Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) unveiled its exciting Galaxy Note Edge phablet in September, and the electronics giant appears to be just getting started in the world of curved OLED displays.
According to a recent report from Korean tech news site AsiaE, Samsung might have quietly showcased two variants of its upcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone to select partners at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The first reportedly bears Samsung's usual flat OLED display tech, while the other -- tentatively called the Galaxy S6 Edge -- is said to be a "limited" edition smartphone with three distinct screens, including one main display and two curved Edge displays running down either side of the device.
Less "limited" than you think
This news isn't entirely shocking, as LG Display simultaneously showed off the very same innovation at CES in its own prototype device, which sports two side screens LG calls an "Active Bending OLED display." But while LG insists this display is ready for mass production, it's unclear whether the company has secured any notable design wins for its new tech.
By contrast, Samsung appears to be dramatically ramping up its efforts to bring the Galaxy S6 Edge to market this year.
In fact, according to AsiaE, "industry insiders" say Samsung wants to sell as many as 10 million Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones in 2015 -- and that's on top of roughly 45 million to 52 million "regular" Galaxy S6 units. This means Samsung wants roughly one in every five Galaxy S6 devices sold to feature its slick, new Edge display technology.
For perspective, Samsung only shipped an estimated 1 million Galaxy Note Edge units between its initial unveiling and the end of 2014, compared to about 11 million regular Galaxy Note 4 units.
What's more, Samsung could be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for the Galaxy S6 Edge's success. As I pointed out shortly after Samsung's announcement in September, the Galaxy Note Edge was ultimately destined for mediocre sales given its combination of prohibitively high price and limited availability. "Consumers might not take kindly to such a device," I wrote at the time, "if they associate it as difficult to find and overly expensive from the start."
Now, the Galaxy Note Edge just arrived at Verizon this past week for $400 with a contract or $800 unlocked. Cool display or not, the wide availability of competing high-end $300 contract smartphones makes the Note Edge a tough pill to swallow for even the most ambitious tech enthusiast.
But if Samsung can indeed manufacture and ship 10 million Galaxy S6 Edge units this year -- and keeping in mind the smaller Galaxy S series tends to be priced a notch below the larger Note -- this much larger rollout could help resolve both the cost and availability issues by increasing supply and, in turn, removing Samsung's margin-driven need to command such an exorbitant price.
That's not to say the Galaxy S6 Edge won't still sell at a premium to its flat-screened counterpart. But if consumers react favorably to the differentiating display in its smaller form factor, the Galaxy S6 Edge could prove to be a major win for Samsung.