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Phablets

Jan 11, 2015 | Trends

You’re the front runner of the mobile market. You re-invented both the first disruption, the iPhone, and the second one, the tablet. But something happened after the iPad. Consumers couldn’t live without a big-screen device. Yet the iPhone had a small screen.

The shoot-from-the-hip Android market saw an opening and ran with it. Samsung pioneered the “phablet” trend, a contraction of phone and tablet, with the introduction of the Galaxy Note in October 2011. So what happened?

Apple was too successful. It got users addicted to hi-res touch screens. The iPad further spoiled consumers but when faced with a choice between a small-screen phone and a large-screen tablet, consumers opted for convergence.

Which lead Samsung to the phablet, or as one pundit put it — “big-ass phone.” And why not? Who wants to carry two devices when one can do? Manufacturers like Sony stretched the limits even further with the 6.4-inch Sony Experia Z Ultra, pictured above.

Apple faced a typical innovator’s dilemma. In a classic case of innovation recoil, Apple couldn’t put its iPad sales under pressure, which at the time was the fastest growing consumer device in history. And that’s what a larger iPhone would do. So, a full three years after Samsung introduced its Note, the iPhone 6+ was born. And as you might suspect, Apple lost a lot of sales momentum.

This holiday season, Flurry Analytics examined data from more than 600,000 apps and found a big jump in the popularity phablets this year, which more than quadrupled from 3% to 13% between 2012 and 2014:

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Apple was instrumental in that phablet explosion. The iPhone 6+, Apple’s first phablet, was among the top 5 devices activated and contributed to Apple’s 51% share of all new device activations between December 19 and 25.

As TechCrunch’s Chris Velazco put it, “I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve grown accustomed to these sorts of hefty handsets.” Consumers seem to agree, big-ass phones are here to stay.

“The successful companies of tomorrow will address the changing business and consumer values of today.”

— Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong’s Ubertrends book
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