Samsung is the world's leading producer of smartphones, as it maintains a narrow lead over competitors like Huawei and a more sizable advantage over Apple. As a company that is at the forefront of smartphone design and innovation, one that has a lot to lose with any missteps in the sector, recent comments by Samsung executives have caught our attention.
Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh first lamented the failed launch of the Galaxy Fold, which the company billed as the "smartphone of tomorrow", stating, "It was embarrassing. I pushed it through before it was ready." But for a smartphone that is supposed to represent the future of mobile communications, it's a future that might not be long for this world.
Samsung explained that we have reached "peak smartphone", so to speak, and that there isn't much that manufacturers can do to advance the form-factor or stand out from the growing crowd. We can already see this with Chinese OEMs like Huawei and Xiaomi, who have brought out smartphones that match or exceed functionality that Samsung delivers to the table and undercutting on price.
And that leads to the reasoning for Samsung trying something bold like the Galaxy Fold in the first place. “Smartphone design has hit a limit, that’s why we designed a folding phone,” added Kang Yun-Je, who leads Samsung Electronics’ design team. "In five years or so, people will not even realize they are wearing screens. It will be seamless," Yun-Je continued.
It seems as though Samsung believes that within five years’ time, smartwatches and smart eyewear will advance to the point where using a smartphone will seem like an archaic thing to do. With consumers already juggling devices like smartphones, smartwatches, tablets and smart earbuds, it stands to reason that there needs to be some eventual convergence. For Samsung, it appears that smartphones will be a casualty.
“[The] previous 10 years, it was an era of the smartphone,” Koh opined. “From this year, maybe a new era is opening because of the emergence of the internet of things, 5G, AI, and all these technologies mingling together.
"We must think rather than smartphones, we must think smart devices. Smartphones may decline but new devices will emerge.”
Samsung believes that the rise of 5G will mean that we'll have smart, interconnected computing devices everywhere we go -- from our home, to our cars, to our office -- so we won't need to lug around a brick made of aluminum and glass with us at all times.
That's a rather bold prediction, so what do you think, Hot Hardware readers? Is the era of the smartphone coming to an end, or is Samsung getting ahead of the ball way too fast? Sound off in the comments section below.