[Insight] Phablets Set to Become Most Common Mobile Device Worldwide
Jessica Hubbard, Deputy Editor; 20 January 16
With our fast-growing addiction to all things visual online, it appears that consumers are starting to opt for bigger screens and better viewing quality on their mobile devices. According to recent data from Flurry, phablets – which are smartphones with screens 5.1 inches or larger — are the primary ‘driving force’ behind the growth in mobile time spent and app usage. The Flurry research indicates that globally, time spent on phablets grew 334% between 2014 and 2015 – at more than three times the rate of any other form factor. Moreover, BI Intelligence has boldly predicted that by 2017, phablets will be the most common mobile device.
Michael Jones, Strategic Planning Director at digital agency NativeVML, says that in SA, the larger screen is definitely ‘on the rise’. However, he points out that the majority of SA consumers are still using feature phones, with phablets set to remain a ‘niche’ device for some time yet.
As local smartphone penetration increases, however, with penetration predicted to reach 47% by 2017, phablets will likely prove a popular option for consumers looking to cross the divide between smartphones and tablets.
Arthur Goldstuck, MD of tech consultancy World Wide Worx, says that phablets are essentially ‘high quality computing devices’, and are available locally at ‘very reasonable’ price points. This is making phablets an attractive option for smartphone users who are looking to upgrade and enhance their mobile viewing experience.
“People are becoming more and more focused on watching video and viewing images on their mobile devices, and the bigger the screen the better the experience,” he explains. “The fastest growing social networks are the visual ones (such as YouTube, Instagram and video use on Facebook) and social media is the biggest driver of smartphone uptake…increasingly, display size is becoming a key element of the social media experience.”
Appetite for Apps
The preference for larger screens is undoubtedly also being fuelled by consumer uptake of apps. According to the Flurry data, overall global app usage grew 58% in 2015, and time spent on mobile devices grew 117% between 2014 and 2015. Interestingly, news and magazine, sports, and entertainment apps saw the largest increase in year on year growth in terms of app usage on phablets – a growth rate that ‘far outpaced’ the growth in usage of the same apps across all mobile devices in 2015.
Jones of NativeVML says that for brands and marketers, the growing popularity of mobile video consumption should remain top of mind when approaching mobile.
“Video consumption is definitely on the rise,” he says. “A recent study indicates that globally, Millennials watch less TV than any other group and nearly 3 times as much online video than non-Millennials. This is a trend being seen amongst higher income earners within South Africa. However, with the improvement and affordability of smarter devices, cheaper data, more free WIFI coverage and social and video platforms focusing on optimising content delivery, we will see a wider market consuming content, especially video…”