One analytics company calls phablets a fad while another group call on Nokia to enter the ring

One analytics company calls phablets a fad while another group call on Nokia to enter the ring
When you consider that the 5-inch-plus segment seems to be on fire right now, especially Samsung’s Galaxy Note II, a report from mobile analytics company Flurry, suggesting that phablets are a “fab” almost seems out of place.

Then consider the notion that market analysts are suggesting that Nokia’s absence from the phablet segment threatens the venerable Finnish company’s return to greatness.

We will start with the latter of the two issues. Francisco Jeronimo, an analyst with IDC sees the current trend with 5-inch devices as being an event that Nokia cannot be overlooked and that missing out on the segment completely poses a problem to the company’s measured rebound so far. Jeronimo believes Nokia is working on a larger device even though the company has not confirmed one way or the other.

When citing the sales of these phablets though, the Galaxy Note II, the Huawei Ascend Mate or the ZTE Grand Memo, Jeronimo is missing the forest for the trees. Samsung and Apple will each sell hundreds of millions of handsets this year, and the majority of those will not be a Note II or iPad mini.  Nokia's flagship Lumia 920 with a 4.5-inch display is in a sweet spot size-wise and other hot selling devices like the iPhone 5 or the highly anticipated HTC One do not venture into phablet territory either.  We would also be remiss in not mentioning the fact that the ultra-popular Samsung Galaxy S III is also not a phablet.  Nokia's current vacancy in the tablet department may pose a similar challenge.

While that notion sinks in, consider a report from Flurry. Titled, Size Matters for Connected. Phablets Don’t, the first point of the report states plainly that “phablets are a fad.” Flurry broke down screen size segments in their analysis as follows:

  • Small phones have a screen size of 3.5-inches or less (this was made up of mostly BlackBerry devices)
  • Medium phones are between 3.5 and 4.9-inches (iPhone, SGS III)
  • Phablets have screens between 5.0 and 6.9-inches
  • Small tablets are 7.0 and 8.4-inches
  • Full-sized tablets have 8.5-inch or larger screens

Now that we have that out of the way, Flurry focused on the top 200 device models (out of 2,000) detected over the past 30 days. Based on the analytics and development work Flurry does, the company estimates this represents about 80% of all usage.

Medium devices have the lion’s share of activity in terms of device type and active user. Phablets are less than half of everything else, including full sized tablets. When examined by operating system, the Android platform follows nearly the same pattern when phablets are compared to other handsets. Still, medium devices rule the roost.

Then you would think that phablets are making a showing when it comes to books or video right? Not the case, as phablet share remains in the 2-3% range. Data like this will be of particular interest to developers who must consider how much effort they put into their finished product, and for which user base.

Does this constitute a true “fad” for phablets? It may not matter. Even if phablets earn a mainstay share in the overall user base, it stands to reason that the majority of people, even if they find them useful, will not want to hold a dinner plate next to their head when on a call or not have the ability to easily pocket or holster their device.  However, in emerging markets, phablets may find widespread appeal for those that cannot afford to buy a smartphone and tablet.

It will be interesting to see if Flurry adjusts its definitions in the future with the pending release of the Samsung Galaxy S4 with its 5-inch display and the expectation that sales for that device are going to be white-hot.

Surely this will bring out a lively discussion.  Do you think phablets are a fad?  Or are they a niche that will find a solid, reliable market for the long run?

sources: Bloomberg, PCMag.com and Flurry


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14 Comments

1. Technobri

Posts: 84; Member since: Dec 10, 2012

it truly is a fad and i hope it disappears... gradually atleast....4.5 to 4.7 is where the maximum should be for smartphones...if i wanna use s pen ...ill just get a galaxy note 10.1

2. lallolu

Posts: 733; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

I think it is good to have options even though phablets' option is for a very low percentage of phone users.

3. phil2n

Posts: 519; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Why would I bother if I have the money to buy all of that stuff. Feature phone SmartPhone Phablet Tablet Ultrabook Desktop etc...

4. EXkurogane

Posts: 863; Member since: Mar 07, 2013

"Phablet" = Phallus + Tablet Anyway, i mentioned before, supersize phones are stupid. I dont want to use 2 hands (one holding the phone, the other hand tapping on screen buttons) just for something simple like texting and calling.

5. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

No, it is not a fad. There is a good sized market for large screen devices. However, there is a ceiling on how large a device you carry with you everywhere can be. I suspect even without bezel, a 6" device is just too much. But there is no trend that supports phablets in general not being successful.

6. Plesman

Posts: 11; Member since: Feb 19, 2013

It's not all about the screen size. Above 4 inch its the overall size of the phone that matters.

7. PhoenixWright

Posts: 102; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

Fad or not, I think I wont change my GNote II for anything smaller than a 5 incher. Having a large display is just great. Sure 2 handed typing is a downside in theory, but if find myself typing faster than with just with one hand. Come on, even people with iPhones type 2 Handed at times. Plus, when you go big and get used to it, its hard to look at a medium phone because it'll look and feel smaller than it really is.

8. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I didnt really like the phones over 5", but I dont see it as a fad. And my reading more eBooks now will either have me getting one or a tablet. I'm sure some ppl thought tablets were a fad too...look how that turned out.

9. JDogg5281

Posts: 74; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

I dont see it as a fad... more about options. If we all recall didnt some people complain about the htc evo being to big when it first came out

13. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I remember one girl thought my Droid X was a Kindle....lol. They are both considered mid size, normal size now.

10. Stuntman

Posts: 843; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

I think they need to break up the 3.6" to the 4.9" catagory some more. Perhaps 3.6" to 4.2" and a 4.3" to a 4.9" catagory.

11. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

The flurry got it all wrong. It's a way premature comparison. Phablet market is 90% consisted out of two Galaxy Note generation models. Other makers are still pretty much absent here. As for the Galaxy Note itself, it is clearly a greatly successful product with extremely positive user feedback. Majority of those trying the Note 2 after the S3 would go for a switch. I am an S3 owner who is skipping the S4 and is waiting for the Note 3. Have a cheap 7' tablet and old Acer laptop and I barely ever use both because my S3 is just far more quality in a device. With the Note 3, I will have all I need

12. aveaphane unregistered

Many have the problem of the huge size but once you have experienced a phablet-you shall not return to a smaller screen at all!

14. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I agree. I was skeptical about my Droid X. Now, I cant have a phone smaller than 4", 4.5" Still wary about a phone bigger than 5", but I might try it soon.

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