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Big screens for less? Phablets lead the market

02 Sep 2013

Phablets overtook shipments of each of the portable PC and tablet device categories in Asia/Pacific during the second quarter of 2013.

Recent findings from analyst group IDC, who says smartphone device vendors shipped 25.2 million phablets during the period, compared with 12.6 million tablets, and 12.7 million portable PCs.

Phablets, with screen sizes of five to just under seven inches, made a significant jump, up by 100% quarter on quarter, and up 620% for the same quarter in 2012.

"Samsung was the first to succeed in phablets with the Galaxy Note launched in APEJ in 2011 Q4, capturing 90% of the phablet market," says Melissa Chau, Senior Research manager, IDC Asia/Pacific.

"Fast forward to 2013 Q2, and Samsung's Note series counts for less than 50%"

"Phablets first started as a trend driven by mature markets like South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore – and these markets continue to rise.

"What's changed now is the added pick up of phablets in emerging markets like China and India, not just the plethora of big-name vendors competing head-to-head with Samsung, but instead the low-cost local players who have swooped in to offer big screens for less money – averaging a retail price of US$220 versus Samsung's US$557."

By comparison, the growth of tablets has taken a hit in the second quarter, in part due to high inventory carry over from Q1, the seasonal lull in Apple's iPad refresh cycle, combined with some cannibalisation of tablets by phablets.

Particularly in emerging markets, where consumers may not have the budget to pick up one of each, IDC claims the phablet is winning out to capture both the telephony and better browsing and multimedia experience.

The outlook for all three of these categories are positive for rest of this year. IDC expects interest in portable PCs to pick up as more hybrid and touch-enabled models launch, while tablets will pick up on the launch of Apple's refreshed models and continued growth in the seven to nine inches category.

Phablets have proven to be more than just a short blip of a fad and will drive the region. Over the long term however, this does not mean that one size fits all.

As tablets get more productive, and new categories such as smart watches evolve, IDC expects continued diversity among smart connected devices.