Smartphone makers are looking to foldable technology to reinvigorate demand for high-end smartphones and their value chains as the market becomes saturated, but the devices are in the early stages of development, with many challenges ahead, WitsView said in a report on Thursday last week.
“Foldable phones are still in the stages of market-response observation and product-design adjustment,” said WitsView, a research division of Taiwan-based market information advisory firm TrendForce Corp (集邦科技).
The penetration rate of foldable phones is expected to reach only 0.1 percent of the entire smartphone market this year, the researchers said.
Samsung Electronics Co late last month unveiled the Galaxy Fold smartphone at an event in San Francisco, while Huawei Technologies Co (華為) introduced its foldable Mate X at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this month.
More phone vendors, including Xiaomi Corp (小米), Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Corp (歐珀) and LG Electronics Co, are to follow with their own foldable models, but foldable phones are not expected to become mainstream this year and shipments could be lower than 2 million units, due partly to high price tags, research firm Canalys said last month.
“Samsung and Huawei will account for the majority of foldable smartphones shipped in 2019, but high shipment numbers are not the priority,” Nicole Peng (彭路平), Shanghai-based senior director with Canalys, said in a note on Feb. 25. “The goal is to capture consumer awareness and each vendor wants to prove it can achieve the greatest technological advances with its new industrial designs.”
Global smartphone shipments last year fell 4.1 percent to 1.4 billion units, from 1.47 billion units in 2017, declining for the third consecutive year, International Data Corp tallies showed.
WitsView said that more panel providers would need to join the game and panel costs must improve significantly for penetration rates of foldable phones to surpass 1 percent in 2021 and accelerate to more than 3.4 percent in 2022.
Samsung and Huawei have different — inward and outward — screen folding designs for their phones, which have different advantages, WitsView research director Boyce Fan (范博毓) said.
However, their new phones are still far from ideal in terms of technologies and consumer preferences, he added.
There are also not many suppliers that can produce a steady flow of foldable panels, as they are limited by their technological capabilities and yield rates, Fan said, adding that this is the “bigger bottleneck” in the early stages of foldable-phone development.
One reason consumers might not to buy foldable phones is the limited added value they would provide in terms of software and user interface optimization without 5G networks, WitsView said.
“The high transmission speeds and low latency that 5G boasts and the size-adjustability of foldable phones may furthermore boost user experience with these devices,” it said.
“It is predicted that as 5G gradually finds widespread use starting from 2021, foldable phones will fall into place production capacity and technology-wise to ride the revolutionary wave and begin their ascent in market penetration rates,” it added.
Even though foldable phones present the next evolution in mobile communications after the original iPhone in 2007, analysts said they would likely remain luxury and niche devices until 2021 or 2022.
“In 2019, vendors offering foldable phones must ensure excellent quality and durability. Any early teething problems or breakages will sour the foldable form-factor before it has had a chance to get going,” Canalys senior analyst Ben Stanton said.
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not
EXPERIMENTAL DRUG: While news about a COVID-19 vaccine is more eye-catching, developing a treatment would be more viable, the Senhwa boss said Senhwa Biosciences Inc (生華科) aims to raise NT$1.5 billion (US$50.57 million) by issuing 15 million new common shares in the third quarter of this year to fund the research of new drugs, including the experimental drug Silmitasertib for the treatment of COVID-19, the company said on Monday. That would be the firm’s largest fundraising effort after it raised more than NT$1.4 billion from an initial public offering on the Taipei Exchange (TPEX) in April 2017, chief financial officer Sarah Chang (張小萍) told the Taipei Times by telephone. The price of the new shares would depend on the firm’s average share price
NOT A PANACEA: Offering 5G services would not solve the problem of declining telecom incomes, chairman Sheih Chi-mau said, expecting a flat 5G telecom revenue Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) yesterday became the nation’s first telecom to debut its 5G services, offering tiered tariffs that include a threshold of NT$599 and flat rates, as it aims to switch half of its subscribers to the 5G network within three years. Subscribers would have unlimited data transmission for monthly fees starting at NT$1,399 — the same flat rate as when the company launched its 4G service in 2014 — and they can subscribe to the highest-rate plan for NT$2,699 per month for faster data transmission speeds and larger bandwidth, the company said. Data transmission speeds would be within the range
ROW: A probe would determine if the rights of shareholders who were not allowed to vote yesterday had been violated, while the stock exchange also wants answers The election of board directors yesterday at Tatung Co (大同) sparked controversy after the company blocked some institutional and individual shareholders from participating in the general shareholders’ meeting, prompting the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to announce that the vote would be investigated. Lin Kuo Wen-yen (林郭文艷) was re-elected as chairwoman of the household-appliance maker’s nine-member board, but prior to the vote she announced that several shareholders would not have voting rights. They were being denied a vote because they had contravened the Business Mergers and Acquisitions Act (企業併購法), and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and