Can Foldable Phones Help Samsung Emulate Apple?

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The tellurian smartphone marketplace is on lane for a second annual decrease in a row—shipments fell scarcely 4% in a initial 3 buliding this year, according to International Data Corp. Manufacturers have been rising copiousness of new models, with faster processors, crook screens and improved cameras. Yet such improvements haven’t swayed adequate consumers to embankment their aged phones.

Sector personality Apple has managed to boost income notwithstanding low section sales in a past integrate of years by lifting prices. Other smartphone makers—lacking a walled garden of Apple’s iOS handling system—have found that pretence harder to lift off. Consumers find it easier to switch brands when they roughly all use Google’s Android handling system.

Smartphone makers need to find ways to remonstrate consumers to compensate adult for new models. Pictured, a Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

This is accurately a difficulty in that Samsung finds itself. The Korean record hulk shipped 72 million smartphones final quarter, 13% fewer than a year ago, according to Counterpoint Research. The largest Chinese phone makers, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo, have swallowed most of a marketplace share: they shipped a total 152 million smartphones final quarter, 18% some-more than final year and twice as many as Samsung.

By offered smartphones with reward facilities during affordable prices, these Chinese brands have been flourishing during breakneck speed in rising markets in places such as India and Indonesia, where Samsung has traditionally been a marketplace leader. Though they make reduction income per phone than Samsung, that used to browbeat a distinction pool for Android phones, their rising sales volume means a 4 largest Chinese brands total acquire some-more income from offered phones than a Korean giant.

The doubt for smartphone makers other than Apple is: What will get consumers, generally those in grown markets, to compensate adult for new models? Samsung thinks a answer lies in phones with screens that can overlay adult like books. The interest is clear: people wish bigger screens though also wish their phones to fit into their pockets. For Samsung, there could be an combined advantage if foldable phones locate on: it is also a largest builder of a form of shade used in such smartphones, called organic light-emitting diodes, The problem: these phones will be pricey.

IHS Markit

estimates they could cost about $2,000 each.

In a past dual years, Samsung has been buoyed by clever direct for memory chips, that done adult about 3 buliding of a handling distinction final quarter. But as a chip bang fades, investors might start to compensate some-more courtesy to a indolent smartphone sales again.

Write to Jacky Wong during JACKY.WONG@wsj.com

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