Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF), surprised attendees at its analyst day by announcing it will be bringing fully foldable screens to the market "sometime in 2015" and even teased the product with a chintzy promo video. Although the video's focus was on phone and tablet combinations, the real opportunity here is in wearable tech—Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) should be on notice. Samsung could have a game changer with its foldable screen.
Wearable tech as the next frontier
As the market for smartphones and tablets continues to become more contested, tech companies are increasingly looking at new growth opportunities. They may have found it in wearable tech: According to Juniper Research, worldwide spending on wearable tech will hit $1.4 billion this year and increase to $19 billion by 2018.
Of these companies, Samsung has the most recent commercial product launch of these new generation of wearable tech products with its Galaxy Gear smart watch. So far, the product has witnessed tepid demand and modest reviews—mostly due to the fact it must be tethered to other Galaxy products for full functionality.
Apple fans are abuzz with any new product chatter, and the rumored Apple iWatch is near the top of that list. The Internet was in virtual hysteria when Thomas Bogner used the Nike Fuel Band as influence for his iWatch concept. Tim Cook is known to both wear and praise the product:
I wear this, it's a Fuel Band. I think Nike did a great job with this. It is for a specific area, it is integrated well with iOS.
Google has taken a different approach to wearables with its Google Glass product. Google integrated its operating system into a pair of glasses and now has San Franciscans abuzz about a floating barge that may be its first Google Glass store.
Wearable tech should be, well, wearable
Wearable tech has always been a desire of the tech crowd. However, the main limitation has always been the display unit. Samsung appears to have taken the first step with its foldable screen. This leads to an instant competitive advantage for smart watches (due to comfort), and a head start on other forms of wearable tech.
The possibilities are endless. As we move toward more interconnectivity, technology should play an even greater part of our lives. Of course, all technology won't be worn, but establishing a foothold in this burgeoning industry is a pathway to growth.
Final Foolish thoughts
This will be a competitive space, you can bet on that. With a potential $19 billion up for grabs annually, you can expect Apple, Samsung, and Google to compete fiercely. Right now, Samsung has not only brought the first commercial product to market (Google Glass is still only available for developers), but they also have a potential game changer in terms of its foldable display screen.