With the recent news that the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is expected to have a larger display than its predecessor, questions have begun to be raised as to the blurring of the lines between smartphone and tablet formats and whether the hybrid market is set to grow exponentially in the future.
A recent report from ABI Research certainly suggests so, with the analysis firm stating that sales of ‘phablets’ (the term it uses for hybrid devices with a screen size between 4.6 and 5.5-inches) will reach 208 million by 2015.
Of course, there are a number of devices already on the market such as the HTC One X, LG Optimus 4X HD and Samsung’s own Galaxy S III which boast screen sizes of over 4.6-inches and, by using ABI’s definition, already fall into the ‘phablet’ category yet are marketed firmly as smartphones.
So are we already surrounded by hybrid devices without us even noticing? The steady rise in screen size has been happening for some time, with only Apple staying under the 4-inch mark (for the time being) with its 3.5-inch iPhone display.
As consumers begin to use their devices for much more than calls and texts, the demand for larger screens has been somewhat inevitable. Indeed, the first generation Galaxy Note has been something of a sleeper success, selling over 5 million units despite initial scepticism from both critics and consumers. All of which suggests that the smartphone market is now actually saturated with handsets that just a year ago would have been considered phablets, and as such, the public desire for standalone tablets would be steadily decreasing, right?
Well, no. The growing tablet sector suggests that they are still very much in demand. Apple recently announced third quarter sales of 17 million for its iPad device, and Google looks set to achieve significant market penetration with its budget Nexus 7 tablet. Similarly, Microsoft is set to launch the Surface tab alongside its forthcoming Windows 8 platform later in the year.
So, rather than a one-screen solution it appears to be the case that consumers are seeking a multi-screen approach in their tech lives. This has been reflected in the rise of cloud-based storage meaning that rather than having information stored locally on a device, users can wirelessly access content from a number of different units, regardless of location.
Overall, it seems reasonable to suggest that screen sizes will continue to grow, and hybrid devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note will become the norm rather the a novel addition to a manufacturer’s range of products.