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Why would Apple ditch the iPhone brand for its phablet?

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Why would Apple ditch the iPhone brand for its phablet?
There is a new report from from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, there is almost certainly another handheld device coming from Apple this year to go along with the new 4.7-inch iPhone 6. That much isn't really news at this point. The interesting thing is that the Economic Daily News claims that the 5.6-inch device will not carry the iPhone branding. Frankly, we're not sure what to make of this rumor.

The report claims that both devices will launch in Q3, which makes sense, because that is Apple's traditional quarter for iPhone releases. It says there will be the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, which is a rumor we've heard plenty before. But, things get odd when moving on to the phablet-sized device. The Economic Daily News claims that this is an "experimental" device that will feature a 5.6-inch sapphire glass display, and that it will not carry the iPhone name. 

The size of the device has been up for debate for a while, so that part of the rumor can be left aside. The idea of a 5.6-inch sapphire glass display seems fairly unrealistic, but possible. But, to say the device will not carry the iPhone name is a very interesting assertion. The report doesn't say what name the device will carry, so Apple could simply call it an iPad Nano and the rumor would be accurate. It could also carry the iPhone Pro name to go along with the rumored 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but that wouldn't fit with the rumor.

The shadow


Let's imagine for a moment that the rumor is true, and that Apple is going to give the device its own branding. We won't waste time trying to come up with the name of the device, because the question of why Apple would do this is far more interesting. The iPhone and iPad brand names carry huge amounts of power in the market, so it would obviously be a big risk to avoid using either name. But, it could be a great opportunity for Tim Cook to really put his stamp on Apple and show the world that it is his company now. 

Being the man that has to replace Steve Jobs is an almost impossible task. The hype is enormous and the expectations are likely unrealistic. You have to deal with the constant barrage of both those who will try to knock you down simply for not being the same kind of leader and those who wrongly believe you to be carrying on that same legacy. For better or worse, the specter of Steve Jobs is beginning to fade, and Tim Cook may want to have his moment announcing something new. 

Defining a market


While those of us who spend our time reading about the mobile ecosystem constantly think of devices in the 5.3-inch to 6.4-inch range as "phablets", the average consumer doesn't really know what a phablet is. We saw last year that Nokia was surveying consumers trying to determine what the marketing team could call a tweener device like this. The company was curious if the average consumer thought of these devices as small tablets, phablets, or big smartphones, and whether the average user even knew what the term "phablet" meant. We don't know the results of that survey, but the Nokia marketing for its 6-inch Lumia 1520 refers to the device only as a smartphone. Actually, no major manufacturer has used the term phablet in marketing a device. The Samsung Galaxy Note, HTC One Max, and Sony Xperia Z/Z Ultra are all either referred to as phones or avoid any classification. The closest any manufacturer has gotten is with the Fonepad which Asus simply refers to as a "handheld". 

We mention this terminology conundrum because it is exactly the type of issue that Apple has traditionally cleared up with a market-defining device. The term "smartphone" obviously existed before the iPhone, but you likely would never have heard it in casual conversation or on the local news. The same goes for the term "tablet" and the iPad. The iPod would have been another example except that the iPod essentially killed off all other MP3 players, so they are all just called iPods now. This means that there is a market segment that clearly exists and is quite popular, especially in Asia, but it has no accepted classification with the common user. The tech elite know what to call such a device and be understood by others in the same sphere, but we wouldn't often use the term "phablet" too freely, because it would always have to be couched with the definition that it is "too big to be a phone and too small to be a tablet". 

Apple almost certainly would never actually use the name iPhablet on a device brought to market, but what if Tim Cook brought back the name iSlate, which we thought was a true contender for the name of the Apple tablet before the iPad was announced? Remember, the name "iPad" was originally considered for the name of the iPhone, so it is possible that an old name could be revived. Or, what if Tim Cook decided to take a shot at Samsung by calling the device the iNote? Samsung has the trademark on the name Galaxy Note, but not the word "note" in all its permutations. 

If Apple were to release a 6-inch device under the name iPhone, it would garner the usual media attention. But, if Apple were to release the iPhone 6 alongside the brand new iNote, that would lead to a whole different kind of coverage. There would be debates about the name (which of course would only serve to make the name acceptable, just like we saw with the iPad), and the mass media would likely help out Apple more by explaining how a phablet can offer the best of both phones and tablets (or be a jack of all trades and master of none. Either way, there is no such thing as bad press.) 

Conclusion 


Even if Tim Cook isn't looking to make a name for himself, he knows that he needs to generate more buzz around Apple. The company is still pulling in record profits, but revenues are missing projections, and its mobile market share continues to drop. The iWatch will likely help quite a bit, assuming it doesn't continue to hit production troubles, but the iWatch has a tougher road. Smartwatches are by no means an established form factor, and Apple has tended to do best at entering a market segment that is established, but missing out on its potential (MP3 players, smartphones, tablets). When it enters a market that hasn't quite been established yet, the results aren't as impressive (Newton, Apple TV). 

Most of us around here at PhoneArena could explain why smartwatches will be amazing, but the average consumer may not understand the value proposition as easily. That doesn't hold true for phablets. Users obviously see the value in phablets, be it in battery life, screen size, or in cost efficiency (compared to buying both a smartphone and a tablet). But, there is no cultural touchstone for phablets, and that's what Apple likes to create (with the help of the mass media and local news, which don't like to explain things properly). In the early days of Android, the phrase "its like an iPhone but..." was uttered far too often, and the same happened with at the beginning of Android tablets ("its like the iPad but..."). No one outside of our sphere is saying that the Lumia 1520 is "like the Galaxy Note but...". However, if Apple were to release an iPhablet, that might change. 

53 Comments
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posted on 20 Feb 2014, 01:21 15

1. xperiaDROID (limited) (Posts: 5577; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Because Apple needs to catch up, that's why. Btw, iPhablet sounds weird.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 01:34 2

6. pokharkarsaga (Posts: 364; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)


iphab brand sounds good according to me.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 01:43 21

8. istitch (Posts: 168; Member since: 19 Mar 2013)


iFap? i hardly think so

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 02:47 10

14. hurrycanger (Posts: 1190; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)


What's wrong about it? It sounds totally okay.
"I love the iFap."
"Yeah, man!. iFap all day every day!!!"
"iFap ftw!!!"

Oh wait...

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 02:51 2

16. jcdz89 (Posts: 73; Member since: 01 Mar 2013)


Inote or iPhone pro or iPhone max... copy of samsung, LG & HTC respectively

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 04:43 7

25. Finalflash (Posts: 1802; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


Well all of their new "innovations" are copies of something or another now. So instead of a name just do an apology to customers and call it "iF'edup".

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 19:22

52. gallitoking (Posts: 4690; Member since: 17 May 2011)


you clearly don't know what innovation is..

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 06:08 3

27. Kyokado (Posts: 115; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


Didnt apple criticise the note 1 when it came out. That it will never be successful or something like that. And now they are making their own version of the note... I smell hypocrites.

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 02:28

47. Ashoaib (Posts: 2286; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


They are also copying the ideas... but when other company copy their idea, they drag them to icourts...

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 03:01 1

49. Kyokado (Posts: 115; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


Icourt highest form of law and order.

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 20:13

54. gallitoking (Posts: 4690; Member since: 17 May 2011)


amen to that

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 02:22 1

11. frydaexiii (Posts: 1236; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


Behold, iPhad...Definitely aptly named

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 07:34

32. DonkeySauce (Posts: 159; Member since: 03 Dec 2011)


Soooooo sick of iPhone rumors... The day after the 5s came out, we start rumors about the 6, etc...

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 19:15

42. Bioload25 (Posts: 210; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)


The same thing happens to Samsung '-'

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 17:32 1

41. downphoenix (Posts: 2357; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


I think they should name it iFail. At least it would be an accurate name for one of their products.

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 19:24

53. gallitoking (Posts: 4690; Member since: 17 May 2011)


that is reserved for BB

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 21:04 2

43. jael206 (Posts: 128; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)


They already have the iPad Air.. So if this things going to be any thinner than the iPad, it should be aptly named.. "iSheet"!! Yeah, you're welcome!

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 22:04 1

45. Kaiser2007 (Posts: 154; Member since: 16 Nov 2013)


You spell it wrong. The name is actually "iSheep".

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 00:36 1

46. jael206 (Posts: 128; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)


Nah, it's ok.. iSh*t would be better tho. Darn these policies! Lol

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 02:34

48. Ashoaib (Posts: 2286; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


No need to catch up... they bashed big phones in the past... I dont know why ifans have short term memory loss... isnt now apple copying samsung note fame?

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 01:22 3

2. cheeseycheeser (Posts: 386; Member since: 24 Mar 2011)


I'm honestly banking on a rebrand of iPhone Air, iPhone Pro and possibly even iPhone Mini. This would match their computers, and make a lot of sense. Thin all aluminum iPhone Air with a 4.7" screen, an iPhone phablet, and then a 4" plastic iPhone.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 01:23 2

3. Fuego84 (Posts: 282; Member since: 13 May 2012)


The imsoashamed tab

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 01:29 1

4. X.E.R.O. (unregistered)


Either iPhone XL or iPad minier.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 01:31

5. __0__ (banned) (Posts: 242; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)


iPhone XL

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 03:29 1

22. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5866; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


iPhone Max. And then there is just Tim's phone.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 01:42 1

7. Diezparda (Posts: 209; Member since: 23 Oct 2013)


Maybe iPad Nano sounds better than iPhablet

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 08:41

33. preetmalhotra (Posts: 77; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


lol..

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 01:52 1

9. Topcat488 (Posts: 1162; Member since: 29 Sep 2012)


I just hope it doesn't take as long to make as the iwatch or imaps are taking... Poor Apple, why do you have to make things so complicated. X(

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 02:48

15. a_merryman (Posts: 685; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)


What is imaps? Do you mean apple maps? Hopefully the iwatch will come out soon.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 02:13 2

10. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3418; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


iFloplet lol. Note rules.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 02:29

12. preritpathak (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 Feb 2014)


iPhablet? The name's sort of wierd.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 02:39 1

13. Reeyawn (Posts: 65; Member since: 21 Apr 2013)


iPhoneblet lol

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 02:57 1

17. chocowii (Posts: 327; Member since: 30 Jan 2014)


iPad micro for me.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 03:01

18. zuliner (Posts: 10; Member since: 08 Nov 2013)


3" x 5.3-5.5"

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 03:11

19. livyatan (Posts: 701; Member since: 19 Jun 2013)


iPad Palm!!

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 03:12

20. livyatan (Posts: 701; Member since: 19 Jun 2013)


Or..imagine the sound of this..the Palm Pad by Apple

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 03:13

21. aayupanday (Posts: 518; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)


iPhad

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 04:28 2

23. salaal (Posts: 101; Member since: 08 Dec 2013)


I would like to iSlap tim cook if he makes a phone over 5" he shouldn't go over 4.5"!

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 04:33 2

24. geordie8t1 (unregistered)


Still will be hampered by apples software. Android devices like tbe note 3 will always be much better even if sales say otherwise. A nokia phone from 2004 could do exactly what the latest idevice can do. Albeit with a little less finesse. Tech has moved on. The single buggest bug for me is the shoddy codec support. Which makes sense because they want you to buy from itunes. Ipads displays suck because if the rediculius letterboxing. I amselling.my retina ipad mini to go back to android. Galaxy tab pro 8.4" will wipe floor with apple devices

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 07:34 2

31. dratomic (Posts: 464; Member since: 09 Oct 2013)


its like im reading my own comment.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 10:32

34. bigstrudel (Posts: 518; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)


It's like reading every nuthuggers opinion on this site.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 05:54 1

26. ultimatewarrior (Posts: 5; Member since: 19 Feb 2014)


The new iPatch, No seriously, something like "iPalm the world in the palm of your hand" sounds more like an apple product.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 06:36

28. Miracles (Posts: 528; Member since: 31 Aug 2013)


Then they get sued by Palm. Lol

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 07:29

29. darkkjedii (Posts: 11945; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


This is a golden opportunity for Cook, and apple as a whole. Samsung is the only major player in this catagorey, the times rifht for apple to get it in. It could be a huge market share boost. Rock on apple. I'll mos def but one.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 10:40 1

35. networkdood (Posts: 6274; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


You sound like someone who works for Apple...do you own stock in them? LOL, looks like I do through an inheritance passed down from my grandfather...is that funny, or what?
But, really, you act like Apple loves you....kind of sick...no, I mean it..it is really is...psychotic...

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 11:18

36. EclipseGSX (Posts: 1611; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


It could but it's going to flop. Sorry bro, Sammy owns that world

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 12:08

38. alrightihatepickingusernames (Posts: 407; Member since: 29 Dec 2013)


Yeah, making a phablet actually useful and not just a big phone (ehem HTC One Max) would require big changes to iOS as an operating system.

4.7-5" makes more sense to me.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 07:34

30. nctx77 (Posts: 536; Member since: 03 Sep 2013)


I'm not sure about the name, but I think the 5+ inch device should cater towards the ipad line and run ipad apps. I think this is why they are saying the 3.7 inch iphone will launch earlier than the phablet. The phablet will probably launch next to the ipad. I don't think Apple cares about hurting mini sales.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 12:05

37. alrightihatepickingusernames (Posts: 407; Member since: 29 Dec 2013)


It can be the mini iPad mini... iPad.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 12:16 1

39. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 1949; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


I have a feeling, they are going to forget to add a camera....

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 13:09

40. bugsbunny00 (Posts: 1145; Member since: 07 Jun 2013)


idont! hows that?!..

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 21:55

44. roscuthiii (Posts: 1838; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


I'm gonna go with a simple answer. If the new device takes off, they add yet another name to the powerhouse list of successes they've built for themselves: iPod, iPhone, iPad, plus the addition of the iP* (whatever the name may be). And now, I'm going to throw my hat in the ring with a naming prediction of... the iPro.
Apple's certainly no stranger to the "Pro" moniker, plus it lines up with a phablet's professional functionality of which "functionality" is something oft chided of Apple by the non-iPhone fans.

And, if it doesn't take off then it doesn't dilute the branding they've already built with iPhone & iPad. So really, the question is why wouldn't they.

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 08:21

51. Scorpion (Posts: 85; Member since: 28 Apr 2012)


Ipad micro or Imac retina

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