3 reasons why phablets perfectly fit in our media industry’s revolution

Hester Gras

We always thought the word phablet (/ˈfæblɪt/), an aggregation of the words phone and tablet,is a strange word. Better said: it lacks creativity. But as BI Intelligence reported that phablets are today the fastest growing smartphone category, we will probably have to get used to the word. Phablets are a category of mobile devices designed to combine the functions of a smartphone and tablet with screens that are larger than smartphones and smaller than tablets (around 5-6 inches). Looking at our changed media consumption patterns, however, the popularity of these devices isn’t unexpectedly.

Source: BI Intelligence Estimates
Source: BI Intelligence Estimates

According to BI Intelligence, global phablet shipments are expected to grow 27% annually in the next five years. As described in the graph above, this is almost double the 15% annual growth for the smartphone market over the same period. By 2019, phablet shipments will account for 59% of total global smartphone shipments during that year, which is up from an expected 35% this year.  In addition, phablet sales are cannibalizing tablet sales globally. There will be three times as many phablets shipped as tablets in 2019. But the question arises, how do phablets fit in our media industry’s revolution? We listed three important reasons below.

1. Mobile devices are used more for leisure activities

When mobile devices were introduced, they didn’t really have a purpose yet. Would tablets replace PC’s at the office? While tablets and smartphones are perfect for looking up the latest news, showing presentations and having Skype calls and e-mail conversations, their function took a different form. As Tab Times reports, mobile devices are not viable PC replacements and are used more and more for leisure activities.

2. Visually oriented content gets more popular

In addition to the leisure activities, BI Intelligence mentions that the introduction of phablets has speeded up the time consumers spend on social media, video and messaging apps. More than half of activity on phablets takes place on social networks. Larger screens will encourage on-the-go engagement on content-centric social networks and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and LINE.

3. Smartphones and tablets show similar content consumption pattern

imgZine’s apps already showed before that mobile consumption patterns of tablets and smartphones are starting to look more and more similar. In the example below, we will explain this with data from one of our mobile insights apps. The smartphone app is used throughout the day; with a peak between 8pm and 10pm. Tablets are used less often but also show steady use during the day, with a big peak in the evening. As the usage patterns are starting to look similar, it might be more convenient for users to own a mobile device that combines the features of both the tablet and the smartphone.

imgZine's data on mobile apps: daily usage of tablets and smartphones.
imgZine’s data on mobile apps: daily usage of tablets and smartphones.

The tablet and the phone are fast becoming the same device

We believe that the phablet is here to stay for activities such as visually oriented content, reading the news and to support business-related purposes. However, the evolution of mobile devices has only just started. Phones are getting bigger and don’t easily fit in our pockets anymore, while tablets are getting smaller, lightweight and more portable. With this, their functionalities might change as well. Who knows, maybe there will be smaller devices that eventually replace phone functions such as calling. Only time will tell, however, whether and how these changes will actually be put into practice.

What do you think about the evolution of phablets? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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