Samsung foldable sales up 4 times from last year - can it hold on though?

Even as the competition for foldable phones is getting keen, the market leader by a mile in this segment, Samsung, has claimed that it shipped 4 times more foldable devices in 2021 than in 2020, "exceeding the three-fold market growth that analysts expected."

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, launched in August, may have had a major say in this statistic. In the first month since launch, the two foldables exceeded the total accumulative sales of Samsung foldable devices in 2020. The company did not reveal the exact numbers, but the market guess is that the Galaxy Z series sold around 8 to 9 nine million units this year.

In Samsung's own words on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3: "Not only have they set a new standard in the industry, but they rekindled consumer interest in smartphones in general."

For the record, Samsung introduced the concept of foldable displays in 2011 and unveiled its first foldable device Galaxy Fold in 2019.

The secret behind Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 success

Samsung launched both Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Galaxy Z Flip3, powered by a 5-nanometer application processor, at lower price tags compared with their predecessors.

Thanks to which, the South Korean company said, the two were found to be the most popular Samsung phones yet, with the highest conversion rates that users of other brands switched to. "Compared to the Galaxy Note20, Samsung has seen a 150% increase in consumers who switched smartphone brands for the Galaxy Z Flip3, and a 140% increase compared to the Galaxy S21."  

So what worked for the these two phones? According to a survey from the company, Galaxy Z Flip3 owed its popularity to "stylish design, portability and an innovative folding form", while Galaxy Z Fold3 users were drawn to it for its "large screen for viewing content, multitasking capabilities and productivity features, including the S Pen."

Can Samsung retain its dominance?

Though market analyst Counterpoint Research expects Samsung to dominate the foldable market with a 75% share at least till 2023, the fact is competition is heating up. Apple is rumored to have a foldable iPhone for launch in 2023. But Chinese brands like Oppo,  Vivo and Xiaomi have already made some splash in the market.

But Samsung, to maintain its suzerainty in the foldable market, is investing heavily in R&D while openly collaborating with app developers and industry partners such as Google to make the foldable experience scalable.

This year the two companies came up with the guidelines for creating apps for large-screen that build on Google’s work to optimize its most popular apps – such as Gmail, YouTube, Duo and Maps – for foldable form factors.

Samsung has it task cut, but going by the success of its fold and flip, the market leader can remain so for a few more years. 

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