An Apple phablet, anyone?

Should Apple consider making a phablet? New numbers from IDC say it's a category on fire in Asia.

The 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega. Samsung is also about to announce the Galaxy Note 3.  Should Apple take Samsung on?
The 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega. Samsung is also about to announce the Galaxy Note 3. Should Apple take Samsung on? CNET

Does Apple need a phablet? New figures from IDC make a compelling argument.

Devices with screen sizes of 5 inches to just under 7 inches, i.e., phablets, overtook shipments of portable PCs and tablets, overtaking each device category individually, in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) in the second quarter of 2013, IDC said Friday.

Device makers shipped 25.2 million phablets in the second quarter, compared with 12.6 million tablets and 12.7 million portable PCs, IDC said. That's almost more than both categories combined.

Need more proof? Phablet shipments in that market were up by 100 percent quarter on quarter, and a whopping 620 percent year over year, according to the market researcher.

And who has the largest share? Samsung. It has roughly 50 percent of the phablet market in the region.

Samsung recently announced the Galaxy Mega 6.3 and is expected to announce the Galaxy Note 3 at IFA in Berlin in the coming days.

So, does Apple need to be in this market? It seemed like a wacky tweener category (wait, is it an unwieldy, oversized phone or an undersized tablet?) a couple of years ago. But it now appears to be a natural evolution of the smartphone or tablet, however you look at it.

"Phablets have proven to be more than just a short blip of a fad and will drive the region," IDC said.

Here's what CNET said last year when it reviewed the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2 -- which the review categorizes as a phone.

The Note 2 could appeal to students, to artists, to business professionals, and, yes, even to those who aren't invested in tablets, but would like a larger screen. I would definitely consider carrying a Note 2 as a personal phone.

And this pro and con from the same review.

Most of the women I spoke with had no trouble fitting the Note 2 into a bag or purse, but questioned the phone's usability and their ability to reach the corners of the screen one-handed. Of the men who tried out the phone, responses were 50/50. Some felt fine slipping the Note 2 into a front pants pocket, others didn't. Some enjoyed holding the larger phone once they got used to its size; others found it too expansive, even with their bigger hands.

Which brings us to the 4-inch iPhone and 7.9-inch iPad Mini. By today's device standards, that's a gaping hole in a product lineup. Eventually -- maybe not in 2013 but likely in 2014 -- it may be considered analogous to offering 11-inch and 15-inch MacBooks, with no 13-inch model.

For now, we can look forward to a couple (at least) of updates to the Mini this year and next and a rumored iPhone 6 with a larger screen next year.

Will that be enough? In the Asia-Pacific region, maybe not.

The 7.9-inch iPad Mini.
The 7.9-inch iPad Mini. Apple
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Mac running slow?

Boost your computer with these five useful tips that will clean up the clutter.