Does a patent application mean a company is particularly serious about a technology? No.
Is every company that makes phones at least toying around with a folding model? Yes, probably.
It’s tough to know from a series a crude drawings and technical details filed with the USPTO how seriously an individual company is taking these plans. Honestly, most companies are understandably most likely taking a wait and see approach to the tech.
A new patent application spotted by Patently Mobile likely falls into the the latter camp. Google, after all, outsources a lot of its Pixel and other hardware to other device manufacturers — and, notably, doesn’t make its own displays. Even so, the filing shows off a device that folds a bit like a wallet.
“FOLDABLE DISPLAY NEUTRAL AXIS MANAGEMENT WITH THIN, HIGH MODULUS LAYERS” is pretty simple, on the face of it, especially when compared to already announced and soon to be launched offerings from Samsung and Huawei (not to mention the Xiaomi concept that got everyone all excited). It does put Google in the same boat as Apple and Motorola, however, as companies that, have at the very least, flirted with the idea of a foldable.
Google, notably, has been on board with the category, at least from a software perspective. The company made a joint announcement with Samsung last year that it would support devices like the Galaxy Fold via Android. So someone, somewhere deep in the bowels of Mountain View has likely been toying with concepts.
As far as consumers are concerned, of course, foldables are still mostly a curiosity, with prices hovering around $2,000 — double the cost of other flagships. Relatively low barriers of entry have long been among the appeals of the Pixel line, so it’s tough to imagine Google rushing into a $2K foldable this year.