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Samsung unfolds the future

At the #Unpacked launch, Samsung delivered the world’s first foldable phone from a major brand. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tried it out.

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The device will be available at retail from 26 April, at an eye-watering $1980, which would probably translate in South Africa into somewhere above R40 000. This tells us that the phone is not expected to sell in large volumes. Indeed, it was described at the launch as a “luxury phone”, which prepared the audience for a hefty price tag.

Rather, it is Samsung’s statement of technology leadership.

It should be seen in the same light as expensive, cutting-edge TV sets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas each year. These devices, usually from LG and Samsung, signify efforts at technology thought leadership rather than market share, but the prices fall rapidly over the following three to five years.

In the same way, Samsung is now positioning itself as a technology leader in foldable handsets. We will see several more claimants emerge from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, but all will be seen to be following in Samsung’s footsteps.

In the same way Samsung led the way to large screen phones with the Note range, they will also be able to claim this leadership in foldable phones. The difference is that large screen phones required a courageous leap into a new format. Foldable phones, on the other hand, represent the research and development capacity to be the first to market with a new technology that may be expected from every manufacturer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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