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Phablets popular in Asia

Anuradha Shukla | Sept. 2, 2013
Device vendors shipped 25.2 million phablets in the second quarter of 2013.

Phablets or smartphones with screen sizes between five and seven inches are increasing in popularity in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ).

These devices overtook shipments of each of the portable PC and tablet device categories in the region in the second quarter of 2013, according to a newly released report by IDC.

A total of 25.2 million phablets were shipped in this period as compared to 12.6 million tablets, and 12.7 million portable PCs. IDC predicts a positive outlook for all three of these categories for the remaining year.

Phablets first became popular in mature markets like South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore; and they are still capturing the market share of mobile devices. 

"Samsung was the first to succeed in phablets with the Galaxy Note launched in APEJ in 2011 Q4, capturing 90 percent of the phablet market. Fast forward to Q2 2013, and Samsung's Note series counts for less than 50 percent," said Melissa Chau, senior research manager with IDC Asia/Pacific's Client Devices team.

Slow growth of tablets

Although tablets are still popular in Asia, their growth took a significant downturn in the second quarter.

Their popularity nosedived in emerging markets as consumers in these markets find it difficult to invest their hard earned money in tablets. They find it easier to buy a phablet though as it provides a good quality browsing and multimedia experience for users. 

IDC expects this trend will not last long as phablets may lose their charm to tablets that are expected to get more productive. Phablets may also get tough competition from new devices such as smart watches in the coming months.

Their bright future may be in question but phablets made a significant jump, up by 100 percent quarter on quarter, and up 620 percent for the second quarter of 2012.

“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," added Chau.


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