Sam­sung bids to re­boot stag­nant mo­bile mar­ket with smart­phone that folds in half

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligence - By James Tit­comb in San Fran­cisco

SAM­SUNG has be­come the first ma­jor smart­phone man­u­fac­turer to un­veil a fold­ing phone as it seeks to re­boot a stag­nant mo­bile mar­ket.

The Korean com­pany, the world’s big­gest mo­bile phone maker, said its bendy screen tech­nol­ogy would usher in “a new gen­er­a­tion of smart­phones” as it un­veiled a pro­to­type hand­set at an event in San Fran­cisco.

The de­vice, the size of a tablet com­puter, fea­tures a large 7.3in screen and can fold in on it­self, shut­ting like a book, to fit in a pocket. When folded in half, a sec­ond screen on the out­side means it can op­er­ate like a smart­phone.

Phone dis­plays have be­come big­ger each year as they are in­creas­ingly used for watch­ing videos, read­ing and so­cial me­dia. How­ever, big­ger screens have meant a trade-off in porta­bil­ity that has frus­trated some users.

Sam­sung did not give many de­tails of the new phone, such as how much it will cost or when it plans to put it on sale, ex­cept to say that it will go into pro­duc­tion “in the com­ing months”.

It sold an es­ti­mated 72.2m hand­sets in the third quar­ter of the year, but sales fell by 13.4pc year-on-year amid a de­clin­ing mar­ket. The slow­ing pace of up­dates and ris­ing prices has made con­sumers less will­ing to up­grade.

Sam­sung’s Justin Deni­son said the screen tech­nol­ogy, which uses a com­pound of syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als in­stead of glass, would be “the foun­da­tion for the smart­phone of to­mor­row”.

The phone will be able to run three apps at once – two on the big­ger screen and a third on the smaller dis­play, but Ge­off Blaber, an an­a­lyst at CCS In­sight, said fold­ing phones were un­likely to catch on im­me­di­ately.

“This will start as a niche de­vice but has a deeply strate­gic longer-term role as Sam­sung seeks to dif­fer­en­ti­ate in an in­creas­ingly sat­u­rated mar­ket,” he said.

“Suc­cess is de­pen­dent on apps and con­tent that make use of the dis­play and that will take time, in­vest­ment and re­fine­ment.”

Justin Deni­son, Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of mo­bile prod­uct mar­ket­ing, un­veils the fold­able smart­phone

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