BII REPORT: Why Phablets Aren't Just A Fad

Photo: BI Intelligence

At the time the iPhone was introduced, its 3.5-inch screen was considered huge. When Sprint introduced the first 4G phone, the HTC EVO 4G, in mid-2010, many thought the 4.3-inch display would be too large, but the phone was a hit. Samsung upped the ante with the 4.5-inch Infuse smartphone in January 2011.On the tablet side, screens were getting smaller, shrinking the distance between phone and tablet display sizes. There were many 7-inch tablets introduced, including the original Galaxy Tab, and less expensive successors, including the Kindle Fire, Nook colour, and Google Nexus 7.

A new notion was emerging about the convergence of smartphones and tablets. But the term “phablet” — something between a phone and a tablet — didn’t come to be widely used until Samsung broke the 5-inch barrier with the first Galaxy Note. Samsung itself plays on the ambiguity in its current campaign for the Galaxy Note II with the tagline “Phone? Tablet? Best of Both.”

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we investigate whether phablets are here to stay, dig into how smaller tablets and larger smartphones are changing the way consumers use their devices, analyse existing phablet device sales and future sales projections, look at various phablet holdouts, detail the potential downside to phablets, and examine other ways to “go big” other than the phablet approach.

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Here’s a brief overview of what we can expect to see in the near future for phablets:

  • Device shipments will explode: Barclays sees phablet shipments climbing from 143 million units shipped this year, to 228 million by 2015. IHS iSuppli is more conservative, projecting 146 million units by 2016. Both sources use the standard definition of phablets as including phones with 5-inch and larger screens.
  • Emerging markets will play a big role in this growth: Asian markets will account for a majority of phablet sales before long, as large-screen handsets — mostly running Android — have proven especially popular in Korea and China. Many emerging market consumers will be mobile-first Internet users, and it makes sense that they will choose large-screen devices adept at media consumption and Web browsing. 
  • Phablet adoption will be a plus for the overall mobile ecosystem: 5-inch and larger phone screens, many of which are HD, lead to a greater likelihood of consumer app downloads, Web downloads and video viewing. These activities are more enjoyable on larger screens and drive consumers to devices like the Note and Ascend Mate. Conversely, these gadgets’ large, high-resolution displays are a boon for content providers looking to create richer Web sites and denser apps.

In full, BI Intelligence’s report on Phablets: 

  • Examines what phablets are and how they came to be
  • analyses existing phablet device sales and future sales projections
  • Looks at and details the various phablet holdouts
  • Explains how the rise of phablets will impact consumer mobile usage
  • Details the potential downside to phablets
  • analyses other ways to “go big” other than the phablet approach

To access BI Intelligence’s full report Phablets Aren’t Just A Fad, sign up for a free trial subscription here.

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