Phablet sales set to flourish

Sales of phablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note III, are set to flourish. ©AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE

Sales of phablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note III, are set to flourish.

(Relaxnews) – By 2018 the oversized handsets could be truly ubiquitous, especially in Korea and China, where demand shows no sign of falling.

Anyone hoping that the phablet was still just a technological fad should prepare to be disappointed. Juniper Research forecasts that within the next four years, shipment levels will have hit 120 million devices annually.

So what is it that is making these phones with their 5-inch+ displays so popular? According to Juniper, in South Korea at least, it is the growing demand for mobile gaming and the benefits that gaming on a large yet still technically-speaking pocket-sized screen offers.

However, there is also the fact that Korea has one of the fastest 4G mobile internet networks in the world, meaning that a consumer can conceivably download a feature film in a matter of minutes while on the move; and like gaming, movies always look better on the big screen.

In China, the majority of gaming is still desktop-based so demand for larger smartphones is being driven partly by their multitasking functions — more screen means more space for viewing apps side by side — but, like in Korea, streaming visual content is growing in popularity and so demand is growing for growing screen sizes.

Samsung can lay claim to inventing the phablet with the launch back in 2011 of its Galaxy Note, which proved to be a surprise hit with business users in particular, sparking many copycats in the process. And while the best phablets, like Samsung’s latest — the Galaxy Note III — are still targeted at the well-heeled, a host of other companies are turning their attention to the phablet sector and in particular at offering an affordable alternative.

In January alone both Sony and HP have revealed cut-price phablets that are affordable yet don’t cut corners when it comes to performance and a number of other phone makers are expected to follow suit throughout the year.

Even Samsung is rumored to be prepping a ‘lite’ version of the Galaxy Note III, which is expected to be officially announced at the Mobile World Congress this February.

As a result, Juniper believes that the phablet market will be dominated by Android and Windows Phone devices. Nokia is building affordable phablets aimed at consumers in emerging markets that could be seen as convergence devices, capable of offering some of the features of a tablet or even a very low-end notebook and therefore an ideal product for mobile device newbies.

However, rumors persist that by the end of 2014 Apple too will have added a phablet to its smartphone lineup. Most reliable sources currently state that the iPhone 6 will be announced this spring with a 4.7-inch screen but will be followed later in the year by a 5.7-inch display counterpart so that, like its tablet line, the iPhone will have a ‘Mini’ and an ‘Air’ device.

And of course, if Apple were to move into the phablet space, the devices would be practically guaranteed to move into the mainstream in the US and Europe as well as across Asia.

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