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Are phablets driving the increase in smartphone video usage?

phablets - combining smartphone and tabletJust when it looked like tablets were taking over the lead in online video viewing, a recent article by eMarketer says don’t give up on smartphones yet. The video ad network FreeWheel reported that in August smartphone views of video ads in the UK topped 17%, more than the share of tablets.

What could be behind the shift? Well, you know nothing ever stays the same in technology. At least not for long. eMarketer suggest the changes could be from the increase in phablets – a cross between a traditional smartphone and a tablet. They are smaller than even the smallest tablets, but significantly larger than most smartphones.

The best-selling phablet has been the Samsung Galaxy Note. In fact, many people give the Note credit for Apple creating the iPhone 6 plus which was announced on September 9th. Apple’s entry into the larger size smartphone market is a departure from a long standing view that smartphones should be small. That sentiment was ingrained in the company by Steve Jobs. Over the past month, you’ll find no shortage of blogs and articles discussing how he would have felt about the new bigger phones and some of the other design choices Apple made in the latest models.

The eMarketer data though, came out before the release of the iPhone 6. Given that Apple sold over 10 million phones in the first three days (both iPhone 6 and the plus model), it’s likely that the use of smartphones to watch online video of any kind – video ads, movies, TV, or on any website –  will likely continue to grow. At least for the near future, and barring any other shift in technology.

As a new owner of an iPhone 6 plus, I can tell you I reach for my iPad much less often now. I’ll check out videos with my iPhone now. It is a subtle change from “Why bother using my iPhone?” when I had my iPhone 4s, to “I don’t want to get up and get my iPad and my iPhone 6 plus is big enough – for what I need right now”. But I still will go settle in with my iPad when I know I’m going to be watching a longer video.

If you’re creating and streaming video, make sure you’re planning for all types of devices, especially phablets. Apparently there are a lot of us out there that are perfectly happy watching video on our oversized smartphones.

Oliver Burt

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