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How Phablets Fit In

LAS VEGAS — Though the smartphonereplacement cycle might have slowed, vendors are working hard to stoke sales, and the launch of hybrid smartphone/tablets is one of their methods.

“Phablets provide smartphone vendors with expanded opportunities for high-revenue, high-margin device sales,” said Alex Spektor of Strategy Analytics. “Volumes are relatively low but still provide ample opportunity for diverting subsidy share from Apple.”

Muzibul Khan, chief technology officer of Huawei Device USA, called phablet sales one of the big surprises of 2012. The consumer response was “immediate and positive,” he said.

“Mobile professionals and consumers who are more creative/artistic are finding that these devices will be a productivity need,” Khan said. “Additionally, consumer sentiment is changing. A year ago, it would be unheard of to buy a 5.5- to 6-inch device. However, we have found that this is changing, and now consumers have many useful ways to apply this ‘tweener’ device.

For his part, LG Electronics marketing senior VP James Fishler said hybrids such as LG’s Intuition “provide a compelling viewing experience in a smaller package” and “provide multiple functions in one device that can fit in a pocket.”

Waiman Lam, ZTE USA’s wireless solutions senior director, sees phablets filling a gap for consumers “who want bigger real estate on the screen but don’t want to carry multiple devices (smartphone and tablets).” Phablet features such as bigger screen size, higher resolution and smartphone functionality “will provide enough of a niche in the wireless device industry for the category to exist,” he said.