Large smartphones (otherwise known as phablets), are already a growing trend in Asia, having outshipped notebooks and tablets last year. But IDC finds that now even larger devices, tablets of 7” screen sizes and above, are increasingly shipping with cellular voice capabilities, and such devices are getting more traction in the Asia/Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) region, breaching the 25% mark in the second quarter of 2014. . .This translates to more than 60% growth on a year-on-year basis in unit terms for this category of tablets, which also incidentally happen to be 100% Android-based.
The report also goes on to state that 50% of 7-inch and up tablets shipped in India and Indonesia have cellular voice capabilities. I travel to Indonesia a lot and so find that nugget fascinating, as I don’t recall ever having seen a person call with a tablet. They probably do via a headset.
I can believe this trend happening for a number of reasons: cost, perception that more is better, traffic and handbags.
Cost is the biggest. Indonesia has a GDP per capita of $1,810, so the average Indonesian doesn’t have the luxury of getting the best product for each need; the incentive to buy one convergent device is great. Mini tablets that can receive and make calls might just have the best balance of usability and price.
I polled my Indonesian friends and a common reply is that more is seen as better. The bigger the screen, the better. The more functionality — like voice calls — the better. There’s a perception that a tablet which can’t make calls is somehow inferior!
Moreover, as any Indonesian will tell you, a lot of time spent is spent on the road in vehicles, crawling through traffic from point A to point B. That affords a lot of time, so for many the screen’s bigger display more than compensates the additional weight required as mini tablets aren’t carried around as much in Indonesia as say, New York where people walk a lot.
Finally, while for men a mini tablet might be difficult to fit into a jeans’ pocket, most women in Indonesia carry handbags. For them, there may not be much difference in carrying a smartphone vs. a mini tablet. I suspect a disproportionately large number of those purchasing these cellular voice tablets are women.
Asians loved 5-inch phablets before others knew how to appreciate them; it’ll be interesting to see whether 7-inch phablets will follow the same pattern.