Smartphone-tablet hybrids are expected to quickly gain popularity over the next five years as consumers spend more time watching videos and playing games on mobile devices, a global market intelligence company said on Wednesday.
A market report published by Transparency Market Research showed that about 21 million “phablet” devices running the Android operating system were sold globally last year, and the number is expected to exceed 150 million units by 2018.
The research firm defines a phablet as a handset that has a screen of between 5 and 7 inches and features a 1GHz or faster processor, and a “superphone” as a powerful smartphone sized below 4.9 inches.
In addition to Android--powered models, the market for Windows-based phablets is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 58.8 percent from last year to 2018, the report said.
The rapid growth of Windows-based phablets can be primarily attributed to the introduction of new products by manufacturers such as Nokia Oyj of Finland, HTC Corp (宏達電) of Taiwan, Sony Corp of Japan and ZTE Corp (中興) of China, the report said.
The growing usage of mobile phones for purposes such as viewing images and videos, accessing the Internet and gaming with other people, has resulted in a need for devices with larger displays and superior quality, the firm said.
It said that North America has been leading the global market in terms of volume and revenue, due to the increasing penetration of smartphones in the region.
However, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to become the largest and fastest-growing market for phablets and superphones by 2018 in terms of volume of sales and revenue, the research firm said.
That is a result of the expected catapulting demand for phablets and superphones in China, India and South Korea, the company added.
However, an analyst at research firm Gartner Inc said last month that the phablet category is likely to remain a “niche market” in the near term.
Lu Chun-kuan (呂俊寬), senior research analyst of mobile devices at Gartner in Taipei, said such devices provide more choices for multi-device owners, but they appear attractive only to consumers in certain regions.
For example, he said Asian consumers prefer carrying only one mobile device because of their limited budget for electronic products, so phablet devices are gaining popularity in the region.
However, in the US and Europe, people usually take a smartphone of 4.5 to 5 inches and a 7-inch tablet computer with them when going out because they still want to separate the functions of a smartphone and a tablet, Lu said.