Once again flouting conventional smartphone development wisdom, Samsung is looking to take its Galaxy Note franchise to new heights (or perhaps lengths and widths), announcing the second iteration of the company’s smartphone/tablet hybrid, the Galaxy Note 2.
Astoundingly sporting an even larger screen than its predecessor, the next generation 5.5 inch “phablet,” as ABI Research has now dubbed such hybrid devices, is looking to build on the momentum Samsung has gained in this niche market, creating a device that zeroes in on how the majority of people actually use their mobile devices.
While many will certainly see the appearance of a second generation in the Note franchise as sure proof that such hybrid phablets are the latest trend in mobile technology—and I will admit my previous predictions in this regard are more than likely wrong—don’t forget that other hybrid brands rolled out second generation devices as well, although I have to give kudos to Samsung for having the gall to go bigger when all other such hybrids went smaller.
Like so many other things, it certainly seems like what’s old has become new again in the mobile market, as along with fashion from the ‘80s experiencing an unfortunate renaissance smartphones are experiencing their own blast from the past, trending upwards in size–harkening back to an age where cellphones were the size (and weight) of a large brick. But Samsung is confident that it has tapped into a new mobile market, producing a device that responds to (but also encourages) different mobile usage patterns.
As any beleaguered wireless carrier will tell you, the amount the average person uses their mobile device for voice communication is steadily on the decline, replaced primarily with texting and data usage. This means that users want quick and convenient access to the Internet or messages on a platform that’s portable…meaning not a 10 inch iPad.
In fact, usage patterns are changing so drastically, an ABI Research study predicted recently, that the firm expects that so-called phablets will experience exponential growth over the next three years, shipping an estimated 208 million such hybrid devices by 2015.
Such an explosion in phablet popularity, ABI writes, will increase competition in the smaller end of the tablet market, meaning that hybrid devices ranging in size from 4.5 to 5.5 inches will compete for market share with the likes of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the newly announced Google Nexus 7.
I will admit that in all this I almost certainly guessed wrong about the public’s general perception regarding hybrid devices. Truly I never imagined a world where the now defunct Dell Streak might be considered a visionary product ahead of its time, instead of simply a gargantuan monstrosity that obscured much of one’s face while trying to talk on it. But as usage patterns trend away from voice communication towards mobile data delivery it does make sense that a market would develop for such phablet devices, ones that allow for quick ‘data snacking,’ without the need to carry around a larger tablet.
That said, I would still consider the Galaxy Note franchise to be in its experimental stages, meaning that with the Dell Streak before it, I’m not yet fully convinced that such a hybrid platform will catch on en masse. Should ABI Research’s prediction for the next three years come true, however, I’ll likely be eating my words.