With Lenovo and LG already selling foldable tablets, rumors of a similar iPad abound.
Two decades is generally the length of time it takes for something to pass the cycle of cool, uncool and then cool once again — in 2023, we are seeing a resurgence of everything from low-rise jeans to the hand-held digital camera.
While technology’s lightning-fast advances prevent it from following the same upcycling circle as fashion, certain stylistic elements of the past also inevitably go from being passé to attractive to new generations.
Over the last year, more and more tech analysts have been writing about the resurgence of “foldable tech” or the good old flip phone. The Motorola Razr was the the top-selling cellphone of 2005 and, in 2020, Samsung (SSNLF) tapped into that nostalgia with the Galaxy Fold Flip series.
“It started with Samsung’s flip phone and has been a big hit in South Korea,” Tim Bajarin, chairman of the market research firm Creative Strategies, tells USA Today. “Then it started showing up in TikTok videos, which got the attention of Gen Z, a demographic not familiar with the flip phones of the 1990s, and they began searching for those models.”
The Flip Phone But Make It iPad
While the flip phone was quickly pushed out by the abundance of apps and features available on smartphones, technology is quickly reaching the point at which the same features can also be made available in foldable format. International Data Corporation data expects that global purchases of flip and foldable phones will go from 7.1 million in 2021 to 27.6 million units in 2025. That is a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 69.9%.
While Apple (AAPL) – Get Free Report does not presently sell any screen-foldable gadgets, that might change soon. Ming-Chi Kuo, a top analyst who is often turned to for predictions about the company, believes that a foldable iPad could enter production by 2024.
Along with a revamped iPad Mini, the new gadget could help the company get a boost from the supply chain problems currently plaguing the tech industry.
“I’m taking a cautious approach to iPad shipments for 2023, predicting a YoY decline of 10-15%,” Kuo wrote in a Sunday Twitter post. “Nevertheless, I’m positive about the foldable iPad in 2024 and expect this new model will boost shipments and improve the product mix.”
Foldable Tech Is In Technology’s Future
At the moment, the closest approximation of a “foldable” gadget is one with a keyboard — an Apple product called the “Magic Keyboard” attaches to the iPad and makes it possible to open it up like a book or a laptop.
According to Kuo, the new iPad would be independently foldable due to a carbon fiber kickstand made by China-based Anjie Technology. He did not speculate on what exactly the iPad would look like further but, going off of what foldable gadgets we see now, one could choose to have one’s apps displayed either across the fold or on one side of a background image either horizontally or vertically.
In launching this type of gadget, Apple would be catching up rather than innovating — along with Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold, Lenovo (LNVGF) and LG both also sell different versions of the foldable tablet.
“My latest survey indicates that the foldable iPad will feature a carbon fiber kickstand,” Kuo writes. “Carbon fiber material will make the kickstand lighter and more durable.”