The fates of social media and mobile devices are inextricably intertwined. Internet access through mobile devices is up 39 percent year over year; indeed, as social grows, mobile grows and vice versa. A report from Yahoo owned analytics and monetization firm Flurry, indicates that the growth in mobile has been due in part to the increased use of phablets, as well as phones and tablets.
Flurry defines devices with a simple chart where small phones are 3.5 inches and under, like a Blackberry, and full sized tablet like the iPad are 8.5 inches or larger. A phablet is defined as a device with a screen size between five and 6.9 inches — like the Galaxy Note. Flurry analyzed the 1.6 billion devices to explore usage by screen size. The analysis was focused on the top 875 devices, which accounted for 87 percent of sessions in March 2015.
Compared to the two previous years, phablets have made large gains in active user market share. From just three percent in February 2013, to six percent in January 2014, to 20 percent in March 2015. During the same period small phones lost five percent of user share, medium phones lost 13 percent, small tablets gained two percent, and tablets hovered around 13 percent.
According to the report:
It seems consumers worldwide are smitten with the combination of a large screen size and good old fashioned cellular telephony. Six months after the iPhone 6 Plus launch, phablets are now the second most used form factor, after medium phones (such as the iPhone 6).
When breaking down operating system data, there are clear differences. 36 percent of active Android users are using phablets, while only four percent of iOS users have adopted them. This disparity is because iOS only offers one phablet. 17 percent fewer Android users are using full sized tablets than iOS users, which is explained by the increasing popularity of phablets, and the popularity of the iPad.
Among Android devices, phablets now account for 27 percent of the market, up from 10 percent in 2013. Large Android tablet devices have decreased in market share by five percent during the same period.
It’s important that marketers and social media UI designers take these trends into account when creating content. Phablets will provide larger screens and thus more precise control over the on screen environment; however, these devices are still phones and will often be operating on wireless networks. Flurry sees no end in sight for the growth in the phablet market, and marketers would be wise to take heed.