Why Apple hasn’t released your big fat iPhablet (yet)

“While analysts, Wall Street, former Apple employees, and yes — journalists — have been raking Apple over the coals for its agonizingly slow product release cycle and lack of response to the growing market for larger screens, Tim no-new-products-until-this-fall Cook has held his fire,” John Koetsier reports for VentureBeat.

“That’s probably at least partly due to the fact that that ‘growing’ market might indeed be growing, but not all that quickly. In fact, according to mobile advertising company Tapjoy, fablets only make up a tiny four percent of the market,” Koetsier reports. “‘Fablets don’t fill a market need that is most valuable to end users,’ Brian Sapp, a director at Tapjoy, told me yesterday. ‘They fall in a grey area … the device manufacturers want to make larger screens, but most users just don’t care… [they] want a phone that fits in their pocket.'”

Koetsier reports, “While fablets may be a small slice of the market, phones that are bigger than iPhone are not… Which means it is very likely that a larger iPhone will be coming at some point in 2013, closer to fall. Just not as big as some pundits might like. And, it probably will still fit in your pocket.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Big phones, phablets and tablets only account for 10% of Android installed base – May 3, 2013
Report: iPhone-sized smartphones dominate in usage stats; phablets are a fad – April 1, 2013

31 Comments

  1. The same question like why Apple didn’t release netbooks , the history tells us Apple determination to make the best products in the world didn’t change . Apple won’t make products that they know is not up to their standard no matter how many people want and like . However , Apple should be actively thinking how to make it come to us or thinking what else they can do like ipad which finished netbooks .

    1. Actually, I think Apple had it right with the MBAir as the perfect NetBook.

      I think Apple actually opened up the tablet category with the incredibly small & easy to use iPad.

      iPad virtually proved out that a device mainly for light duty typing, image/video and consumption of information was a viable consumer need.

    2. Apple’s ethos is to make the very best possible product. If you look at usage data for smartphones, iPhones account for a disproportionate amount of the data used compared to their market share. One reason for that is that Apple has made web browsing really easy to use on iPhones.

      The argument for a phablet is primarily that by making the screen bigger, it’s better suited for web browsing. If pahblets are supposed to be so well suited to web browsing, then why aren’t we seeing them accounting for higher proportions of data usage than they currently are ?

  2. There is a big difference between a phablet and a 5 inch screen such as that on the Galaxy S 4. 4 inches doesn’t cut it for a lot of people these days. iOS also needs to allow more customization. Picture a 5 inch iPhone 5 with iOS 7 and the ability to replace core apps like keyboards.

  3. “…the device manufacturers want to make larger screens, but most users just don’t care… [they] want a phone that fits in their pocket.”
    Well – a big DUH for that brilliant insight!

  4. The closer you hold the iPhone to your face the bigger it gets. Know one really wants a bigger iPhone. However, give me a much smaller iPhone the size of a watch face, belt buckle, broach (think Star Trek communicator), … and let me tether any of my iOS and OS X devices to that and I am in!

    1. I don’t know about “know one” but millions will buy a larger iPhone. The article is correct, it doesn’t need to phablet just a larger iPhone. A well written and intelligent article. Also remember, current statistics on larger phones are not iPhones. So in the end, they are irrelevant. And misleading. Yet often quoted. And absolutely no one wants a smaller iPhone the size of a watch face, belt buckle, brooch or Star Trek communicator. Know one!

  5. First, how did Tapjoy categorize the term “phablet” when compiling the data to reach that 4 percent figure? Anything above 5 inches? So phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3 might not have made the list even though it’s clearly phablet territory with its 4.8 inch screen.

    Second, the 5 inch and above category will surely spike upward with the arrival of the Galaxy S4. We are likely to see much different phablet numbers a year from now since the Galaxy Note is no longer the standard bearer.

    Third, so what if phablet sales aren’t huge right now. The question is where are the trends headed. I thought we skated to where the puck is going to be, not where it is now? Maybe the iPhone Plus will be the catalyst of a true phablet explosion. Maybe the phablet category needs an iOS device designed by Jony Ive instead of cheap Android junk. Since when do the failures of old products preclude an Apple entrance? Maybe they’re just not doing it right.

    1. Just because Samsung thinks the puck is going to 5″ screens and up doesn’t mean it’s correct. Hopefully we’ll see Samsung skate right off the cliff.

      Apple has always had a much better sense of what consumers want even when the consumers don’t know what they want. If Apple thought a 5.3″ iPhone was the right move, we would have one by now. I think Apple realizes that the large phone publicity is much more Samsung driving/paying for reviews, ads, hits, etc. than actual customer sales.

      1. It’s not only Samsung, it’s the entire smartphone industry. Apple is the only smartphone maker on the planet who doesn’t have a device that’s at least 4.7 inches.

        And the absence of an iPhablet is not evidence of Jony Ive’s disapproval because they could be preparing a device that simply isn’t ready yet. If 2015 rolls around and the biggest phone you can get from Apple is still 4 inches, then perhaps you can say they don’t think it’s the right move. For now, Jony could very well see the puck going toward larger phones, but he will not show his hand until he has a product that he feels is perfect.

    2. “Since when do the failures of old products preclude an Apple entrance?”
      Since the old products are netbooks.
      Since the old products are cheapo desktops.

  6. Is the choice really between the 4 inch iphone 5 OR a massive phablet?

    In my mind, the choice is between the iPhone 5 screen and something not-insanely larger, but larger, like 5 inches. When we cast the conversation as either “iphone size” or “insanely huge” of course iphone-size will make more sense.

    If anyone is following along on my Galaxy s3 adventure (I also have an iphone 4), I’m still strongly considering sending the s3 back. I miss the fit and finish of (most) apple software, and certainly of the hardware.

    1. The most we are talking about is a 5 inch (perhaps 4.9 inch technically) device dubbed the iPhone Plus:

      http://www.marco.org/2013/01/31/iphone-plus-speculation

      According to many around here, even that’s too gargantuan of a phone. Of course should Apple actually release it, they’ll change their tune. But for now it’s apparently the end of the world if Apple would release such a phone and nobody would buy it, much like the iPad mini when initial rumors began to surface.

      1. I think that if Apple did release a 5″ iPhone, it would also be so ridiculously thin and light that it would not even compare to Samsung products. That would compensate for the added width/length by being remarkably thin and durable.

        1. Yes, like the iPad mini, I’m expecting differentiators that leave the iOS device a few notches above the competition. Things that have yet to reach the rumor mill. See, I always wanted a smaller tablet from Apple but if they released a Nexus 7 or Galaxy Tab 7.0 that happened to run iOS, I would not be typing this post on an iPad mini right now. I would never buy that device. It was only months before the mini’s release, when we saw the screen ratio for example, that we began to see how Apple would tackle this feat. And the masterful result was a concentration of the iPad, rather than a reduction, as Jony Ive insightfully opined.

          I don’t want the iPhone Plus because I want a Samsung Galaxy S4 that runs iOS, I want an iPhone Plus because it will be a game changer designed by Apple that makes the Galaxy S4 look silly in comparison.

          1. I don’t know about “know one” but millions will buy a larger iPhone. The article is correct, it doesn’t need to phablet just a larger iPhone. A well written and intelligent article. Also remember, current statistics on larger phones are not iPhones. So in the end, they are irrelevant. And misleading. Yet often quoted. And absolutely no one wants a smaller iPhone the size of a watch face, belt buckle, brooch or Star Trek communicator. Know one!

          2. Ah yes, the iPad mini naysayers. I remember it like it was just yesterday. I never understood their attempt at knocking what was obviously sure to come? It was almost like it was personal. As though just because competitors had a smaller tablet Apple couldn’t dare do the same thing. Sorry, I never get the fanboy thing. It’s the same thing with a larger iPhone. Samsung makes one so Apple can’t dare make a larger iPhone. How ridiculous. When, not if, Apple makes a larger iPhone it will sell like hotcakes because it’s an iPhone. And it’s larger. Funny how those iPad mini naysayers are still here but never admit that they are wrong.

  7. I’m rather fond of my iPhone 5. It fits in my shirt pocket, doesn’t weigh much and feels like a quality piece of engineering. The screen display is superb.

    Back in the day, Motorola made a name for itself by humiliating the clunky cell phone competition with sleek, lightweight offerings that fit in a shirt pocket. I don’t get the clamor for a bulky, five-inch phone. It seems so retro.

  8. “You don’t need that” is never a valid argument not to serve a market segment. Maybe the phat phone is well outside mainstream, but obviously there’s profits in the segment. And lets think about market share from another context:

    4 % — wasn’t that long ago when this was the Mac computer market share. I don’t recall any Mac users calling themselves insignificant back then. Now afterJobs doubled that market share with the iMac and several generations of MacBooks, Cook has lost Mac market share growth momentum, and he’s slowly losing IPhone market share. All Cook can claim, really, is that he’s really good at watch Jobs’ iTunes store print money. Cook certainly hasn’t done squat to improve it.

    Apple needs to do something to stop losing ground to iOS competitors, pronto. Market share matters to the long term health of the company, and Cook is losing it.

  9. our first paragraph takes no account of “focus” and of roi. It’s silly to try and serve all market segments. The fact that Apple has never done so is a major part of why it is the largest publicly traded company on the planet. Why spend effort serving a different marginally profitable segment when the same effort could be put into already very profitable areas?

    In other news: Mercedes is not worried about the greater market share of rusty bicycles in the “transportation” sector throughout India, and state that they will not be moving into production of rusty bicycles.

      1. Well, well. You got me and surprised me there! 🙂

        Nevertheless, the my main point is that part of what makes Apple so strong is the principle of “focus” and most definitely and consciously NOT trying to be all things to all people. A great read is “Focus” by Al Ries.

        Not all potential sales are equal, or equally worth pursuing. Why try to make sales that make $x for five hours effort, when I’m run off my feet trying to fulfill all the sales that make $x for an hour’s effort?

        1. We are in agreement.

          Nevertheless, I remain disappointed that Cook is not more aggressive in finding & acting on opportunities. Unfortunately, Samsung is — and it has the profit & growth to prove it. Cook needs to flip the innovation engine back on and stop turning up his nose to small opportunities. A full iPhone family, a new Mac Pro, 4k resolution displays, the list goes on. So much demand for new tech, it would be embarrassing to see Apple get fat, dumb, and happy by merely taking a cut of App Store sales. Meanwhile Cook repeats ad nauseum to just wait for what’s in the pipeline. Wake up, Cook. MS and Sammy have delivered new products while you are just playing stock games that add no value whatsoever to the Apple user community.

    1. I always wondered why Apple didn’t offer an “iPad Pro” large enough to display a full A4 page at 100% zoom. Instead they seem focused on serving the dime-store novel crowd.

      Likewise, iPods come in all shapes and sizes to serve a diverse market. But Cook inexplicably can’t be bothered to do the same with the iPhone. The fact that Apple is growing slower than the overall smartphone market tells you that people aren’t enamored with the choice of this year’s model or last year’s model iPhone.

      Cook, take a page from Porsche: as perfect as the 911 has evolved to be, Stuttgart’s finest realized that several other configurations of sports & touring cars are necessary — and very profitable.

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