Tech companies are hoping that the future is folding — but not in a pessimistic, sky-is-falling-in way.
Rather, they think the next big trend will be for devices with foldable screens, somewhere in size between a tablet and a smartphone.
Those devices might have screens that fold in (like the Samsung Galaxy Fold Foldable Phone) or fold out (like the Huawei Mate X), or they might use fancy hinges that connect two screens (like Microsoft’s forthcoming Surface Neo and Duo devices).
ZDNet’s Matthew Miller says his experience of the Samsung Fold leads him to believe that a one-device future may be getting closer to reality. A device that gives you enough screen to be productive when mobile but can also connect to a larger screen and keyboard for a desktop experience at home or in the office could be a tempting option, reducing the need to reach for a laptop to do proper work.
Something like the larger Surface Neo could even deliver the same productivity boost you get from two screens on the desktop, but on the go.
There is this idea the laptop is too big, too unwieldy and basically just too dull to be the device we ought to be using. PC sales are certainly in long-term decline, despite the odd upward spike — like now, when there’s a late rush from businesses to replace old devices still running Windows 7.
We’ve been here before, of course. Devices like the smartphone, the netbook and the tablet have all been heralded as the device that would finally crush the PC. Other candidates lurk around the corner — maybe we’ll all be creating spreadsheets in virtual reality in a few years’ time, or having augmented reality meetings.
Even so, I think the PC has life left in it yet. For one thing, in tech nothing ever really goes away — it just finds a niche, albeit a smaller one than in its heyday. Even in steady decline, hundreds of thousands of PCs are still being sold every year.
More importantly, the PC has done a pretty good job of saving itself from the scrapheap in recent years. More