“Phablets,” or mobile devices between 5 inches and 6 inches in size that bridge the smartphone and tablet segments, are unlikely to attract a majority of consumers, an analyst at research firm Gartner Inc said.
C.K. Lu (呂俊寬), senior research analyst of mobile devices at Gartner in Taipei, said such devices provide more choice for multidevice owners, but the opportunities they offer in the near term may not be as large as some companies imagine.
“We continue to believe it is a niche market,” Lu told a local media briefing recently, explaining that the phablet category appears attractive only to consumers in certain regions.
For example, Asian consumers prefer carrying only one mobile device because of their limited budget for electronic products, so phablet devices are gaining popularity in this area, he said.
However, in the US and Europe, people often carry 4.5 inch to 5 inch smartphones, as well as 7-inch tablet computers, when going out because they want to be able to separate the functions of a phone and a tablet, Lu said.
The key to making this segment successful is creating applications that take advantage of the large screen, such as those developed by handset makers Samsung Electronics Co of South Korea and Huawei Technologies Co (華為) of China, Lu added.
The remarks came after Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer Inc (宏碁) said on Monday last week that it plans to unveil its first phone-tablet hybrid handset at the Computex Taipei technology fair in June, which it hopes will gain traction in the fast-growing market.
The new Acer phablet is set to have special camera and software features. Another model with “major component upgrades” is to be launched by the end of this year or early next year, Acer president Jim Wong (翁建仁) said.
Wong projected that the global phablet market will grow to about 10 million units this year, up from between 7 million and 8 million units last year.