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The “Phablets” Are Coming — Please Make It Stop
Galloping into the annals of bad portmanteaus comes the word “phablet.” This is the would-be combination of phone and tablet, as you might have expected. It’s being used to describe devices larger than the largest Android smartphones (4.8 inches) but smaller than 7-inch tablets. The Galaxy Note is the exemplar of this new category (if we want to dignify it as a separate category).
Online market research provider uSamp recently conducted an online survey (n=400 US adults) about “phablet” awareness. Not surprisingly it found low awareness of the term but some level of consumer interest:
- 87 percent of those surveyed had never heard of phablets
- 33 percent of respondents would be likely to purchase a phablet after learning what it is
- 33 percent listed price as the main motivation to switch from a smartphone to a phablet
While the development of yet another interim screen size (along a continuum) is interesting the term “phablet” is just ridiculous. Some terms and concepts must be strangled in their cribs. This is one of them. We should not — under any circumstances — legitimize and accept this word.
It remains to be seen how many other device makers (beyond Samsung) move in to this super-sized smartphone category. The Galaxy Note was something of a surprise hit for Samsung and now the Galaxy Note II (or Galaxy Note ¡Dos!, as I like to call it) is about the hit the market. If it also sells well I suspect LG, Motorola and others will follow with giant-screened Android smartphones.
We now have 4-inch plus smartphones, 7-inch tablets, 10-inch tablets and this new in-between 5- to 6-inch screen size. If this fourth screen size takes hold it becomes a kind of slam-dunk argument for responsive web design. Ad formatting is more problematic unless there’s a RWD equivalent developed for ads (perhaps it exists unbeknownst to me). Doesn’t optimizing apps for all these varying screen sizes become a challenge as well?
By Thanksgiving the market will be awash in shiny new gadgets: the anticipated iPad Mini, a new 10-inch Nexus tablet, Kindle Fires and so on. Consumers may become seized by a kind of mobile device mania as a result. Let us pray however that they don’t head into electronics retailers asking to see the newest “phablet.”