By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
TWICE: Will phablets (smartphones with large screens) take share from 7-inch tablets? What are the use cases for phablets vs. 7-inch tablets?
Lam: We do see phablets that are 5.5 inches and above taking some share from 7-inch tablets. One of the original ideas behind the phablet is to allow end users to carry fewer devices (e.g., smartphone and tablet). Most of the use cases from 7-inch tablet can be also be supported in a phablet. The obvious advantage of a phablet is the ability to support cellular voice service.
Walls: For the time being, the market size is relatively small for smartphones greater than 5.5 inches. Therefore the threat to 7-inch tablets isn’t large. Although phablets and smaller-sized tablets have some overlap in terms of consumer type and use cases, there are more than enough distinctions to differentiate each device in the market for the near term. However, there will be an inflection point when technology allows for smartphone displays to be expanded or contracted as required. Over time, smaller components lead to thinner devices, which can be paired with more than one thin flexible display. Imagine the possibilities.
In the future, the question will be whether we need a phone and a tablet? History is pretty clear in that technology has a way of evolving and converging. It’s pretty safe to say that consumers would prefer not to carry a PC, a tablet and a smartphone. At some point, the smartphone will have the necessary DNA to do everything. Before saying no, just imagine a smartphone with two 5-inch flexible OLED displays. One display is used regularly on the phone, the second display slides/folds out to create a 10- inch display. Now you have a tablet. Perhaps we’re closer to this than most people realize.
DiCarlo: The Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab families were created to address different consumer needs as part of our comprehensive product portfolio. Samsung Mobile created the phablet trend with the introduction of the Galaxy Note and extended this trend with the introduction of the Galaxy Note II. The Galaxy Note family offers a big enough screen to work productively and comes with the S Pen to further enhance productivity. The Galaxy Tab family offers a bigger screen for both entertainment and productivity while maintaining its portability but doesn’t have the S Pen or calling features. These different families of devices offer different capabilities that appeal to different consumer needs. One size doesn’t fit all, but a comprehensive product portfolio that offers choice in size, connectivity, utility and price can.
Rasinski: Whether it’s a smartphone, a camera or at tablet, many consumers carry three, sometimes four devices at a time. Devices like our LG Optimus G Pro solve that issue by combining an expansive 1080p FullHD IPS screen for more pixels and real estate, while maintaining a pocketable form factor, all without sacrificing camera quality or smartphone capabilities.
TWICE: Will tablets with screen sizes of less than the iPad’s 9.7 inches account for the majority of tablet unit shipments in the U.S. anytime soon?
Lam: We do expect smaller-size tablets to outsell the bigger-size tablets in the U.S. Smaller tablets offer the similar level of experience with better mobility due to its size advantage and a lower price point. Bigger-size tablets will still have its place in the tablet space for the content-heavy type of end users.
Cistulli: Not necessarily. Many consumers will purchase both as each category becomes more affordable and their feature sets better understood. Screen size is largely determined by the customer’s needs, and the same customer can have use cases for each.
A tablet can handle advanced programs and detailoriented tasks that require more screen time, such as reading books, capturing meeting notes, watching videos or shopping. A larger smartphone is great for shopping lists, quick Internet searches and tasks that don’t require much more than 15 minutes of time. We have seen a correlation between screen size and ARPU — larger screens having higher ARPU.
DiCarlo: Samsung Mobile works to create a comprehensive product portfolio that gives consumers a choice in size, connectivity, utility and price because one size doesn’t fit all. Consumers value choice because they’re looking to address different needs with different devices but still want a seamless experience between these devices. Some consumers place priority on size for portability while others place priority on features for productivity.
Rasinski: The mobile device is now at the center of everyday life. People use their devices to communicate with friends and family as well as co-workers. They share photos that can only be captured and shared in the moment. They need multitasking capabilities to help them save time and the ability to enjoy the finest HD content available online. Because it is pocketable while retaining some of the tablet-like functionality, LG Optimus G Pro users can have all of that functionality at home or on-the-go.
TWICE: Will cellular-embedded tablets remain a small share of tablet sales in 2013?
Lam: Cellular tablets will continue to have a relatively small market share in 2013. More subscribers are using the mobile hotspot feature included in the data plan with their smartphone to enable Wi-Fi tethering to tablets. This is especially true for subscribers with a tight budget.
Walls: Until shared data plans that are reasonably priced become more of a force, Wi-Fi-only tablets will continue to see the majority of volume.
Cistulli: We believe that WAN-based tablets will grow in market share as LTE systems become more prevalent and end users realize that high bandwidth, anytime, anywhere, becomes a requirement for seamless communication.
Alcatel One Touch is sensitive to the price model that WAN-based tablets present to carriers – to subsidize or not. To this end, we believe that a modular, plug-in system is a smart choice for the consumer and is critical to the success of WAN-based tablets.
DiCarlo: There is a demand for connected tablets, so we make sure they’re available just like there is a demand for Wi-Fi.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.