A funny thing happened last week at the MWC19 wireless show in Barcelona. We were expecting the focus, once again, to be on 5G, AI, IoT, the cloud and so much more in the way of hot, new technologies. Instead, the folding screen smartphone stole the show. So, let’s take a closer look at this brand-new technology and whether it will change things going forward for every smartphone and tablet maker.

To start with, I think 5G, AI, IoT, the cloud and other smartphone technology will be much larger and much more impactful on every one of us compared to a folding screen. However, this year, this new idea suddenly jumped up and bit us on the nose.

I believe the folding screen technology will ultimately only impact one slice of the customer pie, at least to start. There are many reasons for this, including the high-price and how thick and heavy the device is. As amazing as it is, it is not comfortable in the hand. Not yet anyway.

However, we have to remember this is just the first generation of this folding screen technology. As time passes, the size will get slimmer and lighter, and the prices will come down on new devices. Plus, there will be pre-owned devices to choose from as well as first-timers upgrade next year.

Who will be interested in folding screen smartphone technology?

The first-generation folding screen buyer will be the early adopters. Those who always want what’s new, even though it’s much more expensive, thicker and heavier. Then after the first year, a second-generation buyer will enter the scene as prices start to come down and the devices are easier to manage. There will also be pre-owned devices on the market as users trade-up.

Ultimately, the people who will be interested in this new device will be some of the same people who today carry a tablet and smartphone with them. This way they will only have to carry one device and it will do the same thing as two.

The rub will be, when you want to carry a smaller device and leave the tablet at home. At those times, you are simply out of luck. You’ll still have to schlep the monster size smartphone with you.

Will folding screen smartphone be a winner or not?

I have a solution. Perhaps this folding technology will someday be like the flying automobile George Jetson of The Jetsons cartoon drove. You know, the flying car that folded into a briefcase when he got to work. But don’t expect that in an update anytime soon.

A perfect technology would be an expandable smartphone vs. this folding version. A device that can expand into a tablet, or shrink to a thinner and lighter, pocket size smartphone.

Remember when the first plasma screen TV’s came out. They were thick and heavy. Today, they are as thin as paper. That’s what I expect to happen with these folding screen smartphones over time.

Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X are first-gen, folding screen smartphones

The Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X are the first-generation of these folding screen smartphones and I expect this to set off a mad-dash of competitors to do the same thing. Some will be good. Some won’t.

Will Apple introduce their own version? Well, when it comes to Apple, they don’t always follow the crowd. So, we are never sure until the device is in the marketplace. However, I think this will be a hit with a slice of their customer pie as well.

That’s why I think Apple will jump in to the folding screen world with their own version. After all, users love their smartphone and some of them love their tablet as well.

Will Apple iPhone introduce a folding-screen version?

Combining these two devices is not best for everyone. However, it is for some. And I don’t think Apple will ignore that slice of their customer pie. If they did, they would risk losing that slice to Android competitors like Samsung and Huawei.

So, bottom line, let’s welcome folding-screen smartphones as a new slice of the pie. Expect it to be of interest to everyone. But expect it to only sell to a smaller group because of larger size and higher expense.

As time passes, and as prices, size and weight come down, I think sales will increase because this device blends both the smartphone and tablet. The slice of the pie will increase over time, but I don’t see this as being popular among all users. Remember, many want a thinner phone. And many don’t use a tablet.

The wireless industry continues to grow, change and wow each and everyone one of us. Expect this innovation wave to continue. This is what we were used to from this group for so many years. Then things got quiet and boring. It’s good to see new life breathed into the lungs of the wireless smartphone industry.

Remember, 5G, AI, IoT, the cloud and more are still coming. They will completely transform the industry for every user on the planet. That will be the big one. Change and innovation have been washing us over for decades, and we are still just in the beginning of this wild-new-ride! Enjoy.

The post Kagan: Galaxy Fold, Mate X folding screen smartphones stole the MWC19 show appeared first on RCR Wireless News.