The Phablet Effect

I am seeing less and less user sessions happening on tablets across our portfolio. I heard someone call that the “Phablet Effect” yesterday.

The idea is that as more and more mobile users adopt “phablets”, like the iPhone 6 Plus or the Nexus 6 which I use, they get less value from a larger form factor like a 7″ or an 11″ tablet.

I went to look at the AVC statistics to see if we are seeing the “phablet effect” and the answer is yes.

Here are user sessions at AVC over the past five or six years by device (click on the image to see a larger version).

Blue is total. Green is desktop. Purple is smartphone. Yellow is tablet.

sessions by device

As you can see tablets came out strong and for a few months in mid/late 2012 were neck and neck with smartphones.

But since then tablets have been flat (and down significantly in 2015 but you can’t really detect that in this chart) while smartphones keep getting closer and closer to desktop sessions and will pass them at some point in the next year or two.

We have a bunch of tablets in our homes. They are occasionally used for reading or other applications, but they are mostly used as remotes for our TVs and music systems. They are great for that.

This begs the question if tablets are a failure as a product category. That’s a strong statement given that 45mm tablets were shipped worldwide last quarter. But when 350mm smartphones are shipped in a quarter vs 50mm tablets, you can see what I’m getting at.

Tablets are niche. Watches are niche. You could even argue that desktops are becoming niche.

Everything pales in comparison to the smartphone it seems.