This fall, sales of so-called phablets (mobile devices intermediate in size between smartphones and tablets) have been strong, with the Samsung Galaxy Note II leading the pack with 3 million units sold since its release in September. While it still falls well short of Apple’s sales figures for the iPhone 5, it is nonetheless significant in terms of showing growing demand for such devices. Now, just in time for holiday shopping, HTC and Verizon have unveiled their Droid DNA, which is expected to sell well, and which some, including us, would characterize as a phablet (even if HTC and Verizon won’t).
Given the exponentially growing demand for data services that require serious computing power, it stands to reason that phablet sales could rise sharply. While they may not be for everybody, we believe phablets will have a growing and important presence in the market. Whatever you want to call it, the large-screen mobile device might very well turn out to be the next hot product in mobile. Verizon and HTC may protest that the new droid device is simply a large screen smartphone and not a phablet, but the difference is basically semantic. Clearly, manufacturers are responding to consumer demand for larger, more powerful devices whose capabilities and visual interface can handle ever more sophisticated applications.
Operators should take note and realize that large-screen devices (some stylus-enabled) will be used by a growing portion of their subscriber base, especially businesses. We envision phablets being deployed for a variety of applications, some of which have not yet been imagined but that will be made possible by larger screens and increased computing power. For savvy operators able to capitalize on this coming trend, higher-margin opportunities await.