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Samsung desperately wants to be the maker of the world's first foldable tablet but only if it can find a compelling reason for consumers to want one.

On numerous occasions over the past three years, the company's mobile CEO, DJ Koh, has stated his foldable phone goal, but that title could be snatched by Chinese rival Huawei if Samsung doesn't come up with the goods soon.

Samsung has previously said its foldable phone would be unveiled in 2018, but then postponed it to 2019. Then in September Koh backtracked and said it could be unveiled as early as November.

Koh has now offered some insight into why consumers might want a foldable phone.

At yesterday's launch of the mid-range Galaxy A9, the world's first four-camera phone, Koh told ZDNet sister site CNET that consumers would use the foldable device as a tablet with multitasking capability and then fold it into a more portable phone.

"I'm positive that we do need a foldable phone," said Koh.

Koh reiterated that the foldable phone had to be "really meaningful to our customer" and stressed that Samsung must deliver a user experience that is up to his standard.

The exec also wants to avoid the product becoming a gimmick, a fate that is entirely possible for a foldable phone.

Rather, he wants the concept to have the same level of success as the Galaxy Note, which was written off at first by critics for its large screen, but has since been recognized as valuable by rivals in the form of devices like the iPhone XS Max.

He admitted that when Samsung does start selling a foldable phone, it could be a "niche market", but he's confident it will expand.

The catch for would-be buyers is that if Samsung were to announce the foldable phone at next month's Samsung Developer Conference, that would mean it is unlikely to sell the phone for some time yet.

Still, it might be a necessary move to get developers on board with apps that take advantage of the different format. Nonetheless, Samsung would still get to claim it had made the world's first foldable phone.

Samsung is likely to use its flexible OLED technology for its folding phone, which would allow a single display to fold, as opposed to having two separate screens connected via a hinge.



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