Samsung Electronics is expanding its smartphone business in 2021 with a ‘two-track foldable’ strategy based on the Galaxy Z fold and Flip series. In a conference call for Samsung Electronics’ 4Q 2020 earnings announcement held on the 28th, Seong-gu Kim, executive director of the wireless business division, said, ‘We plan to strengthen the Galaxy Z Fold and Flip lineup this year.’ The Galaxy Z Fold focuses on entertainment and productivity, and the Flip series focuses on securing millennials and female customers with stylish designs and price competitiveness. Managing Director Kim added, ‘We will expand the foldable ecosystem through collaboration with our partners, and continue to expand product maturity and consumer experience.’
The Samsung Galaxy Fold Series
The Galaxy Z Fold series is a foldable smartphone that Samsung Electronics unveiled in February 2019. It has been attracting attention for the world’s first application of an in-folding structure that folds the display inside. When folded, it can be used through an external display, and if necessary, it is a model that has established the basic user experience of a foldable smartphone, such as opening the screen and converting it similar to a tablet.
In August 2020, the sequel Galaxy Z Fold 2 was released. When unfolded, the display size was expanded to 7.6 inches and the durability problem pointed out in the previous work was supplemented to enhance the completeness. At the time of launch, despite the high price of 2 million won ($1788), the pre-sale amount was close to 60,000, and it received a positive market response. In the industry, it is expected that the new model ‘Galaxy Z Fold 3’, which can fold the display twice and supports S Pen, will be released around May this year.
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The Samsung Galaxy Flip Series
The Galaxy Z Flip is a new type of foldable smartphone that Samsung Electronics unveiled in February 2020. The clamshell design that expands and folds vertically is applied from the conventional method of folding horizontally. Unlike the Fold series, instead of giving up the external display, it is small in size when folded, making it highly portable. The screen size is 6.7 inches, similar to a typical large-screen smartphone, and an additional 5G model was unveiled in July 2020.
The strength of the Galaxy Z Flip lies in its unique design. At the time of its launch, Samsung Electronics also expressed expectations that ‘Galaxy Z Flip will serve as an icon that adds a fashionable sensibility to users’ lives.’ In particular, the design reminiscent of cosmetics received good reviews from female customers, and ‘Galaxy Z Flip Decorating’ became popular on social media after its launch. In addition, male customers at the beginning of the launch were nearly twice that of females, and it was popular regardless of gender.
As both models are showing positive results, Samsung Electronics is expected to maximize the strengths of each lineup to maintain its dominance in the fierce foldable smartphone competition. According to CounterPoint, the global foldable smartphone market is expected to grow by about 8 times from 700,000 units last year to 5.5 million units this year. The industry is also predicting that Samsung Electronics will replace the Galaxy Note series with a foldable lineup.
In addition to the foldable, there is a possibility that a new smartphone will appear. ‘It is difficult to reveal the mid- to long-term roadmap,’ Kim said in a conference call, but we are reviewing various form factors and plan to introduce it to the market once quality is sufficiently secured.
Meanwhile, the 2020 sales and operating profit of the Samsung Electronics IM (IT & Mobile Communications) division, which were revealed in the earnings announcement on the same day, were 99.9 trillion won and 11.47 trillion won, respectively. Compared to the previous year, sales fell 7%, but operating profit increased 23.7%. In the fourth quarter, sales were 22.34 trillion won and operating profit was 2.4 trillion won. An official from Samsung Electronics said, “While demand is expected to decline in the off-peak season in the mobile market in the first quarter, we will strengthen our leadership in the premium market by maximizing sales of the Galaxy S21, which was released early, and promoting the popularization of the foldable category.