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Ousted Windows boss predicts phablets are the phones of the future [updated]

December 24th, 2013 at 3:50 PM
Phablet Adoption Rate Analysis

There’s no doubt that smartphone display sizes have been getting bigger ever since Samsung first introduced its original Galaxy Note phablet in 2012 — but are phablets just a niche product or do they have a grander destiny? One-time Microsoft Windows boss Steven Sinofsky, who now serves as a professor at Harvard Business School, has written a post on what he thinks will be 2014’s major technology trends and one of them is the rise of Galaxy Note-sized devices as the de facto size for smartphones.

“Today’s phablets seem like a tweener or oddity to some — between a large phone and a small tablet,” Sinofsky writes. “In practice the desire to have one device serve as both your legacy phone (voice and SMS) as well as your main ‘goto’ device for productivity and communication will become increasingly important. The reduction in the need for legacy communication will fuel the need to pivot closer to a larger screen all the time.”

If phablets are indeed the future then that certainly bodes well for Samsung, whose Galaxy Note series is both the best-selling line of phablets and also the most highly acclaimed. Apple has reportedly been working on its own larger version of the iPhone, although that device is rumored to have a screen size of 5 inches or fewer, which would still make it significantly smaller than Samsung’s behemoth 5.7-inch behemoth Galaxy Note 3.

Sinofsky advises tech companies to ignore phablets at their own peril since they’re likely to be the future face of mobile phones going forward.

“Don’t ignore the potential of this screen size combined with full connectivity as the single device, particularly in mobile first markets where this form has early traction,” he writes.

UPDATE: Steven Sinofsky has written in to clarify a bit and has said that he doesn’t thunk phablets are “phones of the future” but are rather a form factor that “will grow a lot, especially in markets where mobile devices are viewed as the only computer people will own.”

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