Apple’s Foldable Strategy Options Laid Bare

One of my favorite analsyts, David Hsieh at Omdia, has a blog post that speculates on Apple’s plans for foldables. Omdia is positive on the potential market growth for foldable OLED displays, which are projected to increase from 23.1 million units in 2023 to 32.9 million units in 2024, with a forecast to surpass 120 million units annually by 2030. Yet, despite these numbers, foldable displays would still be a small fraction of the total smartphone display market.

Estimation of Apple’s iPhone display roadmap. (Source: David Hsieh at Omdia)

Hsieh considers Apple’s potential entries into the foldable device market, speculating on different formats such as inward-folding smartphones with subdisplays or clamshell and book-type models. Possible impacts on the iPad series are mentioned if Apple were to introduce hybrid devices capable of transitioning between smartphone and tablet PC modes. Projected new products include a more affordable iPhone SE with a 6.12-inch OLED display and a foldable iPhone with a book-type format, featuring a 6.1 to 6.3-inch cover subdisplay and a 7.7 to 7.9-inch main foldable OLED, aimed at blending smartphone and tablet functionalities.

Apple is predictable. The company seems to leak like a sieve, and it also seems to test drive market hypotheses through the press or, at least, it doesn’t try to stop speculation. It’s all free marketing for the company. So, what Apple decides to do with foldables is probably a process that has already begun and that will not end until it can manufacturer millions of them. What we do know is that Apple is a lumbering behemoth that takes much longer to maneuver than of its competitors so, we might be waiting a while for Apple to fix on a direciton.