Did Apple just murder the tablet market?
That’s the conclusion reached by Boy Genius Report, based on data assembled by analytics firm Flurry. That data suggests that, among the top five mobile-device manufacturers, Apple “won” the holiday season, with the company’s hardware accounting for 51.3 percent of device activations worldwide (followed by Samsung with 17.7 percent, Nokia with 5.8 percent, and Sony with 1.6 percent).
Much of those activations came from oversized phones. “As we reported in September (pre-iPhone 6 Plus), phablets were gaining share,” Flurry wrote in a blog posting accompanying its data. “This Christmas, it appears even more consumers are switching to the larger phone now that there is an iOS option.”
According to Flurry’s numbers, full-sized tablets accounted for only 11 percent of new devices in 2014, a decline from 2013, when that form-factor totaled 17 percent of the new-device market; small tablets experienced a smaller decline, falling from 12 percent to 11 percent of new devices between 2013 and 2014. Meanwhile, phablets expanded from 4 percent of new devices in 2013 to 13 percent this year.
Boy Genius Report looked at those numbers and decided that the tablet market is doomed. “This seems to imply that nearly all the sales gains that Apple’s new, large iPhones have made were stripped from the hide of the tablet market,” writer Tero Kuittinen concluded. “Consumers happy with compact smartphones are not switching to larger iPhones for now, but former tablet buyers are.”
Of course, pundits and analysts were predicting the death of the tablet market long before Apple launched its super-sized iPhone, and it remains to be seen whether such prophecies actually come true. For app developers and software builders, though, one thing is clear: you can’t go wrong designing for big screens.
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