Consumer 'Phablet' Interest Increasing

A cross between a smartphone and a tablet, the mid-sized “phablet” devices are generating attraction from consumers all over the world, but particularly in developing markets.

According to Accenture’s most recent Digital Consumer Survey (which queried more than 23,000 consumers in 23 countries), 57% of global consumers plan to buy a smartphone sometime this year, and, of them, nearly half (48%) said they would prefer to buy phablet over a traditional smartphone. 

The preference in emerging markets was even stronger. Among consumers who were planning to buy a smartphone in India, 67% said they would prefer a phablet. In China, 66% expressed a preference for a phablet device, as did 65% in South Africa. 

“I was surprised at the magnitude [of the preference] in those areas,” David Sovie, managing director of Accenture’s Communications, Media and Technology Group, tells Marketing Daily. “If I were a mobile phone vendor in those markets, I’d like to have a phablet offering, or I’m not going to be relevant.”

In emerging countries, the lure of the phablet is two-fold, Sovie says. Having less penetration of smartphones and tablets overall, the notion of having one device that can accomplish the job of two is appealing, he says. Additionally, watching video on a phablet is a much better experience than using a smartphone.

In developed markets, meanwhile, consumers still have a “two-device mentality,” Sovie says. 

Among consumers who planned to buy a smartphone this year, only 37% expressed a preference for a phablet. In more tech-forward countries such as Sweden and The Netherlands, the preference was even lower (31% and 30%, respectively.) 

However, a third of consumers is not an insignificant amount, and interest will likely grow as more companies enter the phablet competition, Sovie says.

“You’re going to see more products and innovation in the space over the next six months,” he says. “As they put more marketing dollars [to the category], there will be more interest in them.”

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