Foldable Phones

Brown’s Bytes – Foldable Phones for Enterprise?

Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes

9th November 2018

For years now, the form factor of the Smartphone has been pretty much set in stone. The original iPhone nailed the basics so well that pretty much every smartphone since has been following the same form factor (with a notable shout out to TCL and BlackBerry for their physical keyboard devices that break this mould). Oh… and yes, I do know that Apple didn’t technically come first, but I doubt many of you can name the devices that beat it to market!!

With each device launch we have arguably seen less and less innovation in design… as I have stated previously, the market for some time has been iterating and refining with device launches focusing on things like camera specs to differentiate themselves.

So amazing news this week… foldable devices are coming! Samsung has just unveiled its Galaxy X foldable device and others including Huawei, Lenovo and LG have foldable devices in the pipeline.

This is big news!!

So far, I have been surprised at the muted response in the press. Probably because the launch didn’t have an Apple logo on it to a certain extent I suspect, but also because there isn’t yet enough detail on how this technology innovation could change things. We’ve been used to rigid black slabs of glass for so long that it’s hard to imagine a world where this needn’t be the case anymore.

Ironically the same sort of thing happened when the first iPhone came out. The world was so used to smaller screens combined with physical keyboards that it took a while to realise quite what this new form factor would allow.

So, is this going to be a similar moment? To a certain extent that will only become apparent once the devices get in the hands of consumers and they can make a choice… again the iPhone changed things, because it worked so well and was intuitive to use.

Having said that, I thought it would be interesting to consider what the Enterprise use cases could be…

I was asked recently whether we would see a unification of devices (Windows, Tablet, Phone) at some point. As the devices get more expensive this will increasingly be asked – as IT budgets get squeezed.

Regular readers will remember that I tried to do precisely this in January. I took my Samsung S8 and paired it with a DeX docking device to try and work for a month exclusively from my smartphone.

One of the key frustrations I had during this experiment was the lack of a large screen solution for when I was on the move. The example scenario was when I was working on a spreadsheet on the train. When I was in the office I had a full screen with keyboard and mouse, but for this semi-mobile experience, working from a smartphone screen (even a big one) wasn’t quite enough.

This is potentially where foldable tech could really kick in. Imagine your smartphone working pretty much as it does today, but when needed, you can unfold the device into something tablet sized! This could finally allow for a unification of smartphone and tablet capabilities in a single device… that could be pretty cool!!

Time will tell now if this is the next big thing, but this ability to work outside the flat/rigid form factor will hopefully unleash some design innovation that moves us on… we can start looking forward to device launches again!

We’ll keep you posted, but if you want to discuss device strategy for the Enterprise then please do get in touch.