Samsung Celebration: King of the Folding Mobiles

Samsung is throwing itself a party tomorrow with a couple of guests of honor: its foldable phones. We’ll likely see some updated watches and earbuds, but it’s a birthday party for the Z Fold and the Z Flip.

Samsung have been around for years, but last August was when they hit their stride with the most mainstream models.

We’ll probably not see any dramatic upgrades or shocking price drops this year because Samsung doesn’t need to produce any of those thrills. It owns the foldable phone category, which will likely for some time. So it’s a foldable party with a guest list: Samsung.

Lest we forget, early iterations of the Fold and Flip were a little half-baked: awkward, too expensive, and not durable enough. But they got better. Last year’s Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 felt almost daily, with robust water resistance and better usability.

The rest of Samsung’s competitors seem stuck on early design iterations or not showing up. LG threatened to bring a rollable phone to market shortly before it quit making mobile devices altogether. The 2020 Motorola Razr is overpriced, underwhelming, and overdue for an update. TCL talks about a big concept game but has yet to deliver a foldable that anyone can buy.

It’s a diverse story if you live in China, where Oppo and Huawei offer foldable devices, but they’re limited to that market. And I haven’t forgotten about the Surface Duo. But the numbers don’t lie: in 2021, Samsung shipped ten million-ish foldable devices, with an 87 percent market share. Of course, it’s still a tiny piece of the overall smartphone market, but it’s something to celebrate if you’re Samsung.

It’s a company that has leveraged its unique position to take the foldable experiment as far as it has. For one, it could afford to fail. The first Fold was an unmitigated disaster, and the product that Samsung finally shipped was only a bit better. Launching, unlaunching, and then relaunching an experimental, niche device isn’t cheap. Samsung sells enough refrigerators to underwrite this kind of thing — a smaller company like TCL probably can’t take the same risks.

Samsung, as a company, also has the correct ethos to lead the way in foldable. You won’t see Apple launching a phone with an experimental new form factor and shaky long-term prospects. It would instead get on board when there’s a sure thing. Google just figured out how to make a flagship phone that doesn’t fold and seems in no hurry to launch one that does. Samsung is willing to bet on something new and, most importantly, stick with it through the early growing pains. And hey, none of the early foldable were prone to catching fire.

All signs point to the Z Fold and Z Flip 4 being minor, unexciting updates over their predecessors. And really, that’s to be expected. The company has just started to dial in the recipe for a mainstream foldable phone. Why overhaul it now?

Samsung’s early, sometimes ugly head start means it can afford to coast a bit now. If and when competitors start to emerge over the next couple of years on a global scale, they’ll have to suffer through those awkward first couple of iterations, too. It’s a new product category.

There’s no playbook on how to build an excellent folding phone like there is for the classic slab-style phone. The approach that Samsung took isn’t the only way to go about it, but it is the best way to get ahead while your competitors are all back at the starting line.

It’s not always going to be so lonely. Maybe Apple will join in a few years — claiming that it naturally invented folding phones on its own. There’s undoubtedly room for Google, whenever it shows up, or whichever company can figure out how to make a foldable that costs less than $1,000.

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a South Korean global electronics corporation, is headquartered in Yeongtong-gu, Suwon, South Korea. It is the height of the Samsung chaebol, accounting for 70% of the group’s revenue in 2012. Due to circular ownership, Samsung Electronics played a vital role in the group’s corporate governance.

Samsung is a major manufacturer of electronic elements like semiconductors, image sensors, lithium-ion batteries, camera modules, and displays for customers like Sony, HTC, Apple, and Nokia. In addition, it is the world’s most extensive manufacturer of mobile phones and smartphones, commencing with the original Samsung Solstice and, later, the favor of its Samsung Galaxy line of devices.

Samsung has been the world’s biggest television manufacturer since 2006 and the world’s biggest manufacturer of mobile phones since 2011 when it exceeded Apple up until 2021. It is also the world’s most considerable memory chip manufacturer and, from 2017 to 2018, had been the largest semiconductor company, briefly dethroning Intel, the decades-long champ.

In 2012, Kwon Oh-Hyun was established as the company’s CEO. However, he announced in October 2017 that he would resign in March 2018, noting an “unprecedented crisis.” The business had 3 CEOs from March 2018 until December 2021, when the business units were reorganized and replaced by Kyung Kye-Hyun and Han Jong-hee. It has also had a distinct regional CEO, HC Hong, who led the company in Southwest Asia from 2015 and then shifted to Latin America in 2020.

Samsung Electric Industries was founded as an industrial part of Samsung Group on January 19th, 1969, in Suwon, South Korea. At the time, Samsung Group was named to the South Korean public as a trading company specializing in fertilizers and sweeteners. Despite the shortage of technology and resources falling shorter than the domestic competitors, Samsung Group enhanced its footing in the manufacturing enterprise by cooperating with Japanese companies.

A decision instigated a significant amount of anti-Japanese public outcry and massive backlash from the competitors fearing the outright compliance of the industry by the Japanese. The strategy took off only after the government and Samsung announced that the company would exclusively concentrate on exports. Toshio Iue, the originator of Sanyo, played a role as an advisor to Lee Byung-Chul, Samsung’s founder, who was a rookie in the electronics business.

The same year, Samsung Electric designated a joint venture named Samsung-Sanyo Electric with Sanyo and Sumitomo Corporation. It is the direct predecessor of today’s Samsung Electronics.

The joint venture’s early derivatives were electronic and electrical appliances, including refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions, calculators, and washing machines. In 1970, Samsung launched the joint venture Samsung-NEC with Japan’s NEC Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation to fabricate home appliances and audiovisual devices.

Samsung-NEC later became Samsung SDI, the company’s display and battery business unit. In 1973, Samsung and Sanyo assembled Samsung-Sanyo Parts, the predecessor of Samsung Electro-Mechanics. Samsung Electric had fabricated over 10 million black-and-white televisions.

Samsung successfully created a 64 kb DRAM, reducing the technological gap between companies from first-world countries and the young electronics maker from more than a decade to approximately four years.

In the process, Samsung used technologies imported from Micron Technology of the U.S for the development of DRAM and Sharp Corporation of Japan for its SRAM and ROM. In 1988, Samsung Electric Industries merged with Samsung Semiconductor & Communications to form Samsung Electronic. Before that, they had not been one business or a top corporation together, but they were not rivals, as they had been in discussions for a time until they finally merged.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Samsung sold personal computers under the Leading Technology brand. However, the equipment was manufactured by Samsung, and the FCC filings from this period typically refer to Samsung products.