Are foldable/flexible phones coming in 2017?

Apple has been criticized in the press from several points of view (for example) that their recent product releases have not been innovative enough, and they’re no longer pushing the boundaries of what’s currently possible. I came across a comment somewhere (I forgot to bookmark it), that the mobile phone industry in general has reached it’s peak of what’s possible, and to continue growth there needs to be a new revolution to innovate beyond the current form factor of the smartphone as we know it today.

I’ve said many times before that each device form factor has unique benefits and limitations according to its size and user interface. For example, a phone that fits in your pocket it a poor replacement for a desktop computer with a large LCD monitor, full size keyboard and mouse, and the reverse holds true too, a desktop computer is hardly a portable computing device.

The recent rumors and articles (in 2015, in 2016 and Lenovo’s concept phone here and here, and more recently: here, here, and here) about new phones from Samsung and LG possibly coming with folding screens starts to blur what’s possible. What if you have a phone that’s small enough and portable to be a phone (as we know it in the current form factor), but it has a screen that unfolds into something larger, say with a 7″ or larger screen that can be used in place of a tablet? That would certainly shake things up, allowing you to carry a device with a large enough screen to sit down and use it at a desk, but still carry it around in your pocket. I’m really curious and hope these come to market soon.


Wired: “Microsoft kisses up to Tim Cook in front of millions”

I was recently looking at the IDC global tablet sales and was surprised to see that sales of Microsoft’s Surface are not yet showing up. I thought I’d read somewhere that the were selling reasonably well, but I guess not enough to show up on the global sales numbers. That means they’re selling less that 1 million units a quarter because LG and Huawei, both selling 1.6 million in 2Q15 take slot 4 and 5 in IDC’s stats, and others (?) are grouped together as 20M, but who knows what’s counted in that category (there’s probably as many as 20M different companies flooding the market with Android tables at this point).

The only Surface sales I could find mentioned was a $888M revenue number that Microsoft announced in it’s last quarterly earnings statement. Given that the Surface price ranges from models around $500 up to $1700 for a full loaded Surface Pro 3 (why wouldn’t you just buy a MacBook Pro for that price?) let’s take an average: $888M at $1000 a unit, well, yeah, that’s 888,000 units a quarter. That’s not too many. Not when Apple are flogging 11M units a quarter and that’s even with their numbers dropping quarter after quarter.

So the Wired article really summed it up for me. I was about to write something witty about why Apple are producing a new tablet with a keyboard and a stylus, something that Jobs said people would never want or need. But 888,000 sales of Surfaces is 888,000 of lost sales to Apple, so, hey, why wouldn’t they produce one of those too.

Choice quote from the Wired article:

For Microsoft, it was a moment of apotheosis. Since Satya Nadella took over as CEO last year, the company has pushed Office onto the iPhone as well as the iPad; open sourced its crown jewels of software development so people can build more Microsoft software that runs on Apple gear; and jettisoned its $7.6 billion effort to dominate the smartphone market with Nokia, a Finnish company famous for recent failure.

Kissing Cook’s ring was the next logical step.


And here’s the truth of the matter:

If you hadn’t noticed before, the mobile wars are over. For a while there, Microsoft was confident its Windows operating system would capture a sizable portion of the market. But that’s not gonna happen. The company still sells phones and tablets, but relatively few consumers will ever buy them.


That’s a harsh reality in a changing, post-PC world.