Why Apple Should Sidestep the 'Phablet'
While visiting what might otherwise be called respectable websites, you may have seen writers put forth the idea that "phablets" are eating Apple's lunch. "
Tue, March 12, 2013
If you don't know what a phablet is, get set to have your day ruined. Take it away, Wikipedia:
[Phablet is] a portmanteau of the words phone and tablet.
"Portmanteau"? Really, Wikipedia? Isn't that kind of fancy talk for wordplay that's about as sophisticated as pig Latin?
Well, whatever the etymology, the phablet is a roughly half-phone, half-tablet beast that current wisdom says is slouching toward Cupertino to wreak havoc. Personally, I think this is yet another example of pundits believing things that have no basis in fact.
A galaxy of note
By way of an example, James Surowiecki recently wrote in The New Yorker:
Apple's competitors are finally doing a better job of making the kinds of phones that customers want. The most notable of these is an oversized phone dubbed "the phablet"--Samsung's Galaxy Note is the leader in the category.
People usually hold up the Galaxy Note as the shining star of the phabletmania that's sweeping the globe. So, naturally, I found myself wondering how many Galaxy Notes Samsung has sold.
Of course, Samsung doesn't make figuring that out particularly easy, because unlike Apple, which announces unit sales every quarter, Samsung releases such numbers only when it wants to. Last August, however, the company said it had sold 10 million Galaxy Notes in the nine months since launch. Subsequently, it released the Galaxy Note II in late August, and by late November it had sold 5 million additional Notes. So, let's assume Samsung sold something like 17 million Galaxy Notes total through the end of November, and let's further assume that it has sold 25 million Notes to date. That's 25 million in 16 months, with maybe 7.5 million in the last three months.
Holy cow, that's millions and millions of Notes! And millions and millions of styluses! Possibly even more styluses, because they're easy to lose! And, more important, they're selling more and more Notes every day!
That's one way of looking at it. Another is to ask yourself, "How many iPhones did Apple sell last quarter?" The answer is a number that could disappoint only Wall Street: 48 million.
In other words, Apple sold almost twice as many iPhones last quarter as Samsung has sold Notes ever. So, who's making the kinds of phones that consumers want again? While the category of pocket-busting phones may be growing, it's hardly iPhone-threatening.