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Samsung to the rescue?

With Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in full swing and 5G expected to steal the limelight, with operators and vendors vying with one another to show that they are leading in the race for 5G commercialisation, we can expect to see plenty of handset launches.

Last week Samsung stole a march, and the headlines, when it unveiled the Galaxy Fold. The device, described as a phone-tablet hybrid, has been called an ‘engineering marvel’, providing a foldable tablet sized screen that can be carried around in your pocket.

Being first has always been a major play for Samsung and it’s certainly able to claim a ‘first’ with this foldable device, successfully burnishing its innovation credentials with a handset that contains six cameras, 12GB of RAM and half a terabyte of storage. The phone can also operate three apps simultaneously.

The Galaxy Fold resembles a conventional smartphone but opens like a book to reveal a second display the size of a small tablet.

However, just a few days later Huawei unveiled its own foldable mobile phone - the Mate X - and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Apple launching a foldable handset later this year.

The smartphone market is changing and people are holding on to their devices for longer and according to analysts, it’s unlikely that the Fold will turn a profit for Samsung.

Why? Because while Samsung's technology has certainly wowed the smartphone industry it doesn’t come cheap, costing over £1,500.

It’s certainly too soon to tell, but industry analysts suggest that due to its price sales will be limited. No more than 1 million devices, according to some, and that's just a tiny fraction of the 291 million smartphones shifted by Samsung in 2018.

Whatever the future holds, Samsung has stolen a march on its competitors and while reaction to the phone has been mixed, it’s innovative but is it needed seems the gist of most comments, it has set new price standards in the smartphone premium category.

So, could this device help Samsung rejuvenate its mobile business in the face of strong competition from Chinese competitors and is it possible to innovate your way out of what is a mature market?

We’ll have to wait and see, but without doubt it comes at a crucial time for an industry which last year saw sales decline for the first time.

Neil Tyler

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