Traveling a lot lately, which means I’ve had time to sit and observe people in airports. In today’s world, this is a great research opportunity for mobile devices. I’m a huge fan of anecdotal evidence, and I like to watch users in the wild to see what devices they use.
Numbers can tell you a lot about the rise of the phablet, you know phone + tablet. I liked that term better when I thought it was phab, as in phat for fab. Something about phablet in that sense suggested a blinged-out device, all sparkly and trimmed in 14K gold; related, the rise of phablets in Asia led me to this assumption.
Why? Gold iPhone.
Generally speaking, phablet is a phone whose screen is larger than five and smaller than seven inches, e.g. Galaxy Note, which could be said to have created this segment. I remember the negative reviews when the Note debuted; I remember thinking “that will never sell.”
Win some, lose some, am I right?
Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more phablets, and they’re growing popularity leads me to wonder why.
Beyond the allure of big screen, I’m not sure why people want such a big device. While in an airport, I got an interesting clue; I saw a person talking on a phablet, which looked comically uncomfortable until she went to the shoulder-chin cradle.
Physiologically, that makes sense. Holding any phone up to your ear for a prolonged period of time tires out the arm, which is why this plastic doodad exists. I think it’s called a telephone shoulder rest or something.
While the telephone shoulder rest has gone the way of the audio cassette tape and floppy diskette, the problem persists. Sure, headphones work, but sometimes, it’s just faster to put the phone up to your ear and go, assuming you even make phone calls.
In this instance, the phablet creates a bigger object to squeeze between your chin and shoulder.
Otherwise, I really don’t have a good understanding about the popularity of phablets. Do you?
Here are some other random observations from my recent time in airports.
- I saw a netbook, and I’m still shocked.
- The Blackberry diehards are disappearing. Used to be common to see them in airports, but not anymore, which can’t be good for RIM, erm Blackberry.
- On the whole, people love cases for their devices, and surprisingly, at least to me, cases seem to be more for self expression than device protection.
- I sat across from two 20-somethings for a good long time. Even though they buried their faces into their phones, the content on each device created a social interaction, like reverse sharing. Facebook and Twitter were created to share IRL activity online, but in a twist, online activity is creating IRL interactions. This is weird, but interesting, to me.
- I saw a dude reading a newspaper on his iPad. It looked like a digital copy, probably pdf, of the print edition. I have no idea what to think of this; it boggles my mind.
Care to chime in or add your strange device observations? Your anecdote research is welcome here.
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