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Nothing's Carl Pei thinks foldables won't help Android beat iOS
- Nothing founder Carl Pei has claimed that foldable phones aren’t enough to make Android beat iOS.
- He also acknowledged that Nothing’s resources were a factor in the decision not to offer foldables yet.
Nothing recently launched the Phone 2, and it looks like a very capable upper mid-range smartphone. However, company founder Carl Pei made some very questionable remarks at the time about foldable phones, claiming that they were a “forced innovation” that manufacturers were “pushing” onto consumers.
We were very skeptical of these claims, feeling that Pei was simply criticizing foldable phones because the company didn’t have any to offer. Now, Pei has expanded on his opinion of foldable phones in an interview with The Verge.
“The thing for us is every product needs to be profitable and every product needs to be a hit because we don’t have infinite resources,” the Nothing founder was quoted as saying when asked about his remarks, acknowledging that company resources are at least one factor in the decision not to offer a foldable.
“So foldables and flip phones are not that exciting yet. Over time, as the category matures, as the crease starts really disappearing, as apps are being tailored to this new form factor, it’s something we could consider,” he added.
Pei also reckons that foldables won’t make Android beat iOS:
We’re not saying no, but I don’t think it’s the thing that’s gonna really change the paradigm. I don’t think it’s the thing that’s gonna make Android win over iOS. I don’t think it’s what’s gonna make us go from a niche smartphone maker to the next big tech company.
“We just have to build a really solid base of products and keep getting better. Hopefully, we build up some cash to try and invent the next thing,” he concluded.
What does he mean by beating iOS?
It’s worth noting that Android is still the biggest mobile operating system globally right now. But iPhones still beat Android devices in two key areas. For one, iPhones accounted for a massive 75% of the global premium market in 2022, defined as phones with a wholesale price of $600 or more.
Furthermore, Apple’s devices account for over half of the North American market according to a Q1 2023 Canalys report. And the Nothing Phone 2 marks the brand’s first full-scale mobile foray into the region, following a limited Phone 1 launch earlier this year.
Apple’s iOS is beating Android in these two key areas despite numerous hardware innovations first introduced by Android OEMs in recent years. These include ultra-fast charging, 5x and 10x periscope cameras, one-inch camera sensors, giant ultrasonic fingerprint scanners, under-display cameras, and, of course, foldable phones.
So while we definitely think Pei was being deliberately obtuse when initially dismissing foldable phones, it seems like he’s right about foldables not being enough to beat Apple in key battlegrounds right now. In saying so, the category is growing at a respectable pace and we’ll inevitably see key weaknesses such as the display crease and overall durability being addressed over the years. We’re also expecting to see much cheaper foldable phones, with the 2023 Motorola Razr poised to be the most affordable foldable of the year. So you shouldn’t count foldables out for the count just yet, as there’s still plenty of room for improvement in terms of hardware, software, and pricing.