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5-inch phone boom: Is Apple too late to the phablet party?

5-inch phone boom: Is Apple too late to the phablet party?

The figures are in and they don’t make pretty reading for Tim Cook.

Sales of handsets with 5-inch or larger displays rocketed at the start of this year, according to research firm Canalys.

The number crunchers noted huge 369% year-on-year growth in demand for phablets over the period, accounting for just over a third of all smartphones sold worldwide.

That works out at about 95 million devices shifted between January and March this year.

The numbers offer conclusive proof that demand for bigger smartphones is unrelenting.

Samsung dominates the sector, its top end S4 and Galaxy Note 3 phones helping it to a 44% share.

samsung galaxy note 3 banner

But others are well up there too. Sony and LG’s flagships have helped them to corner a significant chunk of the market.

Beyond the stats though, there will be rumblings at Apple.

A document revealed by the company during its latest lawsuit with Samsung said that ‘consumers want what we don’t have’ and boy were they on-point.

Steve Jobs’s pathological hatred of phones that could not be easily used one-handed was legendary.

In 2010, in the wake of the iPhone 4 antenna scandal, Jobs told a press conference that you could swerve such problems by making a phone ‘so big you can’t get your hand around it’, but ‘no one’s going to buy that’.

Fast forward four years and everything has changed. The iPhone’s 4-inch screen is small beer in the world of phablets and Apple is playing catch up.

iphone 6 mock up w/ ipod

Its new iPhone 6 is due to come in two sizes. 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models are rumoured.

But the thing is, has Apple left it too late?

Its belligerence in stating that its products are all that anyone could ever want mean that it’s not a company given over to saying ‘we boobed’.

But not releasing a phablet sooner could mean that Apple will continue to get squeezed.

If Canalys’s stats are anything to go by, phablet sales are only going to go up. That’s both a blessing and a curse for Cupertino.

It means demand should be healthy come the iPhone 6’s September release.

Tim Cook at Apple keynote

But it also means rivals will be ready to take it on with a slew of devices which consumers already know and love.

Apple has essentially been beaten at its own game.

Samsung, Sony and others must be delighted with these new figures.

Years of initial ridicule have been turned on their head. The age of the phablet is very much here and here to stay.

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