Years ago, phones didn’t have screens. They had little dials.
Then we got screens, but they didn’t tell us much. More or less, all it said was which button we were hitting.
Eventually, the devices got a bit more robust, with functions like games, notes, or an alarm clock.
Soon after, we got colour screens…music…apps…cameras…internet browsing…and voila! The mobile phone became our go-to all-in-one portal to the world around us.
Now, the younger you are, the greater the impact of phones on your life…and probably the more you use and trust your phone for your day-to-day stuff.
It’s a trend that’s overwhelmed our generation…and has become one of the greatest modern mega-industries.
For investors, mobile technology is one development you simply can’t ignore.
There’s a lot of innovation happening in that sector, lots of new businesses popping up and doing cool things, and therefore a lot of money to be made with smart, early investments.
Today, I’d like to brief you on an incredible trend that’s going to arrive THIS YEAR.
Industry insiders have already gotten a taste of the incredible technological feats that will be available on store shelves before Christmas.
They’re excited. I’m excited. And by the end of this short briefing, you’ll be excited too.
This trend is foldable phones.
Engineers, mostly from China and South Korea, have sorted out a way to bend screens like you’d fold a piece of paper.
Here’s what it looks like:
As you can see from the photo, the screen makes a 90-degree turn and still retains full functionality. And that’s only halfway. You can fold this thing in half without any issues whatsoever.
You may think that it’s two different screens with a bendy part in the middle, but it’s actually a single fluid screen. That bent part along the ‘spine’ works just as well as any other part of the display.
When unfolded, the gadget works as a tablet and when folded, works as a phone.
I can see how this would be useful in different situations.
Walking down the footpath and need to check a text message? Phone.
In the car using GPS? Tablet.
Answering a call? Phone.
Watching a video? Tablet.
Who knows…in a matter of years, our kids could be laughing that we used phones with rigid screens. [openx slug=inpost]
Right now, Samsung and Huawei are the frontrunners to launch the first retail models. The photo above is the Huawei Mate X…while Samsung’s competitor will be the Fold.
Both will launch with prices well over the $2,000 mark in the US. Likely $3,000—$4,000 in New Zealand.
It’s 2019’s top-of-the-class premium smartphone.
Within the next 12 months, we’ll see a flood of competitors entering the market…with most analyst eyes on Apple.
At the time of writing, Apple hasn’t signalled any iFolds or iBends. Tim Cook and crew will be eagerly watching how foldables pan out this year…and incorporate improvements on the model into their own version (which is likely being developed right now behind closed doors).
But, as investors, it’s important to broaden our perspective on how this technology could spread.
So many things have screens — this could affect all of them.
Smartwatches will almost certainly bend around your wrist.
Laptops could roll up for easy storage.
Dashboard displays in cars could be moulded to the shape of the dash itself.
Plus, there could be a host of new use cases for digital screens…in situations where we’ve never even thought about putting a screen before.
Curved along the outside of an aeroplane or along the inside of a urinal. Who knows!
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a company like Methven [NZX:MVN] worked out interesting ways of integrating this new technology into their showers or tapware. They’ve already shown that they’re keen on putting cutting-edge ideas into their product lines…
Or agritech innovators like LIC [NZX:LIC] could come up with a way to integrate pliable screens into a solution for Kiwi farmers.
Or Spark [NZX:SPK] could do something really cool and integrate a bowed display along the hull of Team New Zealand’s AC75 in the 2021 America’s Cup.
Now, as a serious note to investors, gamechangers like bendable screens can affect your portfolio in two ways.
On one hand, maybe you’re savvy enough to pick out a few company’s that will ride the tide of this emerging idea.
On the other hand, maybe you hold companies that will be left in the dust.
You either capitalise or you lose.
And if you look at history, you’ll find a graveyard of giants in the wake of technology.
Companies like Blockbuster who failed to incorporate the internet into its video rental model. Or Borders who thought printed books would never go out of style. Or Blackberry who didn’t think touchscreens were important.
Each one missed out on the innovations around them…and collapsed as a result.
But from their failures, we’ve gotten companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple respectively.
A little forward-thinking always pays off.
Editor, Money Morning New Zealand