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Flexible-display smartphones just a ‘novelty'.... for now

Colin Neagle | May 14, 2013
Although multiple manufacturers are expected to release smartphones with flexible display screens by the end of this year, the technology will be little more than a novelty until about 2015, one analyst says

Manufacturers have made some progress in reducing the cost of flexible display technology, but still have some work to do, Ali says."I think the main thing holding it back is it still needs a lot more development, as well as new materials, because I think the materials are the things pushing costs significantly higher up, and I think the manufacturing processes need to be fine-tuned," he says.

Even when products that make use of the technology are ready for consumer markets, they won't come cheap, Ali adds.

"There have been significant improvements from the past in bringing down the cost, but I'm still not certain what the price of this TV or these mobile devices will be initially," he says. "But it won't be in the lower end. It will be somewhere upward of, I think, $500."

Once manufacturers solve a few key issues for smartphone users, primarily ensuring the user experience on a flexible display screen is no different than that on traditional touchscreens, Ali says smartphones will be the key catalyst driving adoption of the technology. Flexible displays will be prominently featured in TV screens and tablets, but the rate at which consumers upgrade smartphones will account for a significant amount of the market.

Despite rumors suggesting smart wristwatches from both Apple and Samsung, which would rely on flexible displays, Ali says market interest in the devices will be too low to spark much interest from manufacturers.

"I think the adoption for smart watches is not going to be as high as some people are predicting right now. I think it is a complementary device to a smartphone, but not a replacement device," Ali says. "There will be some interest from consumers, but I don't think it will be enough that many of the manufacturers start."

The next couple of years will be critical to the success of flexible display technology, and will see an influx of research and development. But Ali believes the technology will overcome the obstacles and will become a common feature in the future of consumer electronics.

"Once the technology has been there and the adoption rate starts to go up, I think this will be a game-changing technology and electronic devices, both small mobile and large-screen devices, will take the next level of user experience and other possibilities for the digital world," he says.

 

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