Samsung is taking somewhat of a risk by releasing the Galaxy Fold, one of the first smartphones with a folding display. From Samsung's vantage point, however, it is not so much a risky proposition as it is a building stone for the company's future, especially in light of the global smartphone market slowing down as of late. As far as Samsung's mobile boss DJ Koh is concerned, folding phones are the key to the Galaxy's dominance in the smartphone market.
More on that in a moment, but first let's look at the landscape at large. International Data Corporation noted last November that Samsung had a "challenging" quarter in which its smartphone shipments declined 13.4 percent to 72.2 million units. The good news for Samsung, though, is that those 72.2 million shipments led the way, with Samsung controlling 20.3 percent of the global smartphone market.
Samsung's slippage is indicative of a global trend—smartphone vendors as a whole shipped 355.2 million units in the quarter IDC was referencing, resulting in a 6 percent year-over-year drop.
Getting back to the Galaxy Fold, Mr. Koh said in an interview with Le Figaro that it's this kind of innovation that will allow Samsung to lead the market for the next decade.
"As a global leader in the smartphone market, our priority is and has always been to improve our products and services to deliver meaningful innovations for our consumers. Samsung has been a leader in the smartphone market for 10 years and will remain so for the next 10 years by continuing to innovate and imagine new mobile experiences," Mr. Koh said (Google translated).
He also noted that foldable phones specifically are "emerging faster than we thought" and that he sees a "huge potential" for such devices.
"Samsung's foldable smartphone is not just a new category, we're writing the next chapter of the mobile industry. We created the Galaxy Fold to directly change the way consumers use their phones - everywhere and for everything," Mr. Koh added.
It is an interesting perspective on the market and where Samsung believes it is headed. Mr. Koh's perspective is not out of left field, either. Market research firm Gartner recently estimated that the market for folding phones will grow to 30 million units by 2023.
In addition to the Galaxy Fold, Mr. Koh said new concepts that can be folded are now within the realm of possibility, and that Samsung is "ready to develop" such devices. What exactly those end up being remains to be seen, but one thing is clear—as far as Samsung is concerned, foldable form factors are not just beginning to emerge, they are here to stay.