Phablet Shipments Are Exploding, But They Won't Have A Huge Impact On The Overall Smartphone Market

Massive screens and large form factors are finally resonating with consumers in the smartphone market, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

  • Juniper forecasts that worldwide annual phablet shipments will hit 120 million in 2018.
  • That’s up from just 20 million last year, which equates to roughly 43% compound annual growth between 2013 and 2018.
  • Lining those numbers up against our recent smartphone market forecast figures, though, shows that, despite rapid growth, phablets are unlikely to have a truly defining impact on the smartphone market. By 2018, they will only make up about 5% of smartphone shipments, according to our estimates.

Samsung is already at the forefront of the phablet movement and having an enormous impact on the market as a whole. In fact, the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3 may have accounted for over half the 2013 phablet sales reported by Juniper; Samsung sold a reported 10 million units in just two months on the market.

But Juniper defines a phablet device narrowly, as a smartphone whose screen is 5.6 inches or above. IDC, on the other hand, defines phablets as a smartphone with a screen size of between 5 inches to 6.9 inches. By this definition, demand for phablets in Asia-Pacific alone is accounting for a much bigger slice of the smartphone market. In the second quarter of 2013, IDC reported that phablet shipments in the region reached 25 million.

We consider Juniper’s definition a fair benchmark for the phablet category, but it’s still important to keep in mind that the overall trend in the smartphone market is to larger-sized phones, even if these bigger devices aren’t quite phablets.

Consumers are embracing larger 5-inch screens and gravitating away from smaller 3.5 or 4-inch screens. For example, Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones have taken developed markets by storm. In North America, the Galaxy S3 and S4, at 4.8 and 5 inches, respectively, make up over 55% of smartphone Web traffic, according to Chitika.

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