Samsung and Germany-based SGL Group (“The Carbon Company”) on Thursday announced a “strategic partnership for carbon fiber composite materials,” with each company having a 50% stake in the new venture.
Samsung will apparently get a “stable long-term supply of carbon fiber materials” which will be used to build various products including “consumer electronics, medical services and engineering applications.” The press release specifically mentions some future products including wind blades, pressure vessels, automotive and household appliances alongside the generic “electronic products.”
As you can see, smartphones and tablets aren’t exactly part of the announcement, but we would assume such devices are included. Both Juergen Koehler, member of the Board of Management of SGL Group, and Yoosung Chung, President & CEO of Samsung Petrochemical, mentioned carbon fiber materials as options for the “digital media” markets. Is that exec code for mobile devices?
Samsung has been criticized more than once for the plastic used in various Galaxy smartphones and tablets, including the latest Galaxy S4 flagship smartphone. By choosing plastic, the company is able to produce a lot of devices in a timely manner and launch them almost at the same time in various markets – even so, the Galaxy S4 launch was delayed by insufficient stock – but not all buyers are happy with this particular design choice.
Some reports have suggested that Samsung may have been somewhat worried by flagships from competitors – particularly the aluminum unibody HTC One – and had considering replacing plastic with metal in future devices. However, those rumors have not been confirmed. The upcoming Galaxy Note 3 is not going to have a metal case, if most reports are to be believed.
Samsung has proven that it can make metal-based devices – such as the Galaxy S4 Active that was just unveiled and launched in some markets – but its future may be tied to carbon fiber considering this new partnership.
Recent reports have also revealed that Galaxy S4 demand is lower than initially estimated – either because devices like the HTC One and the Xperia Z are putting up a great fight in stores (with design potentially being one of the reasons buyers choose one of these devices) or because the initial estimates were wrong to begin with. Samsung is not worried about such reports according to recent official statements, saying that the Galaxy S4 is selling very well – and it’s probably safe to say that it’s selling a lot better than other Android devices out there.
That said, we can’t but wonder whether the partnership between Samsung and the SGL Group has anything to do with the recent advancements in mobile design, and the company’s (and our) need for better built devices. Whatever the reason for this partnership is, in case Samsung will indeed replace plastic with carbon fiber in the following years, at least for flagship devices, Galaxy device buyers will certainly be happy.