Dawn of the Phablet
Larger than a smartphone, smaller than a tablet and equipped with a stylus, the hybrid "phablet" has emerged as a subset of the mobile device category.
Samsung's Galaxy Note, which entered the U.S. market earlier this year, is perhaps the best-known example. The Android-based product includes a 5.3-inch touch screen and a stylus, which Samsung had dubbed "S Pen." LG's Optimus Vu has also rolled out a 5-inch Android device that's equipped with a stylus, which launched in South Korea in March. Other mobile players are likely to follow, especially now that Samsung's phablet sales have eclipsed the 5 million unit mark.
Josh Flood, senior analyst with ABI Research, says he believes phablets compete with 6- to 8-inch tablets and premium smartphones. Last year, 6- to 7-inch tablets accounted for 6 percent of total tablet shipments (about 3.7 million units). Flood expects the bulk of the tablet market to remain in the 9-inch-plus range for the next 5 years.
So what type of buyer will spring for a phablet?
"Many of the handset vendors and operators believe the initial typical user will be what they term ‘feature chasers,'" explains Flood. "Additionally, users who are less concerned about data consumption will be prime targets for phablets, as they desire a greater Web-browsing experience and better graphics from sites such as YouTube."
Impact on Mobile Developers
The phablet's stylus, coupled with the larger display, will provide the greatest hook for mobile developers, according to industry watchers.
"The stylus is a very important thing that has finally come back to handheld mobile devices," says Mike Newman, president of On the GoWARE, a Los Angeles firm that specializes in mobile development, developer training and recruitment.
Styluses were widely used with mobile devices a decade ago, but the rise of the iPhone made them unfashionable, says Newman. He'd like to see the stylus stick around this time: "It opens up a whole other realm of creativity you can have with your software."
A stylus gives mobile application developers an extra feature to look at and play with, says Flood. "Application developers can now include an extra dimension in their apps, with pressure sensitivity as a key feature of the S Pen."
But the stylus presents plenty of opportunities for other app categories. For example, Flood says gaming applications may start using the stylus substantially over the next three to six months. In a simple football game, the pressure of the stylus could indicate the power of the quarterback's pass, he notes.
And the stylus may have an even greater impact on the brain and puzzle segment of mobile gaming, says Flood. "The stylus will enable users to navigate puzzles and flick between solutions at a quicker and more stimulating pace."
For user interfaces, the opinions are mixed. A stylus' precision input could lead to richer apps and user interfaces overall, says Newman. While a desktop developer can integrate many controls into an application's UI, mobile applications tend to be "dumbed down" to aid with navigation and accommodate fingers. But Flood doesn't think the stylus will influence user interface design -- at least for general use. "The majority of users will still prefer to use their fingers to operate their phones' operating system," he says.
Building From Scratch
Samsung recently unleashed mobile developers on stylus-driven applications. In April, the company invited developers to build stylus-integrated apps using the S Pen SDK. Voting is still going on, but the top apps will receive $205,000 in cash and prizes. The apps submitted covered a range of functions, from diagramming football plays to applying makeup.
Developers should start from scratch when building apps for phablets, says Naga Hariharan, director of product management at Quickoffice, which makes mobile office-productivity software. Don't just throw a smartphone or tablet app on a phablet. Take the nuances of this new form factor into account and consider how users interact with this particular device, says Hariharan. How users accomplish a task such as highlighting text and moving it around a document will unfold a lot differently via finger touch versus the fine control of the S Pen. "Create an application that is custom-fit for that device and you have a better chance of succeeding," he says.
Photo: Getty Images
- Taking a Break from Emails Decreases Stress
- New Facebook Effort Targets Educating School Counselors
- Verizon's High-Speed Internet Collusion
- RapidShare: Megaupload File-Sharing Pirates Are Unwelcome
- Twitter Cuts Two Ways
- China's Cyber 'Predators' Must Be Stopped
- CISPA Lacks Protections for Individual Rights
- CISPA Not the Right Way to Achieve Cybersecurity
- CISPA Effectively Addresses Threat of Cybercrime
- Dawn of the Phablet
- Price-Fixing Suit Could be a Spot on Apple
- Avoiding Fragmented Infrastructure in the Data Center
- Internet Service Providers Close to Implementing System to Punish Piracy
- Inside the Silicon Valley Gender Gap
- Why the FCC Fined Google Just 68 Seconds in Profits
- Is There an Internet Off Switch?
- Power of the iMob
- Widespread Android Virus Could Hide in Popular App Updates
- Under the Hood: A Look Inside the Ultrabook
- That's Entertainment: 3D Leaps From Theater to Home
- Are You a Tech Geek?
- Is Your Office Preparing For an iPad Insurgency?
- How to Find Happiness on Social Networks
- The Pirate Bay to Fly 'Server Drones' to Avoid Law Enforcement
- DevOps: Indispensable Approach or Costly Distraction?
- New Programming Languages to Watch
- How to Conquer Tech Buyer's Remorse
- Trade in Your Old Gadgets for Cash or Credit
- Why the New iPad Features Don't Really Matter
- Chinese Computer Games
- Why Do We Need Intelligent Desktop Virtualization?
- Lawsuit Says Facebook Tracks Users After Logging Out
- Facebook and Twitter Cause Insider Trading Headaches for the SEC
- Avoid Social Media MBAs, Some Students Say
- 5 iPhone Apps I Cannot Live Without
- The New Mobile Landscape
- Is Free Public Wi-Fi Safe?
- Keep Your Data Safe When Telecommuting
- Security Issues for Multicore Processors
- How to Reduce Smartphone Security Risks
- Are You Too Snarky Online?
- Who's Gawking at Your Photos?
- Is Social Media a Waste of Time?
- 5 New Ways to Feed Your Online Addiction
- Investors Increasingly Tap Social Media for Stock Tips
- McAfee's Edward Metcalf Shares Hybrid Rootkit-thwarting Strategy
- A Game Plan for Protecting Stored Data
- Think Big When It Comes to Data Breaches
- Information Security MBA's Teach Business Side of Cybersecurity
- Apple Predicts 'Death of the Big Backpack' with New iPad Textbooks
- FBI Wants to Monitor Social Media for 'Emerging Threats'
- Youth on the Web: Reason? Who Needs a Reason
- Google Unveils 'Find My Face' Recognition Tool
- Why Investors Should Keep Their Eyes on the Cloud
- 10 Ways to Stay Safe While Shopping Online
- Take Advantage of Free Shipping Deals This Holiday Season
- Online Shopping Deals Hurt State Budgets
- Tips for Shopping With Your Smartphone
- Seven Rules of Successful Bloggers
- Twitter Redesigns Site, Aims for Simplicity
- 3 Ways to Use Foursquare to Connect With Your College
- United States Reacts to Indian Government's Efforts to Censure Online Content
- Will Apple Be the Same Without Steve Jobs?
- Steve Jobs: 6 Secrets of Success
- Open Clouds
- The Cloud: A Security Solution for Small Business
- 4 Twitter Tips for Business Success
- Twitter: How to Tweet to Get Results
- 3 Sneaky New Online Scams to Avoid
Copyright © 2012 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.