Worry not. Apple seldom makes it to a new party until after everyone else gets drunk, and right now the technology industry is drunk to a new level of giddiness over foldable smartphones from Samsung and Huawei.
Look, I understand that we computer users of yesteryear did not ask Steve Jobs to give us the mouse or point and click. When he and other Apple folk saw the Xerox Star at PARC they saw the future. That future is still here as every PC you can buy is similarly point and click.
Look, I understand that we smartphone users of the 21st century did not ask Steve Jobs to give us a glass keyboard on a multi-touch display. When the engineers at Google’s Android group saw the first iPhone demonstration in early 2007, they went back to the drawing board because, they, too, recognized the future, and that future is still here as every smartphone you can buy has a similar look and feel as the first iPhone.
The commonality in both watershed moments is that Apple was not first to market with a mouse or a touchscreen, yet both markets succumbed to Apple’s embedded follower-cum-leader prowess, and the rest is history.
So, will history repeat itself? Oh, God, I hope so. Why?
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold reminds me of Samsung’s first Watch killer before Apple announced Watch. The display is just over 4.5-inches which means it competes with iPhone SE until it’s flapped open to the just over 7.5-inch display, which also looks to be three times thicker than an iPhone SE. For $1,980? Seriously?
Maybe there’s a reason Apple holds back on first mover status. First mover products look and feel like crap.
Meanwhile. Huawei introduced a $2,600 folding tablet. But instead of it folding out to look more like an iPad mini, it looks like an iPad mini that folds down to fit into your pocket. Now, this one is thin but also folds differently than Samsung’s child; an outward display instead of a folding inward display. At 8-inches it’s a sliver bigger than an iPad mini.
OF the two foldables, Huawei’s model appears to have more thought put into both the concept and the hardware than Samsung. Typical Samsung. Throw stuff against a wall to see what sticks.
What Would Apple Do?
Have no fear. Samsung will not sell too many inner folding Foldables at $1,980, and Huawei won’t sell too many iPad mini’s that fold downward for $2,600. It’s official. Nobody is allowed to complain about iPhone prices again. Ever.
That said, I can’t help but wonder what an Apple foldable will look like and how it will be priced. Clearly, Apple does not design and build its own foldable displays, but Apple sells enough iPhones that display makers court the company’s business, and you know that Samsung and Huawei want to sell displays to Apple’s 1-billion or so customers.
It just won’t happen at $2,600. Or, $1,980. Think more than iPhone XS Max, of course, but hopefully not more than a MacBook Pro.
Samsung and Huawei’s foldable smartphones are not the only ones that will be shown off this year, but at those prices they are not destined to become big sellers, either. Apple’s modus operandi is simple. Figure out the best new paradigm– despite others getting to market first– launch a better product, then let the rest of the industry follow.
Will Apple introduce two models? One, an iPhone that folds out into a tablet. And, two, an iPad that folds down into iPhone size.
Regardless, the market will follow.