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Phablets - the next big thing?

business Updated: Nov 12, 2012 20:08 IST
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The astounding sales figures for Samsung's Galaxy Note II suggest that smartphones with a 5.5-inch screen are not a fad and that more companies could soon follow suit in order to address competition from the growing 7-inch tablet market.

When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note, it was greeted with scorn by the tech community who claimed it was too big to use as a phone and too small to use as a tablet.

Yet its second iteration, the Galaxy Note II, has gone on to sell more than 3 million units in the 30 days since its launch -- and that was without being available in the US.

To put that into perspective, Sony only shipped 8.8 million smartphones in total, worldwide, in the third quarter of 2012.

An employee shows an Apple's iPhone 4s and a Samsung's Galaxy S3 at a shop in Seoul. AFP

Display screen sizes are getting bigger

Next major trend in mobile?

Now comments from Chinese computer maker Lenovo and the actions of Samsung's biggest competitors suggest that the phablet is not a niche product and could well be the next major trend in mobile devices.

Tablets are more popular than smartphones

During a conference call to discuss his company's earnings on Thursaday, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing suggested that while 10-inch tablets would soon be replaced by convertible PCs, the latest generation of 7-inch tablets could prove a direct challenge to smartphones: "The market accepts the 7-inch [tablet] better than the 10-inch. That's a very strong signal, the tablet will not replace the traditional PC... Probably, the tablet will compete with the large-screen smartphone rather than the PC," he said.

Indians prefer their smartphones to their TVs

New devices from LG, HTC - and Sony?

Smartphone makers are also aware of this potential threat and have started to develop their own 5-inch display phones.

LG recently launched its 5-inch display Intuition in the US and HTC is about to follow suit with its Droid DNA, which is expected to launch officially in North America on November 13.

In war for tablet market, consumers spoilt for choice

Added to this is the fact that Swiss tech site Android Schweiz has just revealed leaked photos and specifications of a 5-inch Sony smartphone, and it would appear that a trend is developing -- in the Android segment of the market at least.

Actress Diana Penty poses with the newly unveiled Nokia Lumia 510 smartphone in New Delhi. AFP

Will Apple go for 'kill' with iPad Mini?

An iPhone 5 is displayed in an Apple store in central Sydney shortly after going on sale. Reuters

It's also worth noting that when Apple's iPhone 5 was launched back in September that Apple's outspoken co-founder, Steve Wozniak was critical of the company's decision not to make it available in a choice of screen sizes.

He told African tech site TechCentral: "I wish [Apple] had made wider versions - a small and a large version of the iPhone...Not all people want the same thing. A lot of people want the big screens...You get a feeling you're getting more with a larger screen."

Mobile revolution, economy trip up tech giants

An employee holds up a Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Tab tablet computer and an Apple iPad as he poses at a store in Seoul. Reuters