NEEDHAM, Mass.—The International Data Corporation (IDC) is predicting rapid growth in the worldwide shipments of foldable phones, including flip and fold form factors, with 13.5 million units shipped in 2022, up 66.6% from the 8.1 million units shipped in 2021.
By 2026, an updated IDC forecast is projecting that foldable phone shipments will reach 41.5 million units in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.7% from 2022 to 2026.
That still represents, however, a relatively small share of the overall smartphone global market. The IDC is predicting that foldable phone shipments will comprise only 1.1% of the total market in 2022 and grow to 2.2% of global shipments of 1,458.8 million units.
The healthy growth of the foldable market has been led by Samsung with its Flip and Fold lineup, IDC researchers noted. They expect the newly updated models will outperform their predecessors and grab more consumer attention in the category.
The IDC also expects that the commercial segment of the market remains ripe for utilizing foldables as two-in-one devices that can replace both a phone and a tablet.
In 2023, IDC is forecasting a 55.1% growth for foldables with continued double-digit growth throughout the forecast period.
"The recent launch of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 will once again shine a spotlight on the entire category as Samsung continues to be the gold standard for foldable devices in the market," said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "The new launches from Samsung have brought incremental but critical improvements over their predecessors. The success of these devices should be a strong indicator of how foldables will evolve and capture consumers moving forward. While the price remains a pain point for consumers, the $999 starting price may be accepted by consumers given that most consumer goods have seen price increases due to inflation in 2022."
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George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.