Unpacking Samsung’s Unpacked Event in San Francisco
by Alex Hickey
After years of watching fashion retailers deny women’s requests for bigger pockets, Samsung finally did something about it. At yesterday’s Galaxy Unpacked event in San Francisco, the smartphone manufacturer unveiled the Galaxy Z Flip, a smartphone that folds into a pocket-size square.
It also showed off a line of new earbuds and phones loaded with 5G compatibility and high-tech cameras. But back to the important stuff.
Second time’s the charm?
Last year, after two delays and a failed launch, Samsung shipped the first Galaxy Fold, a small tablet-sized device that hotdog-folds into a normal-sized smartphone. The phone underwhelmed with half a million orders.
Samsung went back to the drawing board and came up with the $1,380 Z Flip. The folding display is good for 200,000 angsty slams shut and can split into two separate screens.
What Samsung doesn’t feel good about
A slowing global economy, crowded smartphone market, South Korea’s trade dispute with Japan, and competition from Chinese brands, all of which hurt 2019 profits.
As the biggest smartphone maker in the world, Samsung is playing defense while trying to out-innovate competitors with premium handsets and 5G.
- It had 21% of the global smartphone market as of Q3 last year, according to Counterpoint research, but Huawei (18%) is creeping up and Apple (12%) is marshaling its Animoji army.
- Apple isn’t expected to release a 5G phone until later this year, while Huawei released eight last year.
- Last month, Samsung named a new smartphone chief and promoted the head of its network equipment business.
Huawei is also challenging Samsung in the semiconductor market. Chips accounted for about 75% of Samsung’s profit as of 2018, but in Q4 2019 slowing chip sales knocked net profit almost 40%.
Bottom line: Samsung hopes 5G phones and other new devices will help it maintain its lead in 2020.