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Some Thoughts on the Latest Giant iPhone Rumors

0005[1]Remember all those rumors about Apple working on an even larger iPhone? The WSJ has dug them up again and rehashed the rumors, this time claiming to have another source.

As Apple prepares to unveil both a new high-end iPhone and a cheaper version for the first time next week, it is already working on something bigger.

The electronics giant has begun evaluating a plan to offer iPhones with screens ranging from 4.8 inches to as high as 6 inches, people familiar with the matter say. That would be a sizable leap from the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5 released last year, and, at the upper end, would be one of the largest on the market.

This time around, I tend to believe the rumors.

I know that I have always said that you should ignore Apple product rumors until and unless the new hardware leaks, but that was before Apple’s last quarterly report revealed less than spectacularly impressive news.

Apple still made a lot of money, but for the first time in a long while Apple’s sales figures decreased and their profits dropped. Apple still had huge profits, but I think the drop may goad them to try to restore their former glory by releasing more iPhone and iPad models.

That’s exactly what I suggested when that quarterly report was released:

This report might spur Apple into actually releasing an iPad Maxi (like the rumors say). Apple might want to boost their bottom line by adding a new and larger iPad, and hang the damage it does to a partner. And this same report could spur Apple to release those iPhones with different screens sizes. I didn’t believe the rumors, but now?

I think this would be a terrible idea, but I also think Apple could choose this path. It would dilute the brand and increasingly fragment the marketplace into multiple screen geometries, but it is entirely possible that Apple will decide that increased revenue is more important.

There’s clearly a growing market for phablets, and Apple is missing out. The largest iPhone only measures a measly 4″ while Android smartphone can be found in a wide variety of sizes ranging from 5″ to 7″.

I also think this is a bad idea because the latest info from Flurry suggests that phablets are still a tiny fraction of the mobile device market. Smartphones with smaller screens like the current iPhone  are 24 times as common as phablets. If Apple did release a phablet they would be pursuing a market segment that would probably never be as large or as profitable as the current iPhones.


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fjtorres September 6, 2013 um 2:58 pm

Maybe they’ll call it the iPad Nano 4G. 🙂

wayne leong September 6, 2013 um 5:42 pm

If this trend continues, we might as well modify all current 7 inch tablets and convert them into phones. And then , help people adjust to the inconvenience of taking it out of your pocket, and holding them to your ear as you make a call. Hey, maybe this is where the smartwatch comes in, for those who are too lazy to take the tablet phone out of the backpack or purse or briefcase .

eBookNoir September 6, 2013 um 5:53 pm

I have to agree it’s a bad idea. As you mention, phablets are a small share of the market, their a ooh, i have a large screen type of thing, but I have yet to see any studies or any validating evidence that they make a difference or matter. I don’t want to go back to a stylus with my phone, had it many years back, no desire to do it again. What’s next, more hip holsters and cases so we can truly relive the 90’s? I think apple should, if they decide to go bigger on screens, do it at about the htc one size, little wider, little taller, but not so absurd you like your taling on a bag phone from the 80’s.

Kevin September 6, 2013 um 8:58 pm

I’d take the Flurry data with a grain of salt. Phablets are a major hit in Asia/Pacific, excluding Japan. In a recent report IDC said that a total of 25.2 million phablets (screen sizes 5″7″) were shipped in the second quarter of 2013, compared to 12.6 tablets and 12.7 million portable PCs. Phablets were up an astonishing 620% for the second quarter of 2012.
Apple is just letting this rising market go with their shrimpy screen size. (I actually ditched my iPhone becuase I found the small size irritating. Have an iPad mini though.)

Kevin September 6, 2013 um 8:59 pm

Sorry, defined phablet size was 5″ to 7″.

Nate Hoffelder September 6, 2013 um 9:20 pm

Flurry’s data is based on apps from actual devices. The "data" from IDC is based on estimates. That ranks lower than Flurry’s data, IMO.

Kevin September 6, 2013 um 9:52 pm

Flurry states "Flurry now detects about 1 billion smartphones and tablets in use around the world every month. " Sounds good, except their "around the world" seems to mean "mainly in the USA and a bit overseas". Their results are clearly skewed towards the USA. For example, in their comparison of tablet vs smartphone use they quoted a study saying "household incomes for tablet owners are becoming increasingly affluent, with 59% of household incomes for tablet owners surpassing $50,000 versus the U.S. average of 41% households with incomes over $50,000." No way do these these incomes apply to Asia!

Nate Hoffelder September 10, 2013 um 10:21 am

Even if Flurry’s ratio of smaller smartphones to phablets is off by a factor of 2, there will still be 12 times as many iPhone sized screens in use as there are phablets. That’s still a much smaller market.

bilious_tramp September 8, 2013 um 9:35 pm

phablets are popular over S/SE Asia because theyre a cheap way of watching TV/ net content. the cheaper android versions are now doubling up as remotes. hardware sales may be great, but the subsequent monetization potential needs careful analysis. its not quite the pot of gold it’s being made out to be, I’m afraid. apple’s probably right in keeping the form factors intact for the iphone. mobility outweighs almost all other design parameters for a phone imo. where apple is going wrong, though, is its dogged reluctance to admit android as another beast in the ecosystem. it NEEDS to interface with android. and not thru some 3rd party app. it needs to be built in. thats the killer app: we’re not afraid.

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