As the smartphone and tablet markets begin to become saturated in western countries, manufacturers are now looking to emerging markets such as China and Brazil for growth. However, with smaller tablets becoming more popular and larger smartphones taking off, market watchers are beginning to wonder whether the so-called "phablets" could soon cut into tablet sales.
Today, analyst firm IDC released projections showing that larger smartphones (those with screen from 5 to 7 inches) are already beating the tablet and portable PC markets in Asian/Pacific territories, excluding Japan (APEJ). Its numbers show that phablet shipments have increased a whopping 620% since the second quarter of 2012, and even rose 100% over the previous quarter. The firm states that 25.2 million phablet units were shipped during the second quarter of 2013 - nearly double tablet shipment numbers of 12.6 million.
"Phablets first started as a trend driven by mature markets like South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore - and these markets continue to rise," said Melissa Chau, senior research manager for Asia/Pacific client devices at IDC. "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."
Phablets may not stay the winners in the region, though, even in the short term. Tablets saw lower shipments throughout the first half of 2013, but sales are expected to rise substantially this fall after manufacturers such as Apple and Amazon announce newer versions of their tablet lineups.