By Aaron Mamiit
According to the International Data Corp., phablets aren’t just a fad, but rather a growing trend.
Shipment of phablets, which are hybrid devices that combine smartphones and tablet computers, are expected to surpass the shipments of portable PCs this year and tablet computers next year, according to the technology research company.
The IDC defines phablets as smartphones that have screens with sizes ranging from 5.5 inches to just below 7 inches. Devices with 7-inch screens and larger are considered by the company as tablet computers.
The phablet category was started by Samsung in 2011, when it released the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note. The device was first ridiculed for having such a large display compared to the other smartphones in the industry, but the unusually large screen eventually found acceptance within customers.
The acceptance has now translated to a trend of customers preferring phablets over portable PCs and tablet computers.
The IDC said that sellers will ship about 175 million units of phablets this year, surpassing the expected shipment of 170 million units of laptop computers for the year.
In 2015, the IDC expects phablet shipments to almost double to 318 million units, which is more than the expected tablet computer shipments of 233 million units.
“With Apple expected to join the space in the coming weeks, we anticipate even more attention on phablets as larger screen smartphones become the new norm,” said IDC senior research manager Melissa Chau.
Chau is referring to the rumors that point to Apple unveiling a 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6, which will fall under the phablet category. The first iPhone that was released in 2007 had a screen that measured only 3.5 inches, which only became bigger with the release of the iPhone in 2012 to feature a 4-inch screen.
The launch of the new iPhone, which will also come in a different version that has a 4.7-inch screen, is expected to take place in a couple of days in an event of Apple on Sept. 9.
The IDC expects the percentage of the consumer market that uses phablets and regular smartphones to continue to increase, driven by the growth in emerging markets. This year, the IDC is expecting smartphones, including phablets, to take 70 percent of the market. The figure is expected by the IDC to increase to 75.6 percent by 2018.
The IDC believes that, while consumers in developed markets such as the United States are likely to own a combination of devices, the smartphone will be the only device of choice, with the decreasing average selling price for the devices a major factor in this trend.
Last year, the average selling price of a phablet is at $568 and a smartphone is at $320. This year, the average selling prices have dropped to $397 for phablets and $291 for smartphones.