Samsung Rumoured to Release Flexible Smartphone in 2013
For those who find the iPhone’s frame too rigid or who dream of rolling their Droid up like a sleeping bag, Samsung may have a solution for you.
The BBC has reported that the South Korean technology manufacturer is well ahead of competing companies such as Nokia, LG, Sony and Phillips in the race to release the world’s first flexible smartphone.
Said to be “razor thin, paper-like and bendable,” prototypes of the mobile have already been revealed at gadget shows and have amassed much media attention.
Flexible screens "have been the holy grail for a while, but you'll also need flexible batteries, circuit boards, and chips," Carl Howe, research vice president at the Yankee Group, told TechNewsWorld. "It's a tough job."
Toughness aside, Samsung seems to have nailed down a working game plan. The screen, ever susceptible to the hazards of strong thumb pressure and forgotten back-pocket placement, will be AMOLED-enhanced to make it "foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than… conventional LCD technology," a Samsung spokesperson told the BBC.
The idea is anything but original: in mid-September, LG received a US patent for an interface invention that allows the user to flex and fold the touchscreen with the screen changing to suit the movement, and Apple filed a patent for “electronic devices with flexible displays” later that month. The rumour that Samsung will release its version of a bendy mobile has been circulating for a few years now, and it’s unclear what the repercussions of these patents will mean for the impending release.
Still, kudos is in order if Samsung does indeed set itself apart from the tech pack and introduce the world’s first foldable smartphone in the New Year.
“Flexible AMOLEDs can help Samsung differentiate its products in a smartphone market where most products offer similar products and functionality,” Vinita Jakhanwal, director of mobile and emerging displays and technology at IHS Electronics and Media, told TechNewsWorld.
The video below walks you through some of the device's fine points:
C-suite spotight: Melanie Perkins, CEO, Canva
Who is Melanie Perkins?
She’s the co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn online design platform Canva, who ultimately became one of tech’s youngest female CEOs, at just 30, and recently became a billionaire aged 35, making her one of Australia’s richest and youngest.
Why is she in the spotlight right now?
Because less than a year after securing a US$6bn valuation during the pandemic, which provided a big boost to business, Canva has recently more than doubled its valuation, securing a $15bn valuation, which makes Perkins a billionaire, according to Forbes. The valuation comes in the wake of a new funding round in the first week of April 2021 led by T. Rowe Price and Dragoneer and raising $71m. At the same time, Canva announced its business has passed $500m in annualised revenue, up 130% from the year before.
What is Canva and why is it so successful?
Launched in 2013 by co-founders Melanie Perkins (CEO), Cliff Obrecht (COO) and Cameron Adams (Chief Product Officer), Sydney-headquartered Canva is a free-to-use online graphic design product that allows users to create everything from social media graphics to presentations and other visual content, as well as offering paid subscriptions like Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise, with 3 million of its now 55 million users taking paid subscriptions.
Accruing 750,000 users in its first year, following a number of rounds of investment including from Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital in 2019 and this month’s massive funding round, Canva now boasts 55 million users across 190 countries, with offices in Sydney, Beijing, Manila, and most recently Austin, Texas, and is valued at $3.2 billion.
And while the company was originally most popular with SMEs, helping them draft and design print and digital assets, it’s since grown to become a real-time collaboration suite that’s being used by big firms including McKinsey, Salesforce and American Airlines. In fact, Canva claims that 85% of Fortune 500 companies use the platform’s services. They continue to add new features and during the pandemic, added presenter video recording tools.
How did Perkins get there?
The idea of Canva came to Perkins when she was at the university of Perth, where to earn money on the side she taught students design programmes. Many of her students found platforms like Adobe complicated and frustrating, and the ideas came to her to simplify and democratise design, to make it more approachable and accessible, more collaborative, and ultimately to empower all in design. So, she and university peer Cliff Obrecht, who became Canva co-founder and Perkins’ husband, created an online school yearbook design business, Fusion Yearbooks, to test it out. Operating from her mum’s living room, the yearbook design business was a massive success, expanding to New Zealand and France, and remains the largest yearbook publisher in Australia.
However, Perkins did not give up on her dream to create a one-stop-shop design site and at one point spent three months living with her brother in San Francisco where she pitched to more than 100 venture capitalists, all of whom rejected Canva. It was following a chance encounter at a conference in Perth with Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Tai, Perkins was winning over major investors including Hollywood celebrities Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson and building out Canva’s design platform with a fast-growing team of tech engineers and a high-profile tech advisor, Lars Rasmussen who co-founded Google Maps.
It was in 2012 when things really kicked off however when Perkins and Obrecht found a tech co-founder in Cameron Adams. The same year, they closed their first funding round, which was oversubscribed and raised $1.5m, with Canva going live in 2013. In 2019, an $85m funding round led by Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital gave the company a valuation of $3.2bn, before the most recent funding around in April 2021 leading to a valuation of $15bn.
In her own words…
"I think it's pretty important to know that every single person is going through their own trials and tribulations. Knowing that it's tricky for everyone, that any adventure will be filled with rejections and littered with obstacles – somehow makes the adventure a little less lonely. And it's most important for people who feel like they are on the outside to know this."