Goldman Sachs: Samsung’s Galaxy Fold has 2-year lead over Apple (video)

The form factor is compelling, says analyst Rod Hall, but he will believe Samsung’s $1,980 clamshell smartphone/tablet when he sees it.

From a note to clients posted last week:

  • Clamshell form factor compelling and may not be doable for Apple. Just as with the very popular Motorola RAZR devices back in the featurephone era we see foldable screens as a compelling form factor. Not only do users get even larger screens in a portable form factor but the screen is inherently protected from damage by the outer device. We see this as challenging for Apple who could find themselves with no access to the critical flexible OLED technology for which we believe Samsung has at least a two year lead over other display competitors.
  • Several outstanding questions. The fact that the Fold was not available for demo at this event suggests that the product may not be completely ready with only two months to go to launch in our opinion. This raises the question of what sort of volume Samsung will be able to provide and when. We also would like to actually use the device as the larger screen is covered by plastic rather than glass so the user experience is an unknown and is potentially inferior to glass for nearly $2,000. We also noticed that Samsung is not shipping the device with a stylus which seems like it would be useful given the tablet-like inner screen.
  • Our bottom line. The Galaxy Fold appears to be a first generation device but it looks to us like a promising form factor that Apple may not be able to duplicate given a lack of access to Samsung’s display technology. However, we reserve judgment until the product actually launches in mid-April.

Maintains Neutral rating on Apple and (deep underwater) $140 price target. 

Cue the unveiling video:

My take: It’s nice to own the factory that makes the displays.

UPDATE: Friend-of-the-blog Bruce Oran points out that Huawei’s foldable phone beat Samsung to the punch, at least in specs. See The Verge’s Huawei’s Mate X foldable phone is a thinner 5G rival to the Galaxy Fold.

11 Comments

  1. Keith Hope said:

    Why would Apple not have ‘access’ to Samsung foldable screens?

    Does Samsung not manufacture iPhone screens for Apple?

    2
    February 25, 2019
    • Turley Muller said:

      Exactly. Samsung wouldn’t pass up that revenue to Apple. They won’t sell many of these themselves. Not at $2 grand! I’m not convinced this technology isn’t a gimmick.

      2
      February 25, 2019
  2. Dan Scropos said:

    I see no hope for Samsung and this folding phone. Samsung took their branding power and threw it away a long time ago. The S 9 was a complete flop, selling roughly 30 million units. I just don’t see a phone over twice as much selling even 5 million units. This phone simply isn’t affordable, and, more importantly, doesn’t have a differentiating feature. A clamshell iPad Mini does the same thing for a quarter of the price, and does so with a physical keyboard.

    For this device to be successful, Samsung would have to attract iOS users and I just don’t see that happening. You could buy an iPhone XS Max, an Apple Watch and an iPad for that price. So, I ask you, would you rather have a folding phone that Samsung hasn’t even allowed the public to demo, or the 3 aforementioned iOS devices? With Apple and its unmatched brand power seeing a slowdown in high end phones (really just an expansion to 3.5 years on the replacement cycle), how does Samsung think their brand can command this price? This is a real head scratcher.

    2
    February 25, 2019
    • Turley Muller said:

      Terrific points. Samsung isn’t serious about selling these. Not at that price. It’s more a publicity stunt a beta trial with their customers money.

      Makes no sense. Phone is thicker than circa 1990’s models. When folded it’s a poor phone. When opened it’s a poor tablet. Attempts to be both and fails. I don’t see the use case.

      Couple others introductiing folders that are even more expensive. I think I saw 2800 price point. My question is – how Does a case work on that ? I wouldn’t want to be pulling keys from my pocket and see 2 grand fall out and crack all over the pavement

      I can’t believe Goldman is serious about this. They look very unsmart here.

      1
      February 25, 2019
  3. David Emery said:

    The ‘use case’ for a folding phone isn’t quite clear. Is this really intended to make a phone a small tablet? A ‘double size phone’ is about the size of a paperback, right?

    And it seems to me this is mostly a hardware/production problem. How do you make a folding phone that is sturdy enough for the kind of use/abuse a phone gets? How about battery life and/vs weight?

    It could well be that ‘folding phones’ will be a thing. I think it’s too early to tell. But without a “killer app”, I’m not convinced they’re worth the expense (and fragility.) (Your Mileage May Vary, of course 🙂 )

    0
    February 25, 2019
  4. Gregg Thurman said:

    “Foldable” is nothing more than fodder for a sensationalist media. Samsung developed it, knowing it won’t sell, to generate brand and innovation creds.

    The specs are terrible (physical dimensions and weight) and the price is double that of the most expensive, media bashed iPhone (iPhone XS Max 512GB)

    The Samsung Galaxy Fold is DOA.

    Two year lead? Bull crap. I would be astonished should Apple follow Samsung down this rabbit hole.

    0
    February 25, 2019
  5. John Konopka said:

    “We see this as challenging for Apple who could find themselves with no access to the critical flexible OLED technology for which we believe Samsung has at least a two year lead over other display competitors.”

    This seems totally wrong. The Samsung gadget does not use a foldable screen. There are two screens connected with a hinge, not a flexible or folding screen.. Anyone can make this if they so choose.

    0
    February 25, 2019
  6. Aaron Belich said:

    Do I smell a newbie!?

    What drivel. What dry humor. What a crock of mad-lib, cockamamie, line of horse manure to feed he (or her) that signs his paycheck.

    0
    February 25, 2019
  7. Chris Ferebee said:

    I’ll have my $2,000 ready for a foldable iPhone right about when the screen is made of glass and the hinge is as durable and as buttery-smooth as the locking blade on the Leatherman I’ve used for a decade.

    I rather doubt Samsung has a 2-year lead on Apple in that regard.

    0
    February 27, 2019

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