About those Phablets

Scott Francis
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After visiting in Hong Kong this summer, I can say I better understand why Phablets are selling. Granted, the overwhelming majority of screens are in the 3.5 to 4″ range, but phablets have gotten a lot of press.

On the subways of Hong Kong, these large screens aren’t being used so much to send email or do work – they’re being used to play video games and watch videos.  And while studies have shown video games are easier to play and win on smaller screens, it is easy to understand why people want to be able to see bigger screens for the graphics, and for the videos or tv programs they’re watching.

If Apple, for example, is serious about playing in this space, I think they already have a good offering – the iPad Mini.  The question is whether Apple should be selling a companion device to the Mini that makes it an effective phone replacement  as well.  After all, the fact that it would be a phone would be an afterthought – first use is as a game or texting device. So build a great gaming device that happens to be a phone – with a screen  a bit bigger than the iPhone5’s.

The other thing that is even more obvious in Hong Kong than in the USA, is that Samsung advertises a lot more than any other phone company on earth. They’re ads are everywhere.  And they have dedicated Samsung stores here (often independent shops selling so much Samsung gear they might as well be branded Samsung stores).

But, there was another undercurrent to the trend:

The more affluent users still seem to prefer iPhone over Android for the most part.  Lots of Androids were being used by kids, who were following around parents who were using iPhones.  Will the children inherit the iPhone hand-me-downs from their affluent parents?  Or will they stick to Android phones and tablets?  Time will tell.

Final note on Apple observations – the Apple store carried a whole third floor of accessories – many more than any store I’ve seen in the US.  And many more accessories designed by recognizable brands or design houses.  When a helpful Apple employee told us the third floor had accessories, we looked at her a little funny (we’d just walked by a whole wall of accessories on the second floor).  She saw our hesitation and said, simply “even more accessories on third floor” with a smile.  Boy was she right.