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.”

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Features & Analysis | Google: Android | Mobile Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • clarklab

    Responsive design is already a slam dunk- my regular-sized phone has a higher resolution than my mom’s desktop.

    But yes, the word ‘phablet’ needs to die in a fire.

  • IncrediBILL

    Keep the big screen size but that word phablet must go away and the author should be ashamed for propagating such a bad word. ;)

  • Greg Sterling

    I’m trying to end it . . . not propagate it.

  • Pat Grady

    like “PDA”, this too shall pass.

  • Acaa Aca

    so basically your beef is with the use of the word “phablet” not the smartphone segment it created?

  • Acaa Aca

    ok. i thought the segment. because i do think the note2′s size is reasonable for some people. heck i know a girl 5’3″-ish who owns this phone and doesn’t really mind the size.

  • Juanita Alfonzo

    Puhlease. It’s not going away; can’t be any worse than “e-reader.” The one I have my eye one is the weirdest of them all, the LG Intuition. Unfortunately, it’s not yet on AT&T and I need 4GLTE since I’m now used to it. I talk between appts. at my hair salon, and definitely want a phone, er, uh, tablet phone I can write notes on.

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