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Samsung Unpacked 2020 a foreshadowing of enterprise mobility trends

The Samsung Unpacked event may have focused on consumer-oriented announcements such as the unveiling of its foldable Galaxy Z Flip, but experts said it's a sign of what's to come.

Enterprise mobility takeaways from this week's Samsung Unpacked 2020 event were limited, but it touched on a few trends that IT admins will likely see take shape in the coming years.

Samsung announced its Galaxy Z Flip foldable phone at the Tuesday event, as well its 5G-enabled Galaxy S20 line of devices. Much of Samsung Unpacked 2020 was dedicated to consumer-facing features, but experts believe some of the themes touched upon, like 5G compatibility and new form factors, will make their way to the enterprise -- eventually.

5G as the default

Although 2020 is not expected to be the year of 5G for enterprise use, experts believe the technology could have a revolutionary impact when it does arrive. By making its flagship S20 line 5G-ready, Samsung is preparing for that eventuality now.

Tuong Nguyen, senior analyst at Gartner, said it's not surprising that Samsung's new phones are 5G-ready.

Tuong NguyenTuong Nguyen

"When you're talking about the high end, people want premium features for a premium product," he said.

For early adopters, the consumer case for 5G adoption may be an easy one to make, Nguyen said, but it's more complicated for the enterprise. A 5G phone makes no sense for a company that doesn't operate in or send workers to remote locations in a 5G coverage area.

"As we see more and more 5G devices, it becomes the standard and enterprises will, by default, buy them," he said.

The decision to be more conservative about 5G adoption could work in an enterprise's favor. Forrester Research principal analyst Julie Ask noted that 5G radios, like those for the preceding generations, will take some time to perfect.

Julie AskJulie Ask

"One of the concerns with adding relatively new cellular radios to smartphones is the bulk, cost and battery drain," she said. "Samsung claims their more integrated approach bypasses these typical challenges with new-generation networks -- but they were short on details."

Those concerns, Ask said, would likely abate by the time businesses adopt the technology.

New features and a novel form factor

Samsung announced a foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip, and a bevy of features at Samsung Unpacked 2020. Experts were mixed as to whether these would have an impact on the enterprise.

Samsung claims their more integrated approach bypasses these typical challenges with new-generation networks -- but they were short on details.
Julie AskPrincipal analyst, Forrester Research

Nguyen said some of the features and functionality introduced at the event do seem compelling for the enterprise, such as the integration of Google Duo video calling and on-demand captioning or transcription. Real-time transcription, he said, could be useful in cases where a business call audio quality is poor and could enable conversations in areas where signal is weak.

Regarding the Z Flip, support from app developers will determine whether it will prove useful for productivity-minded business users.

"This is the first generation of the product, so there's some work to be done," Nguyen said. "Samsung has a lot to do in terms of software integration taking full advantage of the device's features."

Nguyen said, instead of forcing an existing app onto the new form factor, new development must be done to highlight the strengths of the device.

Ask said there's a tension between creating new form factors and ensuring software support.

"On one hand, you build to be unique, but you have to have a large base of customers for a developer to say, 'I'm going to build a version of my app just for the Samsung Z foldable phone,'" she said.

Although several split-, dual- and foldable-screen devices are coming to the market, Ask said it was still uncertain as to whether enterprise apps would support them.

"There's got to be a use case," she said.

A missed opportunity?

Mark Bowker, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said he believed there was room for a device maker to focus on the enterprise.

Mark BowkerMark Bowker

"I think there's an untapped opportunity for companies like Samsung to partner with enterprise IT buyers [to determine] what their device strategy is, what their security strategy is and what their experience strategy is and really step up their game," he said. "I think we've missed the fact that that premium consumer device could [also] be the single corporate end-user device."

A consolidation of devices, Bowker said, could lessen a company's ecological footprint and limit the number of devices for which an employee is responsible.

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