Folding phones are at the bleeding edge of consumer mobile technology. Samsung largely leads the way with the Galaxy Fold series (Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4). While sales are rising, the market for these devices remains nascent due to the high cost of the handsets. However, analyst firm IDC predicts that by 2016 the number of folding phone shipments will quadruple.
So, what does that mean in raw numbers? According to IDC, there were 8.1 million Samsung Galaxy Fold and other folding phones shipped in 2021. By 2026, the firm suggests that number will have grown to 41.5 million units.
In the years from 2022 to 2026, the analyst predicts a compound annual growth rate of 38.7%. IDC’s Anthony Scarsella says Samsung continues to be a trailblazer in the market. Thanks to its more mature devices, the company is even starting to appeal to more casual customers:
“The recent launch of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 will once again shine a spotlight on the entire category as Samsung continues to be the gold standard for foldable devices in the market. The new launches from Samsung have brought incremental but critical improvements over their predecessors.
“The success of these devices should be a strong indicator of how foldables will evolve and capture consumers moving forward. While the price remains a pain point for consumers, the $999 starting price may be accepted by consumers given that most consumer goods have seen price increases due to inflation in 2022.”
A Slice of Apple
41.5 million is a huge number, but it is still not enough to make folding phones mainstream (just 2.8% of the market, in fact). Even so, they will represent a growing part of the market. Samsung Galaxy Fold devices will drive that growth, but another brand could transform the market into the mainstream.
That brand is Apple. Cupertino has yet to launch anything even close to a folding phone. Even so, rumors persist a folding iPhone will come. Back in May, I reported on predictions that Apple is targeting 2025 as the year to launch that handset.
From the digital music player (iPod) to the smartphone (iPhone), and the tablet (iPad), Apple has shown an ability to enter a growing market and create a definitive mainstream device. Let’s see if the Folding iPhone of the future can repeat that trick.
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