Gartner flags kinks in the road for foldables - Mobile World Live

Gartner flags kinks in the road for foldables

08 APR 2019

Gartner tipped foldable phones to remain a niche segment of the smartphone market for years to come, despite fanfare surrounding their potential to drive innovation in the sector.

MWC19 Barcelona was home to the much-hyped unveiling of Huawei’s Mate X foldable, which came hot on the heels of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold.

But despite foldable’s potential to “re-inject innovation into the smartphone market,” Gartner research director Roberta Cozza noted manufacturing challenges and high price points will significantly limit their prospects over the next five years.

“Currently priced at $2,000, foldable phones present too many trade-offs, even for many early technology adopters,” Cozza said in a statement. However, she added device costs are expected to “decline with time”.

By 2023, Gartner forecast foldable phones will represent 5 per cent of high-end device shipments, accounting for 30 million units.

Overall forecast
Echoing an earlier report from CCS Insight, Gartner predicted total smartphone shipments in 2019 will fall 0.5 per cent year-on-year to 1.8 billion units as users continue to hold on to their devices longer.

Cozza noted “unless new models provide significant new utility, efficiency or experiences, users don’t want or need to upgrade.”

However, shipments are expected to return to growth in 2020, with the company predicting a rise of 1.2 per cent to 1.82 billion units.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana joins Mobile World Live as its new US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana comes to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and...

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