Can a holo­graphic screen help a new phone break out?

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Anick Jes­da­nun AP Tech­nol­ogy Writer

NEW YORK — Most lead­ing phones of­fer the same ba­sics: Big screens, de­cent bat­tery life and good cam­eras. So when a new­comer brings some­thing in­no­va­tive to the party, why is it dif­fi­cult to break through a phone mar­ket dom­i­nated by Ap­ple and Sam­sung?

One such smart­phone is from Red, a com­pany with roots in dig­i­tal cam­eras for movie pro­duc­tions. The new Hy­dro­gen One has a holo­graphic screen that pro­duces 3-D vi­su­als with­out need­ing spe­cial glasses. It is launch­ing with two ma­jor movies con­verted to this for­mat and al­lows users to cre­ate and share their own videos shot with the phone.

Red’s goals are mod­est — about 16 mil­lion units a year, based on Red’s stated tar­get of 0.5 per­cent of Sam­sung’s sales. But Red will need cus­tomers be­yond the tech elite and cam­era buffs; it’ll need their friends and friends of their friends. It doesn’t help that the Hy­dro­gen One car­ries a hefty $1,295 price tag.

“The Red Hy­dro­gen One stands lit­tle chance of up­set­ting the smart­phone sta­tus quo,” said Ge­off Blaber, a re­search an­a­lyst at CCS In­sight.

Chip­ping away at Ap­ple’s and Sam­sung’s dom­i­nance is much harder than it used to be be­cause phone in­no­va­tion isn’t so much about hard­ware any more, Cre­ative Strate­gies an­a­lyst Carolina Mi­lanesi said. What mat­ters more, she said, is the soft­ware and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence be­hind it.

Con­sider Ap­ple’s new iPhones. Sure, the new XR and XS mod­els all have de­cent screens, bat­tery life and cam­eras. But Ap­ple has also been em­pha­siz­ing such soft­ware-based fea­tures as aug­mented re­al­ity, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and au­toma­tion us­ing the Siri dig­i­tal as­sis­tant. Or take Sam­sung’s Gal­axy Note 9. Sig­na­ture fea­tures in­clude the use of AI to au­to­mat­i­cally fine-tune im­ages.

While the Hy­dro­gen One’s screen is dif­fer­ent, Mi­lanesi said, it’s not nec­es­sar­ily some­thing the mass mar­ket will grav­i­tate to.

Red founder Jim Jan­nard said his phone is about mak­ing waves in a sea of smart­phone same­ness.

“We don’t buy the same make, model or color of car that our next-door neigh­bor has,” he said. “It’s im­por­tant to keep this in­dus­try push­ing along ... and give peo­ple some new choice. What we’ve done is pretty nuts.”

/ AP-Richard Drew

The new Red Hy­dro­gen One smart­phone has a holo­graphic screen.

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