Watching online video on smartphones has spurred the sale of large screen phones, or ‘phablets’, around the world, and this could give Apple’s iPhone 6 some real challenges to overcome, a new report finds.
TNS Global Survey’s Connected Life research project, which has studied over 55 000 internet users globally, says Apple, which enjoyed the advantages of being the ‘first mover’ in the tablet market, now has to play catch-up to other phablet brands.
“The competition in this space is now fierce, with research showing that the early adopter markets such as developed Asia are already using phablets in large numbers. Apple will face an altogether more complex challenge for a brand used to leading the field, not following,” says Joe Webb, head of digital for TNS APAC.
“With rivals having enjoyed a head start in the phablet market, Apple will now need to compete not only with Samsung’s existing expertise in developed markets but also the ecosystem that is developing around low cost Android devices in emerging markets. With the iPhone 6, Apple is launching a high end product into a densely populated market. This may be Apple’s toughest launch yet.”
TNS reports that In Asian markets such as South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, phablets already comprise over 30% of all smartphones. This presents a very tough market for Apple to infiltrate as it launches the iPhone 6.
What of South Africa? TNS says the growth of phablets has been triggered by the surge in people watching online video on their smartphones. This is equally popular in markets with low access to other devices, with over 70% of internet users in South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria. Then there’s the Middle East and India: 47% in Saudi Arabia, 45% in MEA and 44% in India are now using their smartphones to watch online video. These markets are commonly perceived as ‘late adopters’, where Apple’s strategy of targeting only premium users is not paying off.
The Connected Life study shows that globally, smartphones are the world’s number one digital device. They are now used more than tablets, laptops and desktops for social media (44%), general browsing (38%), general information (36%) and entertainment (33%). This rise in smartphone ownership has been driven by the declining cost of technology, increasing the challenge facing the iPhone 6, which becomes comparably more expensive, making it a premium device in an increasingly ‘de-premiumised’ marketplace.
Samsung is currently by far the most dominant force, with an average of 25% of smartphone market share globally.[i] It is also enjoying widespread popularity in the phablet market, with over 66% share in both Hong Kong and South Korea as well as over 46% in both the US and UK, making it a very difficult market to crack.
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