By next year, we might see more manufacturers and markets converge on tablets 8 inches and above in size and abandoning smaller ones. This will be due to a shift in consumers preference towards phones that are 5 inches or larger, nowadays called phablets.
This claim comes from analyst Bob O’Donnell who once worked as head of PC, smartphone, and tablet research at IDC and has now founded his own company called Technalysis Research. According to him, in 2014, there will 175 million phablets sold worldwide compared to 165 million smaller tablets. This does match earlier talk of how phablets are cannibalizing the small tablet market, forcing manufacturers to push tablet sizes higher. For example, Samsung is expected to unveil a 12.2-inch tablet at CES next month.
This transition won’t happen evenly on all markets, however. The greatest push will be coming from markets such as Korea, China, Taiwan, Brazil, and other emerging markets, where phablets already have a head start. In Korea alone, two-thirds of smartphones being sold are phablets. In the US, however, adoption of gigantic phones is expected to be slower as phablets are still considered awkward and uncomfortable to use, especially with one hand.
But the US market may not have much of a choice, especially if rumors of Apple making its own large phone or tablet hybrid turn out to be true. Smartphone owners today are also using their devices less and less, as low as 16 percent, for phone calls and more for emails, browsing, and games, making phablets more practical than small tablets with WiFi only connectivity or even those that offer 3G but no telephony.