Apple missing out on ‘seismic shift’ as large-screen smartphones predicted to sell over 240 million units in 2014

TECHnalysis Research, LLC announced the release of its first market forecast highlighting the dramatic changes happening in the world of smart connected devices. Specifically, the firm believes that worldwide unit shipments for the large smartphone category (those with screen sizes of 5” or larger — commonly called ‘phablets’ but termed ‘mobile connected devices’ in this report) will reach just over 240 million units in 2014 versus 173 million notebooks and 158 million small tablets (those with screen sizes between 7-8”). The total market for smart connected devices is expected to grow from 1.54 billion units in 2013 to 2.06 billion in 2018, but that’s a small drop from the peak of 2.07 billion in 2017.

“Even the hottest device categories can’t keep growing forever,” commented TECHnalysis Research founder and chief analyst Bob O’Donnell, “and we believe the slowdowns that have started to occur in the US and other developed regions will start to impact the developing regions by the end of the forecast period.”

[Bob O’Donnell is a former VP and 14-year IDC veteran. At IDC, O’Donnell was responsible for the company’s worldwide mobile phone, tablet, PC and thin client research, as well as the ODM production of notebooks. He also led IDC’s display research program, which tracked both the sales and technology trends affecting the worldwide market for computer monitors, televisions and related technologies, as well as the market for large LCD panels, touch panels and ODM production of monitors and TVs.]

Looking at the results by category shows that PC shipments are expected to continue their decline for the next few years, but then level out in the 292 million unit range by 2016. Tablets are expected to continue growing throughout the forecast period, but will see very modest single-digit growth rates in the final years of the forecast, ending in shipments of 339 million in 2018. Smartphones are forecast to peak in 2017 at around 1.44 billion units but then slip to 1.43 billion in 2018. The big story in smartphones, however, is the move to larger sizes as TECHnalysis Research predicts approximately one of three smartphones shipping worldwide in 2018 will have a 5” screen or larger.

Source: TechAnalysis
Source: TechAnalysis


Source: TechAnalysis
Source: TechAnalysis

In the US, the total market for smart connected devices is also expected to peak in 2017 at a volume of nearly 279 million units, but starting in 2015 year-over-year growth rates will fall to under 2%, leading to a relatively stagnant level of unit shipments. US PC shipments will hover in the 58 million unit range starting in 2015, while tablets will grow from 58 million units in 2013 to nearly 74 million in 2018. Smartphone shipments are expected to peak in 2016 at 149 million units and then drop to 145 million units in 2018, although all of that decline will be in smaller smartphones (those with screens under 5”), as the larger smartphone category will grow through the forecast period and reach 30% of all US smartphone shipments in 2018.

Some of the other highlights from the forecast include:

• Android-based smart connected device shipments will hit 1.1 billon this year, but Android’s share of the total will also peak in 2014 at 62.5% and then decline modestly over the forecast period.
• Apple’s overall share of smart connected devices is forecast to hit 19.7% by 2018 while Microsoft’s share will be 19%.
• The US share of total worldwide Smart Connected Device shipments will fall from a peak of 22.6% in 2010 to 13.5% in 2018.
• Revenues for US-based sales of Smart Connected Devices are expected to continuously decline throughout the 5-year forecast from their peak in 2013 due to slowing growth and lower prices.

The TECHnalysis Research forecast offers a 5-year forward-looking view into unit shipments, average selling prices and revenues both worldwide and in the US for PCs, tablets and smartphones. The forecast also breaks the numbers out by form factor within each group (e.g., small tablets vs. large tablets), by consumer and commercial splits, and by operating system.

“We are in the midst of a dramatic recasting of the entire market for devices,” said O’Donnell. “In fact, you could argue it’s leading to a complete redefinition of what computing is, what computing means and where computing happens. As a result of these changes, there will likely be enormous shifts in power and influence across vendors, across ecosystems and across geographical regions. It’s safe to say that the world of computing and intelligent devices will look very different in 5 years compared to what it is today.”

Source: Technalysis Research, LLC.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote early last month:

Some portion of [those who want larger smartphone displays than Apple currently offers] are too stupid, blind, or pathologically anti-Apple to have ever purchased an iPhone, regardless of screen size.

This is not to say that Apple, the world’s most valuable tech company, rolling in more billions of dollars than they know what to do with, shouldn’t have a larger screen iPhone available by now. They should. It’s criminal malpractice on the part of Tim Cook that they don’t. The sales Apple have left and continue to leave on the table should have been keeping Phil Schiller up at night for at least the last year.

Yes, Apple should have a bigger iPhone yesterday, but this is just simple logic: Not all phablet owners would have bought an iPhone even if a bigger iPhone was available.

We understand fragmentation. We understand the issues of producing apps that work on devices with various screen sizes (intimately).

None of it matters because too much of the market wants an iPhone with a bigger screen. Developers will simply work harder for the premium customers found on the premium platform. Period.

This omission – not iMacs and Mac Pros that miss Christmas or anything else – is Tim Cook’s biggest mistake to date. Apple should have a bigger iPhone on the market by now, but since, for some inexplicable reason a company with more cash at their disposal than Intel Corp. is worth doesn’t, the sooner the better.

And, as we wrote late last month:

When Apple finally extracts their collective head from their collective ass and ships iPhone models with larger screens, they’ll do more damage to slavish copier Samsung than all of their endless, plodding patent infringement cases combined.

We believe that Apple became infatuated with the fact that only they could produce small, thin smartphones with an efficient OS that could work with the small batteries that these compact iPhones housed. “Nobody else can do such things.” Meanwhile, battery-hogging Android leeches like Samsung slapped larger screens on their phones to hide the fact that they needed significantly larger batteries in order to run for even a few hours (Android phones are notorious for running out of charge).

Far too many otherwise intelligent consumers saw little or nothing of Apple’s considerable engineering superiority (the iPhone 5s is simply the best smartphone anyone has ever produced), these otherwise intelligent consumers only saw iPhone’s smaller screens. They didn’t see Android’s inefficiency or inferior ecosystem, they only saw phones with larger screens.

If we’ve heard from one person who went with an Android phone for a larger screen who in fact really wanted an iPhone – “I’d have gotten an iPhone if only they had a larger screen” – we’ve heard it from a thousand. These are top tier, cream-of-the-crop customers (i.e. Apple’s target demographic), not low information cheapskates. They want to be Apple customers and participate heavily in Apple’s ecosystems, but, for a few years now, Apple has been blowing these sales by failing to deliver the product these high value customers desired. It’s inexplicable; any downsides (fragmentation, inventory management, etc.) are vastly outweighed by the vast sales potential to those who should be Apple customers, but are now carrying a plastic piece of crap from Samsung.

Bottom line: Apple screwed the pooch on this one. Shit or get off the pot, Tim.

MacDailyNews iPhone screen size poll
Source: MacDailyNews

Related articles:
For Apple, a bigger iPhone has never been more crucial – January 3, 2014
Apple plans pair of iPhone with bigger screens; 4.5-inch and over 5-inch models coming, sources say – January 23, 2014
Analyst: Apple’s iPhone 6 ‘locked down’ with 4.8-inch Retina display – January 22, 2014
Will Apple increase display resolution or just use bigger pixels to deliver larger-screen iPhone 6? – January 17, 2014
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek claims Apple’s iPhone 6 will offer a 4.8-inch Retina display – October 7, 2013
Analyst: Apple’s next-gen smartphone ‘iPhone 6′ will have a larger screen – November 20, 2013


    1. I don’t understand this situation! especially MDN’s continued lambasting of Apple inc. over this issue. When did Apple inc. ever produce a product via a committee?
      TECHbullshitnalysis produces its first ever forecast of what it thinks the future of technology will be like and you are fawning over it???
      THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE A FUCKING TRACK RECORD!!!!!!!!!!! For goodness sake!
      Can we have a dose of reality please?
      Like pgoodwin1 has said below, an iPad mini with Wi-Fi and cellular is in fact a small tablet and large cell phone in one.
      So what are you guys who are asking want? A Samsung galaxy fuck labelled as an iPhone?
      Just buy one and forget the iPhone already, otherwise wait for Apple inc. to release their next product in order to marvel or whinge about it.
      Nuff said!

      1. The ridiculous thing about phablets is that the only reason they were made so big was to accommodate big batteries so the phone would work more than a couple of hours.

        Now, some total Asses think Apple is doomed because Android phones need honking big batteries.

      2. “It’s criminal malpractice on the part of Tim Cook that they don’t.”

        Yes, that incompetent Tim Cook should be prosecuted and imprisoned. Who ever writes this MDN crap must be bipolar, or has smoked so much weed their brain is totally fried.

          1. Its just hyperbole. MDN loves Tim Cook but that doesn’t mean its blind to his mistakes.

            Announcing new iMacs over a year ago and then not being able to produce them for Christmas was an obvious goof.

            Not producing a range of screen sizes, when screen size is everything (both input = touch and output = picture) for handheld computers is also bone headed. There is no “right” screen size for phones any more than their is a “right” screen size for tablets or a “right” screen size for desktops.

            Many people want as much screen as they can practically handle. We would want phones the size of an iPad mini if it would automatically shrink when I put it in my pocket.

            Some people don’t seem to benefit from larger screen sizes, so they should be given screen sizes that fit in small pockets and small hands.

            Apple’s view that at any given time their flagship phone only should have one size is loony and only handed sales and high end customers to competitors.

            1. Mdn is correct. Apple did become obsessed with “smallest” and “thinnest”. I said that years ago. Nobody ever asked for those things. Proof? Most people slap a case on the phone like the old dumb “bras” on cars. Samsung proved the public wants bigger phones and gobbled up huge market share doing so. Samsung phones work great, Have higher resolution screens and now android gets all the knowledge and ad revenue. We are in a weak economy. The rest of the world is doing worse. The average kid has a budget for one device and Samsung won their business and loyalty. I’m an apple guy with an apple business and still all my employees purchased big screen Samsung phones. They couldn’t care less about loyalty to apple. Apple blew that buzz as well. So apple will be late to the party, serve up a choice of bigger screen sizes and slowly win back customers, starting with the fact the every single poster here will buy the larger iPhone. Every single poster on this board. I bet apple will NOT give you the small choice anyway.

    2. I agree. MDF has been beating this drum incessantly, despite the fact that at the time, phablets were barely 7% of all smartphone sales. Even now, that’s just a bs projection that we know for a fact has a terrible track record.

      How does MDN keep cherry picking data on this? Who seriously believes MS windows phone will equal iPhone share in 2018?

      The increase in the last 4 years of phablets share is negligible, and there is little reason to believe it would ‘swell’ to almost a whopping 40%.

      The MDN polling itself reflects the identical 7% of the market we see phablets occupying in reality. And that’s self-selecting for people who already own iPhones so Apple wouldn’t be gaining a dollar in new sales.

      1. I think you may have misread, the meaning in the report. They are referring to devices under 7-8″ that also includes the iPad mini, and of course would include any late to the party devices by MS. I find the 19% number hard to believe for MS but also I find more unbelievable the 19.7% number for Apple. And I also think that combining phablets and phones into one category is ridiculous anyways. It is less of a stretch to think of the iPad as a competition to the PC market because in many cases it does replace a need for a notebook than it is to consider an iPad or other 7-8″ tablet device a phone. Who the hell is going to hold an 8″ phablet up their ears, or carry it around all the time unless you have a purse to hide it in.

  1. Apple already makes a huge phone. It’s called an iPad Mini Wi-Fi+Cellular. I want a small phone plus and full size iPad. Maybe there’s a substantial market out there for big phones, but how many would buy an iPad plus a big phone? And who want’s to stuff a huge phone in their pocket every time you want to run out to the store?

    1. I’m not sure you can make that claim since you can only buy the Data service part of Cellular for the tablets.. Until the day comes when you can say you also have voice and texting from your mobile data service provider it will not be classified as a phablet.. I know I can fit a 5.4-5.7in phone in my pocket, don’t think I know anyone who has pants pockets big enough for a iPad mini..

      1. To me a 5s is bordering on too large for my pocket. I continually notice it’s there. The iPhone 4 (IMO) was the right size. I have an iPad too, so screen size of the phone is a non-issue for me

        1. And that comment was produced via non-flawed logic. When Apple thinks the market for a phablet is big enough to pay for development costs, they’ll do it. This may come in the developing markets where people don’t have the purchasing power to buy an iPhone and an iPad. The fact that they don’t make one now simply means the time wasn’t right, not some short sightedness by Apple management. The emerging markets for these devices is in it’s infancy, and Apple hasn’t really lost out on anything. If China’s buyers start buying significantly more than 1/10 of 1/3 of the total smartphone sales, Apple will produce them.

          So many comments here that offer nothing but trash talking a commenter. If you have something significant to say that offers some counterpoint please do. Otherwise…”f#*k you a$#hole”.. Arnold Scharzenegger

  2. I thought the Droid numbers already answered this?
    Some time ago MDN or another tech site showed quarterly sales of just android phones in all the different sizes, and the phablets were a small percentage.

    Did that change recently?

    1. Ahem:

      Samsung has always been cagy about releasing data on the devices it sells, but it just provided a new clue that indicates “phablet” models are not nearly as popular as is commonly believed, again explaining why Apple hasn’t been in a rush to sell a big screen iPhone.
      . . .
      Samsung’s numbers revealing that its big screen Note 3 phablet will account for only a tenth of one third of its 2013 smartphone sales also highlights that oversized phones are not nearly as popular as is often assumed. The majority of Samsung’s Note phablets sell in Asia, primarily within South Korea itself.
      . . .
      Subsequent numbers by IDC have similarly indicated that big screen phones account for a similar minority of overall sales, underscoring why Apple hasn’t rushed to join Android phone makers in releasing big phones. . . .

      Isn’t that interesting! :mrgreen:

        1. Except that the Samsung numbers he’s quoting is a clear indicator that most smartphone buyers either don’t want a huge phone or they can’t afford it. All this pretty much substantiates what Apple has been doing.

          I personally don’t care about having a big phone, because I have an iPad. I have a 5s now and it’s noticeably bigger than my prior 4 which I thought was the ideal size for a phone.

        2. MY argument? I didn’t write the Apple Insider article.

          My point in posting it was to counter the maniacal ‘Apple’s gotta make a phablet or it’s gonna die!’ rubbish being foisted in the hallucinatory analCyst world.

          Meanwhile, I agree with you. Comparing any Apple phablet to a Samsung phablet would be like comparing Apples to skunk cabbage.

  3. It’s difficult for Apple because a phablet-sized device would obviously cannibalize sales to some extent; less people would choose to buy an iPhone as well as an iPad if they could buy a device that was a compromise between both. And that’s the problem, it is a compromise. Not quite big enough to be as good as an iPad (which itself is intended to replace a laptop) and not quite small enough to be the perfect phone (one-handed operation and fits in your pocket easily). So either Apple decides to take a hit on iPad sales in the hope that a bigger iPhone makes them even more money, or they stay out of the phablet category and hope it’s a passing fad. I think they are likely to make a phablet sized iPhone at some point, but why bother now when they can’t make enough iPhones or iPads to meet demand, more and more people are moving to iOS, and the only manufacturer making money is Samsung who unashamedly market themselves as a cheap copy of Apple. I think the iPad needs to cement itself more firmly as a laptop replacement before Apple considers a phablet.

    1. Apple has no problem cannibalizing its products when it decides a new device is needed. They’ve done it repeatedly in their history. The iPhone has destroyed the iPod, for example, and every iPad includes iPod functionality.

      I expect Apple will produce a larger iPhone when it’s ready. Remember, when Apple does produce a new device, it has to start with a run of millions of units, so it wants to be sure its production capabilities won’t hinder products it knows will sell versus a new product that only might sell.

      1. I agree. Perhaps if Apple wanted to make a larger iPhone, they should make this the iPhone “c” model. Give it a colourful plastic back and a bigger screen, make it slightly cheaper than the metallic regular sized iPhone but with a missing feature or last year’s hardware like the current 5c. That way it will still be seen as the inferior model and so keep the message that the current size is best, but at the same time it would give those deperate for a larger screen an option, and appeal to the more budget-conscious customer who’s unlikely to get an iPhone and an iPad anyway, like students for example.

  4. hard to take this analysis seriously. first the projection is base on projected shipments, so is it a projection of a projection. second, the analysis is based on channel stuffing, not sales. there is no fame in predicting apple will be successful. that’s why no one shouts “…but apple is making ll the profits” from the soapbox. this is happening because there is no profit in manufacturing and shipping. only from sales. so unless their governments are supporting the companies stuffing channels, the projection deflate when capital is constrained. it is ironic that apple in accumulating obscene amounts of free capital while their competitors are flushing it down the toilet.

  5. ” Meanwhile, battery-hogging Android leeches like Samsung slapped larger screens on their phones to hide the fact that they needed significantly larger batteries in order to run for even a few hours (Android phones are notorious for running out of charge)….. What a stupid comment!

    First, the screen is the biggest user of the battery by far, so increasing the size means a bigger battery is required to power it, not to make the battery life longer.

    Second, The iphone has a terrible battery life, despite having the smallest screen by far of the high-end smart phones. It has half the battery life of other Android phones with much bigger, higher resolution screens.

    The small screen and bad battery life are the two major reasons why the iphone is not the best smartphone in the world anymore.

      1. I am sorry but you should check your facts, the display is the biggest user of battery.

        Many current Android phones have an excellent battery life that is much better than the iphone. My Note lasts twice as long as my iphone despite using widgets and having the Note extensively customized.

        1. There is no possible way off the shelf CPU/GPUs thrown together to make an android device can be more efficient than an OS and CPU/GPU designed together from the ground up to be used together for mobile devices.

          If all you do is use your Android phone as a dumb phone as most do, then perhaps the screen can consume more power than the CPU/GPU. But if you actually use the device and CPU/GPU, then the CPU/GPU will consume far more power. Try playing a graphic intensive game on the device and the battery will die much quicker because of CPU/GPU draw.

          1. I am sorry but whatever combination is in the Note, it outperforms the iphone by far in terms of battery life and before you assume I use my Note as a dumb phone, I use it extensively and push it to the limit, more than most people. My wife and i get half a day when using an iPhone, while using my Note even more intensively than the iphone I get twice as long life.

            Perhaps you should try using both at the same time you would be very surprised!

          1. I am sure it does, but the battery is big enough to take the bigger size and the more intense use of my setup. The benefit is I get a longer battery life than an iphone and the screen is much more suited to being a smart phone than the smaller iPhone where to screen is just too small for what the phone can do.

            Try playing your games on a Note and you will see the benefit in both battery life and enjoyment of the game.

        2. There was, and perhaps still is, a problem with a limited number of iPhone 5s models with battery rundowns like you describe. Apple has noticed and issued a replacement policy for the affected phones. Endgadget published the following about replacing any phone exhibiting batteries that don’t last the ten to eleven hours expected in normal use:

          “We recently discovered a manufacturing issue affecting a very limited number of iPhone 5S devices that could cause the battery to take longer to charge or result in reduced battery life,” said Teresa Brewer, an Apple spokeswoman. “We are reaching out to customers with affected phones and will provide them with a replacement phone”

          No number was given as to how many units are affected, but we’re guessing the company wouldn’t have issued the release if it wasn’t significant. In our review of the phone, we actually found the iPhone 5s to be the longest-lasting iPhone to-date, lasting almost 11 hours in our standard video rundown test. If you’re one of the few whose iPhone 5S have been giving you less than stellar performance, do let us know in the comments below.

  6. Much of the world is in the glasses generationI, I buy a nice big iMac so I can see but still need a magnifying glass to read my email. What is the obsession with teensy-weensy?

  7. Apple hasn’t missed anything. Hyped up FUD. Apple sold a record number of phones without the 5″ screen within one week what some 5″ screen sales take a whole month to sell with a buy one get one free offer on top of that.

    1. Apple sold an industry record 9 million iPhone 5s and 5c handsets the first weekend they were available. Samsung required almost a month to reach that number of its flagship Galaxy S4 handsets in all variations. . . and that was shipping into the channel, not really sales! Apple actually sold 51 million iPhones in the last quarter of 2013 to Samsung only shipped fewer than half that number of their S4s. . . and their profits dropped.

  8. i think i figured out the premise all these prognosticators base their apple doom predictions. keep expanding the market boundaries until you get the degree of doom you are looking for and if that is not sexy enough take an inflection, hold it constant without filtering, and run it out a decade. when you drive on a winding mountain road, that’s how your end up condor food.

    if apple enters/kills some new markets in the heath sensor sphere the prognosticators will add articulated rubbers to the mix and say that apple has declining marketshare in the health apparatus market.

  9. What is wrong with the idea of Apple providing a larger iPhone, one that is superior to the larger phones android provides.

    Providing a larger phone doesn’t mean they abandon the current form factor, it just means they add a form factor that many people want.

    If you want a small factor phone, great we have a 4 inch one for you. If you want a larger phone, great we have a 5 inch one for (or whatever size).

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with providing the option for the customer. Why lose a customer or a potentially new customer to a competitor when you don’t have to.

    I agree, providing a form factor similar to the form factor of android OEMs will be bad for android but good for Apple.

    I too know people that have moved from Apple to android because of the screen size. I know people who would drop android in a heartbeat if Apple came out with a larger screen.

    It is a fact that there are people (and plenty of them) that prefer a screen larger than 4 inches.

    I myself, would prefer a screen of 5 to 5.5 inches, I am just not willing to switch to android for it.

    1. There’s some sweet spot we don’t know yet, where enough people will want the increased size to make manufacturing it worthwhile.

      19″ and larger laptops were and are a fringe product. The vehement enthusiasm of lovers of giant laptops did NOT make them a worthwhile product – or worthwhile for Apple to manufacture.
      Apple even dropped their excellent 17″ – presumable because there weren’t enough sales to bother with it.

      Meantime the 13″ MacBook Air sells by the shipload, and the industry (as usual) scrambled to copy Apple.

      We’ll see how it works out. Maybe 5″ would be great for a lot of people. Some of the slablets I’ve seen, though, are horrifying.

  10. What is all the fuss about? Apple will introduce a 4.X inch screen this year, and a little later at the iPad event introduce a close to 6 inch iPad full cellular (capable of making calls) for those who want a phablet. It will be clear that the larger call making device is not an iPhone, but an iPad. This is the reason there may not be a full mini upgrade, the new nano iPad will be subsidized and likely cannibalize mini sales. Better to see how that shakes out before retooling the mini.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.