Tablet And Phablet Use Rises Steadily

Tablets and phone/tablet combos are here to stay, according to Millennial Media and ABI Research. More than 208 million phablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Note, will ship in 2015.
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Tablet use is on the rise and use of phone/tablet combos, or "phablets," is set to explode, say two new reports. Millennial Media explored global trends in all mobile devices and spills the goods on the top tablets for the first quarter of 2012. At the same time, ABI Research studied the acceptance of phablets in the market, which it says are going to sell in the hundreds of millions in the years to come.

We all know that more and more people are buying tablets. Whether used at the workplace, at home, or at both, tablets have become favored as a mobile computing device by tens of millions of people. According to Millennial Media's data, Apple's iPad, Samsung's Galaxy Tab, and Amazon's Kindle Fire ranked in the top 20 among all mobile devices in its network during the first quarter of 2012. That means 15% of the top mobile devices weren't smartphones, but tablets instead.

"This was an ... indicator of how the increased consumer adoption of tablets is changing how digital media is consumed," said Millennial.

Millennial found that Apple remained the top single company in the mobile space and owned the top device, with the iPhone. Samsung ranked second, however, and was responsible for four out of the top 20 mobile devices, thanks to its Galaxy Tab, Galaxy S II, and Galaxy Note.

[ Check out IDC's latest smartphone rankings. See Android, iOS Crush BlackBerry Market Share. ]

Android beat out iOS in overall presence, capturing 49% of total impressions. Android was also responsible for 14 out of the top 20 devices--or 70% of the hardware.

Tablets taken together with other devices, such as connected MP3 players and e-readers, saw a huge 33% increase and were responsible for 20% of all the impressions on Millennial's platform. Video views on mobile devices jumped 958% year-over-year. That's insane. Yeah, people are doing a lot more with their tablets and smartphones now than they were a year ago.

Moving on to phablets, ABI Research says they have a bigger future than perhaps many believed they would. According to its data, more than 208 million phablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Note, will be shipped globally in 2015.

The Galaxy Note is a smartphone-cum-tablet from Samsung that has a 5.3-inch display and features a stylus and stylus-specific software/apps. Most reviewers (in the U.S., at least) felt the device was too large for daily use as a smartphone. Surprisingly, Samsung announced earlier this year that it had sold more than 5 million of them worldwide. The company is probably on track to reach 10 million Notes sold in the coming months.

Why is this device gaining acceptance? "One of the chief drivers for phablets is the amount of time people use their smartphones for Web browsing, reading articles, and newspapers on the go, or simply navigating their journeys," said senior analyst Joshua Flood. "The larger screen sizes make a significant difference to the user's experience when compared to conventional-sized touch screens between 3.5 to 4 inches."

For the record, ABI Research defines phablets as devices that have screens measuring between 4.6 and 5.5 inches. This definition skews the numbers a bit, in my opinion. Many of today's top smartphones are shipping with screens in the 4.6- to 4.8-inch range. That includes devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S III, and the HTC One X and EVO 4G LTE. These smartphones are flagship devices for these companies that will sell in the tens of millions of units, significantly inflating ABI's predictions.

"New phablet-styled devices provide an attractive two-in-one device proposition and are beginning to see the competition between these larger smartphone form factors and smaller media tablets (less than seven inches)," said ABI. This is true. With screens so large, many lacking the means to purchase both a smartphone and a tablet can choose the phablet and get the functionality of both.

Combined, both Millennial Research and ABI Research tell us that larger screens are here to stay. That much, I can agree with.

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