Mobile Computing | News

Phablet Sales To Top Laptops This Year, Tablets in 2015

Worldwide sales of phablets, smartphones with screens between 5.5 and 7 inches, will top sales of portable PCs in 2014 and surpass sales of tablets in the next year, according to a new forecast from market research company International Data Corp. (IDC).

The company predicted that 175 million of the large smartphones will be sold this year, topping sales of portable PCs by about 5 million units. IDC predicted that next year 318 million of the devices will be shipped, outperforming the 233 million sales forecast for tablets in 2015 by a significant margin.

Strong growth will continue throughout the forecast period, according to IDC, as phablet shipments increase from 14 percent of smartphone sales in 2014 to 32.2 percent in 2018.

"While phablets are a relatively new category of device, first picking up volume in 2012, the pressure that the category has placed on the tablet market has already been clearly observed as the growth of smaller, 7-inch tablets has begun to slow. IDC expects more consumers to shift back toward larger-sized tablets with their next purchase," according to a news release. "However, that trend hasn't made up for the decreased shipments of smaller sizes, which has resulted in lower overall expectations for the tablet market in 2014 and beyond."

"With Apple expected to join the space in the coming weeks, we anticipate even more attention on phablets as larger screen smartphones become the new norm," said Melissa Chau, senior research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a prepared statement.

Among smart connected devices, phablets will capture a 9.8 percent market share if IDC's prediction holds true. That's significantly below the 60.2 percent share regular smartphones will command and trails tablets and 2-in-1 devices, which are set to hold 13 percent of the market. It's already good enough for third place in 2014, edging out the 9.5 percent share of portable PCs and the 7.5 percent piece of the market left to desktops.

By 2018 phablets will narrow the gap with other smartphones with a share of 24.4 percent compared to the smaller devices' 51.2 percent share, capturing second place in the category along the way.

"As the Smart Connected Device market matures, and emerging markets drive more of the growth, the percentage of the market made up of phablets plus regular smartphones is expected to increase," according to information released by IDC. "In 2014 IDC expects smartphones to represent about 70% of the total market. By 2018 that will grow to 75.6%. While consumers in places like the United States and Western Europe are likely to own a combination of PCs, tablets and smartphones, in many places the smartphone — regardless of size — will be the one connected device of choice. Dropping average selling prices (ASPs) for phablets and smartphones will help drive this trend. In 2013, a phablet cost an average of US$568 versus a regular smartphone at US$320, while IDC forecasts that in 2014, those prices will drop to US$397 and US$291, respectively."

"Clearly, mobile computing is a space where consumers are still trying to figure out what mix of devices and screen sizes will suit them best," saidTom Mainelli, program vice president with IDC's Devices and Displays, in a prepared statement. "What works well today could very well shift tomorrow as phones gain larger screens, tablets become more powerful replacements for PCs, and even smart watch screens join the fray."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].