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.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Adrian Bye

    a tablet is really good for a few things — reading books, watching TV when bandwidth is a problem and as a second monitor while travelling.but more and more i’m leaning towards a large screen phone.

    1. garydpdx

      I agree Adrian, the tablet is nice form factor for a second or alternate screen. Part of the “problem” for the tablet market is that the devices have a long lifespan due to few physical moving parts, so there is lower replacement or upgrade activity.It is interesting that in the West, movement is from tablet to phablet as a compromise with smartphones, as they get larger. The original market movement was in Asia, towards larger mobile screens, as most people there can only afford one mobile device and one laptop (with the latter often employer supplied).

      1. Adrian Bye

        i am in central china and seeing everyone with large screen phones has been a big influence

    2. obarthelemy

      What’s surprising is that tablets are not making a stronger play for the ultrabook/laptop space. Except MS whose dual personality would be a perfect fir for that if the tablet side were not so lacking: the Surface Pro 3 launch was all about the MacBook Air, not the iPad.

  2. awaldstein

    Phones are the gateway to everything I do with two exceptions:-POS systems. Ipads are the new cash registers. They are just perfect and a phone with a square just don’t cut it-Moving to an 11 inch air for a trial but writing and modeling are not something my brain, eyes and fingers can morph to the phone for.

    1. fredwilson

      so true on POS systems. i love checking out at my coffee shop with Square. it is the perfect UI for that

      1. awaldstein

        Yup and honestly the simple backend of Square deserves a shout out.So much easier to integrate a Square store to Quickbooks then for example Shopify.Easy on the front end, easy on the back make it a no brainer for merchants. From premium blends to tomatoes to coffee to refrigerated van rental.

      2. JamesHRH

        Oddly pleasing to sign an iPad with your finger. Incredibly personal experience.

        1. awaldstein

          The real phenomenon here is that along with that has come the behavior of tipping store personnel.Completely new behavior at retail and from my experience recently actually a huge upside for workers. Significant and unlike the tips at bars, completely transparent.

    2. scottythebody

      It is true that POS has moved almost entirely to iPad. Can’t think of a new shop I’ve been in within the last three years (in which I paid attention) that didn’t use an iPad as the POS. Amazing, really, when you think about it.

      1. awaldstein

        yup.the only ones that don’t are hard wired into complex back end inventory systems.large merchandisers, wine shops, surplus inventory. customer stuffhuge change. huge change for employees as i’m seeing from personal reports as much as 10% upside on tips alone.a big deal

        1. LE

          i’m seeing from personal reports as much as 10% upside on tips aloneWhile it would be nice to think that the people that are tipping are all set for life and/or earn a nice income, somehow I do not think that is the case. It’s unfortunate when people who should be saving or should be more conservative with their money, are literally throwing out that money in exchange for the good feeling that they get by giving it away. If the tips were baked into the price of the goods (or service) then it would be spread out among all buyers and would seem to be more fair and less regressive to those who should be as “generous”.At one point I ran a retail business. It would have been nice if my customers would have tipped my employees. I would then have just baked that into the pay structure and had more $$ for myself (I can honestly say).Anyway to restate my complaint is not that there isn’t a benefit (which I could argue several benefits other than profit) to a business by having the rich pay more for the good or service (there definitely is). My complaint is that people who shouldn’t be paying this “tax” are doing it.

    3. James Lopez

      Just did a rapid dev of a custom POS system for a client – iPad Mini was the perfect platform… phones were too small.

      1. awaldstein

        The only place I see phones being used is at the green markets.Everywhere else is a tablet. If it is something that they want there people to get tips and/or sales spiffs, big service to tie that into the reporting. Not so perfect or easy on out of the box Square sw.

    4. lisa hickey

      Yes! Cash Registers! I was trying to come up with something that tablets did uniquely better than phones. I can’t think of a better example.

      1. awaldstein

        just used one in one of my investment companies. Only choice and works like a charm.

  3. William Mougayar

    Yesterday was Alphabet Soup, today Phablet Effect, that’s Phabulous.Tablets are one of those products that you can live without. They are either a luxury add-on, a cash register replacement, or in some cases used by some who don’t have a smartphone.It would be interesting to have a smartphone that expands into a tablet if I pulled its screen out, then I fold it back to place in my pocket.

    1. Guillaume Lerouge

      Though interesting in theory, I think that hypothetical device would quickly suffer from significant wear and tear. Your smartphone is a device you use pretty much all day long, every day.On top of this, the simple fact of having to fold/unfold the screen to consume content would probably make you stop using the feature pretty fast… Also, how do you hold the device when in “expanded-screen” mode? What if you lose you grip and break the screen while trying to catch it back?

      1. William Mougayar

        well, i wouldn’t fold it out all the time. just when you need the larger form factor, when you’re stable and sitting.i’ve seen prototypes of flexible screens that fold out multiple folds, and it wouldn’t be hard to build a thin slider.

        1. Guillaume Lerouge

          I’d love for something like this to work 🙂 But I can already see myself slouching on the couch, letting the device fall and thus breaking the mechanism. Now if it’s some form of foldable screen, maybe the screen itself serves as a bumper and protects the rest of the device?

  4. prceurope

    Absolutely agree (iPhone 6+ user and gave away my iPad). As an aside, what drove your traffic in late 2012 to nearly twice the current level?

  5. LIAD

    Tablets, primarily media consumption devices being squeezed from both ends. Larger phone screens invalidate their need on one side, smart TV’s on the other. Use-case diminishing.I have a perfectly good iPad which is hardly used (at home) anymore, getting dusty next to a perfectly good macbook, which is never used apart from when travelling, and even then reluctantly.6inch phone screen and 27inch iMac screen. Everything in the middle gonna crater.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Interesting. When they first came out, I thought the laptop might die. Hook up a good keyboard with more power in a tablet and it’s more portable. Right now, that’s not the trend.

      1. LE

        Hook up a good keyboardReduced functionality. In other words having to “Hook up” – That is the friction part that deprecates the experience. Laptops are auto angled and balanced perfectly in many different environments. And if they are Apple they are damn light and small to begin with with full functionality to boot. If I want to watch something on a couch with an ipad or type an email it simply isn’t as nice vs. using a laptop.Tablet however works in commercial and business where there are obviously many uses that aren’t good for laptops for one reason or another. Designer who came to the house should have had an ipad with example photos but instead thumbed around and wasted time pulling up things on her iphone. Ditto for every practically every other moron I deal with on a daily basis. No clue how to make it easy for customers.What does an ipad have really have vs. a macbook air 11 for example?

  6. leigh

    And yet i can’t live without my huge screen at work. If i would invest in anything hardware it would be lighter, more affordable, portable screens. That in connection with my iphone6? Set for life.

    1. Jess Bachman

      Agreed. I just love starring into the abyss of a giant screen, not through the relative keyhole that is my phone. If smartphones really are the center of the solar system, then lighter, portable, screens need to happen.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Heads up holographic displays?

        1. Jess Bachman

          I’d prefer an after-market projector, about the size of a deck of cards, or smaller. I would place the phone in a stand that tilted it 10-35 degrees down and it would project the display onto the table or something. The phone knows what angle its at and could adjust the projection so it comes out perfect.

    2. William Mougayar

      we need a screen-expandable/foldable iPhone.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        Modu (see earlier comment on same)

    3. scottythebody

      Roll-up screens are inevitable, IMO. Just roll it out when you need it and stash it in a backpack when done. The thing could double as a solar collector, prayer rug, rain protector… 😉

      1. Vasudev Ram


    4. LE

      Only one? You need three huge screens. (The fourth is hooked up to another machine). (3 Apple 27’s and 1 Apple 30″ which is why the 27’s look small)… https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  7. obarthelemy

    The extremely surprising thing is that while phones have grown ever bigger, tablets haven’t. I’m in the market for a 12-14″ tablet : I had an Archos 13.3″ for a while and loved the size, but the CPU made it unusable. Everything large on the market today is also flawed: it’s either Windows (I actually bought a $100 8″ Windows tablet to try it out… there still are no good apps), or overpriced Samsung / orphaned HP / experimental Lenovo (they put a projector in it instead of a good battery…). Not even one 2nd/3rd/4th-tier substitute, hopefully a larger iPad will change that.My phone is up to 7″… My 10″ tablet now pretty much is a video player, I mostly leave it by the bed and sofa and don’t even put it next to my PC as I used to.

  8. Marissa_NYx

    I gravitated towards an iPhone 6plus after several trips to Korea late last year where the large samsung phones dominate- after seeing this I was hooked on the big phone – although my data costs have skyrocketed as I hardly use the iPad anymore. In our household we seem to only replace an iPad if it is dropped, cracked screen etc . They are otherwise durable .Yes, the iPad seems to have its place for niche uses – coffee shop cash registers , school apps , Beam robots and so on . These use cases seem to make the iPad more useful and indispensable – interestingly, the more niche it is , the more it is used.

  9. awaldstein

    Talking about mobile and social (which we aren’t) read this article not about dating but Tinder and mobile dating.The very best case study I’ve seen–in Vanity Fair no less–that truly captures the idea of context and mobile and social.

      1. LE

        Related: “Where there is smoke there is fire”.(I didn’t read the vanity article but had time to read your link and that is what I thought about the retorts…)

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I think that experience represents a minority of tinder users but maybe is reflective of who and where those individuals are. They are all “budding investment bankers” that are “attractive” and went to “ivy league schools” in New York City which has a ratio of women to men that’s a little more favorable to the men.Vanity Fair wrote an article about the dating lives of the 1%. Most of my peers (who are decidedly not in the 1%, myself included) get matches once in a while, usually see the matches flake out at some point, go on dates once in a while. A friend had a serious girlfriend from Tinder for a while once but otherwise would say most people I know (both men and women) haven’t had tinder play out the way the article describes.

      1. Jess Bachman

        Agreed. The article goes a bit beyond the 1% of wealth, as some of the people still lived with their moms, but it seemed to represent the 1% of looks. Interesting for sure, but not representative at all I don’t think.

      2. awaldstein

        Honestly I don’t care about Tinder although I do care what the top percent of any group is doing.What I found compelling is the use of social mobile, something that is so powerful yet honestly so rare.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          Rare? I always thought I was the outlier by engaging in social on desktop mostly. All my friends are instagramming, snap chatting, and Facebooking on their phones.Strongly agree on caring about the top percent groups, especially if you want to see where the trend is going.

          1. awaldstein

            You are correct.The difference thought between all of those (bit Instagram and FB user myself) and what Tinder is doing is that Tinder is a location based connector where context is the core,Not so with the others.

  10. Matt Kruza

    Tablets are ok consumption devices (but so are smartphones) but tablets are not great productivity / production devices. This is where computers shine and their form factor is pretty much perfect (from 13-17 inches on laptops) and for desktops between 1 – 3 (and i guess 5 for some 😉 ) screens for business / programming …aka people who get shit done

  11. jason wright

    a smartphone for consuming content and then a physical keyboard device for typing seem to work for just about everything i need to do. a tablet seems like a superfluous luxury. i don’t have one.

    1. William Mougayar

      welcome back, jasonpwright!

      1. jason wright

        thank you for the welcome William. it’s nice to be back 🙂

    2. Guillaume Lerouge

      The answer a couple years down the road, when smartphones have become even more powerful, might be some type of smart dock: plug your phone to start using the attached screen/keyboard/mouse, unplug it to get back to normal. However this sounds a lot like what Windows 8 tried to achieve with their tablet/PC combos, which was far from ideal.Or maybe once all your content is truly in the cloud, with even better mobile connections, switching from your phone to your chromebook becomes 100% painless and your context is entirely preserved?

      1. scottythebody

        I think that’s for sure going to happen. Apps design for mobile first and build experience to become omnichannel. AirBnB does a great job of that now. I can interact with it from email, iPhone app, iPad app, website, iMessage, SMS… It all “just works” and is seamless. That’s only going to get better.

  12. Jess Bachman

    It might be a demographic related phenomena in your data. In my household, the tablets are basically portable Netflix and gaming boxes for the kids. They function VERY well for that purpose and a phablet would be no better.

  13. Brandon Burns

    As software people — who cares? If you’re investing in products on the merit of the problems they solve, not the device on which they solve them, this debate is a non-issue.Make something useful. Make it available via all relevant channels and devices. Done.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Big choices to be made though. How do you write the software? For what platform? Where will it be consumed? Does your target market exist on Android? Or iPhone?

      1. Brandon Burns

        Put the problem you’re solving + the place where people engage with that problem the most in the forefront, and the rest works itself out.Taxi app for people in China? Android first. Content site where viral spread is your main growth driver? Desktop / mobile web first. Graphics intensive game? iOS first.These are not hard choices.Also, the day that you can build a site for the desktop / mobile web and semi-seamlessly turn that into an Android or iOS app is already here.…The only people still having this debate is investors. Those who make the stuff know what’s up and have moved on.

  14. JimHirshfield

    I have never owned a tablet. I’m on the OnePlus One which has a larger screen.A friend of mine who’s head of sales for a large multinational firm travels with only an iPad and his iPhone 6. Does all his email and spreadsheets on iPad. No laptop. I was surprised.

    1. awaldstein

      i want to but simply haven’t been able to do this.

    2. Sierra Choi

      Same here. The nice thing about the tablet + bluetooth keyboard + solar charger for travel anywhere is that it fits nicely into my 30cm purse. Gone are the days of lugging around laptop cases.

      1. Jess Bachman

        Solar charger? I think you are taking the whole “smartphone is the sun” thing too literally.

        1. Sierra Choi

          Well, to each his own. Solar chargers are quite inexpensive, small and very effective. It eradicates the need to be around outlets and other sources of electrical energy.

          1. Jess Bachman

            I’m just joshin ya. I’ve been known to carry around my biolite stove, which allows me to charge my phone by burning sticks. Never ceases to amaze me… making calls on a wood powered phone.

          2. Sierra Choi

            OK. I didn’t realise you were a comedian 🙂

          3. JLM

            .Wow, what a gadget. I just ordered one. Thanks.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. Jess Bachman

            Awesome, its really one of my favorite and oft used pieces of tech. The charging performance is mediocre to be honest. I really only use the recharging to bring a dead phone to life. The real benefit is its performance as a stove. The heat exchanger powers the fan which brings air into the furnace making it hotter, powering the heat exchanger. Pretty ingenius, and it creates a very hot flame which makes quick work of a pot of water, raw bacon, or anything else I put on there.I also highly reccomend their powerlight. It’s basically a huge Li-ion battery with a flashlight and difused light attached. It has revived and saved my phones battery countless times. Also good for camping/blackouts/emergencies.

          5. JLM

            .Great gadget. I will look into the powerlight.I do not do camping. I was a “camper” for five years in the Army. I spent many a night wrapped in a poncho on a rock. I even hate the word “camping.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          6. Jess Bachman

            Right, well the stove is mostly smokeless. I’ve made plenty a tasty meal on public beaches and other areas where campfires are not allowed.

          7. JLM

            .Does it cook a big fat burger?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          8. Jess Bachman

            Sure, in a pan. I suppose you could put a grill over it and cook one burger at a time, but it won’t be smokeless with all that juice dripping in there. You know, its something I will test out.

      2. Twain Twain

        Instead of a physical bluetooth keyboard I’m looking into getting this:

        1. Sierra Choi

          I like the idea of a laser keyboard- or even a hologram keyboard for the future. I wonder though for that particular model laser Celluon Magic Cube if it is safe to look directly at the laser? I know many lasers cause eye damage and visual distortions, especially those on the bottom of the mouse, so I would be curious about the safety precautions of a laser keyboard.

          1. Twain Twain

            Good point. I’ve been looking at the infrared part of the spectrum for a sensor system I’m making.The laser keyboard was inspired by ‘Star Wars’ circa 1979 and R2D2’s projection technology. There’s even an R2D2 laser keyboard!Here are a couple of articles on laser safety; applies to projector clickers too.*…* http://www.laserpointersafe

        2. Jess Bachman

          Seems like your hands would obstruct the lazer while typing, creating a very disorienting experience. especially with no haptic feedback

          1. Wyatt Brown

            Tried something similar.It sucked to type, but it made my fingers look groovy …

          2. Jess Bachman

            Throw on some sparkly Michael Jackson gloves and the right playlist and you got yourself a dance party… just keep typing.

          3. JimHirshfield

            “…your hands would obstruct the lazer while typing…”Your point, presumably, being that you wouldn’t then be able to see the specific key you were trying to press? You do realize that that’s the case with a traditional keyboard? You can’t see the key if your finger is on it; but you know it’s there.

          4. Jess Bachman

            Yes but when I am typing on a normal keyboard… my hands don’t look like lazers. I’d imagine this is me with this keyboard. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          5. JimHirshfield

            hahahaha…LOLCATS.(FYI, I think you mean lasers)

          6. Jess Bachman

            Your right, with my avatar, I should have known better.

          7. Twain Twain

            Haha, you’re Jim in the making!

        3. LE

          That seems like a product I would buy and never use.

          1. Twain Twain

            This is my concern too! I’m just done with lugging keyboards around.

          2. LE

            While I am not going to tell you I enjoy lugging things around I will easily lug something around that makes me more productive. After all we spend time exercising so what is the big deal to have to carry something? [1]At my desktop I have 3 large monitors that I can’t live without. The idea of working off a laptop is something that I do only when I absolutely have to. For that matter I never answer any emails by iphone. For email I am either at a laptop or my desktop. I like a full keyboard and I like to not type cryptic 1 sentence or several word replies and further I like to have all available information and tools at my disposal. So I answer emails in batch which is more time effective for me. That system works well for me. Lastly I never mind any effort as long as I get something for that effort.[1] Call this the parking paradox. People spend countless hours exercising but then many try to get the parking spot closest to the door when they are shopping to save a few seconds of walking. When I used to go for dim sum in the city I would park at my favorite [2] parking lot several blocks away and have a pair of my running sneakers and just run the two blocks to the restaurant at a fast pace.[2] Favorite means self park with plenty of space for the car instead of the valet next to the restaurant.

          3. Twain Twain

            Haha, where dim sum’s concerned, you should park at least 3 kilometers away. Walking works up an appetite on the way there and reduces the chance of getting a bloated tummy on the way back!

        4. JLM

          .That is a “reward gadget”. You get one when you do something really saintly and deserve a nice reward.I have quite a few though I haven’t done anything saintly in a long time. I pre-reward myself.”Go ahead; get it,” said the tech Devil laughing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Twain Twain

            I’m building this which has a 7″ screen. My mini wireless keyboard (21x8cm) doesn’t fit into my toolbox carry case which houses everything else.Laser keyboard is size of a matchbox.Two things about tech I HATE:(1.) Wires.(2.) Weight.Everyone keeps talking about NATURAL UI but really a mouse, keyboard and touchscreen isn’t at all natural.It’s LEARNED UI.Anyway, I can attach sensors to the board and program it so the system does something as soon as I move my fingers over it.A friend of mine (Cambridge graduate) recently hacked a gesture-motion keyboard together but his system involves attaching some electronic boards to our fingers.His method is what VR aficionados are looking into, by the way.I have a different view of where tech should go:(1.) No wires to lug around.(2.) No perceptible additional weight on any part of body — this is why I don’t buy the Apple Watch, Google Glass, Oculus Rift.Natural is where the tech is in the environment not obstructing, obfuscating or over-riding our senses.Even having to dig in my pockets / bags for my iPhone is a nuisance, :*).

          2. JLM

            .Well played. Fair play to you.Me, I just want faster Internet.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. JamesHRH

      Ben Evans – the smart phone is the sun……which I assume means that all other tech now orbits your phone…..which is a pretty major shift from even Apple’s last major strategy statement….that the iMac platform was a media hub.Easy test – what is the one device you would not want to live without? Phone likely comes up w 80%+ response.

      1. JimHirshfield


      2. realroz

        Apple revised it’s concept of the Mac as the hub, demoting the PC in favor of the cloud in 2011.

        1. Wyatt Brown

          now that’s a pipeline, if iv’e ever seen one!

        2. JLM

          .This is exactly what I would have expected. It is quite illuminating. Thank you.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        3. JamesHRH

          Thanks Lee!Great graph for showing the generational strata of tech.I don’t even think of a TV as tech ( I am not on the left side of that graph either ).

          1. PhilipSugar

            I am really surprised at the TV across the board. For 65 plus I could see it beating out the phone but not by 20 to 1, in my age bracket TV beats out mobile phone by 4 to 3, even in the youngest bracket phone only wins 3 to 1, and that is the only bracket where phone is higher than 50%. I agree with falicon that the internet is really the key thing.

          2. LeeHunold

            It would be interesting to see this graphic filtered down to just devices that connect to the internet. At that point I believe 80%+ would choose the phone as James & you have somewhat implied.

          3. LE

            See my other comment. ofcom and saveille rossiter-base are UK firms.

        4. LE

          Ofcom is a UK firm http://stakeholders.ofcom.o…Saville Rossiter-Base is as well. this data appears to be specific to the UK. Could be applicable in the US or maybe not.Edit: I mean seriously it’s a graph and we can’t even see any of the underlying data or research. We don’t know when or how it was conducted. We can guess where – the UK.

        5. Mark Chin

          My 75-year old mom watches a lot of TV. So I gave her an iPad last year. She said “What for? I have no use for it”. Then I showed her a few apps that has the TV shows she loves with no commercials, no DVRs to mess up and no need to wait for “new” episodes. Now she watches “TV” on her iPad every night.For older folks, “TV” is synonymous with TV content. But if all TV content were readily accessible on the Internet, a lot of the older folks would likely give up TV too. The younger set already get their video content online.

      3. Dan Moore

        When I leave the house, I need my phone more than any other item, ahead of even keys and wallet.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          You must not drive.

      4. falicon

        I would argue that the internet is the sun…all the devices orbit it (and though we are infatuated with the smartphone today, it’s not actually the device we love – it’s the freedom, the connection, and the access that we are addicted to).The “internet of things” is also going into this orbit and improving our solar system…but the phone is really just our current ‘best’ spaceship for exploring much of this stuff…someday (possibly soon) it too will be replaced.

        1. Russell


        2. PhilipSugar

          Yes I agree. If you look at the interesting grahpic from Lee the one thing it does not include is internet.If you told me I could have a phone with no internet or no phone but internet. I would take internet all day long because with the internet I could use a tablet and skype as a phone.

          1. LeeHunold

            Couldn’t agree more.

        3. Rick

          Convenience is the sun and laziness revolves around it. That’s just human nature. Years ago you patronized a business because it did things for you. Today we are a self-serve world..Companies will again start to compete based on how well they serve the customer and self-serve gadgets will no longer be necessary. For example as I’ve begun to eliminate much technology from my day I now look to shop at places that have people serving me. I no longer self-serve by self-selling. I shop places that have people to “sell me” things..Years past businesses had to treat people good with the hopes that they would buy. Once the fog of gadgeting lifts they will embrace their lazy self again and demand quality service! Gone will be the days of hey figure it out yourself I just want your money.

        4. Michael Elling

          Who thinks the smartphone is a constraint? Don’t get me wrong, I love my G-Note 4, but often times I wish I didn’t have to lug it around. What’s wrong with a future where the connection is a radio/battery/storage dongle no bigger than a pack of gum and costs a fraction of what the bloated smartphone costs and performs much, much better in terms of connectivity and time to recharge.Then I can plug and play “n” devices, where n might equal40, in my PAN/LAN/MAN environment. Go to work out? I have 3-4 different devices. Go to the opera or a concert, I might have 2 different devices. Go on a trip? I might have 6 devices. At home I might have 20 devices, etc…. I think vendors should not stay beholden to the carriers and should start thinking about a dis-aggregated future.

        5. Tom Dorsey

          Very well Said James.

    4. Brandon Burns

      Have you had any repair / support needs for the OnePlus yet? If so, how quickly / easily (or not) were you able to rectify the issue?I had a Sony Experia and, after headaches trying to replace a cracked screen, I’m *sigh* back on the iPhone. Between comparatively easy / cheap / fast / available almost anywhere repair, and integration with shared photo, message and other experiences often used between friends, it’s just easier to have the device everyone else has. Even with my skin crawling, lol.

      1. JimHirshfield

        I haven’t needed any repair or support. A few quirky things went away with OS updates. But I’ve heard of others that had problems like overheating, but that too went away with an update.

    5. Elia Freedman

      Our sales were better when the tablet did well, interestingly, even though the app was conceived for smartphones originally. I think productivity is the key. But tablets don’t replace the pad of paper well. I wonder if sales will pick up again when that happens.

    6. PhilipSugar

      Does he have a keyboard for his iPad?? In my mind if you have a keyboard then really its just a form factor difference from a laptop.

      1. JimHirshfield

        No keyboard

  15. Sierra Choi

    I think if tablets are only used for remote controls and for reading, they are being vastly under-utilised. Essentially, the tablet for me has completely replaced the laptop, and together with my bluetooth keyboard and USB solar charger, I rely on my tablet in equal measure as my desktop and do not have to worry about battery life. In addition, many applications for the tablet surpass the applications for the desktop, which allow me to take my tablet wherever I go. As someone mentioned below, I also utilise my tablet to do all my spreadsheets and email.

  16. Tom Labus

    Jets Jinx…

    1. pointsnfigures

      Character counts. Busted jaw over $600.

      1. LE

        Two sides to every story would love to hear the other side.

  17. scottythebody

    Totally true. The phone is by far my most-used computing device. In fact, I have all the others at my disposal (besides a watch), and I’ve found that I am pretty much 60% phone and most of the rest of my work and personal computing is done on my MacBook Pro. I move from meeting-to-meeting with my laptop, but rarely need it on the spot but rather use my phone for notes, task capture, etc. The iPads and Amazon tablets in our house get used by the kids to watch movies when we allow it — and the iPad mini is my main “Kindle” device.I’d say the tablet is niche, but an incredibly valuable one for me, personally. It literally changed my life when I got the iPad and could give it to my children on a transatlantic flight. Suddenly, flying to Thailand with small children became a relaxing rather than harrying prospect.

  18. scottythebody

    On the other side, I introduced a lot of mobile into my work, and people seem to love the iPads for work. Personally, I’m not so productive on it, but people adapt very quickly. The apps and tools are just lagging a bit. But once real work gets redesigned around the form factor and the intuitive language of the platform, it’s pretty amazing. Something like Tinder for work? Give!

  19. Mario Cantin

    Screen size is a big deal in a way that even Steve Jobs couldn’t have anticipated.Having one handheld device to do everything with is what people prefer — it is like Star Trek having come true in some respects.That’s why we are now starting to call an otherwise mass market product like the iPad, a niche as a direct result of the market having dictated a bump up in smartphone screen size so that everyone can converge to the “one device is king” paradigm.A niche with 45mm items solid in one quarter?! That’s a paradox.So what’s the distortion?For me it is that a phablet is only a compromise and not a perfect state of affair. It’s winning the day (especially with the speech input option), but it’s still not perfect.I use the iPhone 5 for talking as it has the best form factor for a phone IMO, then I also carry the iPhone 6 for everything else, as it provides the best visual experience when I’m mobile; but when I’m at home I much prefer the iPad Mini for that, due to the extra real estate. I read my monthly magazine subscription on an full-size iPad as that delivers the ideal experience for that particular use case. I use a laptop with two screens for involved computer use.That’s what works for me, but it’s too dysfunctional to become the norm, as is seen in the graph in today’s post.

  20. pointsnfigures

    I never got a Tablet. We have one, and my wife (@lakefrontlisa) uses it. It’s especially good on car trips. I own an iPhone6+. Problem with it is my eyes-I probably should start wearing bifocals or contacts. The other problem is many apps aren’t optimized for mobile.

    1. Tom Labus

      I just got my first pair of reading glasses. It helps, a lot

      1. pointsnfigures

        Ya, got some. But, I hate to carry them with me and don’t wear them when walking.

  21. zalzally

    Certainly agree that tablets are a niche product (watches too). I wrote a piece in Recode about this 18 months ago, and every passing quarter, the phablet effect seems to be proving truer and truer. I didn’t have all the data back then, but sluggish tablet sales and dwindling engagement data across all types of tablet apps are reinforcing the point. I’m seeing this today in the form of public data reports, startup pitches, and data from our portfolio companies at Andreessen Horowitz.Back in 2011, as the first head of mobile at Netflix, I had pointed our entire team’s effort to redesigning the tablet app. I’m glad I did that since tablet streaming hours were growing rapidly. But, taking the successful tablet UI and transferring it to the phone (and phablet) was an extremely important move. Glad we did it.

  22. BillMcNeely

    interesting side note, when I onboard drivers to PICKUP here in Dallas exactly 50% of them have Android devices. We end up of having to issue iPhones which is expensive.Seems like in the on demand space you have to come out of the gate with both OS’s

  23. LE

    I bought the first ipad and then sold it a short time later because of lack of use. [1] A few years later I bought an ipad mini but never use it. It sits in the laptop bag. I keep it strictly as an emergency backup in case I need internet access. In that case I would use it to teather another device, the internet access costs me $20 per month.[1] That is the great thing about buying anything from Apple. There is an active market in Apple products on both Craigslist and ebay. Anything Apple makes can be sold and the amount you get, as long as the product is current, and even in many cases non-current, is quite good. So the true cost of ownership for an Apple product that doesn’t work out for you is the really the difference between what you buy it for and what it can be sold for on ebay. Try selling a two year old Acer laptop on ebay and see what you get for that.

  24. LE

    Speaking of Apple products and ebay resales (a good way to get an idea of supply and demand) they are selling, many with multiple bidders, on ebay:…Here is an Apple Watch that got 18 bids. The seller is in Alpine NJ (most expensive zip in NJ). Says it was worn only a few days. Cost at Apple store is $699 and this seller had 18 bids and ended up at $600.…… https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  25. realroz

    I don’t think we know yet where the watch stands in terms of broad appeal.I check my watch all day. It complements my phone. It makes my phone a better, less annoying device. I get unique data from it about my activity. It wouldn’t replace my phone but it at least it gets real daily use, which is something I could never say about my tablet.

  26. Wyatt Brown

    I love Fred’s charts. They taste great!My phablet is where I talk, light read/browse and photo.My desktop is where I “build things” and edit creatives from my phablet.My tablet died a slow, boring death, due to lack of natural fit into any of the above.Thanks, @zalzally:disqus for making Netflix work so well on my phablet!

  27. LE

    What comes to mind with products like the Ipad is Supermac’s Video Spigot. That is a almost a modified novelty effect. (I was at Supermac when that product was around). Steve Blank talks about it here:…Marketing knew who the Spigot customers were; we had all the registration cards and all the data. So we turned to our customers, surveying a few hundred people who had bought the product and asked:Question: Were you the person who bought the board? Answer: Yes.Question Are you happy with the board? Answer: Oh, it’s great.Question Are you using the board? Answer: No.Question And … wait a minute, you’re not using it anymore? Answer: No.Question So do you want a refund? Answer: No, no.Question Why not? Answer: It did everything you said. We loved this product.It didn’t do anything else. People loved it, they used it, and they put it in their desk drawer.We accidently had a product with the Novelty Effect…. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  28. Carole Copeland Thomas

    Fred, I never bothered to buy a tablet. Upgraded the operating system in my iPhone 4S and rely heavily on my Apple MacBook. And I run my business off of these two pieces of equipment. That’s all I need!

  29. Da Ge

    the two personal Android phones I carry and the Windows desktop at work and my Windows laptop at home, all work great together. no tablets in sight.

  30. JLM

    .This, seemingly, is the result of convergence from both ends.Computing capacity is being more compact and mobile.Smartphones are smarter and bigger thereby allowing a better and more usable experience.Apps, websites, software renders beautifully on smartphones — by design.It is only going to get more pronounced.I carry the Samsung Mega — which I call the Slab o’ Cheese — for just this reason. It works for me like a tablet.I have three tablets and I wonder where they are currently.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  31. Marcus Detry

    I need a new phone and a new tablet. Guess what product I will buy?

  32. Richard

    Corporate tablet use is growing. Retail use is growing. And we have 10k Americans turning 65 each day. I wouldn’t be surprised if this this group are tablet super users.As to watch, way too early to use days to forcast.

  33. paulmg

    I’m not sure that the numbers bear the conclusion that desktops are becoming niche, they certainly had their decline but more like they found their place for now. Actually seems that smartphones have been essentially flat over the last few months with desktops increasing!

  34. Lucas Dailey

    I disagree with desktops become niche, I think the “640k RAM” lesson will be more durable than Moore’s Law; Software will always expand to meet capacity.The computer I ran Photoshop on in the 1990s is less powerful than the “supercomputer” in my pocket, but today modern Photoshop lags at times on my modern Mac Mini. There will always be more, valuable computations to do.Agree on tablets though, I sold mine when I got the Nexus 6 and haven’t missed it.

  35. Matt Zagaja

    Big fan and user of my iPad Air still. In the wild I often see tablets used by techies and older people. Recently Verizon announced it was dropping phone subsidies and I went and did the math last night and figured out that the elimination of phone subsidies is basically a backdoor price increase for most people. You save money if you don’t upgrade/finance a phone but otherwise everything is more expensive if you want the “same deal” you had before you did this. (Sprint used to give me annual phone upgrades and unlimited data, and the unlimited data is also gone.)I think people are less likely to plunge for a tablet in their gadget arsenal when they are paying $800 for their iPhone now instead of $200. Though I could see the cheap tablets (Android) continue to survive as occasional reader/video watching devices.

  36. Nicholas Osgood

    The Phablet I believe has its place in certain industries such as in the drone vertical. We find that our pilots in the DroneBase network tend to rely on iPad Minis to iPhone 6 size based screens or equivalent, which provide enough insight into what they are seeing while up in the air. Using a standard iPad on top of a DJI controller just wouldn’t be functional (too big and clunky) while using a screen that is smaller than a 6 tends to make it difficult to see, etc.

  37. LE

    Other uses of tablets are with photography or controlling drones as two other examples.Below came by email from B&H Photo:… https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  38. JaredMermey

    Sales should lean heavy for smartphones due to 2 year lifetime and network subsidies.I’ve had my tablet for three years and it is kicking fine. Really, friends who bought an ipad 1 or ipad 2 are the only ones I know in the market trying to re-purchase.The site usage stats are interesting. I wonder how much of it is the improvement in mobile design, where many sites now look great on a phone or phablet and a tablet is not needed to present the desktop site.

  39. lisa hickey

    Here is my “aha” by reading this post/and great comments—-it’s not that smartphones have gotten better than tablets. It’s that companies have figured out ways to leverage the distinct advantages of phones in ways they haven’t yet been able to leverage tablets. An example is—have you ever seen someone walking down the streets of NY and calling a Uber using a Tablet? I’m sure there are some—I haven’t seen them. Phones didn’t suddenly become better or “more popular” — they rose in popularity as the use cases for phones became really *useful* to people. Uber made my phone more useful, not Apple. And I can’t think of a company that leveraged the uniqueness of tablets.In terms of where this will lead us for the future—-I’m with the crowd who likes to do “work work” on a computer that has a sizeable screen and a functioning keyboard. notably the people who “don’t mind lugging computers around because it makes them more productive” as well as those like @Twiain who don’t like working without functional keyboards and large screens and are working on hardware solutions that solve that problem in innovative ways.And I am all about “the internet of things” as one way to get increased connectivity, usefulness and productivity. But I still believe that will only be incremental to how connected and productive I am now. I believe the future lies in the vision of how to built “usefulness” into companies, not devices. In some ways, it’s the next generation of “hide the code” or “hide the backend” from the user experience.

  40. Elia Freedman

    There is water, food and smartphone. Those are the only three things that seem to have 1:1 (or soon will) penetration for the world’s population. It makes stuff like tablets and watches look like a piddly little business, even though those are huge businesses by any other standard even though they selling millions of units generating billions in profits every quarter.There will likely never be another smartphone. It’s reach and scale are impossible to replicate. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t 20-50 multi-million dollar “niches” out there that companies like Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi can profit from, and the combination of those “smartphone ancillary” products combined might be as much revenue as the smartphone by itself.

  41. Shaun Dakin

    I know this is the case with me. I had the iPad (still do) and used it a bunch. In 2012. Since that time I’m on my Samsung S3-5 and my son uses the iPad. I have not used it in years.

  42. sigmaalgebra

    You could even argue that desktops are becoming niche.Everything pales in comparison to the smartphone it seems. Gee, there are lots more kernels of corn than there are smartphones. So could argue that smartphones are becoming niche and that everything pales in comparison with kernels of corn?No way could I have developed the software for my project on a smartphone. Or a tablet.Instead, I want my desktop; my “14 points:”(1) B&W laser printer for the times, still, I want output on paper.(2) Daisy wheel printer for addressing envelopes for sending via USPS.(3) Full keyboard, high quality connected via a USB port — don’t want a wireless keyboard,(4) Mouse, connected via a USB port — don’t want a wireless mouse.(5) Speakers for listening to music.(6) Ethernet port for connecting to my ISP’s cable modem.(7) USB port for my new DVD/CD reader/writer.(8) USB port for my cheapie digital camera.(9) FAX modem card for letting my text editor dial phone numbers and letting me send FAXes, e.g., to my two Senators on the proposed treaty with Iran.(10) Three hard disk drives for more paths to data and internal backup to an independent disk drive.(11) USB port to an external disk drive for more backup, usually unplugged to make it immune to any computer virus that might want to read, encrypt, corrupt, or delete my back up data.(12) A 14”, bright CRT monitor.(13) My favorite, crucial software — KEDIT, REXX.(14) No way do I want anything smaller — larger, sure, ASAP. Bigger screens, more screens, faster processor clock, more processor cores, more main memory, more/larger hard disk drives, cases of virtual machine and/or containers, etc.A high end desktop can make one heck of a first server for my project.I have to believe that anyone who wants to program will want at least a good laptop and, more likely, a good desktop.We really do want and expect that many people will want to program, right?

  43. John

    I think you have to be careful in your final statement. It’s niche specific. I have a popular blog in the healthcare IT space and another in the entertainment (TV) space. I looked at the stats and the healthcare IT blog only had 15% mobile (tablet and smartphone) readership. The entertainment blog had 60% mobile readership. I finally decided to switch to a mobile optimized theme and it’s actually partially damaged the healthcare IT blog.As I consider the massive gap, I think there are two main factors. First, healthcare is behind. This is clear, but is probably the lesser reason since doctors were some of the first smart phone and tablet buyers. I think the bigger factor is that the topic is part of people’s work. At work (at least in healthcare), they’re still largely using a desktop. I don’t see this changing anytime soon either. On the entertainment sites, they’re likely reading them at home on their couch. I think enterprise for many markets will still be very strong on the desktop.

  44. Michael Elling

    This will change when we get to 2-way HD video collaboration. The phablet loses out to the tablet and monitor/display at that point. It might become a starting point to a 2-way video session, but most will want to transfer the session to a larger screen at that point. Maybe 5 years?

  45. jkrums

    Side questions regarding Project Fi.. Are you using it yet? I just got the invite and am waiting for the sim card. Anyone else using it?

  46. BillSeitz

    Really liked my Nexus7. But it died after a year. And my old phone was dying at the same time, so bought a Nexus6 to replace the two together.

  47. george

    In our house, the tablet has really become more of a specialized device used as a mobile TV Screen (room-to-room) or a primary Book Reader. My favorite tablet use case is for business presentation purposes, hard to beat…My observations; the Phablet form factor may provide greater utility for now because it’s hitting on mobile, social and economic characteristics in a very effective way. However, I do think the tablet can make a very strong comeback on the graph if the next generation of tablets are developed with an aim to build on its own unique characteristics. Design and development lost a bit of their way over time and defused the real purpose in this product category-better user experiences.

  48. Terry J Leach

    As Benedict Evans of A16Z, perfectly illustrated visually. The smartphone is the sun and center of the mobile universe of technology and companies involved in the supply chain. An anology of what we are seeing is phanlet failing to escape the gravity of the smartphone. I don’t imagine any device escaping the social and economic gravity of the smartphone. Everything beyond the smartphone will be a niche product spurned out by the smartphone supply chain.

  49. Judd Morgenstern

    Agree, except desktop becoming niche — provided desktop really means pc.AVC data probably skewed since mainly consumption activity. Time spent on pc will be buoyed by work / school / productivity activities.Most people I know in work or school use pc and mobile simultaneously: mobile for music, messaging, photo, social and pc for docs, dev/design, research, etc.Ironically, in a way mobile has become the device for personal-computing and pc’s have become the device for “impersonal” (work) computing.

  50. falicon

    In that case, I bow to the all mighty RA, the sun god 😉

  51. Twain Twain

    THIS, exactly.The device (PC / mobile / tablet / phablet / wearable) are simply channels for that glue.

  52. jason wright

    i’m an electron. you’re too big for me.

  53. SubstrateUndertow

    Isn’t that why watches/wearables will dominate in the long run because they possess the inherent attributes to empower a very transparent, indwell-able, sensate-experience of that bio-extended “YOU” ?Specifically watch/wearables are indwell-able sensate-extensions with smooth enough perceptual-ergonomics to police that razor-edge between our collective internet of everything and our more closely held personal-cloud of locally autonomous bio-extenting sensors/data/actuators .We are the Borg. We and only we will decide where to draw the line between ourselves and the collective or maybe not 🙂

  54. JimHirshfield

    I like it. Long battery life is key feature.

  55. JimHirshfield

    Nothing negative to report on that front.

  56. Vasudev Ram

    Reminds of Israeli company Modu – modular phones.

  57. Tom Dorsey

    I have a Samsung watch and loved it at first because I was an early adopter as I was with Google Glass. It became a novelty for me. No matter how much data, speed etc. You simply can’t see it well enough to use. Google Glass was the same. Fun for about 3 weeks then relegated to the book shelf.

  58. Vasudev Ram

    Ah, cool. I’d briefly read about Google’s project Ara some weeks ago. Didn’t follow up on it though. Will check it again.

  59. Twain Twain

    I’m wondering if going from touchscreen keyboard to laser keyboard will be the same adjustment for our brains as when we went from physical QWERTY keyboards to touchscreen ones.Maybe I get it just for that brain and UI research experience, haha.