When Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. introduced the original Galaxy Note in 2011, the 5.3-inch screen size was novel. But in the years hence, the "phablet" has been embraced by the masses. A larger smartphone or smaller tablet, depending on how you look at it, phablet screens today range from 5 inches to 6.9 inches.
Small enough to fit inside a pocket, yet large enough to view images in full detail, phablet usage over the past two years has grown from 5 percent to 20 percent of active devices on the market, according to Flurry Analytics.
"While this is only one year's worth of data, the numbers are impressive, leading us to believe that the mobile industry has found a killer form factor, combining the tablet's bigger screen and ease of navigation with the true mobility of a phone," wrote Flurry President and Chief Executive Officer Simon Khalaf in a blog post.
At first blush, Flurry's data show the phablet's rapid ascension as the "ultimate media-consumption device" for music, media and entertainment, sports, news, and magazines. "You might argue that the phablet is taking market share from the tablet, but if you seek the true victim of the phablet, it is the mobile web," Khalaf noted.
According to Flurry, total time spent in apps was up 2 percent in April to 88 percent versus 12 percent for the mobile web, compared with 86 and 14 percent, respectively, a year ago. "Our data shows that this shift is predominantly attributed to phablets," Khalaf wrote.
Visible signs that phablet usage influences purchase decisions have become evident in the automotive sector. According to a J.D. Power 2015 Automotive Mobile Site Study released in October, satisfaction with automotive manufacturer and third-party automotive websites was higher across all segments of the online experience for shoppers using phablets. For the study, J.D. Power measured satisfaction levels based on a 1,000-point scale in four key areas: information/content, navigation, appearance and speed. The study found that vehicle shoppers who used phablets were significantly more satisfied with their online experience than those with smaller smartphones by a margin of 797 to 771 points, respectively.
J.D. Power automotive mobile site consumer satisfaction levels (based on 1,000 point scale):
Another notable difference was that phablet owners accessed a broader range of web content. Interactive content, such as video, was viewed by 51 percent of phablet users versus 44 percent for those with smaller devices. "This is important, as overall satisfaction improves when shoppers access more content," J.D. Power noted. For example, the level of satisfaction among shoppers who used 13 or more tools was 805 compared with 745 for those using 12 or fewer tools online.
"Automotive manufacturer and third-party website designers should be mindful of growing phablet usage and take advantage of the larger screen by displaying more content and adding detail to maximize shopper satisfaction and drive more traffic to dealer showrooms," said Arianne Walker, Senior Director, Automotive Media & Marketing for J.D. Power. "The time spent on mobile devices for automotive shopping is increasing, and this trend of buying and using phablets is expected to continue."
Satisfying online experiences also translated into stronger loyalty and advocacy among site visitors across the device spectrum. Of those polled by J.D. Power, 81 percent in the highly satisfied group said they would definitely recommend these websites to others, compared with 3 percent who gave the online experience a rating of 500 points or fewer. And 82 percent versus 5 percent would return to websites based on similar satisfaction scores.
In terms of sales, J.D. Power found that 66 percent of highly satisfied online shoppers said they would most likely test drive a vehicle after visiting the site, compared with just 16 percent for those who had a disappointing online experience. Taking a page from the automotive industry, online retailers that offer websites with great curb appeal to all device users might expect to drive more sales.
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