Apple has been noticeably absent from the race for a foldable phone — and there’s a good reason why (AAPL, MSFT)

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Apple essentially invented the modern smartphone with the original iPhone in 2007. Now, companies like Samsung, Huawei, Microsoft, and Motorola are racing to figure out what comes next by launching phones that can bend and fold into different forms.

But Apple is nowhere to be found.

There are several good reasons why Apple hasn’t entered the foldable phone market just yet. 

Foldable phones have barely been on the market for a year. And during that time, it’s become clear that phone makers are still ironing out the kinks and growing pains that come with developing a new type of computer.

Take Microsoft as an example. The PC giant’s anticipated $1,400 Surface Duo, which has two screens joined together by a folding hinge, received middling reviews for its buggy software and lackluster camera. 

But perhaps the most obvious signal that foldable phones are not yet ready for prime time is their launch cycles. Samsung is already on its third foldable phone (fourth if you count the 5G version of its Galaxy Z Flip) after just launching its first one about one year ago. The original Samsung Galaxy Fold also endured a months-long delay in 2019 because of issues with the screen breaking after it folded.

Motorola, too, just announced a new version of its foldable Razr flip phone little more than six months after launching the original. The new model comes with support for 5G, an improved camera, and other upgrades.

These erratic launch cycles suggest that foldable phones are still in somewhat of an experimental stage. Consumers may not feel confident purchasing a foldable phone knowing that a better version may launch less than a year from now.

But one of the biggest reasons Apple may be holding off on foldable phones is also the simplest: There’s no evidence yet that people actually want them.

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Market research firm Gartner predicts that foldable phones will account for less than 5% of high-end phones by 2023, and Strategy Analytics says that foldable phone shipments will hit just 100 million by 2025. That may sound like a high number, but consider that The International Data Corporation predicted that total smartphone shipments for 2019 would reach 1.38 billion.

Chances are slim that Apple will be joining the foldable phone craze anytime soon. The company has a reputation for being first to market, but for refining existing product categories and popularizing them.

Look to the Apple Watch as an example. Apple was far from being the first tech company to launch a smartwatch, but it’s now the market leader, according to estimates from Canalys and Counterpoint Research.

In other instances, Apple has waited until a category has matured before bringing it to its own lineup. Apple launched its first big-screened iPhones with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from 2014, for example, long after Android smartphones had offered roomier displays. Those models were regarded as being among Apple’s most successful iPhones.

And there are some products that Apple simply hasn’t tried yet despite the interest of its rivals. For …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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