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Consumers Are Embracing Phablets in a Big Way

May 4, 2015 By Finley Engineering in

Despite skepticism on the part of Steve Jobs, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus – and larger screen-size ‘phablets’ more generally – are having a significant impact on the global smartphone and mobile device markets, according to new market research from Yahoo’s mobile analytics unit Flurry. Phablets, which Flurry categorizes as having screen sizes of between 5 and 6.9 inches (e.g. the Galaxy Note and iPhone 6 Plus), are now the second most popular mobile device form factor after medium screen-size smartphones, Flurry finds.

Phablets’ share of mobile devices in use across the user base Flurry tracks totaled just 6 percent in January 2014. That more than tripled in little over a year, reaching 20 percent in March 2015.

Phablet growth has come primarily at the expense of medium screen-size mobile phones, which dropped 9 percent in share over the past year, Flurry points out. Market share for full-size tablets and small screen-size mobile phones also decreased year-to-year, while that for small screen-size tablets held steady at 7 percent.

“It seems consumers worldwide are smitten with the combination of a large screen size and good old fashioned cellular telephony,” Yahoo’s Jarah Euston writes in an April 30 post on the company blog. “Indeed, in some early adopter markets like Taiwan and Hong Kong, the share of active users on phablets is 50 percent.”

Aiming to evaluate the impact the large-screen iPhone 6 Plus is having on the global smartphone market, Flurry zoomed in on the top 875 mobile devices that represented 87 percent of all 1.6 billion sessions they track on a monthly basis.

Thirty-six percent of active Android devices this past March were phablets. That compares to just 4 percent across all iOS devices. “This is due to the fact that there is only one phablet by Apple, and it was just launched in September of last year,” Euston notes. “It may take some time for iOS enthusiasts to hop on the phablet bandwagon.”

Examining daily active user data for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Flurry found that the number of active iPhone 6s outnumbers that for the iPhone 6 Plus by approximately 2.75 times. “For iOS users, the phone is still winning over the phablet,” Euston comments.

In contrast, the number of Android phablets has skyrocketed in the past two years, Flurry said. Phablets’ share of active Android devices Flurry tracks nearly tripled to 27 percent this past March, up from 10 percent in 2013.

“The pace of mobile growth and shifting of consumer preferences continues to be the fastest we’ve witnessed in our lifetimes,” Euston writes. Phablets now account for 20 percent of all active devices Flurry tracks. That’s up from 3 percent two years ago, and Euston said Flurry sees no sign of this trend stopping.

“If there is one lesson to be learned in the phablet revolution perhaps it is this: Don’t bet against the Asian early adopter markets; they are usually onto something big.”