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Make a call, play a game on phablet

Big things predicted for big phone with video

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The new Sony Xperia Z1 smartphone (above). A hybrid device that's part tablet and part smartphone, called a phablet, is predicted to outsell tablets and gaming consoles next year.

MARKUS SCHREIBER / THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

The new Sony Xperia Z1 smartphone (above). A hybrid device that's part tablet and part smartphone, called a phablet, is predicted to outsell tablets and gaming consoles next year.

MONTREAL -- An oversized smartphone that could appeal to consumers who do less talking and more video watching is expected to outsell tablets and gaming consoles worldwide in 2014.

The so-called "phablet" -- part tablet and part smartphone, with an average screen size of 12.7 centimetres -- will represent one quarter of all smartphones sales next year, Deloitte Canada predicts.

"People are either talking less and willing to buy bigger phones, or they buy bigger phones and start talking less," said Deloitte analyst Duncan Stewart, who compiles an annual list of tech trends.

Stewart said smartphone users don't watch a lot of video or play higher-end games because of the smaller screen, but they tend to change their habits once they have a bigger screen. That's the appeal of the phablet, he said.

"All of a sudden, the video experience is transformed, the gaming experience is transformed," he said from Toronto.

Some examples of phablets include the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Sony's Xperia Z Ultra.

Apple's iPhone 5 now offers consumers a 10.1-cm screen,while a number of smartphones have smaller, 8.89-cm screen displays.

As part of its 2014 tech predictions, Deloitte Canada said 300 million phablets will be sold globally in 2014 at an average price of $415, for total sales approaching $125 billion. In Canada, phablets are expected to make up 10 to 15 per cent of smartphone sales next year. They represented just two per cent of smartphones sold in 2012. Figures for this year are still being compiled.

In 2014, global sales of tablets are expected to be $100 billion, and sales of gaming consoles are forecast at $10 billion.

Phablets are considered smartphones because they make phone calls. Although the device is bigger to hold to one's ear, consumers can use earpieces or choose to carry a smaller phone to put into a pocket for calls, said Stewart, director of research at Deloitte.

He said phablets could appeal to seniors because of their larger screen size and increase their use of smartphones. Only about 40 per cent of seniors now use smartphones, he said.

As for Stewart's predictions from 2013, he said he was correct that more than 80 per cent of Internet traffic would continue to be generated from personal computers, both laptops and desktop models.

He said he accurately predicted fewer than one per cent of Canadians would cut the cord and discontinue their traditional TV service in 2013.

Although the number of Canadians subscribing to cable, Internet-protocol television or satellite TV has declined so far in 2013, the drop is just over 10,000 households, Stewart said. There are 11.8 million TV subscribers in Canada.

Deloitte Canada will release the rest of its predictions for 2014 in January.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2013 B9

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