confident that his company will remain the number one smartphone maker in the world throughout the next decade. In a recent interview with French tech blog Le Figaro picked up by BGR, the CEO discussed more about the potential impact foldable devices could have on the market and, once again, it sounds like the OEM is betting big on the foldable form factor having the ability to make room for more growth in the stagnating mobile industry.
Samsung to continue leading despite recent profit drops
Earlier this month Samsung estimated that its operating income over the first quarter of 2019 dropped by roughly 60 percent, partly because the chip industry boom has come to an end and partly due to the fact that smartphone shipments, in general, have slowed down in recent years.
It's evident that Samsung can no longer sustain the impressive growth rate registered in the previous years, but the OEM hopes that the foldable form factor holds the answer to this problem as it has the potential to revitalize the industry for the next decade.
"I see a huge potential for the segment," said DJ Koh in the recent interview, labeling the foldable form factor not as a new device category, but "the next chapter" in the mobile industry. The CEO added that the Samsung Galaxy Fold was developed as a product capable of changing the way consumers use their phones because foldable display technology allows mobile devices to adopt larger screens without sacrificing portability. It could change the way consumers look at smartphones and it sounds like the OEM wants to repeat its success over the past decade by reinventing the phone.
More foldable phones are being considered
The Samsung Galaxy Fold represents the first step in this new chapter in the industry, which means that the OEM should already consider developing additional models based on flexible display technology. New foldable concepts "are now part of the realm of possibility" according to the CEO, adding that the OEM is now "ready to develop these options."
This doesn't necessarily mean that new foldable phones are being produced as we speak, only that Samsung has the technology. But even if new foldable phones might be in development, it's understandable why the CEO didn't go into many details given that the Galaxy Fold has yet to hit the market. This device remains the primary focus for the time being as its market performance will likely be an indicator as to how the OEM should tackle the emerging segment in the coming years.
Samsung Galaxy Fold's screen issues may have been solved. Or not…
Early live photos and videos of the Samsung Galaxy Fold have revealed a potential issue surrounding the smartphone's display, particularly in regards to its inability to unfold perfectly flat without leaving any creases. When asked if these issues have been solved and how the problem could have existed in the first place given the OEM's expertise with flexible screen technology, DJ Koh stated that Samsung "completely reinvented and rebuilt the screen with entirely new technologies, methods and materials" by creating an advanced composite polymer allowing the panel to bend.
He added that this innovation delivers a "completely new user experience" by referring to the foldable form factor itself, so as promising as these statements may seem initially, it also seems like the CEO may have tippy-toed around the issue by reminding potential customers of how the foldable form factor helps productivity.
Details may have been lost in translation but this doesn't seem to answer whether the display crease issue has been solved. It's more of a reminder that the Galaxy Fold sports a new display technology built using different materials which allow the foldable form factor to exist, and could be read as if the adoption of these new materials have led to some quirks that still need to be ironed out. The situation is still unclear but more light on the matter should be shed once the phone hits the shelves later this month.
Samsung isn't feeling Huawei's threats
It wasn't long ago when Huawei claimed that it's gunning for the first spot in the smartphone market, virtually threatening Samsung's position. Huawei has been experiencing tremendous growth in recent years and it's one of the very few OEMs to have showcased a consumer-grade foldable phone at Mobile World Congress in late February.
But despite all of this, Samsung's CEO doesn't seem to feel threatened by Huawei's market performance. The gap may be closing in but Samsung shipped nearly 100 million more smartphones throughout 2018 compared to the Chinese OEM and catching up with the Korean chaebol isn't an easy hill to climb.
The situation could change with the emergence of foldable smartphones, particularly given Huawei's desire to be competitive in this segment early on, but regardless, DJ Koh claims that just as Samsung has been the leading smartphone vendor for the past 10 years, it will continue to maintain its top spot for the next decade.
In other words, foldable mobile devices could revitalize the smartphone market and Samsung is confident that it will come out on top at the end of the day. The Samsung Galaxy Fold will launch in the U.S. on April 26 for around $2,000.