When Samsung launched the first Galaxy Note, it was supposed to testing out a new phablet category and push the limits of productivity. Samsung succeeded, and it became a successful and important part of Samsung’s product line. But the productivity aspect of the Note series didn’t changed much but the average size of a smartphone has grown.
The Note filled a void in the Smartphone ecosystem that was a bit narrow, it was a productivity device that never really got more productive. DEX was an interesting attempt to push the boundaries of the smartphone to make it a desktop. But being able to do more with the device you have in your hand is more appealing and the Fold offers that.
Samsung has added the SPen and a significantly larger display, but for me the two form factors of the Fold line give it wider appeal than the Note line could ever hope for. The Fold 3 will appeal to the previous Note user because it’s a new form of on the go productivity for the business focused. We also have the Flip 3 that will set them apart as a statement device, in the same way that the Note and its price tag were statements. The Flip in my books was wider appeal than the Note ever will appealing to a wider audience based on stark difference in form factor to a traditional smartphone while while closed. The WOW factor to the Fold is when you open it to tablet mode, which isn’t all the time.
With one identity, an enthusiasm technology and excitement for the future, the two phones in this line with address slightly different target groups.
The Fold also has more potential than the Note did, if Samsung doesn’t go the DEX route of adding a workstation, but rather a focus on the device being the work station. Writing a lengthy document, you could add a kickstand and a foldable or retractable keyboard. This would need to be supported by intuitively designed dedicated apps and software.
A foldable phone with a pen is better equipped to handle productivity tasks – especially if Samsung experiments with new designs – than the Note range. Pivoting to a pure productivity focused phone with an entirely unique experience also puts some daylight between where Note ended and the Galaxy S series. The two lines were quite similar and the Fold replacing the Note as the technology showcase the entire Samsung line starts to make more sense.
Samsung has also increased the durability and dropped the price. These are two moves that Samsung needs to bring the Fold into the mainstream. Which is a pretty big statement, especially since there are a great many who believe that it’s possible the foldable could end up like the 3D TV.
As ICS points out, formerly very successful companies such as Samsung are most at risk:
- They prospered in the past by focusing on the middle ground. But that positioning no longer works
- Their relatively high cost base compared to China means they can’t compete on price
- And they have been slow to move into services, and so can’t compete with companies like Apple
But what is Samsung’s alternative:
We have to give Samsung the respect that it deserves for replacing the Note line with the Fold. As I wrote last year, we needed to send the Note out with a high note, and I think Samsung accomplished that.
Samsung is taking a huge bet, but they’re doing so with the backing of a very strong lineup of phones. In 2020 the Samsung Galaxy A51 was the most sold phone in the world. They expect the foldable market to hit 6.5M devices in 2021, though we don’t have specific sales details the Fold is a big part of that figure.
We just saw Xiaomi take the number one spot from Apple, they did it by churning out smartphone after smartphone that’s disconnected from any ecosystem and all look and seem the same to me. It commendable that Samsung is pushing the boundaries of the ecosystem forward rather than waiting to see what is successful and then acting.