Smartphones Undergo a Design Change
- Mar 4, 2022 2:08 pm GMT
Convenience is a major benefit with smartphones. Mobile technicians carry the device on their person but still have enough functionality to get their work done. Therefore, energy companies are constantly on the lookout for new form factors. Foldable phones, the latest variation, is gaining traction because of its form factor flexibility.
Energy company employees desire convenience when using mobile devices, so form factors abound and are now being extended. In some ways, foldable phones are a modern update on the flip phones of yesteryear. Rather than a typical rectangular device, they fold in half, and reduce the amount of space needed in places, like a pant pocket.
The idea has been emerging for more than a decade, but the concept gained traction in the last 12 to 24 months. The devices can be used by utility employees in different ways. When unfolded, the models resemble a smartphone, which can be used for simple messaging in some cases, and in other cases, they operate like a tablet, a device ready for document input. The latter are solid fits for field technicians who have to input a lot of information about the status of grid equipment and employees working at home because of corporate Covid policies.
Interest in foldable devices is rapidly rising. In the business market, mobile workers see the devices as a more convenient than a bulky tablet and more functional that a typical smartphone.
As a result, worldwide shipments reached 8.9 million units in 2021, a 148% increase from 2020, according to Canalys. That number compares to the 7% growth in overall smartphone shipments in 2021. Because of the rising interest, suppliers, like Samsung, Huawei, and Oppo, jumped into the market.
Facing a Few Hurdles
However, the market faces challenges as adoption rises, so utilities thinking about standardizing on the new devices need to be cautious. The number of suppliers and models is low now. The ecosystem is in an early stage of development, so energy companies may discover it is challenging to find software that takes advantage of the new devices. Also, peripherals, like headphones, batteries, and chargers that work with foldable phones are scarce.
Furthermore, these phones carry a high price tag, start at several hundred dollars and quickly rising into four digits, with certain models. They cost twice as much high end smartphones, so, utilities may have trouble justifying such purchases.
The mobile device market had been sleepy in the past few years, with few innovations and suppliers mainly trying to buy market share by lowering pricing. Foldables have enough unique features that they are rapidly gaining traction. Their emergence provides energy companies with a new option when determining which device employees use to complete their work.
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