The app analytics firm Flurry was combing through their haystack of app data reports this week and they have pulled out a few needles to share with us.
This firm is collecting a massive amount of information from more devices than you can shake a stick at ("about 1 billion smartphones and tablets in use around the world every month"). Earlier this week Flurry aggregated the data and shared a few charts that show how the variously sized mobile devices (iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone) are being used.
There's a couple points that deeply interest me, but the one that is most important is Flurry's conclusion about phablets. Flurry says they are a fad; I disagree.
First, let me explain the charts. They are color-coded based on how Flurry split the devices into 5 categories:
1. Small phones (e.g., most Blackberries), 3.5” or under screens
2. Medium phones (e.g., iPhone), between 3.5” - 4.9” screens
3. Phablets (e.g., Galaxy Note), 5.0” - 6.9” screens
4. Small Tablets (e.g., Kindle Fire), 7.0” - 8.4” screens
5. Full-size tablets (e.g., the iPad), 8.5” or greater screens
Here is the first and most important chart. As you can see, the iPhone sized screen is the single most common screen size, accounting for 69% of the number of models on the market (not sales). That category is also the most heavily used.
Note: The top bar shows a numerical count of the number of models in each category, meaning that 69 out of a hundred models on the market were medium-sized smartphone (and not 69 out of a hundred units sold). The bottom bars show active users and sessions. For example, 76% of all sessions recorded came from medium smartphones.
Flurry is looking at this chart and reaching the conclusion that phablets aren't very popular; they only account for 3% of active sessions. I disagree.
Here's the problem with pointing to this data and calling the phablet a fad. Smartphones took off in 2007 with the launch of the iPhone, while the first successful phablet was released only 18 months ago (to the best of my knowledge). That was the Samsung Galaxy Note. (I'm ignoring the Dell Streak 5 because it was from Dell and also because it was from Dell.)
Flurry is looking at a mobile device category that effectively didn't exist in September 2011 (and currently only sports a double handful of models) and calllling phablets a fad because phablet sales of are dwarfed by sales of smaller smartphones, a mobile device type that got its start 6 years ago. Do you see the problem?
Flurry is faulting phablets for not being an overnight success. That's just not a reasonable conclusion, IMO.
Do you know what I see in this chart? I think phablets are rapidly replacing 7" tablets like the Nexus 7. Note how the phablet category accounts for 3% of sessions while the next larger category accounts for 4%?
Even though there are far more 7" tablet models on the market than phablet models, the phablet category is showing up as being used proportionally more. Considering the fact that phablets are more expensive than most 7" tablets, and that the Android tablet market is growing by leaps and bounds, I would say that the phablet is seeing a lot of success.
The other detail that I found interesting is that users are reading and watching videos more on medium smartphones and gaming more on medium and large tablets. That is not what I expected; I thought there would be more reading on large tablets. That is, after all, the home of the iPad. But clearly users disagree.
Then again, smaller smartphones are more portable than phablets or tablets so they are more likely to be carried around in someone's pocket all the time. That could account for the increase in usage.